Witcher 3 Dev Responds to Graphics Downgrade Concerns

"This is the nature of games development."


Developer CD Projekt Red has responded to concerns that The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt's graphics were "downgraded" throughout the course of development. In a interview with Eurogamer, key developers from the Polish studio frankly acknowledge that the visuals for the final game--released this week to high praise--don't exactly match a video shown during the VGX awards show two years ago. They also explain why.

First, CD Projekt Red co-founder Marcin Iwinski stressed that developing The Witcher 3 for consoles did not hold back the PC edition.

No Caption Provided

"If the consoles are not involved there is no Witcher 3 as it is,"Iwinski said. "We can lay it out that simply. We just cannot afford it, because consoles allow us to go higher in terms of the possible or achievable sales; have a higher budget for the game, and invest it all into developing this huge, gigantic world."

"Developing only for the PC: yes, probably we could get more [in terms of graphics] as there would be nothing else--they would be so focused, like if we would develop only on Xbox One or PlayStation 4. But then we cannot afford such a game."

Asked specifically why The Witcher 3's graphics might have looked better in the VGX video (below), Iwinski explained that this footage--captured on PC--was derived from a "vertical slice" of the game. This demo was built specifically to run in as high fidelity as possible. It didn't have the game's full open world to contend with, and that helped boost the visuals.

"This is the nature of games development," he admitted.

Iwinski went on to suggest that, "Maybe we shouldn't have shown that [trailer], I don't know." But he also stresses that CD Projekt Red never set out to mislead anyone with the footage.

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"It's not a lie or a bad will," he said. "We don't agree there is a downgrade but it's our opinion, and gamers' feeling can be different. If they made their purchasing decision based on the 2013 materials, I'm deeply sorry for that, and we are discussing how we can make it up to them because that's not fair."

Iwinski and the rest of the CD Projekt Red team have been personally affected by the graphics fallout.

"We don't feel good about it," Iwinski said. "And I treat it very personally." CD Projekt Red marketing manager Michal Platkow-Gilewski added: "The whole team was touched by this."

Finally, CD Projekt Red says there is a major patch coming soon to The Witcher 3 that should offer a series of graphical improvements. For the PC edition specifically, another new patch will allow players to edit .ini files. This should let players tweak their visual settings even more than they already can.

Head over to Eurogamer to read the full interview.

For more on The Witcher 3, check out GameSpot's review.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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Avatar image for Jason210

This is terrible thing for the PC games industry. What message does this sound out to GPU developers? Is the pace of hardware development now to be governed by current generation of console? Also the question arises in my mind - why couldn't there have been several versions with different graphics? The code for each platform is compiled for that platform alone, so each version could have been optimized for the target platform. What I see here appears to be deliberate downgrade of the PC version simply to stop console gamers feeling bad at seeing superior graphics on a PC. It's as if the console industry had a collection and gave a bag of money to Code Project Red to downgrade the graphics.

And furthermore, publishers better be careful about what they advertise upfront in future.

Avatar image for plums666

This somehow advising us to NEVER buy latest gpu before the times come, because even if the Pascal has been released you bought it at very high price yet the 700 series could already maxed out the latest games. And when the time comes the price for that gpu will be cheaper than initial price. Same goes to amd. Great tips. Great tips.

Avatar image for joalopes

First of all I agree with the downgrade because if they didn't downgrade the graphics, the game would not run well on our hardware today.If you have a high end rig and push every graphical setting to the max, even your GTX 980 will have issues maintaining 60 FPS. Specially with Hairworks on.

With that said I do think that developers should be more careful when showing early gameplay footage. When early footage seems more polished than the final result it means that they were running the demo at an unreasonable quality level.
Better show something that looks worst than the final result. That way people do get impressed.

As someone that loved the gorgeous graphics of The Witcher 2 that were ahead of its time I'll be honest. I'm a bit sad that the Witcher 3 doesn't look more amazing. But in all honesty it is better than anything in the market.
I've played Dragon Age Inquisition quite a bit and although Dragon Age seems more fantastic, comparing the two is not as easy as it seems.
The thing is, in Dragon Age you don't get the sense of scale you get in Witcher 3 because every area is designed in a different scale. In Dragon Age you're playing in a mini world. If you check Youtube videos of both games you'll understand what I mean.

Fact is CD Projekt Red didn't want to deliver a small scale world. So everything is rendered a bit more realistically so to speak. One example. In Dragon Age there is no day/nigh cycle. Nor can we find huge dense forests. There are no huge mountains. They use some tricks to make areas feel bigger than they actually are but it is still easy to know that we are exploring a "map". Not so much a world.

In The Witcher 3 if you see it in the horizon you can go there. The scale is different in every way.

Simply put, as far as open world games , The Witcher 3 is the best looking one.

