No matter how hard the PC master race wants it, consoles aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Millions of people worldwide prefer relaxing gaming without bothering about the PC specifications and costs of hardware updates, which keeps the demand for console games high. So, today we’ll figure out what the demand for console games means for game-developing companies, and we’ll keep a closer look at what goes into porting a PC game to console.
Advantages of porting to new generation consoles
As for now, after ~2 years after the overall release of the 9th generation of Sony and Microsoft consoles, the market feels much more stable, and more consoles are in the hands of gamers. This fact brings back the discussion regarding the profitability of porting games to the latest generation of consoles.
New technologies - a new place of growth for the industry
Despite the fact that it gets harder and harder to impress gamers with the technical side of the console with every next generation of gaming devices, the progress in the console hardware is still noticeable both for players and developers. New systems allows developers to pay much less attention to optimization, compared to the previous generation of consoles, and it also empowers the developers to make better visuals, new revolutionary mechanics, and provide smoother gameplay with less effort. For gamers, having newer consoles means new gaming experience, faster loads, better FPS count, and access to new games. With the 9th generation of consoles, the advantages of using modern SSDs became obvious. And also, gamepad features like new vibrations, adaptive triggers, and haptic feedback change the way the game feels. Just play GTA5 on DualShock4 and DualSense - you’ll spot the difference in under 1 minute of gameplay.
The potential of the generation lifecycle
PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, the first editions of 8th gen consoles, were released in November 2013. This year will be the 10th anniversary of this generation of consoles - and we still have new games for them! 10 years is an impressive lifecycle.
Even though 9th- gen consoles have arguably low chances of being called best selling console of all time could due to the speed of technical progress, the lifecycle of the 9th generation is still promising.
If the lifespan of PS5 and Xbox Series consoles will be shorter, the ability to buy a device for ~$500 and use it for years without bothering to update the gaming hardware, still looks attractive to millions of gamers worldwide. So the demand for consoles will be high at least until 2028, meaning the demand for games will be equally high.
Pic #1: Lifetime sales of video game consoles worldwide as of July 2022, according to Statista.
There are at least 20 million active devices of each of the 9th gen Sony and Microsoft consoles in the world now. And these numbers will only grow with the upcoming salvation of hardware details crisis. Meaning, the combined amount of 9th-gen console players might surpass the population of Spain in the span of the next 2-3 years. And these people are loyal and active audiences. They buy games, make in-game purchases, and pay for subscriptions. It’s a stable billion-dollar market for any game development company.
Portable consoles promise
Stepping away from Sony and Microsoft 9th-gen consoles, there’s a move in the portable gaming industry. SteamDeck console shows stable growth in demand and Nintendo recently surpassed Game Boy and became the best-selling Nintendo console of all time. Also, pandemic restrictions tend to weaken in many parts of the world so people will be traveling more, creating demand for portable consoles. The demand for the new generation of portable consoles can’t be compared to 9th-gen consoles, but we recommend keeping a sharp eye on that part of the industry.
Keep in mind a wider range of consoles
Starting 2023, the gaming hardware industry seems to finally find a way to solve the recent hardware crisis and produce more consoles and PC components. Sony promises to deliver more PS5 consoles to the market in 2023.
But it wasn’t a thing for the previous generation of consoles, so buying PS4 or Xbox One back in 2013-2014 wasn’t such a big issue. From that, we can conclude that even in 2023 there are still millions of gamers in possession of 8th-generation consoles, and not all of them are willing to upgrade to the next generation of consoles, at least for now.
Two of the most common reasons for this decision are facts that:
- major game releases are still coming to the 8th-gen consoles - titles like Resident Evil VIII, God of War Ragnarok, and Horizon: Forbidden West are still available for PS4, despite being pretty progressive in terms of technologies;
- not too many modern games support all the features of 9th-gen consoles right now because the developers are still learning their ways to include these features in their games. And, honestly speaking, not every game has to have all the new features like haptic feedback or advanced vibrations.
