Henry Cavill is a gamer. Keanu Reeves is a gamer. Gaming used to be a hobby for the few, appreciated by fewer still.
Now it’s woven into every aspect of popular culture, even as its global reach surpasses those of movies, sports or television.
And why not? Smartphones have brought gaming to billions. Consoles to hundreds of millions more. But it’s PC gaming — always big — that has become a cultural phenomenon, celebrated in esports arenas filled with tens of thousands of screaming fans — and a global audience of half a billion more online.
Esports alone will generate $1.1 billion in revenue this year.
With more than 2.7 billion gamers, worldwide, there’s no place where gaming, as a cultural phenomenon, isn’t on the move — even as the technology underpinning it continues to accelerate.
The support for real-time ray tracing built into NVIDIA GeForce RTX GPUs, introduced in 2018, gives game developers control over light, shadows and reflections, once only available to top moviemakers.
Deep learning — born on the NVIDIA GPUs that got their start with gaming — now makes graphics sharper and games smarter.
Laptops from every major brand featuring NVIDIA Max-Q design and a new generation of desktop-class mobile GPUs deliver the performance of a console so gamers can play amazing games anywhere. As a result, gaming laptop revenue has surged 12x in six years.
And cloud gaming — thanks to our long, continued investment in our GeForce NOW service — makes high-quality games available on the next billion devices: underpowered PCs, Macs and smartphones.
NVIDIA’s led the way on all these next-generation technologies, which are now spilling out across the gaming industry and accelerating a cultural phenomenon that’s breaking out everywhere you look.
Lights, Camera, Action
Ray tracing — which models the way light moves around the real world — has long been a mainstay of movies. Films rely on powerful banks of servers, known as render farms, to shape each scene.
The hardware-based ray-tracing capabilities built into NVIDIA GeForce RTX GPUs brought this cinematic tool to gaming, letting developers create more immersive environments.
But the change goes beyond just realistic light, shadows and reflections.
Real-time ray tracing helps game developers move faster and gives gamers much more freedom. By modeling the way light moves, in real time, ray tracing promises to free developers from painstakingly “pre-baking” every scene.
Hardware-accelerated ray tracing also makes the task of producing that pre-computed lighting less onerous. GPUs accelerate that process by an order of magnitude over traditional approaches.
Just look to Microsoft’s Minecraft for an example.
By pouring real-time ray tracing into the world-building game with Minecraft with RTX, Minecraft’s blocky environment is transformed into a more cinematic world.
Modeling a few of the billions of possible configurations of the game would have been impossible just a few years ago.
Real-time ray tracing, however, means gamers get to play in a sandbox where the way a scene is lit reacts to the environment they create.
And we’re working to bring the benefits of ray tracing, first, to as many as possible.
We’ve worked to enable ray tracing on our RTX GPUs, and with Microsoft and and the Khronos Group to advance support software standards that make it possible far beyond PCs.
That work continues with the developers and publishers creating the next generation of games across all platforms.
Games are also getting faster. That’s because the modern AI revolution — grounded in deep learning — was born on the NVIDIA GPUs gamers rely on. And now that revolution is coming back to where it all started, gaming, to make games faster still.
Powered by Turing’s Tensor Cores, which perform lightning-fast deep neural network processing, GeForce RTX GPUs support Deep Learning Super-Sampling. DLSS applies deep learning and AI to rendering techniques, resulting in crisp, smooth edges on rendered objects in games.
NVIDIA GPUs are being used to power sophisticated deep learning algorithms that allow the style from a work of art to be applied to an entire scene, changing the look and feel of a gaming experience.
More’s coming. That’s because the more AI races ahead, the more of these capabilities can be deployed in games, thanks to the NVIDIA GPUs that power them.
Imagine game developers being able to tap into powerful AI voice-generation algorithms to create realistic and emotive voices from a script — making games available in all the globe’s major languages.
Or, even wilder, imagine a conversational AI able to generate that script — and react to your actions — on the fly. Or, having the games non-player characters actually learn from the players, making encounters constantly evolve and challenging.
Cloud gaming brings state-of-the-art experiences to every platform without waiting.
It extends the highest quality gaming to the billion people who are playing on phones and tablets.
And it gives these gamers the same freedom as with a PC, so they can play the games they already enjoy on their laptops and PCs in more places.
It’s another way to access the games they already own — and that’s what we’ve done with GeForce NOW, which we opened to all last month.
There’s much more, of course.
Driven by a host of NVIDIA design innovations, gaming laptops continue to get thinner and lighter.
NVIDIA G-SYNC display technology — now ubiquitous in competitive gaming — eliminates tearing and stuttering, giving competitive gamers more accuracy, so they compete more effectively.
Variable rate shading, a technology pioneered by NVIDIA, increases rendering performance and quality by varying the shading rate for different regions of the frame. It will be coming to the next-generation Xbox.
NVIDIA has pioneered a host of technologies designed to reduce latency, or the lag, between a gamer’s input and what they see on their screens.
And equipped with a new generation of NVIDIA-pioneered game-streaming tools, gamers on Twitch and YouTube wield influence that rivals the celebrities who now flaunt their gaming credentials.
Features like these — and performance like no other — are why GeForce gamers will continue to enjoy the best experiences first on the most anticipated games, such as Cyberpunk 2077.
There’s no part of this ecosystem that we’re not working to support. Even the parts that aren’t cool … yet.
Gamer? Dig in to our GeForce channel for all the latest news, and deep-dive videos detailing all the latest developments.
Image credit: DOTA 2 The International, Some Rights Reserved