Intel misleads enthusiast with “Day-0” graphics driver for Phoenix Point and Darksiders Genesis

Intel misleads enthusiast with

Intel misleads enthusiast with “Day-0” graphics driver for Phoenix Point and Darksiders Genesis

In the coming years, Intel plans to become a big payer within the GPU market, hoping to challenge the likes of Nvidia and AMD within both the consumer and enterprise graphics markets. To do this, Intel needs to get things right on both the hardware and software sides, delivering stable drivers alongside powerful hardware. 

So far, Intel’s graphics performance has already seen a significant boost, with Ice Lake delivering competitive integrated graphics performance with its Gen 11 architecture. Still, it remains to be seen how this will translate to dedicated graphics when the time comes. 

In the software side, Intel has already started to make a name for itself by being the first GPU maker to deliver Integer Scaling to the masses; however, Intel remains behind its peers when it comes to drivers. 

We will note here is that we want Intel to be successful within the graphics market. Competition is good for consumers and great for the industry as a whole. We want Intel to be innovators within the GPU space, which is why we want Intel to iron out its marketing issues as early as possible. 

Misleading Marketing? – The Beginning
  
It all started last month when Intel’s @IntelGraphics Twitter account posted that their latest driver was ready for Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, linking to their latest driver, version 26.20.100.7372 (Intel needs a better naming scheme). Strangely, this driver was from October 30th 2019, several weeks before Jedi: Fallen Order’s release. On top of that, Intel’s release notes didn’t mention Jedi: Fallen Order. 

Intel deleted their tweet after one of our writers pointed this out to them. Intel Graphics didn’t Tweet again about drivers for Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. 

Maybe what Intel was trying to say was that their integrated graphics could run Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and that they verified this with their latest driver. Regardless, Intel’s unclear presentation made it look like they had a supported/optimised/”Game Ready” (Nvidia marketing term) driver for Jedi: Fallen Order; a driver that doesn’t exist.      

Since Intel deleted its Tweet and seemingly backtracked from its previous comments, we didn’t report on this oddity at the time. Now that Intel’s done the same thing again, we thought that some light needed to be shed on this issue. 

Round Two – The “Day-0” Drivers that aren’t

Day-0 and Day-1 drivers are common these days, almost every major AAA game comes with an accompanying driver from AMD’s Radeon and Nvidia’s Geforce teams. If the driver becomes available before the game’s release, it’s a “Day-0” driver, and if it releases on the same day as the game, it’s a “Day-1” driver. That’s the standard naming convention for driver releases/marketing.

On top of these terms, Nvidia and AMD will also use the terms “Game Ready” and “Support” to signify that their latest driver releases ship with changes that optimise their software for new games or features. Note that these supported/”Game Ready/optimised drivers are always new releases with unique software builds new version numbers.

So why do we mention this? Intel has claimed that its “Intel Graphics Day-0 driver supporting Phoenix Point and Darksiders Genesis”, implying that its drivers shipped with optimisations for both games. The problem is that Intel didn’t release any new drivers…

Intel also did the same for Halo: Reach earlier (Link here), going so far as to call their un-updated driver an “Intel Graphics Day-0 driver update”. How is this driver an update when it released almost three weeks earlier than their Twitter post?

At the time of writing, Intel’s latest driver is version 26.20.100.7463, which released on November 14th. All Intel did before making the Twitter post below (link here) is edit its release notes to add games like Halo: Reach, Phoenix Point and Darksiders Genesis. 

Let’s be clear here, both AMD and Nvidia release new driver versions for day-0 game support. That’s what customers expect from day-0 drivers, optimisations and game-specific driver changes. With this in mind, all we can say is that Intel isn’t releasing day-0 drivers, they are pretending to.  
  

Intel misleads enthusiast with

Did Intel really make no changes to its “day-0” game drivers? 

Intel isn’t the only place where it’s drivers are available. Websites like Guru3D and Geek3D mirror Intel’s driver downloads across the web, complete with their original release notes. 

To be 100% sure that Intel hasn’t released new drivers since November 14th, we downloaded Intel’s drivers from these sources and found that their file sizes and contents are identical. It’s clear that Intel has made no changes to these drivers before certifying them as “day-0” driver updates. 

If these drivers contain game-specific optimisations/changes for Halo: Reach, Phoenix Point and Darksiders Genesis, why weren’t these changes noted in Intel’s original driver release notes for version 26.20.100.7463? 

Intel is marketing its drivers as “Day-0” drivers for new titles without any software changes, doing little more than pretending that their latest drivers are optimised for the latest PC games. This shouldn’t become the norm for Intel’s graphics division, especially if it wants to build trust with its fanbase. 

As it stands, all Intel’s doing right now is creating the illusion that they are delivering the same level of GPU driver support as AMD and Nvidia. While we can see the brand-building logic behind this, we also believe that Intel should be transparent with its customers. This is not what customers expect from “day-0” drivers, and it shouldn’t become what we expect of them either. 
  

Intel misleads enthusiast with  

What should Intel do now? 

We want Intel to become a successful member of the GPU market. Adding more competitors into the mix is a surefire way to bring more competition within the GPU market, but Intel shouldn’t mislead its customers in its pursuit of market leadership. 

If Intel wants to market these unchanged drivers for new titles, they need to do so in a way that doesn’t mislead consumers. In the tweet below, Intel calls their latest driver a “day-0 driver update” when the driver hasn’t been updated. While “day-0” isn’t a legally defined phrase, this driver doesn’t meet consumer expectations for a “day-0” driver for a game. Perhaps they can call these drivers “certified drivers”, provided they are clear that they have certified these drivers after in-house testing, and that these drivers contain no game-specific optimisations.

Intel misleads enthusiast with  

If Intel wants to build trust within the graphics market, it needs to act in a way that’s worthy of trust-building. Misleading consumers with false driver updates isn’t how you go about doing that. 

As it stands, Intel Graphics are marketing their drivers in a way that is misleading at best. That’s not an Odyssey that I want any part in.      

Closing Thoughts

Misleading advertisements and marketing are nothing new, but that doesn’t mean it should become the norm. As Intel enters the graphics market, they need to know what customers expect of them and do what they can to present themselves in the best light possible. Misrepresenting their drivers doesn’t do that, and we believe that Intel shouldn’t tarnish its graphics brand in this way, especially before it releases any discrete graphics hardware. 

We want Intel to be the best Intel it can be, and we wish the same for all of its competitors. 

You can join the discussion on Intel’s misleading driver marketing on the OC3D Forums.