The Unspoken Price Drop

In the politics of gaming, I am a PC partisan. Though I may occasionally dabble with console gaming like a repressed ultra-conservative dabbling in a gender identity crisis, in the glaring light of day I fall firmly in that grand old PC curmudgeon party. Were the forces of console gaming to crumble tomorrow and the greedy eye of the gaming industry to once again turn its electric gaze on our platform of ill repute, I would champion it as a victory for good taste and basic human liberty.

So, I was encouraged this week by an e-mail that turned up in our inbox. It was penned for discussion on the podcast, and hopefully that will still take place, but I am unilaterally co-opting the comment for my own nefarious and opinionated purposes here.

The idea is a simple one — that the once vast cost margin between console and PC gaming has all but closed. At the end of my discussion today I want to leave you with two thoughts, and rather than making you wait I’ll offer them here for you to consider now.

The first is that this analysis is spot on.

The second is that it does not matter a whit.

Here is an excerpt of that e-mail:

If I was to get a ps3 slim today and all the peripherals for the playstation move, my total comes up to $450 ($300 ps3 $80 for move and nun chuck controller and $40 for the eye). Same thing with the new xbox and Natal... sorry Kinnect priced at $150. Hasn't the computer become a the cheaper gaming alternative? I walked in to my local computer store the other day and saw a rig running MW2 on 3 screens. They had the thing advertised for $750 Canadian dollars. Most people out there would do fine just by upgrading to a $200 video card.

Okay, first I grant you that the e-mailer (who added no name to his comment, but who hails from the ever reputable hotmail.com) is playing fast and loose with some pretty basic math. Even a numerically intolerant old English major like me can still register the fundamental inequality of $750>$500, so while his premise intrigues me I abandon full support well before the line of arguing that PC gaming is actually cheaper. It’s not, but it is _getting_ cheaper.

Let’s talk Xbox 360 for a minute, though. Just to keep our casual analysis nice and fair, we’ll just pretend like I’m not on my third machine since 2005, or that my total hardware investment is actually around $700 alone. Were you to fire over to Amazon.com today and purchase even the cheaper 120GB Xbox Elite, you will cough up 250 bones, but let’s be realistic about that purchase. If you are me, you’re going to need another controller. You’re going to need HDMI cables. You’re going to need Xbox LIVE, maybe even for the whole family. And, this winter, you’re going to need Kinnect.

That supposed $250 barrier to entry, if you are me, is really closer to $600 — roughly the same price as a relatively decent low end Dell laptop.

The industry likes to make a big deal about price drops, but somehow they have really done relatively little to actually keep consumer total costs in line as these systems enter middle-age. On the other side, the past half decade has seen a precipitous and real world drop in price for desktops and laptops.

I won’t go so far as to say that PC gaming has become trivially cheap — though if you are adventurous, comfortable with handling a little bit of tech and savvy you can shave away hundreds of dollars — but it certainly has come in line with console gaming. So the what is, I think, the underlying premise posed by our e-mail is a valid one: why haven’t game companies and consumers started backing the PC horse?

The short answer that most companies give is piracy.

The more complex answer is that companies make their games where the money is, and gamers go where the games are. At some point a number of years ago, the PC market became so toxic that game makers abandoned it even though there was still a large and healthy population of buyers. These were the days of driver issues, compatibility frustrations, skyrocketing processor costs and the evolution of internet piracy. Making a game exclusive to the PC was like buying speculation property on a variable rate interest only home loan in Las Vegas — a completely losing proposition. For publishers, money is just easier to make on the consoles, and so the game companies left and the gamers went with them.

Here's the thing though. Let's say that the problem of piracy were entirely resolved to the satisfaction of both game makers and gamers tomorrow. There would be no mass exodus back home to PC gaming. The basic landscape of a post-piracy gaming world would probably look a lot like today's. Business operates best from inertia, and for all its flaws the console market is a stable and rich one. This is the world we lost PC gamers will continue to live in, one of sloppy console ports, open animosity from once mighty developers suffering from some kind of corporate-wide PTSD and a gaming industry drifting inevitably toward total media integration and innovation through gadgetry.

