Bethesda: Beautiful Graphics Matter!
Errbody loves their gorgeous games. Two of the three major home consoles were launched on the promise of delivering unparalleled graphics, and the early stages of the PS3-Xbox 360 fanboy war were fought over which system had prettier games. Not everybody thinks graphics are everything, of course. Or maybe the people who say graphics aren’t all that big a deal are only saying that and don’t really mean it.
That’s what Bethesda’s VP of marketing Peter Hines says.
“There’s a lot of people who say graphics don’t matter. To them I usually say ‘you’re lying’,” he said on the most recent OXM podcast. “[People] will look at a screenshot and make a snap decision: ‘that looks awesome’, or ‘I’m not interested.’ So if you can make something look amazing just at first glance, it’s so much easier to get them.”
He’s right, sort of, at least in terms of the Western market. People do often make immediate snap judgments about games based on press materials. But those judgments aren’t always specifically about a game’s graphics. It’s usually more about whether or not the whole package looks like a cheap, lazy piece of s–t. There are a number of examples of ugly current-gen games that sold well; hell, hardly anything on the Wii looks good in HD. Hell, Bethesda’s own Fallout 3 is known for being a pretty hideous-looking game, and they sold five million copies of that. There’s a reason they made a whole new engine for Skyrim.
This whole discussion is completely different in Japan, too — the list of all-time top-selling PS3 games in that country is full of visually unappealing titles.
But, yeah, graphics are, to the West, an important factor for whether or not consumers will buy a game. But they aren’t everything.