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You Know What's Bullshot?

Legend speaks of a time in which a product you were selling had to be representative of the final product at all times. These were the days of the False Advertisement Laws, when consumer interests were protected and you got exactly what you expected and paid for. Those Golden, Halcyon days of Yore have long since perished and in their place, dark days of deceit and the dreaded bullshots have reared their ugly heads.

These days the most important aspect of game development is literally graphical hype, a problem created by large publishers who are akin to car salesmen and con men. Every major conference for game development that exists is littered with demo reels of games looking better than their final state will prove to be. The current hot button issue in this arena is the very noticeable downgrade that Watch Dogs received since its delay. Clearly Ubisoft bit off more than they could chew with announcement trailer and realized they couldn't deliver and what they advertised.

Watch Dogs, as we have been sold it, is like seeing someone you normally would find unattractive through beer goggles. Your perception is altered and they are, at the moment, the most attractive person you've ever seen. Then you wake up the next morning and are shocked by what is lying next to you. Watch Dogs, as it is now, is the less attractive person, the custom PC Ubisoft used to show off Watch Dogs are the beer goggles, and you are the unsuspecting fool.

This tactic has become far too common in the gaming industry and has been labelled "bullshots" as a play the curse word that I won't post here. Creating artificial hype by showing a project at its, unbeknownst to to consumer, theoretical best only to later show that that "best" was more theory than practice.

It's clear as day to anyone who isn't legally blind that what Ubisoft meant by saying that they were "polishing" Watch Dogs during the delay is that they didn't have the expertise to make the game look as good as they originally showed on PS4 and Xbox One. If this is due to their insane idea of console parity between the generations, or because they lack talent, or because the way they develop games using massive teams and poor communication, I don't know. What I do know is that bullshots need to end.

We are paying for a game to be as we are shown it. Watch Dogs was advertised looking absolutely amazing. Now, it doesn't look terrible by any stretch but it doesn't look like what we were sold. It doesn't look like the hype machine led us to believe it looked like.

There are 2 easy ways to fix this issue. The first is a very prominent disclaimer saying "Not necessarily representative of the final product." This in and of itself is a huge thing because it then places the blame on gamers who can't manage their expectations. If a developer comes out and says "look, this is what we want it to look like, but we can't guarantee that it will for many many reasons" then any who complain later are merely showing their immaturity and entitlement.

The second is to stop using custom built gaming PCs to demo games on. Unless the PC is built to be as closely representative of the console as possible, then you're demoing something that people won't get. You're being a con artist and falsely representing the product that you're selling. It's like taking the engine of a Pinto and putting it in the body of a Ferrari. It looks good, and people will drop their jaw to see it, but when they go to push it like one does with high performance vehicles, you'll find it's severely lacking.

Hell, I doubt that even the PC release of Watch Dogs will look as good as the earlier trailers, at least not until graphics mods are made.

The point I'm making is that this is what happens in a gaming culture where graphics take precedence over everything else. Unscrupulous publishers will order developers to create showpiece trailers to sell people on the idea of a game knowing that the final product won't turn out that way. By then it doesn't matter because they have your money and there's nothing you can do about it.

We need to show the industry that we have standards. We need to show them that we do care about great gameplay and other non-graphical aspects of gaming, but that graphics do help us enjoy a game a little bit more as part of a whole, not just by itself, and that we won't be sold bullshots anymore.

Ubisoft, stop trying to skirt the issue. You know you downgraded the game's visuals, stop sending your PR goons out onto the web talking about how the gameplay and concept are more important than the visuals. We all know this, but those aren't things you sold most in your trailers. You were banking on this being the first truly next-gen game that everyone would want, and gameplay and concept aren't the ways to go about doing that since good gameplay and a great concept aren't reliant on good graphics to do well.

Accept your blame, and stop lying. Learn from this in the future, as should the rest of you bullshot using Publishers.

**EDIT** A user in the comment section reminded me of an excellent Jimquisition episode that was uploaded today that speaks about this topic far better than my blog, plus has far more personality to it. In the interest of supporting Jim Sterling's content, please click on the link below to see his take on this subject.


