Ever since 2007-2009 I have had the pleasure of working with Bethesda Public Relations to cover their titles for the readers here and another publication I am a part of. Interestingly as time went on, Bethesda Public Relations outsourced their review copy duties to an external firm and since that point the review copies have dwindled into nothingness, along with any sense of the word professionalism and honest responses. Ironically – all of this was around the time I gave Bethesda’s published title WET a bad review.
To summarize, for those of you who don’t know, VideoGamer.com recently reviewed The Evil Within – a horror title by Tango Gameworks and stated they published a review because Bethesda refused to send them a review copy. They claimed it was due to the fact that they gave Wolfenstein: The New Order a low score (which was justified in my opinion given how terrible it was).
My experience with Bethesda PR Director Tracey Thompson and Bethesda PR in general resembles a similar experience. I am simply describing my details working with Bethesda here for our readers to better understand a problem with the company’s PR (which is awful and inadequate). In the past they were very courteous, responded to me right away, and really TRIED to get a review copy out for me for the readers here and some places I freelanced in the past. But recently it’s nothing but a smokescreen. For those who don’t know – us journalists talk amongst ourselves quite frequently to know exactly when code is shipping from publishers, if they still have stock, etc etc.
We will not reveal our source dev (whose employment we confirmed and vowed we would not reveal the identity of) but the info should be taken with a grain of salt as a result. Today, I have the ultimate displeasure to inform the public that apparently the E3 demo of The Division was running on a PC and will be downgraded overall. Developers often overshoot for the moon and end up delivering next to nothing in terms of the visual garbage that the final retail copies end up becoming (Far Cry 3, Watch Dogs, Dark Souls II in comparison to their non-downgraded counterparts). This sort of false advertising and marketing absolutely has to stop. It is a vile and dementedly sick way of companies to make money off of people who obviously preorder because the game is visually impressive. Yes – some may claim “gameplay weighs in more” but this is arguable.
He tells us the following:
We really loved the reception to the demo we showed on the PC version at E3. Currently as it stands, 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. 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.
Right now we already took out quite a lot of screen space reflections from the game and are working on asset management the best we can given consoles have that great unified memory. Naturally we will also be using online servers and have to produce a synchronization that higher graphics add to the latency so it had to be turned down. To me it still looks good, but not as good as the original reveal. I am sure as we get closer to launch and the actual console versions of the game featuring SD (Snowdrop) that it will start to seem all too obvious to people especially those on PCs. I just wanted to write and let you know that it definitely is not just stability but marketing politics plays into this a lot as well.
UPDATED 2nd Response from The Division Developer: Truth be told in regards to your question that while ‘Yes’ the lead platform is the PC, we simply cannot have such a big gap. As you know when the first WATCH DOGS Review was published by that one site, Ubisoft called it a “false review” and I am sure everyone can see how bad that sounded when they saw the game did look marginally better than something that was a last generation GTA IV. But no, they will not admit that they practice this or actively downgrade a game. 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.
Also to answer your 3rd question, no…they will never fully disclose what was removed from what build as no laws ask them to do so in terms of consumer rights. If we as developers published that information in very real terms for the consumer such as “Replaced particle fog simulation with 2d layer simulation in 3d space, removed particles from all explosions, lowered explosion volume multiplier by 20x, removed X # of trees and civilians, etc.” we would be out of a lot of sales and probably it would actually require too much time to deliver on the current hype that a lot of downgraded games see which look incredible with a vertical slice. I do share this in the hope’s that my colleagues and publishers and a lot of people who make false promises and do demonstrations which wrongfully create too much hype that they cannot deliver on ultimately stop doing such things. I want to see the industry actually move forward and not be so full of itself by promising too much and delivering too little. Regards
Our insider who is currently in the graphics technical division at Ubisoft Massive in Sweden contacted us because he too is sick of the practices that a company like Ubisoft has become all too known for. If Ubisoft denies downgrades have not happened and uses the lame excuse that “it is for the gamers and stability we did what we did” then there is certainly no reason for the PC/console parity to exist because currently the downgraded Watch Dogs runs sub-par still which is an utter joke. Everyone knows “next generation” currently as it stands is utter marketing BS. Of course, a lot of the uneducated folks out there feel this is more. Next gen, means next gen! If this is the case, PC raw throughput has the greatest power of any console despite having lower development focus (due to piracy). Essentially if it is not obvious by now: Next Gen has diminished any chances of making graphics leaps for the marketers to make more money on “next-gen” until the next next-gen comes out. It is a great marketing hype that is all too common in the gaming industry.
Bottom line: Publishers and developers – stop lying and rely on actual gameplay that is close to the real thing to do your marketing for you. And if you did remove a lot of features that affected the stability of the game, make sure to release a full disclosure of what this is before the game comes out. Oh wait…but then you would not see as many sales. Tsk tsk.
