With gamers believing The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt suffered a graphical downgrade since its impressive trailer at VGX in December 2013, Eurogamer visited CD Projekt Red, where they discussed this very topic with the developers.
Right off the bat, CD Projekt Red Co-Founder Marcin Iwinski was asked if the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions restricted the PC version:
If the consoles are not involved there is no Witcher 3 as it is. 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.
Iwinski adds that, if The Witcher 3 was PC-only, they could probably get more in terms of graphics, but without the console versions, “we cannot afford such a game.”
Tackling the question of why the graphics changed, Iwinski explained that they do a certain build for a tradeshow, which is created far away from when the game is actually completed. “Then you put it in the open-world,” he continued, “regardless of the platform, and it’s like ‘oh shit, it doesn’t really work’. We’ve already showed it, now we have to make it work. And then we try to make it work on a huge scale. This is the nature of games development.”
Studio Head Adam Badowski confirmed the VGX trailer wasn’t pre-rendered and it was captured from PC footage. After VGX though, the rendering system was changed to make the world look nice during day and night. Otherwise, they would have needed to use lots of dynamic lighting, which didn’t work in such a big world.
Global Communications Manager Michal Platkow-Gilewski then jumped in to say that, while people say the 2013 trailer looks better than the game today, “there’s plenty of things that improved since 2013,” such as the world size and frames-per-second.
Wondering if maybe they shouldn’t have shown that VGX trailer, Iwinski doesn’t agree that there’s a downgrade. “But it’s our opinion, and gamers’ feeling can be different,” he continued. “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.”
As for why CD Projekt Red didn’t say anything until now about the graphics downgrade issue, Iwinski admits that it’s “because we didn’t see it as a problem.” Now though, they “don’t feel good about it” and Iwinski himself treats it “very personally.”
He concludes, “And for those who are still not 100% decided, I definitely encourage them to wait and see what we will be releasing in patches, updates, and whatnot.”