List of Games That No Longer Run on AMD Phenom

Agents of Mayhem, Dead Rising 4, Destiny 2, and Others

Note: I do have just enough self-awareness to file this story under our historical category, Time Machine.

Update 31 Oct, 2017:

UPDATE 25 Oct, 2017:

  1. Added Resident Evil 7 to the list. Like Destiny 2, it originally required SSSE3 support.
  2. Added Destiny 2 to the list. Tech support notes the game requires SSSE3. The developers “…are investigating the issue and will attempt to fix the crash” 1) See this post for more information.

There is a tiny, though increasing, category of PC platform video game ports: Games that no longer run on AMD’s Phenom AM2/3 CPUs. There is a simple reason why, shared by all these games: They have been programmed to require CPU support for Intel’s SSE 4 (“Streaming SIMD Extensions 4”) instruction set, version 4.1 or higher, or the SSSE3 (“Supplemental Streaming SIMD Extensions 3,” not to be confused with SSE3).

The Phenom CPUs, however, only support SSE up to 4.0, and lack SSSE3 support, as it was introduced in the Bobcat architecture in early 2011. These two issues, either/or, form the simple reason why some games, older and newer, fail to start on Phenom processors. As a surprise to absolutely no-one, I am one of these last Phenom survivors affected by this issue.

Phenomenal Legacy

AMD produced Phenoms from 2007 to 2008, and Phenom II’s from 2008 to 2012. It’s now 2017, but to everyone’s surprise, these processors are still surprisingly feisty. The final Phenom II processors produced do not pale, much if at all, in comparison to AMD’s follow-up 2011 FX series – a fact that obviously has much to do with AMD’s failures at CPU development. After all, AMD is only finally beginning to catch up to Intel with the new Ryzen architecture released this year. Back in 2008, however, the Phenom was a competitively priced, powerful alternative to almost everything Intel was offering.

Admittedly, it’s been seven years since the Sep 21, 2010 introduction date of my AMD Phenom II X4 970 BE, but I’ve managed to hold on to it just fine. You may be surprised to hear it still runs all most new games today. I won’t bore you with the details, given this is an article for the like-minded, but I just tried out three games on the Phenom-hating list: Dishonored 2, and Mafia 3, both which run easily around 60fps in high detail after being patched by developers, and Dead Rising 4, which doesn’t boot at all without SSE emulation (see below). Other new games, like Prey, work equally well.

I know 60fps isn’t great, or even good, but it’s not bad, either. Heck, I played the original Half-Life 2 on an Nvidia GeForce 2 MX GPU. That’s bad.

List of Games Not Supporting AMD Phenom at Launch

Below, I have compiled a list of PC ports that did not outright run on AMD Phenom CPUs. I’ve compiled information of current with patch notes and developer responses. The current list includes the following games:

  • Agents of Mayhem,
  • Dead Rising 4,
  • Destiny 2,
  • Dishonored 2,
  • Mafia 3,
  • Nex Machina,
  • Earth Defense Force,
  • No Man’s Sky,
  • Resident Evil 7

If there are any other examples of this issue, please let me know in the comments section. If you do happen to bump into a new game that doesn’t run on your Phenom, you can test if SSE support is to blame by running it through Intel’s Software Development Emulator. Simply install the SDE package into a subfolder inside your game folder, and launch the game via the emulator in an administrative command prompt.

Agents of Mayhem: Released 15 Aug, 2017. Volition responds that Phenom users will “not be able to run the game”:

Are CPUs without SSE 4.1/4.2 supported?


AM2/AM3 socket CPUs like the AMD Phenom class (and lower) do not have SSE 4.1/4.2 support and are below minimum requirements. They will not be able run the game.

Dead Rising 4: Released 14 Mar, 2017.

No response, at all, from Capcom Vancouver, to date.

Destiny 2: Released 24 Oct, 2017. Originally required SSSE3. Fixed 30 Oct, 2017:

Destiny 2 received Hotfix on Monday, October 30, 2017 at 10 AM Pacific (5 PM UTC), which fixes the SSSE3 incompatibility with AMD Phenom II CPUs.

Dishonored 2: Released 11 Nov, 2016. Fixed on 14 December, 2016, in Game Update 1:

Game now runs on Phenom processor

Earth Defense Force: Released 19 Jul, 2016, Fixed on 4 August, 2016:

-Fixed an issue with AMD Phenom II (non-SSE4.1 CPUs)

Mafia 3: Released 7 Oct, 2016. Developers confirm on 6 Jan 2017 that a hotfix has been released:


Fixed day 1.

Nex Machina: Released 20 Jun, 2017. Fixed on 3 July, 2017:

This patch will remove the SSE 4.1 requirement for CPUs. This means that older CPUs like Phenom II will start to work.

