DF Weekly: does the AMD Starfield deal block rival DLSS and XeSS upscaling?

This week’s DF Direct Weekly kicks off with an extensive discussion surrounding AMD’s exclusive partnership with Bethesda Game Studios for Starfield. On the face of it, it’s the kind of arrangement that’s no different to others arranged by its competitors. In this case, AMD is BGS’s exclusive tech partner and FSR2 upscaling is being integrated into Starfield in both PC and console iterations. However, there are concerns that this integration might come with a catch: qualitatively superior upscaling solutions from Nvidia and Intel – DLSS and XeSS – may be blocked from appearing in the game as part of the deal.

It’s an uncomfortable possibility. Is AMD paying to ensure that Nvidia and Intel GPU owners can’t use rival technologies that can look better than Radeon features? Instead of developing their own more competitive technologies, the suggestion is that AMD is using an exclusive partnership to ensure that all GPU owners only get image quality as good as that provided by an AMD graphics card. Crucially, AMD itself is not denying that it’s blocking Bethesda from integrating competing upscalers into Starfield.

Let’s put all of this into context. It started with an article posted on June 20th by WCCFTech, which pointed out that a great many AMD-sponsored titles are shipping with FSR2 upscaling, while the DLSS and XeSS alternatives are absent. In the case of games like Dead Island 2, The Callisto Protocol and Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, for example, the fact that they’re based on Unreal Engine 4 means that DLSS and XeSS plug-ins are readily available as part of the underlying tech, but for some reason, those plug-ins are not being used.

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