Quantum Break Dev Says Bugs Likely Can’t be Fixed

Over the last week, it looks like Microsoft’s new Universal Windows Platform has claimed another PC game victim. Designed to unify the diverse Windows platforms and bring Xbox One exclusive to Windows 10, it’s turning out that UWP may only port over broken games. This is exactly what has happened with Quantum Break, with the developer Remedy claiming unresolvable problems with UWP and their Northlight engine.

So far, Quantum Break has been running like a dog, with inconsistent performance across all GPUs, especially Nvidia. Even the top end card are having trouble keeping above 30FPS and 60 seems impossible, even on 1080p. This is before you even consider the host of graphical and texture bugs which range from superficial to downright obnoxious. While Remedy promised to look into the issues, it seems like some are out of their hands.

According to PR rep Thomas Puha, texture pop-in are due to the quirks of the Northlight engine and graphical ghosting “just a result of the temporal reconstruction. Just the way we render things”. With the bugs baked into the engine, it begs the question how this game got approved to ship for PC. On the flip side, the game runs perfectly fine on the Xbox One. It seems like UWP just isn’t ready to port games over from the Xbox One over to PC just yet.

Hopefully, the issues that can be fixed will be resolved eventually and future UWP play titles won’t have as many issues. In the end, a console port still is a console port even if it uses the fancy new UWP.

Rock Band 4 PC Crowdfunding Campaign Has Failed

The Rock Band franchise provides hours of entertainment for music lovers and proved to be a popular pastime with close friends. Learning an instrument is very challenging and requires a patient approach. Furthermore, to master any instrument takes years of experience and a huge commitment. As someone who plays the guitar, I’ve never been too keen on music games and would prefer people to learn the basics of a real instrument. However, this isn’t always a viable option due to time constraints and purchasing music equipment can be a very expensive proposition. Rock Band and Guitar Hero allow people to feel like rock stars without having to endure the hard learning curve.

Unfortunately, the Rock Band games have been resigned to the console market and PC players haven’t been able to enjoy the unique experiences. Perhaps, the publisher felt the series is best played in front of a large TV in the living room. However, this isn’t really reflective of modern PCs because you can easily hook up a HDMI cable from your PC to a television. This is especially the case with small form factor systems. Despite being backed by a major publisher for a number of years, the Rock Band team recently went independent and launched a crowdfunding campaign on fig.co to produce a PC version of Rock Band 4. Here’s a brief snippet from the page:

“Back in the Rock Band heyday, we were owned by media giant Viacom, and distributed by game publishing giant Electronic Arts. What you might not know is that a few years ago, we spun back out of Viacom and went completely independent. This past October, we released Rock Band 4 for the consoles—the first new Rock Band release in 5 years. This was a massive undertaking for us as an indie studio, but we somehow pulled it off.”

“We’ve been planning, scheduling, scoping and preparing this PC version since the day after we launched on console back in October, and we’re now ready to launch this Fig campaign to ask for your help to make this happen.”

Unfortunately, the crowdfunding attempt didn’t go as planned and only managed to reach 52% of the $1,500,000 goal. Overall, 1674 backers pledged $792,817 which fell well short of their target. As a result, it looks like Rock Band 4 on PC isn’t a project which will ever come to fruition.

Microsoft Will Control Mods for UWP Games

UWP, otherwise known as Universal Windows Platform, is big news for PC gamers. By bringing by the Xbox One and Windows 10 closer together, Microsoft has enabled for more Xbox exclusive to be brought to PC. However, the cost of that is using the Unified Windows Platform and casting away Win32. According to Microsoft’s latest statements, UWP may spell the end of unbridled modding for PC games.

As expected of a unified model for both Windows 10 and mobile devices, UWP is more restrictive than regular Win32 or .NET applications. When Microsoft first revealed their plans for games built on their new model, there was some concern about what that would mean for modding. While Microsoft has allayed some concerns, it looks like modding will have to go with a curated model, with approval from Microsoft needed.

“The mods where we’ll probably have some discussion, is… if I go in and change the executable in a way—if I actually go in and reorder the code or inject code paths the developer didn’t originally intend, [then] the problem is, [we] don’t know if that modification is to fix a broken game, or to add some kind of phishing tool to the game so that now it’s capturing my passwords as [your’re] typing them into Chrome…”

This sounds a lot like Steam Workshop where mods are somewhat curated and are limited in their functionality. This means while skins or character mods might be allowed, more hardcore ones like what Skyrim has seen might not be allowed. Simply put, modifying the executable and changing any code paths won’t be allowed. This severely curtails what mods can do. Honestly, Microsoft has two incompatible goals with a wall-gardened store in UWP and good old open Win32. If Microsoft wants to truly cater to PC gamers, it’s probably best to restrict UWP games to games that are Xbox exclusives and let the rest of us mod as usual.

Windows 10 Anniversary Update to Bring More GPU Features to UWP Games

While the release of Xbox exclusives to Windows 10 under the UWP program is undoubtedly a positive, there are still many questions about the Unified Windows Platform. Due to the limitations on UWP and making it universal and more sandboxed, certain features common to games are unavailable. Fortunately, it looks like Microsoft will be adding some of these features to UWP with the Windows 10 Anniversary Update.

