AMD slams ‘tragic’ Nvidia GameWorks: “It even typically damages the performance on Nvidia hardware”

AMD’s gaming scientist Richard Huddy has launched a scathing attack on rival chip maker Nvidia.

Speaking to PCR in an open and frank interview about the state of the industry – which will be published in full in our upcoming September issue – we asked Huddy for his thoughts on Nvidia’s GameWorks graphics technology.

GameWorks allows games developers to use a library of graphics tools – including HairWorks and Soft Shadows – but some owners of AMD graphics cards have complained of poor performance when running GameWorks titles, such as Project Cars, on their machines.

"If it was just that, then people could say: ‘I’ll take my choice and turn it off if I’m with AMD and leave it on if I’m with Nvidia. But I think it’s more negative than that – and I’ll point to two facts here," Richard Huddy told PCR.

"Number one: Nvidia Gameworks typically damages the performance on Nvidia hardware as well, which is a bit tragic really. It certainly feels like it’s about reducing the performance, even on high-end graphics cards, so that people have to buy something new.

"That’s the consequence of it, whether it’s intended or not – and I guess I can’t read anyone’s minds so I can’t tell you what their intention is. But the consequence of it is it brings PCs to their knees when it’s unnecessary. And if you look at Crysis 2 in particular, you see that they’re tessellating water that’s not visible to millions of triangles every frame, and they’re tessellating blocks of concrete – essentially large rectangular objects – and generating millions of triangles per frame which are useless. 

He added: "Now, bringing down AMD’s performance is pretty dodgy, but when they bring down their own consumers’ performance, then it makes you wonder what they’re up to. Their QA must be appalling if it’s a mistake, and if it’s not a mistake, it makes you wonder what their motivation must be. So I think it’s very unhelpful for the business.

"If you look at the way the performance metrics come out, it’s damaging to both Nvidia’s consumers and ours, though I guess they choose it because it’s most damaging to ours. That’s my guess."

Nvidia’s head of GameWorks PR Brian Burke says Nvidia created GameWorks "to advance gaming at a faster pace", according to a lengthy report by WCCFTech

"We used to just give out code samples for effects, and we still do," he said. "But as effects became increasingly more complex, just giving away code samples was not effective. It took too long to get the effects in to games and created work for developers. So we turned our library of special effects into a middleware solution.

"It makes integration easier and allows effects to be adopted by more developers more quickly, accelerating the pace of innovation in games."

Huddy went on to suggest that PC games which support Nvidia GameWorks have lower review scores on average when compared to titles AMD have worked on, citing review aggregator site Metacritic.

"[Nvidia] don’t seem to care what the impact of GameWorks has on games either," he commented. "If you look through the Metacritic scores of the games that Nvidia works with, they’re often quite damaged by the Gameworks inclusion, or at least the games themselves don’t score as well as you’d hope. 

"So I think it’s unhealthy for PC gaming. And I wish they would go back to the way everyone else develops their SDKs – give it a source code, let the games developer work with it as they see fit, and let us take the industry as a whole forward. That would be a better place to play."

AMD recently launched its 300-series R7 and R9 graphics cards as well as its high-end Fury cards.

PCR has reached out to Nvidia for its reaction to Huddy’s specific comments.

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