Video game publisher Ubisoft is taking a whole lot of fire today after one of their developers implied that the company intentionally limited one version of the upcoming Assassin's Creed Unity in order to maintain graphical parity with the other.
It started with a quote from Ubisoft Montreal producer Vincent Pontbriand, speaking to the website Video Gamer about their decision to keep Unity maintaining 900p resolution and 30 frames per second on both the Xbox One and PS4.
"We decided to lock them at the same specs to avoid all the debates and stuff," Pontbriand reportedly said, no doubt referring to a string of extended conversations that have sprung up in the past year over the technical differences between Sony and Microsoft's current-gen consoles.
Around a year ago, gamers spent a whole lot of time arguing over what was then dubbed ResolutionGate, a controversy triggered by discoveries that several multiplatform games had higher resolutions on PS4 than Xbox One. In the months that followed, as more and more third-party publishers released games for both systems, it became clear that the newest PlayStation was at least slightly more powerful than its Xbox competitor. Though there's been a ton of debate over the significance and importance of resolution and frame-rate differences, comparison videos and technical breakdowns have almost consistently favored the PS4.
In fact, last year's Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag saw a patch days after release that bumped up its resolution to 1080p on PlayStation 4, an improvement over the Xbox One version's native 900p display.
So today, people are interpreting Pontbriand's quote—"We decided to lock them at the same specs to avoid all the debates and stuff"—as the company admitting that in order to avoid triggering more of these debates, they intentionally capped out the PlayStation 4 version of the newest Assassin's Creed, which will be out on November 11. I reached out to Ubisoft earlier today for clarification on this point, but they weren't able to comment further by press time.
UPDATE (7:15pm): And here's Ubisoft's statement:
We understand how Senior Producer Vincent Pontbriand's quotes have been misinterpreted. To set the record straight, we did not lower the specs for Assassin's Creed Unity to account for any one system over the other.
Assassin's Creed Unity has been engineered from the ground up for next-generation consoles. Over the past 4 years, we have created Assassin's Creed Unity to attain the tremendous level of quality we have now achieved on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC. It's a process of building up toward our goals, not scaling down, and we're proud to say that we have reached those goals on all SKUs.
At no point did we decide to reduce the ambitions of any SKU. All benefited from the full dedication of all of our available optimization resources to help them reach the level of quality we have today with the core Assassin's Creed Unity experience.
Though Ubisoft says they didn't "lower" specs on either version of the game, what they don't address here is whether they intentionally limited what one version could do. We've reached out for further clarification on that point.
Meanwhile, gamers are fuming. There are GAF and Reddit threads stuffed with people angry at Ubisoft for this decision, and the newly-created #PS4NoParity hashtag on Twitter is full of people asking Ubisoft not to lock the PS4 version's technical capabilities and threatening to boycott their games.