Recently, Titanfall released. The poster child for Xbox One (despite still not really making use of that mandatory Kinect camera, and being multiplayer only), it’s certain to sell a few million this month. It’s also being released on Xbox 360 and PC, and according to recent articles, it requires about 48 GB of hard drive space to install on PC.
Similarly, Watch Dogs, Ubisoft’s newest action adventure franchise, is said to look fantastic on PC (with high settings), but requires a minimum of 6 GB of RAM, 25 GB of hard drive space, and a quad core processor to run.
These are large requirements. What happened to being able to run PC games with only 2 GB of RAM, on a Intel dual-core? Why do you need so much hard drive space, when most games used to require so much less?
Times are a ‘changing, folks. All thanks to next-gen.
This is a common pattern. Like it or not, consoles sell games, and most games are made with console requirements in mind. Now that the PS4 and XboxOne have been released, all developers are planning to take advantage of that new hardware. With over 4 GB of available high-speed RAM for gaming, and graphics processors rivaling mid-range cards capable of high-end PC gaming, these machines are a well-deserved upgrade compared to roughly half a GB of RAM and graphics from generations ago in last-gen systems.
But that’s consoles. PC are the big boys, the heavy hitters, as any fanboy online will tell you. But for last-generation games, they would require (on high settings) hardware similar to what the PS4 and XboxOne have today. What will happen now that these consoles are considered minimum spec? How will PC games have to upgrade?
Naturally, expect PCs to need at least 8 GB of RAM, quad-core processors, and $300+ graphics cards just to open a game in the next couple of years. Consoles will be impressive for the next few years, but PC will surpass this soon. And if you haven’t upgraded your rig recently, you will have to.
Indies can appreciate this as well. I predicted this upgrade in hardware requirements, and plan to use it in my games since this should be the norm by the time I release anything. My games currently require nearly 4 GB of RAM due to uncompressed 2D HD animation frames, and a GB per character for similar reasons. This art style wouldn’t be possible without such hardware, one of the reasons why I think this style has never been done. And yes, this is after optimizations were made (some further optimizations at expense to quality has since been done, but is quickly replaced when adding a second or third animated character in the scene…). And this is just in the visual department… gamers have been saying for years that the new upgrade in hardware would allow for much better AI, which I eagerly look forward to. That is, hoping that some developer actually makes any advances in game artificial intelligence, else I would feel obliged to give it a try myself, seeing as both animation and AI are my two biggest passions in gaming. But I’m getting ahead of myself…
While big developers take advantage of new hardware, lower end indies can probably take advantage of the situation. Focusing on gameplay first, we’ve seen some fantastic stuff run on mobile or the OUYA, which are still lacking in the computation department. For a period when some gamers will try to stretch out their old PC’s lifespan, they’ll turn to smaller games, and indie devs can sell well during the next year or two.
Just remember to treat the new generation and the new requirements with respect. Use resources wisely, to make your games the best they can be to the widest audience. I look forward to the games we see in the future.