Opinion: The Most Non-News News

Lets take a closer look at all the drama surrounding the Witcher 3‘s “Precious Cargo” trailer. The 8-minute clip aimed to give gamer’s a taste of the upcoming RPG’s side quests. Unfortunately for developer CD Projekt Red, the content of the trailer was ignored because gamers were more preoccupied with Xbox who uploaded the clip.

See, last year it was revealed at E3 that Microsoft and CD Projekt Red had a marketing partnership to bolster the game’s development. Microsoft gives money to the developer for some exclusive marketing rights and Projekt Red can take those funds to further develop the Witcher 3. These types of deals happen pretty frequently in the console game market – the most recent example is the apparent deal between EA/Dice and PlayStation for Star War: Battlefront.

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Because Projekt Red obviously wants to show the best version of their game in promotional advertisements, the supplied Xbox footage from PC that was presumably on the “ultra” graphics setting. As per agreement, Microsoft uploaded the exclusive preview footage. This is where the controversy begins. Some say Microsoft deliberately tried to mislead gamers by uploading the footage that was clearly running on a more powerful machine than the Xbox One. This point, however, seems a little silly seeing as the trailer in no way indicated that the game was captured on an Xbox One. The description of the video never indicates that it was recorded on the Xbox either.

On top of that, the game is uploaded in 1080p 60fps, both of those settings are not available on the Xbox One version of the game seeing as it has been explicitly known for quite some time that the console versions would be locked at 30fps and the Xbox One version specifically would run at 900p resolution. If you’re following the game’s development, you knew as soon as the video started playing that this wouldn’t be Xbox One footage.

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So why is this a controversy at all? I mean, just last January, Playstation uploaded a clip of Battlefield Hardline gameplay that was clearly running on PC, and the only coverage that got was from the always inflammatory PC Master Race subreddit. I would link the clip directly, but PlayStation has since removed the video. I scoured the web searching for articles scolding PlayStation for “misleading consumers” by using PC footage, but I found none. Contrast that with yesterday’s article from Kotaku inferring that Xbox was guilty of “false advertisement.”

As many gamers are aware, the cost of developing games is extremely high. In order for developers to make the game they want, sometimes partnerships with Sony or Microsoft are necessary. In January, PlayStation was simply showing the footage they were given by EA/Visceral to promote a game they were helping to finance. The same goes for CD Projekt Red and Microsoft. It makes sense from a developer’s point of view to give footage of the best looking version of your game, and whoever they are partnered with has the right to publish it as per agreement.

When this type of promotional deal happens fairly regularly in the console gaming sphere, does it make sense to scold one company while ignoring similar behavior from the other?

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