How Cross Should We Be About Assassin’s Creed Syndicate And Other Delayed PC Versions Of Games?

Assassin’s Creed Landahn is out! But not on PC, as we have to wait till next month before we can leap across all of Victoriana like an acrobatic chimney sweep. Far Cry Primal, the caveman sequel, will also arrive on PC the month after its February appearance on the console box. While this sort of situation isn’t quite as common as it used to be, it is one which refuses to go away – with Assassin’s Creed in particular a repeat offender, despite occasional promises to the contrary.

Is this – and the late arrival of other games on PC – cause for alarm? Alec, Alice, Pip and Graham gathered to discuss.

Graham: NO.

Alice: No.

Pip: Nope.

Alec: Sorry I’m late, I made a cup of coffee then immediately spilled it all over the floor. Which I imagine sounds very similar to however Ubisoft justify their latest Assassin’s Creed being late on PC yet again. Wahey!

These delays are something we’ve got cross about a few times in the past, but were we cross because of the fact of the delay or because they said there wouldn’t be and then there was?

Alice: I’d get annoyed during the runaround years of Ubisoft when they’d swear blind that the PC version would launch at the same time, and I’d go around telling Our Dear Readers that, then a few months Ubi would mention “Oh, yeah, nah, it’s delayed.” After a while, it was clear it would happen but they’d still insist otherwise. I don’t like people yanking my monkey’s uncle, as I understand people say in London.

Alec: Crikey guv’nor, cahhhalm down. On a personal level, I get a bit put out when I see people talking about something I can’t play yet because I haven’t got the relevant hardware, but I guess that’s a broader issue. I’d much rather have the PC version late but stable than end up in the Arkham Knight situation where they seemingly left the PC version on the back burner while jumping through Microsoft and Sony’s infinite hoops of certification, then shoved a mess out to meet a deadline.

Alice: I do understand the frustration with not getting to play a game your chums are into, but it seems a trifling complaint when your gaming platform of choice is the most bounteous ever. Though with Assassin’s Creed games, it’s a shame to ruin the surprise of their latest historical idiocies. I wish I hadn’t heard which famous historical figure you team up with to destroy an opium processing plant.

Graham: I think PC gamers take this kind of thing as a personal affront, but that there are probably perfectly reasonable technical and business decisions at work behind the scenes. I agree that it’s a shame about potential spoilers though, or more broadly the feeling of missing out on a game’s cultural moment. Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture was being talked about everywhere for about 15 minutes and it seems unlikely that it’ll get a second go around when it eventually reaches PC, and therefore it’s less likely I’ll be motivated to play it instead of any of the other games on offer. These habitual, month-long delays from Ubisoft and other big publishers do something similar to my desire to play the games.

Alec: What is perhaps a more justifiable noise-of-joint observation is that these big, rich companies didn’t allocate more staff and time to the PC version during main development: it’s a sign, perhaps, of habitually treating it as an afterthought. ‘The console versions are so much more important, we’ll worry about those nerds later.” Surely it’s not that far beyond possibility to stick a few extra staff on the PC build, especially during the long certification phase? And some studios outsource it to other devs entirely to make sure the job gets done, though again in the case of Arkham we saw that backfire spectacularly. But the question is whether someone like Ubisoft really is going ‘PC don’t matter so much’ or if there is, as Internet Theorists sometimes claim, other agendas, such as fear of piracy, at play?

Graham: Perhaps they are saying “PC doesn’t matter to us quite as much,” but it’s the “stick a few extra staff” on it idea that I take umbrage with when it comes up again and again. These games are made by impossibly large teams of 800 people or more, spread across multiple studios, working across timezones, for projects that take years to produce and require extremely careful budgeting and time management. It is no small thing to “stick a few extra staff” on anything. It’s a huge ship to try to steer.

Alec: I mean plan for this from the start, not airlift extra dudes in at short notice. I mean, other pubs don’t ritually have this problem – and in the case of AssCreed, why is it that the ship seemingly gets mis-steered in this very particular way almost every time?

Alice: To loop back briefly, the problem with Arkham City wasn’t necessarily that the PC version was outsourced, more that the project was clearly grossly mismanaged.

Moving on, why’s AssCreed always late? Because, ultimately, Ubisoft have decided it isn’t important enough to make sure it’s on time. It could be a combination of any number of reasons, none of which we’re privy to, but they’ve made their decision and this is how they make their games. It beats them releasing PC versions which are six weeks away from finished (well, more like ten weeks, considering that the first month after release is spent patching in minor features like people having faces).

Assassin’s Creed is Ubi’s big huge annual franchise, and it’s increasingly falling apart with formulaic design, bugs, and zany nonsense. They’re probably a few years away from giving it a little rest but, for now, those extra six weeks give them a small but important slice of extra time as they desperately wring the last out of a once-exciting series.

