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Ubisoft Digs its Own Grave, Says 30FPS 'Looks Better' than 60FPS

It looks like 60FPS gaming is done, according to Ubisoft at least. We think otherwise, and Ubisoft needs to step up and start answering some questions.

@anthony256
Published Tue, Oct 14 2014 5:03 PM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 6:59 PM CST

Ubisoft & Watch Dogs, Gimping It For PC Gamers

Gimping Watch Dogs On PC, the Start of Trouble for Ubisoft

Over the last 12 months or so, we've seen a massive target being printed onto Ubisoft's back, mostly on the heels of multiple titles under their belt being heavily watered down on PC. It seemed to have started with Ubisoft's biggest new IP in quite a while: Watch Dogs.

Ubisoft Digs its Own Grave, Says 30FPS 'Looks Better' than 60FPS 01 | TweakTown.com
VIEW GALLERY - 5 IMAGES

Back in June, we were quick to post news that Watch Dogs had heavily modified the graphics within the game, but not for the better. There was a post by someone going by the name "The Worse" on the NeoGAF forums, who created a mod for the game that unlocked all of the extra graphics that were already found in the game, but Ubisoft locked it all away.

This started a real shitstorm online, because a single fact started to become clear: Ubisoft gimped Watch Dogs on PC. This started to see people digging around this single fact, asking one big question: why? There are multiple reasons:

  • The PC version would've looked world's better than the Xbox One and PS4 version, with the next-gen consoles only launching six months earlier.
  • Watch Dogs was one of the biggest new IPs, with Ubisoft having considerable amounts of marketing behind it. If the PC version killed the next-gen console version, sales would've been hit quite bad.
  • The game was made on consoles, with serious issues on the PC as it (even to this day) still has performance problems. The game doesn't scale that well across multiple GPUs, either.
  • While in development, Ubisoft prioritized the development of Watch Dogs for the (then upcoming) next-generation consoles, as well as the PC.
  • Watch Dogs renders at 900p on the PS4 and 792p on the Xbox One, with both versions pumping just 30FPS.

This was just the start of Ubisoft's march toward rendering at a little over 720p, and hitting 30FPS. But, unfortunately, it got much worse. We're heading into the holiday season, with a bunch of huge games launching from Ubisoft.

PRICING: You can find Watch Dogs for PC for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.

United States: Watch Dogs for PC retails for $29.95 at Amazon.

Canada: Watch Dogs for PC retails for CDN$56.02 at Amazon Canada.

The Past Week, It's Been Fun, But Not For Ubisoft

30FPS, 30FPS, 30FPS

Fast forwarding to last week, Ubisoft said that Assassin's Creed Unity, which launches next month, will be rendered at 900p on both the Xbox One and PS4, at 30FPS. If that wasn't bad enough, World Level Design Director on Assassin's Creed: Unity, Nicolas Guerin, had some truly crazy things to say.

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He said that the development team decided on 30FPS because it gave the game a "more cinematic feel". He went onto say: "At Ubisoft for a long time we wanted to push 60 fps. I don't think it was a good idea because you don't gain that much from 60 fps and it doesn't look like the real thing. It's a bit like The Hobbit movie, it looked really weird. And in other games it's the same - like the Rachet and Clank series [where it was dropped]. So I think collectively in the video game industry we're dropping that standard because it's hard to achieve, it's twice as hard as 30fps, and it's not really that great in terms of rendering quality of the picture and the image."

But Guerin wasn't the only one who seemed to gloss over 30FPS, where AC: Unity's Creative Director, Alex Amancio said: "30 was our goal, it feels more cinematic. 60 is really good for a shooter, action adventure not so much. It actually feels better for people when it's at that 30fps. It also lets us push the limits of everything to the maximum. It's like when people start asking about resolution. Is it the number of the quality of the pixels that you want? If the game looks gorgeous, who cares about the number?"

Ubisoft Digs its Own Grave, Says 30FPS 'Looks Better' than 60FPS 04 | TweakTown.com

Well... what can we take away from this? We are seeing Ubisoft justify 30FPS for what reason exactly? Using the "cinematic feel" reason feels like it's just that - words, and that the real reason is that Unity isn't capable of running on the APUs found in the next-gen consoles at 1080p, let alone 1080p at 60FPS. We're not even getting 1080p at 30FPS, or 720p at 60FPS, but a worse middle ground: 900p at 30FPS. With 900p being 1600x900, we're getting a resolution barely better than 720p, at a frame rate that PC gamers can only laugh at.

