Watch Dogs graphics settings removed because of performance risks

The unused Watch Dogs graphics settings that one modder discovered buried in the game’s code could have detrimental effects on performance, according to an official statement from Ubisoft. The post on Watch Dogs’ website also addresses accusations leveled by some in the community that the settings were intentionally left out in an effort to bring the PC version of the game’s visuals in line with those of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One console versions.

Here’s the full statement:

The dev team is completely dedicated to getting the most out of each platform, so the notion that we would actively downgrade quality is contrary to everything we’ve set out to achieve. We test and optimize our games for each platform on which they’re released, striving for the best possible quality. The PC version does indeed contain some old, unused render settings that were deactivated for a variety of reasons, including possible impacts on visual fidelity, stability, performance and overall gameplay quality. Modders are usually creative and passionate players, and while we appreciate their enthusiasm, the mod in question (which uses those old settings) subjectively enhances the game’s visual fidelity in certain situations but also can have various negative impacts. Those could range from performance issues, to difficulty in reading the environment in order to appreciate the gameplay, to potentially making the game less enjoyable or even unstable.

Thanks for playing Watch Dogs and stay safe on the mean streets of Chicago.

-The Watch Dogs Team

The statement serves as a reminder that game development can be a tricky balancing act between graphics and gameplay. PC gamers using the mod have reported mixed results in terms of its impact on performance, so it may be the case that only those with particularly powerful rigs can use these settings without detriment. 

The controversy began when Guru3D user TheWorse discovered hidden graphical settings within the source code that allowed players to push Watch Dogs closer to how it looked when it was first revealed at E3 2012. TheWorse packaged these settings, along with a few other tweaks, into a mod.

Popular YouTuber TotalBiscuit demonstrated the mod’s effect in a recent post:

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