First published on GameSpot.
Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1080 is a graphics card of many firsts; the first in the 10 series line-up, the first to use the new Pascal microarchitecture, and the first to launch with a Founders Edition. The GTX 1080 also incorporates Nvidia's new Ansel feature, which allows players to pause a game and take control of a free-roam camera to take high-resolution screenshots, sans UI.
To discuss the recent launch of the GeForce GTX 1080 and the new features it brings, we interviewed Jeff Yen, Nvidia's director of technical marketing in Asia Pacific.
GameSpot: Why launch the Founders Edition cards? What was the reasoning behind that?
Yen: To us, that makes a lot of sense because our fans have always requested us to always have the version that we build available for the lifespan of the product. In the past, you usually had it for the first month or two and then we discontinue it. So now, it's kind of we're prolonging the lifetime of the product for the entire span of the product. That's why we're doing the Founders Edition.
You're referring to the reference cards?
Yeah, that's something that we're kind of diverting away from. It's one of those things in the past that people kind of saw as a baseline, where we actually put a lot of time and effort into developing this product, this board, using premium parts, and making sure it's a really strong product. It's also partially to dispel this, right? That people think, "Oh, this is baseline." Not really in our case. If you look at the previous few products, you'll notice that our "baseline" is a very strong product on its own.
Does that put strain on your relationship with other hardware partners that make variations of your card, such as Gigabyte, ASUS, etc.?
Well, they're the ones selling it actually. We are in no way, shape, or form trying to compete with their customers or partners. It's more… they're the ones selling it, just that they're selling it for a longer period of time. That also comes with the price differential. They have the option of going lower, but we fully anticipate that they will have higher price points, too. The special OC SKUs, water-cooled SKUs, etc.
Is this something that Nvidia will continue with its future cards?
I think it's one of those things we're trying out, right? In the future, quite frankly, I don't know. But it's one of those things where we've constantly been asked to have our designs available, but they always disappear after two months, and our fans have asked for it. So we're trying it out, and hopefully it'll work out.
With regards to the GTX 1080, who is the audience that you're marketing this card for?
Enthusiast gamers… it's really… usually, for the higher products, we always have the VR enthusiasts, the enthusiast gamers that constantly want the latest and greatest. But you also have the ones that probably purchased a 680 or something and are looking for an upgrade. We're really stoked that the performance and the efficiency per watt has been so good. So we feel like a lot of gamers will be interested in this.
Right, but which tier of gamer would you say this is for? The elite, or the people who maybe upgrade once every two years…
That's why I didn't say anyone with the 980, right? Usually if you bought one last year you're probably going to debate whether you're going to get a new one now. But it's for those who are using a 780 or a 680, it could actually be a good time to upgrade. It puts you at VR-capable levels, whether or not you have a headset is another thing. But at least you're capable. It also prepares you for all these new games coming out. Surprisingly, we also have a lot of League of Legends pro gamers who play on 980s. Which is awesome.
My next question concerns Ansel, an in-game tool which pauses and allows the player to roam in free-cam mode to take a screenshot. I noticed that one of the games featured in the presentation was The Division, an online multiplayer game. What steps are being taken to prevent people cheating using Ansel?
Honestly, a game like The Division, if you pause and run around you'll probably come back dead anyway. It's one of those give-and-takes, right? You can pause a game, but if I pause it, I'm static, but you're not.
I mean, I've played The Division as well. What's to stop me from running into a house, hiding in a corner, pausing with Ansel, zooming out in free-cam mode, and seeing where my enemies are?
Agreed. That's why how much freedom you get isn't actually defined by us. It's defined by the developer. If the developer feels that they're willing to let you look around free range, or they might just say that you can only do it in single player, or a custom game. They can figure out, or they will define how much freedom they will give you. Like some have discussed, "Okay, I'll lock you in something that feels like a four metre sphere" or wall collisions where you can't go outside the wall or the house. So they're still debating on it. But The Division, yes we do have screenshots of The Division, and yeah you're right. The developer needs to define how much freedom you get.