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The discussion about performance specs for a game on home consoles has been all the rage ever since the hardware details for the Xbox One and PS4 were made apparent last year. What really put the discussion into full overdrive was knowing that the Xbox One was more expensive (with Kinect) than the PS4. Gamers saw it as paying more and getting less, especially on the performance end. Far Cry 4's creative director, Alex Hutchinson, doesn't think that the resolution debate holds a lot of merit.
Speaking to OXM [via Total Xbox], Hutchinson went on the offensive against the complaints of native 1080p. According to the creative director...
“We should not be in a business that sells itself on the flavour of like, gadgetry and technology." … “It's certainly not something I care about in a game," ... "It feels weird to me that people are cool about playing a sort of retro pixel game, and yet the resolution somehow matters. It's like: is it fun, is it interesting, is it new, is it fresh, are there interesting questions?”
The question has become “interesting” because of previous situations involving Ubisoft titles where specs have alleged been pared down for undisclosed reasons. Assassin's Creed Unity is only 900p on both the Xbox One and PS4 – and while 633,600 pixels may not seem like that big of an issue in the grand scheme of things, it's just the fact that people know that one console is stronger than the other but isn't being fully utilized to its utmost potential.
Ubisoft, of course, had an excuse as to why the resolution for Assassin's Creed Unity is only 900p, but a lot of gamers aren't buying it. This issue also cropped up again when an engineer for Ubisoft hinted at the console manufacturers putting parity limits on PC ports of a game in order to keep them from upstaging the home console version.
The conversation about specs may not be that interesting to Hutchinson, but it's something that catches the ire of gamers when it seems like anti-competitive measures are a foul.
Hutchinson goes on to say...
“With the 4K TVs and things - somebody was telling me that with a 4K TV, to even see it, your living room has to be big enough to sit like 12 feet from the screen. I don't know the exact numbers, but it starts to get a little crazy. I'm just in it for the experience, I'll play a SNES game if it's cool."
No one says that all games have to look like tech demos from the future; people still enjoy sprite-based games. But even Hutchinson betrays his own point: if resolution wasn't so important why reveal to OXM that the team is targeting 1080p at 30fps on both the Xbox One and PS4? One commenter on the article made an excellent point: why not settle for 720p at 30fps if specs aren't that interesting?
When asked if players will cease to obsess over graphics fidelity, Hutchinson replied...
"I think they already have secretly. Think about how things used to be - it used to be the graphics on the back of a box that sold a game. And even since the Xbox 360 and the PS3, that sort of era, like early 2000, I feel like 99% of the time it's gone away.
He might think that he's right, but the stats say otherwise. 75% of gamers still make buying decisions based on graphics (in addition to the overall quality of the game)... and, as much as Hutchinson might not want to admit it, the facts, the numbers and the sales speak louder than anecdotal evidence.
What's more is that if specs weren't important, why upgrade to new consoles? The gameplay experience is just as important as the visual immersion for some gamers. The whole point of new hardware is to delve into new experiences... some of which are dependent on their graphics (just ask anyone who bought Ryse).
Nevertheless, Hutchinson draws parallels to the sales between Call of Duty and Crytek games, saying...
"I think experiences have been selling them, and that's your challenge, if you don't have a new cool experience, or a social experience - like Call of Duty sells consoles, even though art-wise, it's not exactly... like Call of Duty to Crytek's games, one sells a metric s**t-ton and the other doesn't."
Yeah but “experiences” is variable since you still get more gameplay options and variety out of Battlefield or Arma and even those games doesn't sell as much as Call of Duty. But arguing over sales data across various types of brands is another discussion for another day.