Rumor: Ubisoft Intentionally Downgrading The Division on PC

Ubisoft is apparently ordering the developers of The Division to downgrade the PC version to match its console counterparts.

This claim comes from an anonymous source supposedly working on the game. According to this unnamed staffer, “publishers” are currently pushing for more uniformity between PC and console games, a doctrine that has apparently already led to several downgrades in The Division.

“There is definitely a lot of push coming from publishers to not make the experience so different on consoles as to alienate people into thinking that next generation is not as powerful as PC,” said the developer. “This is probably what happened at Ubisoft Montreal. I think that while making stability changes is definitely important, it does not completely obliterate a lot of enhanced rendering applications.”

The reference to Ubisoft Montreal, of course, is referring to suspicions among many gamers that the PC version was made intentionally worse to mesh more closely with the versions being released on PS4 and Xbox One. These suspicions were ignited by a modder’s discovery that higher end visual settings had apparently been left in the code of the PC version while being disabled in the actual game. Ubisoft responded by claiming the additional options were removed on account of potential performance issues.

The changes to The Division, meanwhile, apparently already include the removal of “screen space reflections” as well as other alterations that the source claims have reduced the game’s visual quality so that it’s “not as good as the original reveal.” They would go on to affirm that gamers can expect that Ubisoft will “never fully disclose” the true details behind these sorts of changes.

“They will not admit that they practice this or actively downgrade a game,” they said. “It is much easier to say they removed things for stability which is often a lie as you can tell by the post-issues which are expected in any production we do.” They additionally expressed their hopes that game company’s making “false promises” about their games will stop creating hype “that they ultimately cannot deliver on.”

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7 Comments on Rumor: Ubisoft Intentionally Downgrading The Division on PC

T. Jetfuel

On June 24, 2014 at 8:39 am

I was wondering when someone was going to pick up on this, saw it floating on tha interweb the other day.

By the way, looks like you’ve accidentally edited the reference to Watch Dogs out of the body of the text. Since that’s what the 4th paragraph is clearly talking about.

RadioActiveLobster

On June 24, 2014 at 9:16 am

Meanwhile, at Codemasters…

http://www.pcgamesn.com/sorry-consoles-grid-autosport-pc-has-30gb-high-res-textures

———————————————————————
Codemasters tell me that the development of Grid Autosport is PC-lead. “Everything’s just a bit bigger and higher res detail on PC,” says Kettlewell. “Better shadows, higher res car reflections – that’s something else we’ve put a lot of work into on Autosport, getting the car paint effect to look as authentic as we possibly can.”

“We’re locked to 30fps on console, we’re clear on PC,” Moody adds. “60fps is really nice, it gives you a great experience. And, it can be played on a three displays. It has full peripheral support – wheels, controllers…”.

“We’ve got it running on 4K in the next room,” says Adrian Lawton, Codemasters communications manager.

“The thing about being PC-lead is that in the past we’d think ‘Oh we can’t do that on console’ so we wouldn’t do it,” says Kettlewell. “Whereas now the reaction now is ‘Oh we can’t do it on console but let’s do it on PC.’
———————————————————————

Don Raggo

On June 24, 2014 at 11:26 am

First Watch Dogs, now this ? Dunno ’bout anyone else but I don’t feel like I’m getting my monies worth out of a game released by Ubisoft, so I’m gonna boycott ‘em….Codemasters on the other hand ;)

Eric Stoker

On June 24, 2014 at 3:00 pm

Here’s an idea, why not upscale the console versions to match the PC versions as close a possible?

Squinty

On June 24, 2014 at 3:08 pm

“intentionally”

You don’t say.

screwtheconsole

On June 25, 2014 at 5:46 am

Makes me laugh this is the kind of thing that can push piracy especially if this company in the week said they will do stuff a lot for buyers who BUY their games on PC… The only thing they seem to be doing is sending out a message how great a game looks and then downgrade the game after. That’s like buying a tin of baked beans but spaghetti hoops inside it. How dare they increase prices on PC games if they’re going to downgrade graphics for PC… The whole advantage of PC is about improved graphics quality, modding… over console. And it’s not going to persuade any PC gamer to buy the console game (if they have a console). Chances are if they’re expecting quality graphics and not going to get it higher then advertised (E3, Demo’s) chances are; piracy or no one will buy their game.

If it weren’t for PC’s back in 2009/2010 you wouldn’t have the technology in the PS4/Xbox One (as they’re so back dated with old & modded chips). My old stock GTX 580 would surpass the cheap ATI shiite that’s installed in one of them boxes of crap. Yeh gaming community has increased with console’s online MP but they’re years behind in todays technology – they only say it looks great because they never have properly witnessed the quality of what a PC can provide (except in E3 demos in the later years of the 7th Gen such as E3 2012 Watch Dogs).

The more (optimized) but power hungry PC games get it pushes for newer technology other wise companies like Nvidia will be bankrupt and many out of a job or ATI (only selling console chips).

Due to the PC for anything it pushes technology into the future. And if this is what Ubisoft is planning to do then it’s holding the future back.

I hopefully doubt this is the case (just a big screw up on the Watch Dog dev’s team has made). As Nvidia has a part in the visual side of Ubi’s PC games mentioned a few weeks back, they wouldn’t let Ubi hold PC back because of consoles trying to out do the PC. Nvidia want their games to be high class and power hungry so it gives PC gamers a reason to upgrade their cards over a number of years instead of keeping the same card for 8 years until the next gen of console will be out. The majority of PC gamers are the guys who wants better quality, better frame rates and the power to mod games which is a big advantage over console!

Rant over!

T. Jetfuel

On June 25, 2014 at 2:06 pm

Hmmm… Obviously it’s not cool to intentionally disable graphical effects that have already been created just to keep the PC versions down to a rough parity with the console versions, but it seems clear that with this current model of multiplatform game development, something just has to give sooner or later. The thing with the minority of PC gamers who have the enthusiasm and the means to keep up with cutting edge tech demanding all this “quality” is that it is driving up the costs of game development for benefits the majority of paying customers (on consoles and lower-specced PCs) will not be seeing, leading to the introduction of ever more intrusive monetization schemes to effectively subsidize high-end visual treats for the few, not to mention those deceptive “gameplay demos” that we are all so pissed off about. It’s just not a very healthy situation.

The high-end PC gamer demographic is simply not large enough for developers to create games specifically designed to take advantage of that power, and it’s a moving target anyway. Like it or not, it is the stability of the console platforms that allows the kind of extended development periods modern AAA games require. Those extra PC bells and whistles are built on the back of the lowly console peasant, so naturally that’s a demographic neither the developers nor the Super Rig Jockeys among us ought to feel comfortable about alienating.

Of course that should not call for sabotaging features that have already been created and used in marketing. Moving forward, though, it would be beneficial for games to take a break from the whole FX arms race. But that’s obviously not a big priority for the good folks at nVidia.