I actually called Ubisoft out in my article, and I'm going to do it again - have me at your office, and 100 out of 100 times in visual tests, I will call 30FPS against 60FPS, each and every time.

But the problem is deeper than that, because if one of the biggest gaming powerhouses in the world - Ubisoft in this instance - cannot get the next-gen consoles to render their engines that they've been working on for half a decade at 720p at 60FPS, let alone 1080p at 60FPS, we're not going to see it on this generation of consoles, PERIOD.

This may sound like a big claim, but Ubisoft has been investing hundreds of millions of dollars into new and existing IP such as Far Cry, Assassin's Creed, Watch Dogs, The Division, The Crew, and many more.

There are Billions of Dollars at Stake Here, Folks

Microsoft, Sony, Ubisoft and Countless Others Need to Wake Up, Now!

Just concentrating on those games, we have billions of dollars of investment, sales, R&D, console sales, and so much more. Out of those games, which are locked at 30FPS? First off, we know that Watch Dogs and Assassin's Creed is - but The Division is also locked at 30FPS, which Massive Entertainment, the developer behind the game, has said that it is trading "graphical fidelity and immersion" for 30FPS. They said they could've hit 60FPS, but would've had to have sacrificed other things within the game to achieve the 60FPS mark.

Ubisoft Digs its Own Grave, Says 30FPS 'Looks Better' than 60FPS 02 | TweakTown.com

Then we have The Crew, which was recently delayed until December 2, with a hard 30FPS lock on the Xbox One, PS4 and PC. Even though the game will support multi-monitor setups on the PC, right up to 5760x1080 (or triple 1080p), the game will be locked at 30FPS, at least at the launch of the game, but the company has promised 60FPS after the game, if it can't make it happen at the launch. The console version is 100% locked at 30FPS.

So, we have Assassin's Creed: Unity, Far Cry 4, Watch Dogs, The Division and The Crew, five of Ubisoft's biggest IPs, locked at 30FPS on consoles. Next-generation consoles that have replaced the close to 10-year-old consoles.

Considering Assassin's Creed: Unity is the first in the series to be built from the ground up for next-gen consoles, but can only muster up 900p at 30FPS, does this mean that the future of Ubisoft's games, which are some of the biggest on the planet, are going to be rendered at around 900p at 30FPS? Surely developers can't squeeze 60FPS out of the APU in the consoles, and even if they do, it's going to be because something else is turned down - graphics, smaller levels, etc.

The engines and work that Ubisoft has done is barely handling 30FPS at 720 or 900p on the 'next-generation' of consoles. So, what now? Will The Division 2 run at 1080p and 60FPS? I doubt it. Even if it did, The Division 2 won't be released until what, 2017/2018?

The bigger problem is that it's not just Ubisoft, Activision pumped some $500 million into Destiny, with it locked at 30FPS on all consoles. Titanfall, Ryse, and so many other games are doing one of two things: either hitting higher resolutions (up to 1080p) or hitting up to 60FPS. We sometimes see both, 1080p at 60FPS, but it's nowhere near as many games as it should.

Console Gaming is Expensive & Subscription-Based Steam Box: Come at me, Bro

Console Gaming is Expensive

This is a future I can get behind, and I think that Valve is one of the only companies that can pull it off. Right now, people are having to invest thousands of dollars into platforms that get completely replaced after a few years. Console gamers, and the marketing behind it, think that buying a PC is ridiculously expensive, so they buy an Xbox or PlayStation instead.

Ubisoft Digs its Own Grave, Says 30FPS 'Looks Better' than 60FPS 08 | TweakTown.com

But, let's say you've purchased an Xbox 360 when it launched. There goes $500+, and between that launch and now, you've acquired, say, 50 games. At an average of $50 or so each, you've spent $2500 on games. If we take into consideration the purchase of a 50-inch (or so) TV, you're looking at an investment of $4000 or so. This doesn't take into account headphones, or speakers for your console - so I'm going to presume you're using the super basic speakers baked into your TV.

Now, you've just noticed the Xbox One is here - rushing out and buying it, you spend $800 to get the console and three games. Your Xbox 360 goes to the side and your Xbox One gets 90% of the playtime. Until you realize that you only have two or three games for the Xbox One, and get bored after you've finished them.

