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AMD claims there’s nothing stopping Starfield from adding Nvidia DLSS

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Starfield key art. | Image: Bethesda

AMD gaming chief Frank Azor is trying to thread a needle. He seemingly wants to say that AMD did not actually make Starfield, quite possibly the year’s biggest PC game, exclusively support AMD’s FSR upscaling technology at the expense of competitors like Nvidia DLSS.

But he clearly can’t. Azor says he can’t say what the contract includes. Instead, he repeatedly lands on this: “If they want to do DLSS, they have AMD’s full support.” He says there’s nothing blocking Bethesda from adding it to the game.

Azor, a co-founder of Alienware, has had many open conversations with me over the years, and this is the only thing he’s been cagey about all afternoon. AMD specifically prepped for this exact question, he says, because the situation’s a little delicate. “We want to be very careful not to put this answer onto our partners,” says Azor.

He admits that — in general — when AMD pays publishers to bundle their games with a new graphics card, AMD does expect them to prioritize AMD features in return. “Money absolutely exchanges hands,” he says. “When we do bundles, we ask them: ‘Are you willing to prioritize FSR?’”

But Azor says that — in general — it’s a request rather than a demand. “If they ask us for DLSS support, we always tell them yes.”

Starfield will be bundled with AMD’s just-announced 7800 XT and 7700 XT graphics cards.

Azor says there’s another reason why Bethesda might have wanted to prioritize FSR, too. “Bethesda’s decision to use FSR is console leverage,” he explains. Starfield is also likely this year’s biggest Xbox game, and FSR runs on the AMD chips inside the Xbox Series X and S as well as competing graphics. Meanwhile, each version of Nvidia DLSS is exclusive to specific recent generations of Nvidia GPU.

But is Starfield contractually AMD-exclusive? Perhaps just temporarily exclusive? Azor isn’t going to say.

“If and when Bethesda wants to put DLSS into the game, they have our full support,” he reiterates.

Bethesda didn’t reply to repeated questions about whether it’ll add DLSS to the game.

Today, AMD is revealing FSR 3, which can dramatically increase the perceived frame rate of a game by adding frame generation — which uses machine learning to imagine a new frame between existing ones, like a more sophisticated version of motion smoothing on TVs. It also includes “Native Anti-Aliasing,” an optional new mode that uses FSR techniques to anti-alias and sharpen game graphics instead of upscaling them from a lower resolution.

Starfield will have FSR 2, however AMD confirms. Nvidia announced DLSS 3.5 earlier this week.

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