Arkane wants the PC launch of Prey on PC to avoid the launch woes Dishonored 2 smacked into. “We are paying double attention to make sure that this time the PC version is really flawless when we ship,” creative director Raphael Colantonio told GameInformer.
Ok. Why should we buy what Colantonio is selling to GameInformer? There is one big reason working in Prey’s favor.
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Prey and Dishonored 2 are not running on the same engine. Prey is using CryEngine, while Dishonored 2 used Arkane’s in-house ‘Void’ engine. Void is a heavily modified version of id Tech 5. In an interview with Gameplanet earlier this year, Arkane Art Director Sebastien Mitton said the studio “kept like 20 percent of the engine.”
Prey will be using CryEngine. Colantonio explained why this is good news for PC folks. “The risk is not the same. In the case of Prey we’re using CryEngine and it’s an engine that’s already shipped stuff before. So it’s not the same configuration.”
Colantonio also touched on why developing for PC can be hard. “In development, you never exactly know what you’re going to see, especially on the PC with so many configurations and stuff.” This is where early demos can help a ton. Give everyone a small taste of the game while looking for any potential headaches on PC. Any performance problems can be identified and patched before release. Not after.
The “many configurations” part he brings up is a valid point. It’s a point we all know about, but we might not know just how fragmented it is. Steam conducts a hardware survey every month. Take a look at the top graphics cards in recent months:
The problem with building custom engines (even modified ones) is you don’t know how they’re going to react to that many possible setups. That’s why many developers pick from the big engine names like Unreal, CryEngine, Unity, etc.
Still, it’s an issue a demo released a few weeks early could easily remedy. Find the problem configurations and fix them ahead of launch. The problem is devs aren’t too big on demos anymore. Particularly for single-player titles.
Hey, we could just wait for reviews and see if there are any PC issues before the game launches. Oh wait. Bethesda, in their infinite wisdom, decided we should all play the game at the same time. We can see if it’s broken, or if it’s the next big thing together.
Bethesda pointed to the success of DOOM for proof the policy works. “Earlier this year we released DOOM. We sent review copies to arrive the day before launch, which led to speculation about the quality of the game. Since then DOOM has emerged as a critical and commercial hit, and is now one of the highest-rated shooters of the past few years.”
If publishers released demos ahead of their games, I wouldn’t have a problem with this policy. Let gamers figure out if they like the game, or at least if their $1,500+ PC can run the damn thing. Don’t make people blindly drop $60.
I’m pumped to play Prey. It’s one of the games I’m most excited about in 2017. But I would be lying if I said I wasn’t hesitant about the PC version at launch. At the same time, I have no doubt the devs will quickly fix any issues at launch quickly. But wouldn’t it be nice if it didn’t have any issues at all?