Buck Passed with Lukewarm Reviews Blamed on Older Consoles

Ubisoft vp Tony Key thinks bad reviews for launch titles are due to multi-platform limitations, I think his logic is full of holes. And poop.

The next-gen is out, and the reviews have started coming in on the first games for the newest pair of consoles.  Those reviews are ranging anywhere from bad to mediocre, with very few of the currently-available games holding up well to criticism.  In response to these reviews, Ubisoft’s senior vice president of sales and marketing Tony Key commented that such is actually only expected.

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Right now, all publishers are transitioning their development resources. For a game like Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag, most of the sales are still going to be on current generation platforms. We can’t make a version for PlayStation 4 or Xbox One that’s so wildly different that we can’t market them together

This is a valid point, and one worth considering before fully condemning, however it misses several important points.

Not all of the launch titles are multi-platform.

Killer Instinct, Killzone, and Dead Rising 3 are all exclusive to their respective recently released consoles.  By the logic Key gave above, one would expect the reviews on these games to be significantly better than the multi-platform games.  They are not, however.  Reviews of all three range as far as the rest of the games.  None of the console-exclusive games we have seen yet seem to break the mold in terms of quality or innovation.  Still, one could argue it will take more time for the more innovative features and console power to be fully realized… which brings us to our second point.

The previous console generation is not going away yet.

The consoles we have all known and loved/hated for years are established to stick around.  Microsoft in particular has made a big deal about how they fully intend to keep the 360 in circulation with full support for years to come.

That means the issue of designing for next-gen and current-gen consoles is not going to simply fade away over time, it will instead become more and more pointed as the features of the newer consoles are either realized or deliberately ignored for the sake of the older machines.  Even more to the point, however…

Good games do not require the most cutting-edge technology.

This single point keeps coming up again and again and again without the talking heads in the gaming industry seeming to understand it.  The games on the brand new consoles are not bad because they are not fundamentally better than their lower pixel-count versions, they are just bad.

Some of the greatest success stories in gaming are games with pointedly simple graphics like Minecraft or FTL.  There were good games before these shiny new consoles came out with their possibilities, possibilities desktop computers have had for quite some time without rendering prior games obsolete.


Seriously, how successful do you have to be to get Lego tribute?

The talk of games receiving bad reviews as a result of coming out on newer and older consoles alike smacks of a mixture of excuses and being out of touch.  Blaming technology is one thing, but it cannot possibly be the fault of the gamers if the companies making the games do not take the time necessary to make the new technology work with the old.

Do not blame lack of success on design choices.

Ultimately, there will undoubtedly be at least a few games on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One which suffer as a direct result of also being available on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.  Those design choices causing those games to suffer, however, are exactly that.  They are choices being made by the companies creating them.  They may be choices made for financial reasons, rather than creative ones, but they are choices nevertheless.

If you make a game that is not as good as it could have been, do not turn to the hardware limitations or complications.  We gamers have seen enough at this point to be able to tell the difference between a game with a solid concept and execution that just didn’t have time for the polish and bad game.  A turd is a turd no matter how you polish it.


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Wokendreamer
Writer, gamer, and generally hopeful beneath a veneer of cynicism.