So there are a couple new consoles coming out in a few months. I think I’ll buy a new video card instead.
I was never really much of a console gamer. That statement typically stirs up visions of PC gaming snobbery. Bearded dudes bragging about dual SLI rigs that push frame rates in the hundreds, while they play era accurate flight sims and grognard only, hex based, strategy wargames. That’s not me at all. I was the kid who desperately wanted to play any and every game, on every platform. It just happened that the platforms I had were computers. Usually strange ones that few people had heard of. Every time I would go over to some kids place, and they had a NES sitting under the tv collecting dust because they had grown bored with, I don’t know, magical wonder and awe I suppose, it would make my soul hurt. It might as well have been a puppy, and their whole family was making a conscious effort to ignore it. I would make trips to stores specifically to play the display model of whatever machine they currently had running. Multiple times a day.
By the time I was in university, the 16 bit machines were in high gear. I kept up with all the new releases, reading magazines centered around consoles I didn’t own. I would occasionally rent one of the machines, felt the SNES looked slightly better than the Genesis, but I never sided with either camp. At the time shareware had come the the pc, and I was playing Doom. I suppose, by default, I was a PC gamer, but I never felt like one. I just loved games.
Time marches on, and I become an old, nostalgic man. I’ve followed the industry consistently for over two decades. I have the current round of consoles, and we have played them a fair bit. As is my usual modus operandi, the 360, PS3, and Wii were all out for several years before I even considered picking them up. I will do the “wait and see” for this upcoming generation too, but I have a hunch that I may never feel compelled to get them.
It’s been thrown around that the new consoles are “really just a PC”. This has actually been true for quite a while. The original XBox was “really just a PC”. The 360 and PS3 had more in common with older Mac machines than windows/x86 computers, but they can both be convinced to run Linux. The new consoles not only have similar hardware to your standard windows desktop, they are fraternal twins. They really are just PCs.
I suppose the important thing to think about then, is what does this mean for games. If a game could conceivably be moved from PC, to Xbox One, or PS4 with almost no changes, what platform will developers build their games for? Unless they are paid to create an exclusive for one platform or another, they will build the game for the platform they build the game on, the PC.
Oh sure, putting a game in as many places as possible will still make good business sense, so conforming to the limitations of the consoles will be important. They are slightly less powerful than a gaming PC and the de facto method of input is the controller. That is the spec games will be built to. Even for a game targeted to a console, releasing on PC becomes too cost effective to pass up.
Here comes the caboose of the nostalgia train. There was a time, not so long ago, when press would gleefully proclaim the death of PC gaming. No stores stocked PC games in any volume, and they usually occupied a three tiered shelf beside the staff doors.
A few things have happened since then, and now most major releases get a solid, often superior, PC release shortly after the console version. Digital stores are bursting with games in a full spectrum of price strata. There is no, one size fits all price, genre, or audience for PC games. My PC is decent, but not even close to top of the line. I’m not aware of a single game available that it can’t run.
The new consoles are basically PCs and PC gaming hasn’t been this healthy since the 386. Looks to me like we will all be PC gamers soon. I’ll just get out ahead of it, and opt for the video card over the console.