Pip: I wonder how much more a PC version takes in terms of resources than console. I mean consoles are these single sets of specifications – you make a thing for a PS4 and you should be able to play it on any PS4. And then you try and make a thing for PC and you glare at every combination of hardware and software and operating whatnot and you maybe sit under your desk and have a little cry and then you try and deal with it. Obviously I am not a game development studio spanning continents (that I know if) but I feel like it would make sense to prioritise the platforms that simplify at least part of the process and let you get the game into shape.

Alec: I was just looking at Steamspy, and apparently Black Flag racked up 800k sales but the next year’s Unity just 200k. This may be down to recent dodginess with trying to lock people into Uplay so we’re only seeing a fraction of what sold, or to Unity being far less well-received, but that might well be informing why the tune changed from ‘day and date PC’ to ‘welllllll…’ again.

(Obv Steamspy’s accuracy is far from guaranteed.)

But yeah, on what you’re saying Pip, I suspect there is huge Sony and Microsoft assistance on hand for console versions, but you’re a bit more on your own for PC – plus you have often to pick a side between NVIDIA and AMD.

Pip: On a sidenote, Unity was a bit of a weird one because it came out at the same time as their last gen Rogue thing. I’d imagine there might be issues of brand messaging and confusion to add in to any kind of sales figure analysis.

Alec: We used to get New & Shinier PC versions a little later, didn’t we? I think the first two Arkhams did that, and the Fables. I miss those days, they made up for the wait. Look at all my pixel shaders and PhysX effects and all that. I guess now console hardware is a little more similar to PC hardware there’s less they can do (or at least that would look sufficiently flashy in promotional screenshots).

Alice: Games do often have a little extra flash on PC, but I think people don’t care as much because we’re in a lull for Interesting Graphics Happenings. I don’t know: I’m just not outraged anymore. Games come out when they come out. I can play them or play something else. I can buy them or not. This is a wonderful time for PC gaming, and a hold-up for the creaking husk of Assassin’s Creed doesn’t bother me. I still haven’t even finished The Witcher 3, and that game’s amazing.

Alec: Graham, what would you do if Deus Ex: Mankind Divided on PC was delayed until six weeks after the console version? Would you murder anyone?

Graham: No, I think I would just go, “Oh, that’s a shame.” Like Alice, I find it difficult to muster up outrage about this kind of thing. I think I always did struggle. No matter how excited I am about a game – and I am giddy with excitement over Mankind Divided – it doesn’t feel like a reason to be cross when the machinations of big business only cater to me 99% of the time instead of the perfect 100%.

Pip: On a personal level I get it when people are a bit disappointed but not when they’re angry or feel personally slighted by the workings of big business. With Twitter and Reddit and platform agnostic news sites and a million other things there’s a progression of hype towards a release date which comes to an abrupt halt when you don’t own the chosen platform and need to wait. It’s deflating. Plus you suddenly have to treat all of those sites with caution if you’re worried about spoilers. It can feel like you’ve missed the boat a bit and that by the time you’re playing everyone’s moved on. So I get why you would be disappointed, but outrage that a business isn’t taking your feelings into consideration? That’s just not how businesses work. If they’ve stuck with this way of doing things I assume it’s because it works for them.

Alec: I’m perfectly happy so long as a reasonable explanation is given. It’s when there’s evasion or something contradictory or unlikely stated that I remember ‘oh yeah, I shouldn’t ever put trust in big companies no matter how excellent the game or chummy the marketing, should I?’

Alice: ‘AAA’ development is a big bag of mystery with no desire to explain itself or its machinations. Most people have no idea how games are made, so we stand outside their shed guessing at what’s going on from the sounds shaking its walls. Most people don’t even know what a producer does, which is convenient for AAA when it wants to advertise a game as “From the producer of…” I’m losing this thread rapidly, aren’t I? POINT IS: we rarely receive explanations because ultimately they come down to “We made a cost/benefit analysis and either decided against it or miscalculated.” Capitalism is so unsexy.

Alec: Yes, it all comes down to that a corporation can never admit to any kind of fault or even cynical calculation, because board members and shareholders will FREAK OUT. It’s unhealthy to try to apply conventional human rationality to decisions and communication like this.

Alice: I’ll probably pick Syndicate up in a sale at some point, mind. As former Londonfolk I am keen to see its treatment of places I’ve been drunk. Just from trailers, I’ve seen at least two places I’ve fallen over.

Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate is due out on PC on November on 19th November. It was released in the UK for consoles today.

81 Comments

  1. crazyd says:

    I think it’s perfectly justifiable to be annoyed at PC users being treated like second class citizens. It’s better to have a delay than a broken launch, but it’s not like a delay is a good thing, or something to be happy about. It’s especially annoying in the case of Far Cry, what used to be a PC only franchise now getting a delayed PC release.

