Battlefield 3 developer DICE thinks that developing the game with PC as the lead platform means that console owners will have a better visual experience, too.
Even if they're slated for multiplatform release, many of the modern FPS titles that hit the market today are developed primarily with consoles in mind - and usually, that console is the Xbox 360. (How do we know? We just know.) To be fair, this isn't an awful idea in itself. The Xbox 360 market is the largest for games like Call of Duty, followed by the PS3, and distantly trailed by the PC; why wouldn't you develop primarily on the platform with your largest audience?
EA DICE, currently hard at work on Battlefield 3, disagrees. In fact, BF3 executive producer Patrick Bach says that using a console as the lead development platform is the "biggest problem we have today." He thinks that having the PC as the lead platform will result in a better experience - for players who get the game for consoles.
"Most games are actually still based on the same core idea that the consoles are your focus, the superior platform or something," Bach told Nvidia. "I don't know why. That was the truth five years ago, but the world has moved on. PCs are way more powerful than the consoles today and there are actually almost zero games out there that actually use the benefits of this."
DICE was developing Battlefield for the "most powerful platform in order to "try and prove what we see gaming being in the future rather than using the lowest common denominator," he explained, "instead of developing it for the consoles and then just adding higher resolution textures and anti-aliasing for the PC version. We're doing it the other way around, we start with the highest-end technology that we can come up with and then scale it back to the consoles."
There's no denying that Battlefield 3 is a stunningly gorgeous game when running on top-of-the-line PC hardware. But won't that make it harder to port to aging consoles? "That's not the case," says Bach, "because when you build the target high, you can then pick and choose from the target and ask what actually creates this picture and then pick the best things from that and turn that into your console solution."
Another thing that helped, says Bach, is that the Frostbite 2 engine was developed knowing that it would eventually have to run on Xbox 360 and PS3 (but not Windows XP), so the developers intentionally made it easily scalable.
"I think people will be surprised to see how good it looks on the consoles. We can't show it right now, because we're aiming to use the PC to set the bar, but it's actually helping us make a better console game."