AMD: Nvidia Gameworks Is A Disservice To The Ingenuity of the Developers & Gamers Who Run AMD Cards

AMD’s Robert Hallock finds fault with Nvidia’s developer program.

Posted By | On 14th, Jan. 2015 Under News


AMD and Nvidia have never really seen eye-to-eye on many issues. Nvidia felt that the newest generation of consoles were already outdated, while AMD…well, AMD’s technology was used in the PS4 and Xbox One. To say things are less than agreeable between the two graphics card manufacturers is an understatement.

However, Radeon Graphics’ Robert Hallock – who handles – technical communications believes there’s significant reason to be annoyed about Nvidia Gameworks. Meant as an add-on for Nvidia users and capable of enabling many Nvidia-specific features, Hallock believes it does a great disservice to AMD consumers.

“AMD already makes game-enhancing graphics samples available for free in our public graphics SDK. Mantle was conceived to one day be a public SDK. Keeping this material free and open ensures that gamers can receive code from the developer that’s been vetted against, and optimized for, all industry hardware,” he said to GamingBolt.

“The same cannot be said for Gameworks, which remains a mystery to developers unless they commit to a special license for which there are no public details.”

Hallock brings up some pretty good points. How often is it that AMD users are stuck with a less optimized experience due to preference for Gameworks? “Let’s be very clear: to date, Gameworks code has been forced to run on all graphics vendors – it is not isolated to Nvidia customers. Isn’t it disturbing that all of the Gameworks-enabled titles to date have not offered similar optimizations for AMD Radeon customers and have forced these customers to run code optimized for a different product, often at a penalty?

“That is a disservice to the significant percentage of the gaming public that runs AMD Radeon graphics, and it’s a disservice to the ingenuity of the developers.”

What are your thoughts on Hallock’s stance? Let us know in the comments below.

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  • d0x360

    Game works is the worst thing the industry has seen in years. Historically speaking (amd still does this) any time advancement is made in graphics via api/software optimization or tricks like tressfx or fur shading etc the companies will let the world benefit and release the code. That way all devs and gamers can benefit. nVidia on the other hand, through game works has been closing source on everything they make for a few years now whether its something like more efficient AA or a new way to do lighting etc. Then nvidia literally pays developers to use game works which is a collection of these technologies. When that happens the games run horrible on ati hardware because they then need to use brute force power to achieve the same results. And AMD card might spec wise be identical or even better than an nvidia card but it will offer 10-20% lower performance in games. Its absurd.

    It also hurts console gamers. Since every console is running AMD hardware none of these trucks work on them lowering graphical quality and efficiency. That’s one of the main reasons console makers create custom api and tool sets for developers to use.

    AMD usually finds work arounds for the issues and puts them in driver updates but it can take weeks and generally ends up disabling the new visual features that the game has enabled through game works.

    • Collin Schroeder

      I’ve been a strict nvidia owner since my TNT2 Ultra and I totally agree with you. closing off the APIs will get them to the same place glide got Voodoo.

      Nvidia is a hardware company with a head start in software. Pimping proprietary APIs (even if they are better) is a poisonous distraction that alienates their product from the ecosystem.

    • d0x360

      I dont think it needs to be said that its better for their short term business to close down everything.

      The problem is for long term business, growth, and health of the entire gaming industry, keeping things they make advancement on secret is horrible.
      The gaming industry got where it is because of open sharing of technology and ideas. The rapid advancement of visuals and physics technology in gaming would not be where it is today if companies acted like nvidia.

      So yes if you want to make some extra short term cash then what nvidia is doing is great. If you want to grow the industry and ensure long term success it isn’t.

      When we talk short term it literally means weeks to months before AMD comes out with a game works work around. So instead of the company being able to focus on growing the industry and developing new interesting technology they have to focus on coding around nvidias bs antics.

      Who pays the biggest price? Gamers do. Developers aren’t fans of game works for a reason.

    • NuttyTheSquirrel

      Weeks to months?

      It is not like NVIDIA came up with GameWorks last year.

      PhysX exists since 2004 and GameWorks is just their way of talking about everything that is “NVIDIA exclusive”. Things like WaveWorks, HairWorks, Turbulence, FlameWorks, FaceWorks, VisualFX, OptiX, PhysX, FleX, etc.

      The secret is on their GPU. NVIDIA is in the GPU business, so it only makes sense to not give your “discovery” to your opponent.

    • d0x360

      You misunderstood. I’m not implying game works itself takes AMD weeks to months to replicate. I’m talking about individual new technology and techniques that are rolled into gameworks.

      Again nobody is arguing it doesn’t make BUSINESS sense for nvidia to do this. The problem is it only makes sense for nvidia. It hurts everyone who isn’t nvidia. The industry has always supported itself with new technology. Often licensing said technology to other developers. Nobody is saying they should just give this stuff away. They worked on it and deserve to benefit from it. The issue is nvidia doesn’t allow anyone to use their technology which slows down forward progress for everyone.

      You can disagree with me all day long if you want. The development community however agrees game works is bad for the industry.

