Why Do Games Have Motion Blur?

why do games use motion blur
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Why Do Games Have Motion Blur?

If you have ever played a racing type of video game, you have most likely noticed how the screen blurs in the background as you drive in the game. You may find it a little annoying while playing, but motion blur is actually there to help your game run smoothly. Without motion blur turned on, some games and game systems would not perform well.

Motion blur is typically used to make the graphics in video games apprear more realistic and to mimic the natural motion blur that occurs in human vision. The effect is noticeable when making rapid movements such as driving or turning quickly in game. An additional benefit of motion blur is to help games running at a low framerate appear more visually appealing as some games use motion blur to create smoother gameplay for lower-performing games, consoles, and PCs.

It all comes down to performance and quality and asking yourself which is most important while you are gaming. You also need to take into consideration the type of games, game consoles, and systems you will be playing on as each system is different. Also, different types of games feel different with motion blur on vs off. Read on to see exactly how motion blur will affect your games.

Motion Blur – What Is The Purpose?

As mentioned above, motion blur is used in games to help with the visual quality of the game you are playing. Having motion blur enabled will likely lower your FPS (frames per second) however; it will usually create a more stable and consistent visual experience as sharp images will be blurred during rapid motion. Some games work well and do better when motion blur is enabled while other games can be negatively impacted by this feature. If your gaming system doesn’t meet each game’s recommended system requirements, using motion blur may result in them stuttering far less and having much smoother gameplay.

When playing a game with motion blur enabled, the main object will usually stay in focus while the surrounding images will be blurred; not everything will stay in focus at the same time.

Motion blur was created to help make games look much more realistic. In real life, a camera can’t focus clearly on every image around you at the same time. Similarly your eyes also have trouble focusing when there is fast movement such as when you drive down the road, the sides will blur causing certain elements to lose focus. Motion blur is intended to follow this same principle.

Why Do Games Use Motion Blur?

As mentioned above, motion blur is typically used to add a layer of visual noise in games during rapid movement and can help with game consoles, and computers that don’t perform as well as others. Lower-performing systems use motion blur to help make an overall smoother game and fluid experience. Using motion blur on older systems can help to stop a game from looking choppy and lagging, as the system will not be able to keep up with the demands of the game, resulting in poor visuals and stuttering graphics.

If you have a higher-end or better-performing system motion blur, it can lower the game’s quality and appearance. For instance, first-person shooter games and motion blur typically don’t go well together. During these games you need to be able to see as much as possible, as clear as possible, and turning motion blur on will undoubtedly cause you to miss out on seeing an enemy until its too late.

Is Motion Blur Better Or Worse For FPS?

FPS refers to frames per second; however, FPS can also stand for first-person shooter games. We will cover how motion blur impacts both of these in this article.

When speaking specifically about frames per second, in many cases motion blur can make the game run at a much lower FPS. The overall performance will not be up to par with what it could be from an FPS perspective however the graphics may look more realistic and natural. Additionally, games that run at a lower FPS (under 60) will usually run much smoother with motion blur enabled.

In addition to the game visually not looking as good as it could when using motion blur, some people have even reported getting a headache and motion sickness-type symptoms when gaming with motion blur enabled.

While most games do perform better without the use of motion blur, everybody has their own taste when it comes to this setting. Let’s look at when to use motion blur and when to disable it.

Motion blur is only better for fps when playing a game at low fps (under 60). In this instance, motion blur won’t raise the number, but instead help to keep the framerate more consistent; however, if you have a more powerful system, motion blur can negatively affect your FPS as it uses more GPU resources and adds an extra layer of visual noise which can negatively impact the visuals in some games.

world motion blur call of duty

Games That Work Well With Motion Blur

One of the best times to turn on motion blur is while playing a racing game. In almost every case, the surrounding images are not necessary whatsoever. Your only focus is driving and watching what is in front of you. Due to the constant rapid movements, enabling motion blur can make for a smoother game experience.

Using motion blur will blur the sides; you can focus on your driving while enhancing the game’s performance.

Games That Work Well Without Motion Blur

Just about every game will work well without the use of motion blur. If you have a next gen game console, high-end PC, and a new game, the game should perform well with motion blur disabled.


The best game to turn off motion blur on is FPS (first-person shooter) games. They simply do not work well with motion blur and usually cause more issues than they fix.


As mentioned above, motion blur will blur the surrounding area. If you have ever played an FPS game, you know how many enemies are lurking in the area around you versus right in front of you. Motion blur can cause you to skip over enemies that you would otherwise see, making your gameplay more frustrating and lowering your k/d (kill/death ratio).

weapon motion blur call of duty

It will also affect your accuracy as you won’t be able to aim correctly at targets in your peripheral view or even see them. Not only will this make you an easy target as you run by enemies, but you likely won’t notice traps or mines that enemies have left waiting for you. If all that wasn’t convincing enough, it can also make your eyes feel more tired than usual and has been known to make people feel dizzy.

Does Motion Blur Need To Be Enabled?

Motion blur can always be disabled on most games. There are many reasons why you would turn it off and a few where it may need to be turned back on:

  • You should consider keeping motion blur enabled if your game:
    • Is glitching, lagging, or underperforming more than usual
    • If having it on doesn’t bother your game, but instead makes it work smoother
    • The FPS (frames per second) of the game you’re playing is 60 or lower
    • It is an older game
    • Your gaming system is much older
  • You should disable motion blur if:
    • Your game’s performance is not at the level you know it could be
    • You are playing any type of FPS (first-person shooter) games or some multiplayer game
    • You feel motion sickness or dizziness while playing
    • You have an excellent system that can run at a high FPS without issue (frames per second)

How To Disable & Enable Motion Blur

If you decide you would like to turn off motion blur, it usually only takes a few steps.  While every game and system can be different, here are the basic steps to toggle between off and on. Some games (while not typical) will not give you the ability to turn them off. For the games that allow it, you will find it here:

  • Find the main menu of the game you are currently playing (if playing a PC game, simply hit Esc)
  • Next, find the main settings
  • Make your way down to graphic settings, video settings, or advanced graphic settings (depending on the game, these differ)
  • Within the graphics setting menu, find motion blur
  • Simply turn it on or off. In some cases, there is a percentage bar that you must lower to zero to turn it off or raise it to have it active at a low level. If you have a variable motion blur setting I suggest testing it a few different ways to find your preference

Motion Blur & Gaming

If you rarely play anything other than racing games, you could keep motion blur enabled and not experience any real downsides. For others that play a wide variety of games or any type of shooting games, our recommendation is to make sure it is disabled: your k/d will thank us later.

No matter what system you have or what type of game you are playing, it is ultimately up to you and everybody has their own preference regarding motion blur. With the information provided, our hope is that you will now be able to quickly determine when and if you should have motion blur enabled while gaming.

Sources:

People CSAIL MIT – Simulated Motion Blur

Tv Tropes – Motion Blur