Up For Debate - Should Developers Focus More On Low-End Graphics Settings

Written by Jon Sutton on Sat, May 28, 2016 4:00 PM
System Requirements Optimum 1080p PC Build Low vs Ultra Screenshots GPU Performance Chart CPU List That Meet System Requirements GPU List That Meet System Requirements

It’s become an increasing occurrence within the last few months, maybe even years, to see less of a contrast between the Low and Ultra graphics settings in games. While developers are keen to push the boundaries of gaming hardware, delivering ever more glorious looking games, does this come at the cost of the lower end of the PC gaming market?

Think about it, we pay so much attention to which games look the best at their finest settings, but precious little thought is giving to just how versatile the game is at delivering a playable experience to weaker hardware. We can’t all afford the latest and greatest graphics card, and is there really all that much to be done in stripping a game down to its barest details.

Take DOOM as an example. While there is a difference between Low and Ultra, it’s nothing to write home about. In essence it means your uber expensive hardware is only contributing to a minor jump in visual quality. That works both ways as well, but imagine if id Software tweaked DOOM so it ran with DOOM 3-esque visuals for ultra low-end hardware. It would mean practically no one would be specced out of playing the latest game.

Sure, those who’d benefit from this wouldn’t be playable the game with all the bells or whistles, or ‘as the developers intended’, but something’s better than nothing, right?

Imagine, if you will, totally scalable graphics options, from eye-blisteringly beautiful down to the polygonal bare bones. A GTX 8800 GTX throwing out rock-solid frame rates in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate.

It’s a pipe dream I know, but should developers focus more on low-end graphics settings? Or is the race for the best visuals worth the push at the top? Let us know what you think!

Should devs provide more low-end graphics options?

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16:08 Jun-07-2016

Guys anyone know how to upgrade ur laptop gpu

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07:36 Jun-24-2016

Often you cannot do this due to the fact that the GPU is mounted directly onto the motherboard, unable to be removed.

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02:54 Jun-01-2016

If they can make low graphic setting like a PS2 games or at least, minecraft graphic. Super low-specs setting. Why not!?

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14:26 Jun-01-2016

And the fun thing is that they can and it's super easy to do and little time consuming.

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17:53 May-31-2016

Just to let everyone know. I'm starting to believe this discussion is mostly pointless and before you downvote me, please hear me out. I'm starting to believe that the people who voted no might be right afterall.


Don't get me wrong, I want people with low end GPUs to play the games same as you but I just don't think it's feasible or even possible not to mention impractical. Engines can only go so far and once you've reached the limit, you've reached the limit. We're talking about stripping games down to the point of being nearly (cont.)

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17:58 May-31-2016

unrecognizable. It just wouldn't be the game that developers intended because you'd have to remove only God himself knows how many special effects and what not. It's just the way things are. The most developers can do is optimize games to run even better on the hardware they were designed for. But you can only optimize a game so much.


Please believe me, I hate to admit it and I don't want to believe it but if it's true (which it most likely is) then I have have no choice but to accept it.


Sorry! :(

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18:11 May-31-2016

there is NO minimum to an engine, just a maximum. You can downgrade graphics as much as you want in an engine and they will be recognizable that's for sure, even if polygon count is lowered.

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18:42 May-31-2016

I'm talking about graphics settings mostly but I get ya.

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02:38 Jun-01-2016

Agreed. Video games can be looked at as art, and you can only turn it down so much until it's not the same visual experience.
Even if that doesn't matter, the work put into making a game beautiful is one thing and to add the task of making it running on a lot of old rigs, by changing textures, shaders, etc., is almost just as strenuous. All games do it, but to focus more on it isn't productive.

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12:02 Jun-01-2016

Video games are a work of art as art is a very broad term. As friend of mine once said, "If art didn't exist, it would be incredibly unimaginative" not to mention boring. Art is all around us: music, painting, architecture, game development, etc.


So yes video games are without question, a work of art. :)

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04:05 Jun-02-2016

Give me back my brain

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23:20 May-30-2016

its going to be a weird situation using settings to equal out the difference between a GTX1080 and a GTX8800 which by gd is 788% and roughly 10 years, there comes a time when you just have to leave the past in the past, they should always strive to make every game as accessible as possible tho and if settings can do it why wouldn't you add them, just don't hold back progression

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23:42 May-30-2016

. . . of content for the sake of running a game on old (10+ years) hardware, if settings can make that difference by all means include them but if not then it is what it is and just has to be accepted, (GTA V ran on my 390x and on my hd4600, And You Cant Teach That!!

