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PC gaming vs Consoles


The NZA
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So, recently the internets have had a fair amount of talk about attempts at a unified PC gaming experience and the like. Reactions (largely what ive read on kotaku, granted) have ranged from the hardcore PC gamers snubbing their noses at lowly console gamers like myself, to laughing that a medium-end PC can be thrown together for the cost of a PS3/360, something im inclined to disagree with, but dont really follow PC gaming that well right now anyway

 

Recently, Tycho at Penny Arcade had an interesting rant on the subject:

 

A week or so ago, I read over Steven Totilo's off the cuff interview with Cliff Bleszinski, who is also known as CliffyB, and is still sometimes called Clefairy B. In it, Clifford makes a few personal observations about the PC as a gaming platform - namely, that it is schizophrenic in its focus. The industry itself apparently agrees, but it hasn't spared him any heat. Epic's Liar-King Mark Rein scuttled out from a rotting log to do some damage control, but noone on the Internet remembers anything for more than a week anyhow. It's wasted effort.

 

This "heat" I referred to, and it is not difficult to find, ranges from the merely rankled to full on psychotic episodes. To an outside observer, it must look like Stockholm Syndrome. It's hard to imagine that there are those who still see the PC as ascendant, and not merely one option available to gamers, an option fraught with costs in time and treasure that not every person feels like fucking enduring when they get home from work. The rationalizations at play in these threads are feats of such liquid mental agility that I wish we could put these minds to work on renewable energy or on the fabrication of advanced polymers. There are profound advantages to a hand-built, precision twiddled machine, running a (relatively!) wide open OS - I've done so for well over a decade. It is this generalized potential that Sony has done their best to emulate in their latest console foray. But it's certainly not the only true way to amuse yourself with electronics, and by dismissing the fixed gaming platforms you are actively sabotaging your own happiness.

 

You can't point to Valve's success - as so many do in these threads - and claim that the entire PC market is doing incredibly as a result. Valve is a single company. Valve isn't even a developer, in the traditional sense - it's a development environment, where by some bizarre alchemy newly hatched auteurs are thrown together with the best gaming humorist who has ever lived, and a few months later they deliver a three hour experience that overshadows the output of an entire industry. They worked on Team Fortress 2 for eight years. The 1.5 million sales of Orange Box on the console are, to them, something like a rounding error. Their software platform virtually defines digital delivery, community, and user created content. This is simply not what life is like for most developers.

 

Team Fortress provides an excellent example, actually. We started playing TF2 once our shit was out of the way recently, and there was a problem on Gabe's machine where the game won't run fullscreen. Yes, I checked the dropdown. Listen to my story: after updating this, and changing that, and looking up some other shit, and then rebooting, I was able to make it work. Mostly. "This is why I don't play games on here" he suggests lightly. And why should he not say this? How had we been enriched by the act? Not all toil is virtuous. Some toil is just regular old slavery.

 

Now, some claim PC gaming is where it is due to rampant bootleggery, but i think he nailed why i feel its niche: there's too much of this. I know it sounds funny to say from console games this gen that i've got to patch and do PC-like things to keep online & running, but i just dont think the experience can be matched, for me: i buy a ps3. I buy Metal Gear Solid 4. I put it in, it runs. If something fucks up and its not running right, the internet explodes and there's likely a patch to fix shit by the next day. More or less smooth sailing.

 

To run, say, Mass Effect on my PC, id have to likely upgrade my video card, which means upgrading my board, and likely RAM and processor while i'm at it. I can either go brand-new shit with Dell or somehting, or save a bit by piecemealing it together from newegg/local distributors, but its gonna take some research on my end to make sure all my prospective parts mesh well with each other. I need to install them (carefully) and update drivers and the like...oh, and hope the game doesnt need the newest directX/vista or some shit.

 

I'm not gonna sit here and shit on PC gaming: there's far, far too much to be said for awesome things like the indie gaming scene, the modding community that adds endless replay value to many titles, and quite frankly, Orange Box helped catch me up to speed on the hype behind Half Life 2, but truth is ive still mostly missed out on titles like Deus Ex, Fallout and such - even the watered-down ports of things like Max Payne dont have the kung-fu mods id've liked. I recognize there's a shit-ton of quality here besides WW II shooters and fucking WoW.

 

But to the mainstream consumer who seems confused enough about 1080p, HDMI and varying SKUs, does PC gaming have hopes of being more than just niche at some point? Yes, you can argue we've clearly all got a PC in our homes, but not optimized for gaming. Yeah, a number of youse support teh WoW, but who can run Crysis? I think its awesome that Steam and such are leading the way with digital delivery, but i gotta agree with Tycho, PC gaming strikes me as another option, but as consoles only increase in strength & close the gap, is this argument gonna even stay relevant, or do you think they'll just sort of merge in the next gen or two?

