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.
"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.
"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' feelings 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.