Avatar image for gledr

its not a matter of if your thing can handle it, its false advertising like battlefronts "demo" its just scripted highly edited footage. Saying this is what it will look like but then it's not thats why i haven't pre ordered any game for years.

Avatar image for gameloot

@gledr: So... what you are saying is they should have released a game that looked like the trailer even if no one had a powerful enough PC to play it? That would be better?

Avatar image for plums666

@gameloot: that would be better, should they sell a game that 9800gt can maxed out? or maybe for example, 700 series - maxed out, 600 series - high, 500 series - medium, 400 series etc - low? cuz whats the point to provide graphics option then? Even when they downgrade the graphics not all people could maxed out the game. So, no point to lie at all.

Avatar image for mansonfraek

The dev can't help if your computer isn't good enough to run this game at max settings, they showed its potential not it's average user experience. If your really that butt hurt over his individual stands of hair blowing in the wind, or armour looking too fake, you have a lot more issues to worry about than you paying the normal price for a video game. It makes as much sense as saying that they lied about the graphics because my work laptop that was designed for Windows xp can't run it on max. Get the **** over yourselves

I will not come back to the post to read the whining about my post so don't even bother

Avatar image for Jason210


It's not such details like you mention, but the contrast and HDR effects in the game were ruined.

Avatar image for ArchoNils2

How come everyone is fine if PR does it, but everyone hates Ubi if they do it?

Avatar image for fragwall

@ArchoNils2: Cause Ubisoft lied 4 times about the graphics on E3 and the same horseshit excuses. The next game is Ghost Recon Wildlands and Far Cry Primal.

Avatar image for Syphen_bast

CDprojektRED I still love you guys, please continue as it is, don't ever change, give us your honesty.
And ty for making the witcher games.

PS. i'm not usually a fanboy for ANYTHING, except for CdprojectRed since witcher 1 and after reading so much stuff about these guys.

Avatar image for jenovaschilld

I remember when developers/publishers showed nothing but 'full motion videos' (if any of you kids even remember what those are) of a game to push it, then when the game was released people were very let down.

The internet allows a much more intimate relationship with its developers good and bad. For instance, i DOUBT games like Xenogears, Parasite Eve, Diablo 2, Katamari demacy, ICO, or even Chrono Trigger would have been made or came out the way they did with the social media, internet relationship we have with developers today. Also support and love of games by gamers help make masterpieces like Divinity OS and Wasteland 2.

Fact is developer redcd showed us upcoming game footage of an unfinished game, and then released a masterpiece of a game, my fellow master pc race are getting pretty annoying and embarrassing sometimes.

Avatar image for shiel44

People here need to learn the definition of a vertical slice. GS actually did a feature on it a while back. A vertical slice is meant to showcase what the dev is trying to accomplish. Unfortunately reality too often gets in the way and they are forced to scale things back. This isn't new in the last couple years and has been happening since the beginning of e3 and other game conferences.

I remember seeing a preview build of C&C Renegade and reading a PC Gamer preview about it after that hyped up how good the shadows in the game were. Guess what? That game had no shadows when it was finally released!

I don't think it's a lie or malicious to have to scale things back and it's not like done people are saying on here that it's PS2 era. Those people obviously forget what that looked like. The game is beautiful. Maybe not the best looking game out right now but due to the sheer scale of it all it's definitely in the conversation.

Avatar image for Nodashi

It would usually make me annoyed, but CDprojektRED is such a decent dev house, with such and onpen and friendly communication with the consumer, I can't help but accept it was not done with ill intent at all.

The game is still beautiful and worth a lot more than the admission price. Most publishers would just release half that game and use the rest as paid DLC or expansions.

Avatar image for blitxxx1981

I have it, played a little bit, but think I will def hold off on playing til new PC update comes

Avatar image for Vodoo

They don't believe they lied?!! This "vertical slice" bs is nothing BUT lies. They show off features of a game that simply don't exist, and will never exist in the final product. How is that not a lie? Watchdogs anyone? Same thing here!

Avatar image for jenovaschilld

@Vodoo: Fact is developer redcd showed us upcoming game footage of an unfinishedgame, and then released a masterpiece of a game, my fellow master pc race are getting pretty annoying and embarrassing sometimes

Avatar image for longestsprout

@Vodoo: Did they try to purposefully mislead you? They showed you footage of a game that was early in development which hadn't had yet to consider all of the development realities. Since then there's been 2 years of worth of footage to demonstrate the look of the game. I don't know what you think they would have to gain by that, but CD Projekt happens to have an excellent reputation, the explanation makes sense and matches up with what limited knowledge of game development I have.

Perhaps you should consider calming down.

