Graphics giant Nvidia and games publisher Ubisoft have announced the formation of a technical alliance which will see PC-exclusive technologies used to enhance upcoming Ubisoft titles.
The announcement comes just ahead of the launch of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One games consoles, which both use graphics processing technology from Nvidia's rival AMD. Clearly, then, Nvidia has reason to be supporting PC gaming as the only true way to play next-generation games - but what does Ubisoft get out of the deal?
The short answer: direct access to Nvidia engineers. The company has confirmed that several upcoming Ubisoft titles will include optimisations made by Nvidia to enhance the games' visuals, including Nvidia-provided and enhanced support for Temporal Anti-Aliasing (TXAA,) Horizon-Based Ambient Occlusion Plus (HBAO+) with Interleaved Rendering, and Scan-Line Interleave (SLI) - which, it must be added, includes a dig at AMD's frame-stuttering issues as the company describes the technology as 'the smoothest and fastest multi-GPI solution available.
The companies made an announcement during Gamescom last week that Splinter Cell Blacklist would be one of the first titles to benefit from the partnership: the game will include all the aforementioned features, plus higher resolution assets than are available on the console versions - boosting the install size to a whopping 22GB - support for DirectX 11 tessellation and parallax occlusion mapping. They also confirmed that similar features would be present in Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag.
Now, Nvidia and Ubisoft have jointly revealed that third-person hack-'em-up Watch_Dogs is to get the same treatment. While details are lacking, the feature list is likely to be near-identical to those for the aforementioned titles: tailored support for TXAA, HBAO+ and SLI for those with Nvidia graphics chips, and higher-than-console resolution assets, tessellation and parallax occlusion mapping for all DirectX 11-capable systems.
With AMD having design wins in all three next-generation console systems - the company provides APUs for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, and a GPU in the Wii U - it's likely that this deal with Ubisoft is only the first in many for rival Nvidia. The company will be looking to turn people away from consoles and onto PC gaming with a focus it lacked when it provided graphics processors for consoles, which can only mean good things to come for PC gamers - and doubly so when AMD decides its time to compete with some technical partnerships of its own.