According to Microsoft, the changes to UWP are due to the negative feedback when Microsoft first released games based on the platform. Firstly, modding and overlay capability will be added. This will allow PC gamers to mod to their heart’s content hopefully, one of the highlights of PC gaming. Overlays will bring back the ability to have Afterburner or other apps run alongside the game to provide extra functionality.

More importantly, AMD’s FreeSync and Nvidia GSync support will be added. The adaptive refresh rate technology from the two graphics firms has been one of the biggest improvements to gaming in recent years and support should have been built-in from the get-go. While these moves go some way to alleviating some of the more prominent problems, the question remains if UWP is the way to go for future PC games due to their more restrictive and closed down nature.

Microsoft Confirms Forza 6 Apex Coming to Windows 10

If we take Microsoft’s words at face value, the day of console exclusives galore may soon be behind us. But as we all know, actions speak louder than words and Microsoft has done so with the Forza 6 Apex. Being a Forza title, many would expect the game to be a Xbox exclusive, but the title will be coming to the Windows Store for Windows 10 shortly. What’s more, it will even be free to play.

Apex will be a curated title on the Windows Store that while being cut down, will still offer much of the Forza 6 experience. Only 1/3 of cars are unlocked but the rest can be grinded out by playing or bought with real money. From the demo, it looks like the game is decently optimized, with 4K 60FPS being possible with an i7 6700K and GTX 980Ti. This is due to DirectX 12 as well which likely is a big help. It’s unknown which settings those figures are based on but those with more GPU grunt can probably turn up the settings even higher if they want.

The biggest downside however will be the UWP or Windows Univeral App platform the game is written on. As we are now learning, games based off of UWP take more work to implement some features like vysnc or uncapped framerate. It remains to be seen how Apex and Turn 10 will deal with these restrictions. It will be interesting to see how the lowliest of the low Windows 10 PCs and tablets handle the title.

Ubisoft Denies Holding Back PC Version of The Division

Ubisoft has been running into controversy after controversy with their games these days. After an unnamed developer made comments that could have been interpreted as Ubisoft holding back the PC version to make the consoles look better, Ubisoft has come out to correct the record. The controversial statement noted that Ubisoft had to “keep [PC] in check with consoles because it would kind of be unfair just to push it so far away from [consoles].”

While that statement is plausible, The Division has been pretty good on the PC thus far. Despite the host of usual bugs and performance optimization issues, the game does offer a lot more eye candy and features for the PC version of the game. Ubisoft responded quickly, saying:

“It has come to our attention that a comment from one of our team members has been perceived by some members of the community to imply the PC version of The Division was ‘held back’ and this is simply not true. From the beginning, the PC version of The Division was developed from the ground up and we’re confident players will enjoy the game and the features this version has to offer. And the feedback from PC players who participated in the recent closed beta supports this.”

While the statement notes that the PC version of the game won’t be held back graphically at least by the consoles, maybe there is something else to it. Perhaps the A.I. was made weaker to better match that of consoles or other technical design choices, we may never know. Hopefully, Ubisoft will live up to their promises to focus on PC and do right by PC gamers. I for one am certainly looking forward to The Division.

Warner Brothers Scraps Plans For Batman: Arkham Knight Linux And Mac Versions

Batman: Arkham Knight will go down in history as one of the worst PC ports ever released. The PC version is marred by atrocious optimization with sudden frame-drops, bugs, instability and a host of other inexcusable problems. The reason behind this catastrophe revolves around money, and Warner Brothers decision to cut costs on the PC development. The publisher hired Iron Galaxy, a studio without much PC experience, and this clearly was a project which overwhelmed their small team. Since the game’s release, Warner Brothers has proudly proclaimed that the PC port is now a top priority, and promised to rectify the poor performance.

However, this doesn’t seem likely due to the abandonment of SLI support, and minor changes from the latest patches. Not only that, some reports have suggested that the latest patch has actually resulted in worse performance. As you can see, Batman: Arkham Knight is a shambles on the PC platform and for that reason, we’ve stopped using it for benchmarking purposes. It’s a terrible indicator of GPU performance, and there’s no consistency in the numbers whatsoever. According to a recent Steam post, the studio has cancelled plans to launch Mac and Linux versions. The announcement reads:

“We are very sorry to confirm that Batman: Arkham Knight will no longer be coming to Mac and Linux. If you have pre-ordered Batman: Arkham Knight for Mac or Linux, please apply for a refund via Steam.”

This is extraordinary and even though these operating systems are niche for PC gaming, it’s not doing Warner Brothers’ reputation any favours. Furthermore, SteamOS is slowly increasing in popularity, and it’s disappointing to see a major game remain exclusive to Windows. Although, I wouldn’t be too concerned because the Windows version barely functions and requires either luck or brute force to run properly. Warner Brothers hasn’t shown much respect for PC players of late and it’s a worrying trend.