    • NuttyTheSquirrel

      Yes, but “this industry” is just NVIDIA and AMD.

      Devs themselves can do the same thing for their games, the it takes a really long time to develop something like FlameWorks, and it won’t run good in every machine, that’s why they don’t make things like that.

      And NVIDIA will not give their “formula” to AMD.

      I understand your point. It would be amazing to see things like PhysX’s destruction everywhere without having much of a hit on frame-rate, specially the “cloth tearing” feature.

      And the development community says GameWorks is bad for the industry because AMD GPUs are on consoles. If the consoles had NVIDIA GPUs nobody would really care. But since they have AMD’s, consoles can’t support GameWorks’ technologies.

      They fail to give enough points to prove why it is bad. If NVIDIA didn’t create GameWorks, we would be exactly where we are now. So it isn’t bad. So what they are trying to say is that it is only good for NVIDIA… But GameWorks itself isn’t bad for the industry. And AMD is always whining about it, but look at games like Batman. They run amazingly well on both GPUs, although they are “on NVIDIA’s side”.

      The other part is Ubisoft games, and again, AMD whines about them. But Unity still runs better on AMD machines, which is just stupid.

      Ubisoft doesn’t care about the PC community. And almost no dev uses GameWork’s technology expect for Ubisoft or Unreal Engine games.

    • d0x360

      If only that were true. OK so nvidia creates a new technique for let’s say ambient occlusion. Now nvidia shoves that into GameWorks so now nobody can use it unless they use game works. In the past things like this would be open for all possibly with a license fee on the code. nvidia does it backwards. They will go out to publishers who control all the money and say hey we have this new thing and it will make your game be able to do this and this. Then nvidia effectively pays that publisher via license discount if they ONLY support GameWorks technology.

      So then we have a situation where the developer is making a game that will be totally optimized for an nvidia card and break visual quality and performance on an ati card. Still we are OK there is nothing inherently wrong yet.

      The problem comes when nvidia will refuse to license the technology to any competitor. In effect nvidia is using their position as market leader to allow them to get away with anti competitive business practices. They skirt a fine legal line with this one.

      So a game launches with this new techniques and then AMD is in a mad scramble to try and code their own driver optimizations without having access to the games libraries. Generally speaking GPU makers get access to libraries so they can tune drivers but the license of GameWorks prevents this. This is the really shady area. Its perfectly fine that nvidia invented something and has a leg up and first mover advantage but its not OK to deny AMD a fair chance.

      Even if AMD ignores the new technology in the game created by nvidia they can’t even gain access to things that used to be openly available for optimization. Even If the game isn’t using anything new it will still run worse by default.

      To overly simplify it would be like a town asking 2 separate companies to develop a new method for deicing roads but telling company 2 they aren’t allowed to use ice in their testing even though there is no patent on ice.

    • NuttyTheSquirrel

      They close it because they waste a shit-ton of money on the devs that do this. It only makes sense… It’s a business after all.

      Not only that, but it is something that is not needed to play the game. So whining about it is just stupid. You do not need to enable those features to play the game.

  • pterois

    AMD is a joke! They should stop making excuses and get their act together. Otherwise they won’t last much longer something that will have a very negative impact to the PC market.

    • Realkman666

      *Buys Nvidia GTX 980 in December, GTX 980Ti in March.*

    • pterois

      GTX 980Ti is not coming out in March and no I won’t be buying it. Worthy upgrades would be the GTX Titan II and the R9 390X and neither will be available before summer. What I buy has nothing to do with AMD’s state and there is no denying that they are and have been in the red for quite some time.

    • Realkman666

      Oh no, it’s nowhere near that bad.

    • Edward Turvey

      Gameworks doesn’t even give AMD a chance to “get their act together”. According to Nvidia, developers can, under certain licensing circumstances, gain access to (and optimize) the GameWorks code, but cannot share that code with AMD for optimization purposes. AMD basically have to wait for the game to release and then reverse engineer it to work better with their hardware. By the time that’s done and the driver is released, the game’s release hype has vanished and performance review articles on the game show AMD cards struggling to run it.

    • pterois

      Gameworks is the result of some very talented work and millions in r&d, providing a better visual experience on nvidia hardware.
      If they choose not to share the code it’s understandable as is the developers’ choice to implement Gameworks into their games.
      It’s sad that this leaves AMD at a disadvantage.

    • Edward Turvey

      Sad yet completely avoidable. Nvidia could make their Gameworks source code public like AMD did with TressFX and they could rely on the strength of their hardware. If they truly have the best GPUs and the best drivers on the market right now then they could prove it on an equal playing field.
      The fact that devs condone this behavior is, quite frankly, disgusting.

    • Shahnewaz Ahmed

      Wait, you write for WCCFTech? And you make comments like this???

    • Archie Paras

      That was quite a while ago, I was in a bad state of mind because of a medical condition. I was referring to AMD’s business practices and not about the quality of their products. Since then several changes have been made within AMD’s structure which will hopefully bring on some positive results. I have nothing against AMD, I am eagerly waiting for the 390X and I am getting two of them.

