AMD and Nvidia are at it again. The two reigning champs in the market for video game graphics have been fighting since late last month when some performance issues on the PC version of Watch Dogs kicked up a fresh controversy. And given that AMD is still talking about the issue publicly, it doesn’t look like things are going to settle down anytime soon.
Are you one of the people perplexed by all the sound and fury emanating from PC gaming forums? Don’t worry: I am, too. To help us all get up to speed, I prepared a handy guide to the main talking points here.
Have they ever been at peace with one another?
Not really, no. They’re sort of like the Coke vs. Pepsi of video games. That comparison is all the more relevant considering that some of their other competitors, like Intel, have captured a much larger portion of the overall graphics market by appealing to PC users who don’t need to play serious games and thus don’t care as much about spending upwards of $300 for the best graphics card imaginable. Something similar happened when Pepsi and Coke locked horns so intensely that they didn’t notice other, smaller competitors had started making little things called energy drinks.
Is there a substantial difference between their cards?
It depends on who you ask. Last year when we polled our readers, the Kotaku community seemed to overwhelmingly favor Nvidia cards. That doesn’t say anything about performance, mind you—just people’s preferences. But market share could be a significant issue here, since Nvidia has been beating out its closest competitor specifically in the PC realm in recent years. Here’s quick description of Nvidia’s current, enviable position from the financial site The Motley Fool:
NVIDIA has benefited from the growing PC gaming market, with revenue from its GeForce gaming GPUs rising by 15% in fiscal 2014. This growth came during a continuing decline in the PC market as a whole, with NVIDIA specializing in one of the few areas that have remained immune to the PC sales slump. NVIDIA’s share of the discrete GPU market has also been on the rise, with the company now commanding around 65% of the market. NVIDIA was nearly even with rival AMD back in 2010 in terms of market share, but the gap has been widening each year.
What does that have to do with anything?
Well, each company’s influence in the PC gaming market rises and falls depending on the worth that individual game developers give to it. So if a company like, say, Ubisoft thinks that it should form some special partnership with Nvidia because lots of PC gamers use its cards over AMD tech, the company’s executives would probably feel more inclined to form such a special partnership if they were convinced that keeping Nvidia happy would guarantee them the rapt attention of 65 percent of PC gamers.