Another explosion and another one bites the dust when it comes to the most hyped title of E3 2012 – Watch Dogs, teaching us about how hype is not a gamer-created phenomenon but a fault of the developers themselves as well. The game’s lackluster graphics and rather bland gameplay has left a very sour taste in a lot of gamer minds that begs the question: where is developer integrity? While this article is not meant to attack a specific company in general, it is meant to look into the general state of the industry. Ubisoft Montreal has made some beautiful games when it comes to Far Cry 3 and Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. Both of these games were touted during E3 and simply delivered. Watch Dogs, however, did anything but deliver to the graphical scale and gameplay expectations even with a long delay.
While we did not review Watch Dogs or frankly had the time to with a lot of requests, we did get to play it and realized one thing: developers need to be more honest. Jonathan Morin – Watch Dogs’ Director at one point stated the graphics were “better than the E3 build – everything was better.” Suddenly videos showed explosions that kind of spurted out weakly and something that even GTA IV put to shame in that department visually (a very last-generation title). While Next Generation (Next-Gen) does not always stay true to its actual hype, considering the graphics only step up marginally to match PC throughput and to last for at least 8-9 years of generational dependency, there is a strong lack of interest that a lot of gamers need to start having. E3 has always been about the hype. And it is partly a very important reason why we stopped our E3 Awards as of recently. The awards though great acknowledgment, do add to this hype of unreleased products, and affects people in having them buy a game that we said was “Best Action Game,” or that seemed to be, and that fell heavily short in the product release. After nearly thousands of e-mails, one thing is clear: developers need to be more forward and more honest. Watch Dogs developer Ubisoft Montreal and their whole team need to definitely be ashamed for the graphical hype they caused. Sure, one can say that it is the problem of gamers having unreal expectations, or believing the hype, but it changes nothing; the developers showed a demo and then offer up preorders with very limited footage up to the date of release which hardly seems fair for anyone. Being a “believer” of what these developers say and giving them the benefit of the doubt should not be an easy pass for the defenders of developer titles or people with lowering standards to quell their preorder investment or fanboy bias.
All in all – people and developers need to realize that if you have a great game – you do not rely on E3 hype or cinematic trailers. And if there are comprises to be made like From Software’s Dark Souls II obliteration downgrade – this should never be shown in the first place or be heavily captioned with “Everything shown following is not guaranteed to be the same as the final product.”
A lot may ask – but why? Is this not common sense? To which I ask – why do Starbucks cups warn of “CAUTION: AVOID POURING ON CROTCH AREA?” Surely, no one will grab a nice cup of orange mocha frappucino lightly heated and pour it on their crotch? Either way, these things must be made clear regardless of a relative interpretation of “common” knowledge.
Developers reading this post: be real and do not rely on the hype. Take a lesson from CD Projekt RED and developers Sony Computer Entertainment or even Microsoft (with the exception of Forza nerf). Learn from the hype, and do not partake in it or utter failure will result.
Another year and more titles passed us by along with the days of 2013. It was filled with sadness, happiness, and times to remember that have marked many more good days to come for many of us. For gamers worldwide, it was a year in which not many games were released, but a few notable titles were profoundly worthy of mention.
It is with pleasure that we provide the millions of anticipated readers what they have been waiting for since the dawn of 2013: the video game industry’s most exceptional and gratified WhatIfGaming 2013 Game Of The Year Awards ceremony, presenting its official Game Of The Year awards before anyone else with a collective decision from industry experts and WhatIfGaming editors worldwide through its defined rigorous selection process which focuses on industry and developer recognition. The moment you all have been waiting for is finally here. Unlike the previous year, we are not the first this year but we wanted to maintain the similar quality to last year in having the most comprehensive awards this year, as always. See the Worst Game Of The Year and laugh at its shortcoming or weep for it, ponder about the Best Idea, or play through a title again to experience Best Storyline that is unlike any other.
Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to our beloved millions of WhatIfGaming readers! See you all in 2014.
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag Interview World Exclusive / Part 2 / In-Game Comparison Shots 360 VS PS4
We asked the team just a few more questions left unanswered and a ton of comparison shots right from the studio. After the jump, ye scurvy sailor!
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag Interview – Next Generation VS Current Generation, Console Versions Detailed
We caught up with the Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag team in a world exclusive interview detailing the exact differences between current gen and next-gen. Many people have e-mailed us wanting to know exactly what they are, and we have delivered. Interview after the break! (Video Demo included)
Another year and more titles passed us by along with the days of 2012. It was filled with sadness, happiness, and times to remember that have marked many more good days to come for many of us. For gamers worldwide, it was a year in which not many games were released, but a few notable titles were profoundly worthy of mention.
