PC gaming has long had a reputation for being more difficult to get into than consoles, due to the plethora of potential hardware combinations and the pitfalls of bargain-basement OEM systems. PC gamers are used to seeing minimum game specs that occasionally imply the marketing department lives in an alternate dimension, but the question of what the consumer experiences once they actually launch a title is almost never discussed.
Some games err on the side of settings that maintain a high frame rate at the expense of quality, while others pick presets that could choke a sperm whale. It's almost never clear how these values are calculated and the detection algorithms leave much to be desired. Back when DX10
was new, for example, games would often enable it automatically, even when DX9 was a much better option for a lower-end card.
wants to improve the end result of this process, without requiring gamers to spend time in configuration menus they don't understand. The company is launching the GeForce Experience closed beta today, and the early product is impressive.
Here's how it works: NVIDIA gathers an enormous amount of performance data from widely disparate sources. Reviewers often test brand-new games under a variety of scenarios. The company works with game developers to optimize both game engines and its own drivers before a title hits the market using a farm of systems with different configurations. Games are internally tested for driver compatibility, and customers provide feedback via public forums. The net result is a comprehensive database of how any given game will perform on a wide range of hardware.
The goal of the GeForce Experience application is to streamline optimization. Instead of depending on individual games to handle it, NVIDIA's own software will select the best settings for a given title depending on your system configuration. These settings aren't just picked by a superior algorithm; human testing is an integral part of the process.
The closed beta that goes live today is limited to 10,000 users and initially supports about 32 games. The current goal is to get user feedback; NVIDIA hasn't given a firm date for when it will launch the service, but early 2013 is likely. The GeForce Experience application will be capable of tracking driver updates, and functioning as a one-stop-shop for launching games on services like Steam and Origin.
Users will be able to control whether or not Optimized settings are applied on a game-by-game basis, the GeForce Experience app can be used to launch programs from different services, and power users, who prefer to tweak under the hood, still have the ability to do so.
Even as a devoted tweaker / modder, I'm glad to see this sort of project. Everyone has moments when they want to jump into a new game and play it without fussing with settings and adjustments. If the GeForce Experience application can make that easier, we're all in favor of it.