The Division developer says PC version kept "in check" with consoles, Ubisoft issues denial
The debate over whether or not consoles have been holding back the PC in terms of visuals and other aspects, such as game complexity, has been raging for years. PC gamers sounded the alarm with cries of “consolization” when they noticed smaller maps, larger fonts, inventories and menus designed for controllers, low resolution textures, and more. The most telling sign, however, is often a dearth of customizable graphics settings in the options menu.
PC gamers have long suspected that developers could be taking greater advantage of the raw power of the PC platform, but purposefully have not in order to maintain parity with the lower powered consoles. There was rarely any concrete proof of these suspicions, however...until now.
Keeping things "in check"
On February 4, the popular gaming YouTube channel Team Epiphany posted a gameplay video of the upcoming third-person shooter The Division with running commentary and a Q&A with an unnamed developer from Massive Entertainment, during an unspecified event in New York City. It’s near the tail end of the 17-minute video that one of the Team Epiphany members asks the developer if developing a game across multiple platforms has held the PC version of the game back.
After explaining how the PC version of The Division was considered a separate entity internally and how that benefited development, the developer goes on to say:
"We do have to keep in check with the consoles; it would be kind of unfair to push it so far away from them. But it's been good having a dedicated PC build for this game."
The language the developer uses is what is most surprising here. To say that the developers are keeping the PC version “in check” could imply that the development team has the ability and/or resources to create a better game on the PC, but are artificially limiting the potential of the PC version for the sake of consoles. The developer also uses the word “unfair” as part of his reasoning for parity between the platforms, which is even more surprising since most gamers probably expect limiting factors in game development to be something calculable, like budget, time, or resources – not fairness.
It is important to note, however, that the developer could have misspoke even though the question was very exact. And even if the developer meant what he said, he may not speak for the rest of the team and certainly not for the industry as a whole. The Division publisher, Ubisoft, recently released a statement in defense of the PC version:
"It has come to our attention that a comment from one of our team members has been perceived by some members of the community to imply the PC version of The Division was 'held back' and this is simply not true," the Ubisoft representative said. "From the beginning, the PC version of The Division was developed from the ground up, and we're confident players will enjoy the game and the features this version has to offer. And the feedback from PC players who participated in the recent closed beta supports this."
Similar controversies regarding graphics downgrades in the past have involved highly anticipated games like Watch_Dogs and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.