Ubisoft say it's "simply not true" that The Division was "held back"

The Division

Update 8 Feb, 2016: Ubisoft have sent word to calm nerves of players regarding the PC version being "kept in check" because of consoles.

After the below story was published quoting an unnamed member of the Ubisoft Massive development team as saying elements of The Division were "kept in check" because of the need to run on consoles, we asked Ubi for any further comment on the matter. They've sent us an official statement denying that it was "held back" and reiterating their stance that The Division's PC version was "developed from the ground up."

The Division is a cover shooter, but it's also an RPG. Here are the best RPGs currently available on PC.

Here's what they had to say in full:

"It has come to our attention that a comment from one of our team members has been perceived by some members of the community to imply the PC version of The Division was 'held back' and this is simply not true. From the beginning, the PC version of The Division was developed from the ground up and we're confident players will enjoy the game and the features this version has to offer. And the feedback from PC players who participated in the recent closed beta supports this."

Not a lot of extra light shed, sadly. Exactly what the anonymous developer was referring to we may never know, be it graphical limitations, design choices or something more technical.

Original Story 7 Feb, 2016: There are always people in comment sections claiming that a cross-platform triple-A game has had its graphics "dumbed down" for consoles, the PC version's fidelity apparently lowered to maintain some kind of parity, but it's not often you get confirmation of this actually happening.

With The Division, we've just had that confirmation. YouTubers Team Epiphany were flown out to New York to see a post beta version of The Division, which also came with interview access to a Ubisoft developer.

While interesting questions and answers are thin on the ground throughout the video, an interesting answer pops up 13 minutes in, with the unnamed developer admitting that cross-platform development did have some influence on the PC version.

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After speaking about the new game engine, and how it has "a lot of potential", he's asked if they've ever been restricted with how far they can push a game because of the differences between platforms. 

"It is definitely a [factor]," says the nameless Ubisoft developer. "But one good thing about The Division is that we've always considered PC as a separate platform. I've worked on projects before where the PC version's a port from a console, so it carries those limitations over, but we've always been in the mind that we'll have a dedicated PC build, so it hasn't really held it back too much."

That all sounds like the sort of answer you'd usually expect, but then he follows up with this: "We do have to kind of keep it in check with consoles because it would kind of be unfair just to push it so far away from them."

Judging by early reports, the PC version is a significant step up from consoles, but this developer quote does leave you wondering what it could be like if there wasn't this need for some kind of parity, but it seems Ubisoft didn't want... a division.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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RadioActiveLobster avatarGallarian avatarLordCrash avatarPrime avatarBelimawr avatarCerberus avatar+27
Gallarian Avatar
34
8 Months ago

"It would be kind of unfair to push the PC version far away from the consoles"

This is the problem with gaming right now. Developers aren't allowed to create the best games they possibly can, because the publishers think it's 'unfair' to console players.

You know what's unfair? Spending thousands on a good PC system, only to be forced to play watered down games held back by consoles.

It isn't unfair to give everyone the best experience they can get from what they paid for. The console versions would not be any less good because the PC version is allowed to be the best it can be. No one loses, you just get what you pay for.

Imagine if other industries were like this; "oh sorry, we're not making super cars anymore as its unfair to people who can only afford a hatchback", "Sorry, you cant build that mansion as most people live in 3 bedroom houses, so it would be unfair".

Forced parity only takes things away, it doesn't make the experience better for anyone.

15
RadioActiveLobster Avatar
54
8 Months ago

This reminds me of all those times Ferrari and Lamborghini have limited their cars to 120 miles per hour because it's unfair to all those Ford and Chevy cars out there...

O wait, that didn't happen because they aren't morons.

14
Belimawr Avatar
1106
8 Months ago

yet they all still have to follow the same speed limit meaning the extra power goes unused. pay all you want for a Ferrari but in normal driving and more so in traffic the Ford is just as fast.

