DirectX 9 an immense factor in holding back PC development, says CEO

Stardock: Lack of DirectX 10 for XP has been catastrophic

Strategy games have struggled in the last few years because of Microsoft’s “catastrophic” decision not to implement DirectX 10 on Windows XP as a standard, says the CEO of Stardock

In the company’s 2012 customer report, Brad Wardell said that although a number of great titles had been released, innovation in the genre had been diminishing over the last few years.

He explained that the fault however was not on developers, but on the fact that they had been stuck on DirectX9 and 2gb of memory for the past decade, holding back PC development “immensely”.

Wardell added that although first-person shooters hadn’t suffered particularly, not giving DirectX 10 to Windows XP users meant RPGs as well as strategy games had been hit hard.

“For strategy gamers, the last few years have been a mixed blessing,” he said.

“There have been some great titles released but the innovation in strategy games has been diminishing. This is not the result of a lack of game design or inventive thinking. The problem stems from a catastrophic decision made at Microsoft: not giving DirectX 10 to Windows XP users.

“As a corollary, Microsoft continuing to sell 32-bit versions of Windows well after the hardware stopped being natively 32-bit has held back PC game development immensely. Game developers have been stuck with DirectX 9 and 2GB of memory for the past decade. While this hasn’t harmed first person shooters (they only have to manage a handful of objects at once), it has been poisonous to other genres.

“Next time you’re playing an RPG in first person with no party you can refer to DirectX 9 and 2GB of memory as a big reason for that.”

The Stardock CEO went on to say that with Direct X 11, developers were able to “go to town” with shader anti-aliasing, and could take advantage of multi-core desktops and take better advantage of more memory on 64-bit.

“There are whole classes of games waiting to be made that require these kinds of advances,” he said.

“Luckily, after a decade long wait, we are nearing critical mass. The days of games supporting 32-bit OSes is, thankfully, coming to an end. DirectX 10 as a minimum requirement has also arrived.”

According to Steam stats for March, 8.67 per cent of its users currently use Windows XP as their operating system of choice, the fourth most popular OS on the platform.

It should be noted however that 57.21 per cent of users use Windows 7 64 bit, rising to 70 per cent when taking into consideration Windows 7 32 bit.

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