Most of us can tolerate a graphical downgrade between a demo and an actual game if it is necessary for a smoother gameplay experience, but what if some downgrades serve no other purpose than to satiate platform holders?
A recent feature by VG24/7 went in-depth into the practice of graphical downgrades in gaming, covering reasons for the practice and strategies developers use to make it less noticeable. According to an anonymous source quoted in this feature, an exclusive deal between Microsoft and Ubisoft resulted in Tom Clancy’s The Division looking worse on PS4 than it could have, not for any technical reason, but just to make Microsoft happy.
“On The Division, Xbox had a deal with Ubisoft, and part of that deal was to ensure that the PS4 version did not look better than it,” the source claimed. “The resolution, frame rates, and density of assets could have been higher on PS4, but this was vetoed to prevent issues with Microsoft.”
Assuming the report is accurate, this could be the reveal of a very toxic development practice. Instead of using resources to create quality content that incentivizes gamers to adopt a specific platform, some publishers may be focusing on hindering the enjoyment of any gamer that didn’t align with that platform.
One could argue that the developer would prefer an equal experience in a game across different platforms to make everyone equally happy, but if a manufacturer commits more advanced technology to a system, it deserves that graphical benefit. That is essentially the entire basis of gaming on PC.
The VG24/7 feature also touches on one of the industry’s stupider graphical downgrade controversies as of late: Spider-Man‘s puddlegate. While some complaints about the game’s downgrade since its E3 2017 demo are valid, most fans instead decided to focus their attention and efforts almost exclusively on the puddles on the game’s floor.
According to the feature, this puddle reduction was for the sake of increasing the readability of the scene. This seems like a fair sacrifice for a clearer gaming experience, despite the community’s apparently rabid infatuation with water on the floor.
Source: VG 24/7