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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

AMD PC Gaming Initiative unveiled

“We are really excited about this. This is a step forward for PC gaming.”

For many, buying a personal computer can be a daunting experience. What is the CPU and what effect does it have on the system? Or for that matter, what is the GPU?

AMD is about to make the task of buying a PC a lot easier. It’s called the AMD Game Experience and it is an initiative that will set up standards and act as a guide for people who wish to combine the idea of getting the most machine possible and at the right price.

GameZone sat down with Brent Barry, gaming strategist for AMD, to chat about this.

“The gaming market is growing absolutely explosively,” Barry stated. “More and more people are saying they are planning to play video games (with their PCs). The problem is that a lot of PCs are not equipped to play games.”

Before detailing the nuances of the AMD plan, Barry tossed out a few numbers. The PC Gaming Alliance estimates that there are 263 million PC gamers worldwide, and more people that are planning on a PC purchase have admitted that playing games will be a factor in the machine they eventually buy. This creates a bit of a problem simply because most people would not know a CPU (central processing unit) from a GPU (graphics processing unit) and the way the two interplay to render out the type of experience they are looking for?

Studies have shown that casual gamers play at 1024x758 resolution, which is considered to be on the lower end of the gaming graphics totem pole, while mainstream users play at medium visual quality (about 1440x900 to about 1600x1200) and hardcore play at 1920x1200.

“As consumers are going into buy a PC, they don’t know what to look for,” Barry said. “Really the only indicator people have today is price. At the end of the day, the problem is … when that consumer has a bad experience with the software, business suffers.”

“The industry is incredible, but the PC is just not doing the job we need it to do to make it a better, easier experience,” Barry reiterated.

“AMD Game is the solution to what we are trying to do,” he said. “No. 1, it is an ecosystem level initiative to simplify the complete PC gaming experience. No. 2, we want to enable consumers to easily identify a PC that is ready to play the latest games for Microsoft Windows (the AMD Game! Ready sticker shows that this is a balanced platform that is ready to play games).”

There are four main points to this initiative:

  • Balanced solutions

  • Compatibility (validate the functionality and end-user experience of gaming hardware & software)

  • Community (deliver value)

  • Innovation (develop innovative technology and tools that simplify and enhance gaming experience).

And the initiative is drawing Industry support.

“Who’s standing up with us?” Barry asked, rhetorically. “Microsoft, Acer, Alienware, Stardock, and others are standing up and showing support. Behind that more than 50 PC gaming industry partners standing up to say they think we are moving in the right direction.

“We feel we are in a position to push to the next level.”

Through a power-point presentation, Barry outlined some of the key phraseology guiding the idea.

Compatibility = Simplicity = Experience.

He said that the AMD Game! Ready label ensures …

  • AMD tests and verifies key hardware for compatibility with platforms and components

  • Goal is to ensure platforms can play newest and most demanding PC games

  • A balanced platform provides optimal CPU, GPU and Chipset performance at an affordable price.

In addition to certifying pre-built systems with a sticker on the box that states whether or not the machine is ready to game, AMD will extend that to supplying those who like to build their own machines with lists of component configurations to build a machine that meets its criteria. This will be handled through the AMD Web site.

“We think it is too hard to find the right PC for mainstream gaming. That is what we are trying to solve,” Barry said.

“We are really excited about this. This is a step forward for PC gaming.”

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