-15
Cerberus Avatar
6
Cerberus(3 days 13 hours played)
8 Months ago

Belimawr I don't think you're getting the context of what Radio means. Unless of course you are saying that consoles set the speed limit ( frame rates/ graphical details) and and PC's have to be slowed down purposely for 'reasons'...

6
Gallarian Avatar
34
8 Months ago

Autobahn. Your argument is invalid.

5
Belimawr Avatar
1106
8 Months ago

still only go as fast as the car in front of you.

-5
xNuke Avatar
323
xNuke replied to Belimawr
8 Months ago

Doesn't happen that often. I drove through Germany a few times and boy was I stunned when I was driving 220 to test my cars limit and got passed over like I was at a standstill. That car was easily going 300+ kmh

1
Kitt Avatar
2
Kitt replied to Belimawr
8 Months ago

You can take a high speed car to a race track

2
neo606 Avatar
92
neo606 replied to Belimawr
7 Months ago

You're just too dumb to get the point, aren't ya boy.

5
Ben Snow Avatar
5
Ben Snow replied to Belimawr
7 Months ago

I still don't see why would the road metaphor be accurate. Why would performance of one platform depend on another like cars depend on the one in front of them?

2
gelin_refira Avatar
3
7 Months ago

I always wonder why people will want to defend those who abuse them.

3
wuweird Avatar
26
7 Months ago

Battered spouse syndrome.

1
marcoboyle Avatar
2
7 Months ago

@ Ben Snow - i guess the analogousness of the statement would be if the speed limit is say 60mph on roads then the limit for the VAST VAST majority of people (autobahn not withstanding) would be the 60hz refresh of monitors.

Whats the point in having hardware that can do 180mph or 180fps if your limited in how you can use it? Sure theres like >1% of the population who drive or play games that can break either of these barriers but they are exceptions rather than the rule.

Thats just how i read his comment.

2
Belimawr Avatar
1106
7 Months ago

nice to see someone here gets the point, rather than throw around insults due to not understanding the comment.

if firms want every format to be equal the lowest system is the speed limit and that is the end of it, this is why the car analogy doesn't work, because on the average road a Ferrari and a Ford only have the same top speed to stay within the speed limits.

but then it is much simpler for people to one up ridiculous comments that have no context to the actual product they are talking about.

so yeah just goes to show how deep the fanboyism and elitism goes into the PC crowd, who claim to be better but act the exact same way as the console fanboys.

0
Chewy2002 Avatar
1
Chewy2002 replied to Belimawr
7 Months ago

The difference here is, you assume the speed limit is a hard limit. It's not. Nothing is going to change your refresh rate on your monitor, but I can go whatever speed I want providing that I choose to not give a shit about the rules.

1
Prime Avatar
238
8 Months ago

We all knew this. I bet you other devs would say the same about their games if they were asked. Wouldn't surprise me if some devs were gagged by Sony or Microsoft.

7
Belimawr Avatar
1106
8 Months ago

most publishers have made this claim, there is no gagging anywhere involved and it's not a new revelation.

publishers big and small have all said they want to give the same experience across all formats to make it look like they give the same effort to all formats as everyone is essentially getting the same game.

-2
Prime Avatar
238
8 Months ago

I never said it is a new revelation and I'd love to see some sources on publishers saying the exact same thing.

3
Shriven Avatar
3181
7 Months ago

We having a PCGN DIvision team? Or maybe Overwatch?

3
[GM] SocietyX Avatar
114
7 Months ago

The choice of words here is what is interesting about the statement. He says it would be 'unfair' to consoles if they pushed the PC version to far away from it. I find that choice of words odd.

Had he said, "It's not feasible to extend our budget significantly working on significantly more complicated / upgraded PC graphics JUST for PC." Then I would understand that logic. You can't afford to spend way more development time for just the PC version beyond a reasonable value.