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18:14 May-30-2016

Making games only working on high end gpus is just like the old times when only the king could ride on a horse. By focusing only on high end gpus, the devs are simply denying that there aren't any low end gamers who want or love their game. I think that they should make games only for low end gpus, this way games would automatically run better on high end gpus.

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00:44 May-30-2016

Unity games have it right in my opinion.

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07:03 May-30-2016

well Unity games have it NOT because they are on Unity, it's because of the developers that made them.

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16:46 May-29-2016

Im against it, progress is mostly made by pushing the boundaries! Being always compatible with older hardware andor lower settings isnt much of a progress and mostly introduces a lot of work and more bugs.
That doesnt mean games shouldnt be optimized and or running at 60 FPS (unlike Assassins Creed Unity)

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18:18 May-29-2016

so you're saying we should forget those people who can't afford the latest/entry gaming hardware, and not let them enjoy games that we enjoy.
again we're not stopping graphical and technological advancements, we just want the ability to lower the settings so that more people can easily afford gaming, I mean it should make sense right, the lower the settings can go, the more cash the game will generate, since more people will be able to enjoy and play the games they want to play, we're not saying we should lower graphical fidelity for everyone, high presets on games, will still remain current and future graphical fidelity, we aren't gonna touch that, we just want the ability to lower the graphics to increase performance as much as possible without affecting gameplay.

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19:00 May-29-2016

THANK YOU! :D (+1 thumb!)

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17:50 May-31-2016

Neuer31, having less demanding lower settings, does NOT mean we will have worse maxed out settings.

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16:13 May-29-2016

Low end pc owners like me would like a lowest preset for games

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17:51 May-31-2016

you just need a new GPU and you are ready to game.

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15:28 May-29-2016

i would like to hear the reason from people who voted no.

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15:41 May-29-2016

Well, people with god rigs or high ends like myself.

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18:13 May-29-2016

High and Low setting presets are different, if you have a high end system then crank that graphics up to ultra, we don't care, and no it wont affect the high settings, we're talking about the low setting preset itself, we are not trying to limit graphical fidelity, we're not stopping advancements of technology, what we're trying to do is make gaming more affordable to most people, let people be able to crank graphics up as low as possible, as long as it doesn't affect gameplay, for you mid-high spec users, you will still be able to experience the graphics you desire, we won't be removing that, we just want to the ability to set it as low as possible as well, so that more people can enjoy gaming itself.

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01:18 May-31-2016

somethings are just hardware limited tho and not all the stress of gaming is on the gpu (somethings will just need 4 cpu threads), also you have to think how many apis do you want to code for to include older hardware (dx9 or whatever) or for newer hardware a GT 730 is like £40 and it sucks so unless polaris or pascal has a new good cheap card your going to need to spend £100 for anything half

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01:22 May-31-2016

. . . decent anyway cause im pretty sure you cant run battlefield 1 on a GT 730 (hope im proved wrong) there are just limits to a point where your running around with your fingers glued together cause you cant push enough pixels so it would be easier to code a game twice from the start

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09:34 May-31-2016

Of course there will still be limitations on how low graphics can go, I never said that we should go so low to support which will now be potato generation hardware, limitations will remain there.


My only suggestion is get it as low as possible, key word possible, anything as simple as being able to turn off shadows (as long as it doesn't give any advantages on Multiplayer if a game does have 1), reflections, bloom, etc. and maybe if you're feeling generous low poly models, that is what I'm asking for.


I never said we should get a GeForce 256 be able to run every game, there will obviously be limitations on how low we can go, but again if its possible to go low then we should have the option to do so. (1/2)

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09:37 May-31-2016

I also mentioned as long as it doesn't affect gameplay.


