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Electronic Arts recently came under a fair amount of derision from the PC gaming crowd. The reason? A rather brash statement by EA Vice President Andrew Wilson.

‘Even though there were some PCs on the marketplace that could run that engine, the lion’s share of PCs on the marketplace could not,’ Wilson said, speaking on the new EA Sports engine (Ignite). ‘And the majority of the gamer base that was playing the game on PC did not have a PC spec that would work with that.’

This statement was immediately met with outright hostility across every forum and comment page, with PC gamers pointing out (rightly so) that the so-called next-generation consoles are actually midrange PCs at best. To add more fuel to the fire, there’s the fact that the Xbox, PS4 and PC are all x86-based systems, and therefore getting a game to run on all three should be easy as pie.  Comments, as one can see, are quite negative:

I do not have a TOP computer like some projects that we can see in the projects section, but my specs are superior than the specs of these new generation consoles. EA claims new consoles as power PCs???? Do they know what a power PC is?

Definitely an approach to sell new consoles, after 1/2 years I would like to know if EA has the same opinion…
Moreover their stupid store as far as I know is not as used as steam, so I do not know if this is an approach to kill PC gaming and on-line stores.”

“Is that not the point of printing the minimum specifications on the game’s box ? do people not bother reading them now or something ?
Bloody EA slowly but surely killing off gaming !”

“Biggest load of bull i have heard next to games on consoles running 2x the performance of a comparable pc
the carmack tweet was for specific graphics functions when you read the whole interview compared to dx9 but in the whole program its never near 2x when optimised for the hardware if they can even make the game that well optimised..

the fact the ps4 and x180 are low end cpu’s with mid range gpu’s and they initially make the games on pc in the first place makes this bull.”

“Sounds like an excuse for bad programming.”

Quite negative, indeed. My first reaction is and was to jump in with the bandwagon and full-out hate on EA. Considering that any decent gaming PC these days can match and exceed a console, there seems to be no reason for this “buy a console” crapfest.

That’s where the kicker sets in.

A “decent gaming pc” by our standards is not the norm.
In fact, it’s far from it. The gaming/enthusiast PC market is small. Maybe 10% of PC users are power users with proper hardware. These are the legions of avid enthusiasts who post their rigs on hardforums, diss AMD octa-core processors as small cheese and play every game that comes out on 1080p at 60 FPS.

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But this isn’t the majority of the PC users. The other 90% are not on Ivy or Haswell or Piledriver. They’re rocking 5-year old hardware that was barely midrange at the time of purchase. I myself know several good friends who run rigs that seem almost ancient to an enthusiast: Intel Core 2 Duos paired with Radeon X1600 graphics cards. Being in a first-world country doesn’t change this fact. Most people live off midrange laptops or outdated PCs: that’s a fact. Not everybody can or will upgrade every two years. Not everybody games at Ultra.  The average PC spec may indeed be holding down efforts to craft a more realistic or feature-packed engine. To this 90%, a console is indeed a powerful system at a decent price. Add direct access to the hardware layer, reduced software overheads and you’re no doubt in for one hell of a gorgeous experience.

So you’re right, EA: the average PC cannot run Ignite. Hell, the average PC can’t run Minecraft on high.

But that is still no excuse for not putting out a PC version. Those 10% of PC gamers? They’re a huge majority, and with machines that can trample consoles flat any day, you’re looking at nothing but profits by porting Ignite to the PC. After all, it’s not like they’re radically different architectures anymore. The PS3 and Xbox 360 were Cell and PowerPC architectures respectively: not nightmares to port to and from. This time around it’s all x86. That’s as common a denominator as you can get.  Even if computational workload is holding you back? Well, that’s no reason not to give a more detailed explanation. How about “We’re sorry, guys, but a Core 2 Duo won’t cut it?” We all know that bullshit about consoles being the next-gen supercomputers ain’t going to cut it anymore. They’re barely current-gen as is.

The only plausible explanation I can think of is if EA is utilizing the GCN architecture of Radeon graphics inside the new consoles to function as compute units. These could run Ai, physics, whatever goes. In this case – and only in this case – am I prepared to concede that it makes little sense to port to a PC: there’s too many possible configs and variables to get things ship-shape. Either that, or you’ve lost faith in your own franchise: you don’t think EA Sports can cut it on the PC anymore.

But if not – if this Ignite engine is just another calculation system at its heart, using the CPU and GPU separately like everything else before it – then EA, go fuck yourselves, ’cause you’re just full of bullshit.