Why Do PC Games Default to Lower Settings?

#1 Posted by Asurastrike (2165 posts) -

I just built my first PC last month, and its capable of running most games on max settings with a good framerate. So I was wondering, why do games default, or "optimize" at much lower settings? I just got Borderlands 2 for PC and when it was at "optimal settings" it was at like 1024x768 resolution, physX turned off, AA off, and pretty much everything else turned off. When I manually turned all the settings to max, my PC still runs the game well above 60 FPS. Borderlands 2 is not the only game to do this, pretty much every game I've tried defaults to lower settings than my PC is capable of. Crysis 2, Left 4 Dead 2, Guild Wars 2, are just a few that I had to manually turn all the settings to max.

#2 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

So more people can play it? So the game doesn't immediately crash for lower-end users capable of running it?

#3 Posted by EXTomar (4625 posts) -

Due to complexity, it is sometimes hard to "calculate the right settings". It is better to have the default settings be set rather low and let the player adjust them up.

#4 Posted by jhudson3 (27 posts) -

Its probably just a safety precaution to make sure the game will run on your system all together. Its better to be safe because someone who isn't tech savvy could have trouble figuring out settings for themselves. It would be better if they could actually "optimize" the game the best way possible to run at the highest settings.

#5 Posted by SexyToad (2760 posts) -

I'm sure the game optimal settings are just the fastest it can be on your computer. It can play on your computer on max but the absolute fastest would be in the optimal settings. Are you following me?

#6 Posted by Andorski (5236 posts) -

Aiming for lower graphics settings means that the chances of the game running smoothly on the consumers' PC is better. Those who would be annoyed about having games not looks as good as they can on their rig are going to mess around with the graphics options even if the game does a good job of optimizing the default graphic settings.

#7 Posted by believer258 (11771 posts) -

@Video_Game_King said:

So more people can play it? So the game doesn't immediately crash for lower-end users capable of running it?

Most games take a quick scan of your computer and auto-set to something.

OP, what's your build? Updated drivers? Stuff like that?

#8 Posted by AhmadMetallic (18955 posts) -

@Video_Game_King said:

So the game doesn't immediately crash for lower-end users capable of running it?

^ That, when games launch on lowest settings it's so that if you have a weak PC you'd be able to actually launch it.

Or...

@SexyToad said:

I'm sure the game optimal settings are just the fastest it can be on your computer. It can play on your computer on max but the absolute fastest would be in the optimal settings. Are you following me?

^ That. Many games detect your hardware and choose the settings that will give you the best performance. Then you're free to crank them up as you wish which would probably give you lower frames per second than the optimal settings. Are you following SexyToad?

#9 Posted by SexyToad (2760 posts) -

@AhmadMetallic said:

@Video_Game_King said:

So the game doesn't immediately crash for lower-end users capable of running it?

^ That, when games launch on lowest settings it's so that if you have a weak PC you'd be able to actually launch it.

Or...

@SexyToad said:

I'm sure the game optimal settings are just the fastest it can be on your computer. It can play on your computer on max but the absolute fastest would be in the optimal settings. Are you following me?

^ That. Many games detect your hardware and choose the settings that will give you the best performance. Then you're free to crank them up as you wish which would probably give you lower frames per second than the optimal settings. Are you following SexyToad?

Hey someone understood what I was saying! I thought I worded it a bit weird.

#10 Posted by myketuna (1668 posts) -

I understand what you mean. Both Black Mesa and Borderlands 2 started at 1024x768 resolution and all low. Makes sense. I am thinking about seeing how BL2 works on my laptop (with integrated graphics) and if it started up at a default of 1280x720, everything high, it might not be as great.

#11 Posted by DG991 (1344 posts) -

It's way better that way. Think of how shitty it looks to start off with, and then you make a few tweaks to the settings and re load the game and all of a sudden it looks even better than it normally does because you still remember how it looked with low settings.

The opposite would be much worse. If it started off at high settings and it was choppy and barley ran on your screen but looked amazing you would be depressed when you had to turn it down to lower settings and would be even more aware of how bad it looks.

#12 Posted by Elazul (1327 posts) -

Yeah, it's kinda weird. I really wish all PC games just had a "maximum everything" button in the graphical settings menu as standard.

#13 Posted by Asurastrike (2165 posts) -

@believer258 said:

@Video_Game_King said:

So more people can play it? So the game doesn't immediately crash for lower-end users capable of running it?

Most games take a quick scan of your computer and auto-set to something.

OP, what's your build? Updated drivers? Stuff like that?

i5 3570k

gtx 660ti

All drivers up to date. The game runs great with everything cranked up, I was just unsure why PC games always started at such low settings by default. I seem to have gotten my answer though.

#14 Posted by RedHawk27 (2 posts) -

Most games try to auto detect but if this either isn't implemented or they don't recognize your hardware (likely since you have a GTX 660 Ti) they will default to low.

#15 Edited by s10129107 (1182 posts) -

If i were designing a game i would assume that people who don't immediately adjust the settings and notice the lower resolutions are not savvy enough to have current PCs. I would want to make sure the game runs at a decent frame rate out the gate for those people.

#16 Posted by ajamafalous (11931 posts) -

The one thing they should all do is fucking default to your desktop resolution. Makes me so mad that it's 2012 and 75% of games don't do that.

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