If there’s one thing we can take away from Ubisoft’s complete misfire when it announced the console resolution for Assassin’s Creed Unity, it’s that it failed to perform one of the most important roles for a video game publisher these days.
That failure was made even more clear when EA took a jab at Ubisoft and announced Dragon Age: Inquisition’s resolutions for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 and was met with internet applause.
The primary failure wasn’t the resolution, although some may think it was. No, the failure was the messaging.
Right now, the video game industry is about selling the product as early as possible. It’s been this way for a while. The game is announced, trailers go out, previews go up, and pre-orders are waiting to take your money. In most cases, you’re able to buy a game before it’s more than a trailer or even a functioning game yet. This is good for publishers, but risky for the people who play games.
In that pursuit of racking up pre-orders before a game is out, The Evil Within comes out next week and the website still begs for your money, publishers have their pr teams and marketing figure out the best way to sell the game and generate excitement. Some people will be persuaded by one awesome trailer, while others might wait until the PC requirements come out to see if it’s a good version or not. All these things are carefully doled out as one, the developer can, and two, what makes the most sense for convincing people to buy the game.
Resolution is a popular new addition to that cycle. Ever since the launch of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, it’s become clear that people care what resolution and frame rate the game will run at. It’s so important that it was the greatest subject of debate before the consoles were even out and that discussion hasn’t went away since their release.
So when Ubisoft said that it wanted to avoid the biggest reoccurring conversation in games right now, people responded negatively, very negatively. Ubisoft was essentially saying “don’t worry about it, everything’s fine.” But the general knowledge about resolution has risen to the point where it’s expected to be mentioned by a publisher in more than a few quotes. And, to Ubisoft’s credit, it did this in a later blog post, but the damage was already done.
That left room for EA to swoop in and look like the good guy announcing Dragon Age’s resolution paid attention to the strength of the consoles. It couldn’t have done that without Ubisoft’s mistake, and it’s important to keep that in mind before you praise it.
It’s been made abundantly clear in the last few months that the people who play games, at least the vocal part of them, deeply care about what happens to the medium, and will show that in incredibly good and bad ways. when it comes to resolution, treating that kind of audience the wrong way, telling them not to worry about your game, will have consequences, and Ubisoft might be one of the first to demonstrate it.