    • Andrew says:

      used to be a PC only franchise

      Entitlement detected.

      • Myrdinn says:

        Edginess detected?

        • Andrew says:

          Wha?.. You disagree with what I said or how I said it?

          If with how, well… It’s very tame comment, actually. “Dumb but harmless” ©

          But that’s clearly entitlement.

        • Dizrupt says:

          Poor understanding of buzzwords detected.

      • crazyd says:

        So sorry I feel entitled to be treated as well as users on other platforms. When you are competing for my money, treating me well matters. I really don’t care if that is entitlement.

        • Andrew says:

          I’m talking specifically about “used to be”. Be angry/annoyed/whatever about delay, but they don’t owe you anything.

          • crazyd says:

            O…k? I never said they do owe me anything, I just said it annoys me when they delay games on my chosen platform, and it sucks even more when a franchise that originated on PC gets a delayed PC release. I don’t see any reason why this is entitlement, just a statement that I do not approve of this behavior.

          • Andrew says:

            There is a difference between being annoyed, and entitlement. Did I misread your comment? Maybe. I’m not above admitting that it may be my fault. But in my book “what used to be a PC only franchise now getting a delayed PC release” is kinda sorta reads like entitlement.

          • ironhorse says:

            It is not entitlement – it’s just not appreciating being tossed aside like a second class citizen after their success and ability to continue as a business is solely thanks to sales and support on that originating platform.

            There’s not even expectations from these companies most of the time.. just disappointment once they show their true colors of using us. (“Hey thanks for making us what we are today, now excuse us as we shun you”)

            Then PC players begin to vote with their wallets thereafter. Developers who treat all their customers the same are those who garner trust and thus more sales overall.

        • silentdan says:

          Unfortunately, some people think that if they use the word “entitlement” in a sentence, they’ve won the argument. When it comes to free stuff, maybe, but when money changes hands, the buyer is, and should be, entitled to what s/he paid for. There’s this pervasive misunderstanding that the seller is entitled to money, and the buyer is entitled to fuck all, but that simply isn’t how capitalism works. Late deliveries diminish the value of the product, and if that isn’t reflected in the price, I’ll just wait until it is.

          • Andrew says:

            entitled to what s/he paid for

            Did they paid for Far Cry being PC only franchise? Did they paid for same day release? Did they paid for anything at all?

          • silentdan says:

            Did they paid for Far Cry being PC only franchise?

            Um, no. Are people demanding that it be PC-exclusive, or were you attempting a straw man?

            Did they paid for same day release?

            If you look at any shipping rate table or watch a Transporter movie, you’ll find that speedy delivery is widely considered more valuable than later delivery. If the pricetag is the same, then yes, I’m paying for the same delivery date, but I’m personally willing to let up to 10 days slide without explanation, and possibly more if I hear something persuasive.

            Did they paid for anything at all?

            If that’s a veiled accusation of willful copyright infringement, I think it’s polite to presume we all pay for our games, here, even if it isn’t 100% true in reality. If you’re pointing out that I haven’t actually paid for a specific unreleased game yet, then this isn’t about entitlement, it’s about comparison shopping, which has yet to be unfairly stigmatized, so I won’t bother defending it.

          • Andrew says:

            Let me requote you again:

            entitled to what s/he paid for

            ‘Cause now you just going on a tangent(s) about something else.

            I hate Ubi. I don’t buy their games since “Watch_Dogs”. But they have the right to release next “Far Cry” or whatever on Apple Watch and not anything else if they want to. It would be stupid, and annoying, and they gonna lose a lot of money, but who am I to demand otherwise.

            Complaining — OK. Entitlement — not OK.

      • LacSlyer says:

        While it’s easy to chalk this up to entitlement, not having an issue with a delayed release for a specific platform shouldn’t simply just be ignored either. It’s not necessarily entitlement to expect to be provided the same quality of content on the same time frame as other platforms.

        Entitlement is thrown around far too loosely to justify certain things studios attempt to get away with (which in this case is subtle yet considerable when you account for Ubisoft’s recent track record) and shouldn’t be used every time someone disagrees with your own opinion on something.

      • Hebrind says:

        I didn’t realise that feeling entitled to be treated equally was inherently a bad thing?

    • Dunbine says:

      Second class citizens?

      Maybe it’s because I’m getting older… But I just don’t care about a game’s release date or where it is relative to other platforms. There are a lot of games to play, and life to live, and I’ll get around to something I want to play at some point. Or not.

      • Dunbine says:

        Annex to the above – Upon further reflection, I was a bit bummed to be delay of XCom2 as my firstborn is coming in January. So, my opportunity to play XCom in my last moments of freedom is now playing it within the first month the parasite’s arrival.

