Whatifgaming reported that The Division has already been downgraded visually. According to Whatifgaming, a source dev (whose identity cannot be revealed for obvious reasons) told them that the team has already took out ‘quite a lot of screen space reflections from the game’ and that the final product will not look as good as its E3 2013 reveal.
Here is the full email Whatifgaming received.
We really loved the reception to the demo we showed on the PC version at E3. Currently as it stands, there is definitely a lot of push coming from publishers to not make the experience so different on consoles as to alienate people into thinking that next generation is not as powerful as PC. This is probably what happened at Ubisoft Montreal. I think that while making stability changes is definitely important, it does not completely obliterate a lot of enhanced rendering applications.
Right now we already took out quite a lot of screen space reflections from the game and are working on asset management the best we can given consoles have that great unified memory. Naturally we will also be using online servers and have to produce a synchronization that higher graphics add to the latency so it had to be turned down. To me it still looks good, but not as good as the original reveal. I am sure as we get closer to launch and the actual console versions of the game featuring SD (Snowdrop) that it will start to seem all too obvious to people especially those on PCs. I just wanted to write and let you know that it definitely is not just stability but marketing politics plays into this a lot as well.
UPDATED 2nd Response from The Division Developer: Truth be told in regards to your question that while ‘Yes’ the lead platform is the PC, we simply cannot have such a big gap. As you know when the first WATCH DOGS Review was published by that one site, Ubisoft called it a “false review” and I am sure everyone can see how bad that sounded when they saw the game did look marginally better than something that was a last generation GTA IV. But no, they will not admit that they practice this or actively downgrade a game. It is much easier to say they removed things for stability which is often a lie as you can tell by the post-issues which are expected in any production we do.
Also to answer your 3rd question, no…they will never fully disclose what was removed from what build as no laws ask them to do so in terms of consumer rights. If we as developers published that information in very real terms for the consumer such as “Replaced particle fog simulation with 2d layer simulation in 3d space, removed particles from all explosions, lowered explosion volume multiplier by 20x, removed X # of trees and civilians, etc.” we would be out of a lot of sales and probably it would actually require too much time to deliver on the current hype that a lot of downgraded games see which look incredible with a vertical slice. I do share this in the hope’s that my colleagues and publishers and a lot of people who make false promises and do demonstrations which wrongfully create too much hype that they cannot deliver on ultimately stop doing such things. I want to see the industry actually move forward and not be so full of itself by promising too much and delivering too little. Regards