EA Claims “We’re on a Journey to Regain The Trust of PC Gamers”

EA’s reputation in the gaming community is appalling and often perceived as a development studio obsessed by profits at the expense of making compelling games. Furthermore, the disappointment surrounding Star Wars: Battlefront, eventual demise of Maxis and a host of other failures hasn’t helped matters. Similarly, the advent of pre-order bonuses, DLC, microtransactions and anti-consumer measures all appear to be introduced by EA at some point. While other developers have engaged in similar activities, EA popularized it which makes consumers very suspicious of anything they produce. Despite ruining Maxis, one of the most iconic PC studios ever devised, EA appears to be trying to regain the trust of the PC gaming audience.

According to industry website MCV, Origin’s senior marketing director, Peter O’Reilly proclaimed:

“We are on a journey to regain the trust of the PC gamer,”

“Over the last couple of years we have focused on ensuring a great play experience from launch and bringing players a better experience on Origin with programs like the Great Game Guarantee, On the House, and now Origin Access.”

“We’re excited about the progress we’ve made, but are always pushing ourselves to innovate on behalf of players.”

While many decisions from EA have been absolutely atrocious, I have to commend them for the Origin refund policy. Arguably, this encouraged Valve to offer a similar service on the Steam platform, although their decision might have been more to do with European legislation. EA Access is also an interesting initiative and could provide good value-for-money. However, the majority of consumers judge EA on the basis of game releases, microtransactions and other business decisions.

The Origin platform is still disliked, because it’s not Steam, and forces users to install two clients. Even if Origin was the best system out there, it still wouldn’t help EA because their core games prioritize profit over gameplay. Don’t get me wrong, publishers exist to make money, but that shouldn’t happen by looking at a short-term gain, and ruining a number of historic studios.

Top 10 PC Games Revenue Destroys Consoles During 2015

The demise of PC gaming and its impending doom is a common misnomer which doesn’t reflect how well the platform is doing financially and in terms of total players. For example, earlier this month Steam managed to hit an astonishing figure of 12 million concurrent users. According to a NeoGAF thread, the most played title during the peak period was Dota 2, with 940,373 concurrent players. New research from SuperData has tracked the total revenue by platform and makes for some very interesting reading. As you can see, the top 10 console revenue results pale in comparison to the PC and exemplifies how profitable the platform is. Unbelievably, League of Legends managed to amass $1,628 million during 2015, which is more than four times the amount from Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.

Not only that, the top PC results actually outperformed the mobile sector, which is a surprise given the financial benefits via microtransactions. So what do these numbers actually mean? While the console market is still more popular, it’s not as financially successful and PC gaming revenues continue to rise at an impressive rate. The yearly research explains:

“Despite a heavy industry focus on mobile gaming, the combined earnings of digital PC games for the top titles came in higher, totaling $6.3B in sales compared to $6.18B for mobile. PC-based gaming–consisting of free-to-play MMOs, subscription-based games like World of Warcraft, social games and PC downloadable games–earns over $32 billion annually, well above the $25.1 billion generated by mobile games. Three of the year’s top five digital PC games (Grand Theft Auto V, Fallout 4 and The Witcher 3) were released in 2015, indicating that PC gamers have made significant progress transitioning to purchasing games digitally.”

Clearly, the modern gaming scene has changed substantially and the PC is a very profitable platform. Furthermore, this is down to an increased player base which illustrates how promising the future is for PC gaming as a leading platform.

Rise of The Tomb Raider Recommended NVIDIA GPUs Revealed

The original Tomb Raider reboot scaled remarkably well across a wide range of hardware configurations and still provides a good indication of GPU performance. Nixxes Software, who worked on the PC version, has gained a great deal of respect for being one of the best in the industry when it comes to optimization. Thankfully, the studio was given the contract for Rise of the Tomb Raider, and I cannot wait to see how it performs on various setups. This time, the game is supported by NVIDIA and included when you purchase a GTX 970 or above from participating stores. Furthermore, this also applies if you buy a GTX 970M or above gaming notebook. NVIDIA also revealed the recommended specification to attain 60 frames-per-second at 1080P and 1440P. Here is a brief description of the testing methodology:

“With further testing, our technical marketing team concluded that a 60 frames per second average during this particularly demanding scene, on the High-detail preset, delivered the best balance between graphical fidelity, input responsiveness, and performance in all of Rise of the Tomb Raider’s gameplay locations and cutscenes.”

“In our Rise of the Tomb Raider test there are only a few momentary spikes, and none above 25 milliseconds, there are no periods of spiking between low and high frametimes, almost all of the benchmark is below 20 milliseconds, and much of it is at, around or below 16.6 millisecond, the 60 FPS sweet spot. In other words, the GeForce GTX 970 not only delivers a High level of graphical fidelity at over 60 frames per second, it’s also super smooth with no stuttering or stalls, giving you a fluid, responsive gaming experience.”

As you can see from the image below, NVIDIA recommends a GTX 970 to maintain 60 FPS at 1920×1080. Please note, this is on “high settings” and we’re currently unaware if this is the best preset. On another note, 1440P gamers should be utilizing a GTX 980 Ti to attain 60 frames-per-second at that particular resolution. Sadly, there’s no information regarding 4K or 21:9 setups.

Rise of the Tomb Raider looks phenomenal so far, and has some fairly hefty system requirements. Hopefully, the game supports SLI on launch and doesn’t encounter any major issues on AMD graphics cards. Once the game is launched, we should be conducting a through performance analysis at various settings and resolutions.