Avatar image for bimastrike871


Calm down skippy, the game still looks great :-)

Avatar image for Pandelas

@bimastrike871: The game characters looks greats, worlds textures are rubish as are the controlls and the game physics are. Anyone noticed the movement, the jump, the death animation? Seems like a 2005 game on that matter. I personally believe that the downgrade occured because the studio ''forced'' to include the gameworks technology, witch is totally an marketing advertisment software and not a tool for graphics development. Screw you nvidia and cd project, go to fool someone else. They spoken for optimization and downgraded graphics by adding hairworks etc, the same moment graphics engine runs only in 4 cores. Adding the crappy performance gameworks, downgrading the graphics and call that optimization. Really how many games you guys know that using gameworks and they dont have performance issues? Far cry 4? Unity?

Avatar image for Mizarzeug

I admire Marcin attitude frankly & direct finally someone from developers side who recognize and tells How this business really function. Stop complaining master race things could have being worse

Avatar image for ilovelctr

To be honest, the downgrade of the PC version of The Witcher 3 is not only noticeable when compared to that VGX trailer. Looking at the Sword of Destiny Trailer you'll also notice the different and much better hair of Yennefer. Also a previously released 35-minute gameplay (Geralt riding a horse through a largely populated town) bearing the mark "work in progress" had far better graphics too, where you can see conspicuously better foliage, better water effects, and grass interaction when Geralt steps on it, whereas in the final game the foliage look like 2D.

Avatar image for zeca04

@ilovelctr: True. They took particles effect and lightning. Loving the game but i think they could at least add better foliage and more optional effects...

Avatar image for ilovelctr

@zeca04: Yes. I love the game too. But that village burning scene in the second chapter is so poorly rendered compared to the VGX and Sword of Destiny trailers. I'd say the change is really huge... I hope there's a way that they would bring all the effects in Sword of Destiny back, because that's the best trailer where we saw all the great effects and realistic facial animation which wasn't present in the VGX video. Everything in that one was lifelike and looked next-next-gen, including the foliage.

Avatar image for zeca04

@ilovelctr: Hoping for an enhanced edition

Avatar image for matt2790

People, stop preordering games, lets always demand a demo before we decide whether if we want to buy the final product.. that would solve all this drama

Avatar image for johncas89

At least theyre being honest, i weirdly feel much better that they admitted it.

Avatar image for Dissentioncc

Yeah....just the nature of games development. What a crock of shit.

Avatar image for Ripper_TV

They will let me edit the fucking INI files... fucking jokers.

Avatar image for Ripper_TV

Endless LIES is "the nature of games development," he admitted.


They will let me edit INI files if I ask nicely? Speechless...

Avatar image for mohabnoto

what I don't like is that there is no deep details in game about what happened before

I wished that I Played the previous versions so I can understand the story better

dragon age inquisition was much better in telling what happened before

you can chat with some characters and he will give you so much details about him and others

and some times they interact with each other to tell you their history while you explore the world

maybe because the Inquisitor is a new character so he need to know the past about his allies unlike Geralt

as a new player in the series you will get bashed by some questions and characters that you don't know anything

about !

Avatar image for cappy

@mohabnoto: Sorry to hear you are getting bashed for asking simple questions. That is just ridiculous, and people with poor manners. I just picked up Witcher short stories by the author that this game comes from. Just starting to read it but it already seems great and is letting me sink even deeper into the story. They have digital version on Amazon.

Avatar image for Dat-tsu

@mohabnoto: Aside from the return of the Wild Hunt and the assassinations of King Foltest and King Demovend, which subsequently lead to Nilfgaard invading the North, not much that happened in the first two games is really relevant to what's happening in Witcher 3. The most you get out of it is knowing the setting and the characters better, which yeah, I can imagine would be nice.

Avatar image for jeffreybernabe

you know why these "PC Master Race Elitist" are upset? (not.. PC gamer,,, big difference.)

they dump a shitton Money on the PC so they can feel superior and lash out on console gamers on social media and the comments section.

and now the PC version of the game is only 10 percent better than now gen consoles they flip out,whining on NeoGaf for a "downgrade" and start to lose their minds.

PC NextGen Community in a nutshell

Avatar image for Jason210


You have an immature attitude and are insulting.

PC and Mac users don't just have desktops and laptops for games - they often use them for other things as well. It is often the tool they work with in IT and programming and so on.

I can't imagine that any one of us would spend money to "feel superior" to console gamers. We do it because we enjoy the choice and scope our platform offers both for causal games and also for non-casual games and simulations. We are at home with out PCs, and the flexibility they offer. We also like mice.

Avatar image for Dissentioncc

@jeffreybernabe: And you know why console peasants like you spew bs like you just did? Because your inferiority complex is the worst of pretty much any lesser group in existence. Consoles hold games back, that's an absolute fact. Star Citizen is going to be an amazing game BECAUSE of the fact that it's PC only. They can do more with it in every single way because they don't have to deal with the limits of hardware from 2008 (PS4 and X1).