        Other than that…. ehhh….

        • Cederic says:

          Um. Surely XCOM is the perfect ‘new born’ game. Single player, pausable, keeps you up all night. Saving it for the new arrival is perfect alignment.

      • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

        It’s a good thing that Ubisoft’s behaviour has no grand ill effects on you, and i’m happy for you, but this doesn’t make it good behaviour.

    • PancakeWizard says:

      “I think it’s perfectly justifiable to be annoyed at PC users being treated like second class citizens. “

      You’re right, but apparently this isn’t a PC gaming publication any more. It’s ‘no cause for alarm’ despite RPS line on this always traditionally was ‘sort it out publishers’, when gamer used to mean ‘games enthusiast’, as opposed to now when it means ‘hate-filled entitled man-baby’, apparently.

    • Unsheep says:

      Console versions are delayed as often as PC games if you include all genres and franchises, and not just a select few,…but objectivity would not suit your agenda.

  2. Freud says:

    I don’t really mind, but I’m not a day 1 type of gamer for the most part.

    I’m either deeply entrenched in one game stealing all my time (HotS atm) or working through my backlog of games.

    It has to be a game I really want to play (Diablo 3, The Witcher 3) for me to bother getting it on release day. Ubisoft games I don’t really play much because I find them so formulaic.

  3. Hitchslapped says:

    It sure is a chicken and egg thing but pirating became much more justifiable in recent years. Big publishers release one buggy mess of an AAA title after another and expect people to pay more and more for them, even including microtransactions in singleplayer games. Or pre-order bonuses like additional missions in the new Thief game which leave you with two choices 1. Pre-Order a game which more often than not turns out to be buggy or generally disappointing 2. Wait for reviews and pirate the game.

    People are willing to pay alot of money for well made computer games but when companies release a series of bad console ports, buggy games in general or are just plain greedy (I’m looking at you EA with 550€ worth of Sims 3 DLCs) then those people might ask themselves why they should support a company that obviously doesn’t care at all about their customers.

    • liquidsoap89 says:

      Pirating is just as justifiable now as it was years ago… IE: Not at all.

    • johntheemo says:

      Yeah, it’s kind of like when I’m walking in the store and I see something I don’t want. I just steal it and then complain about it to all of my friends.

  4. silentdan says:

    I definitely agree with those who feel slighted by our chosen platform’s second-class perception. That’s crap.

    It’s also been something of a blessing in disguise for me. I’m just souring on the whole idea of buying AAA titles on launch day. Day-one DLC shenanigans, jacking up the price of the base game, buggy releases … Alice is right when she says that EGttR won’t get a 16th minute of fame, but my irritation at that sort of thing has morphed into contented aloofness. I missed that one, and I feel nothing. No regret, no sense of missing out, nothing. The marketing hype isn’t blinding me to the mediocre nature of the lesser-thans, because the hype is dead and gone by the time I seriously consider buying.

    I wish the AAA publishers would stop treating PC gamers as unworthy of consideration, but I’m saving money and enjoying my games more as a result of that bullshit, so … it’s mixed blessing at worst, if you ask me.

    • Herr_C says:

      Similar situation here. And after hearing about “tank battles” that are forced on you I think I won’t be buying Arkham Knight at all. I buy Batman games to jump on people’s heads, not to fight with tanks.

      As for AC, I don’t know anyone who still plays that series and even cares it got delayed. In fact, most common reaction to Ubisoft games among my friends is meh. Far Cry 3 was the last popular game. New R6 was interesting but after the beta everyone thinks CS is still the way to go because of expected network problems, lack of players and unbalanced unlocks.

  5. montorsi says:

    Quite prefer it to a half-assed port a month earlier. I don’t harbor any illusions about which platforms have priority, so I’m fine with them waiting until after console release to put the finishing touches on the PC port.

  6. seroto9 says:

    I don’t mind either, since reviewers often start to become less starry-eyed about a game with the addition of extra time (I’m looking at you MGS5, although I don’t doubt it’s a good game).

    However, if they delay Fallout 4 I’m gonna phone up WOPR and start an all-out nuclear attack against the USA.

    • Joriath says:

      I concur, Global Thermonuclear War is the only option, other than a nice game of Chess.

  7. Andrew says:

    Didn’t you discussed that already like a million times?.. No? Only hundred? Oh, I see.

    But one interesting question is: aren’t publishers making situation worse for themselves? There is rarely any marketing behind delayed release. So, are they don’t care about PC, because they selling less, or are they selling less on PC, because they don’t care?

    • silentdan says:

      they don’t care about PC, because they selling less, or are they selling less on PC, because they don’t care?

      ^^^ This. Sooooooo this.

