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 gamingÂ's tender haunches.

Bitter as I may sound, I still like consoles, and many of the action packed mindless games they offer. I just didnÂ'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 isnÂ't just killing PC gaming, itÂ's molesting it o­n its way out.

LetÂ's talk about Fallout 3 for a moment. More particularly, letÂ'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. IÂ'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 itÂ'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 Â"˜Merczorz Death Gun and All The People He Kills With ItÂ'. Voila, money hat.

ThatÂ's not to say that all console games are poor, nor that I actually believe any of the PC gaming will die histrionics. IÂ'm certainly not begrudging those who love console games to the exclusion of PCs – 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 naïve 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 – though there were no shortage of "news" sites anxious to post yet another unsupported rumor – 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, youÂ'd be lucky to find more than a half-dozen shelves. EB and Gamestop certainly wonÂ'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 theyÂ'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 retailerÂ'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 itÂ'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 IÂ'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 canÂ't avoid the inevitable disappointment of not being able to live up to its legacy.

And, itÂ'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 donÂ'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 lionÂ's share of the pot, realize that youÂ're now the Mac User of gaming. If you cry a little, thereÂ's no shame in that.

-Elysium

Comments

Video killed the radio star.

You know you should really throw an Xtreme and maybe an Underground into your new column title. Something like Xtreme Maximum Verbosity Underground! has a certain ring to it, and would just sound so much cooler! Maybe it would make people actually listen to your articles Elysium. Of course once they realized they had to actually read the article and it would not read itself to them they would see through your facade and realize this Verbosity was neither Extreme nor Underground. So I guess just sticking with the simple Maximum Verbosity is perhaps the best idea after all.

Yo, that is whack!

Good suggestion, but too late to get the gently used Galactic Civilizations, my friend.

Not to worry, folks. PC Gaming will return soon enough. We're just at the peak of the console cycle now, and although the tech in PCs is ahead of the consoles, it still isn't very apparent to most.

Once it becomes apparent, and it will, gamers will start drifting back to the PCs to get the jaw dropping goods.

Look!! New high tech consoles!!
2 1/2 to 3 years later -
WOW!! Look at the kick ass stuff on the PCs!!!!
2 1/2 years after that
Look!! New high tech consoles!!

And so it will always go. As long as PCs continue to improve their stats, hey will always steal the thunder back from the consoles when their stuff starts looking old.

It's what I believe, any ways.

Hey, I'll have you know I'm an official member of the Anal Retentive and Elitist English Majors club, and I like most Jim Carrey movies. (not the butt talking ones, cable guy, and haven't seen me,myself, and irene).

Other than that...things are looking sad on the PC games shelves right now, and I blame the "franchiseness" of movies and games as much as I blame consoles. And movie/game franchise tie-ins...are worse. Except for RotK, which is sacrilegious to mock in any way. Unbelievers may leave now.

Actually, Ridlin, I'd argue that we should be at the height of PC interest right now, and briefly we were until delays, hacks, and buggy software reminded people what the problems with PCs were. With all 3 systems well established and a little sleepy, and new systems to be announced next year, this was a window for PC gaming that was entirely missed.

This has been a banner year for PC gaming. There have been a ton of PC games this year that are fantastic.

Call of Duty, Planetside, Rainbow 6, Age of Wonders:SM, C&C Generals, Gal Civ, Ghost Master, Korsun Pocket, Homeworld 2, Rise of Nations, WCIII:FT, Tron 2.0, Freelancer, Combat Mission:AK, Silent Storm, etc. And those are just the ones I can quickly think of.

If PC games only account for 10% of the profit, how much of the revenue do they account for? Is the margin on PC games only 10%? What is the margin on console games?

Sure, console games have a large, standardized install base that helps to validate development on them. But that doesn't mean that PC gaming is dead, or even reduced to Mac levels.

Sheesh.

Soon as those games start coming in we should start to see the shift.

Yeah, they're late, but they will still have two years to make up for it. New consoles aren't due until Xmas 2005.

It's too bad everyone seemed to scoff at Microsoft's proposing that we standardize the PC gaming market more. Give machines "Levels", have the games run right off the dvds without any installation, things like that.

Let's have the PC take measures to be more like a console when it comes to gaming. I thought it was a great idea, but it doesn't seem to be panning out.

Remember when the consoles first came out? Those of you that ran out and got them played a cool game or two, and then went back to the PC. Even after Xmas 2005 the window is still open for the PC market because developers haven't gotten used to the new hardware yet.

