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DF Direct Weekly talks Sony's Bungie acquisition, Switch mega-sales and Dying Light 2

Plus: when do developers first get their hands on next-gen hardware?

DF Direct Weekly returns once again - perhaps inevitably given its name - and the major topic for discussion this weekly is equally inevitable: the news that Halo and Destiny creator Bungie is the latest target in the ongoing studio acquisition war, becoming a member of the illustrious collection of PlayStation Studios. However, seemingly, this is not an exclusivity play: indeed, Destiny 2 and future Bungie titles will remain as multi-format as they are today, which raises the question: what's in it for Sony?

The interview with Jim Ryan paints a picture of a company looking to acquire the personnel and the skills to compete in the lucrative games-as-a-service arena, while a snapshot of 860,000 Destiny 2 active users during the course of one day in a relatively quiet period, meaning that while the game doesn't dominate discourse, it's clearly got a large, committed audience: good business for Sony then, and one where you probably wouldn't want to lose the 32 percent gaming on an Xbox console. With the news that Sony apparently has a further 10 live service titles coming in a four year period (!), having that kind of expertise on-hand also adds to the value. But with that said, a $3.6b purchase in a world where Microsoft snaffled Zenimax/Bethesda for $7.5b is eye-opening to say the least.

Other discussion points this week? We've been a touch disappointed by Microsoft first-party support for cutting-edge technologies including ray tracing and DLSS, but the welcome news that Asobo is adding DLSS to Flight Simulator can only be a good thing - the question is to what further extent it will highlight the CPU bottleneck inherent in the game. We also spend some time discussing Nintendo Switch's meteoric success. Similar to the Wii, the Mario makers have struck gold with a formula that breaks out into the mainstream in a different way to the Sony/Microsoft offerings.

DF Direct Weekly's 47th edition, with Rich Leadbetter, Alex Battaglia and John Linneman on perpetration duty at the mics.Watch on YouTube
  • 00:00:00 Introductions
  • 00:00:33 Sony buys Bungie
  • 00:15:22 DLSS coming to Flight Simulator
  • 00:19:56 Switch is the fastest-selling console of all-time
  • 00:27:25 Bloodborne "PSX Demake" releases
  • 00:31:50 Team 17 pledges support for NFT, cancels support for NFT 24 hours later
  • 00:40:51 DF Content Discussion: Dying Light 2
  • 00:50:26 DF Supporter Q1: Do you believe that games on the next generations of consoles from Sony and Microsoft will rely mostly on ray tracing for rendering graphics?
  • 00:52:56 DF Supporter Q2: Do you think the Steam Deck would be capable of becoming a portable 60fps PS3 thanks to the emulator RCPS3?
  • 00:55:55 DF Supporter Q3: How does id Tech 7 avoid the shader compilation stutter issues we see in Unreal Engine games?
  • 00:58:36 DF Supporter Q4: Does DLSS work with dynamic resolution scaling?
  • 01:02:05 DF Supporter Q5: When do developers get an idea of what hardware will be in next-gen consoles?
  • 01:07:58 DF Supporter Q6: Local hardware combined with cloud based hardware = super hardware?

And as for the ongoing drama surrounding NFTs... well, the bottom line is that it even if there were some kind of positive approach to this technology, the mere association of a product with NFTs is essentially a kiss of death to the core gamer. That said, I am curious as to whether this violently negative reaction is an example of twitter dot com in action, and how the concept may be received in the broader space (my guess: bafflement and a more general lack of interest).

We also spend some time talking about the reaction to our Dying Light 2 coverage, specifically the use of 1080p resolution in the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X versions of the game. As we mention in the show, there's absolutely no shame in a developer going for full HD in their current-gen games - both Guardians of the Galaxy and Returnal have included 1080p rendering, both in the service of 60fps gaming, just like Dying Light 2. However, there's the sense with the Techland game that the team has gone for absolute consistency both in terms of frame-rate and visual features. Our PC optimised settings see the game able to run at native 1440p at 60fps - not quite the hard lock the console versions have, but with strategic nips and tucks to the settings that save a whole lot of performance, tweaks that could work for consoles too.

Fancy a sampler of the kind of bonus content available on the DF Supporter Program? Here's the first Retro Corner of 2022.Watch on YouTube

The DF Supporter Program? Membership does indeed have its privileges and alongside early access to the show, the ability to pitch questions is part and parcel of the deal. My favourite one this week: when do developers get an idea of the hardware in next-gen consoles and does this help optimise launch titles? First of all, final silicon tends to come back around a year before a console releases - and only then do developers truly start to get a grasp of the spec (and even that, development environments can still be very early).

Prior to that, target spec devices of various natures can be delivered: there was a PS5 dev kit that had no support for hardware-accelerated ray tracing for example. Very early dev kits can simply be off-the-shelf PC parts put together with custom software to give some idea of the programming principles involved. Does any of this help to optimise launch titles? Probably not. And sometimes, expectations of next-gen hardware can still be off-beam - remember Assassin's Creed Unity? The current generation was a smoother ride than the PS4/Xbox One era, by all accounts, but part and parcel of this is the continued homogenisation with PC. A fascinating topic nonetheless!

Before I go, and continuing the ruthless marketing of the DF Supporter Program, do check out DF Retro Corner, an example of the extra video content that goes out to our retro tier backers. And how about a taste of the kind of behind-the-scenes videos we produce for our premium tier? This breakdown of how our PC benchmarking system works for both video and webpages may be of some interest. Promotion mode off - enjoy this week's Direct!

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