Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) today launched AMD GAME!, a program aimed at providing "a better experience for the mainstream (core) gamer" by helping to educate them on buying a PC that's capable of playing today's games. The program, separate from the PC Gaming Alliance, has a lot of support from hardware makers and retailers. We talked with AMD Gaming Strategist Brent Barry to get a better understanding of the program.
Why create the AMD Game! Program?
According to Barry, 80% of PCs don't have the capability of playing games. When we asked him to clarify that statement, Barry cited integrated graphics as an example of a hardware issue. "They don't have basic capabilities to deliver a good gaming experience," he said. "For example, they can't pop in Call of Duty 4 and play at a reasonable resolution with reasonable settings and get reasonable framerate. For a lot of mainstream users out there, they don't understand why."
What are the current requirements?
AMD GAME! Ultra
AMD Phenom X4 9650 processor
ATI Radeon HD 3870 graphics
AMD 770 chipset
2GB DDR2 system memory
AMD Athlon X2 processor 5600+
ATI Radeon HD 3650 graphics
AMD 770 chipset or NVIDIA nForce 500 series chipset
2GB DDR2 system memory
AMD also showed us a chart of in-house benchmarks they ran with each of these computers, shown above. Curiously, Half-Life 2: Episode 2 and The Sims 2 Deluxe run better on the AMD Game! system than its Ultra counterpart.
As for the ever-changing minimum requirements, Barry noted that they are in control of the program requirements. "Part of the funding mechanism helps us to give incentive to our customers to stay in line with what we're doing," he said. The minimum requirements for each label will update every six months. "If you're looking for gaming PC ready for today's games, this is the right PC for you," he said. Barry wouldn't commit to saying how long an AMD Game! PC would last – "you can never make that judgment call, honestly, that's a really hard prediction to make." He did, however, estimate that a PC "typically can give you about three years of a good experience."
Can these computer runs Crysis?
On AMD Game Ultra! it should be able to run game at 1280x1024 or 1600x1200 resolution, 30 frames per second. On AMD Games, 1024x786 or 1280x1024 with 30 frames per second. There are a variety of game that are gonna pound [a system like] that, but some games are just not meant to run at 30 fps. For example, a real-time strategy game is more geared to 15 to 30fps experience.
When you're running at default settings, these are the type of machines that are capable. At AMD, we could run Crysis on 780G integrated with 3450 discrete card with 30 frames per second.
What software developers are involved?
Barry said they had talked to both big and small developers from China, Korea, Europe and the US, to see what systems were needed to play their games. The "quick and easy list," as he noted, were Games for Windows titles. Stardock, NCSoft and Gamecock has piped up with their support, but we were quick to note that first-person shooter powerhouses Id Software and Epic Games weren't mentioned.
"We talked to Epic, who we've worked with on PC Gaming Alliance," he said."We have a great relationship with those guys, we look at all their next-gen products and titles ... one of the big problems with pc gaming. our competitors choose to compartmentalize with exclusivity pacts." Barry said this was "cutting apart the industry."
What about Intel? The PC Gaming Alliance?
We asked if AMD competitor Intel would be at all a part of this initiative. Barry said that this was not about bad politics with them but maintaining control over the program. "If we start setting requirements that include hardware that we don't really control, it gets out of our control, it would allow our competitor to sabotage it," he said.
"What I would hope is that Intel and Nvidia would see that this realy is the right way to go and I would hope they introduce their own similar programs. An Intel gaming program would be great if it was about delviering right platform program to deliver better gaming experience. If we start getting PC gaming industry healthier, everyone benefits."
"I'd really love to see these guys do something," he said. "The PC Gaming Alliance brings us and Nvidia and Intel together to try and establish these kinds of things, but we felt that while that is great, we can take the first steps ourselves as well."