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EA snubs sports lovers but tosses AMD fans a bone with next-gen PC gaming plans

EA says most modern gaming rigs can't handle the company's EA Sports Ignite engine

EA Sports will continue to give PC gamers the cold shoulder, at least until the average gaming rig gets good enough to support the company's Ignite engine.

On Sony's Playstation 4 and Microsoft's Xbox One, Ignite will be the backbone of all next-generation EA Sports titles, including Madden NFL 25, FIFA 14, NBA Live 14, and EA Sports UFC. Out of all these games, FIFA 14 is the only one that EA will release for PC, and the PC version won't use the Ignite engine.

Andrew Wilson, executive vice president of EA Sports, explained to Polygon that most gaming PCs currently aren't powerful enough to support Ignite. In addition, Ignite was designed specifically around the architecture of the PS4 and Xbox One, including "how the CPU, GPU and RAM work together in concert in that type of environment."

As Polygon put it, EA Sports wants a bigger base of PC gamers to work with before even considering an investment in PC support for the Ignite engine. Wilson did say there's a chance EA could translate Ignite to PC in the future.

The hardware inside the Xbox One and Playstation 4 isn't exactly high-end. A recent comparison by PCWorld's Brad Chacos found that the PS4's tech specs are roughly equal to a low-end CPU and a mid-range GPU.

But that's only by today's standards. Considering that most people purchased PCs in years past, and don't replace their PC graphics cards every year, Wilson's claim seems reasonable. For example, the Steam hardware survey shows integrated Intel graphics and older graphics cards being far more popular than newer GPUs.

Besides, Ignite is so heavily optimized for specific game console architecture that more powerful PC hardware could be required to achieve the same performance. A similar "heterogeneous system architecture" will also be found AMD's upcoming Kaveri APUs for PCs, though likely in less powerful form than in gaming consoles.

The bigger question is whether EA Sports will ever pay more attention to PC gaming, with or without Ignite support. The company hasn't released a Madden or NBA Live game for PC since 2007, with the company blaming piracy and general lack of demand for sports games on PC. If Ignite support comes to PC, it could open the door to easier ports of EA Sports games, but right now EA isn't making any promises.

AMD gets some Frostbite love

At least PC gamers are getting some love from EA's non-sports titles. This week, EA announced that all games running on its Frostbite 3 engine will ship optimized for AMD Radeon graphics cards on PC. Frostbite 3 will be used in upcoming games like Battlefield 4 and Need for Speed Rivals, so owners of AMD graphics cards may get a slight performance edge over PCs with Nvidia GeForce cards.

The good news for Nvidia graphics card owners is that the collaboration between EA and AMD isn't exclusive, so EA can still work on optimizations for GeForce graphics cards before these games launch. AMD said in a statement that it "makes sense that game developers would focus on AMD hardware with AMD hardware being the backbone of the next console generation."

PCWorld's Brad Chacos contributed to this report.


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