Sunday26 March 2023

Will PC Games be Dumbed Down to Match Next Gen Consoles?

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Ubisoft dumbing down Watchdogs for PC, Crytek losing money, game devs claiming next gen consoles will match the graphical look of the PC on Ultra: all of these are interesting signs to a troubling possibility. Is the gaming industry moving away from the PC and focusing on the close environment of the console? From some of the information and the items we listed above it would seem so. Is this a trend of the future? Or is this simply what the industry does whenever they see new consoles hit the market?

To answer those last questions I reached out to a few people that I know and found that there is indeed a push to level the playing field. It is not a directive or anything concrete, but is more of an environmental change in the way development takes place. In one instance I was told that the change was due to next gen consoles being x86 based. This allows team to develop for the closed environment of the PS4 and Xbox One from a single basic platform. From there they simply push the same “ultra” settings to the PC without the need to develop more advanced features.

This tracks with what we have seen in the past as newer consoles hit the market. There is an industry push to develop for these new consoles for the quick revenue found at launch time. We all know that if a company can have a AAA title at or around the launch of a new console they gain the trickle down revenue from the people buying the console. I can remember buying a Wii right at launch and picking up 4-5 games on the same day. With the Xbox One and PS4 this same thing is happening. This motivates companies like Ubisoft, EA, and others to shift their focus to these systems.

In the past this shift had a cost in porting the game to the PC. Development time needed to be considered in the production of any game as the two ecosystems were very different. This need ended up giving us some really bad console ports on the PC that did more damage than good.  Thanks to AMD and running x86 on next gen consoles this hindrance is gone.

So now that we know this is a cyclic event does this mean that the PC is doomed to mid-range graphics? Sadly this just might be the case. We have already heard from Ubisoft publicly about this where they were happy to brag that Ultra on the PS4 and Xbox One would look the same as it did on the PC. Nintendo just announced that they want console games and mobile platform games to b look and play the same. Other developers I spoke with echoed this sentiment as it lower development cost if they simply concentrate on the simplest platform. We hope that this current cycle will not stick and we will see games developed with the power that a PC can bring in mind, but it might be a while before we see this.

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Last modified on Tuesday, 24 June 2014 08:29

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