Also the reason why I didn't include CPU into the equation because the CPU is what mostly handles physics, and calculations, so obviously CPU will be out of the equation since it will start affecting gameplay in most cases. (2/2)

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10:00 May-31-2016

i get where your coming from and do agree i just question where would your limit be, a gtx660 is listed as minimum on games recently so how far down do you want to go below that, and like you say shadows and stuff whats the point in turning off shadows if you still cant run the game on a dual core i think you need to be a little more realistic with your expectations

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10:08 May-31-2016

. . . and all the extra settings will make the options pages seem never ending, there is also the consideration of disk space, if a game is 50/60gb now how big do you think it will be once you add different texture pack, physical characteristics low poly models compatibility for older hardware ect ect ect . . a 660 isnt exactly low but it isn't unreasonable either plus you can always play on 720p

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10:15 May-31-2016

. . . if your gpu cant handle 1080p i dont think "settings" is the real issue but it could do a little to help i think the real problem is gpus in particular are too expensive for entry level atm but seriously you can get a used 660 for less than the price of the game your going to play on it so its not that bad

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12:57 May-31-2016

Where would my limit be? it depends on the game, if there's something that can be reduced to decrease GPU dependability to at least CPU integrated graphics, than that would be a fine low end standard, and as for shadows, you asked whats the point of turning it off, I'l tell you now, it decreases GPU dependability, and CPU usage by a significant amount, this is something that I have tweaked long before in games, it usually boost the game by 5-10FPS but mileage may vary, but still a significant amount, and as for your argument on option screen becoming never ending, simple solution put them in advanced category just like everything else, if people doesn't have the time to edit that than just use the preset option, but for those who want to optimize their experience (1/2)

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13:02 May-31-2016

such a tool will be useful, as for game file sizes, another easy solution, make it an optional download, and call it done, wide variety of options and settings is what PC is know for, and again I don't care on what GPU they aim for, as long as they aim for the lowest possible (again keyword possible) and call it done, I'm satisfied, and 720p is an option too, so I don't know what the role of that argument in this debate is, so I'l leave it be. (2/2)

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14:26 May-31-2016

i think thats where our opinions split cause i think the requirements now are pretty close to the lowest possible and to get them reasonably lower you would need to release 2 versions of games like the ps3 and 4 do sometimes, id still much rather see lower gpu prices than trying to make a 1 size fits all style for games there's just to much of a performance gap for that to work atm

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15:05 May-31-2016

there are tons of games right now that have bloom, god rays, shadows, etc. that can't be turned off, unless you edit a cfg file or something similar, though not all games have this, and even in cfg files, you wouldn't be allowed to turn these off, and I'm up for any hardware price reduction too, I wouldn't mind, they at least need to pick 1 from the 2.

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00:01 Jun-01-2016

a combination of both would actually be pretty awesome, you have to many good points and ideas to ignore . . . if settings were lowered and nvidia per say released something like a gt1040 for 50+- bucks that was capable i just cant see a downside in that, you would have new tech for compatibility, options to ensure performance and a price that brings systems more in line with a consoles price

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00:20 Jun-01-2016

that actually makes it seem like a pretty reasonable proposition to get a 50bucks gaming gpu thinking of it that way . . . i wanna change my answer from no to yes lol, that is definitely worth looking into tho

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15:33 May-30-2016

Because those with high end rig most likely feel as though it would make their rigs either less relevant or irrelevant. The only things being made irrelevant are the low end systems for anything except older games from like 4 or 5 years ago. That is when system requirements started to get out of control and for no reason other than (and this just a theory by the way) the fact that Nvidia manipulating the market. It is possible AMD is also manipulating the market but far less likely. However I have no evidence to backup that theory (cont.)

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15:33 May-30-2016

so I could be very wrong.

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15:34 May-30-2016

But if it is true, then NVidia has a lot (and I mean A LOT) of explaining to do.

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01:42 May-31-2016

nvidia could add "realistic fingers" to gameworks and say its to lower system requirements lolol :)

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10:34 May-29-2016

how about increase overall scalibility? like more graphics options: lowest, lower, low, medium, medium-high, high, ultra, ultra-high, insane. i know that sounds like a lot of work but what if?

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11:36 May-29-2016

Insane settings would be like orgasm for some players :D More scalibility means better quality. I agree with you.

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12:12 May-29-2016

Yeah more options and advanced settings is a great idea, I agree with you.

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12:53 May-29-2016

Code masters are actually doing this for years to come

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05:00 May-30-2016

Two more to the list: EXTREME and Godly coming after insane in that order.