      • Andrew says:

        My guesstimate (via Wiki and Steamspy), that ¼ of “Witcher 3” copies were sold on PC (Steam + GOG). Am I missing something? ‘Cause if not, that’s huge! Not ⅓, but far more then usual ~10%.

        • ironhorse says:

          Yes, you are missing something. According to the devs PC players comprise of 1.3 mil out of 4 mil. That’s %32.5 ..

          Which makes total sense given how the game is released on 3 different platforms – displaying an equal distribution of players over each.

          • Andrew says:

            My calculation:

            The game sold over 6 million copies in the six weeks following its launch.

            Then:

            As of 11 June 2015, over 690,000 players activated copies of the game through GOG Galaxy.

            Plus 854,205 on Steam.

            690,000 + 854,205 ~ 1,5 millions.

            6/1,5 = ¼

            One third or one fourth, not that important.

          • suibhne says:

            The issue with Ubi’s past “delays” are that they were actually delays – i.e., push-backs of their previously committed PC ship date, often only weeks before that date. It got ridiculous, and it did feel rather like the platform was being being treated as a joke by the company’s marketing strategists, even if not its product developers. But I really can’t get fussed about a later PC release date if the company is consistent and up front about it.

          • suibhne says:

            Aaaaand…I have no idea why that comment posted as a reply there.

    • crazyd says:

      I know a delayed release is a good way to lose money from me. If a game I’m psyched on is delayed, then I’ll be much more likely to wait for a sale than to buy full price. If I’ve got to wait anyway, might as well extend it a bit to save money.

      • Andrew says:

        Any new game now competes with bundles, sales, PS+’s/Games with Gold’s free games, just free(-to-play) games, refunds, etc.

        That’s doesn’t help my swelling backlog, but at least I spend less money.

  8. subedii says:

    I pretty much gave up on Ubisoft a long time ago.

    There’s frankly far more games than I could ever hope to spend my time / money on. If Ubisoft doesn’t want my cash, that’s fine with me.

    The Arkham Knight release is actually a good case in point for me. I actually did pre-order it since I was such a fan of the first two, and Rocksteady had actually done what I’d felt were stellar ports up until that point.

    But when it came out and was an absolute trainwreck I just got a refund. Ended up buying Shadow of Mordor (+all DLC) on a whim instead since it was on sale. And as it turns out, SoM is basically Middle Earth Arkham but more tightly focused and with a few neat ideas attached. Oh, and surprisingly good voice acting.

    Now? Well with all the talk of it being the least enjoyable of the three games, and how the DLC (which they were basically charging a full additional game’s worth of money for) was basically phoned it, I’d be surprised if I even bothered to pick it up on sale now.

    In the end, their behaviour just meant someone else got my money and I feel like I got a better deal out of it.

  9. Premium User Badge

    Wisq says:

    I’m okay when the delay is only a month or so. What bugs me is when the delay is 6+ months, like with Grand Theft Auto. That’s disrespectful in my books.

    Honestly, when the delay is just a month, I give it 50-50 odds that it’s due to technical reasons, or just due to wanting to delay the inevitable piracy. And even if it’s really for technical reasons, it’s probably just “QA it on a bunch of hardware configurations and deal with bugs”. Given the size of these projects, I would guess they’re probably mostly “PC ready” by the time they launch — one month is not enough time to do a full port of this size, IMO.

    In any case, I’m already hearing about some interesting glitches that they might hopefully solve by the time we get our hands on it. Or by the time it starts going on deep sales, which is likely when I’ll grab it. Can’t remember the last time I paid the full $60+ for a launch title.

  10. haldolium says:

    These titles, as pretty much most AAA productions, are console first mainstream productions. It’s interesting enough, that they still see the PC as viable platform… but I neither care nor demand they release it at the same time.

    After all, the great titles are often exclusive anyways.

    Sometimes its a bit sad, but when realizing that at the end, games are often best played 1+ years after their initial release (see The Witcher 3… still undergoing *heavy* patches) it’s quite okay in my book not to get another generic mainstream action adventure at “release day”

    • Archonsod says:

      Agreed. It seems the ‘mainstream’ market is diverging once again across platforms, with what sells well in the console market not necessarily being a big hit on PC and vice-versa.
      The age of the current console generation probably plays a big part in it when it comes to the formulaic releases like AssCreed. With the current generation still being fairly young there’s likely a sizeable market of those who’ve traded in their old console for the new one and thus have an AssCreed shaped gap in their games collection that can be filled by giving them the same experience with some extra bells and whistles for the new hardware. With PC on the other hand you can still play the last iteration, so you generally need a larger step in order to get the same appeal.

  11. Wulfram says:

    If I can’t get the game on or near release day, that’s even less reason not to wait until it costs £5.

