We've reached a point where PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 don't have much "raw horsepower" left to give, Modern Warfare 3 developer Sledgehammer Games has said.
"We are definitely in the later phases of the development cycle now," studio co-founder Michael Condrey told IndustryGamers. "Teams have had a lot of time on this generation to capitalise on the hardware strengths.
"For good teams, the raw horsepower has been pushed towards its peak performance, and great teams are looking for hundredths, and more often thousandths of a second of CPU and GPU optimisations to push the consoles harder."
Gamers shouldn't, therefore, expect the technical leaps and bounds of the generation's infancy, said Condrey - but rather refinements.
"Graphic improvements continue to push the visuals to new bars every year and next year should be no different," he went on to say. "I don't expect the leap forward to be as large as the early console years, but the cycle isn't over yet either.
"New innovative approaches will move the best in class titles forward again next year. By how much, will depend on how well the developers respond to tackling the most challenging optimisations.
IndustryGamers also talked to Square Enix technology boffin Julien Merceron and Team Ninja leader Yosuke Hayashi.
Hayashi agreed that "any further dramatic evolution in current consoles that could be plainly understood by the general gamer would be fairly difficult to achieve".
Merceron said "obviously current consoles' power is limiting", but still sees room for "major improvements" on PS3. When those are made the PS3 may appear "slightly ahead of Xbox 360 in terms of graphics".
The "raw horsepower" potential of the machines may have been reached, then, but the potential for new experiences hasn't.
"I really enjoy this late cycle period of development on the current generation," said Condrey.
"Developers spend less time having to figure out the 'how', giving more time to iterate on the 'what'."
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