Depressing, right? Well, actually I’d say no. After all, as a primarily PC gamer, the market drift is kind of working for my pocketbook. The pressure to keep costs low on my platform of choice is creating some pretty good deals, not the least of which is that new releases are traditionally cheaper, and while I can’t get every game I may want, I pay a lot less than I did five years ago to sustain my still healthy habit. Digital distribution is an advanced lifeform on PCs, and the rich independent market augments the not as prominent but still considerable major publisher releases.

I don’t imagine that I am a typical example, but I am definitely feeling the drain on my wallet coming from those scheming little boxes entrenched around my television. Like the once mighty PC marker, the constant push to upgrade and enhance is becoming a cost burden, and based on this year’s E3 there is no sign on the horizon that the trend will change. One might almost describe it as bubble-esque.

Do I think that should that bubble burst, suddenly people will rush back to the PC as the platform of choice? Not really. That ship has sailed into the west, but I have come to terms with the new face of PC gaming and have made peace. I’m just glad that it’s going to cost a lot less.

Comments

Sku Boi wrote:
I know I'll probably be called a skimmer for this, but I still think its fair to include the motion controls into the equation. Mainly because motion control is included with most computers, we just dont think of it as a motion control, the mouse.

Its a device with an optical sensor that judges movement of your hand dragging it across a surface to create movement on screen. I just thought I would throw that out there.

So my gamepad has been a motion controller all this time? I had no idea.

Seriously, I don't think it matters if you include the controller or not. I think it is odd that people don't seem inclined to mention the variety of gamepads and joysticks available for PC's. I'd also say that figuring out which ones work well for different games is a hell of a lot more complicated than picking up an extra gamepad, or even plastic interments or dance pads.

Jayhawker wrote:
I think it is odd that people don't seem inclined to mention the variety of gamepads and joysticks available for PC's.
I like this point. Not so much for a 'mine is better than yours' contest, but that I'd like to see more games use more varied input methods than thumbsticks and buttons, and the only non-visual/audio feedback is a weak and lame rumble from two small motors. I'd love to see more games use stuff like the Novint Falcon, or some of the stuff from CH or Saitek, not just tied to one platform, but just... for games. Although it might make for a worse version of what people feared with the music games, plastic toys everywhere.

EvilDead wrote:

Thanks for the geography lesson. Yes you are correct that hardcore games got burned buying into the Wii, but thats b/c they are enthusiasts and they bought into the potential. However the rest of the world who bought the system b/c they wanted to play a particular game seems to be perfectly content with their decision.

I still fail to see how deciding if you want one or two controllers amounts to the complexity of how will this run on my PC or why is it stuttering. To add to that its not like you don't have to decide on what peripherals you want for a PC. And I'm not understanding how how a PC could be considered better for children. There are more games with nudity and cursing and lets not forget the whole internet thing.

Edit: I should add that I love PC gaming. I build a new comp every 3-4 years (Core i7 last year) and am currently in the market for a 14" mid-range gaming laptop ($900 - $1100). At the same time I can completely understand why 90% of my friends stick to consoles.

No need to get snarky. Region-locking and importation are major concerns for gamers around the world - just not in the US and Japan. It's something you have to consider when purchasing a console.

I did not say that operating a console is as complex as maintaining a PC. Let's be clear on that. There is no need for you to refute something I did not say. I just said that the less-complex side of PC gaming is about on the level as the more-complex side of console gaming. One is not as simple as is being made out, and the other not as complex.

As for suitability, you must understand that I am talking from the perspective of logical, responsible parenthood. A platform is suitable children or otherwise based not on what is on it, but based on what is NOT on it. This sounds more complex that it really is. Sorry about that.

It goes like this:

Many gamers and people make the mistake of disliking a platform by what is on it. From a broad, marketing and business perspective, that makes sense. From a consumer standpoint, it does not. It does not make sense to NOT like the Wii just because it has shovelware. You're never going to buy those anyway, so what difference does it make? Likewise, the suitability of PC and PS3 for children isn't based on nudity, violence, or whatever else. I'm never going to allow my children to consume content that I haven't screened, so there's no issue.

