It’s difficult to see the difference between a 1080p resolution in a game and a 900p resolution when looking at screenshots or gameplay. But it’s easy to see the marketing power that those numbers have on consumers, and Electronic Arts is clearly aware of that.
The publisher and its Dragon Age: Inquisition developer BioWare took to Twitter today to tout that the studio maximized the resolution for the fantasy role-playing adventure on both of the new consoles. It explained that Dragon Age will have 1,080 lines of horizontal resolution on PlayStation 4 and 900 on Xbox One. This comes just days after Ubisoft found itself making headlines for releasing the next Assassin’s Creed game, Unity, at 900p on both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Gamers jumped on a quote from Unity lead producer Vincent Pontbriand, who said Ubisoft went for parity to avoid the “debates” that gamers have about which console is better. Fans took that to mean that Ubisoft downgraded the PS4 version — although Ubisoft has denied that is what happened.
We reached out to EA and Ubisoft for this story. EA has promised us an interview that we’re still waiting on, and Ubisoft declined to comment.
What is so interesting about this is that EA likely saw Ubisoft getting beat up by public opinion, has come out and boldly proclaimed that it tried to squeeze the most from both machines.
“We maximized the current potential of each platform,” reads the tweet from the official Dragon Age account on Twitter.
That language is in direct opposition to what Ubisoft’s Pontbriand was saying earlier this week. Of course, it’s likely that Ubisoft also tried to maximize Assassin’s Creed: Unity on both systems. It certainly claims that it did. A side-by-side comparison of Dragon Age: Inquisition and Ubisoft’s open-world game doesn’t make a lot of sense. Yes, they are both open world, but maybe Unity has more geometry and hundreds more nonplayer characters on the screen at one time. It’s possible that 900p is the best the PS4 and the Xbox One can handle when it comes to a digitally re-created Paris and its thousands of citizens.
That’s not really the point.
The emphasis of the BioWare tweet is the word “maximized.” EA saw an opportunity to point out that it’s not holding back, which is exactly what a lot of gaming fans want to hear. The implication is “oh, you think some publishers are watering down their games for the lowest-common denominator? Have you considered this new Dragon Age game instead, because we’re not doing that.”
Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter agrees that this small move could score EA some points with gamers, but he doesn’t think it’s that big of a deal.
“Yes, the people who care about the top speed of cars will also care if a game is 1080p or 900p,” said Pachter. “So I suppose the answer is that EA will score points with a handful of gamers, but most will have no idea that their game is running at 900p or at 1080p.”
Even if it isn’t going to make a big impact with a wider audience, EA is probably still happy to win over people when it can.
EA and BioWare have had a contentious relationship with fans for years. After releasing Mass Effect 3 with a disappointing ending, gamers famously voted EA the “Worst Company in America” on Consumer Report‘s Consumerist blog in 2012. The company “won” that award again last year after releasing an always-online version of SimCity that did not work for weeks after its launch due to numerous server and connection issues.
By coming out with small messages like today’s Dragon Age “maximized” tweet, EA may have found a way to win over some of its detractors.