Those of you currently playing Battlefield 3 have all been familiar with the system requirements because your friends keep on asking you what’s required. If they’re still on Windows XP, your answer should be; “a console or Windows 7 64-bit.” EA’s Battlefield 3 is the latest in a growing list of games that have killed off Windows XP support, only allowing gamers to play on Vista or 7. While 32-bit installs are fine, for the best experience EA recommends that players switch to 64-bit Windows with 4GB of RAM.
DICE, the developer of the Frostbite engine and a subsidiary of EA, hasn’t gone on record to state which games will be 64-bit only but has confirmed that the engine will be 64-bit only from 2013 onwards. Frostbite 2.0 will be present in this year’s Medal of Honour: Warfighter but there’s no specific bit requirement apart from the lack of XP support (inside I’m jumping for joy). The license of the engine is unfortunately proprietary and will only appear in games developed by DICE or EA, just like Codemasters uses the same EGO 2.0 engine in all its modern racing titles.
If true, Frostbite will change things around a bit for EA. According to the latest Steam user surveys, more than half the 45 million gamers that use the service online are on 64-bit Windows 7 installs. Mac OS X gamers on the service have always been running 64-bit rigs, so that’s a score for EA if they support those peeps. Over 42% of gamers using Steam also have DirectX 11-capable computers (that is, they have the hardware and the OS to do it). Gamers on the service primarily also either use a single 1080p display (24.84%) or run three of them horizontally (15.28%) – Frostbite natively includes support for multi-monitor displays. The majority of Steam gamers also have 1GB VRAM and Frostbite needs that kind of power if you’re applying multiple levels of AA.
If any of those statistics are applicable to Origin, EA’s online service, then it makes sense to start doing what Microsoft did with Vista and chop support for older software off completely. While a number of people are perfectly happy with XP, advancement of games on DirectX 9.0 just isn’t happening and Windows 7 is now the most installed OS in the world. A lot of work would have to be done to get Frostbite 2.0 running on Windows XP and DICE seems to deem it necessary to do so. I guess that they’re also probably too polite to tell you to get with the program and upgrade, rather than be stuck with decade-old software that has reached the end of its useful life, although Battlefield 3’s chopping off of XP gamers should be a subtle enough hint.
Also, I really do hope this means that consoles will finally support the more modern engines out there. I’m tired of installing crappy ports that use DX9 fundamentally but tack on DX10 or 11-only options as an afterthought for people with higher-end hardware.