i need it because i am not sure if the games i am testing are 7.1 or 5.1. i have 7.1 audio/video files and i have the same problem with that, but i need to test something that isn't being outputted through a media player so i can eliminate that as probable cause.
i have looked online and am getting mixed answers like Batman arkham city being 7.1 on Console and only 5.1 on PC. so i need a list so i am certain with what i am testing is 7.1. i have tested Skyrim and borderlands 2 and there only running in 5.1 as well so i need to know if it's the game or my system doing it and i did configure my speakers to run in 7.1 in the windows sound options.
You've tagged "pc gaming" in this so I assume you're mostly concerned about the PC side of things, which my page covers. I'm also somewhat familiar with consoles as I have a Wii and 360 but not a PS3. I see that a link to the PlayStation site was posted and I've seen that before. The information there seems to line up with what I've found on the PC counterpart of some of those games.
The 360 absolutely does NOT support any 7.1 output; at its best, it only bitstreams Dolby Digital 5.1 which is inferior to the PS3's ability to use multichannel PCM over HDMI. The PS3 is capable of 7.1 output in games and movies but that all depends on the game being programmed to utilize that many speakers and the movie audio being encoded in an 8-channel format. Some PS3 games will be 7.1 while others will be limited to less speakers due to how the programmer decided to program the game.
Many people don't understand the difference between discrete surround sound and virtual surround sound so you'll have people saying that a game supports 7.1 surround because their 7.1 headset or their 7.1 speakers are outputting sound in all speakers but they might be using virtual surround which will upmix any audio source (mono/stereo/5.1) to all eight speakers. That's not the correct way to get surround sound from games. The correct way is to disable any matrixing or virtual surround to get a clean output.
You mentioned Skyrim, Arkham City, and Borderlands 2; I'm familiar with all of these. Skyrim uses an audio engine (XAudio2) that is capable of 7.1 surround but it only uses 5.1 surround probably because they didn't program the game to detect anything over 6 speakers. They could fix this but they probably won't. Arkham City and Borderlands 2 use an audio engine (Wwise) that is actually limited to 5.1 surround by design; I guess they see no reason to have 7.1 as an option. As I write this, any game that uses Wwise for its audio engine will be strictly limited to a max of 5.1 channels.
Also note that some PC games don't even use that 0.1 (subwoofer/LFE) channel. Borderlands 2 PC doesn't use the subwoofer channel; again, something that was probably overlooked in programming that will never be fixed since audio takes a back seat. You can redirect audio to the subwoofer either using your receiver, sound card software, or an HDMI connection as opposed to direct analog connections.