That RAM…

“PlayStation 4 Reserves Nearly Half Of RAM For OS”  -Game Informer

halfofram

THAT RAM…

We can’t go into specifics about stuff like that, but I’ll say that if you go by Eurogamer’s article “update”, it would show that PS4 provides at least as much RAM to the developer as the XB1. While Eurogamer updated theirs, Game Informer still has their sensationalist headline “PlayStation 4 Reserves Nearly Half Of RAM For OS” up, a headline which was poor even at the time of the initial rumor. While the article itself does say “slightly more than its competitor”, the headline is what the majority of people will ever see. This is a problem. This caused problems.

Now let’s look at it closely. The rumor stated that the PS4 reserved 3.5GB, while the Xbox reserved 3.0GB. Think about how this headline then spins the story. Even had it been true, this was a difference of 0.5GB, yet the headline would make it sound like the PS4 has a massive weakness.

SOME INSIGHT…

Speaking as a developer, nearly every platform uses a combination of RAM structure. Some have additional RAM directly on the CPU bus for performance critical code, or data with less latency. Another system uses a section of RAM for sleep mode. It is overwritten with state information when the system goes to sleep, but the game obtains full use of it again when it wakes up. It has the same performance as the other RAM, but a dual purpose. These are just some examples. I can assure you even simple-simple-simple systems by today’s standards had similar things. Hell, even the NES, C64 and Apple II had what’s called “zero page” RAM. 256 bytes of memory you could access with less CPU cycles. If you played old DOS games, you’ll probably remember the extended memory drivers too.

On a related note, remember that whatever the number is, it’s not carved in stone yet. On PS3, you might recall the news of them optimizing their memory footprint later in the system’s lifecycle to provide newer games with even more, and that was post launch. The memory usage on the new consoles is still in the development phase.

Prior to posting this, I received a tweet, “If your editorial doesn’t mention the fact Sony was misleading the customer it isn’t fit for reading.” – If the memory usage of the OS is considered misleading, then not only is the XB1 guilty as well, so is every single PC sold with a preinstalled OS. Don’t forget, formatting a hard drive also reduces the available free space.

A GAME OF TELEPHONE

What’s worse is the ripple effect. A quick Google search shows headlines going from “Rumor” to “Report: Nearly Half…”, to “BREAKING”, to flat out HALF Of PS4 RAM Saved For OS” . Suddenly there are gamers screaming that they’re cancelling their pre-order. Someone else tweets “It’s true. Sony’s basically admitted it in their statement”, misreading the official comment. This is sadly how things work. It’s a game of telephone.

THIS HAPPENS ALL THE TIME…

gift1

I’ve encountered this many times personally. One specific instance came from news of the RCR sales numbers. Due to the WiiWare sales threshold, developers had to sell a minimum number of units to see any revenue from their game. Unfortunately, due to the poor state of Wii’s eShop market, it became next to impossible for games to hit this threshold, so less and less games were released for the platform. I knew that I would lose both time and money releasing it on the platform, but I wanted to keep my word and make the fans happy. In the end, around $20K was spent to get it out the door, which I knew I’d never see again, and I called it a “gift to the fans”.

Fast forward to a month later. During GDC I showed an undetailed chart displaying the game’s GROSS revenue, per platform, to the nearest $100K. An article went up with my permission to share the numbers, but it didn’t cross my mind that the chart wasn’t detailed enough. The resulting story stated that Wii version generated “less than $100K”. This wasn’t inaccurate, it WAS less than $100K, but the reality is that the actual number was closer to $15K at the time, and that was GROSS, not profit, meaning I didn’t get any of that money. I have still not actually seen a cent from the WiiWare version. I’m okay with this. I knew this going in, but wanted to keep my word to the fans. However, this quote and misunderstanding caused an uproar of hate because I’d called it a “gift to the fans” yet readers thought I made a chunk of change, undoing the goodwill which I put forward. Another example of how things work.

For some perspective, RCR has now sold over 170K units plus 270K on PS Plus. It’s had a strong tail, generating even more revenue this year than last year. Yet, the number sold on Wii in Europe’s still in the hundreds and in North America just over 2K. What’s more, the WiiWare version included additional content and was $5 cheaper and still didn’t have better numbers. Again, I knew this going in and was at peace with releasing it purely for those few fans, to make them happy and keep my word. So, it was especially disheartening to be torn apart by people based on a misinterpretation that spiraled out of control.

ANYWAY…

Anyway, I’m not saying how much memory is used, but I am painting a better picture of how you should be looking at this, and again raising awareness about sensationalist headlines.

About Brian Provinciano

Brian Provinciano! Founder of Vblank Entertainment, and the programmer, pixel artist, designer, producer, bizdev, (blah, blah...) behind Retro City Rampage!
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