New WoW Sound Engine: A Tale Of 2 PCs

World of Warcraft will run just about any PC that has been shipped in the past 5 years.  Blizzard has obviously spent a lot of time optimizing the game so that it runs well on even the lowest end PC with integrated graphics, and to be honest it still looks pretty decent at those lower settings.  Blizzard has continued to strive to make the game more enjoyable for players on a budget by acquiring a license from a 3rd party developer to integrate a new software sound engine that allows for audio effects similar to those produced by users with a high-end card.

So what happens to people who have sound cards?  Apparently they're complaining that they are experiencing a serious downgrade in the game's audio as a result of the 'upgrade' and are complaining.  Creative, the de facto leader in add-in sound cards, claims that the issue is certainly resolvable, and that Blizzard hasn't taken any them up on any of their offers to solve the problem.

Here's what Creative has to say about the situation:

“As many Creative soundcard owners are discovering, Blizzard recently made changes to the WoW client that have impacted the audio experience significantly.  Our developer relations group were given minimal advance warning that these changes were about to occur, and our subsequent requests to Blizzard for clarification as to why the changes were made have gone unanswered.

The new audio implementation in WoW uses a 3rd party audio middleware system which offers a generic software mixer with some reverb effects.  Creative has worked with the middleware company in question and already implemented a hardware audio path that enables 3D audio mixing and DSP based effects processing on Audigy and X-Fi cards.  "Bioshock" uses this system to great effect, and it is relatively straight forward for developers to support.  We have offered to help Blizzard enable this hardware audio path but they haven't taken us up on it.

Many Creative soundcard owners are pointing out that their audio experience is nowhere near as compelling as it used to be, which is a great shame.  We will continue to seek a better resolution to the current situation with Blizzard.  In the interim, we would encourage Creative soundcard owners to let Blizzard know that they would very much like to have their audio experience restored to its former glory.”


We're suspecting that there might be a little bit more to this than meets the eye, as it doesn't seem logical that Blizzard didn't know about the issue and was refusing assistance from a major hardware vendor.  Perhaps there was a price for said assistance, and it came in too high?  Perhaps Blizzard is looking to be as hardware agnostic as possible?

What do you think is going on here?  Is this a standard corporate blunder, or something we need to call Fox Mulder about?

Tags:  PC, WoW, PCs, sound, engine, TAL
Via:  Creative
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