  • Guest

    While this may be true (I perceive nvidia’s ways as simply another business strategy which can be seen as uncomptetitive by some), AMD always finds a way to play the beaten wife when they simply fail on their own merits as well. It’s no surprise that 3 top executives just left last week because even the consoles aren’t enough to keep the business afloat and they are lagging behind Intel and nvidia in such a fashion that they cannot compete on any front at all anymore.
    It’s sad, around the Athlon XP days they truly gave Intel a run for their money, but these days, they’re practically has been and the hare has become the tortoise.

    • Psionicinversion

      i think the 3xx series and the Zen CPU need to properly drop a bomb shell on them although a rumored 300watt TDP on the 390x is a bit un nerving

  • Intel999

    It isn’t shocking that Nvidia uses Gameworks to provide an advantage to those that use their hardware. What is shocking is the fact that there are developers that are willing to hamper the performance of their own titles on the consoles due to their alignment with Gameworks. All gaming software companies derive the majority of sales from consoles, not PCs. Just seems completely illogical.

    • Psionicinversion

      Im pretty sure gameworks is only added to the PC version, console have no nvidia related features whatsoever added to them

    • pterois

      Certain Gameworks technologies can be used on consoles but it’s up to nvidia to allow it. CD Project RED mentioned this regarding the Witcher 3. Having their tech on consoles can be beneficial for nvidia but it could depend on specific relationships and developers.

    • Himmat Singh

      Are you insane? Gameworks is NOT used on consoles.

  • Axe99

    Totally agree with Hallock, Nvidia are trying to lock out AMD from PC gaming, a big selling point for which is its openness. Nvidia have been acting quite petulantly of late – arrogant and assertive. Not sure it’s the best long-term move on their part.

    • Realkman666

      Most PC gamers are very happy with the monopolistic atittudes of Valve, Intel and Nvidia. They will cry later, of course, but right now I don’t see this hurting Nvidia too much.

    • Axe99

      The big danger they’re walking into is if they got too much like consoles, then do something that gets people off-side, it could push people that have moved to PC back to console again (it’s all a bit incestuous at the moment – as it was the console-isation of PC gaming by Steam that has helped in its resurgence, but it still needs to tread a fine line to make sure it doesn’t lose touch with its PC roots. Consoles, on the other hand, are picking up more of PC’s bad habits (higher numbers of bugs and patches), and if they go too far down that path it’ll push more console gamers to PC).

    • Realkman666

      You are totally correct. DRM-free games still allow some kind of freedom when dealing with my games, but the big platforms lock you out of way too many things now. I’ve always liked consoles, but if they’re going to act like an underpowered and problematic PC, they lose the appeal they had left.

      I don’t even mind Steam and use it for cheap games at “rental prices”, but to see the whole PC market move over to that kind of gated experience is depressing.

  • Himmat Singh

    Are Gameworks and Mantle not the same? The EU should come down hard on these two.

    • NuttyTheSquirrel

      No. Mantle is the alternative to DirectX, while GameWorks is just something to make the game look prettier.

    • deSSy2724

      Mantle is the alternative to Direct3D (low level API vs high level API) and Direct3D is part of DirectX. But DirectX 12 will be low level.

  • TheChosen

    I would say- Nvidia Cards are just different. The way nvidia graphic-cards work is not the same as AMD-Cards. And this literally means: If Nvidia writes their own Driver, it will ONLY work on nvidia-cards.

    But its just pathetic to say “mimimimi- trolololol- why can`t nvidia work with us”? Just answer yourself this question, amd: WHY DO YOU FAIL WITH MAKING CPUs?
    The answer is: Ist you. its your Business, you decided to make cheap cpu instead of good ones. And thats how it goes. You can complain all you want it won`t help you. nvidia is just not interested in working with you, AMD, because they are not you. its just Business to have more Options.
    If you want compatible engines, you have to make DEALS with Nvidia. But These will cost you Money. As allways that is, when you make a deal. it will allways cost you some Money. Just ask yourself this question: Why should Nvidia make their graphic-card tech compatible with yours? AMD is simple-minded tech and just works like the following:
    => just put more shaders on the Cards. Thats it. Thats how it goes. And then you make it smaller and it still Needs more energy and burns faster down.
    That is not the way graphic-cards of 2015 should be. See what Nvidia does? They are doing the same what Nintendo does: Making the Cards not only smaller, but using more efficient tech to enable things which cannot work on other tech. Their shaders are more complex, have more so called “Routers” to spread the work to all shaders (which means the Efficiency rises)- and therefore don`t Need 4000 shaders on a single graphic-card, which burns down 400 watts.

    Oh and another Thing: My next graphics-Card will be an Nvidia-one! I had enough from AMD.

  • abundantcores

    The way AMD could get around this is to lock console drivers so that if Developers want to use Games Works they have to go through AMD if they want the Game to run on consoles.
    That way AMD would either need access to the Games Works Libraries or they would have to tell developers “Sorry, Nvidia are refusing access so we can’t do anything with it”

  • hvd hvd

    that s why i play games on console.they just work.


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