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.