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maniacmayhem1262d ago

You know, I'll be the first one to complain about this resolution gate debate and say graphics don't matter. But the Watch_Dogs fiasco was certainly disappointing. Its one thing to not care so much about graphics, its another to be shown something and then handed another.

This reminds me way back in the olden days when I would buy games for the Commodore 64. I would look on the back of the game box and get all pumped and excited, then put the game in and be absolutely devastated. Come to find out the screenshots on the back of the box where from the Amiga version. :(


What this tells me is that these next gen consoles are still not capable of producing the type of games we were all promised they could do beforehand. FOR NOW that is.

I really hope devs don't sacrifice gameplay and design just to push graphics because the internet demanded it. Take the beating from the trolls on the forums about the graphics but let the game design, fun factor, innovation and gameplay justify itself.

I'll take five No Man's Sky's over Titanfall/inFamnous any day. (If they do what they truly said it can do)
Ubisoft should be explaining all the cool things you can do in this game that separates it from every other sandbox game out there.

And yes, stop showing bullshots. Doctored up gameplay shots, with pics taken from it at different angles in gameplay that are never even seen during actual play throughs.

DragonKnight1262d ago

"What this tells me is that these next gen consoles are still not capable of producing the type of games we were all promised they could do beforehand. FOR NOW that is."

I know you added a "FOR NOW" aspect, but I still think that it applies to this situation. I think Watch Dogs is suffering from cross gen syndrome. Ubisoft is letting their greed get the better of them and the result is the current state of Watch Dogs.

I have absolutely nothing to substantiate that, but it is an opinion based on the fact that they have expressed console parity across gens and there's no way the PS3 and Xbox 360 can keep up with the PS4 and Xbox One, so something had to be done to make all versions similar.

maniacmayhem1262d ago

Yea, the reason I put "for now" is we all know these consoles will get better over time and who knows we might get games that are exactly what was shown from the early released bullshots.

Ubi should have taken a page from Rocksteady and made this ambitious game for the next gen systems only. Maybe, just maybe production would have gone smoother for them.

I feel Ubi is now up there with the EA's and Activision. They are now a big name 3rd party dev and because of this they feel the need to support ALL platforms and release games at the same time on the same date. I could be wrong but now Ubi seems to be at the mercy of the dreaded sales and marketing department.

DragonKnight1262d ago

I agree. Ubisoft has gotten too big for its own good in my opinion. There was that one article from a former employee that discussed why AC3 was so bad, and it basically stemmed from a "Too many Chiefs, not enough Indians" mentality. Poor communication, too many people weighing in on these games, it's the kind of thing that will permeate all of their franchises if they aren't careful.

Their need for maximum profit at the cost of quality is apparent in Watch Dogs.

thorstein1261d ago

What is bullshot is the incredibly crappy journalism that surrounded this "controversy" and our (yes the members of N4G) fault for not making those submitting stories to label them as rumor.

Instead, we had "journos" actually fabricate lies about the game (even claiming they did in the comments section) and try to pass this off as news.

It was journalism at its lowest. We will all know on release day if the rumors are true. Unless Ubisoft makes a claim that they were lying to us or that the graphics have been downgraded, I'm not buying the bullshot.

Which begs the question: what is the real bull here? Ubisoft, whose AC Creed plays and runs and looks amazing on PS4 and PC (don't know about Xbone) or anonymous posters on the internet with a subpar Gif and some compressed youtube video.

Christopher1262d ago

When I was a kid, there was a TV show that tested all the "claims" made in TV commercials. Not sure what it was called, but would love to see that come back.

Someone should put together a Web site just for doing these sort of tests with video games. What they promised to begin with, what they showed, and what was delivered in the end.

DragonKnight1262d ago

That is an excellent idea. If done properly, even the ire of the con artist publishers wouldn't be much of a problem because they'd look bad if they tried to silence such critical analysis.

Marow1262d ago (Edited 1262d ago )

This text really reminds me of Jimquisition's recent "Watch_Dogs: A Vertical Slice Of Steaming Bullshots" (in fact, it reads exactly as a rewritten version of it ^^'')

On the matter at hand, I just want more transparency in the game industry (we barely even receive sales numbers today).

