Oh please. A calculator doing basic physics calculations for an object is nowhere near the complexity of a real time physics engine. Physics engines in games often operate at fixed rates, say 60hz or 100hz where they must detect collisions for large numbers of dynamic objects, and iteratively resolve penetrations between large numbers of independently moving objects, on top of the more advanced functionality of maintaining constraints of joints or other physical modelling of motors, pulleys, etc. The amount of work involved in that is far above punching in some velocity math on a calculator.
I'm not saying there is desire to model every detail of real world physics complexity in a game. I'm saying there is a lot in the area of physics that has yet to be explored in games. Realistic shattering, destruction, fluid dynamics are all heavily physics based and aren't yet feasible in real time. Given how closely graphics and physics are ultimately related in many ways, it also makes it a good fit for the GPU. In any complex physical operation, like fluid modeling, deformation, shattering, etc that games will eventually begin using, there exists a huge amount of graphics information that need to be preserved as part of those processed. Any aspect of the game that results in deformed or broken meshes mean that texture coordinates, normals, etc need to change as well in order to render it properly. Having them both located on the GPU can accelerate that process.
Huge simplifications are made in every facet of graphics. They have been since the beginning and still are today. Any complex feature of graphics is greatly simplified. Shadows, reflections, and even the basic lighting model is still not comparable to realistic lighting. It looks damn good these days no doubt, but with every advancement in hardware there is no shortage of things to put the power to good use on. The same applies to physics.
The GPU being the only real surviving addon card these days, it's really the only feasible option for integration of hardware physics acceleration, on top of simply being a good candidate, given how parallel and math heavy they operate by design.
Point is, that whether it stays as an effect only acceleration, or eventually becomes more it's good news for gamers and developers.
This comment was edited on Feb 5, 23:22.