We sat down with the senior director of Consumer and Graphics Alliances at AMD to discuss the state of the PC gaming market, what work it does with developers and what the future holds with the next gen consoles on the horizon next year.
Both AMD and Nvidia have their own marketing support for the PC gaming industry, Nvidia through its "The Way it's Meant to be Played" setup and AMD through its "Gaming Evolved" platform.
Both involve the exchange of money, via marketing support, and staff to help developers get the most out of different hardware. And also to help them create a better experience with the extra gaming horsepower available over the decrepit current generation of console hardware.
"What we try to do is financially incentivise some of the titles to go that extra route to really make the games look good and really take advantage of features, especially on our hardware," says Robison.
Letting developers decide what's best
But that doesn't always follow that the game will necessarily run better on AMD graphics cards. "In fact in some cases we've optimised a title and it actually runs better on Nvidia, because a lot of it is just DX11 stuff that just happens to. We know certain texture formats that might run better on ours than their's, but the developers make that choice."
"The last thing we want to do is get to the point where we start dictating how they develop their title. That doesn't do anyone any good. It just doesn't make sense," says Robison.
"The thing that angers me the most is when I see a request to debilitate a game. I understand winning, I get that, and I understand aggressive companies, I get that. Why would you ever want to introduce a feature on purpose that would make a game not good for half the gaming audience?"
"This is something that we just won't do, and it's difficult because that would be the easiest way to go, absolutely the easiest way to go. That's the easiest way to kill the market, the easiest way to destroy the PC gaming audience. The one that we need, the one that we want, and to be honest - we're all gamers - the one that we love. We could quickly destroy the whole market by just getting into that."
Trying to save the PC gaming market
The last thing any of us want is to have the PC gaming market suffer, especially at a time when the console market has stagnated and the announcements of the next gen consoles next year will only give the PC an even clearer lead as support moves away from the current gen.
But what of those next generation consoles? Will we see consoles with the performance lead over the PC that we saw with the 360 and PS3? Inevitably Robison wouldn't answer that, for fear of getting into lots of trouble with, well, everyone.
But he did say "it would be foolish to just catch up. Given how hard the PC industry, both Nvidia and us - and Intel - how hard we pushed to get costs down, to make it so they can put more power in there."
"When you do that though you impact what it costs to develop a game. Just because it moves trillions of triangles around that means someone has got to go in there and create those. You've got to be really careful that just throwing power in [next-gen consoles] doesn't necessarily drive the development costs up."
"That's another way to ruin the industry, by just making it so expensive that only the big studios just do a small number of very safe titles. The Hollywood effect. You've got to be really careful about balancing that."