The bigger issue is that there are very few titles on PS3 that will entertain and educate children. The PC does not have this content issue. The market for children-suitable content on PC is alive and well. I can get Dora games, Diego games, spelling games, reading games, and so on and so forth. I think that children today need to be exposed to PC operation as early as possible.

TheGameguru wrote:

My biggest beef with PC gaming (I consider myself primarily a PC Gamer) is the frustration that even after you spend top dollar you still suffer in some way as things just never are "perfect"

I have beef with people that will never be satisfied with how good the game looks on a 30" monitor that sits a couple of feet away from their face. You have to be realistic with pc gaming, if you go into video settings of a game and the developers decided to give you the option of running anti-aliasing at x16 and max resolution of 2560 x 1600 doesn't mean the game is sh*t unless you run it at those specs. There will always be people looking at the sliders they are not able to max out regardless of how good the game looks. Ignorance is a bless I guess , and that is one advantage console gamers get to enjoy. I'm not insinuating that console gamers are ignorant, but rather they are free from the thought of "oooh if I upgrade my video card I bet I can run these settings a bit higher" syndrome.

You make a really good point. But that is the nature of so many things in life. If you think you should be getting better results, you will work your butt off to achieve those results, often wrecking the overall experience.

You even get this in console games when online play comes into the equation. Listening to people complain about host advantage and how the pings are ruining their games kind of wrecks the fun of playing Gears. When it is just folks drinking beer and blowing each other up, it is a blast. My ping could probably be better if I had a wired connection, but I just choose to enjoy the game for what it is.

But even more, you see people talk about their deep blacks and using calibration DVDs to perfect the look of their HDTVs. I decided pretty early on to never look at AVS again. My HDTV looked great until I tried to make it look perfect. Then it was never quite right and it always bugged me, because I just had to try something else.

For the short time I had a home theater set-up, making the sure the sound was right became a stupid annoyance. It didn't matter that it sounded 100 times better than before, now I had something to monkey around with to make it sound better. Now that I just use the TV speakers, I enjoy my gaming experience more. I did get a set of 7.1 surround headphones that I use when I want to get more immersed, but even then I revert to just the TV speakers more often than not.

But the PC had way to many options that could make it better. And what all of those options really did was make it more likely that I was going to have issues with every new game I installed. I don't miss that part of gaming at all.

Jayhawker wrote:
You make a really good point. But that is the nature of so many things in life. If you think you should be getting better results, you will work your butt off to achieve those results, often wrecking the overall experience.

I do think that the complexity of PC gaming is to a certain extent psychological. When I think about it, when I run games on a PC, most of what I think of as "hassle" isn't getting the game to run (like it used to be) but getting the game to run where I'm happy with it.

I was thinking about this when I was playing Super Mario Galaxy 2 a little while back. At one point, the framerate hitched as rock Mario plowed through a large group of enemies. If I had been playing that game on a PC, I would have stopped to tinker with the settings a bit until I could eliminate that drop. On the console, I ignored it and moved on with the game because it was such a rare occurrence.

ClockworkHouse wrote:

I was thinking about this when I was playing Super Mario Galaxy 2 a little while back. At one point, the framerate hitched as rock Mario plowed through a large group of enemies. If I had been playing that game on a PC, I would have stopped to tinker with the settings a bit until I could eliminate that drop. On the console, I ignored it and moved on with the game because it was such a rare occurrence.

Not to mention that there is nothing you could have done on your Wii to ensure it never happens again.

ForTheNoobs wrote:
ClockworkHouse wrote:

I was thinking about this when I was playing Super Mario Galaxy 2 a little while back. At one point, the framerate hitched as rock Mario plowed through a large group of enemies. If I had been playing that game on a PC, I would have stopped to tinker with the settings a bit until I could eliminate that drop. On the console, I ignored it and moved on with the game because it was such a rare occurrence.

Not to mention that there is nothing you could have done on your Wii to ensure it never happens again.

