News + Features
I was having a browse through Steam on Tuesday, August 1st, checking out the new releases section. It caught my attention just how many game releases there had been, both on that day, the day before, and stretching back weeks. The summer drought is now non-existent unless you live and die for AAA gaming. Out of interest, I totted up the number of new releases on that day. 74. That’s more games in a day than were released in the entire year on Steam in 2006.
A recent conversation here on GD reminded that it’s been a little while since we last talked about internet connection speeds and download caps. Every year our game downloads become increasingly gargantuan; unwieldy beasts that mean if we want to play a game we have to plan for it potentially days before.
As far as I can recall, a graphics card unveiling has never been quite as hyped as AMD’s Radeon RX Vega reveal and yet delivered so little. We’ve been reading about ‘Vega this’, ‘Vega that’ for the best part of two years now, the mythical unicorn cresting a horizon that we could never quite reach. Then some 14 months ago, Nvidia turned up and blew us away with its Pascal GPU and the GeForce GTX 10 Series. It felt like a true generational leap, delivering far superior performance to the already impressive Maxwell-powered GTX 900 Series.
As of late, I’ve been trying to ponder just where gaming is going to be in twenty years. I’d often thought of gaming as this rapidly changing landscape, one of disruptive ideas, new technologies and countless innovations. And then I saw an image doing the rounds comparing 2017 and 1997, PlayStation platforms in particular. Two decades separate them, yet in ‘97 we had Crash 2, Parappa the Rapper, Tekken 2, Resident Evil, Gran Turismo, Wipeout XL and Hot Shots Golf. 7,300 days later we have the Crash Trilogy, Parappa the Rapper Remastered, Tekken 7, Resident Evil 7, Gran Turismo Sport, Wipeout: Omega Collection and Everybody’s Golf. Has history truly repeated itself?
This week has been a tale of two pre-orders. Admittedly, it’s been a pretty slow week, as you can guess. On the one hand, we’ve got Total War: Warhammer II’s Norsca race pre-order bonus, which grants you two new factions for the original game. It’s a bit arse backwards, but it’s a decent deal and it hooks the two games together neatly. While on the other hand we’ve got Need For Speed Payback’s ‘Exclusive Tire Smoke’, a specific blueish tinted smoke to equip your car with. Quite probably the most pointless thing of all time, and I’ll be sure to give it pride of place on my mantelpiece next to my powdered water.
For the last few years now we’ve coasted by in some little dreamland when it comes to power efficiency. The CPU manufacturers have been busy trying to drive TDP (Thermal Design Power) down to rock bottom levels, spurred on by the rise of mobiles, laptops and tablets, while Nvidia made power efficiency its calling card with its Maxwell GPU, the GeForce GTX 750 Ti representing a turning point for Team Green.
There was a time around 10-15 years again when MMORPG’s reigned supreme. They were practically the biggest genre in PC gaming. Everquest was transformative. World of WarCraft was totally dominant. Dark Age of Camelot was a PvP-er’s dream. And then the bottom fell out. Or should I say - World of Warcraft became too dominant. Blizzard’s MMO was just too good, too slick produced. It swallowed up everything else on the scene and MMOs were shuttering left, right and centre. It was, and still is, a fantastic game, but with WoW available, every other subscription-based MMO found it hard to justify the monthly costs.
Moreso than with OpenGL, we’re seeing a fierce competition erupt between Microsoft’s DirectX 12 and Khronos Group’s Vulkan graphics APIs. Both have been relatively slow burners so far, with 20 released DirectX 12 titles and 21 Vulkan games, although it should be said that a large chunk of Vulkan titles are on mobile platforms.
We’re just approaching the halfway point of July, and now we’re now about a fortnight away from AMD Radeon RX Vega being unleashed on the world. In May of last year, believe it or not, there were reports that AMD was lining up an October 2016 launch for Vega. Here we are, some 14 months later, and gaming Vega GPUs still aren’t with us. It’s also been 14 months since the arrival of the GeForce GTX 1070 and GeForce GTX 1080, and four months since the GTX 1080 Ti. In all this time, AMD hasn’t had a single answer to the high-end graphics card market.
Oftentimes you can open up your PC to realise you’ve got a Frankenstein’s monster of sorts, a shambling corpse just barely kept in check and cobbled together from all sorts of odds and ends. A case you’ve had since high school, a hard drive you plucked out of a failing laptop, and a hodgepodge of RAM that you think is probably running alright. It’s part of the nature of PC gaming that we can throw just about whatever we want together in a box and then figure out a way to make a work. Occasionally you have to hit the hard reset button and go for a whole new build, but I suspect there are plenty of you out there who have been patching up and upgrading the same PC for upwards of a decade.
And it's that time of year again. I can't believe it's been six months since I was chugging down gin and tonics down a dodgy boozer, ushering in new year. We've reached the halfway point of 2017, and what a year it's shaping up to be for gaming. When we did this same Up For Debate at this point last year it was a fairly strong offering, but H1 2017 has just blown that away. Things have cooled lately, but that first four months was an absolute blitzkrieg of games sure to trouble the Game of the Year category during the Global Game Awards 2017.