Crytek Dev Explains Why E3 Demos Rarely Match the Final Game

By | 5 months ago 

With E3 2016 just around the corner, Crytek’s Rok Erjavec explains why some games receive demos at the expo that appear to be more polished than their retail release.

With E3 2016 nearly upon us, many gamers are excited to see exactly what the expo will have in store. With both recently announced games such as Battlefield 1 expected to offer more information than what we already know, and the obvious hope for some exciting games that have yet to be revealed, there is one concern that may rear its ugly head in a very pretty way – stunning E3 demos that do not match up to the finished product. One developer, however, has spoken out about exactly why these demos seem to offer up a much more polished experience than their final version.

Rok Erjavec, Crytek’s technical director, recently spoke about this issue with DSO Gaming. Although the interview primarily focuses on the technical side of things, particularly regarding DirectX 12, the Crytek technical director did touch on the controversy surrounding games being downgraded from their E3 demos and showcases. Although Erjavec does understand some of the problems with this strategy, the technical director feels that “in many cases, the criticism is misplaced.”

Erjavec went on to explain that the nature of these demos often causes this change in perceived graphical quality. “Trade-show demos are often carefully crafted experiences where a highly-polished single area is shown during the demo,” said the technical director. He continued to explain that many developers are given a task of completing a 15-minute part of the game, but with a timeframe of building it in three to six months, while the rest of the game’s content is built over 12 to 24 months.

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What this comes down to, then, is not so much an attempt to deceive players, and more just the difficulty of creating a full gaming experience in a much more pressured timeframe. “In many cases there was no downgrade as such,” explained Erjavec, “just the reality of producing much more content over what effectively amounts to (much) less time.” However, the technical director did suggested that one kind of demo is hardly useful for the developer or for its audience, stating that “I do find gameplay showcases that aren’t running on actual hardware targets or are entirely pre-recorded a bit pointless, since games are fundamentally about interactive experiences.”

Regardless of exactly how demos are misleading gamers, it’s doubtful that the most blatant perpetrators of superior demos will get a free ride from the gaming community. Games such as Aliens: Colonial Marines will live long in the memory of players, with a final version of the game so bad that it led to a long and painful lawsuit. Indeed, in spite of some stunning demo footage, it has taken until 2016 for users to make the game playable through modded content.

Although Erjavec’s comments provide a very useful context for those outside of the game development circuit, it is perhaps still important for those games with the largest discrepancies to be called out on it. After all, Ubisoft promised to change its release policies after the notoriety gained from Watch Dogs. That said, maybe with a bit more understanding of how games are made, perhaps gamers will be a little more lenient on games that only lack a little polish upon release.

Source: DSO Gaming