Microsoft Planning Windows 10 And Xbox Gaming Press Event Next Month!

Microsoft has promised to adopt a more unified approach to its entire ecosystem and launch first-party exclusives on mobile, PC and Xbox. Despite various announcements including Killer Instinct, Gears of War: Ultimate Edition and Fable Legends, Microsoft still needs to have a more proactive approach towards PC gaming to forge a new reputation. It’s needed though given the dismal reception of Games for Windows Live and broken promises to take the platform seriously. Many PC gamers are eagerly awaiting an announcement for Halo: The Master Chief Collection and the latest Forza title. However, up to this point, it seems Microsoft isn’t interested and continuing to lock the core line-up on the Xbox One.

Clearly, the situation could change if the Xbox One continues to sell poorly or Microsoft decides to pull out of the console market altogether. The company has just started to send out press invitations to an event based entirely around the Xbox brand and Windows gaming. It will take place on February 25th in San Francisco and told attendees they have:

“..the chance to hear from Head of Xbox Phil Spencer and get hands-on with the best games and platform experiences launching this spring on Xbox and Windows 10.”

Putting speculation aside, I cannot foresee any major Windows 10 announcements occurring and Microsoft will probably just showcase upcoming releases. Furthermore, the last Windows 10 gaming press event felt very disappointing and didn’t really live up to hype with rumors suggesting Halo would eventually come to the PC. Perhaps, there will be some discussion about Directx 12 and the impact of this latest API on various devices with developers taking to the stage. I think Microsoft has to be very careful though because they need to encourage Xbox One system sales while providing enough content to PC gamers to keep them happy.

Tom Clancy’s The Division Alpha Footage Leaked

With the beta sign-up already well on its way, some gameplay footage for Tom Clancy’s The Division alpha testing has leaked out. Lasting just over 20 minutes, the footage shows off pretty much all of the major game features from the map and combat to the in-game menus. The game is set to launch March 8th, 2016, after being delayed from its original launch this year. Overall, the leak demonstrates how The Division is an open-world game.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SYuonYJFAzM

While the graphics aren’t the best, keep in mind that this is still the alpha release of the game. This means we can hopefully expect a lot more work to go towards better graphics and performance optimizations. This footage is also from the Xbox version of the game so we can expect the PC version to look better. The game will still most likely be capped at 30FPS which hopefully means the graphics will wow players and keep FPS to a constant 30 at least.

Looking at the HUD and UI, it is plain to see the console roots in that regard. Hopefully, PC gamers will get a worthy release and one that shows off the intriguing story. Whether or not the delays were worth it remains to be seen.

Microsoft Discusses Importance of The Xbox One And PC

Microsoft has focused on the console market since the original Xbox’s release in 2001 despite PC gamers overwhelming using their operating system. Over the last decade, Microsoft neglected the PC audience and introduced the horrific Games for Windows Live DRM. Although, this hasn’t stopped Microsoft’s marketing team from making promises about their renewed focus for PC gaming. The PC audience is rightfully cynical of anything Microsoft claims as many of the company’s first-party titles remain exclusive to the Xbox platform. Currently, Microsoft appears to be releasing free-to-play games on PC or budget titles designed for mobile. On the other hand, Gears of War on PC is an exciting prospect.

During the USB Global Tech Conference, Microsoft’s Chief Financial Office Amy Hood discussed the gaming brand and how the Xbox One integrates with other devices:

“Xbox is financially relevant to Microsoft. People should not be confused about the journey of improvement we have been on in the past two years in the Xbox business. I think about the importance of gaming.”

“I would actually literally, very specifically talk about the importance of gaming to us; you’ve seen the investments we’ve made; you’ve seen us talk about gaming and its importance across all form factors for us, be it the PC, be it a phone, be it the console itself. I think we’ve done a very good job of taking something that sort of sat outside the Windows ecosystem and made it part of the Windows ecosystem. So that gaming value accrues back to the ecosystem and to the developers who work there.”

Hood’s comments initially refer to Microsoft’s original Xbox One reveal which prioritized TV streaming over the core gaming audience. Microsoft has attempted to create a synergy between various Windows 10 devices, but they haven’t revolutionized the relationship between Xbox and PC. Surely, a cogent idea would be to offer cross third-party support and release games on Windows 10’s official store. I think this all depends on the financial success of the Xbox One.

Batman Arkham Knight Will Never Have Multi-GPU Support

It looks like fans and owners of Warner Bros Batman Arkham Knight will be dealing with more unwelcome news. According to a statement given out via Steam, the developers have given up on ever implementing multi-GPU support like Nvidia SLI or AMD Crossfire. This means for PC gamers with the highest end rigs, they will never be able to fully enjoy the game. This is especially true of those with multiple displays or 4K  which require multiple GPUs to run games at high fps.

According to the developer, even if there were gains from implementing SLI or Crossfire support, there would be a high chance that adding such support would cause more bugs. This really speaks to the buggy nature of the game that launched buggy, stayed buggy, and finally became decent. With WB offering full refunds to customers, it looks like the developers have given up on implementing new features and are just focusing on bugs. The biggest hope is that the gaming industry as a whole will have learned a lesson when not to ship games.