But when you suggest you don't do it because console people would 'feelsbadman' about their version... that's definitely odd. Course I'd imagine the truth is closer to Microsoft and Sony would be upset if their consoles looked so significantly bad compared to PC version that they'd lose customers. And since Sony makes nothing off PC and Microsoft is only making Windows sales, perhaps their interest are quite invested in seeing PC held back.

3
LordCrash Avatar
109
7 Months ago

A conspiracy that involves both Sony and Microsoft acting together(!) against PC? Yeah, sure, why not. I guess that's why we see so many games that come exclusively for Xbox and PS, but not for PC...

1
[GM] SocietyX Avatar
114
7 Months ago

Whoa I didn't say it was a conspiracy or anything that intense. I just said it's fully possible that Microsoft or Sony would not want Devs pushing PC extensively beyond the limits of their consoles. It's one of those mostly unspoken but understood things since they put a lot of money in the pockets of those developer studios.

1
shinobie 552 Avatar
2
shinobie 552(5 days 9 hours played)
7 Months ago

I think that's a bit disappointing to people who game on a PC and love to get the most rich and graphics heaviy experience they can out of a game. You want to play on a console OK great for you but don't penalize PC gamers for it. PC will always be the best way to games.

2
Ben Snow Avatar
5
7 Months ago

For whom is it exactly "unfair"? Console players get the exact same experience, PC players could have a much better game, more sales for them, it's good for everyone. Everyone but one company, or two to be exact. Sony and Microsoft, the console publishers. It's "unfair" to them to get left in the dust by much faster platforms? Disgusting, seems like they lost the meaning of fair play long ago... I hope Squadron 42 will devastate their console's image, they deserve it. Breaking other's experience in order to get more profit isn't exactly "for the players".

2
*sigh* Avatar
194
7 Months ago

What next? +400 ping for pc players to make things even? So we can all play together.

2
llubtoille Avatar
178
7 Months ago

Given his wording, I'm inclined to think he's referring to something other than graphics.

2
Big Perm Avatar
1
7 Months ago

After playing the closed beta, I think the graphics look great.

They have awesome fog effects, and the fabric looks amazing. It's already very taxing on my i7/980 system. While there's obviously been a downgrade, I don't doubt there had to be one just to run reliably.

1
Qu1n Avatar
1
Qu1n(4 days 21 hours played)
7 Months ago

This is the correct answer.

I too am running a reasonably high end machine - twin 980ti's and an I7 @ 4.4 and The division played at 2560x1080 taxed my machine. Not enough to ever dip below 60fps but more than enough to get the cards revved up and kicking out a serious amount of heat.

I think people are seriously over estimating the power behind their rigs. Companies have to aim for the majority in order to maximise sales, spending the money and time to fulfill the potential of systems like ours is not feasible for them at all economically.

That being said, I can also see the flip side. There are things this engine is already equipped to do that we could absolutely take advantage of that are NOT being used. I'm willing to bet the idea to not use the already developed engine to it's full potential did not come from the devs. Why would they spend so much time and effort developing things to ultimately not want to show them to the world? That was a corporate decision and more than likely VERY influenced by some cash incentive from Sony/Microsoft.

1
[GM] SocietyX Avatar
114
7 Months ago

I don't disagree with this, and I think it's also something that people, well reasonable people, understand. A game can only push the graphic bounds so far before it has a similar unfair affect within the PC market itself. If only the top few percent of people can run the game then your sales drop significantly or people who don't have the highest end PC and run it on Low feel game is very poor representation.

I don't honestly envy devs that situation of having to make hard decisions about delivering the super amazing graphics they probably dream of just as much as we do... vs the money counter's reality check that says we can't ship a game nobody can actually play. I'm sure that's just as frustrating for them as it is for us.

1
Aever Avatar
535
7 Months ago

First thoughts? Ubisoft are morons and everyone knows that.

