The AMD GAME! Experience - AMD Wants to Standardize PC Gaming
PC Gaming Needs a Savior
AMD started off the discussion by countering the popular theory that PC gaming is on a downturn and that consoles are in fact the death kneel of the industry.
The goal for AMD with the new GAME! initiative is pretty simple: make it easier for PC gamers to buy a system or components that will competently play most modern titles at reasonable quality levels and frame rates.
The specifications on these two platforms are actually very reasonable and the GAME Ultra! setup is not unlike our selections in the Mid-Range System on our Hardware Leaderboard. It is nice to see AMD allow the use of NVIDIA's nForce 500 series of chipsets in the AMD GAME! level to include more pre-existing systems out there rather than just cut it off completely for 100% AMD-based components.
One question that immediately came to mind while sitting and starting at this information was: will it actually help? One of key problems with the PC gaming market (and that AMD agrees with) is that the variances in hardware, drivers, vendors and software make compatibility an issue and lead gamers into negative experiences that sour the PC as a gaming platform. AMD's goal was to try and prevent that issue by creating GAME! that would attempt to set certain standards for PC in order to guarantee a quality gaming experience. However, you'd be foolish to think that AMD was going to spend their money and resources to quality Intel processors or NVIDIA GPUs into this "standard" - and that's the major issue. Instead of creating a "standard", AMD has created a "competing standard".
What the industry really needs, and what gamers would ultimately want, is for a non-corporate entity, say like the apparently-completely-useless PC Gaming Alliance (of which AMD is actually a member), to independently create these standards as a partnership between AMD, Intel, NVIDIA and the software creators themselves. Instead we have AMD GAME!, NVIDIA's sure-to-be-upcoming take on the "balanced PC" and, oh, don't forget Intel's penchant to create new platforms themselves.
Another problem lies in how these AMD GAME! and AMD GAME! Ultra standards will be updated. AMD said that they will continuously re-evaluate the hardware on each platform to see if the newer game titles require an updated GPU or CPU, for example, but they didn't exactly have a plan on how to implement those changes. Initially they seem to indicate that the logos and names would be the same after a hardware change - but then how would a user differentiate between previous generations? Might we see AMD GAME! Ultra 2.0? Or AMD GAME! SUPER DUPER Ultra? And how often will changes be made? Consoles can be successful in this area because the hardware platform remains the same for 5+ years while PC gaming hardware is constantly in flux - if AMD GAME! is updated every 6-12 months, can it still be useful for gamers and developers?
We should not overlook the fact that while the constantly changing PC hardware from different vendors with different drivers is a problem for PC gaming, it is also what makes PC gaming so much more rewarding to those that truly embrace it. PC gamers get the technologies that consoles won't see for many years, often at a price premium of course, and get to see revolutionary titles like Crysis before dedicated console gamers have a clue. There is a balance needed between the two extremes of console and PC and while AMD's GAME! initiative is a strong move in the right direction; I simply cannot be excited about a proprietary solution to the problem.
Maybe that PC Gaming Alliance will actually DO something in the not-so-distant future...
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