Image: Microsoft

NVIDIA has been pushing ray tracing as the greatest thing since sliced bread, but the head of Xbox appears to have differing thoughts. During a recent interview with Wired, Phil Spencer was asked to comment on one of PC Gamer’s anti-ray-tracing articles (“Ray tracing has failed to deliver on its promise”) and agreed that the writer is “probably right.”

“When I think about games where ray-tracing has had a dramatic impact on my experience as a player, it’s kind of spotty,” Spencer said.

With ray tracing being one of the Xbox Series X’s marketing points (the console fully supports DirectX Raytracing), that’s an interesting admission to make, but many would probably agree: while ray-traced reflections and lighting are gorgeous to look at, they don’t necessarily change the fundamental gaming experience.

Spencer also had a bit to say about 8K, which display giants are already hyping. “I think 8K is aspirational technology,” Spencer said. “The display capabilities of devices are not really there yet. I think we’re years away from 8K being—if it ever is—standard in video games.”

“There’s a little bit of buzzword bingo that starts happening,” he added.

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13 Comments

  1. I’m going to disagree. It depends on the implementation of it. In some cases, like RTX Quake I, I’d agree. Sure, it looks better but the game still looks like *** compared to modern games. However, we’ve all seen demos of what ray tracing can do on the higher end of the spectrum. Unfortunately, the performance hit to do something meaningful with it is too large at present.
  2. I’m going to disagree. It depends on the implementation of it. In some cases, like RTX Quake I, I’d agree. Sure, it looks better but the game still looks like *** compared to modern games. However, we’ve all seen demos of what ray tracing can do on the higher end of the spectrum. Unfortunately, the performance hit to do something meaningful with it is too large at present.

    Ray-tracing… on consoles using first-gen AMD hardware and middleware is almost certainly overrated. The only real gain is that game engines are being engineered with it in mind, so that it might actually be useful on hardware not available in said consoles :).

  3. Ray-tracing… on consoles using first-gen AMD hardware and middleware is almost certainly overrated. The only real gain is that game engines are being engineered with it in mind, so that it might actually be useful on hardware not available in said consoles :).

    Fair point.

  4. I believe we’re 5-10 years away from RT being impactful on the PC platform. Even longer on consoles. What we have now is barely a fraction of a percent of what ray tracing is capable of.

    We’re a long ways away from having 50% or more of a game rendered with ray tracing at 4K60.

  5. Ray-tracing… on consoles using first-gen AMD hardware and middleware is almost certainly overrated. The only real gain is that game engines are being engineered with it in mind, so that it might actually be useful on hardware not available in said consoles :).

    Was going to say. I had been fearing that ever since Turing was introduced that AMD was going to do some half-assed implementation that is going to hold everything back. We already have Crytek pushing an "agnostic" method that is a pixel shader, not real ray tracing.

  6. Ray tracing has its place and to truly be revolutionary we need hardware that can do it seamlessly and smoothly. Then we need a few hot shot development houses to embrace it.

    Imagine an assassins creed game that can properly use Ray tracing for illumination of an ancient city? Or a racing game that features night races with full rt illumination. Or a space sci fi game that has full rt supported for those glowing sword battles or operatic space battles. All solid candidates for amazing ray tracing experiences.

    Once we have a few developers figure out how to make a game truly next gen with RT it will take hold. Games took a long time to embrace 3d. Anyone else remember the blade runner game that came on what.. 7 cd’s? It didn’t even use 3d acceleration and we know today that would have added a lot.

    Don’t dismiss RT. It still has a place in games and will have a bigger space as gaming moves forward.

  7. The visuals and immersion level in Control and WolfYB take a nosedive when you turn RT off.

    RT spoils you. Big time.

  8. I will say, I think RT is cool, and I even think 8K is cool

    I can also say, RT will play a very small, if any, consideration in my next GPU purchase, and similarly, 8K support in my next TV

    Sure, I’d rather have it than not, but I’m not going out and buying specifically for it, nor would I pay any extra for it.

    Now, in 5-10 years, as the tech matures and the hardware evolves, and the performance goes up and the prices for a level of performance come down – that may be entirely different compared to today. But with what is available today – neither are impactful in any meaningful way to me.

  9. I agree. Raster performance is king for me. None of the games I play support RT, currently. And even if they did the performance hit is too much to justify using it.
  10. Raster performance is king, if only because developers cannot afford to fully ‘commit’ to ray-tracing today.

    Still, I wouldn’t want to buy a mid-range or better GPU without it. I keep GPUs far too long to have missing features.

    8K support

    I get the sentiment… but 8k is kind of like TV manufacturers trying to find a way to sell TVs to people that already have great TVs.

    Whereas RT is still so new that GPU power could increase by an order of magnitude and it’d still probably not be enough!

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