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You have to upgrade your PC but what you're overlooking is you don't have to buy a NEW PC every time a new generation of games comes out. Of course eventually you will have to rebuild but usually you can build and piece throughout the years and keep things fairly up to date. Furthermore you can adapt older games to play on next gen hardware, for example I can still play Dungeon Keeper, Doom, the original Age of Empires and the beauty is I don't have to buy new copies to do that (which is the case with Nintendo's virtual console) Even if they're old DOS games you can download software to make them work. You need to do research but it's better than hoping a warranty is holding out on your computer, at least you'll have a better chance of knowing what's going on than being faced with buying a new console. I've heard the niche case before and I think console gamers' hatred of taking the time to install things and build a working machine is why PC gamers think console gamers are lazy morons but the system is far more versatile than console. (Also I have yet to see a good RTS game come out for anything other than PC)

Edited by Iambaytor
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yeah, that's the stereotype, console gamers = too dumb/unrefined and such.

True, i like the fact you can play your games anytime. Ive currently got 7 freakin' systems hooked into my TV, which im cool with but ive no more ports/room. I could replace like half of those with a solid gaming/emulation box out in the living room, which i might one day do. Playing on a TV with a nice control pad, plus the added bonus of emulators letting you save whenever, sounds cool. Its shit like that - and even fan-subtitled import ROMs - that again show me an angle of the versatility you're talking about.

 

No one contests PC's versatility; i think 2 of my 3 current-gen consoles have browsers, and pretty good ones at that, but i post from here. I'm talking purely from a gaming standpoint.

 

Also, your raise the point of genre - i personally feel fighters and some such genres simply dont work most times on PC, but both MMORPG's and RTS, as you mentioned, are pretty much PC genres with few exceptions. Then again, many said that before about FPS, and this gen of console gaming seems to be changing that. We're looking at more potential for mods and mouse/keyboard control, which to me is much of the advantage of playing them via PC. Well, that and i understand much of your gaming community wont be XBL racist 14 year olds, but what can you do.

 

I think its worth noting that Fallout 3 is looking to be released simultaneously. Im curios to see if Starcraft 2 and others make the jump. But as a side note, on the genre front? Ive just recently realized that ive been enjoying the crap out of my new DS because of its fondness for a genre I adored on PC: point-and-click.

 

That said, Baytor, you think PC gaming has any chance of going more mainstream at some point, or again, you think theyll all just sorta merge eventually?

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that sounds complicated.

still, no answers on the pc gaming ever leaving niche thing, or pc/consoles just merging at some point thing?

 

I think the pc gaming scene is slowly being shrunk into a niche, there are a hardcore group though of people who swear by it, i was one, but as time goes by i'm starting to see how much more convenient console gaming is.

 

And yeah, i'm a pc game.

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yeah, that's the stereotype, console gamers = too dumb/unrefined and such.

True, i like the fact you can play your games anytime. Ive currently got 7 freakin' systems hooked into my TV, which im cool with but ive no more ports/room. I could replace like half of those with a solid gaming/emulation box out in the living room, which i might one day do. Playing on a TV with a nice control pad, plus the added bonus of emulators letting you save whenever, sounds cool. Its shit like that - and even fan-subtitled import ROMs - that again show me an angle of the versatility you're talking about.

 

No one contests PC's versatility; i think 2 of my 3 current-gen consoles have browsers, and pretty good ones at that, but i post from here. I'm talking purely from a gaming standpoint.

 

Also, your raise the point of genre - i personally feel fighters and some such genres simply dont work most times on PC, but both MMORPG's and RTS, as you mentioned, are pretty much PC genres with few exceptions. Then again, many said that before about FPS, and this gen of console gaming seems to be changing that. We're looking at more potential for mods and mouse/keyboard control, which to me is much of the advantage of playing them via PC. Well, that and i understand much of your gaming community wont be XBL racist 14 year olds, but what can you do.

 

I think its worth noting that Fallout 3 is looking to be released simultaneously. Im curios to see if Starcraft 2 and others make the jump. But as a side note, on the genre front? Ive just recently realized that ive been enjoying the crap out of my new DS because of its fondness for a genre I adored on PC: point-and-click.

 

That said, Baytor, you think PC gaming has any chance of going more mainstream at some point, or again, you think theyll all just sorta merge eventually?

 

Well you raise a good point but all of Console Gameing's sudden coming into its own is done through bringing in things PC Gamers have had for a long time. I.E Mods, mouse and keyboard control, emulators, etc. And while I recognize that FPS made the jump they are still far easier to play with a keyboard and mouse (even with Half-Life 2's wonderful controls on Xbox 360, precision is still hard to achieve in the heat of battle) MMORPGs work better for PC pretty much only because they're designed with so many buttons and hotkeys that adapting them to controllers limits all the stupid shit you can do in them. RTS games are extremely hard to do as the cursor just doesn't work so well on analog sticks, even the new Halo Wars looks moderately clumsy, and clumsiness can lose the game at a crucial moment in those games. As for it will be able to go mainstream again? Doubtful. Those game designers that port exclusively to PC love to make their games extra complicated (quoting Yahtzee Croshaw) "...so those dirty Console playing peasants don't ruin it for the glorious PC gaming race" and if you've played the Witcher then you know exactly what that means. Many companies are only making games for those people who are freakishly obsessed with numbers and jerk-off to their own Dungeons and Dragons character sheets. There's still a few companies: Blizzard, Valve, Ensemble Stuios who develop games more for PC users than console but they're rare. The only way I can conceivably see PC making a huge comback is if things like Gamefly.com really take off which would again make PCs superior to consoles as you could play any and all games that come out for all systems with a short download time and usually with little trouble.

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