So ... I'm predicting we will have this conversation again in ... 2007.

See you there!!

Sure, console games have a large, standardized install base that helps to validate development on them. But that doesn't mean that PC gaming is dead, or even reduced to Mac levels.

How does that not mean we're not Mac gamers when compared to consoles? I think that's a pretty accurate analogy and for the most part always has been, we are just much much smaller. It doesn't mean we don't exist or aren't profitable.

Call of Duty, Planetside, Rainbow 6, Age of Wonders:SM, C&C Generals, Gal Civ, Ghost Master, Korsun Pocket, Homeworld 2, Rise of Nations, WCIII:FT, Tron 2.0, Freelancer, Combat Mission:AK, Silent Storm, etc. And those are just the ones I can quickly think of.

Look, I'll agree that most of these are pretty good games. But to call Tron 2.0 and even Rise of Nations "fantastic" is a bit of a stretch. There wasn't anything this year on the level of a Half-Life or Deus Ex. No real "instant classic" stands out as far as I can tell from looking at your list. Lots of good games, nothing really mind-blowing. I don't think that means PC gaming is dead either, nor do I think that's what Elysium is saying. We had several big name PC studios doing console games this year, it seems like we had several coulda been classics taken from us by the consoles. PC Gaming is getting bastardized by consoles, we are becoming port city more than ever before. It doesn't mean we don't have good games, just that several of the great ones went over to consoles. Sucks, but I also think it's true.

PC Gaming is getting bastardized by consoles, we are becoming port city more than ever before.

Of course it is, the Xbox just makes it too easy and tempting for PC game developers to try and focus a game across the two platforms. Of course you can't really make the console smarter, so what you get is a game dumbed down to console standards. So while the Xbox may mean the PC gets a few ports it otherwise would have missed, we lose some of what made PC gaming unique and interesting in the first place.

Pyro, I just realized what it is so annoying about the article comments not being linked to the forums. The problem is as soon as this article drops down a few notches, everyone will forget about the thread. Hence and interesting discussion such as this one will just die out not because the userbase is tired of it, but because they just forget about it. Sort of an out of sight ound of mind sort of thing

As long as PCs continue to improve their stats, hey will always steal the thunder back from the consoles when their stuff starts looking old.

I see your point, but I believe we're reaching a point of diminishing returns as far as graphics are concerned on the PC. Graphic improvements have been fairly incremental since the massive improvements of GeForce3-level technology (2x AA - no, 4x AA - no, 6x AA!!), to the point that the only glaring difference between the graphics on a console vs. that of a computer is the lower resolution of the television. The graphics in this generation of console games aren't far from the graphics in the average PC title to the average gamer's eye. Besides that, in games going forward, why should companies go the trouble of creating a Super! Duper! version for the PC, when they can just bring over a slightly optimized console version and push a comparable number of units (*cough* Halo/KotOR/DX : IW *cough*)? Sure, there are exceptions like HL2 and D3 to look forward to, but they're just that: exceptions.

With consoles starting to incorporate hard drives and network capabilities, the other traditional reasons to shun consoles for the PC versions are crumbling as well. The only remaining 'biggie' is user-developed content, and how much of a selling point is that for the casual gamer?

I'm not saying that we're seeing the end of PC gaming, because that would be ludicrous, but I am saying that the market for games is going to change significantly in the next several years, and, for a wide variety of reasons, I don't think it's going to be in the PC's favor.

Speaking for myself, my computer is now 2+ years old, and I have no intention of upgrading it anytime soon. Instead, I'm looking more towards buying a PS2 or XBox to supplement my GameCube, especially since I can get an entire system with some amazing AAA titles for the cost of a mid-range video card. I bet I'm not the only gamer making that choice.

If they made a controller for the XBox that I could sit on my lap that closly emulated a keyboard/mouse config, output the games at 1080i to HDTV, removed all save point style save systems and let me save anytime nature calls, patched (which yes is a mixed blessing), hooked it up to XBox live, and gave me the style of games that PC Gamers enjoy (solid FPS, RTS, MMOs and such) I would switch in a heartbeat. The price I pay to update my computer would probably pay for a semi decent HDTV.

However, they want to keep it seperate, and there is a reason. Pure and simple the PC style game is a different market. Consoles are great for quick fix games and PC are great for games that require sophistication. They now exactly the base that will buy certain types of PC games, such as Age of Mythology, and then spend there "hope we get a hit" money on console games that sell in mass.