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10:20 May-29-2016

Optimisation of games is only thing we need, how can consoles run every game with hardware worth 200-300€...

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12:12 May-29-2016

Yeah and the best example batman arkham knight and Rise of the Tomb Raider.

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13:50 May-29-2016

You speak the truth. We need developers to spend more time optimizing their games before releasing them. Personally i don't mind waiting for weeks even months of delays as long as the final product is worth my money and my time in the end.

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18:34 May-29-2016

I think that it's a calculated risk, if so many developers are willing to sell unoptimized products on the PC platform. They know even better than us what's wrong with it, but they also know that they will be able to make enough money back so they take the lazy route and later just say - it might get fixed, we are working on it.

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22:26 May-29-2016

Its just cancer politics... Hate that greed in people...
More optimisation more satisfied buyers of games... its so simple...

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05:45 May-31-2016

optimization works on both ends of the scale, look at the benchmarks of the gtx1080 its getting like 130fps in games at 1080p which most people have (1080p 60hz) whats the point in that ? they need to look at high end hardware as well or it will get wasted

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06:50 May-31-2016

the witcher 3 was one of the best looking recent games and it ran 1080p ultra 60fps on a gtx980 which is really good but if you had a 980ti and 1080p 60hz you basically wasted that and now its obsolete by the 1070 a year later, volta is due in 2 years so that isn't much time to put that extra 70fps to use or the 1080 will be a waste to many as well

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07:45 May-29-2016

I'm fine with medium or medium to high setting as long as it plays smoothly, I won't change my gfx until its almost dead.

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07:32 May-29-2016

They should absolutely do that. It's not hard to downgrade graphics.

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07:04 May-29-2016

They also need to focus on optimizing games for PC..

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07:09 May-29-2016

If you think about it, making the game work on low end machines is a form of optimisation but yes, you're right, past two years' situation was unacceptable.

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09:59 May-29-2016

I think the game will be optimized if they focus on low end graphics.

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07:01 May-29-2016

I think they should. I have a PC that's powerful enough to run the latest games but I know a lot of people (some with relatively strong rigs) who don't get a very enjoyable experience out of their games.

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05:31 May-29-2016

A major issue I have with modern games is that lowering the graphical settings often does little to nothing in terms of degrading visuals, however, the game often runs at a much better frame rate. It's because of this that I feel that modern games are bloated in terms of graphics. Often times they incorporate too many polygons, and the use of texture tiling is on the decline. I don't care for this trend.

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07:17 May-29-2016

Can you please explain the technical reason why this happens. I'm still a newbie but I'm curious.

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14:36 May-29-2016

Well, a lot of games are still increasing the number of polygons in models which is pointless at the moment because we've already crossed the threshold where people can make out individual polygons. Additionally, games use to be comprised of tiled textures which is essentially a reoccuring image tiled to texture a larger space. It worked great when done right, looked awful when not. When done right, it would save on HDD space and VRAM. There is more to it than that, but those are the main culprits. I wrote a blog about it if you wish for more info on the topic.

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23:17 May-28-2016

Yes.
I'm developing my game and i definitely understand that no one has the latest hardware. (Like me.)
I will make my game visually appealing, however i will NOT forget about low end graphics. Its definitly going to be in my list for visuals. I'm using DirectX 11 with support of OpenGL and DirectX 9 as backup so that anyone can run my game no matter what resolution or graphics setting they're in.
It'll be a massive difference, but it'll still be quite appealing.

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23:24 May-28-2016

Same here! I too am a game developer. Currently working with RPG Maker (mainly MV).


And wouldnt ya know? I'm having performance issues with my own darn game! XD

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23:30 May-28-2016

BTW what kinda game are ya making?


By the way I'm assuming you meant "Not everyone has the latest hardware" instead of "no one has the latest hardware"?

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04:53 May-29-2016

Yeah i meant not everyone.


I'm making an experimental FPS RPG game with Unity 5. Its going to have Horror and Sci FI elements in.

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05:23 May-29-2016

Cool! I'm looking forward to seeing more about your game. I love sci-fi and horror as well as fantasy! :D

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05:25 May-29-2016

Atleast someone in this evil world thinks about us!
Thanks buddy, Good Luck! May your game reach the top of the gaming world :)

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09:19 May-29-2016

I'm taking 4 years to develop the game. Of course i think about all of you! :D

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17:45 May-29-2016

When did you start development?