Second thought? Well, we all know that a multi-platform game will be handicapped on PC because of restriction imposed by the consoles. I'm talking about technical limitations, usually at engine level. That's something we've grown to expect, but what I don't expect is for the PC version to be purposefully dumbed down to somehow be on par with the console versions. How exactly would better graphics be "unfair"? Why are graphics such an issue when someone using a mouse has all the advantages in the world against someone using a controller?

1
Sessh Avatar
1
Sessh(9 days 7 hours played)
7 Months ago

i'm sorry but i don't fucking spend over $3000 on a computer to handle awesome graphics to be kept in check , if the console peasants want to have graphics as good as pc, they should get a decent job and get a good computer, or stop living with mommy and daddy

1
LordCrash Avatar
109
7 Months ago

The publishers and developers don't give a shit about how much money people invested in their gaming rig. And that's totally the right thing to do. Start paying serious money to the people who develop the games instead of investing all your money in hardware and you might start to actually do something good for PC gaming...

1
Smoky_the_Bear Avatar
3
7 Months ago

"We do have to kind of keep it in check with consoles because it would kind of be unfair just to push it so far away from them"

Why? Why would this be unfair? Whats unfair is the games industry being held ransom by two huge companies who are marketing their substandard hardware as the best shit ever. Then having game developers pander to their whims and INTENTIONALLY making their games worse.

By their thinking, well more people owned a PS2 than any other console, all games should still run on that right, otherwise its unfair? Except everybody knows that would be stupid, things have progressed beyond that.

If this current console hardware is not good enough that's Sony and Microsofts problem and developers deliberately bending over backwards for them is slowing down video game advancement. I'd consider that "unfair" personally.

1
n3mir0th Avatar
1
7 Months ago

Wait.... since when did they communists strike back? Seriously?

So someone who doesn't invest much into his hobby, is entitled to get the same experience with someone that invested a lot? So If I afford to buy a nice house, the government should come and take a big dump on it to be inf air grounds with the homeless? Effing retarded.

MS/Sony should really need to stop paying game publishers to nerf their games. If your consoles suck, make them better. If someone has the right to buy cheap hardware then I have the right to buy expensive hardware. Artificially limiting one or the other is utterly stupid and pathetic.

This was the one game I was pushing myself to finally give Ubisoft a last chance. No trading, no guilds/clans, and now this.

Ubisoft, it seems you are trying so hard to keep everyone hating you. Keep being in the trash bin then, seems like you like it down there. Console plebs will still throw money at your crap, everyone's happy.

1
AvatarIII Avatar
2
7 Months ago

lol, how is it fair to hold back the PC version of the game, when many PC owners have intentionally put in more money to their PCs for the main purpose of being able to handle better graphics? if anything that's unfair!

1
GenAce2010 Avatar
1
GenAce2010(1 day 15 hours played)
7 Months ago

This practice is total crap. Simply put: my $3K PC does not equal a $300 plastic box. If Devs are going to make a title that plays on the PC then they need to utilize all of it's potential.

1
misterhamtastic Avatar
1
7 Months ago

The 'low' graphics setting is what consoles can generally handle when it comes to PC ports.

1
Hest Avatar
1
7 Months ago

Consoles are the root of all evil in gaming. They screw up so many things.

1
LordCrash Avatar
109
7 Months ago

Unpopular opinion (coming from a PC-only hardcore gamer who has been playing on this platform for more than 20 years):

Why do we really act like crybabies when we don't get a significantly better version for PC while we are as a whole not willing to spend more money for the games themselves? We argue with how much money we spend on hardware but that's just nonsense. It's not like the hardware manufacturers pay the game developers to make awesome games. If we PC gamers want to be treated well and if we continue to demand "better" versions we should finally begin to pay good money for games. As long as we pay significantly less money (on a general level) than console gamers we have no right at all to demand better versions. Why should any sane publisher invest serious extra money into a PC version if PC gamers are not willing to pay extra for it? Why do we demand a certain behaviour from other parties that we are not willing to stick to ourselves? There is a certain ugly sense of entitlement that sticks with the PC gaming community since its beginning - and I hate it. I do love good games and I do love great graphics. But I'm not egoistic and I'm no fool. I know that you can only achieve things if the deal pays off for everybody. The sad but simple truth is that we - the PC gamers - often try to "rip off" the publishers and game developers and not the other way round. We want to buy their games for 30 bucks or less in various key shops - instead of the 60 or 70 bucks console people have to pay - and at the same time we demand a much better version of the very same game. How does that fit together? Well, it doesn't. If we want the game industry to be changed in favor for PC we first have to change our own behaviour. I mean, our passion is gaming, isn't it? To play games - and not to own hardware. So we should finally start to invest more money into the games - and not just only into the hardware to render them...

