Earlier this year, Yves Guillemot of Ubisoft told the Dutch gaming website InsiderGamer that Watch Dogs was being built for PC, and scaled back onto every other major platform:
“The team is developing it on high end PCs and next gen, after that other teams are looking how they can make it fit for the older generation. So the first approach is to see how they can take full advantage of the next gen consoles.”
Now, however, Watch Dogs producer Dominic Guay, talking to Playstation Blog, said that the experience on PS4 will be the same as the PS3, only with richer detail – “magnified”.
“All of the details in the game are pushed forwards, we have more details, more immersion, we’re able to increase connectivity, increase the density of things. So it’s the same game experience, but basically magnified on the PlayStation 4.”
What this means is that, contrary to Ubisofts initial word, the PS4 (and ostensibly PC) versions are being scaled upwards – meaning the game has been created with PS3 memory restrictions in mind.
Generally, these restrictions set in stone the size and scale of level design, and how large levels are between loading screens, etc,. That means that Watch Dogs will be very much a current gen game experience, with perhaps some higher resolution textures, better ambient effects, 1080p visuals, and more scenery, NPCs, and other objects on the map.
It’s not clear exactly why the team have decided to switch development, but it mirrors almost precisely the decision by DICE to switch from primary development on PC for Battlefield 3 to the consoles, and Square-Enix’s similar decision to create Hitman for PS3, “magnifying” it for PC.
This method of working ensures a more optimized product on the most lucrative platforms. With the PC and PS4, there’s room to simply add “fluff” due to increased system resources. The same cannot be said for the PS3 and Xbox 360 which, at this juncture, is about incredibly careful optimization.
Around a year into the next generations life-span, we should see games being built equally – or on PC and then down-scaled - for all x86 systems. It’ll work out cheaper for everyone.