Nvidia Expects Improved Physics Effects to Dramatically Popularize Video Games on PC

Nvidia Considers Physics Effects as Another Revolution in Visual Computing

by Anton Shilov
10/28/2008 | 11:40 PM

A vice president of Nvidia Corp. said in an interview that implementation of new physics effects into video games with the help of PhysX application programming interface (API) will substantially improve their appeal, which will transform into considerably higher sales numbers for titles. In addition, Nvidia believes that improved physics implementation is a key to the next level of visual effects in video games. But will it happen?


Nvidia Corp. recently enabled GeForce hardware-accelerated physics effects in its ForceWare drivers allowing gamers to enjoy improved physics effects in games that take advantage of PhysX API developed by Ageia and Nvidia. While currently implementation of physics effects is still very modest, which Nvidia admits, if game developers work hard enough on future titles, physics effects will improve dramatically. According to Nvidia’s Roy Taylor, some game developers expect their sales to go up radically once effects are improved.

Nvidia: Improved Physics Effects Will Drive PC Game Title Sales to 2.5 – 3.2 Million

“Most of the developers and publishers will sell anywhere between 2 and 7 million copies of a good console game. They will sell on average anywhere between 0.5 – 1.2 million copies of the PC version. They do that because the PC version is very profitable (its cost of development is already paid for). All they believe is that the GPU physics gives them a second bite at the apple. It is those additional effects in the PC version, which means that the PC version might now sell in two million copies more, because if offers effects consoles just cannot process. Or even more. Those are estimates publishers are telling us about,” said Roy Taylor, vice president of content business development at Nvidia, in an interview with The Bright Side of IT blog.

In fact, PC versions of video games already do have many advantages over console versions: higher resolutions, better detailed models, more comfortable controls for certain types of video games, higher quality graphics and visual effects as well as other improvements. However, sales of PC games cannot keep up with sales of console games. One of the reasons for that are high system hardware requirements. Not a lot of gamers can acquire trophy PCs with $499 graphics cards and $400 microprocessors in order to get maximum from video games.

To make the matters worse, even highest-end graphics cards usually cannot provide enough performance in many high-profile PC titles. For example, Crysis cannot be considered as an easy game for a graphics adapter a year after release. With more physics effects that should be accelerated by graphics processing units implemented, PC video games will become even more demanding and will require not one, but two GPUs per system. Since mainstream gamers nowadays are unwilling to buy graphics cards that are more expensive than $199 - $299, it is hard to believe that they will invest twice as much just to get additional physics effects. It is even harder to believe that the market of PC gamers will expand by two times with the help of improved physics effects quality since casual PC gamers will definitely not acquire ultra-expensive graphics sub-systems to experience advanced physics.

Advanced Physics Implementation Is “The Only Viable Way to Enhance Interactivity”

Physics effects add visual appeal, but do not affect gameplay. For example, it is still impossible to destroy a building or a wooden door in video games, which means that actual realism is pretty low. If implementation of physics effects is relatively easy, the implementation of gameplay physics is a tough task that requires a lot of effort from game developers. But Nvidia claims that  eventually physics effects will affect gameplay too.

“Physics gameplay is whole another ballgame. This requires a lot of work on developer side, so we expect that it will take time to implement. Physics gameplay is introducing the in-game physics at a higher level, so that you can entirely change the game. […] These [effects] are what we call physics effects, and these were just the examples coming from the games we’re working on,” said Mr. Taylor.

In general, Nvidia believes that enhancements of physics effects is the only way to improve interactivity and quality of video games, hence, high-quality physics implementation can be considered as a new revolution in visual computing.

“The new world of physics started last month, with the introduction of our beta driver that did GPU-accelerated physics scaling. Now, developers are going to have a whole new world to think about when it comes to physics development. We need new levels of interactivity, and we strongly believe that physics is the only viable way to enhance interactivity,” said Roy Taylor.