That's what kind of made it a better gaming experience. At least, that was the point I was trying to make.

Jayhawker wrote:
ForTheNoobs wrote:
ClockworkHouse wrote:

I was thinking about this when I was playing Super Mario Galaxy 2 a little while back. At one point, the framerate hitched as rock Mario plowed through a large group of enemies. If I had been playing that game on a PC, I would have stopped to tinker with the settings a bit until I could eliminate that drop. On the console, I ignored it and moved on with the game because it was such a rare occurrence.

Not to mention that there is nothing you could have done on your Wii to ensure it never happens again.

That's what kind of made it a better gaming experience. At least, that was the point I was trying to make.

I think I got it: it's like if someone hands you a half full glass, or a full glass half as big. The smaller-but-full glass just seems more satisfying even though it's the same amount of drink (hard liquor and wine obviously excepted).

CheezePavilion wrote:
I think I got it: it's like if someone hands you a half full glass, or a full glass half as big. The smaller-but-full glass just seems more satisfying even though it's the same amount of drink (hard liquor and wine obviously excepted).

I'd say it's more like someone handed you a glass of iced tea and an assortment of different sugars to sweeten it, versus the glass of sweet tea that is is almost perfectly sweetened.

You then take 15 minutes testing the assortment of sugars in varying amounts in order to match, or even beat the taste of the nearly perfect sweet tea. And then, half way through the glass of tea, you start thinking that you probably didn't get it just right, so you debate starting over, or deciding whether you should just accept this version of sweet tea that really isn't as good as it could have been.

Or you could drink the nearly perfect sweet tea and not worry about if it could have been sweetened better or not, but just enjoy that fact that it is really good.

And yes, this kind of thinking is what makes me appreciate the "walled garden" of Apple products.

Jayhawker wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:
I think I got it: it's like if someone hands you a half full glass, or a full glass half as big. The smaller-but-full glass just seems more satisfying even though it's the same amount of drink (hard liquor and wine obviously excepted).

I'd say it's more like someone handed you a glass of iced tea and an assortment of different sugars to sweeten it, versus the glass of sweet tea that is is almost perfectly sweetened.

You then take 15 minutes testing the assortment of sugars in varying amounts in order to match, or even beat the taste of the nearly perfect sweet tea. And then, half way through the glass of tea, you start thinking that you probably didn't get it just right, so you debate starting over, or deciding whether you should just accept this version of sweet tea that really isn't as good as it could have been.

Or you could drink the nearly perfect sweet tea and not worry about if it could have been sweetened better or not, but just enjoy that fact that it is really good.

And yes, this kind of thinking is what makes me appreciate the "walled garden" of Apple products.


Wow, that's just about the best analogy I've ever seen. *Hi-five*

Dyni wrote:
Jayhawker wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:
I think I got it: it's like if someone hands you a half full glass, or a full glass half as big. The smaller-but-full glass just seems more satisfying even though it's the same amount of drink (hard liquor and wine obviously excepted).

I'd say it's more like someone handed you a glass of iced tea and an assortment of different sugars to sweeten it, versus the glass of sweet tea that is is almost perfectly sweetened.

You then take 15 minutes testing the assortment of sugars in varying amounts in order to match, or even beat the taste of the nearly perfect sweet tea. And then, half way through the glass of tea, you start thinking that you probably didn't get it just right, so you debate starting over, or deciding whether you should just accept this version of sweet tea that really isn't as good as it could have been.

Or you could drink the nearly perfect sweet tea and not worry about if it could have been sweetened better or not, but just enjoy that fact that it is really good.

And yes, this kind of thinking is what makes me appreciate the "walled garden" of Apple products.


Wow, that's just about the best analogy I've ever seen. *Hi-five*

make that a *Hi-ten*

"I went to all the trouble of mixing my own tea--now I have to make sure it's the perfect tea, otherwise the effort to mix my own tea in the first place was a waste, and that knowledge will bother me far more than having to put in the effort to mix this tea perfectly."