A publishing company has to decide what will both sell to the most customers and still alienate the least of them. The answer is the games that are right on the border of appealing to both markets, such as DE:IW, are now being designed for the market that will buy them in the highest numbers, regardless of quality. PC ports as an afterthought are there to try and please there PC customers enough to keep them.

Making a PC game is perilous at best these days anyway.

Why is that? Because console players buy simple games with pretty pictures on the box and PC gamers will flood the internet with hatred and flames because one of "their" games will miss a ship date by ten days. Heck, we will mount a major offensive to steal the code from a game developer because they were "lying about the game being ready." We will demand that there are 300 graphics options to optimize for our machine. We will demand continious support of the product well after console game makers have forgotten their games exist. We demand robust online play, major graphical scalability, and the flippin toolset the game was made with.

And we want it to for the same price, or less, than our console brotheren...and oh yeah it has to be on time or we will likely have snit fit.

Bleh, I play both PCs and consoles, but from a development standpoint I can say that even though I would rather make a cool, inventive game like Simcity or Baldur's Gate, I would rather make a game for one platform, with easy development tools, and a some what easy to read fan base.

Which really is unfortunate since some of the best games of all time are PC games.

Pyro, I just realized what it is so annoying about the article comments not being linked to the forums. The problem is as soon as this article drops down a few notches, everyone will forget about the thread. Hence and interesting discussion such as this one will just die out not because the userbase is tired of it, but because they just forget about it. Sort of an out of sight ound of mind sort of thing

Very true, however that's the nature of comments to news stories. It's just the way it works. Once it ceases to be news very few people feel like talking about it. Not really much anybody can do about that. I mean, look at it this way. Elysium's "Best Of" article was on the site for about 2 days as the top story. It stopped getting comments after the first night, and just sat there all the next day. It died off before it left the top spot. Mainly because there's only so much you can comment on a news story until it gets old and everyone starts talking about something else. Besides, doesn't Elysium usually use all the words before we even get to the comments?

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.

I'm not so sure this is true. The majority of people I've seen who said they'd buy the first one said they'd buy it because they thought it would mean they'd get Fallout 3 in the near future. Sure, there were some, OMG THIS LOOKS KEWL things I've seen about the game, they're in the minority of the comments and remarks about the title around the Internet. Now unless these people are in deep denial at this point, or they've been living under a rock and haven't heard that Fallout 3 was canned along with the PC developers at Black Isle, I wouldn't think those ones buying it looking to support Fallout 3 would buy it at this point - let alone part 2.

Even if they did buy part 1, I'm not sure the experience would be that good considering that they chopped this game in half in order to squeeze two games out of it instead of just one. What was originally Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel is now half the size it used to be so that they can half the length of the game, sell two games for twice the profit. Not exactly a good bang for your buck deal there.

Very true, however that's the nature of comments to news stories. It's just the way it works. Once it ceases to be news very few people feel like talking about it.

I don't really agree with that. Most forum posts start as some kind of link to a news story or recently released game, and go from there. Yet some of these things drag on for quite a while, and still get dragged up months later to be re-ignited and see even more discussion posted in them. Not to mention many of the posts at the site are more on the 'Timeless Editorial' side

But luckily for you we are having this discussion in the article comments where by this time tommorow everyone will have forgotten about this conversation. If this were in the forums proper, I would have a groundswell of insurgents revolting against the tyranny that is PyroMan's stranglehold on the site's source code! Viva La Revolution!

Speaking for myself, my computer is now 2+ years old, and I have no intention of upgrading it anytime soon. Instead, I'm looking more towards buying a PS2 or XBox to supplement my GameCube, especially since I can get an entire system with some amazing AAA titles for the cost of a mid-range video card. I bet I'm not the only gamer making that choice.

I have to concur with this - I was an avid, PC-only gamer until a year or year and a half ago. Then, I realized almost every gaming session was punctuated by "Dare I try AA? Should I try some AF, or will it crush my framerate? Will this game crash my system?" I'd spend 2-3 hours per title researching message boards, looking for system incompatibility issues, downloading patches (awesome fun on a 28.8k dial up connection.) I sort of took a step back, and said.. hmm... metroid prime... eternal darkness... no configuration, no patches, no sweating bullets over soundblaster compatibilities... it just.. works. I loves me some Viewtiful Joe and Xenosaga, that's for sure.

However, on another note, console gaming or sort of a "second love" dfor me - if I'm not playing it on a PC, I don't feel like I'm *really* into it - Fallout 2, System Shock 2, Master of Magic, etc.... those are the games that really grabbed me.