DragonKnight1262d ago

You think so? I thought I did a terrible job in comparison to how Jim Sterling put it in his video. I mean, I used a drunk analogy and I don't even drink. Jim's video I feel is probably the best discussion about this topic that's currently out in the web right now. In fact, I think I'm going to amend the blog with his video so thanks for reminding me about it.

Transparency in the gaming industry, from the development side, I think would be wonderful. I personally don't think we need to know about sales unless it's to explain why a sequel to a great game won't happen. After all, most of us aren't stockholders in these companies.

Pandamobile1262d ago

Wasn't it known from the beginning that Watch Dogs was originally shown on PC?

DragonKnight1262d ago

Yes. But Ubisoft sold the visuals as being something that would happen on the PS4 and Xbox One. Clearly they lied.

Plus, the point is that they shouldn't be showing the game in that fashion considering they would know that they couldn't make it look like that unless specific hardware requirements were met. Like I said in another article, I don't think the PC version will look like the best trailer they ever had either. Not until someone busts out some graphical mods to make it that way.

Pandamobile1262d ago (Edited 1262d ago )

If the PC version actually has downgraded visuals from the original trailer, then that's cause for alarm.

Otherwise, I chock it up to Ubisoft assuming that the PS4 and Xbox One were going to be much more powerful than they ended up being. They're not miracle workers, you know.

DragonKnight1262d ago

I can almost guarantee that the PC version will suffer too. It has nothing to do with the capabilities of the PS4, Xbox One, or the PC. It has to do with Ubisoft's batsh*t insane idea of parity between the versions. They are making this game for the PS3 and Xbox 360 as well after all, and have insisted that all versions be as similar as possible.

All the evidence points to this being a choice on their part. I can see no legitimate reason for delaying Watch Dogs for so long, under the pretense of polishing it, only for every bit of new information to come out showing that it's in worse shape visually than it was before. Not when the PS4 has games like inFAMOUS coming out soon.

Bladesfist1262d ago

Devs hardly ever care about PC - Console parity. Whenever we hear about parity is between the consoles.

Ravenor1259d ago

I can almost guarantee the visuals will be "Downgraded" on the PC. Look at the awful gif, it has simplified geometry in a number of places. They won't swap out the simple buildings for the fancier one they showed before, even on the PC.

It's not a massive downgrade, it really isn't. But it's obvious enough that I find it mildly distracting, whether that distraction manifests when I play the final game? Whoooo knows.

porkChop1257d ago

The original trailer, yeah. But last September Ubisoft showed a gameplay video that they claimed was real PS4 gameplay. It didn't look quite as nice as the original video, but still very similar, and it looked far better than the recent gameplay videos.

rainslacker1262d ago

I agree with everything you say for the most part. But lets be a little realistic here.

If Ubisoft came out and showed a trailer with the detail of the last one(the one that started this who fiasco) and said this was what they were shooting for for next gen, do you think people would give two craps about this game? Graphics are what build initial hype nowadays.

We can blame the publishers all day long, and call them out on it when it happens, but the gaming culture you bring up has really built this mentality that good graphics = good game. Very few games get much hype with what appears to be less than the best graphics.

Nowadays it should just be expected by the gamers that no game is likely to look as good as has been advertised. Very few improve upon their polished trailers. Ultimately the game being good and fun should take precedence, but that doesn't really help sell the game in a lot of cases. If that were the case, more indie games would sell a lot more than they do.

Lastly, to me, this who controversy was drummed up for hits by websites. I haven't seen a single one mention how TitanFall doesn't look as good on consoles as we see in the ads on TV. I don't see articles that call out the 99% of all the other games that come out and look nowhere near as good as their big presentation demonstrations. I don't recall any game in recent memory that actually looked better on release than it did in it's E3 presentation.

bunfighterii1261d ago

I half agree with you, but we would have more realistic expectations of what good graphics are if they showed final products to build hype instead of unrealistic target renders.

I remember only months before PS4/Xbone were released there were articles in the dozens claiming that the current gen was good enough and we didn't need next gen - but then we got reveal after reveal showing how much better graphics would be.

The industry sets the expectations of consumers.

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