Dog fighting: Nvidia and AMD clash over Watch Dogs and GameWorks

Nvidia vs AMD

Watch Dogs is now out; here’s our Watch Dogs review.

The rivalry between Nvidia and AMD continues, and it’s now getting rather dramatic. AMD’s Robert Hallock is suggesting that Nvidia’s GameWorks program, which was most recently taken advantage of by Ubisoft for Watch Dogs, represents a “clear and present threat” to the PC gaming ecosystem. 

The program, which offers developers a range of graphical features and wizardry, threatens gamers by “crippling” AMD products, Hallock told Forbes. Not a minor accusation. 

The issue isn’t just Nvidia offering greater graphical fidelity and stability in games that use the program, said Hallock. It’s worse than that. “Participation in the Gameworks program often precludes the developer from accepting AMD suggestions that would improve performance directly in the game code—the most desirable form of optimization.”

Nvidia is making it difficult for AMD to even source or fix problems thanks to a lack of transparency. “The code obfuscation makes it difficult to perform our own after-the-fact driver optimizations, as the characteristics of the game are hidden behind many layers of circuitous and non-obvious routines,” said Hallock. “This change coincides with NVIDIA’s decision to remove all public Direct3D code samples from their site in favor of a ‘contact us for licensing’ page. AMD does not engage in, support, or condone such activities.

Yesterday, Nvidia’s Cem Cebenoyan, Director of Engineering responded to the accusations. “I’ve heard that before from AMD and it’s a little mysterious to me. We don’t and we never have restricted anyone from getting access as part of our agreements. Not with Watch Dogs and not with any other titles.”

Watch Dogs brought this issue to the fore with reports that AMD players were suffering from a slew of issues.

“Our agreements focus on interesting things we’re going to do together to improve the experience for all PC gamers and of course for Nvidia customers,” Cebenoyan continued. “We don’t have anything in there restricting anyone from accessing source code or binaries. Developers are free to give builds out to whoever they want. It’s their product.”

Cebenoyan denied any obfuscation, explaining that AMD not being able to access a game’s source code should not affect optimisation. “You don’t need source code of the game itself to do optimization for those games. AMD’s been saying for awhile that without access to the source code it’s impossible to optimize. That’s crazy.”

Cheers, Forbes.