No Man’s Sky: Released 12 Aug, 2016. Fixed on 20 August, 2016, in Patch 1.04:

AMD Phenom Support
Game is now confirmed working on Phenom CPUs.
Thousands of lines of assembly have been rewritten to support AMD CPUs. The game code no longer relies on anything above SSE 2.

Resident Evil 7: Released 24 Jan, 2017. Fixed on 7 Feb, 2017, in Patch #2:

Added support for older generation CPUs. More specifically, the game no longer requires SSSE3 SIMD instruction set.

Note: Interestingly, according to this note, the issue may have also been with SSE 4.1+ support.

Results of Survey

Games that run, as of 31 Oct, 2017:

  • Destiny 2,
  • Dishonored 2,
  • Earth Defense Force,
  • Mafia 3,
  • Nex Machina,
  • No Man’s Sky,
  • Resident Evil 7

Games that do not run, as of 31 Oct, 2017:

  • Agents of Mayhem,
  • Dead Rising 4

To me, this looks like a good situation. The Mafia 3 developers Hangar 13 took their time, and while the Mafia 3 demo seems to not have been updated, the main game is confirmed working. So far, only one developer – Capcom Vancouver – has refused to discuss the issue at all. Dead Rising 4, by all accounts, is a terrible port, and there is little hope for Phenom users – I’d be surprised to see a future patch for the game period.

Volition, then, is the first party to publicly refuse an update after being made aware of the incompatibility. While that is obviously their choice, I do find their argument of the CPU being “below minimum requirements” to be fairly disingenuous, given that their min specs demand an “Intel Core i3-3240 or above / or AMD equivalent.” I understand that this is semantic, and mostly a he-said she-said one at that, but my my quad-core Zosma (a hexa-core Thuban with two cores disabled) Phenom II X4 970 BE is factory-clocked at 3.5 GHz (I run it at 3.9), and has a 6Mb L3 cache. The Phenom has two (or four, if successfully unlocked) more cores, better clock speeds, and a larger cache to boot.

If theĀ Intel Core i3-3240 can run Agents of Mayhem, then so can the Phenom II. It probably won’t be pretty on either CPU, but that’s beside the point. Heck, I don’t even want to play Agents of Mayhem, so maybe this is all beside the point!

Consoles Dictate PC Update Cycles

With the key details out of the way, I want to touch upon the general issue at play here. First and foremost, almost all of the developers that came face to face with the issue responded admirably to it – all but two games on the list have been patched to work so far, and all but one has received an official response from the developers.

The uncomfortable fact is that the Phenom, as ancient as it is in temporal terms, remains a relevant processor today due to slow console cycles bogging down PC development. Almost all major games are multiplatform titles today. This means everything. Ever since the first XBOX and the PS2, consoles have almost entirely dictated PC system requirements. Discounting some PC players’ slow inch towards 4K, 1440p, 144Hz, VR, whatever the newest thing is today – in the case of ordinary bottom-end play at 1920x60fps, almost nothing has changed in terms of spec reqs over the past five years.

This is precisely why developers should still consider this 10-year old processor. There are still enough of AMD Phenom users that user forums get absolutely inundated with users asking for help when their new purchase fails to start up at all – just take a look at the Dead Rising 4 forums! It does not look good at all to the casual observer.

I completely understand the need for cut-off points with hardware, but so far, this is not yet it.

Barriers to Entry

Finally, I can’t also not mention the fact that current-gen video gaming, unfortunately, is a hobby for well-off people in well-off places. Gaming is always going to have barriers to entry. Sometimes these barriers are temporal, sometimes monetary, sometimes societal. Sometimes they can be just decision-making! We end up weighing our budgetary options every day.

Are computer parts really so different that they should be excluded from that discussion entirely? In this particular case, updating for the sake of updating is, in my mind, a luxury. I know the word “luxury” has a bad rap, but I simply mean that it’s something you do because you can – not something you do because you must. Shouldn’t those that would rather try to hang on, or save money, be respected instead of mocked?

How can it possibly be offensive that someone gets good mileage out of their investment? Luckily, a dedicated community exists for players who want to get the most out of their old rigs. I’m not at that point yet, but who knows what the future will bring.

I don’t think it serves our society well to cajole – or even force – everybody to invest into new systems as often as this terrible marketplace of planned obsolescence demands. The fact of the matter is, if we discount the “Your system is old and you should feel bad” argument, all of the above games could have easily been patched to support the Phenom. All of the projects that did receive patches do run excellently on the CPU.

The only thing preventing support is developer insistence and/or indifference.

References   [ + ]

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