Earlier this year, UbiSoft had to deal with a fit of internet rage when it was discovered that the version of Watch_Dogs they released in 2014 looked virtually nothing like the game they debuted at E3 2012. Two years ago, the Watch_Dogs demo was heralded as the first look at the next-generation of consoles. When Ubi was called out on showing a demo that wasn’t representative of the actual game, they played a bit of revisionist history and claimed the 2012 demo was just a PC target demo. Anyone trying to play Watch_Dogs on Ultra settings on a 2014 PC will know that’s a big fat lie as well.
The Watch_Dogs situation is indicative of a bigger problem with E3, and third party publishers specifically. You don’t really see this sort of deception from Nintendo, Sony, or Microsoft as when you see their game demos at E3 it’s pretty obvious they are running on either final consoles, debugs, or console development kits so that what you’re seeing is what you’ll get when the game finally releases.
On the other hand, third party publishers have become cheap carny tricksters using maxed-out Alienware computers with an Xbox controller attached to try to trick people into thinking the game will be just as pretty on their $400 game console. Watch_Dogs sort of taught people to not trust what UbiSoft shows at E3, so when that guy played Assassin’s Creed Unity at the Microsoft Press Conference many people suspected he was actually showing off the PC version. There’s no evidence that is indeed the case, but one other big third party game was definitely using the PC version instead of the consoles.
2K’s Evolve, by Turtle Rock Studios, was showcased at E3 exclusively with the PC version running on a pretty beefy Alienware system. Even in the Microsoft booth, where the game was playable right alongside other Xbox One games running on actual hardware, people were playing the game on a PC with an Xbox controller being led to believe the game looked that much better than anything else in that booth. The Xbox One and PS4 are powerful consoles, but there is no way they will ever get close to the image quality that an i7-powered Alienware with a high end nVidia graphics card can. If you think they can, you’re fooling yourself.
But these third party publishers hope that people are ignorant to that, and thanks to their cozy relationship with large gaming publications they have the press parroting their PR speak to help deceive customers. They know that big outlets won’t call them out on their BS because they want to make sure they get review code on time to be able to review the game before it’s out. That’s why you really didn’t see many big publications pointing out the whole Watch_Dogs controversy.
It was pretty apparent, especially in the Xbox Booth, that Evolve was running on PCs. Despite some idiots trying to tell people that the human eye can’t tell the difference between console resolutions, it wasn’t hard to tell that Forza Horizon 2 in the MS booth was definitely 1080p, while Sunset Overdrive was 900p. That sort of thing is very easy to notice, just like Evolve running on a maxed-out Alienware looked much different than every real Xbox One game in the booth.
Where games such as Sega’s Alien Isolation were running on actual hardware (both PS4 and Xbox One), the console version of Evolve wasn’t even present at E3. Yesterday 1985fm and myself got to sit down with the Evolve developers for a short interview, and when the question about the console version’s resolution and frame rate was brought up it was immediately dodged. As they said the console versions were still in development they wouldn’t be talking about them until they were done. I guess that Microsoft marketing deal 2K struck for an exclusive Evolve beta on the Xbox One sort of gags the developers for addressing questions about the non-existent console versions.
The problem with all of this was that 2K was promoting Evolve as a console game at the show. It had a huge presence in the MS press conference, their booth, and Microsoft’s booth yet no one was actually playing the Xbox One version of the game. They were playing the PC version, and everyone knows there is normally a big difference between the two. Even Sony brought the actual PS4 version of PlanetSide 2 to E3, which played great on the gamepad with some smart UI/Hud changes for the console interface.
Companies such as Sega and EA brought real console versions of their multi-platform games to E3. Alien Isolation was running on Xbox One and PS4 hardware, and on both proof was seen by the game going to the dash to be restarted. EA naturally had their sports games running on the hardware, as they don’t do PC versions. On the other hand, UbiSoft and 2K (ironically right next to each other on the floor) were running high spec PC versions of their console games to lie and deceive people.
I understand wanting your game to look the best, which is why companies like them tend to release photoshopped “bullshots” to promote the game, but in an age where E3 is so easily consumed via the internet and live streams not showing the real version of a game will just come back to bite them in the ass within a year or so. Watch_Dogs showed this to be the case, and it’s unfortunate no one learned a lesson from that. Show the real game, not a “target” or a PC version you need quad Titans to match.