Ubisoft on Tricky Task of Getting Open-World Games to 1080p

Marketing executive at Assassin's Creed publisher Tony Key says, "For an open-world game, it's incredibly difficult."

Resolution has been one of the hottest topics in gaming of late, frequenting the headlines and gathering much debate from gamers. According to Ubisoft senior vice president of sales and marketing Tony Key, gamers have every right to want 1080p, but they should also know that reaching this high mark is no easy task, especially for the kinds of open-world games that Ubisoft is so intent on making.

"1080p is awesome," Key said. "I do think people can tell the difference; not everybody, but some people can tell the difference; it depends on the equipment that they have. People have every right to want 1080p because the the TV can deliver that, the machine can deliver that."

Though the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are both technically capable of delivering games in 1080p, we don't always see games reach that mark. That's because, according to Key, developers are faced with a trade-off that can sometimes mean prioritizing gameplay or other features above resolution.

"Yes, the PS4 can deliver 1080p; that doesn't mean that the game can without making sacrifices in other areas. For an open-world game, it's incredibly difficult" -- Tony Key

"Everybody has a criteria that they value above the other. What's the thing that you value the most in your video game? Do you value the story? Do you value the graphics? Do you value the open-world nature of it? The weight of the gun? The speed of the car? Everybody has this thing that they care about the most," Key said. "And the people who care about 1080p the most should be the ones who are most vocal about it. So when a game's not 1080p, maybe they don't want it. But that depends, how are you defining the game? If you're defining it [based on 1080p resolution], then you're right, it's not good enough. When a team is designing a game, they have to make choices because there's not unlimited power. Yes, the PS4 can deliver 1080p; that doesn't mean that the game can without making sacrifices in other areas. For an open-world game, it's incredibly difficult."

Despite this difficulty, Key says you're already starting to see some open-world games, like Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, reach 1080p. It was also recently revealed that this year's Assassin's Creed Unity is targeting 1080p/60fps on PS4 and Xbox One.

"We got there on Black Flag with some extra work. But it was very, very difficult because there's so much more going on in an open-world," Key said. "And the power you need to create buildings that you can explore, to create the density of that universe; those are choices that the games make. Do we want to be 1080p or do we want more density in the city or a bigger map?"

"And if you ask 10 gamers what they care about the most, you'll get 10 different answers," he added. "So ultimately, the team has to decide what they think is going to be the best experience and it's not always going to be 1080p because in order to get 1080p, you have to give up something else, at least right now."

Key said he expects more open-world games to run in 1080p over time, thanks to advancements to development processes. "As the toolsets improve over time, we'll get there. You saw how much better the games were getting and looking towards the end of the current-gen cycle, so give these developers a couple of years and they'll get there," Key said. "But for people to say 'Everything should be 1080p right now', they are choosing one criteria that's important to them and deciding that's all that matters. And I don't think that's the case for everybody."

What's your take on the 1080p debate? Let us know in the comments below!

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @EddieMakuch
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

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Discussion

307 comments
Darkhol0w
Darkhol0w

What is this..I clicked on the Wasteland 2 article and it redirects me to this ?

Stepn2myworld
Stepn2myworld

There is a simple solution to get games running at 1080p and 60 frames per second: Powerful hardware. Console developed games are limited by hardware on which they run. 

winjester
winjester

Nobody cares about a 1080p when the game is lame. So what?

moatasim07
moatasim07

agree with him...... these fanboys are just cancer to gaming...... i am absolutely fine with a game which is 720p @ 30 fps as long as the game is awesome and i am saying this as a pc gamer .......... and i can run most of the games on my pc finely at 1080p @ 60 fps.......

(sorry for my bad english)

KrazzyDJ
KrazzyDJ

The argument about games on current-gen getting better towards the end of the cycle is spot on. Eventually (in maybe three years), all games on both these consoles could be 1080p !!!

Xmus942
Xmus942

bu bu bu bu.... PS4 fanboys say 1080p or GTFO! If 1080p is becoming increasingly difficult to achieve as game worlds become more complex, then I guess they'll have to trade in their PS4 for a refund. Oh well, morons should have bought a PC instead of bragging about their system having a marginally better resolution than the Xbox one, which is only slightly under powered in comparison .Too bad. 


Master Race! 


