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Why do some games get the ‘downgrade’ treatment?

Watch Dogs

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There’s been a lot of hubbub about so-called “downgraded” games in recent years. Developers like Ubisoft Montreal and From Software have received a lot of heat from fans over the fact that some of their finished games don’t look nearly as good as early gameplay videos made them out to be. What causes this phenomenon, and why haven’t developers learned their lesson about over promising and under delivering? Let’s take a look.

Unknown hardware

In the case of Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs, much of the blame can be laid at the feet of unfinished console hardware. The early footage of the game was truly outstanding, but the final game is clearly missing specific lighting effects. The game was shown off at E3 2012 — a year and a half before the current generation of consoles shipped to consumers. Frankly, it seems that the team mis-estimated what the hardware would be capable of, and they had to walk back the effects and population density in the face of real-world limitations.

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