At least one development outfit within Sony’s Worldwide Studios division is ceasing work on PS3 in favour of building next-generation games, a new report claims.
The unnamed studio “appears to be involved in the development process of the graphics technology adopted by Sony’s new hardware”, according to Edge.
It is not known if the Sony studio is working on a fixed green-lit project, or experimenting with several ideas to present to the PlayStation executive arm.
Develop reported last month that several Sony studios had begun preliminary work on PlayStation 4 games projects, but Edge is stating that at least one studio is dedicating all resources to the new system.
Few in the games business expect a new PlayStation to launch before 2014 – the next few Christmases will likely see Sony marketing software for PS3, Move and its new Vita handheld.
A Sony spokesperson has declined to comment.
It is a company convention at Sony to remain constantly engaged in R&D work on future platforms – in fact PS Vita development began soon after the release of the PSP in 2005. But Develop and Edge’s sources suggest that several SCE studios now have teams working on PS4 game concepts that could jump into full production if given the green light.
Many developers believe PlayStation 3, which first launched five years ago and has gone on to sell more than fifty million units, remains a high-end machine.
Epic president Mike Capps recently claimed it would be a “very tall order” to build commercial hardware that is a generational leap forward.
“I mean, PS3 is still very bad-ass,” he said.
What is clear is that Sony is some distance from finalising the technology behind its next generation console, and any early input from internal game studios will be a relief to the development industry.
Last year, Worldwide Studios (WWS) boss Shuhei Yoshida said Sony has learnt from past mistakes and is now asking game developers to help shape future technology.
“We wanted developers in meetings at the very beginning of concepting new hardware,” he told Develop.
In February, SCE chairman Kaz Hirai said Sony was “not deliberating on PS4”.
The company has built a strategy to support consoles with new games for about ten years, and the experienced executive pointed out that PS3 has not even reached its fifth year yet.
In May, Sony’s chief financial officer Masaru Kato explained to investors that "future platform" development work has caused a spike in R&D costs.