We’re now entering that awkward phase in a console cycle where studios have to pull the trigger on the decision to stop making games for last-gen consoles and focus solely on the current systems.
This is great news for those of us who have moved on from our beloved PS3s and 360s, despite the single dramatic tear I shed when finally trading mine in for a PS4 a few months ago (Thanks to Bloodborne, my very first “system-seller”). The cross-gen development cycle hurts both sides. Those who are still rocking last-gen consoles get buggy, overdeveloped games with too much code for old hardware, and the current-console version suffers massively from trying to bridge the gap between new and old, rather than being strictly built ground up to take advantage of the power offered by modern hardware.
Then again, if you can sell two different versions of the same game, why not release a half-assed version for both generations and make more money. One only has to look at the oft-lambasted “Worst Company in America” who in 2013 were still releasing games for the PS2.
The best part about this whole thing is that Ubisoft is the company doing this first.
Ubisoft, you know, the same guys who pumped out cross-gen versions of all its biggest franchises, from Far Cry to Assassin’s Creed. Having said that, at this year’s CDC, Stephen McAuley, Technical Lead at Ubisoft Montreal, owned up to this and admitted that, Far Cry 4 specifically, took a big dip in quality from trying to make a game work on both outdated hardware and current machines.
“Our mandate as a graphics team was to lead on current-gen, keeping the last-gen engine the same as what shipped Far Cry 3. That gave us a lot of constraints as we had to keep the last-gen working, which affected a lot of our decisions throughout the project.”
In spite of what the gaming world loves to believe about industry giants like EA and Ubisoft, it seem that they are indeed listening to gamers and learning from their mistakes; at least in this respect. It’s harder to forgive them for the constant bullshots and graphical downgrades for console games like Watchdogs and Assassin’s Creed: Unity. Regardless, let’s take a few seconds to enjoy the fact that two years into a new console cycle, we’ll finally be seeing releases developed solely for current-gen hardware, as hard as it can be to let go of the past.