  12. Myrdinn says:

    I don’t think a lot of reader of this site will be enraged that any Ubisoft game might released later for PC. They’re pretty much shooting themselves in the foot as it will be very obvious a few weeks from now that AC: Syndicate is a very mediocre game, pre-orders probably will get cancelled in the meantime.

  13. Barberetti says:

    Yeah, not fussed. If they delay the game, I delay buying it until a year down the line when I can pick it up for a few quid in a sale. If I even remember their game exists by then.

    *shrug*

    Their loss. Plenty of other games to play these days.

  14. Timbrelaine says:

    I’m with Alice/Graham/Pip.

    It’s hard to care about new game releases, partly because there is a raging torrent of new worthwhile games, and partly because ‘release’ has become an arbitrary point for many of them, which are available long before and will continue to be developed long after that milestone. And, because of that, it is often hard to know at release just how good the game will eventually be. Maybe it will be broken on day one; maybe it will take a year or two to become great. Maybe it won’t be fun without a bunch of mature mods. Maybe it will seem great, but turn out to have little replay value or support, and egregiously priced DLC.

  15. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    I don’t care. If the game is interesting then it will probably still be interesting at the delayed release date. In the meantime I can just play something else.

    That console owners can play the game before me has never bothered me. There are many games that I want to play, that I cannot play at the moment and that can be played by other people. For example, I don’t have a problem when other people play Pillars of Eternity even though I currently don’t have the time for that – so why should I have a problem when other people play a console game even though I cannot get it for PC right now?

  16. piercehead says:

    I vote with my money now as…well, since Halo really. If Destiny came out now on PC I wouldn’t get it, for example, and yes (game quality aside) I’d be shooting myself in the foot. Maybe.

    Ultimately there are more than enough titles that release simultaneously (or solely) on PC.

  17. noodlecake says:

    I generally see people moaning about this as pretty annoying. PC gamers always want more features than console gamers. More graphics options, better potential frame rates, higher res textures, more graphical effects… etc.

    From the company’s perspective they are catering for a the tiny proportion of people who own PCs who can afford powerful PCs or care enough to skin themselves to get kick ass gaming rig. They have to put in a lot of extra work to add all these extra bits and pieces that people who own gaming rigs seem to feel entitled to.

    I don’t see how they could possibly have the PC version ready at the same time when it’s more work. With the console versions they only have to make things work on one hardware configuration for each console. There are way more variables with PCs.

    They could hold back the console versions just to stop PC owners whining, but I don’t think that’s really fair.

    If I was a games developer I would just ignore all the whining and make the game I wanted to make in the timeframe I could manage to make it and release it as soon as it was done and ignore social media as much as humanly possible.

    • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

      The only thing slightly “unreasonable” is extra graphical effects as those take extra development time.

      Textures don’t because a decent professional works with high quality, high resolution material before scaling down ( same for photography, video, music etc…), we just need them to scale it less or not at all, but they already should have all they need.

      Framerate, same thing, if you have to resort to weird engine optimization tricks like locking the framerate to the game’s logic is not the customer’s fault, so if you did a proper framerate agnostic work you don’t need to offer nothing extra other than not adding a limit.

      Same is true is you can’t offer close to unlimited resolution because your UI is some unscalable and unflexible jury-rigged job.

      Lastly, graphical options are mostly in the best interest of the publisher if they want to target the broadest userbase, rather than cathering to the hardcore as you suggest, mostly because those don’t really require settings in many occasions.

      • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

        You’re partially right about some delays though, the PC version is clearly harder to develop no matter what. Still, it’s not cool when you get the feeling that such a thing was planned way ahead of time, and Ubisoft totally qualifies in my view.

        I’m actually more understanding when it comes to limited exclusivity deals because at least nobody is denying them. Off course it’s a crap practice, i’m not denying that, but i prefer anything over constant lack of transparence and respect.

    • LacSlyer says:

      I think part of what you may be overlooking is that especially in triple-A games we’ve seen a decent amount of gameplay and features removed/dumbed down so they’re more accessible on consoles. That’s something everyone should be upset about.

      As well, plenty of other triple-A game studios are capable of releasing their games on all platforms on the same date on a yearly basis, so it should be disappointing when a franchise like this does have a delay for PC.

  18. rcguitarist says:

    Well, I remember the days from the NES through the PS2 when hardly any console games game to PC, so I don’t feel right complaining about even a 3 month long delay. At least we get all these cool games now.

    Back then, you had pc games which were typically only nerdy RPGs and twitch FPS games alot of which would be a pain just to get them to run correctly. You then had console games that had every kind of game imaginable and they all worked great!
    Now you can have everything on PC and it all fires up instantly 90% of the time…INCREDIBLE!