CheezePavilion wrote:
Dyni wrote:
Jayhawker wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:
I think I got it: it's like if someone hands you a half full glass, or a full glass half as big. The smaller-but-full glass just seems more satisfying even though it's the same amount of drink (hard liquor and wine obviously excepted).

I'd say it's more like someone handed you a glass of iced tea and an assortment of different sugars to sweeten it, versus the glass of sweet tea that is is almost perfectly sweetened.

You then take 15 minutes testing the assortment of sugars in varying amounts in order to match, or even beat the taste of the nearly perfect sweet tea. And then, half way through the glass of tea, you start thinking that you probably didn't get it just right, so you debate starting over, or deciding whether you should just accept this version of sweet tea that really isn't as good as it could have been.

Or you could drink the nearly perfect sweet tea and not worry about if it could have been sweetened better or not, but just enjoy that fact that it is really good.

And yes, this kind of thinking is what makes me appreciate the "walled garden" of Apple products.


Wow, that's just about the best analogy I've ever seen. *Hi-five*

make that a *Hi-ten*

"I went to all the trouble of mixing my own tea--now I have to make sure it's the perfect tea, otherwise the effort to mix my own tea in the first place was a waste, and that knowledge will bother me far more than having to put in the effort to mix this tea perfectly."

That's hilarious, and accurate.

I'm primarily a PC gamer, but my PC is crap. I'm happy with Xbox 360 level graphics at a frame-rate that doesn't give me a headache.

One of my favourite things when I upgrade is seeing how my games improve. When I went from a Geforce FX5500 to a Geforce 6600 was totally mind blowing.

The barrier of entry for PC is definitely getting cheaper and there's no reason PC can't compete with consoles on the price front. The problem is there's no one company driving home that notion to the buying public. It really becomes a matter of research, which for a lot of people, is asking too much. When I bought my 360, it cost around 550 with an extra controller, charging cable, hard drive, and some used games (yes, I went to Gamestop, and yes, I bought their protection plan like an idiot). I was one of the desperate fools that got duped into buying an arcade sku 'cuz the premiums were out of stock everywhere. HDTV enhanced the experience tenfold. Slap on another 650 bucks for that. The real investment for my console experience was roughly 1200 dollars. Yes I also play movies and other stuff on my HDTV... through my Xbox. Console gaming is arguably more expensive than PC gaming in the long run, especially if you want all this add-on stuff coming to the consoles, but can live with a less-than-bleeding-edge graphics card. Then there's the game prices. Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo traditionally do not give away their titles for 2 dollars. Valve on the PC does constantly.

Nelly K wrote:
Console gaming is arguably more expensive than PC gaming in the long run, especially if you want all this add-on stuff coming to the consoles, but can live with a less-than-bleeding-edge graphics card. Then there's the game prices. Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo traditionally do not give away their titles for 2 dollars. Valve on the PC does constantly.

This is true, but it supports your point that it takes research. The average person who wants to play some video games has no idea that Steam exists.

MrDeVil909 wrote:
Nelly K wrote:
....
This is true, but it supports your point that it takes research. The average person who wants to play some video games has no idea that Steam exists.
I'm not sure if this is contributing much, but this is true of many things, taking the time to do research and make informed decisions (plus occasional self assembly) will usually have a superior result and be cheaper.

Nelly K wrote:
The barrier of entry for PC is definitely getting cheaper and there's no reason PC can't compete with consoles on the price front. The problem is there's no one company driving home that notion to the buying public. It really becomes a matter of research, which for a lot of people, is asking too much. When I bought my 360, it cost around 550 with an extra controller, charging cable, hard drive, and some used games (yes, I went to Gamestop, and yes, I bought their protection plan like an idiot). I was one of the desperate fools that got duped into buying an arcade sku 'cuz the premiums were out of stock everywhere. HDTV enhanced the experience tenfold. Slap on another 650 bucks for that. The real investment for my console experience was roughly 1200 dollars. Yes I also play movies and other stuff on my HDTV... through my Xbox. Console gaming is arguably more expensive than PC gaming in the long run, especially if you want all this add-on stuff coming to the consoles, but can live with a less-than-bleeding-edge graphics card.

