Id Software technical director John Carmack has said that it's easier to realise the potential of the Xbox 360 hardware but that the PS3 has certain theoretical advantages, and he speculates that Blu-ray could play a decisive role in the console war in future.
"What you can say really quite clearly and not get into too much argument about it is that the 360 is much easier to develop for, it's easier to get the performance out of it that it can deliver, and the rasterizer, the GPU side is generally faster than what the PS3 has," Carmack told Eurogamer at QuakeCon.
"You could design a game where the PS3 would be the superior platform, but you'd have to go out of your way to do it. If you're doing a game like people just want to do games now, the 360's the better platform."
The debate about the relative strengths of Microsoft and Sony's competing next-generation platforms has raged since well before either hit the market, but Carmack is arguably among the best-placed to judge the hardware given his extensive study of both architectures and his driving role in the design of the id Tech 5 engine.
Asked about their relative strengths, Carmack explained that while the 360 is easier, the PS3 does have untapped potential. "If you were doing a whole lot of simulation, you can in theory get more performance out of the Cell processor than out of the two other dual-thread processors on the 360, but that's a big 'in theory'," he acknowledged.
"But," he added later, "the fact that Blu-ray won the format wars on there is a huge feather in Sony's cap, and then we wind up with cases like what we're seeing right now where having all the extra space on the Blu-ray may be a useful thing for us above the fact that the hardware's not quite as good in terms of what it can do with the processing."
One thing he did want to emphasise about the systems, however, is that they're "both really good". "That's why any time that people make comments one way or the other about the consoles, it's easy to leave aside of the fact that it's the best that it's ever been in any generation in terms of support capabilities and all that."
Carmack's company, id Software, is currently developing Rage for PS3, 360 and PC, although yesterday design lead Tim Willits told Eurogamer "360 is our primary target". "We're developing on the PC, but we have 360 controllers on all the PCs." He also couldn't confirm whether the PS3 version would support keyboard and mouse although - as we share Carmack's view that keyboard/mouse is where it's at for FPS control, we hope to see id's mind made up favourably soon!
Look out for our full John Carmack interview next week.
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