A friend of mine showed me an article on DualShcokers about Directx 12. I wanted to address some points about how Phil Spencer has minimized the expectations of Directx 12, and why this was a smart move on his end even if it confuses consumers.
1.) It is true that I have said Directx 12 is going to revolutionize the Xbox.
It is, and this is a prediction. The word “revolutionize” has no measurement just yet. But I have also made sure that I give everyone a concrete prediction as to my meaning of “revolutionize”. For example, I have said that Xbox One graphics will become superior to PS4. This is a very unambiguous prediction. But this prediction will not come to fruition until 2015 – the year when we’ll start to see examples of this (Halo 5 and Crackdown being the first examples). I have also made the prediction – in addition to Xbox One graphics becoming superior beyond PS4 – that game CONTEXT and breadth will be vastly superior to the PS4 in scale. There is already a small example of this in the racing games. (Simply Google the differences between PS4’s DriveClub and Xbox One’s Forza Horizon 2 and you will see that the complexity of Forza is beyond DriveClub in quality). Regarding Directx 12, I have accumulated so many predictions on my Facebook that I’m going to eat crow (and never make video game predictions again) if I’m wrong about this.
(I won’t be).
2.) The title of the article I am referencing is “Xbox Boss Talks Xbox One’s Cloud, Backwards Compatibility and Gives a Honest Answer on DirectX 12“. I believe this article was a good choice in showcasing where the public’s perception of Directx 12 lies. Some have touted Directx 12 as a miracle that will double the power of the Xbox One’s GPU. And when Phil Spencer – an Xbox Executive – curbs this viewpoint, it definitely seems refreshing to those who are incredulous of Directx 12’s power. Here is why I believe Phil was brilliant in the misleading aspects of his answer.
a.) Directx 12 isn’t out yet. The worst thing an executive can do with regards to SECRET technology is to tout it. I say “secret” because Directx is truly a Microsoft created API which almost every developer on earth uses. But although a Microsoft executive shouldn’t tout secret-sauce technology, fans and audience members can. For a business executive to do, however, is bad business because there are NDA (non disclosure agreements) that are preventing much of what he MIGHT say from being said. Consider how many times Microsoft has been sued for anti-trust issues (which I believe were all hogwash from the start). Might Sony one day sue Microsoft for using Directx 12 and changing the competitive landscape by fighting a software battle (for which Sony is unequipped) to a hardware one? If the Xbox One starts to show significant superiority? I didn’t need anything else except the data on 3D Mark to give me enough to go from. This is the article that convinced me about Directx 12: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/directx/archive/2014/03/20/directx-12.aspx – specifically see : “3DMark – Multi-thread scaling + 50% better CPU utilization”. They are not lying about this test.
b.) Directx 12 was never supposed to INCREASE graphics. That is not it’s job. That is the job of the developers. So technically, through legal term-strategy, Phil was right on the money, while still misleading those who wish to validate their notion that the Xbox One is inferior. Phil was right on. Directx 12 is about reducing overhead on the CPU. But incidentally, freeing up that CPU time can allow games to spend more time on the amount of varied content, or even improved graphics instead of spending those precious milliseconds on things like AI. In fact, Artificial Intelligence in gaming takes up resources and this is one area where cloud computing has already proven useful. But keep in mind this is just the tip of the iceberg. Phil was brilliant in saying that Directx 12 (in and of itself) doesn’t improve graphics – because it doesn’t. I think a quick analogy might be helpful. If any of you disagree with my anaology, I would like to hear your comments.
Consider that if PS4 and Xbox One represented two weightlifters, PS4 would be the stronger of the two. Xbox One cannot not lift the same amount of weight as his older brother Sony (Sony was founded in 1946 / Microsoft in 1975) but he can lift a smaller amount of weight more quickly (a.k.a – the fast eSRAM). What Directx 12 is going to do for Xbox One is REDUCE the amount of weight he is lifting while losing absolutely nothing with regards to the substance within the weights. In other words…..PS4 will always be able to lift 100lbs against the Xbox One’s 70lbs; but with Directx 12, those 70lbs now become 50lbs – all with the same substance and material that existed in the 70lbs. Xbox One doesn’t get stronger, he just picks up a different set of lighter weights which have all of the same qualities, material, algorithms and context that existed in the 70lbs. This leaves a HUGE amount of space for developers to to design. This is why Direct X 12 was said to be a breakthrough that would allow game developers to work “closer to the metal”.
Phil Spencer is misleading everyone who believes that graphics won’t improve on the Xbox One. But he’s isn’t wrong if he’s talking about how the hardware will not become more powerful because of Directx 12. No, unfortunately the only thing Direct X 12 will do is be a new tool for developers. And developers themselves will improve the graphics.
The next post I make will be with regards to latency issues, which is a roadblock for cloud gaming infrastructures to tackle – not give up on.