With PC-exclusive partnerships, everyone loses | Digital Trends

I’m worried. Last week, AMD announced that they are the exclusive PC partner for the upcoming star field,working directly with Bethesda Game Studios to optimize the game for AMD hardware and get AMD’s FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR) working in the game (the second, much better version, to be exact).

It’s not a problem. It’s a good thing. Nvidia and AMD regularly enter into co-marketing agreements with upcoming games. The company promotes the game or bundles some code with a new hardware purchase and usually dedicates some engineers to help get the game’s features working. Nvidia, for example, recently offered a copy of Devil IVwith the purchase of select RTX 40-series GPUs, and the game supports Nvidia’s latest version of Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS).

What’s the problem? Well, that’s the exclusive word AMD used and its lack of clarity on what that means. This is not throwaway phrasing. On the announcement page, AMD uses the exclusive three times in four paragraphs of text. And the accompanying YouTube video, which you can see has twice as many dislikes as a browser extension, uses exclusivity in the title.

AMD is Starfield’s exclusive PC partner

I’m not trying to nitpick, but clearly AMD is putting weight on being the exclusive PC partner of star field,so it should come as no surprise that gamers are putting weight on the word as well. And the results are clear: speculation since the announcement is rampant, with many assuming the game won’t support Nvidias DLSS or Intels XeSS.

We don’t know if the game will exclusively use FSR 2. I’ve reached out to AMD repeatedly, but haven’t been clear on exactly what exclusive means. The most I’ve heard is as follows: I don’t have a statement to share right now. It goes without saying, however, that having more PC options is important for a game as monumental as star field,marking the first time Bethesda Game Studios has released a single-player RPG in over eight years. It’s a big deal and for all of us it creates a problem.

More than one word

Shortly before AMD’s announcement, Wcctech pointed out that several major AAA releases have implemented FSR but not DLSS. These games, including Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, Callisto Protocol,ANDdead island 2,they were presented as part of AMD’s co-marketing agreements. In the same time frame, games that have entered into co-marketing agreements with Nvidia have implemented FSR at or soon after launch.

Take off your tinfoil hats for just a moment, though. There are many other reasons why some games only feature FSR (or DLSS, for that matter). Resident Evil games, for example, have only supported FSR since thenresident evil 7,so there’s definitely a world where the developers found something that worked and worked with it. Development time is very limited in many cases, so a game that lacks DLSS support doesn’t inherently mean that AMD has blocked it.

And from Nvidia’s side, there are also games that only support DLSS. A Plague Tale: Requiem,the Crysis trilogy eCheckthey are great examples. AMD’s argument seems to be that FSR works on just about anything, while DLSS is exclusive to Nvidia RTX graphics cards. We believe an open approach that is broadly supported across multiple hardware platforms is the best approach that benefits developers and gamers alike, the company said in a statement to Wccftech.

This brings us back to the word exclusive, though. As some developers have already pointed out, the backbone of DLSS, FSR, and XeSS are largely the same, saying there’s really no excuse not to use all three. And some developers, like PureDark, have started building a career developing mods that implement the missing features (they have already promised a mod for Starfield).

AMD’s commitment to providing open technology has no future in a world of exclusive partnerships. At the moment we don’t know if Starfieldit will only support FSR, and any claims that AMD is making deals to block DLSS and XeSS are just speculation. But when you stop and wonder what else an exclusive partnership might mean, it certainly doesn’t ring Well. It’s a worrying sign of the times, and if feature exclusivity becomes the norm, it will be yet another example of fragmentation only hurting PC gaming as a whole.

A quick counterattack

Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Let’s see the counterargument. The Internet is, of course, outraged by the thought of Starfieldusing FSR exclusively, but isn’t that what Nvidia does? After all, you can’t use DLSS on any graphics card. The two most popular GPUs on Steam, Nvidia’s GTX 1060 and 1650, do not support DLSS. But they support FSR. It may seem like a double standard when Nvidia has its own unique technology.

DLSS only works on RTX GPUs. This is because DLSS needs specific hardware, but that doesn’t matter. Nvidia has developed a feature to sell new graphics cards, plain and simple. Comparing that to games that solely use one image reconstruction feature over another isn’t an even battle. They are not the same thing.

AMD may, for example, decide to make its upcoming FSR 3 exclusive to its GPUs. In that world, we have two GPU brands competing with each other on features, and it’s up to buyers and reviewers to decide which one is better. In case of star field,if indeed it will use FSR exclusively, there is no competition. It’s just one company putting one roadblock in front of the other.

It’s important to reiterate again that we don’t know for sureStarfieldwill only use FSR. The problem is AMD’s silence on the situation, which allows speculation to run wild. Nvidia, for its part, doesn’t mince words.

Nvidia will not in any way block, restrict, discourage or hinder developers from implementing competing technologies, Nvidias Keita Iida said in a statement to Digital Trends and other outlets.

No excuses for exclusivity

Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

In the early days of DLSS and FSR, we saw many games that only supported one of the two features. Since then, however, we (and the developers) have learned just how similar the two are behind the scenes, and most major AAA releases include at least FSR and DLSS support, and often XeSS support as well.

dying light 2ANDCall of Duty Modern Warfare IIsupport all three.atomic heart,which Nvidia has been promoting for almost six years, supports DLSS and FSR (as well asDead space).Devil IVit also supports all three and with a very unique implementation where you are limited based on your hardware (DLSS for RTX, XeSS for Arc and FSR for everything else). For a game as big asstar field,there’s simply no excuse to support just one of the three.

That, in and of itself, isn’t a big deal. Modders will get DLSS up and running whether it’s officially supported or not, and I don’t think Nvidia users will have a poor experience playing it (they can use FSR too, after all). But it sets a bad precedent.

If AMD or Nvidia start committing to blocking the competition’s technology, everyone loses. Now we’re not battling it out on a level playing field of competing technologies to see which is better, but instead engaging with who can spend the most time (and money) stalling the other. It’s not dissimilar to the shenanigans we’ve seen recently Try FTC vs. Microsoft, where console exclusivity deals have locked games down simply based on hardware preferences and who has a bigger exclusivity budget to spend.

I hope the PC is not destined for a similar future. I understand the need for Nvidia and AMD to enter into co-marketing agreements to promote games and their products, but in a world where vendors are blocked from rolling out features and providing optimized drivers for the biggest game releases , it’s a race to the bottom. And ultimately, players have to pay the price for it.

This, fortunately, is not the world we live in today. I just hope that’s not where PC gaming is headed.

This article is part of ReSpec, an ongoing bi-weekly column featuring in-depth discussions, advice, and reports on the technology behind PC gaming.

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