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The Division on PC held back by consoles – “Unfair to push it so far away from them”

by Eric Frederiksen | February 8, 2016February 8, 2016 6:30 am PDT

A hardcore PC gamer wakes up in a cold sweat, screaming, awakened by one of their greatest fears. You guessed it: PC graphics held back by the console version of a game.

It’s a concern many PC gamers have, and not a totally invalid one. PC games have the capability of looking better than their console counterparts, but developers have to make all kinds of decisions about money, time, and PR when they’re building a multi-platform game like Tom Clancy’s The Division.

Unfortunately, it sounds like some of those came into play with Ubisoft’s latest shooter.

When we checked out The Division at a preview event recently, developers there were emphatic that the PC version of the game is separate from the console versions. Indeed, the number of graphics and interface options did bear that out, and the game looked and ran great during the beta. But that doesn’t mean that all is happy.

“One good thing about The Division is we’ve always considered the PC as separate platform,” said a developer on the game in an interview with Team Epiphany, repeating the refrain. Then he shifted a bit.

“We do have to keep it in check with the consoles; it would be unfair to push it so far away from them. But it’s been good having a dedicated PC build for this game. I’m really happy that we’re pushing the PC build as much as we are. There’s a lot more customized options than the console.”

Ouch.

This probably wasn’t the statement Ubisoft wanted coming out about the PC version of the game, and it’s not one they’re going to have an easy time taking back. While the game does look great, the statement makes it clear that, from that developer’s perspective at least, the console versions of the game held back the PC version. It could’ve been held back for any number of reasons. The simplest and most frustrating is that keeping them looking similar makes it easy to advertise and keeps console gamers happy.

The more pragmatic reasons are money and time. Working to appeal to high end PC gamers can be costly and time consuming, as the best effects take more time and more money to produce, and there’s likely a law of diminishing returns somewhere in there, where continuing to work on it costs more and more money with less of a benefit.

Which of those reasons was the actual impetus for the decision is unclear, but no matter what the reason, or what Ubisoft says in response to the comment, it’s something PC gamers are likely to latch on to and hold against them for a long time to come – justified or not.

Tom Clancy’s The Division hits PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on March 8.

Team Epiphany

Eric Frederiksen

Eric Frederiksen has been a gamer since someone made the mistake of letting him play their Nintendo many years ago, pushing him to beg for his own,...

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