DirectX could once afford to be exclusive to Microsoft platforms when PC gaming was dominant, but now it seems developers are willing to drop it for cross-platform alternatives such as Vulkan.
Vulkan is a cross-platform graphics API which supports all the major PC platforms, gaming consoles, and even smartphones. Unlike DirectX 12, it’s also open source. Both of these factors make it compelling to developers looking to simplify their coding while expanding their potential audience.
The developers of upcoming space simulation game Star Citizen have taken a bold decision to discontinue support for DirectX 11 and abandon their plans to support DirectX 12 in favour of Vulkan.
Microsoft’s choice to limit DirectX 12 to Windows 10-based platforms alienated the vast majority of PC users who run older versions of the OS and was a factor in Cloud Imperium Games’ decision. Vulkan, on the other hand, supports Microsoft’s platforms from Windows 7 upwards as well as Linux.
Alistair Brown, Environment Art Director at Cloud Imperium Games, said: “We stated our intention to support DX12 but since the introduction of Vulkan, which has the same feature set and performance advantages, this seemed a much more logical rendering API to use as it doesn't force our users to upgrade to Windows 10 and opens the door for a single graphics API that could be used on all Windows 7, 8, 10, and Linux.”
Current benchmarks put DirectX 12 and Vulkan on a similar level in terms of performance so it’s little surprise to see developers focus their efforts on the low-level graphics API which provides them with more scope and prevent delays from supporting two different APIs.
“Our current intention is to only support Vulkan and eventually drop support for DX11 as this shouldn't affect any of our backers. DirectX 12 would only be considered if we found it gave us a specific and substantial advantage over Vulkan,” added Brown.
There’s a lot of similarity between DirectX 12 and Vulkan so there’s always the possibility Star Citizen’s developers will have another change of heart, but it’s hard to see this being the case short of significant performance advantages. The single-player component of the game, Squadron 42, is aiming for a release this year so we should be able to get an idea of how well Vulkan has worked for the studio before much longer.
Would you use Vulkan over DirectX 12 as your low-level graphics API? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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