    So, yeah, it’s annoying, but we really can’t complain.

  19. Ufofighter says:

    Completely indiferent, as with any other EA/Ubisoft title.

  20. draglikepull says:

    Maybe this is because I grew up playing console games, but it just seems perfectly normal and not at all offensive for a game to be available on some platforms, but not others. I think it’s usually better for both developers and consumers if a game is available on as many platforms as possible, but it strikes me as a bizarre thing to get angry about. If I can’t play one game, I’ll play another. If I can play it later, but not now, cool, I’ll play it later. I’ve got stuff to do until then.

    • silentdan says:

      it just seems perfectly normal and not at all offensive for a game to be available on some platforms, but not others

      If that were the whole story, I’d agree with you, but the gatekeepers of Consoleland won’t distribute your game if it hits any other system first. If your PS4 release is finished and ready to be shipped, but your XBone version needs work, releasing the PS4 version means no XBone version, ever. Steam doesn’t pull that kind of crap, and even if they did, they’re not the only distribution channel for the PC platform.

      If the versions for each platform were released when they were ready, sometimes PC would get it first, sometimes not, and I’d take my chances along with everyone else. I might not be 100% happy about it, but at least I’d know that the outcome had to do with logistical or technical issues, and not some arbitrary power brokers demanding that I sacrifice my interests to serve their own.

      • Andrew says:

        releasing the PS4 version means no XBone version, ever.

        Not true. There are a lot of timed “exclusives”, from AAA games, to indie titles. “Castle Crashers” comes to mind (360 in 2008 → PS3 in 2010 → PC in 2012), new “Tomb Rider” would be like that, etc. And a lot of games are PC first, actually.

      • draglikepull says:

        You seem to be confusing a number of different issues here. Microsoft used to have a parity rule for indie releases, which was dumb, but it’s apparently been dropped now. It never applied to games like Assassin’s Creed. It has also never been a rule for Playstation.

        Games certainly do sometimes come out on PC first, and then console later. For example, Broforce is out on PC now, and is scheduled to be released for the PS4 next year. Diablo 3 was obviously a PC game first. XCom 2 has been announced as PC-only right now, but I’d be pretty surprised if it wasn’t ported to consoles eventually. And so forth.

        • silentdan says:

          My bad for making it seem like release parity is in every contract, but it shows up whenever the distributors have enough leverage to go for it, and that’s enough to bother me.

  21. namad says:

    sony and microsoft are literally delaying all the console releases by a month, so it is odd that the pc version is the one that ends up behind. If anything it should drop first shouldn’t it?

  22. prof_yaffle says:

    If you want to talk about delays then you should try gaming primarily on Linux. Take Divinity: Original Sin. The Linux version of that was delayed, and delayed and delayed. Till finally Larian came out and said it wouldn’t be ported, but they were doing an enhanced edition which would come to Linux, at the same time as on Windows and other platforms.

    Then a couple of days ago the released a kickstarter update saying, “just kidding. It’s been delayed again.”

    Having to wait a month doesn’t seem so bad when you’ve been waiting more than a year for a game, especially when it’s possible there might be even more delays.

  23. Frank says:

    Nope, can’t say I can recall caring about this.

    As far as I’ve noticed, Firaxis and Squeenix/Eidos haven’t delayed anything important and they’re the only AAA teams I buy anything full price from.

    Ubisoft is fine is my books. I wouldn’t buy their games on release anyways, except maybe HOMM9 or whatever’s coming next.

    And I never buy EA/Bioware games; they’re clearly targeting subhumans. (Looking through Steam…) It’s just a fluke that Bioware managed to make one good game in Dragon Age: Origins.

    And THQ or whatever Bobby Kotick runs was dead or irrelevant last I checked. Ditto whoever published MGSV.

    In summary: forget AAA games.

  24. Premium User Badge

    zigguratvertigo says:

    Interesting discussion. Insomuch as it was a discussion. In the absence of anyone at RPS taking the position of the PC gamer (where the hell’s Walker?), I’ll try to make some points. First, the games are made. They are a thing. The release date is just that. If they can’t manage it, they can put it back. They choose not to do that, however. They redefine gold as the point at which console versions work as advertised. They create a second tier of game production that is less important than the all-important first. Now, your panel is fine with this because, I think I read it right, we have so many games. Don’t bother with us, industry, we’re fine. Imminent irrelevance? Maybe? Mmm.
    Second, the truly horrible what-is-good-for-the-industry-is-what-we-must-want line coming from certain individuals in your piece. Yes, corporations exist for the good of their shareholders above that of their customers. Implicitly accepting that isn’t sexy, but fair enough. Anyway, no, that does not mean we the customers should shrug and put up with a second class service in everything we do. For one thing, there are always alternatives, just where can I find game sellers these days. But ‘this is how business works’? Dear. I’m not sure, perhaps what I really need is an internship at Citibank or something to immunize me against the possibility that there is a better way.
    Look, I like the article, the thinking about things and the discussion about how we might get better than what jonny corporate is giving us right now. Maybe that last bit could go a bit harder, though?