You can read the full statement below:

We’ve been working with our development and graphics driver partners over the last few months to investigate utilizing multi-GPU support within Batman: Arkham Knight. The result was that even the best case estimates for performance improvements turned out to be relatively small given the high risk of creating new issues for all players. As a result we’ve had to make the difficult decision to stop work on further multi-GPU support. We are disappointed that this was not practical and apologize to those who have been waiting for this feature.

Ubisoft Reveals Assassin’s Creed Syndicate PC Requirements

With launch just 2 weeks away, Ubisoft is revealing just what it takes to run their latest Assassin’s Creed on PC. Overall the required specifications Assassin’s Creed Syndicate aren’t that steep but they do continue the trend we’ve been seeing, with hardware requirements similar to Fallout 4. It’s worth noting that Assassin’s Creed Unity has higher hardware requirements despite the year that separates them.

The minimum specifications are pretty tame, with the quad-core requirement standing out with an Intel i5 Sandy Bridge or AMD FX6350. 6GB of ram is required which makes sense given the 64bit OS requirement. Graphics is pretty tame with only midrange cards from 2012 with 2GB of VRAM and DX10 which is actually more surprising. Funny enough, there is no hard disk space requirement but expect it to be the same 50GB as for the recommended specifications.

Minimum

  • Supported OS
    Windows 7 SP1, Windows 8.1, Windows 10(64bit versions)
  • Processor
    Intel Core i5 2400s @ 2.5 GHz or AMD FX 6350 @ 3.9 GHz
  • RAM
    6GB or more for Windows 7, Windows 8.1, Windows 10
  • Video Card
    NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 or AMD Radeon R9 270 (2GB VRAM with Shader Model 5.0)
  • DirectX
    DirectX June 2010 Redistributable
  • Sound
    DirectX compatible sound card with latest drivers

For the recommended setup, the specifications get a bump up but aren’t that much more demanding overall. The CPU side gets a bump by about a year in terms of architecture and 8 threads. While the 3GB VRAM requirement won’t come as a surprise, the recommendation for the GTX 970 was. Given that the 4GB 760 is fine, a 4GB 960 probably would have done fine despite the narrower memory interface. Another interesting tidbit is that in order for TXAA to work in-game, MSAA must be turned on as well.

Recommended

  • Supported OS
    Windows 7 SP1, Windows 8.1, Windows 10 (64bit versions only)
  • Processor
    Intel Core i7-3770 @ 3.5 GHz or AMD FX-8350 @ 4.0 GHz
  • RAM
    8GB
  • Video Card
    NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760 (4GB) or the newer GTX 970 (4GB) or AMD Radeon R9 280X (3GB) or better
  • DirectX
    DirectX June 2010 Redistributable
  • Sound
    DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card with latest drivers
  • Hard Drive
    50 GB available space
  • Technical note from the developer: For a recommended experience, the game requires a video card with at least 3GB of VRAM when playing at a full HD resolution. While we encourage you to fiddle with the advanced options to fully customize your gaming experience, please keep an eye out for the VRAM meter usage when you adjust these settings.

Given the buggy mess that Assassin’s Creed Unity was and some say still is, we can only hope that Ubisoft polished things up better this time around. After all, Ubisoft did claim that PC gamers are important and that they wanted Syndicate to play well on the PC.

PC Gaming and Hardware Market Predicted to Reach $30 Billion by 2018

PC gaming has been growing at an exponential rate and the eSports scene continues to attract huge viewing figures. In 2015, the PC gaming and hardware market is estimated to be worth a staggering $24 billion. Additionally, the PC peripherals sector is expected to gross $3.6 billion this year. Even more astonishing, a research report by JPR predicts the PC gaming and hardware market will reach $30 billion by the end of 2018.  President of JPR, Jon Peddie discussed the research and hardware required to meet the latest display demands:

“In addition to the cost of the new display technology (27 inch and larger 4K/UHD displays are reaching mass market pricing levels), gamers are going to need the computing muscle to drive Triple A game engines at over 60 frames per second, and that horsepower comes at a premium. Sixty frames per second is considered the gold standard in PC gaming and many prefer even faster speeds, at least twice that number if VR is involved. ”

By 2018, 4K monitors should relatively affordable to the average user, and games will be more accessible due to improved graphics technology. Currently, 4K requires a 980 Ti as a bare minimum to achieve 60 frames-per-second at high details. Problems can arise on many demanding games if you opt for 4K with a single card. Although, with Pascal around the corner, there’s no reason why 4K gaming won’t become a viable option by 2018. As a result, this should bring more consumers to the platform especially if the consoles are struggling.

Console Fan Tricked into Playing MGS:V on PC – Not Xbox One

The “war” between consoles and PCs is probably not going to die out anytime soon, and while the subject is sometimes the catalyst for lengthy and tiresome debates, it can sometimes be the cause of something funny and wonderful. A Reddit user named EpilepsyMLG has decided to trick his console fan cousin into playing Metal Gear Solid: The Phantom Pain on the PC using a Xbox controller and a simple HDMI cable. The PC was left on for “downloading” purposes, and it looks like the experiment was a real success as the cousin in question had no idea that he was actually enjoying the game on a Nvidia GTX 970 card and not on the Xbox One’s graphics solution. The Reddit user decided to go through with the plan after his cousin had bragged about how good the game looks on his console.

