Elite: Dangerous is dropping Win32 and DirectX 10 support

The clock is ticking down on Elite: Dangerous pilots plying the space lanes in antiquated ships—by which I mean old PCs. David Braben, the CEO of developer Frontier Developments, said in a recent forum post that the studio is thinking about dropping support for DirectX 10 and 32-bit versions of Windows, but then clarified that the question isn't one of "if," but of "when."

“As you know we spend a good deal of time planning for the future, and one issue (and opportunity) we are considering is the effect of supporting Win32 and DX10, and the benefits we would get if we were to drop them,” Braben wrote. “As you know, we support leading edge technology like 4K, 8K, VR, and with things like compute shaders in Horizons we really push the boundaries overall, but there are restrictions with Win32—particularly the amount of memory we can address at one time—and with DX10 in terms of requiring an alternative rendering solution in our code. Dropping these two would help us support high end effects with a better result—to make the game better.” 

Ditching 32-bit sounds like a relatively simple prospect, as Braben said only about 0.5 percent of players “have used their game on Win32 at some time,” and at least some of those systems are capable of running a 64-bit version of Windows—a hardware upgrade won't necessarily be required, in other words. Dropping DX10, used by fewer than two percent of players, is trickier, because anyone still on it would almost certainly be forced to upgrade their video card in order to take advantage of DirectX 11 or higher. 

“We do appreciate that although those are small percentages, that is still a significant number of people affected. We want to give as much notice as we can,” Braben wrote. “It will be at least six months before we would make the change, but we want to know your opinions first, and to give warning that the change will need to come at some point, so please let us know.” 

It's a bit odd to solicit opinions about a change while at the same time stating that it's going to happen one way or the other, but at least those who will be impacted are being given plenty of heads-up. Time to start saving for that (let's be honest here, long overdue) upgrade.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.