    • Archonsod says:

      I think if anything it speaks to the increasing irrelevance of traditional AAA game development. I doubt there’s anyone on any format who’d lament something like AssCreed being pushed back a month or two. The annual franchise has become the gaming equivalent of the Police Academy movies.

  25. racccoon says:

    ITS OLD SCHOOL BLOODY LUNACY!!!
    Probably based on a old school paranoia of piracy which is a fear of loss of funds.
    The developers today are not seeing PC is a place to launch, but, they are the dumb ones as the PC has no more baring on its past!
    PC players play hardcore and are very critical of the games they play! more so than any other platform.
    The devs are paranoid about that.
    As WE SHIT ON ONES THAT ARE CRAP.
    Todays pc player:
    WE ARE HONEST GAMERS!
    THE LATE RELEASING DEVELOPERS ARE NOW THE OUR LAMERS.

  26. melnificent says:

    It’s a business decision pure and simple. Look at the GTA V numbers. Released multiple times on increasingly powerful hardware so most people double dipped… I did on ps3 and pc. So if the game reviews well and has good word of mouth by delaying the PC version a few weeks there is the chance for increased sales.
    AC is one of those that reviews well so from that perspective it makes business sense.

    But yeah it is annoying.

  27. AlexV says:

    It’s annoying not so much for the delay itself, but for the reminder that they are releasing a “PC Version” whereas what they should, of course, be doing is developing it for PC first, properly. Then bodging it, cutting it down, removing bits that won’t work and so on to fit on consoles too.

  28. SuicideKing says:

    Personally, I don’t really care, and that’s more because I’m just the kind who’s not excited about games that much.

    I’d be bummed had I pre-ordered or something, and it got delayed. Otherwise not.

    The only games I’ve wanted on PC that aren’t there are from the Halo series, and MS has trained me to be impossibly patient.

    The only game I’ve wanted on the PC that isn’t here is FreeSpace 3. Yes, if they ever make the game and release it on consoles first, I’d be really upset, but it’s a sole exception.

  29. Melonfodder says:

    These days even owners of the console machines struggle to muster up excitement for an AC release. It must be horrible to work on this franchise.

  30. Geebs says:

    I wouldn’t murder anyone over Deus Ex being delayed. I’d tranq them.

  31. Unsheep says:

    The console version got released earlier because it was completed earlier, and it would be costing the company money to not release it, and instead having it lie on the shelves waiting for the PC version to get finished.

    Do you who complain about it want a repeat of the disaster that was Unity on PC ? Because that is what would’ve happened had the PC version been released at the same time as for consoles. Or perhaps you people like wasting your money so that you can bitch about how PC gamers are so unfortunate.

    • Jeeva says:

      Weren’t the console versions equally bugged at that point?

    • Toadsmash says:

      This was my assumption for why the PC version was delayed, and I think this is far more often the case for said delay in general than any harebrained attempt to discourage piracy. Is the PC delay frustrating? Yes. Is it absolutely a necessary part of life if we want to avoid another hysterically broken release like Arkham Knight? Probably.

      There’s no reason at all to get pissed about the delay if the reason for it is needing extra development time, and given how often PC releases are broken to the point of unplayability to this day, I’m baffled that this is even a question. Do you people WANT another dismembered Arkham Knight-style failure of a port? I’m glad to see these delays. To me they represent an admission that they need more time to get it right.

      • rmsgrey says:

        Once you reach the point of choosing between “release early-beta build” or “delay release”, sure the latter is the better choice. The problem is that, in getting to that decision point, you’ve already made bad choices much further upstream, at the point of allocating development resources in the first place. If it only happens sometimes, or if it happens to each platform roughly equally, then that’s one thing – shit happens in any project – but when it’s reliably happening to just one platform, that means your development system is broken – you should know that the PC version needs more time/developers than you’ve been giving it, and build that into your development plan – either allocate more resources upfront, or make sure the marketing team knows to aim for a delayed PC release.

        It’s not like these things are surprising anomalies – it’s become routine for the PC release to be delayed from its original simultaneous release, and that points to a systemic flaw in the process.

  32. Premium User Badge

    Benratha says:

    I wonder sometimes if there might be a console site out there somewhere with people that complain about the non-release of PC only titles…
    (yes, I realise there aren’t as many as there used to be)

  33. vahnn says:

    We should be sensitive to the feelings and situations of these big budget developers and publishers and all buy 2 copies of their games to help them out and show compassion.