Avatar image for Highlander77

@Dissentioncc said:

@jeffreybernabe: Consoles hold games back, that's an absolute fact.

Did you miss the part where he said that the game wouldn't even exist if it weren't for the consoles?

Avatar image for Jason210


If consoles didn't exist, PCs wouldn't have a problem.

Avatar image for Dilemmas

@jeffreybernabe: We dump a moderate amount of money into our PCs because we want to see games in higher fidelity (and have an open platform as opposed to a closed one).

So it's obviously frustrating when we don't get what developers lead us to expect.

As for the elitism war, console gamers are probably more to blame for that, stemming from the early years when PC gamers were made out to be lame, nerdy and inferior, as opposed to consoles being 'cool'.

It's no surprise they became spiteful and started lashing out.

Avatar image for jeffreybernabe

@Dilemmas: LMAO! PC elite kids easily fall for that 2013 Debut Marketing trailer.. I've been following this game's interviews..technicalities in development.. all that shite..since its announcement

You do realize that the 2013 Demo runs on Dual Nvidia SLI and it's still Lags (E3 2013) and was made by graphics engine programmers in 2 months

Look it up

I said to myself, No,it can't be that good.. it has to downgrade something

and thus Elder Blood Trailer came along with release date in Feb is near.

people are talking about the "downgrade" in the various forums and CDP has to delay the release

and now PC Elite Kids and Pathetic quote on quote "Gaming" Youtubers jumping onto the hate bandwagon., whining about the downgrade 1-2 weeks before the release is ridiculous.

you know why? the game is finished.. it's gone Gold..there's nothing you can do about it.

literally these people are WASTING TIME... #commonsense #think

Avatar image for mrbojangles25

@jeffreybernabe: I thought it was the Xbox folks that were flipping out cuz they were not going to get 1080p?

Ah well, it all worked out in the end.

Avatar image for cappy

I must be missing something here. I don't understand how people are actually claiming that the Devs were dishonest in this. There have been so many videos and information about this game other than a single video that shown two years ago. I literally cringe when I read the Devs having to respond to this.

Before I become aware of any "issue" I was remarking to myself how full of grace and dignity the Devs have been and how sincerely they have honored their customers. They really elevated this whole relationship with such excellence, I thought "man I'd love to work for a company that had that kind of heart and integrity," And then I read all this, what I can only describe as insanity, about a two year old video.

My only hope is the Devs can not let this tarnish what they have done, after committing THREE YEARS of their lives to give this easily arguable FANTASTIC game.

Avatar image for ilovelctr

@cappy: The best video was Sword of Destiny, but afterwards, everything went downhill in Elder Blood trailer. Oh and Sword of Destiny isn't an old trailer, at least not that old per se.

Avatar image for cappy

@ilovelctr: I watched a few videos and most seemed pretty accurate to me. I did see one that seemed to look a lot better. Not sure which one it is, but I remember thinking that something must have changed. But it was soooo easy for me to get a good idea of what it would look like from all the other videos and information, I just don't get all the fuss. The game sets new standards in so many ways, I can;t believe people are not just thankful these folks spent three years of their lives to give us this. Know what I mean? Have you ever spent three years of your life working to make a single product as good as possible? I never have, so I really admire that dedication and to me that means they really care and tried their best.

Avatar image for Avantyr

@cappy: I agree, it's been 2 years. That means that that footage is "pre-alpha" at best. Anyone expecting it to stay like that after every system and world detail was added is an idiot.

Avatar image for cappy

I must be missing something here. I don't understand how people are actually claiming that the Devs were dishonest in this. There have been so many videos and information about this game other than a single video that shown two years ago. I literally cringe when I read the Devs having to respond to this.

Before I become aware of any "issue" I was remarking to myself how full of grace and dignity the Devs have been and how sincerely they have honored their customers. They really elevated this whole relationship with such excellence, I thought "man I'd love to work for a company that had that kind of heart and integrity," And all this, what I can only describe as insanity, about a two year old video.

My only hope is the Devs can not let this tarnish what they have done, after committing THREE YEARS of their lives to give this easily arguable FANTASTIC game.

Avatar image for Sandpark

This game and developer deserve all the praise they get. No game is perfect and the game is far from unplayable. All the negative nancies here need to get over it.

Avatar image for wolf503

People complaining about the issue need to think properly. You can either have graphics that might have a few extra pixels of detail ("oh ma god un extru strund of hur! PC mastur ruce yeah!") with a small world or downgraded graphics with fewer pixels that still give you a visually stunning experience, with a much larger world to explore? I don't think I've ever seen a developer release footage of an early build (from 2 years ago) and not downgrade the graphics later on.

The issue people should be talking about is how frustrating the horse riding and swimming is.