You aren't making a great argument here. You say your "real investment" was around $1200, but you're counting all kinds of extras, including the HDTV! (Not to mention poor decisions you're admitting to flat out.) I think assembling a PC with multiple controllers, some games, and a monitor equivalent to an HDTV would be hard to get in under $1200. Perhaps there is some price parity at this point but it's not fair to cheat in the comparisons.

More importantly, they typical consumer (who, yes, doesn't do research, just like many of us spend money instead of learning to do our own plumbing, fix our own car, etc.) will already have a television. Few people are starting with nothing and saying "okay, I am going to build the best possible gaming experience within my budget." They have a TV, and a very limited budget (most of us also won't spend $1200 all at once, but find it easier to spread it out over time). It's the cost of a console with nothing else versus the cost of a laptop or PC (and possibly a monitor since most people still don't have the know-how to hook a PC up to a TV set). That's where console wins the war, because all the extra crap can be bought a few paychecks later. You can even hook it up to an old standard def television if you're really poor and get the HDTV later.

Maybe when there is higher HDTV saturation and it becomes easier for a complete PC idiot to send a signal via HDMI to the TV set, that will tip the balance...

Most people have a laptop or a PC. Comparing a console purchase to a whole PC purchase isn't a fair and realistic assessment. The correct assessment is purchasing a console against bringing your work PC or laptop up to gaming spec, and the price is totally comparable, considering that gaming spec these days is pretty low.

As for hooking up to an HDTV, all it takes is an HDMI cable, since most PC setups today have HDMI-outs. If you can pick up an HDMI cable to hook your PS3 to an HDTV, then you can do it for a PC.

LarryC wrote:
Most people have a laptop or a PC. Comparing a console purchase to a whole PC purchase isn't a fair and realistic assessment. The correct assessment is purchasing a console against bringing your work PC or laptop up to gaming spec, and the price is totally comparable, considering that gaming spec these days is pretty low.

As for hooking up to an HDTV, all it takes is an HDMI cable, since most PC setups today have HDMI-outs. If you can pick up an HDMI cable to hook your PS3 to an HDTV, then you can do it for a PC.

That is a pretty reasonable argument. So it seems we've come full circle to the classic argument: PC's are having trouble competing against consoles because they require more technical knowledge and effort to upgrade?

Please know that I work with computers for a living, and am intimidated by the thought of researching graphics cars, and found it frustratingly difficult to get the DVI-to-HDMI output on my only-one-year-old laptop to work. It wasn't as easy as just plugging it in; I still had to muck around with multiple monitor settings to get it to work, and even then the resolutions were all weird until I played with it for a while. (And as I said above, I do consider myself fortunate in that I have an HDTV that will take an HDMI connection; lots of people still don't.)

Oh yeah, and I do have a laptop, like more and more people... even more difficult to upgrade than a desktop PC, which intimidates typical people to even crack open the case.

So again, I still think we need a few more years for HDMI-capable HDTVs and HDMI-outputting PCs to become ubiquitous... I'm not trying to argue that consoles are superior to PCs here, I'm just saying that consoles are more popular now, and I'm trying to figure out why.

beeporama wrote:
... I'm not trying to argue that consoles are superior to PCs here, I'm just saying that consoles are more popular now, and I'm trying to figure out why.

They are more popular because consoles are designed first and foremost as gaming systems. That is their primary purpose and they excel at it. PC's are a jack-of-all-trades type of device that are not designed for gaming and the platform suffers as a result. PC's are certainly capable of running games, but they also have to be able to accomplish a huge number of other tasks completely unrelated to gaming.

I think PCs are not as popular as consoles for console gaming because, well, it's not a console. I do not believe that PCs are having trouble competing against consoles for the simple fact that PCs and consoles are not in competition. PCs have grown to be household appliances, about the same as your phone or TV. Some people may not have them, but overall, their penetration is such that they are nearly ubiquitous.

Some people prefer computing on a laptop. That is still a PC.

