Forbes.com’s Jason Evangelho has a fascinating story on the disappointment that owners of AMD graphics cards are about to feel when they discover that Watch Dogs is largely unoptimized for their system.
I asked Robert Hallock about this specifically, and he explains that they had “very limited time with the title and [we’ve] been able to implement some respectable performance improvements thanks to the skill of our driver engineers. Careful performance analysis with a variety of internal tools have allowed us to profile this title, despite deliberate obfuscation attempts, to improve the experience for users.”
The article goes on to explain how Watch Dogs’ development was done as part of Nvidia’s Gameworks program. Gameworks gives game developers a proprietary set of tools that helps to harness the power of Nvidia’s technologies. In addition Nvidia’s own engineers work with the game developer to ensure a highly optimized game, for Nvidia products that is. The bad news is that this largely blocks AMD from the development and optimization process of the game.
“AMD is no longer in control of its own performance. While GameWorks doesn’t technically lock vendors into Nvidia solutions, a developer that wanted to support both companies equally would have to work with AMD and Nvidia from the beginning of the development cycle to create a vendor-specific code path. It’s impossible for AMD to provide a quick after-launch fix. This kind of maneuver ultimately hurts developers in the guise of helping them.”
While Nvidia seems to push proprietary technologies on developers with things like G-Sync and ShadowPlay, AMD has gone down a different path entirely with things like FreeSync and the Mantle API. It’s hard to argue that closed development and proprietary technologies are a good thing for the industry in the long term, but with Nvidia taking at least 60% of the market share, is there anything AMD can do?
Head over to Forbes.com to read Jason Evangelho’s entire article. He even gives a short benchmark comparison between an AMD Radeon 290x($500) vs an Nvidia GTX770 ($300).