1
trotskiii3 Avatar
4
7 Months ago

"We do have to kind of keep it in check with consoles because it would kind of be unfair just to push it so far away from them."

So how many PC owners agree. that that PC build you just paid for well over £1000 thats it is only fair that even thou you paid all that money you dont get better graphics than the consoles. because it would show the consoles up and that would be unfair. I can only imagine those words coming from someone who has never built there own PC. because i always believed you get what you pay for. My graphics card cost more than an xbox one. thats before i talk about my CPU which was £300 and memory and hard drive and motherboard and so on. power unit. case. dvd rom. dual layer . and they say that if someone pays over £1000 on a pc build and someone buys an xbox one at £280 then it is fair that both those systems should be equally as good as each other. what a load of rubbish.

you get what you pay for. dumbing down PC GAMES SO MICROSOFT CAN MAKE MORE MONEY IS WRONG. and unfair to PC builders who spends thousand of pounds building a pc to get ports from a £250 machine. that is BS.

1
trotskiii3 Avatar
4
7 Months ago

this is what you get when profit matters more than quality. we all gets scammed. while they tell us its only fair. PC owners dont get what they pay for. i cant imagine this having anything to do with sony. i just know sony are not that dirty. but xbox. thats a totally different cattle of fish. with there exclusives and the rest of the pr bs. they have the worst machine. cant even run most games at 60frames per seconds. it will be xbox company that are pushing this i doubt it is sony. and it makes you laugh becasue microsoft are kinda screwing themselves. becasue PC is there platform. maybe thats why this is possible. as they do own both. they can say look we want you to concentrate on making our xbox games look good. and dont make them look too good on pc or we may loose money in sales. and people will stop buying consoles. this is bill gates. who is engineering kita viruses to kill us all. he must have alot of skeletons in his wardrobe. you get what you pay for. thats fair. or it use to be. but you cant expect fairness in such a corrupt world. sometimes you can just be lucky to get a fair deal. usually you are not gonna be happy with what you get. and you should'nt be happy gaming has changed over the years. from the days when you got demos on magazines. now they putting half the money they have into advertisements instead of putting that money into the games. and mostly all the games are coming out broken. never seen it so messed up before. what a mess. also doesnt help to see so many kiss arses out there. sticking up for multi billion dollar companys who dont give a damn about you. if you want a fair world stop kissing corrupt arses. and start standing up for yourself. if you keep standing up for bad companies the end product is gonna be garbage. because your saying that its ok to scam us. i disagree.

1
wuweird Avatar
26
7 Months ago

Hmm, off the cuff, unscripted remark by someone whose actually had their hands in the guts of the game, or the carefully prepared statement from a PR rep...

I know which one I'd trust.

1
Rylan Avatar
2
7 Months ago

Terrible terrible article. I expected this sort of reaching in the YouTube comments when I watched this video earlier but not from a gaming website.

At no point are the words graphics used in that statement. You've made that bit up for... no idea why. To generate hits?

He says the PC has its own build of the engine and that it allowed them to do more with the PC version. Obviously it has to be held in check...its got to resemble the same game as on console but justifying one comment as some illuminati theory is BS reporting.

