It looks like upgrade time is approaching for PC gamers

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It looks like upgrade time is approaching for PC gamers

6GB of RAM and 64-bit Windows emerges as the new minimum spec for AAA games on the PC.

When it was announced earlier this year that both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 would be packing AMD designed processors it was clear that this would have a knock on effect to the PC. With both consoles and PCs running on 64-bit x86 CPUs, the process of porting games between platforms would be easier than ever before, and finally we would be seeing titles that actually leveraged 64-bit computing, a decade after the first Athlon 64 hit retail.

We suspected this transition might take a while, but this doesn’t seem to be the case. Over recent days the system requirements for both Watch Dogs and Call of Duty: Ghosts on PC have been released, and they should make memory manufacturers pretty happy.

Not only do both titles require a 64-bit edition of Windows, but they also need 6GB of system memory as a minimum. If you are a memory manufacturer this should be a happy day indeed. If you own a gaming laptop with only 4GB of RAM, it probably isn’t so happy a day.

In many ways this seems a strange move, as both titles are due for current gen consoles as well as the next gen ones. But it is proof positive of what we have been suspecting for a while. Namely, that  PC titles are going to be based upon the next gen variants of multiplatform titles. It makes sense, not only from an ease of porting perspective, but also because the next gen versions will scale up much more easily thanks to the larger memory capacities and multicore designs of the Xbone and PS4.

Of course, in order to fill those gigabytes of RAM, there needs to be more data. This leads to titles that push the bounds of what we consider reasonable when buying titles digitally. Anyone who struggled with the seemingly mammoth 34GB install of Max Payne 3, for example, should swallow and put any drinks down before gazing on the Call of Duty: Ghosts request for 50GB of hard drive space. Curiously, the uPlay page for Watch Dogs neglects to mention how much storage space to set aside, but we suspect it will be significant.

Even Battlefield 4, which is shipping with both 32-bit and 64-bit versions (and has a minimum RAM capacity of 4GB) is asking for 30GB of drive space. In many ways this seems a direct result of both consoles moving to Blu-Ray, which unshackles developers a lot more than when they had one platform with Blu-Ray and one with traditional DVD drive. Higher resolution texturing is also going to be a factor, and this is only going to get even more significant once we start seeing titles designed for 4K in a few years time (at the moment monitors and televisions are both prohibitively expensive, and the technology still a bit too raw for 4K to be considered a viable PC gaming solution for all but a tiny handful of gamers).

As we alluded to earlier, this shift in minimum and recommended specs is going to hit laptop gamers a lot harder than those using desktops. The Watch Dogs specs, for example, reference the Iris Pro integrated GPUs from Intel as the minimum supported integrated graphics – we have seen precisely one such product since Haswell’s launch, Venom’s Blackbook Zero – pretty much every other laptop with integrated graphics won’t be able to run Watch Dogs.

It is almost certain that other big Christmas games will come with similarly lofty requirements over the coming months. We wonder, for example, whether the PC version of Grand Theft Auto will take a similarly major leap in requirements (we have heard enough from our industry sources to know the PC version is happening, but no idea of the when and hows of it).  

Over the coming weeks expect to see even more seemingly massive jumps in requirements for the big game releases. Even with the small sample size currently available, it seems that titles ported from the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 will push the PC unlike ever before. 

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