The Final Take
Image Sources: AMD & Nvidia
It is important that the hardware manufacturers have close ties to the rest of the market. Marketing and public relations may try to sway us into buying graphics card A over graphics card B, but when it comes to developer relations, it is primarily about the game. Of course there can be issues with how far marketing agreements may go. In terms of game build drops to the company that does not have a co-marketing agreement, this is something that may happen. Both companies did not deny that this practice happens, but stated that they did not condone it.
In an age of communication without borders, there shouldn't be a need to delay or hinder any company. A piece of hardware needs to stand on its own. If a company with an agreement cannot beat its competitor out of the box fairly, then what was the point of testing and working with the developer? Holding back anything right before launch will only hurt the most important part of the system: the consumer. My two cents on this practice is that it should never happen again, and if it does, we the consumers need to let them know through our wallets. That being said, there is a lot more good happening through DevRel than the marketing and bean counters can hurt with contracts and cash. The Coke vs. Pepsi war won't disappear, and as long as they are in business, neither will the AMD vs. Nvidia war.
One of my first contacts at AMD and Nvidia has ironically been DevRel personnel. I guess that is because they have the cool job of working with games and are actually required to play them as part of their job description. Better yet, they play them because they love to. In a conversation with the Nvidia's Vice President of Content Relation, Roy Taylor mentioned that he wants to see his team more energetic about games than the developers. He spoke of a few cool ideas to bring the "wow" factor back to PC games. Earlier we had stated that PC games are more dynamic than console games. One of Roy's ideas was to make a Director's Cut version of a game that would come out after launch of the game. This could mean more levels, a twist in the plot, or some other expanded content that the game developer wanted to put in but was constrained by the publisher. Imagine if DevRel made a way for this to happen? Would that be of interest to you? It would to me.
The amazing thing about developer relations is that it happens free of charge to developers. Of course the developer needs to take advantage of the systems in place, but it is encouraging to know that the hardware makers are putting time and talent into advanced graphics development, professional tools, extensive analysis, marketing assistance, and most importantly, engineers who can make our experience the best it can be. I hope both companies (top to bottom) look at DevRel as an extremely important aspect of the way they do business. Without people keeping a pulse on what gamers want, and discovering new techniques through research, and assuring better after launch benefits, we all might as well play on consoles.