Apparently, things like “Graphics are really crisp” were said during the PC gaming session, and the player did notice that the game was constantly running at 60 FPS. Even though the posts author could not deliver updates on the trickery at some point, the conclusion is that his cousin is still unaware of the fact that he actually enjoyed the PC version of MGS:V, which is a clear win for the PC Master Race in my book. You can check out the entire thread right here.

Image courtesy of Reddit

AMD & Nvidia Cards Working Together in DX12 Benchmarks!

While much of the talk around DX12 recently has been around the reduced CPU/driver overhead and AsyncCompute, another feature is getting its first real world test. Dubbed Explicit Multi-Adapter in Microsoft’s material, the feature allows multiple GPUs that support DX12, irrespective of vendor, to work together on the same task. Developer Oxide has created a Multi-Adapter demo from their now famous Ashes of the Singularity title, using the in-house Nitrous engine.

While DX12 continues to allow the GPU drivers to allow multi-GPU setups like SLI and Crossfire, Microsoft has decided to build in a more powerful feature right into DX12. This means if the developer takes the time and effort to implement it, any DX12 title will allow any 2 DX12 card work together and boost performance. This is exactly what Anandtech tested when Oxide provided a custom build of Ashes of the Singularity with early support.

Using the built-in DX12 Multi-Adapter, top end cards like the Fury X, 980Ti and Titan X were able to show gains of between 46 to 72%. While lower than what Crossfire can offer at about 80% gains, this is pretty crazy considering the fact that it is using two cards with vastly different architectures at times from 2 different vendors. Interestingly enough, combinations with the Fury X as primary card out did those with the Nvidia card as the main one, even when the Titan X was used. This held true of older cards like the 7970 vs the 680, with the 680+7970 doing worse than just the 680 or 7970 alone. This may be due to the inherent nature of AMD’s GCN architecture being better suited to the task, but it’s still early in the game.

If developers choose to make use of this feature later on, it could make big performance boosts in teh future. Instead of having to buy two of a card, gamers can just use 1 higher performance card with a lower end one. When it comes time to upgrade, the weaker card can be tossed out and a new top-tier card takes control of the old master card. This extends to pairing up mostly unused iGPUs to get that extra bit of eye candy and fps. With control in the hands of developers and not hardware vendors, it will be interesting to see if this feature takes off.

 

Bethesda’s Fallout 4 Will Feature Nvidia’s GameWorks

With Fallout 4 set to launch relatively soon, we’re getting more word on how the game will run like on PC. According to the latest report, Bethesda has integrated components from the controversial GameWorks library. Provided by Nvidia, GameWorks is a library that allows developers to implement solutions designed by NVIDIA, with minimal work from the developer.

GameWorks gained notoriety when it caused issues in Warner Bros’ Batman Arkham Knight. Some players have blamed the poorly implemented GameWorks features as causing at least some of the many bugs and performance issues faced at launch. In that case, both AMD and Nvidia’s own users, especially those using Kepler cards, ran into serious performance issues with GameWorks enabled.

AMD has also been critical of GameWorks as well, claiming Nvidia was being anti-AMD. These claims were based off performance on AMD cards in The Witcher 3. In that title, HairWorks, a part of GameWorks used excessive tessellation that negatively impacted AMD’s and Nvidia’s own Kepler cards. Users found that turning down the tessellation levels did not impact visual fidelity but allowed for much better frame rates.

It’s important to note there have been GameWorks titles like GTA V that have implemented the features well without tanking performance. It remains to be seen which camp Fallout 4 will be belong to. Some commentators have expressed concern that the lopsided GPU recruitments may point to GameWorks hitting AMD cards hard. We’ll find out soon either way.

Phil Spencer “Fully Expects” Another Xbox And Pledges to Focus on Consoles

Phil Spencer has been tirelessly working away to improve Microsoft’s public image among the core gaming community after the pretty abysmal Xbox One launch. The regular dashboard refinements, game announcements and pledges to improve the user-experience helped entice new users to the platform. However, the system is still lingering well behind the PlayStation 4. On another note, Spencer discussed PC gaming more openly which coincides with Microsoft’s new unified approach to PC, mobile and Xbox.

This latest strategy has caused some anxiety from Xbox, well, fanboys is probably the most accurate term:

Spencer did acknowledge the reason why some Xbox fans felt so insecure and said:

Previously, Microsoft gave their assurances to support the PC platform but this never came to fruition. Additionally, PC gamers are extremely passionate and Microsoft’s appalling Games For Windows Live continues to haunt them. While certain games are getting ported like Gears of War, the majority remain exclusive to the Xbox brand. I’m quite baffled by some of the anti-PC rhetoric from Xbox fans begging Microsoft to stop putting games on the PC. Exclusives are anti-consumer, and restricting content doesn’t benefit anyone.

