OK, so maybe sports titles don't exactly feel at home on the PC, but when EA claims that the engine behind its next-generation sports games can't run on today's PC, we have to investigate. The Frostbite 3 engine didn't seem to have any troubles cranking out visuals on Alienware desktops during E3 2013, so what's so special about the Ignite engine?
Let's back up a second. Until FIFA 11 was released on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC (among others) in 2010, EA used a separate engine for the PC version of its FIFA titles, stating that the current state of hardware couldn't run the "latest and greatest" engine that was already running on consoles. It wasn't until FIFA 11 that the company started using the same engine across the PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation platforms. But even with FIFA 11, it seemed that PCs had a hard time running some of the feature packed into game.
"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," said Wilson, referring to some of the technology used in FIFA 11. "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."
The engine used in FIFA 10 and lower ran great on consoles because there was only one hardware set for each: you can't say the same for the PC sector. EA said at the time that people playing FIFA on PC wouldn't be playing a game that was on par with the console versions until the mainstream desktop caught up. Thus, EA simply didn't see the need to expend resources on developing a separate up-to-date version of the game for PC until technology reached Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 levels in 2010.
Now it seems that there is a great divide one more. Andrew Wilson, executive vice president of EA Sports, is repeating what was essentially said before FIFA 11 arrived: that the current PC hardware platform in the standard desktop isn’t enough to power the Ignite engine. It's not only designed around the AMD APUs mounted inside, but the two environments on a whole. In other words, Ignite is only fine-tuned for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 hardware even though they're x86-based.
"So could I see the potential for EA Sports Ignite to make it to PC in the future? Yes, I think it's possible, but a couple of things need to happen," said Wilson. First the current mainstream PC needs to catch up on a hardware level. Second, the engine will need to be adjusted to handle the open nature of PC architecture versus the closed nature of consoles.
Despite the new consoles sharing AMD-based x86 cores with the PC gaming crowd, there still seems to be a wall to some degree dividing both gaming sectors. With all the excitement surrounding the news that both consoles will be based on x86 technology, it was easy to forget that developers will likely flock more to the closed Microsoft and Sony platforms than an open one full of infinite configurations.