But, your Xbox One cannot play your Xbox 360 games, so you have to have two consoles plugged into your TV, with a slew of games hanging out everywhere, controllers placed all over the place, constantly switching between the consoles. That is, however, unless you don't use your Xbox 360 anymore, and that investment is now done.

You begin spending hundreds of dollars on games, which turns into thousands of dollars over the years. Your Xbox 360 is boxed, and never used again, or possibly even sold second hand. But, if you had a PC, you wouldn't have needed to have done any of that.

Subscription-Based Steam Box: Come At Me, Bro

This is something that I've talked about in great length here on TweakTown, to people within the industry, friends of mine, and I even talked about it with consumers at my day job selling custom PCs before I started at TweakTown.

A subscription-based Steam Box, or Steam Machine, would kill consoles. Yes, it's a broad statement, but hear me out.

I've just explained how console gaming is expensive, you're looking at around $500 for the initial investment of the console hardware, without additional controllers, and then the TV. Games are around $50 each, without taking into account you might buy them second hand, or wait for them to drop in price when they're on special.

Now, let's consider subscription-based payments. Imagine being able to buy that Xbox One from Microsoft, for say, $25 per month. No more dumping down $499 at launch, or after launch, but just $25 per month.

Look at what Spotify, and other services like it, have done to the music industry. Millions of people that use to pirate music, now purchase a subscription for music, having millions upon millions of songs at their fingertips for $9.99 per month. Gone are the days of spending $15, $20, $25 or more on a single album, when you can spend one-third of that and have a subscription to millions of albums, songs, and so much more.

Now imagine a world of subscription-based gaming. What would you do if Valve unveiled three new Steam Boxes next year, at three different price points? For $399, you would get a Steam Box capable of 1080p 30FPS gaming, or $20 per month. For $599 you'd get a Steam Box capable of pumping out 1080p at 60FPS, or $30 a month. And finally, a Steam Box that could do 4K 30FPS, or 1080p at 120FPS, or 1080p at 60FPS with 3D enabled, for $999, or $50 per month.

It sounds crazy, but how would that not work? The biggest issue would be the financial side of things, where Valve would need to have either very big pockets to sustain millions of people taking credit with them, investors who would provide this, or they'd need to go down some other unknown route. I'm sure Valve could offer this with some very large loans, which I'm sure they could acquire, but it would need to be done with a very large launch - and Steam Box, Steam Controller, Steam OS and Steam Machines, are just that. But, it could be much bigger, and I'm going to tell you why.

Half-Life 3.

I've said this before in various editorials, but I believe that Half-Life 3 is the key to Valve moving into a massive new direction, something that truly excites me.

Imagine if Valve were to not only announce Half-Life 3, but to announce its launch on Steam Box as a launch title. The Xbox One and PS4 had lame launch titles, with nothing truly game-changing, nor did they have huge IP to launch with the next-gen consoles. There was no truly next-gen Halo, or Gran Turismo to launch with the new consoles.

Valve, on the other hand, has Half-Life 3 that it could launch, alongside Team Fortress 3, and Left 4 Dead 3, which would have the gaming world ecstatic. Better yet, announcing a Steam Box that can be purchased on a subscription level, at a minimum of $20 per month, with those three games included for free - it couldn't get any better than Valve giving everything away for free.

If Valve could indeed launch the Steam Box and everything Steam-related on subscription, it could change everything. Hardware partners in every sector, such as Intel, AMD, NVIDIA, Corsair, and everyone in between, right down to peripheral makers like TT eSports, Razer and countless others, would all benefit from this.

Big name companies could deal directly with Valve, selling Valve-approved Steam Machines through Valve's subscription model. This could have gamers buying the higher-end $1000+ Steam Machines on payment plans, which would have the true PC resurgence everyone is expecting.

So many other sites and publication state that PC isn't dying, and that sales are fine - but what if they could be better, much better? The introduction of a subscription-based gaming system from someone like Valve is a game-changer. A true game-changer, unlike these seriously underpowered 'next-gen' consoles.

PRICING: You can find Watch Dogs for PC for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.

United States: Watch Dogs for PC retails for $29.95 at Amazon.

Canada: Watch Dogs for PC retails for CDN$56.02 at Amazon Canada.

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Anthony is a long time PC enthusiast with a passion of hate for games built around consoles. FPS gaming since the pre-Quake days, where you were insulted if you used a mouse to aim, he has been addicted to gaming and hardware ever since. Working in IT retail for 10 years gave him great experience with custom-built PCs. His addiction to GPU tech is unwavering.

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