A few days ago Richard Huddy, the head of AMDs GPU developer relations, made a statement about the functionality of APIs (application programing interfaces) and how they might be killing PC gaming. The crux of the argument being that APIs are helpful when making a cross platform game, but not very helpful if you want to make something really interesting on a PC. He states:
“We often have at least ten times as much horsepower as an Xbox 360 or a PS3 in a high-end graphics card, yet it’s very clear that the games don’t look ten times as good. To a significant extent, that’s because, one way or another, for good reasons and bad – mostly good, DirectX is getting in the way.”
The idea of playing the same game on multiple platforms is one that both consumers and game companies can appreciate. You play the game on whatever system you have. Developers and publishers make more money because there’s no excuse of “I can’t get this game because I don’t have the right kind of system”. It sounds peachy keen, right?
Read more about Richard Huddy’s proposed problem after the break.
When have you ever played a console game as complex as World of Warcraft? According to Huddy, you haven’t due to hardware limitations. This is why cross-platforming sucks for the PC. What you end up with is games made mostly for the console, then ported over, giving us things like DC Universe that are fun to play but severely hobbled by the limitations of preset button controls and lower end graphics. Even Portal 2 is being made in the cross platforming graven image of a console over a PC game.
This brings into question exactly what is keeping PC gaming from being the go to platform in gaming innovation. Huddy says the problem is the lack of freedom for programmers to get to the lower level code. Without the guiding hand of APIs, however, we’re stuck with the old problem of having to make sure every possible hardware set works. Huddy claims DirectX is the big problem in this equation, despite the fact that modern gaming wouldn’t exist without it. Anyone remember having to select a soundcard from a list, and if it wasn’t on the list, too bad? I sure as hell do.
What about the most innovative games in recent history? Little Big Planet, Geometry Wars, Braid, Shadow of the Colossus and Stacking are all console games. Though Portal, World of Goo, Psychonaughts, Minecraft, and Amnesia seemed work just fine with the supposed limitations of the PC. Some of them might not be the prettiest, but they all have unique graphics and concepts that weren’t hindered at all by a the limitations of an API.
So, are APIs really the problem here? Richard is part of AMD, who have their own ties to OpenGL, the biggest competitor to DirectX. Is he trying to use his fame and supposed expertise to badmouth the competition? Is he dissatisfied that the technology his company makes isn’t being used to it’s full gaming potential? Or is it a legitimate concern that PC games could be better off, coming from his inner gamer? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think is keeping the PC from being bigger and better than the console.