Of course, hardware limitations of 8th-gen consoles are one of the top reasons why porting a game from PC to console is hard in 2023. Recreating procedural generation of game worlds, advanced rendering, fast loads and huge game worlds to devices that can only have 8GB of RAM becomes a harder challenge every next year. But this challenge is worth accepting, due to the potential to introduce your game to an established market of 8th-gen console gamers. And you can make this challenge easier with the right developing team on your side.
Pic #2: Total Worldwide Sales of consoles five years pre-2023. Sources: hookedonteck, Nintendolife.
Pingle Studio’s success at porting
So, what do you need to port a game to consoles? The essentials would be:
- access to devkit for each console you’re planning porting to;
- an established connection with the regional representatives of companies who owns the devices and marketplaces - Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, Valve, etc;
- a team of technical experts, who will be able to concentrate 100% of their attention on the porting process.
It requires time and effort to organize it for your team. So we recommend considering ti trust porting process to those, who already have everything above and who have brought 40+ titles to various generations of consoles. Let us share a bit of our experience and showcase you some of the biggest projects we helped to bring to consoles:
Being one of our biggest and longest projects so far, adapting the cooperative tactical multiplayer FPS to Gen-8th consoles was a big part of it. One of the core features of this franchise is the balance of game mechanics: the game is meant to be not as casual as Call of Duty, and also not as hardcore as the ARMA franchise. We did a lot of work while developing a game balance for console multiplayer and remaking all the game- and genre-specific mechanics to feel native on DualShock 4 and Xbox One controller. We believe our hard work helped Insurgency: Sandstorm to become the Best First Person Shooter for PS4 by PSU magazine. Pingle Studio supports Insurgency: Sandstorm to this day, so eventually you will see many more features we prepared for console versions of it.
The need to update the game’s engine version is a pretty common case for porting to the 9th-gen consoles. That’s what we also did while bringing The Eternal Cylinder to PS5 and Xbox Series consoles. The game was made in Unreal Engine 4.24, which doesn’t support RTX features. And it wasn’t an option for us to leave such a stylish and visually stunning game without the beauty of ray tracing technology. So we updated the engine to UE 4.27, recreated the SkookumScript plugin functionality, and transferred some game functionality to the updated version of the engine.
We also managed to pass the TRC certification fast, as well as implemented PS5 Activities, Adaptive Triggers, and Haptic Feedback for PS5 players to enjoy the game to the fullest. Trust us, you won’t forget walking past huge mammoth-like game creatures with the vibrations we developed!
This project is living proof that not just games with advanced graphics may feel much better on the 9th-gen consoles. Tails of Iron might look like a simple game that doesn’t have much space for using the features of PS5, but our talented game designers developed various control schemes for DualSense, including using Haptic Feedback and Adaptive Triggers and built it into the game. Now it feels much more immersive and dynamic!
We are proud to work on that huge sandbox game, especially due to our contribution to bringing it to PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch simultaneously. Covering 180+ hours of open-world gameplay without access to the original project’s documentation in a short turnaround made us use some creative approaches, but the result was satisfying.
Considering everything above, we might conclude that porting your game to both 8th and 9th-gen consoles has a decent potential to turn out to be a great success. Big and game-ready audience, motivated players, various markets, and dozens of established console development practices makes porting your game to consoles a hard-to-decline decision. The biggest risk a publisher or game developer might consider while porting is the quality of porting. Even the most loyal console gamers won’t forgive low-performance builds with constant freezes, the majority of visual artifacts, poorly transferred features and mechanics, and low fps. Bigger expectations lead to deeper disappointment for gamers and bigger reputational and financial losses for a game developer, in case of poor porting.
So make sure your game works great on any console - trust your porting to Pingle Studio.
We work with consoles since Gen-7th, so we know what to expect when the generation of consoles changes. We have all the required hardware for every relevant console, and our porting team is experienced enough to pass the TRC certification in a single try. Let u bring your game to console players on the highest possible quality level and in the fastest possible terms.