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09:05 May-29-2016

Dude, you should have vulkan support as well..

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09:18 May-29-2016

My GPU is too old for that.

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09:28 May-29-2016

Yeah, AMD abandoned us :(

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19:13 May-29-2016

Ever considered getting a new GPU just so you can DX12 and Vulkan support?

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05:01 May-30-2016

  • so you can add

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17:53 May-30-2016

Abandoned? We should stay on 6 year old hardware? So we should stay with Arrandale, Clarkdale, Sandy Bridge, Thuban and Zosma, Nividia 500 series?

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22:29 May-28-2016

totally ! the graphics right now are perfect and the developers should slow down there visual improvements so a lot of players can catch up with the lastest games and focus more to deliver a perfect gameplay experience

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00:12 May-29-2016

exactly! Some games right now look beautiful and I want to be able to enjoy such games while my pc can handle it !

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21:32 May-28-2016

They should support lower settings as long as it doesn't negatively affect the feel/message that the game is trying to provide.
They should focus more on general optimization rather than the scaling of visuals, because it has become a major problem in the recent years.

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20:40 May-28-2016

With old games the difference between low and ultra settings is pretty immense with the newer titles it's even hard to distinguish low vs ultra. So they could certainly downgrade that lowest settings by quite a margin.

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20:41 May-28-2016

Yeah, the difference between low and ultra in modern games is just add some shadows and lights and AA , the problem it eat FPS without the big difference.

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07:12 May-29-2016

GPU-straining things like reflections and textures remain mostly the same which is weird.

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Can They Run... |

| High,
Ryzen 7 2700 8-Core 3.2GHz Radeon RX 5600 XT Gigabyte Gaming OC 6GB 16GB
| 60FPS, Medium, 1440p
Ryzen 5 3600 6-Core 3.6GHz GeForce GTX 1070 Palit Super JetStream 16GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Core i7-11700K 8-Core 3.6GHz GeForce GTX 1060 Asus ROG Strix Gaming OC 6GB Edition 32GB
50% Yes [2 votes]
| 60FPS, Low, 1080p
Core i7-4770 4-Core 3.4GHz GeForce GTX 1060 Inno3D Compact 6GB 8GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Core i5-9300H 4-Core 2.4GHz GeForce GTX 1650 8GB
| 60FPS, Low, 1080p
Ryzen 5 5600 6-Core 3.5GHz Radeon RX 5500 XT 8GB 16GB
Ryzen 5 5600 6-Core 3.5GHz Radeon RX 5500 XT 8GB 16GB
| 60FPS, Low, 1080p
Ryzen 5 5600 6-Core 3.5GHz Radeon RX 5500 XT 8GB 16GB
| 60FPS, Medium, 1080p
Ryzen 5 5600 6-Core 3.5GHz Radeon RX 5500 XT 8GB 16GB
| Medium, 1080p
Ryzen 5 5600 6-Core 3.5GHz Radeon RX 5500 XT 8GB 16GB
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Core i7-10700 8-Core 2.90GHz GeForce RTX 2060 6GB 16GB
100% Yes [2 votes]
Core i5-9400F 6-Core 2.9GHz GeForce GTX 770 DirectCU II 2GB OC Edition 16GB
60% Yes [5 votes]
Pentium Dual Core B960 2.2GHz Radeon HD 6950M 4GB
33.3333% Yes [6 votes]
| 60FPS, Medium, 720p
Athlon II X2 245 GeForce GTS 250 4GB
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Ryzen 5 3500U 4-Core 2.1 GHz Radeon RX Vega 8 8GB
| 60FPS, High, 720p
Core i5-2400S 2.5GHz Radeon R5 340 (OEM) 4GB
| High, 720p
Core i5-2400S 2.5GHz Radeon R5 340 (OEM) 4GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
Ryzen 5 3500U 4-Core 2.1 GHz Radeon RX Vega 8 8GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
| 30FPS, Medium, 720p
Ryzen 5 3500U 4-Core 2.1 GHz Radeon RX Vega 8 10GB
| 30FPS, High, 1080p
Core i3-8100 4-Core 3.6GHz GeForce GTX 1060 3GB 16GB
100% Yes [4 votes]