The only system that can be reliably counted on to achieve 1080p in Open World Games. 

Senior_Rosa
Senior_Rosa

Well, all this debate about the 1080p and fps really starts to bore me a lot. Consoles should have been a lot more powerful. On the other hand, in most of next-gen games i dont see a huge leap in generation. I just see better lighting or textures, but it is essentially the same thing.


I miss something new. There is no next-gen revolution. It is the same shit as always, but looking nicer. Once we get used to these looks, there won't be any difference. No revolution whatsoever.

Rakou
Rakou

Why are there so many news articles about the 1080p on X1 debate? I swear Devs just want to release a statement on this and have their names reach headlines and get some free marketing for their upcoming titles.

world4games
world4games

"Xbox One technically capable of delivering games in 1080p"

Joke of the Year!

eternal_napalm
eternal_napalm

What stinks is having to develop for last gen and x.bone, holding PC and PS4 back a lot. 

hystavito
hystavito

What bugs me is that the next-gen open world games are not really giving us more, we're not getting much interiors, more interaction, etc., AND we're not getting 1080p :).


I'm really hoping that it's just the cross gen holding the games back, but I'm not sure that's even it now.  Second Son was pretty disappointing as it was pretty much just a graphics increase and no increases in the depth and variety of the world, but that could just be because it's an early next-gen title and maybe they didn't have enough time, still using old tools, etc.


I guess we won't find out for some time, as we'll have to wait for GTA6, or Watch Dogs 2, or whatever.  AC might show us something, but I doubt it.

vihazur
vihazur

Then don't make it 1080p.  What good is 1080p, if you have to sacrifice the game itself, to achieve it?

lonzoe2009
lonzoe2009

None of that matters (1080p) if the game runs like crap because of poor optimization Wd and Ac4 for example

DefconRave
DefconRave

Gotta have to laugh when pc gamers have been enjoying open world games in 1080p for years. Next-gen is like trying to squeeze water out of a stone lol.

brockelley
brockelley

It'd probably be easier if they didn't gimp their own games...

AzureBonds76
AzureBonds76

The reason that you hear all the fuss about 1080p / 60 fps is it is going to become the benchmark for games this generation of consoles (once the game devs get a little more familiarized with both platforms). Yes it is a marketing tool to an extent but in a few years we will most likely be seeing less 30 fps games as a whole. Right now we just have to put up with clever lingo such as "cinematic quality framerate" instead of "haven't figured out how to run this game at 60fps yet...stay tuned".

ellbanks
ellbanks

According to some gamers these days graphics can either "make or break" a game.  It's true that the better the graphics are in a game the more inclined you would be to delve into it.  As time goes on and developers fine tune the utensils that make gaming great, we should appreciate all the effort that goes into a single game no matter what score it's awarded.  If a game doesn't meet the standards of an individual, then instead of criticizing it they should move on to what's appealing to them.

euphoric666
euphoric666

1982 Adventure from Atari is one of the best open world action RPG games to date and we don't need 1080p to love him.

domisbatman
domisbatman

Infamous did it without sacrificing anything

linfo28
linfo28

I couldn't care about resolution or frame rate, as long as long as they're good enough to play the game on.


ecurl143
ecurl143

So - let me get this straight.

They drag some 'marketing executive' into the limelight to talk about game development and how difficult it is to optimize a game?

Seriously?

Here's an idea, lets talk to the people actually 'develop' the games and hear what they have to say.


jhpiv4
jhpiv4

GTA V is going to be 1080p on the new consoles. I understand that GTA V is a technical marvel, but surely it stands as an example of what is achievable.

pterois3
pterois3

We have become obsessed with resolution basing our game purchases on whether a game supports 1080p or not. Developers tend to feel the need to deliver that in order to sell. Targeting 1080p/60fps on an open world Assassin's Creed with thousands of NPCs with advanced AI is probably too large a task at this point of the console cycle. An uncapped framerate will likely provide a more attainable goal with less sacrifices needed. Seeing as Ubisoft is such a console focused developer the less sacrifices made for the console versions will result in less of a downgrade for the PC build.  

