Why in the 21st Century Consoles Reign Supreme, and Always Will
July 12, 2008 § 1 Comment
“PC gaming isn’t dead!” Roy Taylor preaches to his congregation as head of Nvidia, “The console is a baseline, the PC is going to be an improved version,” he claims, in the face of mounting PC gaming piracy. But then why would he be worried? You can’t pirate hardware.
For a while now PC gaming has been an untamable beast. Huge numbers of different system configurations mean that development for the platform is a tricky business and then add to that the fact that when a developer does finally release a game, no matter how good it is, the sales will only reflect a tiny proportion of the total number of people enjoying it. If developers go out of there way to try and stop this, a huge DRM-backlash ensues, to which many games reputations (and sales) often suffer.
But we’re not developers, we’re consumers, and yet still for us consoles provide a better overall gaming experience. With a console you’re getting a much more games-centric device; you’re not playing a game with peripherals intended for the average office user (read: mouse and keyboard) you’re playing with a joypad, made specifically for the enjoyment of gamers. You can hold a controller in mid-air, whereas with a keyboard you’re stuck to a desk, and a tidy one at that. How many times have you been forced to clear space to allow your mouse free reign over the workspace?
Then, when you do finally get games, they’re late, often ported by a separate developer, and whilst they may feature small additions and marginally better graphics, the overall experience has been condensed down to work with control inputs that don’t necessarily benefit the game as much as a joypad does.
Maybe I’m being stereotypical but the PC gamer is a lonely beast. He or she roams the lands of the Sims and WOW in solidarity, no one else in the room to encourage or to criticise. Try and get several people playing a PC game at once. It’s practically impossible without some nifty control schemes put in place by the developers. It says a lot when the most fun I’ve had playing a multiplayer PC game locally with someone was when we broke out the 360 controllers. Get friends round to play a console game and it’s a different story altogether. Sit down, pick up you’re controllers and your in, with little to no hassle regarding space or comfort (couch size not withstanding).
It may be that soon one of the major selling points of PC gaming will gain greater influence over on the other side of the iron curtain. Mods, formerly the exclusive child of the personal computer have recently been enabled on the PS3 with the release of Unreal Tournament 3, allowing mods to be “cooked” for use on the system. True, the mod still needs to be developed on a computer, but when you can enjoy it in all it’s glory with not a care in the world for the game not running smoothly, playing away from your couch just doesn’t seem as appealing.
Ultimately though, migrating from PC to consoles is only going to happen so long as developers allow it to. Whilst the Sims and all it’s expansion pack children is certainly possible on a console with the advent of downloadable content, developers (and publishers) never want to be the ones to test the water, and will remain on the safe side with continued releases of inferior ports to consoles in regards to PC franchises (but then when you have the best selling PC game of all time, why change?). Additionally, whilst the console has a huge variety of games, some of the best will only ever be released on PC (WOW, Starcraft, Diablo).
It’s perhaps a small price to pay though when you consider that buying a console will secure your gaming for at least the next six years (and with Sony’s promises of a ten year life cycle for the PSP and PS3 maybe more) whereas buying a top of the range PC may allow you to play games on maximum settings for a while, soon you’ll have to be settling for second best, and thereafter not at all.
I’m not here to try and change your opinion. I know many people won’t come to the dark side over such a trivial matter as cost and that the mouse and keyboard is something of a savior to some people. At the same time though, as a previous PC gamer I’m a person that wants to see developers trying new things on consoles that have previously only been possible on the PC platform, so that maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to enjoy The Sims 3 when it comes out.