Uplay issues aside, there have been numerous reports regarding performance issues with the PC version of Watch Dogs, particularly from users with AMD hardware. Fortunately, a patch is in the works that should improve things–but in the meantime, it’s sparked a heated discussion between graphics card makers AMD and Nvidia.
Watch Dogs graphics technical director Sebastien Viard has sent out a series of tweets briefly explaining what could be causing the performance issues and offering recommendations for dealing with them. “Watch Dogs can use 3+ GB of RAM on [next-gen] consoles for graphics, your PC GPU needs enough VRAM for ultra options due to the lack of unified mem[ory],” he wrote in one tweet. For those with problems, he suggested, “If you experience lag/stutter on a fast PC, try to lower one of those settings to reduce the GPU VRAM usage: texture quality, AA, resolution.”
“Making an open world run on [next-gen] & [current-gen] consoles + supporting PC is an incredibly complex task, the team did a fantastic job. Congrats guys!” he continued, before revealing work is underway on a patch: “[O]ur PC prog[rammer]s are also currently working on a patch to improve your experience thanks to your reports, stay tuned.”
Watch Dogs quickly became the fastest-selling game in publisher Ubisoft’s history when it was released this week, although the game’s launch was mired for many because of myriad technical issues. Some players had trouble downloading their preorders from the PlayStation Store, while others were unable to log in to Uplay (which on PC meant locking them out of the game altogether). The Uplay issues even extended to games other than Watch Dogs, affecting titles like Trials Fusion and Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.
The game’s performance issues on PC caused AMD to speak out this week, as the company took aim at Nvidia’s GameWorks, a toolset developers can use when building their games (Watch Dogs being one such game).
“Gameworks represents a clear and present threat to gamers by deliberately crippling performance on AMD products (40% of the market) to widen the margin in favor of NVIDIA products,” AMD’s Robert Hallock told Forbes. “Participation in the Gameworks program often precludes the developer from accepting AMD suggestions that would improve performance directly in the game code–the most desirable form of optimization.”
Hallock went on to claim Nvidia had stopped publicly sharing Direct3D code samples on its website, stating AMD takes an opposite approach when working with developers. “Our work with game developers is founded concretely in open, sharable code, all of which we make available on our developer portal,” he said.
Specifically regarding Watch Dogs, Hallock said AMD had “very limited time with the title and [we've] been able to implement some respectable performance improvements thanks to the skill of our driver engineers. Careful performance analysis with a variety of internal tools have allowed us to profile this title, despite deliberate obfuscation attempts, to improve the experience for users.”
Nvidia has responded to AMD’s allegations, denying much of what it had to say. Speaking with Forbes, Nvidia’s Cem Cebenoyan stated there’s nothing in GameWorks that deliberately harms AMD performance. He also denied AMD’s assertion that using GameWorks means developers can’t accept AMD suggestions.
“I’ve heard that before from AMD and it’s a little mysterious to me. We don’t and we never have restricted anyone from getting access as part of our agreements. Not with Watch Dogs and not with any other titles,” he said. “Our agreements focus on interesting things we’re going to do together to improve the experience for all PC gamers and of course for Nvidia customers. We don’t have anything in there restricting anyone from accessing source code or binaries. Developers are free to give builds out to whoever they want. It’s their product.”
This all comes down to a ‘he said, she said’ situation between the two companies, which have been bitter rivals for years. Both companies released updated drivers this week that include enhancements for Watch Dogs.
If you’re playing the PC version of Watch Dogs, what has your experience been like? Let us know in the comments below.