If this were in the forums proper, I would have a groundswell of insurgents revolting against the tyranny that is PyroMan's stranglehold on the site's source code! Viva La Revolution!

Don't get me wrong, I'm not against integrating it with the forums, I just don't think it'd do any good. However, feel free to download the latest Postnuke and write a module that replaces the News Comments system with a forums thread provided it

1) requires no extra work for anybody posting news
2) displays the comments on the same page as the article
3) doesn't force us to upgrade PNphpBB2, we're using 1.1a
4) doesn't take ridiculous processing power or bandwidth, though I don't think that'll be a problem.

If anybody can do that I'll gladly stick it on the page.

1) requires no extra work for anybody posting news
2) displays the comments on the same page as the article
3) doesn't force us to upgrade PNphpBB2, we're using 1.1a
4) doesn't take ridiculous processing power or bandwidth, though I don't think that'll be a problem.

Pyro,

If it's difficult to implement I completely understand. I just remembered that you had a thread asking why people would want the comments tied to the forums. I just happened to think of a good reason I would like them that way and thought I would mention it. The last part was supposed to be funny

The last part was supposed to be funny

Yeah I know, I just realized how what I said was sounding. I didn't want anybody to get the wrong idea.

I've come a long way in my gaming travels. I started off as a Mac gamer, got tired of sucking hind tit with releases and bought a PC, then decided I had to have an Xbox because Halo was comig out on that. Nowadays I really onyl game on my Xbox. All of the newer games run like poo on my PC, since it has floundered processor-wise since purchase (PIII/733, GF4Ti4200), and my monitor is crrrap compared with my widescreen HDTV. Now that I have PGR2 I may never go back :). Once Halo 2 hits, that will truly be the end.

I've been sans console for three years and loving it. After the death of the Dreamcast I haven't looked back. Of course now my wife wants an XBox for Top Spin, Links 2004, and maybe Mario Kart: Double Dash, so we'll see...

I'm still betting the pedulum will swing back and forth.

I've been a PC / Console gamer since the beginning (starting with the magnavox and C64), and it ALWAYS swings back and forth with the tech advancements.

UNLESS, computers don't advance ahead enough.

I'll admit, for the first time in their history, it's looks like Murray's law has finally been broken and processing power hasn't doubled every 6 months as predicted.

I'm betting their just getting ready to do a LEAP. IBM's sure cooking up something.

The PC always was my favourite gaming system and that's not going to change in the near feature. The console systems simply lack some of the genres I like and there's also the huge indie/shareware market with tons of worthwhile games you won't find anywhere else. Mind you, I also own a number of console systems, but overall I find myself playing PC games most of the time.

Posted by Stric9

Of course it is, the Xbox just makes it too easy and tempting for PC game developers to try and focus a game across the two platforms. Of course you can't really make the console smarter, so what you get is a game dumbed down to console standards. So while the Xbox may mean the PC gets a few ports it otherwise would have missed, we lose some of what made PC gaming unique and interesting in the first place.

Now you know exactly what I'm thinking every time I see a post that asks:
"Should I buy [game x] for Xbox or PC. I have tried to stay out of Xbox game discussions because I don't have anything positive to say.

Sheesh! Cant we all jsut get along?
I'm primarily a PC gamer meself having got my first lick with Commodore 64 ... and i DO believe MOST of the best games come out on PC ... but then there's games like Final Fantasy IV, VII, X and Shadowrun on Sega that rocked also. I dunno ... mebbe this is naive. I think true gamers just PLAY games regardless of the system. I own XBox, PS2, AND my PC. I play games on all of them.
Now that being said it does bug in a rather large way the whole dumbed down lowest common denomiator development of games. A PC game should be developed with enhancing it's strengths and abilities. So what if PC games don't generate as much revenue as console games. Why not just develop a PC game and treat it as a seperate product in and of itself. Build it up as a quality product that will then generate positive revenue and profits for the company. (Once again this may sound naive and overly idealistic) I mean sheesh! Profit IS Profit. There is NO way at all to disclaim that PC games that are of good quality cannot make money!
I'm sure most of those publishers have heard of lil games like Starcraft, Diablo, Command & Conquer, and Wing Commander. Jeez those games sold like gangbusters!
I think ... I hope ... I pray ... one day developers will see that making a good quality PC game CAN be profitable so that I won't have to despair and continue to see lowest common denominator tripe like Enter the Matrix of Deus Ex. I'm already fearing for Thief 3 too right now.