Spencer also went onto discuss the future of Xbox and said:

This quashes some rumors regarding Microsoft’s possible exit from the console market. Clearly, Spencer believes there will be a successor to the Xbox One although it might not take the form of a traditional console. By the time the next consoles arrive, digital distribution, and 4K streaming could become the norm. Therefore, consoles have a great deal of work to do to compete with the PC and cheap Android streaming devices.

Ubisoft Proclaims “PC Gamers Are Important”

Ubisoft’s reputation in the PC gaming community is abysmal due to the UPlay digital distribution client and poorly optimized ports. UPlay has been plagued by network issues, poor security and launch day authentication errors. Furthermore, PC gamers prefer to own their entire library on Steam and dislike the idea of using multiple clients. Although, from a business standpoint, Ubisoft doesn’t want to pay fees to Valve for games it created. On another note, Ubisoft has openly criticized the PC platform and generalized the audience as pirates. This is completely baffling and I doubt these comments will ever be forgotten.

In 2015, the PC audience is growing at a substantial rate and Ubisoft is trying to forge a new reputation. They recently joined the Open Gaming Alliance and Ubisoft’s Consumer and Marketing Director, Sandrine Caloiaro released a statement regarding the PC market which reads:

“PC gamers are important to Ubisoft, and we’re committed to better understanding and addressing their needs and to continually improving our relationship with them. By joining the OGA, we’re able to glean gamer insights from their research, learn from best practices in our industry, and contribute to the group’s upcoming initiatives”.

Without trying to sound overly cynical, I’ve heard a lot of promises from Ubisoft before which never come to fruition. The biggest problem they face is UPlay and the widespread hatred for their digital delivery client. I understand why it exists, and only provides a similar service to Origin. However, Steam’s popularity is insurmountable, and I wonder if Valve’s fees would increase the profit due to vastly increased sales. It’s certainly an interesting argument and I would love to hear your experiences with UPlay.

Valve Admits Steam Customer Support is Terrible

While Steam has grown to one of the largest digital games platform and storefront, the customer service has been pretty dismal. Earlier this year, Valve received an F from the BBB (Better Business Bureau) due to their poor customer service. At that time, Valve promised to change things up and improve customer service. Two-quarters later, it doesn’t look like it has gotten any better and Valve is still admitting they need a lot more work to make the service better.

The biggest quagmire facing Valve is how to deal with the long customer service wait times. There have been many cases where customers have submitted tickets asking for help to resolve their Steam issues only to get their first reply several months later. One would imagine for more complex problems, it would take an absurdly long time to get the issue resolved.

Part of the problem is due to the huge success the service has had, with well over a hundred million users. With such a large base, even 1% of users having an issue in any given period of time would lead to a million customer service tickets. The answer, of course, would be to hire more staff, but it isn’t that easy. According to Valve, third party customer service providers are pretty anemic and hiring and training their own support staff had been a long process.

With customer service brought back in-house, Valve is hoping that customer service wait times will be acceptable by Christmas this year. Given the previous record, though, one probably shouldn’t get their hopes up too much. It’s about time that Valve got on their customer service problem and brought it up to par.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided Director Discusses Console Ports

Prior to the explosion of PC Gaming, many developers dismissed the platform and released shoddy, unpolished console-ports. Even now, many PC games like Batman: Arkham Knight are an after-thought and sold in a completely broken state. Clearly, this is unacceptable and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided’s Executive Game Director Jean-Francois Dugas, agrees. During a panel at this year’s New York Comic Con, he shared the belief that:

“..console ports on PC is disrespectful”

He also went onto to discuss the notion that the PC version is given equal priority:

“…super important that the PC version is treated as such.”

Additionally, he implied that an announcement regarding DirectX 12 functionality will be coming extremely soon. It’s also refreshing to hear developers tackle difficult questions and honor the PC roots of Deus Ex. Over the past few years, the PC has become more profitable than the console market due to huge multiplayer titles, an increasing user-base and digital distribution. In theory, the PC version of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided should be optimized extremely well and utilize a proper user-interface for mouse and keyboard. Only time will tell, but I cannot wait to see how various systems run the title using DirectX 12.

Thank you Dual Shockers for providing us with this information. 

League of Legends Developer Cuts Ties With Key Reseller G2A

Grey Market key selling websites have become a controversial topic in the last few months as questions arose about the legality of their activities. Originally, Steam’s incredibly aggressive sale strategy meant the majority of purchases were conducted on Valve’s own client. However, this has dramatically altered as sale discounts dwindled and third-party sites offered significantly better pricing. As a result, many consumers simply purchase a Steam code from sites like G2A.com, and insert this into the client.

While there are trusted alternatives such as GamersGate and GreenManGaming, many acquire keys through suspect behavior. For example, Ubisoft revoked a wide array of keys for being stolen and were traced back to G2A. Whether or not they were complicit in this activity, it does raise a great deal of questions about G2A and other key resellers. Strangely enough, many YouTubers, Twitch streamers and even game developers have allowed public sponsorship from G2A.

