Blizzard Built Overwatch From the Ground up to Run on Integrated Graphics Chips

Written by Stuart Thomas on Wed, Mar 15, 2017 5:09 PM
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In typical Blizzard form, Overwatch isn’t a graphical powerhouse. It makes up for this by oozing style. A style you either love or hate, but a style all the same. Blizzard’s aim with this was to get Overwatch running on as wide a range of PCs as possible, with the development team aiming to get it up and running on Intel integrated graphics in particular.

Speaking at GDC in San Francisco, Blizzard senior software engineer Ryan Green said "Blizzard historically supports a very large number of players. It's just something we work towards and always has good benefits."

Normally there’s a bit of blowback when a game doesn’t look great on technical level, and yet Blizzard has managed to skirt that issue completely thanks to Overwatch’s art style. This in turn filtered through to the design of the entire game. If a gameplay mechanic or map design wouldn’t run on integrated graphics chips, it wouldn’t make it into the game. With that in mind, Overwatch was always worked on with aim of running on a predetermined minimum spec machine.

"Not everybody was excited at first, but as we got going on it, people really felt the value in it," Greene said. "We set up playtest labs with various machines all configured with different hardware. We got different people to play on it, and they were surprised at how well it ran, and how much it felt like Overwatch."

It’s an interesting point because there’s often the argument that console hardware holds back PC. In this case it’s the exact opposite - Blizzard built Overwatch to run on just about any PC out there. At this point it’s a Blizzard trademark to do exactly this, and it doesn’t seem to have hurt the beloved developers one jot.

Greene did go to explain that working with the minimum spec in mind also helped both the top spec visuals and with running on console, saying "We found that optimizing for the minspec yielded really good gains on the high end and on console. It was a really synergistic relationship."

Taking Overwatch as the ideal example, would you like to see more AAA games made with integrated GPUs in mind? Or is this just a waste of the enormous power of gaming PCs? Let us know what you think!

Source: PCGamer

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03:36 Mar-16-2017

Hehe, not on Intel Integrated Graphics HD 4000 for sure! My laptop can't look at this game without choking...

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10:44 Mar-16-2017

my lappy's Intel X3100 would like to have a word with you :P

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16:18 Mar-17-2017

My laptop with Intel HD 4000 can run it in -30 fps at the lowest possible settings :'(

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11:33 Mar-21-2017

30fps is playable, i can play games at 25fps, sometimes 20, not much less than that.

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01:57 Mar-16-2017

I see posts about Overwatch all the time on Tumblr, and not because I follow blogs that focus on it. The characters are very popular with the artists there, and they tend to either own Macbooks or cheap laptops. So, not only did it help with optimization, it also made business sense in this case because 22% of their fans wouldn't be able to play it otherwise.

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01:00 Mar-16-2017

Honestly I'm not a huge fan of the game but I love how this game is really optimized when compared to other games.

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00:54 Mar-16-2017

If the game is good, people don't care about graphic. Just look at Mario or Zelda. Other game publisher need to follow this step too. Minimize the usage of GPU so other people with low-end PC can enjoy it.

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23:42 Mar-15-2017

Overwatch is ugly? I'm running it at 4k at ultra, and I assure you, they didn't cut any corners!

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09:18 Mar-16-2017

I think you misunderstand. No one is saying Overwatch is ugly, just well optimised.

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22:35 Mar-15-2017

After these last few years, I'm extremely thankful when a game doesn't need a $400 card to run on medium.


Optimized and Polished is always good.

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21:56 Mar-15-2017

I think it's fantastic.
It just goes to show Blizzard's know-how in making technically extremely impressive game, that this game can run on Intel HD graphics while at the highest settings making my 980Ti sweat, and all that while making a very good and sound looking game.
I think every company should aspire to make games on Blizzard's level.

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20:47 Mar-15-2017

Its fine by me if only competitive games use this idealogy to target low end hardwares. But remaining games should only concentrate on pushing graphical boundries. I love games with good gameplay but the jaw dropping graphics adds another scoop in my ice cream

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21:41 Mar-15-2017

that is all true but imo its better for everybody if they make sure that those epic graphics scale down for lower end machines. But... it takes time and effort from the devs.

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09:21 Mar-16-2017

An interesting opinion, considering you're running an i3, 960 and 8gb of ram. How could you possibly run new games any higher than medium with that rig?

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10:50 Mar-16-2017

He/She can run any game at high it depends on that resolution he could lower it!!! I regret getting a 2560x1440 monitor my cost of GPU and CPU has gone up. but I can't go back lower rez hurts the eyes

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18:27 Mar-19-2017

Who said i want to run games on high /ultra? I am fine with low and medium . What my point is that game industry should scale their game graphics better for different hardware, optimize their code as much time allows or possible but still push the graphics boundaries to droll over.

