Here’s another one of those “I’m surprised that you are surprised by this” situations, where debates are raging on game forums and social media over this handy comparison of the “bullshots” that Ubisoft had released to promote FarCry 4and the actual results on the PlayStation 4.
It is a great looking game either way but suffice it to say, unless you need your eyes checked, the difference is pretty stark.
I naturally became involved in one of these discussions online where someone popped up to defend Ubisoft in not seeing any problem whatsoever in doing this. In particular the defense boiled down to that Ubisoft isn’t “lying” because they just rendered the same assets differently and its not a big deal because its not like these are videos we are talking about. He also didn’t noticed much of a difference, just the lighting.
It is much more than that if you look at them for more than 5 microseconds. The lighting is better in the bullshots but you also have: Better Textures; Better Depth of Field (DOF), a higher overall resolution, different background assets in some instances. Remember, these were used to promote the game, to set the impressions and expectations that it is going to be one thing when it really is another. Screenshots are going to be used on forums, blgos and a game magazine or two that is still out there. If you are saying “PS4 screenshots” then they should be. If they are, then it should at least feature that disclaimer that you are showing the PC build.
Of course this deceptive marketing tactic has been used by just about every game company everywhere since the Golden Age – in early arcade flyers the screen images sometimes would not look very good in the photo so they would draw a likeness of the game over the screen; game boxes would show a better version of the game (Such as Super Monaco GP for the Genesis where they pictured the superior arcade version on the back!) or commercials that only show the CG cutscenes and nothing from the gameplay or demos that would show one thing and the final build being another. Perhaps you will remember this infamous example:
So yes, this deceptive marketing is widespread and has a long history. It has certainly meant better sales for these companies from buyers who will not research any further into games than the easiest methods possible. I would just submit that you don’t make your buying decisions based solely upon the official script that they shovel to you. I know a lot of people don’t anymore, which is why game blogs and independent web video shows do so well and big game sites are trying to tell us that “gamers are dead”. I loathe game review scores because they are often completely arbitrary and don’t match with what the text of the review actually states (take any 5/5 or 10/10 review and note if they point out any flaws – if they do then how is the game supposed to be perfect on the scores? It’s all about the marketing.