You game on your PC in the same way you game on your phone or MP3 player. You have it for other reasons, but since there are games on it, might as well do that, too.

heavyfeul wrote:
beeporama wrote:
... I'm not trying to argue that consoles are superior to PCs here, I'm just saying that consoles are more popular now, and I'm trying to figure out why.

They are more popular because consoles are designed first and foremost as gaming systems. That is their primary purpose and they excel at it. PC's are a jack-of-all-trades type of device that are not designed for gaming and the platform suffers as a result. PC's are certainly capable of running games, but they also have to be able to accomplish a huge number of other tasks completely unrelated to gaming.

Consoles are popular for gaming because they are gaming appliances. Although this is becoming less true. But they are something you set up, plug in and are gaming in a couple of minutes.

Unfortunately they are becoming more complex with updates and mandatory installs, but still more of an appliance than a PC.

PC gaming feels like it is under the thumb of enthusiasts at the moment. They could make small and efficient gaming PCs that all developers work with as a standard, but then ATI and nVidia could not sell their latest and greatest $500 GPU behemoths every quarter.

When the big graphic jumps are made on the consoles more often than on the PC, there is something wrong, think Gears and Rage versus Crysis, for example. PCs should be capable of far more impressive displays, but all that high tech hardware is wasted, for the most part, or in the case of Crysis, not powerful enough to see the full glory. How frustrating.

Meanwhile, every few years the consoles will release a big title with gorgeous visuals on hardware that is "outdated." So, even for us enthusiasts who run with both platforms, the console seems more cutting edge in many ways, despite the fact that the hardware specs are pitiful compared to what can be shoved instead a PC tower these days.

The PC has all of the necessary technology to replicate a console like experience, but to do so would completely overturn the current business model, especially in the GPU market that somehow keeps convincing gamers that graphics cards and CPUs should be upgraded every six months to maintain your PC's gaming functionality. The game developers simply throw up their hands, lead on the 360, then port over to the PC without too much worry about optimizing their game's performance. It is a terrible system for the consumer right now.

Price is simply one variable in the entire discussion. The most important variable is the game itself. It doesn't matter the device thats used to deliver my gaming experience to me, what matters is the content. And since somewhere around 2001 that content has been a carefully tailored, corporate controlled, market driven, media package aimed at 12-24 year old white boys to maximise profit.

There are the rare exceptions but the problem has been the lack of acknowledgement by general societal norms of gaming as art. Gaming is art just like books, movies, the paper you hang on your wall or the mound of clay you throw on a shelf. The entire argument over whether or not gaming was art was pretty much invented around the same time to give the sell out artists their excuse for cashing in once wall street found out you could actually make money off games. To argue whether gaming is art is pretty idiotic and imo an intentional diversion from whether individual pieces of that art are good or bad. You might really want to say that a crushed velvet print of dogs playing poker isn't art, but it is it's just really really bad art. This is not new for new forms of media in their early periods; the same thing has happened to tv, movies, and books.

From this point forward it will ebb and flow just like the rest of media from the corporate periods to the renaisance periods when you get artists coming in who are more interested in the art their creating as opposed to the paycheck their getting or the adoration and crticism they recieve.

If your my age, 38, or older you got to live through the early period before the fat cats knew they could make alot of money off games, about 86-2000. So be happy you got that experience from here on in your either going to get lucky and get a designer who has a pure vision or your going to get a market driven corporate experience. Hopefully the corporate stuff will get better as they figure the industry out, kinda like the early batman movies compared to the Dark Knight series.

Also I think we are headed for more of a renaisance period with indie games on the rise plus the past 9 years of gaming hell hopefully causing a nice backlash.

jam3 wrote:
If your my age, 38, or older you got to live through the early period before the fat cats knew they could make alot of money off games, about 86-2000. So be happy you got that experience from here on in your either going to get lucky and get a designer who has a pure vision or your going to get a market driven corporate experience.

On the other hand, digital distribution is allowing more little guys to compete than in years past. It's a lot easier to get your game on Steam or Impulse than into Best Buy or GameStop. People are able to make decent money (see: The Humble indie Bumble) through digital distribution where that would have been all but impossible ten years ago.

