In the column I talk about how the nature of E3 drives publishers to engage in aggressive over-promising as they compete for eyeballs. Of course, I think the real way to break free of that trap is to stop chasing stupid photorealism. The publishers have witnessed the success of Fortnite, Minecraft, Cuphead, everything that Blizzard ever made, and everything that Nintendo ever made. They’ve seen proof that you can make billions of dollars while at the same time making your game more visually distinct and also spending less on graphicsThis is not to say that adopting a non-photorealistic art style will automatically make the game cheaper to make. It depends on the game and the art style..
The big offender here is Ubisoft, who are enamored of their realistic-looking worlds that run on crazy funtime cartoon logic, and who constantly over-promise visuals at industry events.
I realize that EA is usually seen as the big bad these days. And that’s probably fair. But there’s something about Ubisoft that personally rubs me the wrong way. I know Ubi is pretty good about funding low-budget titles, their workplaces are reportedly pretty healthy, and they only control a handful of AAA titles. You could make the case that they’re the good guys compared to the likes of EA. But for whatever reason, I grit my teeth whenever I see the Ubi logo. Between their horrendous DRM, obnoxious Uplay, their same-y collect-a-thon games, their cringe-y staged multiplayer demos at E3, and their brazenly fictional graphical promises, these guys seem to be running their company in a way designed to maximize my annoyance.
 This is not to say that adopting a non-photorealistic art style will automatically make the game cheaper to make. It depends on the game and the art style.
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