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20:30 Mar-15-2017

What blizzard has managed to do with the graphics of the game trully is impressive. I just love this artstyle, the game is beautiful and the hero animations extremely detailed and accurate while the game runs pretty well. The graphics dont feel "cheap" or old in the least. The designers are geniuses.

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19:58 Mar-15-2017

missing word at the top "A style you either or hate"

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15:53 Mar-16-2017

OUTDATED, Don't read

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16:24 Mar-18-2017

YOU CAN'T TELL ME WHAT TO DO!!!11

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18:46 Mar-15-2017

I can attest to this, I ran this computer without a GPU for 2 months and Overwatch was one of the only games that I could actually play. I had the settings at their minimum and the resolution knocked down so it looked pretty ****ty but I was able to achieve a solid 60FPS. Props to Blizzard for taking this into consideration and not leaving out lower spec gamers!

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17:37 Mar-15-2017

The more PC's that can run recent AAA games, the better. But seriously, anyone playing games on PC now either has decent hardware, or they play older/undemanding titles. Gone are the days where most new AAA's run on Intel iGPU's.
Consoles have unchangeable hardware, unlike a PC with an iGPU. That's what holds us back.

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20:08 Mar-15-2017

I don't know about last 2 sentences, but besides that I can't understand why so many down votes. He/she is quite right.

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20:13 Mar-15-2017

"Excuse me waiter the chocolate cake slice i ordered came with another slice and i dont like it"

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17:12 Mar-15-2017

Has Overwatch improved much since launch? Because I really didn't find the beta very interesting at all :/

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17:13 Mar-15-2017

i still dont find it interesting xD

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18:43 Mar-15-2017

So far they have added a couple of different modes, 3 new characters and a new map. They also do seasonal events with limited edition items which I'll admit is somewhat gimmicky but holy hell some of them are so amazing you cant stop yourself from grinding for lootboxes to get them before they're gone. IMO the game isn't everyone's cup of tea but the developers have certainly been putting in work since launch to make the game better than it was.

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18:45 Mar-15-2017

So is it worth buying for PC? I only have Subnauctica and I am looking for some good new games.

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23:44 Mar-15-2017

Yes! Lots of character balances, and three new characters! Well, two, with a third coming next Tuesday!

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20:23 Mar-15-2017

I didnt find the beta particularly interesting either. Subsequently I didnt even purchase the game until this September when i succumbed friends' pressure and even then didnt I didnt really enjoy it that much and played just a little, with friends only. After giving it some time again though I have to admit I am kind of stuck for the past 2 weeks :/. I am thoroughly enjoying the competitive mode and the arcade modes offer a more relaxed divergence. I dont think something has changed drastically in the game (just balancing heroes, new ones added etc). I just gave the game more time and it sucked me in.


P.S. I still mostly play with friends. Even 1 or 2 is enough though for me.

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17:11 Mar-15-2017

Nice approach. And the game looks great in my opinion so nothing was lost because of this :)

5

Can They Run... |

Ryzen 5 5600X 6-Core 3.7GHz GeForce RTX 3080 Asus ROG Strix Gaming OC 10GB 32GB
| Ultra, 1440p
Ryzen 5 5600X 6-Core 3.7GHz GeForce RTX 3080 Asus ROG Strix Gaming OC 10GB 16GB
| 60FPS, Medium, 1080p
Core i7-3770 4-Core 3.4GHz Radeon RX 580 MSI Gaming X+ 8GB 16GB
| 60FPS, Medium, 1080p
Core i7-3770 4-Core 3.4GHz Radeon RX 580 MSI Gaming X+ 8GB 16GB
0% No [1 votes]
| 30FPS, Low, 720p
Core 2 Duo E8400 3.0GHz Intel Q45 Express Chipset 4GB
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Ryzen 9 5900X 12-Core 3.7GHz GeForce RTX 3080 Asus ROG Strix 10GB 32GB
66.6667% Yes [3 votes]
| 60FPS, Medium, 1080p
Core i5-4690K 3.5GHz GeForce GTX 1060 Gigabyte Windforce 2X OC 6GB 32GB
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Core i5-2400S 2.5GHz GeForce GTX 1060 Gigabyte Windforce 2X OC 6GB 7GB
100% Yes [2 votes]
| 30FPS, Low, 1080p
Core i7-8750H 6-Core 2.2GHz GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB 16GB
| 30FPS, Low, 1080p
Core i7-8750H 6-Core 2.2GHz GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB 16GB
| 30FPS, Low, 1080p
Core i7-8750H 6-Core 2.2GHz GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB 16GB
| 60FPS, Low, 1080p
Core i7-8750H 6-Core 2.2GHz GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB 16GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
| 60FPS, Low, 1080p
Core i7-8750H 6-Core 2.2GHz GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB 16GB
| 60FPS, Low, 1080p
Core i3-4170 3.7GHz GeForce GTX 750 Ti 4GB