It is with pleasure that we provide the millions of anticipated readers what they have been waiting for since the dawn of 2012: the video game industry’s most exceptional and gratified WhatIfGaming 2012 Game Of The Year Awards ceremony, presenting its official Game Of The Year awards before anyone else with a collective decision from industry experts and WhatIfGaming editors worldwide through its defined rigorous selection process which focuses on industry and developer recognition. The moment you all have been waiting for is finally here. Unlike the previous year, we are not the first this year but we wanted to maintain the similar quality to last year in having the most comprehensive awards this year, as always. See the Worst Game Of The Year and laugh at its shortcoming or weep for it, ponder about the Best Idea, or play through a title again to experience Best Storyline that is unlike any other.
Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to our beloved millions of WhatIfGaming readers! See you all in 2013.
The highway of our heart never ceases to the speed limit. Constantly becoming variable throughout the year, the speed of the thrills in newer titles and greater sequels have kept us seeing the wonders of a road that seems to be endless. Once again the highway creates memories which leaves us alone at the passenger seat of life looking out at the night sky of remembrance. Some of us have conquered the hype of ordinary titles, the injustices of mediocre talent, and those games which have shown a devotion to game design which is more about marketing than true gameplay throughout the year. Alas in the confines of these terrible titles, there are those which reaffirm the very nature of recognition and praise, those which dare immensely and conquer the year with their prowess.
It is with pleasure that we provide the millions of anticipated readers what they have been waiting for since the dawn of 2011: the video game industry’s most exceptional and gratified WhatIfGaming 2011 Game Of The Year Awards ceremony, presenting its official Game Of The Year awards before anyone else with a collective decision from industry experts and WhatIfGaming editors worldwide through its defined rigorous selection process which focuses on industry and developer recognition. The moment you all have been waiting for is finally here. Similar to the previous years, WhatIfGaming is first to give out Game of the Year Awards this year. See the Worst Game Of The Year and laugh at its shortcoming or weep for it, ponder about the cohesiveness of Best Script, or play through a title again to experience Best Voice Acting gone unnoticed by some.
Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to our beloved millions of WhatIfGaming readers! See you all in 2012.
WhatIfGaming was lucky enough to be graced by the presence of a beloved icon in Hollywood in the form of Mr. Billy West, a very talented actor whose voice can be attuned to hundreds of iconic voices such as Bender from Futurama, and Ren & Stimpy to name a few. In a day we decided to spend with Billy West concurrent to Comic Con, we learned a lot more about his likes and dislikes.
The Electronic Entertainment Expo 2011 was an event full of exclusive titles not ready to be out for a good 6 months, to titles ranging into 2012 and beyond. WhatIfGaming was able to see every single title on the show floor and behind closed doors, while getting some of the best industry exclusive interviews and most-demanded questions from our readers directly. Mass Effect 3, Elder Scrolls V: Skryim, Hitman 5: Absolution, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Star Wars: The Old Republic and a myriad of amazing titles along with some of the best people and industry professionals with an indelible positive attitude made E3 2011 unforgettable. WhatIfGaming was graced with an extraordinary number of VIP Badges, Behind Closed-Doors previews, along with the various exclusive event invitationals reaching an all time high. Along the way, we even helped our fellow masses standing in line to come along with us as part of an E3 on-site exclusive access contest previews (where we took some lucky winners from the enormous 3 hour waiting lines into the events with us). It is with a level of dispiritedness that the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2011 is now over. It is time to look forward, ahead to newer and better releases, and to sanctify titles in this year’s WhatIfGaming’s Best Of E3 Awards 2011.
Criteria: The Best of E3 Awards, a subcategory for the WhatIfGaming Prizes, are given solely to those video games that demonstrate a pure excellence in the field for which they are not only nominated but also chosen. These awards only apply to playable games at E3 given a few exceptional categories.
Nomination & Selection Process: Compared with other site awards, the WhatIfGaming Prize nomination and selection process is long and extremely rigorous. This is the sole reason why WhatIfGaming Prizes have grown in importance over the years to become the most important prizes in their field. Forms, which amount to a personal and exclusive invitation, are sent to 275 (2011) selected individuals to invite them to submit nominations from the latest builds per video game. Self-nominations are disqualified. For WhatIfGaming Prizes, inquiries are sent to such people as developers, industry experts, analysts, among others. After our deadline passes, the nominations are chosen by permanent committee of 5 selected individuals from staff and only the final stage of nominees remain per category. From all of these, a winner is chosen.
The names of the nominees are not publicly announced, and neither are they told that they have been considered for the WhatIfGaming Prize. Some are announced publicly by practice. Nomination records are revealed on request approximately 2 years after each respective award year.
WhatIfGaming: Ted, it is such a pleasure seeing you again here at E3 2011. Insomniac Games and Naughty Dog are truly stealing the show here this year.
Ted Price, President & CEO Insomniac Games: Oh yea, it is definitely great to be here and show off what Insomniac Games can do and continues to do.