Electronics Arts’ Sports division has recently announced the new Ignite engine for next-gen consoles. Ignite is a different engine to their in-house-designed Frostbite and promises gamers better sports simulations and overall better performance. The company has now announced that most computers aren’t able to run it at an acceptable level.
Before Ignite was announced at E3 2013, FIFA 11 was the first soccer-related title from the publishing house that ran on the PS3, Xbox 360, the Wii and the PC platforms using the same basic engine. EA Sports re-used the game engine for the next two titles, with FIFA 13 being the last to appear on the PC platform. As of their E3 2013 announcement, development of the Ignite engine for the PC will be halted while the company waits for average hardware specifications to make a jump.
The Ignite engine is completely different and one possible reason for its exclusion from the platform is because of intense requirements that the game has for its physics engine. EA says that Ignite lets in-game players “think like real athletes”, with the ability to make snap judgments, prepare for impact, and perform as a team player.
The “True Player Motion” framework makes players’ bodies, limbs, and clothing each move according to physics and towards the end of matches the other team’s movements will grow increasingly hostile as they move to make more goals. EA has said that dropping Ignite has not changed their plans to release FIFA 14 for Apple OS X and Microsoft Windows platforms.
One possible reason for this is the game’s use of adaptive tessellation and Direct Compute to run the physics engine. Although Nvidia’s PhysX is licensed to run on both the Xbox One and PS4, both consoles are running AMD hardware. Direct Compute is the preferred method and presumably the game would be able to run pretty smoothly on a desktop PC with AMD graphics.
That means that the upcoming Kaveri GPU may well earn AMD APUs a permanent spot in hardware recommendation lists because Nvidia and Intel’s GPUs can’t run Direct Compute-related tasks as efficiently and quickly as AMD’s GCN architecture. Although it’s a similar technology to OpenCL, GCN can crunch through that code much more efficiently because AMD won’t hamper the performance of their GPUs when it comes to double-precision math.
Nvidia prefers using CUDA and PhysX for its products and aims to keep it that way. It looks like their exclusion from the console race this time round may hurt their bottom line somewhat, while Intel’s efforts to improve their HD graphics chips with Haswell and Iris may likewise go unrewarded.
This may be related to Ubisoft’s decision to delay the release of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag on the desktop. Although the company didn’t go into detail about the reason for the delay, it may be that they have to rework their engine to run with good performance on Nvidia and Intel GPUs.