PC gamers will soon be able to benefit from lightning-fast loading times and larger game worlds on Windows. This is made possible by the DirectStorage API, which Microsoft has now released for Windows 10 and Windows 11 after a long preview phase.
The Xbox Series X and S have been using this technology since its release, and comparable technology is used on the PlayStation 5. Like Senior Program Manager at Microsoft Cassie Hoef announced in a blog post, Windows now follows. She even speaks of a new era:
Starting today, Windows games can be shipped with DirectStorage. This public SDK version ushers in a new era of fast loading times and detailed worlds in PC games by allowing developers to better exploit the speed of the latest storage devices.
DirectStorage is initially just a developer kit that game developers can work with. So they have to integrate the technology into their games so that you can benefit from it. You can find out more about this in the following tech talk video about Windows 11 (from about 5:40 minutes), which we recorded for the official presentation of the operating system in mid-2021:
Will Windows 11 change gaming forever? – Hardware & Tech News Special
What does DirectStorage bring and what do I need for it?
In principle, DirectStorage ensures that your SSD can transfer data to the game as quickly and efficiently as possible. In addition, it relieves the processor and helps to use the performance of the graphics card as comprehensively as possible.
With faster data transfer, games with DirectStorage potentially load far faster. In addition, larger game worlds and more detailed textures are possible. Annoying pop-up elements should also be a thing of the past.
Sounds too good to be true? It is, because it’s not quite that simple. You also need the right hardware to take advantage of direct storage. According to Microsoft, these are Windows 11 and an NVMe SSD. The technology is also compatible with Windows 10, but it should run even faster or better under the 11 version.
Without DirectStorage, NVMe SSDs have so far brought only minor advantages, as the following article also shows:
How big is the difference?
Ten-year-old Samsung SSD against a new top model
Direct Storage could take some time to ramp up
As already mentioned, direct storage is just a kind of tool kit for developers. They still have to integrate the technology into their games. This can be done via update, so theoretically Direct Storage can also be submitted later in games that have already been published. When that will be the case and for which games remains to be seen.
Square Enix’s Forspoken game is intended to show Microsoft’s technology in action, among other things. However, this will take some time, because the developers recently postponed the release of the game to October 11th:
link to Twitter content
In general, the technology could be a big step for PC gamers. In contrast to the consoles, however, the developers under Windows have to take into account that the same, known hardware is not always used. In addition, there are still many players who do not have a suitable NVMe SSD with high data rates.
GTA Online has already proven that greatly reduced loading times can improve a gaming experience. A modder got a hefty reward from Rockstar for speeding up game loading times:
Do you have a game in which the loading times really annoy you? Do you think Direct Storage is a revolution for PC gamers? And how long will it be before we can benefit from it in many games? Let us know in the comments!