bourne714
bourne714

I don't care about 1080p.  Just wanted to throw that out there. Anything that's 720P and up, that is up scaled to 1080P looks damn fine to me.  What I do care about, and what I do want is more content in my virtual worlds, more pretty lights, more shadows, more dynamic everything.  I wish the everyone would start being vocal about that type of stuff.  Let the developers focus on the important stuff IMHO.

rvrevrevr
rvrevrevr

Hooray for the glorious PC gaming master race!

robbiejones
robbiejones

If you really care for 1080p, then just be a PC player. If you want variety of different genre's, and great story, stick with the ps4. If you luv both like me, then have both. 

johnlewis107
johnlewis107

"gamers have every right to want 1080p, but they should also know that reaching this high mark is no easy task"

Is it still 2007?

robbiejones
robbiejones

@Xmus942 actually prefer linear games. I think Wolfenstein is a good balance of liner, with a bit of exploration. Open world games get boring FOR ME. Of course there's the exceptional open world games like Far Cry 3, Fallout 3, Skyrim (pc), and New vegas, where i enjoyed the open world quite A lot. 

robbiejones
robbiejones

@world4games yeah, It's pretty crazy that COD ghosts was 720p, and m$ have a good relationship with Activision.

Xmus942
Xmus942

@world4games

There's already been a couple of game which have, such as Forza. Bungie also said that since the 10% of the Xbox One GPU that was normally reserved for the Kinect can now be used for games, they have been able to achieve 1080p on Destiny. Jokes are only funny if there's a truth to them. 


By denying reality you're only making an ass out of yourself, and if you continue to do so then you're only going to look dumber as time goes on. Buy hey, that's fanboyism for ya. 

XNEXUS666X
XNEXUS666X

@eternal_napalm haha what? Don't put your little PS4 in the same league as my PC, Watch_Dogs is as good as it can be on PS4, it's not the miracle machine you like to imagine. My PC is running 1080p - 60fps - ultra, nothing is holding that back.

DefconRave
DefconRave

@hystavito I'm hoping they advance the level of a.i., for npcs and enemies especially. Fully reactive individual a.i. would make even linear games have fantastic replayability/enjoyment.

Xmus942
Xmus942

@vihazur

Well if 1080p is becoming increasingly difficulty to achieve and PS4 fanboys  won't play a game unless it's 1080p, what the hell else are they gonna play.?The Order 1886 is 800p, I mean we're screwed. 

B0NES96
B0NES96

@vihazur That was the point. Some games don't reach 1080p so that they don't sacrifice other aspects of the game.

alifetimebefore
alifetimebefore

@johnlewis107 Nope, in 2007 you were like "zomg 720p is alien tech". Really now, for an open world game i'd rather have a bigger map, more interesting missions, more multiplayer modes, more story missions, more side missions that don't feel like side missions. But you guys must love to "go there, do that" in 1080p i guess. 

robbiejones
robbiejones

@Xmus942 Your defence was Forza been 1080p. The list of 720p is wayyy longer than 1080p. The fact that Xbox had really good launch title's and only 1 been 1080p (which was a racer) is sad. M$ shouldn't of focused on the kinect, and yeah they regret it now. 

robbiejones
robbiejones

@XNEXUS666X @eternal_napalm not in same league as YOUR pc perhaps, but the majority of pc gamer's have mid range pc's. Like it or not the ps4 is a strong console. Yeah that uncharted 4 footage at e3, remember it? that was in game. 

hystavito
hystavito

@DefconRave @hystavito Yeah that rant of mine usually includes AI but I forgot :).  I often say I feel like AI in games got stuck like 10yrs ago, or even got worse.

eyeball2452
eyeball2452

The problem is that we are always comparing one thing to another. If one games sets the bar at 1080p, the expectations for subsequent games goes up.

The argument made in the article makes sense in a vacuum. In the real world, it sounds like an excuse. To PC gamers, it sounds even sillier.

Yes, PC's cost more. There's also more administrative overhead. Consoles, especially at the beginning of a generation shouldn't be that significantly degraded visually from PC versions.

eternal_napalm
eternal_napalm

@major_retard This is what members of the vast minority truly think, no doubt, lol and your name is a perfect description of those gullible enough to buy a cable box for gaming :P

sedrikp39
sedrikp39

@major_retard @domisbatman other people are in the roof tops.... thats if you fly around and not run around the streets.... if empty is the topic then check out the batman games... but its understandable coz the city is in war...