One philosophical question for those who would still doubt;
If it costs 265 million dollars to make what you think we got on the console yesterday, how much does it cost to make it for the PC, to make it like the screenshots, to give it the more peds and cars and such?
Now, I am of half my mind to just leave that as a rhetorical question that ends up answered anyway, someone is sure to provide an adequately detailed conjectural piece about how much ports cost or how many people work at Rockstar Toronto, but it would be hilarious, especially in the case of this particular game, but more important for why I won't leave it in the air, it would be cruel.
Firstly, the production costs - there they are - 265 million dollars. Over 1/4 of a billion apple pies at mcdonalds (over 1/2 if your mcdonalds rolls with with 2for1)
Every single asset that you see upon the console version that was released is in some level the same assets that you saw all along, at various stages of development, what you see on the console in the end that differs in art, is common, but what you see that differs in fidelity, resolution, or quality is not.
Here is a texture, simple DXT1 that I viewed in photoshop, showing mipmap levels, and then saved out as a proper png for the high web, and below it is the texture level missing that I would delete to make it storage, streamer, and render friendly on the consoles. I wouldn't do it by hand, it would get stripped out based on a build configuration (dem graphics settings). If I am targeting consoles. If I am targeting PC, I use the top one, and when the user selects medium textures, that top level map is discarded somewhere between being pulled from the drive and being sent to the active set to be prepared for and then used in rendering.
The examples below are typical for games with low, medium, or high textures. A game like, say, Crysis 2 which has Low, Medium, High, and some variation or synonym of the word Ultra, will delete the top two levels on console, and on PC you'll get High for only 1 deleted, or none deleted for ultra, so in those cases, you're two or three texture levels lower on consoles, always and automatically, unless the game is a port. Like Hulk on PS2 is exactly the same on PC, no change, and looks exactly the same. That's a port.
This image is somewhat big, so I won't embed it, the forum would make it a good size, but it is a modern texture, so it's 1024 high and much wider, so, you know, loading in mind:
As you see the detail on that atlas and its mipmaps, each one can be viewed as a graphics setting on PC, or by deleting the top 2 levels, you'd begin getting into the range of textures seen on GTA V footage. Lower even, especially with regard to how quickly the textures mip out due to a short range on the anisotropic filtering.
Bare in mind that I am not bashing consoles, I'm showing why things are so different in screenshots and the current launched version of the game in terms of texture quality and clarity.
I also did not do the "deleted mip levels image, cos u can do it with your mind.
That "super low cartoon skyrim" mod or "TF2 skyrim" mod, that is just using mipmaps from deeper than you're ever intended to see them up close. It has some other stuff I think, but the textures achieved by going deep into the mipmap to images you would only see from far away even on low, if you're familiar with that mod.
Now, since that's just one aspect of optimization, but the easiest to use as an example, you can understand where I am going with this -
The PC version of any game is not really a new development and added costs just porting assets over to another platform. Only cheesy studios work like that, or unfortunate ones with poor deals, no control, and low funds.
All of the assets for this game, we will not really get the full assets. Maybe one day, but for now, we will get only textures like the one I linked at best, some assets might get 2048, rare occasions where 4096 is used, usually those are seen as atlases though, you won't see a road at 4096 unless a developer is a moron, because you'll never need it unless the screen is 4k hd. You'll see it later, but for now, texture sizes at like 1024px:5meters texel density ratio is more than enough, and typical of "ultra" settings, though you'll see 2048's peppered in there on mass coverage textures.
The point is that the game that came to the console was the easiest one to focus on after a massive 6 month delay (4 to 5 developmentally, maybe longer depending when news of a patch first arrives, they may still be working and what shipped was what had to be pressed, what shipped is good though), it was the platform that provided them the least problems, the most clear constraints, giving the clearest possible route to get this game out and into the hands of the fans, for their sake having waited already a delay, and business and brand protection's sake.
The easier to support platforms got done first, and now it's crunch time for prepping that PS4 version and that PC version, getting down to business on that PC version, to feed down to that XB1 version. For sure.
Time to use levels of those 265 million dollars worth of assets and code that had to be shelved for a bit, that still has kinks to workout, sh*t that is working fine on Nvidia Card/AMD chip machines, but not on AMD card/AMD chip, or working fine with Nvidia7Series and Intel, but not with 8 series, though both work fine with AMD chips, sh*t like that. Crazy sh*t. sh*t I myself do not comprehend and do not want to learn about anymore. The stuff that makes it take "a bit more work" to say you support a platform.
If everyone had the exact same PC, GTA V would be out, in other words. It's developed on a PC, the PC feeds the consoles and those consoles a console-modified/compatible version, those consoles are all guaranteed to be a level playing field, so when sh*t hits the fan and you gotta delay your game for six months, you need to grab anyone who is working on compatibility with the nvidia guys, send the nvidia guys home, put everyone on the console that can swing it, and get that game shipped, then everyone can go work on PC again and call AMD and Nvidia for an overnighter to fix their driver, and all is well.
Is it exactly like that? Nah, it's different everywhere. But Rockstar tried to get that PC version of Max Payne out on the same day, Max Payne was delayed, then the PC version trailed by itself a few weeks when the game finally came, then GTA V got pushed back 2 years without anyone knowing (was slated for 2010), then it was announced, then it dropped SIX MONTHS - this is all a very strong indication that the consoles got crunch time, and now all the platforms can have love given them.
"We've closed the gap between console and PC"
Perfect quote for the stuff I talked about in this post.