-1
LordCrash Avatar
109
8 Months ago

I can't believe that this is the reason. The simple reason is that nobody would pay for such a PC version, not even talking about how few people could actually manage to play it. So it makes no sense whatsoever for the publisher to push the PC version to the limits.

-11
Gallarian Avatar
34
8 Months ago

The thing is, it wouldnt have cost the devs more to implement better graphics. They built an engine that is more that was capable of building the game we saw at E3 2012. The tools already exist, they just werent allowed to actually use them, which is a huge disappointment.

10
LordCrash Avatar
109
7 Months ago

Bollocks. We saw a trailer in E3 2013. Nothing more. There was no "game", no live demo or anything. We have no idea what the engine was capable of in 2013. NO IDEA. So we can't claim that the tools already existed, that just pure speculation. Nor do we know what the PC devs really could do and for which reasons.

What we DO know is that The Divison looked simply awesome in the beta (not worse than earlier trailers by any stretch of the word), maxed out and on 4k. I'd say better than 99% of the rest of the games out there, especially those in the same genre and with the same open world design. And it looks a lot better on PC (maxed out and on 4k) than on console. So how does that fit in with that claim? It simply doesn't.

And a lot of what the guys says in the video can be interpreted in different ways. What he imo probably meant was that the game could be even better if it was developed for PC alone from the beginning, with unlimited budget. Of course it could. But that doesn't mean that it was dumbed down in the process of development. That's just what people want to believe because it fits to their already made up conviction that Ubisoft was evil and that there was a kind of conspiracy against PC gaming...

1
Gallarian Avatar
34
7 Months ago

They released a video showing off the capabilities of the SnowDrop engine they had built, including showing how it made the gameplay trailer look like it did. The engine existed and its ability to create games that look like that exist, but there would be no point using them as only a minority of gamers have PC's capable of running it.

0
Ben Snow Avatar
5
7 Months ago

Here in the wonderful world of PC gaming you can decide whether you want great performance or better graphical fidelity, so you don't exactly need a high end rig to run recent games. If they can downgrade it to a console, ~$250-300 PCs are already solved as they are basically the same thing, just without the corporate lockdown from Sony or Microsoft.

1
Smoky_the_Bear Avatar
3
7 Months ago

Not to mention future proofing. If they are looking at this being an MMO that lasts a while, well peoples hardware gets better and better and it's nice to be able to revisit games that you previously couldn't play on full graphics when you buy a new machine.

1
LordCrash Avatar
109
7 Months ago

It's not an MMO made to last a while. It's just a simply full price game. Ubisoft only wants to sell the game once and then probably some DLCs, just like with every other game they sell. Real MMOs that are either F2P or have an subscription model are a completely different thing.

1
CombatWars Avatar
1
7 Months ago

What do you mean "nobody would pay for such a PC version" and "how few people could actually manage to play it." People could lower graphics beyond Ultra HD or whatever the best graphics would be. Just because Crysis 3 had Ultra graphics and 4K resolution doesn't mean the game was locked to it. You could drop down to 720P and low graphics if the computer couldn't handle it and it's the same with The Division.

1
LordCrash Avatar
109
7 Months ago

I meant the publisher, not the customers. No publisher would pay a shitload of money for a PC version of a muliplat game. Some money, yes, sure. That's what people expect. But there are limitations to the scope of what one version of a multiplat game could be. And it's not because console players would think that they have a minor version (they could always buy the PC version themselves if they think so), it's just because it makes commercially no sense to invest a huge chunk of money only for the PC version - and only for a small fraction of PC players who have a system powerful enough to render it.

1
phynesse Avatar
1
7 Months ago

I think the reason is not quite as simple, especially since he mentions its 'unfair to push it far away from consoles', rather than its not economical.

If every game from 2015 on would be developed to full PC potential, console versions would start looking pretty dull, like 2nd class platforms. However, consoles are outselling PCs by a huge margin. So the gaming industry will do everything to protect that market.

Who would happily buy a PS4+games in 2016 if they are watered down versions compared to PC?

1