PS4 Almost Launched Without A Hard Drive

Sony’s PlayStation 4 launched last year with both a 500GB Hard Drive and 8GB of unified memory, but the process of including said components in the console was anything but simple. During a speech made during today’s Develop Conference in Brighton, PS4 lead system architect Mark Cerny revealed that discussions were involved regarding whether or not the inclusion of a proper hard drive would be the best financial move for Sony.

SCEI president Andrew House initially expressed immense concerns over including a hard drive, as it would cost the company an expense of around $1 billion to the project, but in the end there was no other alternative.

“It’s such a large decision, because it’s a commitment not just to the initial launch but for the life cycle. That has massive implications for how it will shape the business model for a number of years,” said House. “Yes, we debated. But it became extremely clear to me that financial issues aside we had to be struggling for a certain level of experience that would get people to embrace a brand new platform.

“If we were going to fulfill our promises as a company, but if the industry as a whole was going to move on… we were starting to get a lot of nay-saying, ‘what’s the role of a console? Is there a role for a console?’ Those two things came together to point out what was needed for the transformative experience.”

Cerny added, “For the hard drive, we thought does every player need downloadable content? Not every player does. But does every player need to play Watch Dogs the way it was intended? And you know, if you want to save money, unfortunately the answer is yes. Watch Dogs is a title that needed 15GB cached, very fast media on a hard drive or it wasn’t going to be able to be played at the level the creator’s wanted it to be. It was embedded on such a basic level.”

Cerny also explained that similar discussions took place regarding whether or not raising the 4GB memory to 8GB would be the right move, as it would also cost an extra $1 billion to the project.  Before long it became clear that something had to be done to remedy the increasing costs of PS4 project, so Sony opted to exclude the PS Camera from the system, regulating it to an add-on. Mark Cerny admitted this decision also follows along with the philosophy of the console.

“It’s pretty obvious if you do the math, it’s more than a billion for the hard drive, and more than a billion for the extra RAM, so it was pretty obvious to me that something was going to have to give. But at the same time the camera makes sense as an independent proposition. It does not need to be included with the hardware to be a success. If it offers something that is perceived to be of value, then it’s a great thing to add to your PlayStation 4 ecosystem.”


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