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."

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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!

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