With AMD happy to take the road well traveled, Nvidia has arguably become the biggest driver of PC gaming and PC gaming technology in the world.
But once you buy your latest frame rate-crunching mid to top-end Nvidia graphics card, why would you bother upgrading again for a decade when their hardware can now easily play all games out today? This mindset doesn't work for Nvidia. They want you to upgrade, and upgrade faster, so they can continue to make money.
So when they release their Nvidia Titan cards, they are in essence testing our appetite for the GPU market. Once they know the types of crazy prices that enthusiasts will pay when they must have the 'very best', they compare the sales figures to those sales figures across the last series launch period and then figure a price point that people will pay for the new incoming range. They then release the same reskinned Titan as a GTX 1080 ti, for example, but with a teeny bit less performance and cut the price to the enthusiast gamer graphics card biting point.
And so as we said, the problem Nvidia faces at the moment is that their outgoing 10 series range already crushes all games based on today's standards so why would anyone bother upgrading to the RTX 20 series when you could get a cheaper GTX 10 series that can play all games easily?
Unless… yeah, you know where this goes, right? Nvidia releases a completely new graphical tech that cripples their own previous generation’s graphics cards' performance and encourages developers to incorporate it into their blockbuster games.
If you want to enjoy all this lovely new tech, such as real-time ray-traced lighting, then you have to pay the prohibitive costs, but that’s part of being at the cutting edge of gaming technology. If you’re happy to wait then you’ll probably be able to enjoy ray-traced gaming for $150 in five years, all funded by those eager beavers paying out $1200 for their GeForce RTX graphics cards today.
And behind all this is Nvidia, playing puppet master to the gaming industry. With the core consoles now being five years old, it’s incredibly easy for even budget PC hardware to offer an experience on a par with the PS4 or Xbox One for example. Nvidia still wants you to spend $300 every few years on one of its GPUs though, which is why we see them hopping into bed with AAA developers to offer PC exclusive graphical effects and enhancements that just aren’t possible anywhere else. Just look at Battlefield V. It’s the first game to support DXR raytracing and is being bundled in with GeForce RTX graphics cards. The tech needs the $600 GeForce RTX 2070 as a bare minimum, and between DICE and Nvidia, you’ve got a heck of a reason to upgrade your PC.
However, when this technology is introduced, it not only costs a lot to buy the hardware, but it also comes with some significant performance costs. The GeForce RTX 2080 Ti can handle hundreds of frames per second in Battlefield V at 1080p, but as soon as DXR is turned on it struggles to hold a locked 60fps. Nvidia has driven the industry forward with new technology that cripples your performance and cannot even make the most of your shiny new 4K or 144Hz displays. It was only six months ago Nvidia was saying its $700 GTX 1080 Ti was the ultimate 4K solution, now it can’t even attempt to render the raytracing features at BFV at 1080p.
Once you’re in with the tech advances though, Nvidia knows you’ll want more. Its next few graphics card generations are going to be all about improving raytracing performance, pushing the tech forward and making sure you always have a reason to spend, spend, spend. Without that, the technology behind PC gaming would be in stasis.