Are we too obsessed with graphics quality?

quality snob column

Are we obsessed with graphics quality? Obsessed with having the best looking games, something better than our friends’ consoles, or a higher PC spec than the next gamer?

Every day we see comparison videos, screenshot comparisons, and comments from gamers mocking other devices because they underperform compared to theirs. The ongoing Watch Dogs graphics debate is a good example of this, and the game hasn’t even launched.

Why do we make such a big deal about the quality of games? Are we just being brainwashed into purchasing more expensive hardware for these better looking games, or are we just wishing for a better gaming experience that looks stunning at the same time?

Watch Dogs

Watch Dogs bullshot – your results may vary.


One of the biggest problems in today’s society, is society. We are brainwashed to love and hate what others love and hate, and it’s the same in gaming.

The gaming media says visuals and performance are the most important aspect, and we believe it. A big deal was made about the Tomb Raider Definitive Edition’s frames per second performance, and we will all sit and watch a 5 minute video showing the game side by side on PS4 and Xbox One. The truth is, if performance and visuals didn’t matter to someone then the latest “revamped” Tomb Raider wouldn’t exist.

The publishers are also to blame. Why release a “Definitive Edition” and emphasise the game’s “new” mechanics, when really it’s the same game? Non-buyers won’t miss out on the story if they already own the original version.

The sad thing is that I nearly bought that game, just because it looked “better”. Then I paused to really think about investing another R799 into a game because it has a few graphical improvements. Does that mean my PS3 version of the game is incomplete or inferior? Well according to the “definitive” marketing, that’s what they are saying.

Tomb Raider Definitive Edition screenshot 2 scav_hub7

Tomb Raider Definitive Edition – it’s so much better than that crappy original version, right?

Value for your money

So, we go out and spend thousands of rands on a new console or PC hardware – we obviously want that investment to reflect its highest level of performance, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

We expect AAA game developers to deliver on this – heaven forbid we get a AAA title that doesn’t play as well on PS4 as Xbox One. When this happens, gamers verbally bash others for their terrible, ill-informed purchase of whichever console is under-performing.

But remember, they worked just as hard as you to purchase their console, and shouldn’t be treated badly for that – they didn’t develop the game or the hardware.

AMD Radeon R9 295X2

The AMD R9-295X2 will set you back over R20,000. It will certainly deliver on performance, but is it worth it?

Compete with others

Is having the best console that outperforms other consoles the most important aspect of gaming? Maybe so; maybe that’s why there has been console fanaticism since home video gaming began.

Are we not supposed to enjoy a game that doesn’t look as good on our console as compared to others? There is a fear among gamers that if their game looks less graphically impressive, it’s simply not as good as a prettier version – and the media makes sure they know this.

Sadly, there is nothing they can do; they own the console already. The “better” console fan-base are then sore winners, ridiculing the inferior.

When the time comes that the tables turn, the “losers” cannot wait to hit the comment section and return in kind. It’s a big competition that begins at the top – the manufactures.

Nintendo Wii and Wiimote

The Nintendo Wii wasn’t exactly a graphics powerhouse, but it was the best-selling console of the last generation, and boast many of the top-rated games.

We should just have better looking games

Sometimes I just expect better looking games because it’s the year 2014 and we should be getting the best – we are not playing on old hardware.

There is nothing wrong with expecting the best, but there is something wrong with expecting the best for the wrong reasons.

Then again, there is nothing wrong with getting something that doesn’t live up to your expectations visually, but turns out to be cracking good fun. Many developers have proven that you don’t need visual power to be successful. Plenty of games have made it big by offering simple, charming graphics on a solid framework of storyline and gameplay.

Fez featured relatively simple pixel-art visuals but blew minds with its charming setting, astounding technicality, and mind-boggling puzzle-platforming.

Fez featured relatively simple pixel-art visuals but blew minds with its charming setting, astounding technicality, and mind-boggling puzzle-platforming.

As much I would like to point out one problem with the whole graphics debate, there are many that derive from other problems. We are brainwashed to believe that performance and looks are everything, so we go out and spend thousands of rands on hardware and consoles to compete with others. We then poke fun at the under-performer.

When our console and hardware under-performs, we then go out and buy higher spec hardware or sit back and take the flak from the gamers who have the “better” gaming experience.

Because all that matters is how well your game runs and how great it looks anyway, right? Brainwashed or obsessed? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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Are we too obsessed with graphics quality?

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