Watch Dogs then and now: a controversy brews

Watch Dogs news

A bit of a storm is brewing around the latest Watch Dogs trailer. This seems to be another example of Ubisoft’s historically poor ability to manage expectations around its games.

It all began with the amazing Watch Dogs gameplay reveal presentation at E3 2012. Fast forward nearly two years, and as the game is gearing to launch on 27 May 2014, excited gamers find themselves disappointed with the gameplay footage revealed in the latest trailer.

Ubisoft has been accused of visually downgrading the game, and of fooling fans by passing off a “vertical slice” of its work as representative of the final product.

Ubisoft has hit back, saying that there is no visual downgrade on the game, that it is delivering on its vision, and that the PC version will in many ways be better than the E3 2012 build that first grabbed our attention.

The game’s creative director, Jonathan Morin, has said that the latest story trailer is not a good graphical reference for the game, although it is also confirmed that the trailer footage was running on PS4 – so this doesn’t quite make sense.

Below are videos of the original E3 2012 presentation running on a PC dev kit, and the latest story trailer From March 2014 running on PS4, along with a compilation video overlaying the two versions, and some standard world exploration gameplay from a German PS4 version hands-on.

What do you think? Has the game been visually downgraded, or is this just the nature of the business, trying to craft games that run well across various platforms.

Remember, Watch Dogs will be hitting Xbox 360, PS3 and even the Wii U alongside the Xbox One, PS4, and PC.

While the cynical and jaded gamers among us will probably not be that surprised, shrugging off the commonplace “bullshots” and “vertical slice” marketing tactics, the question remains: why do we put up with it?

Why should a game publisher be allowed to show off footage and images that aren’t representative of the final product, without adding an obvious caveat that this is the case?

One of my favourite critics and cynics, Jim Sterling addresses exactly that in his latest Jimquisition and it’s worth a watch (if you’re not afraid of a few swearwords).

Next in line for a controversy? Ubisoft’s Tom Clancy’s The Division, which also garnered plenty of attention from its stunning visuals when first revealed at E3 2013. Watch this space.

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Watch Dogs then and now: a controversy brews

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