Consoles Ate My PC
Consoles are ruining PC gaming. I say that with all the avid seriousness and helpless resentment of a Mac enthusiast watching their once beloved overpriced touchy-feely plastic blue machine become a Windows system with a thin Apple veneer. It is a futile and inevitable process of technological evolution, as the dominant format in gaming stretches wide its cavernous maw and devours its hobbled prey. Great is the suck-hole through which the lobotomized console predator licks tastily at PC gamingÃ‚'s tender haunches.Bitter as I may sound, I still like consoles, and many of the action packed mindless games they offer. I just didnÃ‚'t want them to kill off my preferred past time, much the way I can like my mildly annoying neighbor just fine, but still become a little snippy should he choose to start hunting my pets. And yet, games like Deus Ex: Invisible War and Halo only take steps to prove my point, that through the magic of limited resources, minimal controls, and dumbed down gameplay, the console coup de tat isnÃ‚'t just killing PC gaming, itÃ‚'s molesting it on its way out.
LetÃ‚'s talk about Fallout 3 for a moment. More particularly, letÃ‚'s talk about the possibility that Fallout 3 and Black Isle were laid on the sacrificial altar with their throats cut and entrails spilled so the console game Brotherhood of Steel 2 could get a transfusion. IÃ‚'d be happy to hear anyone argue that Brotherhood of Steel 2 is going to be a higher quality game than Fallout 3 would have been, if only so I could mock you in public and perhaps even slap you around with a wet fish. But even I would have a hard time taking the position that, even if it proves to be a monumentally inferior game, Brotherhood of Steel 2 would have made less money than Fallout 3. Fallout 3 and the demise of Black Isle studios is the perfect example of how PC gaming is being beaten to death by mass market console sludge.
Making money off console games appears to be a pretty simple thing. Though, many games take the high road and actually put forth creative effort, by and large itÃ‚'s not really a necessary step. one only need a concept that appears to be photocopied from a dozen games before, add some nice explosions, and give it a snappy name like Ã‚"˜Merczorz Death Gun and All The People He Kills With ItÃ‚'. Voila, money hat.
ThatÃ‚'s not to say that all console games are poor, nor that I actually believe any of the PC gaming will die histrionics. IÃ‚'m certainly not begrudging those who love console games to the exclusion of PCs Ã‚– I mean, there are people out there who love Jim Carrey movies, so who am I to judge your undiscerning palette? Even in my worst case scenario PC gaming would still be a viable line of products with no shortage of enthusiasts, but, at the same time, it would be extraordinarily naÃƒÂ¯ve to pretend that everything is pink lemonade and roses in Windowsville. The recent rumor about EB and Gamestop pulling PC games was pretty obvious nonsense from the start Ã‚– though there were no shortage of "news" sites anxious to post yet another unsupported rumor Ã‚– but it did carry some significance as an extreme example of a growing perception. Not five years ago you could walk into a Software Etc., Babbages, or Electronics Boutique and find fifty to seventy-five percent of the shelf space packed with software. Now, youÃ‚'d be lucky to find more than a half-dozen shelves. EB and Gamestop certainly wonÃ‚'t pull PC gaming off the market, and shame on you if you believed they would, but they undoubtedly will condense their shelf space even more.
And theyÃ‚'d be equally stupid not to. One thing this ridiculous rumor brought to light is that PC gaming merely accounts for ten percent or less of the retailerÃ‚'s revenue. That kind of market share might be lucky to find itself being sold out of a dirty bin in the back corner of a Walgreens, and itÃ‚'s sure not going to be a growing market as software developers continue to release buggy and/or incompatible PC software. Not that multiple year dealys on big name games really help much either.
So how do development houses that are determined to feed the PC market react? The only way they can, I suppose, by designing in tandem games that hit both the consoles and PC in an effort to maximize revenue. There are two ways that deal can swing, either games are primarily created with the PC in mind and developers struggle to make that design work on a console, or games are developed for the console and much more easily kicked over into a Window. Wanna guess how that usually works out?
Deus Ex , a classic shooter RPG hybrid, is as far as IÃ‚'m concerned one of the best games of all time. Deus Ex, Invisible War is a vague reminder of that original classic, pared back at every turn to accommodate the smaller memory and limited controls of a console. The difference between a Beethoven Symphony and the Mentos jingle, what has become of the Deus Ex franchise is a gaming travesty. Not a bad game per se, Invisible War makes for a rather passable console shooter, but canÃ‚'t avoid the inevitable disappointment of not being able to live up to its legacy.
And, itÃ‚'s just one example of a growing trend. What I mean when I say console games are ruining PC gaming is not that there will be no more PC games, but that far too many will kneel before the golden cash cow, sell out PC gamers to the needs of the console. Too many PC games that have been developed for cross platforms donÃ‚'t utilize the strengths of a computer, not in interface, not in complexity, not in depth, and not in technical aspects. Imagine for a second what a great game like Knights of the Old Republic might have been if developed for the PC from the start. Imagine if the original design of Halo and the great ideas expressed first by Bungie had come to fruition.
So, short of MMORPGs and real-time strategy games, PC gamers should get used to the trend of small levels and save points. And if you have a moment where you begrudge consoles for taking such a lionÃ‚'s share of the pot, realize that youÃ‚'re now the Mac User of gaming. If you cry a little, thereÃ‚'s no shame in that.