It also seems that there are a lot more niche companies than there were years ago -- sure, Microprose and SSI are gone, but we have Stardock and Matrix now. In a way, there's a lot more types of gaming than there were when virtually the only things on the market were first-person shooters.

One thing that I don't see being mentioned here is the fact that, as a console gamer, when I beat a game - I can sell it or trade it in. Now those steam sales are awful nice, but once you buy it - it is yours forever, and you can't get any money back on it. A lot of the way I justify the expense of all the games I buy to my wife is the fact that she has seen me selling used copies on ebay for 6 years now, recouping a lot of my losses. That is something that PC gaming can't offer due to draconian DRM and cd keys.

SallyNasty wrote:
That is something that PC gaming can't offer due to draconian DRM and cd keys.
There's truth there, but it's not absolute. Not all games are tied to online accounts.

SallyNasty wrote:
One thing that I don't see being mentioned here is the fact that, as a console gamer, when I beat a game - I can sell it or trade it in. Now those steam sales are awful nice, but once you buy it - it is yours forever, and you can't get any money back on it. A lot of the way I justify the expense of all the games I buy to my wife is the fact that she has seen me selling used copies on ebay for 6 years now, recouping a lot of my losses. That is something that PC gaming can't offer due to draconian DRM and cd keys.

That's true, but how much of the original retail price are you getting for those games, and how long after they come out are you selling them? Not only are PC games (usually) selling for cheaper than console versions, but the good Steam sales are typically 50% to 75% off.

Scratched wrote:
SallyNasty wrote:
That is something that PC gaming can't offer due to draconian DRM and cd keys.
There's truth there, but it's not absolute. Not all games are tied to online accounts.

Right, but a lot of the sales that make PC gaming more attractive (I am looking at you Steam!) do tie to online accounts.

Quintin_Stone wrote:
SallyNasty wrote:
One thing that I don't see being mentioned here is the fact that, as a console gamer, when I beat a game - I can sell it or trade it in. Now those steam sales are awful nice, but once you buy it - it is yours forever, and you can't get any money back on it. A lot of the way I justify the expense of all the games I buy to my wife is the fact that she has seen me selling used copies on ebay for 6 years now, recouping a lot of my losses. That is something that PC gaming can't offer due to draconian DRM and cd keys.

That's true, but how much of the original retail price are you getting for those games, and how long after they come out are you selling them? Not only are PC games (usually) selling for cheaper than console versions, but the good Steam sales are typically 50% to 75% off.

Absolutely, and frankly as a console gamer - I am jealous of the sales (seriously, 50 bucks for the THQ pack - highway robbery!). But on a new game, I am talking week of release, I can pick up a game for 60 bucks, sell it in 2 weeks for 40 - 45 (ebay, not GS), and recoup most of my expenses. A lot of those super sales for PC games are for games that are pretty old. A console gamer can pick up games that are older than a year for around 10 bucks if you shop around and have patience. It becomes a game in and of itself:)

*Edit* Also, xbox gamerscore is priceless:)

SallyNasty wrote:
Absolutely, and frankly as a console gamer - I am jealous of the sales (seriously, 50 bucks for the THQ pack - highway robbery!). But on a new game, I am talking week of release, I can pick up a game for 60 bucks, sell it in 2 weeks for 40 - 45 (ebay, not GS), and recoup most of my expenses.

On the other hand, if you bought everything in the THQ pack at retail, played it, and sold it again, it would still probably cost you more that $50 when all is said and done. When they get that cheap, I'm fine with it being an essentally disposable commodity. (Even though I can back up Steam games if I wish.) Between Steam games and buying games on Amazon (Birth of America 2 came the other day -- I think it cost $12 shipped) there are plenty of PC deals as well. As far as used games go, I buy quite a few used games at my local PC shop, and I cart a box of games over there every once in a while because it's more convenient than selling them on ebay.

Even though you hear about DRM a lot now, not everything has it either. You can avoid DRM and still have enough to play. Heck, broadband is getting so ubiquitous, it's getting hard to call the "you must always be connected to the internet" paradigm DRM at all.