Does console parity come with a cost, and do you care?

Yesterday Ubisoft made an announcement dropped a bombshell, regarding the performance of ‘Assassin Creed: Unity’ – namely that it will ship on both consoles running at 900p and 30fps. (this morning they announced that these specs are “not cemented” – perhaps this statement was a test for reaction; or is it the sign of a troubled development? this game launches in 6 WEEKS!)

Their reasoning for this? “We decided to lock them at the same specs to avoid all the debates and stuff” according to senior producer Vincent Pontbriand. They admitted that they had purposefully locked the next gen title, “built from the ground up for the next generation of gaming” to less than native 1080p…crazy right?

Of course within seconds the internet was ablaze with fury and message boards went into melt-down…how dare Ubisoft lie to us…they cried; there is a sense of entitlement in gamers that is almost unbearable at times.

But do they have a point? Are they merely expressing their concerns in the wrong manner?

The case for…

Ubisoft have a history of doing this type of thing; in the past year alone they have mentioned system specs three times and all three times they have been met with rage on the internet.

  1. This time last year they announced that both console versions of ‘AC: black flag’ would run at 900p 30fps only to release a day one patch for the PS4 which bumped it up to 1080p 30fps. Xbox fans were; understandably, upset by this. Their new console was called under-powered and they got mocked by PS4 fanboys.
  2. ‘Watch_Dogs’ would run at 1080p 30fps only on PS4…according to the Sony website just prior to launch. It launched at 900p 30fps and the outcry was crazy, Sony said it was an honest mistake…the conspiracy nuts said that Microsoft demanded (or paid for) parity.
  3. ‘AC: Unity’ debacle.

As recently as July 8th, Yves Guillemot stated the following about  ‘AC: Unity’;

 “It’s a game that takes full advantage of the new gen,it’s really a good demonstration of what those machines can do. And people are amazed. They didn’t expect those machines to deliver that level of graphics and animation quality, the depth of the number of people that can move in the environment, and so on. It’s helping the brand to have a new beginning with totally different possibilities.”

Conspiracy nuts have been reading between the lines here. They assume that he is specifically talking about native 1080 and at least 30fps. I feel that this assumption should be a safe one; why can’t an engine “Built from the ground up” for the next gen reach the gold standard? It shouldn’t be a figure of aspiration, it should be the norm. Even if Guillemot was not talking about these figures, what was said yesterday drastically conflicts with the above.

Gamers are worried about the future releases from Ubisoft…news of ‘The Crew’ being delayed further exacerbates the problems (this doesn’t surprise me, keep an eye on my youtube channel for my thoughts on the BETA)…especially considering we have not seen ‘The Division’ run on anything but a high end PC.

Playstation gamers are blaming Microsoft and are getting worried about what this means for their console over the course of the next 5+ years. They bought the most powerful hardware, will they see no benefit of that power unless the games are first-party? Have Microsoft lowered the ceiling for this entire generation?

Can this really be a cost of console parity; would developers really benefit from this kind of practice? Maybe there is an element of benefit; it would be cheaper for them to accept 900p as the new standard rather than search for ways to ‘eek’ out the performance boost needed for native 1080p. As we all know the only thing developers and publishers like more than saving money is making money. surely Sony and Microsoft would hate the idea of being associated with under-powered hardware. It would limit their influence on publishers. and if the conspiracy theory is correct it would cost Microsoft a fortune.

The case against…

It would be inaccurate to say that we were happier when we were ignorant of such things as frame-rates and resolutions; because we’re gamers and we always have something to complain about. I do think that these people worrying and fighting over nothing though. This whole affair got me thinking about frame-rates and resolutions and i’ve come to following conclusions;

  1. 1080p 30fps is NO guarantee of a games quality. Case-in-point: ‘Infamous: Second Son’. It’s no secret that I am not a fan of this game, it lacks personality, challenge and variety. I hated this game (i’ve yet to finish it to be honest) and yet it ran in native 1080. Surely it should have been the best thing since sliced bread (or folded pizza).
  2. ‘Watch_dogs’ would not have been improved by running at 1080p; it’s another game that struggles to create any sense of character or charm.
  3. Last generation saw a number of games that i’d call ‘all time classics’ yet not one of them ran at a resolution higher than 720p.
  4. Look at the number of ‘HD re-releases’ only a handful feel any benefit and the ones that are hailed as great; were already great games; look at ‘The Last of Us’.
  5. Game-play > graphics.

I just want us; as console gamers, to leave the fighting over frame-rates and resolutions to the guys (and girls) that are a part of the ‘PC Master Race’ and get back to enjoying games. Never mind about the resolution, worry about if a game is good or not; that’s what really counts.

Never forget about the quality…that’s what makes the games we remember, memorable.

Are you worried about the current gen?

Will the current gen ever reach 1080p 30fps?

Should Ubisoft be made to account for their actions?

Are you a digital foundry fan?

Do you care about all this stuff?

Then leave your thoughts in the comments below!



5 thoughts on “Does console parity come with a cost, and do you care?

  1. I’m not ignorant enough to believe that 1080p and 60 FPS mean a better game, but don’t feed me bullshit about designing a game from the ground up for the next generation, then backtrack on delivering the only real advancement of this hardware cycle (HD, locked framerates) because either a) your design team sucks and can’t take into account CPU vs GPU, or b) you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.

    Years and years of PC ports that clearly didn’t give a damn about ANY degree of optimization were one thing, but extending the same laziness to consoles? Let’s not even go down that road.


  2. Simon (Stiffler_1990) says:

    Forget about feelings. As a company why wouldn’t you just make a game the best you can? If that means it’s only 900p so be it, but why compromise your integrity to avoid “hurt feelings”. If people want 1080p that badly they can purchase a PS4 and they will still buy your games.

    The only reason to compromise on the pixel rate of a game is if there is a large enough financial incentive. Is incensed customers worth the amount a company is willing to pay for parity?


    • Good points there Simon! All valid! However Ubisoft have never confirmed which console was holding which back…of course we can assume the xbox due to its weaker ram, but you never know lol


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