This seems absolutely bizarre considering the unscrupulous key resellers are actually hurting each developer’s sales and profit margins. In all honesty, you cannot blame consumers for trying to find the best price, but there needs to be better protection to avoid games being suddenly removed without any notice. Thankfully, things might be turning a corner as Riot Games has publicly banned G2A as a sponsor in lieu of primary evidence regarding stolen keys. The developer released a statement which reads:

“We’ve already formally banned them as a sponsor as of September 18th, and have no plans to reconsider the decision at this time.”

“This was NOT a decision we made lightly, and came after many weeks of back and fourth conversations with G2A to find a resolution, which we were not able to reach an agreement on. We do not at all enjoy affecting the income of the teams, but the LCS rules include guidelines specifically against this sort of thing. We did however keep teams in the loop during the process in an attempt to avoid any surprises.”

“To clarify, it seems the wording I used was a bit ambiguous on “an agreement”. Rest assured, “Remove all account selling an [sic] boosting-site links” was indeed our request. We weren’t going to compromise our values on that one in the sake of preserving the sponsorships.”

To clarify, I believe market competition is an essential component to the open nature of PC gaming. Although, sites engaging in proactive marketing who acquire keys for a pittance and exploit regional deviation for profit shouldn’t be encouraged. Regional pricing exists due to the huge gap in wages between various countries. I wouldn’t be concerned if the worst offenders like G2A folded because they are inherently anti-consumer despite the cheap and cheerful image they try to portray. More specifically, I’ve spoken to Tomáš Duda, from SCS Software, the team behind Euro Truck Simulator 2. His experience alone should be enough to stop people buying from G2A, and help protect the industry from companies who could lead to the death of many indie or Triple-A studios.

Have you ever used G2A?

Thank you Eurogamer for providing us with this information.

Cougar Reveals 700M eSports Gaming Mouse

Cougar has announced an eSports version of the highly-rated 700M gaming mouse which adopts a striking red/black or blue/white colour scheme. The device utilizes an Avago ADNS-9800, 8200 DPI laser sensor for ultra-precise and responsive movement. Additionally, there are 8 programmable buttons, an aluminum shell and rubber coating on the side to enhance comfort. Technically, the mouse is virtually identical to the existing 700M but the eSports branding refers to the revised, and quite flashy aesthetic design.

There’s no indication of the mouse’s price but expect a noticeable increase from the base model’s $60 tag. As with any mouse, the suitability revolves around your grip style and personal taste. The 700M should work rather nicely with smaller hands and users who prefer a claw grip. As the financial success of eSports grows year-after-year, manufacturers attempt to cater to a new breed of gamers looking for professional-grade hardware. Despite all the advances in sensor technology, I’m still waiting for a mouse which matches the feel of my old, trusty Logitech MX518.

The 700M is an excellent choice for gamers wanting a reliable mouse with an unusual style. I personally love the white and blue colour scheme which matches my all-white custom build extremely well.  Therefore, I can see this becoming a popular model as the black and red colour design is quite common on a wide range of popular mice.

StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void Cinematic and Release Date Revealed

These days, it’s often possible for pre-orders to start for a game before the developer has even announced the launch date. StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void is no exception with pre-orders opening up 2 months ago but no launch date yet. That has been rectified today with Blizzard announcing that the third and final installment of StarCraft II will launch on November 10th 2015.

Along with the announcement, Blizzard released yet another one of their glorious cinematics. In it, the Protoss struggle to hold their ground as they warp in reinforcements to reclaim their homeworld. Like the title suggests, the last expansion in the series will focus on the Protoss and their legacy as well as wrapping up the story for the rest of the characters like Jim Raynor and Sarah Kerrigan.

Interestingly, the date Blizzard has chosen, November 10th, is already claimed by two other major titles, Rise of the Tomb Raider and Fallout 4. This means for more budget gamers, they will have to choose which game to first spend their hard earned cash on and which one to play first. While Blizzard can gamble that RTS players and fans of the other games aren’t the same, there will invariably be overlap. For now, be sure to check out the opening cinematic below.

Nvidia Reccomends GTX 980 and 980Ti for VR Gaming

With the rise of VR and associated gaming, hardware requirements are for sure to go up. Nvidia has been the first to come out with their recommended hardware to run VR at 1080p 90FPS. According to Nvidia, it would take at least  GTX980 in order to hit those frames, with a GTX 980Ti being preferable. While Nvidia is likely to try and sell higher tier hardware by recommending their top end cards, 1080p 90FPS VR probably can be pretty demanding depending on the title.

For regular 60FPS in AAA titles, the standards are much lower, with the 960 and 950 both hitting 1080p and the rest of the lineup scaling from there. Surprisingly, Nvidia suggests that the GTX 980Ti is enough to get 60FPS in 4K. While possible in some titles, that will generally require compromising on visual quality. Moving on to MOBA’s Nvidia’s suggestions are tamer, with the GTX 950 being able to hit 1080p at 120FPS.

Despite a shrinking PC market as a whole, Nvidia is still bullish about PC gaming and video games as a whole. Given the arrival of widespread VR starting later this year and in 2016, it could prompt a resurgence in PC sales as gamers jump back to PC to experience VR. A final note is that for the dGPU market in Japan, Nvidia currently holds about 75%-80% marketshare which means AMD has about 20-25% in that country.

Thank you PCWatch for providing us with this information