I'm enjoying every minute of the Witcher 3. The game looks amazing, the combat has been improved for the better, and the stories you come across as you explore the world of Temeria keeps me glued for hours. But as I take a break after a long session as Geralt of Rivia, I noticed a lot of public outcry regarding CD Projekt Red's latest game - the final product looks nothing like the footage shown in 2013, the graphics have been downgraded. Many are disappointed, many thought that CD Projekt Red were the honest developers in the industry. I say - it's as expected. it's footage years ago.
Before anything, have a look at the footage comparing the old 2013-2014 footage material to the final product below.
See the difference? Claims about the downgrade seems pretty valid at this point and it raises a lot of issues this industry is facing. Did CD Projekt Red ripped off their loyal fans? Not really, it's more like we raised our expectations way too high, thus having fans pushing that 'pre-order now' button the moment the 2013 footage ended.
The developers could simply place a notice in the footage stating this is not a representative of the final product, end of story, but they didn't. The team wanted to reach that level of detail, but when it was time to actually make the project into a playable product, they had to be honest with what's possible for the given time and hardware provided. Having Witcher 3 released on multiple platforms could be the main reason to why the level of quality shown a few years ago was cut, but console systems are a big chunk of what will make this title a success financially. Releasing this as a PC exclusive isn't going to work for everybody involved.
We are mostly to blame.
Pre-ordering a game that's considered to be released after a year is mostly never a good idea, but the option will always be there once a developer officially announces a product. Games will be shown in trade shows or events, marketing teams will do their thing, and during all of that the developers will continue to develop the game and do a few changes along the way. If someone does get sold on what they've seen so far? Well, you'll have to expect the fact that the team might not release that level of quality or cut a specific feature, because changes happen during development.
I consider this a repeat in history. When Watch Dogs was first released, people were excited. Myself included. Come release day, we were welcomed with a very noticeable downgrade that people reacted the same way they are reacting now on the Witcher 3. So what's the difference with these two issues? One of them is actually a really good game, a potential Game of the Year even. No, we are not talking about Watch Dogs of course. Watch Dogs had so many elements going against it that it turned out as a complete disappointment in all fields. From repetitive gameplay, dull activities, to a story that can easily be forgotten right after the credits start rolling. Witcher 3 is the complete opposite of Watch Dogs, and it's quite sad some gamers might consider taking a pass thanks to this downgrade issue, missing out on a game that I consider a must have for any RPG fan.
CD projekt Red is considered as an open developer to their fan base, showing a lot of footage through the course of development. The negative reaction of how it looks compared to the 2013 footage took the developers off-guard. But with all the footage you show the public, and as much information you throw at them regarding the state of the game, there will always be that small few sold by it the moment they saw footage two years ago. You can't disregard some players that did make their purchase decision with that level of quality in mind. In an interview with Eurogamer, the developer confronted the downgrading claims:
“We don’t agree there is a downgrade but it’s our opinion, and gamers’ feeling can be different. If they made their purchasing decision based on the 2013 materials, I’m deeply sorry for that, and we are discussing how we can make it up to them because that’s not fair,” explains studio co-founder Marcin Iwinski.
“In a way, because of us not seeing it as a problem, and working hard on the game until the very end, that’s where we are today and that’s why we have to explain. I hope it shows our intentions, because we are not hiding anything. Considering our values, hiding is the last thing we ever want to do.
“And for those who are still not 100 per cent decided, I definitely encourage them to wait and see what we will be releasing in patches, updates and whatnot.”
Moral of the story? Expect games to change through the course of development. Do yourself a favor - Don't make a purchase decision like placing a pre-order thanks to a build released two years ago.
Patch 1.03 has already hit PC, PS4, and will soon on Xbox One, fixing a series of bugs and improving the current frame drops present in the game.