Are Consoles Holding PC Gaming Back From Reaching Its Potential? Stardock CEO Answers That Question

‘There are certain limitations you have to work under…’

Posted By | On 21st, Apr. 2017 Under News | Follow This Author @Pramath1605


One of the most common refrain we hear from some fans of PC gaming is that PC gaming can never reach its true potential- consoles are holding PC gaming back, since they are a large market, and developers use them as a least common denominator, even when developing a game that will also be on PC. Console gaming, they lament, is holding PC gaming back.

So goes the refrain- so when we got the chance to talk to Stardock’s CEO Brad Wardell – the CEO of a company that largely focuses on developing graphically stunning games for high end PCs – we decided to pick his brains on the subject: are consoles holding back PC gaming?

“No, I mean, there are certain limitations you have to work under,” Wardell said. “There’s what you can do and what is marketable. Ashes of the Singularity has sold a lot better than we ever thought it would. But we shouldn’t kid ourselves, it won’t be a top 10 seller any time soon overall, because for it to shine, you need 2GB of VRAm and 8GB of RAM and four CPU cores. And while hardcore gamers have that, it’s still not that common. And in order to do [something like] Lord of the Rings in real time, I would need a 16 core machine, 8GB of VRAM, and, say, 16GB of RAM, with either an AMD Vega or GeForce 1080. So I could do it, there will be no one to sell it to.”

So the problem, then, isn’t just with consoles, but even with most gaming PCs on the market, including some vaunted high end builds, then?

“Yeah, and right now, even as is, with Ashes we had to do things that in the short term cost us some things with the presentation. There are things we didn’t want to have to do but had to to hit hardware requirements that would make the game viable.”

So it sounds like the true potential of PC gaming isn’t just held back by consoles, but by all lower end hardware- which includes the bulk of gaming PCs on the market as well. Given that lower end hardware is also lower cost, and therefore more widely bought into by the market, this is an unavoidable problem, and one that will never go away- consoles themselves have nothing to do with it whatsoever.

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  • Holeybartender

    Yeah,it’s not consoles holding them back but the low-end games that flood the PC gaming market because not everyone can afford a high-end PC. Been saying that for 20 years.

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  • Gamez Rule

    “Are Consoles Holding PC Gaming Back From Reaching Its Potential?”

    No. There are so many options for PC hardware on the market that the PC market itself is holding back it’s own full potential….Example. 750Ti or 1080 Ti or GT630 or RX 480 or…or…or…or…or… So IMO there is too many low spec PC hardware options on the market which people use and that’s hats could hold back PC’s potential

  • Luke Skywalker

    an interesting take from Wardell, something most PC elitist fail to take into consideration

    • Psionicinversion

      wardell doesnt know what hes talking about. he says it needs at least a quad core, the majority of AAA game buyers which is only a few million PC users at most have at least i5’s. an i5 is pretty much the standard goto cpu for people making a new gaming computer.

    • Mark

      I agree, how the heck are dudes still stuck with a 4 core lmao

    • Psionicinversion

      Even if you have an i7 you’ve still only got a 4 core anyway

    • Mark

      Yeah I figured he was referring to weak quad cores

    • Gamez Rule

      I’m stuck with a i7-7700k at 4.2Ghz ( K-Lake )☺

  • Riggybro

    I think both PC and consoles have propelled gaming forward and held it back in so many different ways you can’t really point fingers at one side..

    When I think of PC propelling things forward specs-wise I think of Doom, Crysis and (quite possibly) Star Citizen… a kind of no-limits approach. And the flood of PC indie stuff.

    When I think console propelling gaming forward I think of NES, Megadrive, PlayStation 1 + 2 and the 360 (online). Just the flood games, the amount of people playing and making it as commonplace as watching TV. Also fine tuning gaming genres. I think also sometimes console takes underground stuff that emerges on PC and helps commercialise it to a wider audience too.

    I did suspect that the weaker CPUs of the current (and future) consoles were holding things back in terms of CPU based things like A.I but apparently they have learnt to offload a lot of stuff to the GPU so… dunno about that. I mean I think of Assassins Creed Unity which had some pretty adventurous elements that just couldn’t function right on the X1 and PS4 I do wonder that if it was built ground up on PC the difference it would have made. I note after this the next one in the series (Sydicate) took a more conservative approach..

    The lower specs of many PCs out there is possibly not as much as an issue as argued. If you take a AAA title it simply will not work on GTX 650m. The minimum/recommended specs increase regularly. So those with older GPUs cannot play Battlefield 1 just like those on PS3 cannot either.

  • HAppY_KrAToS

    Nonsense. Before running on a console, a game engine will run on a pc…

    What is holding back pc games are…. pc game developers !

    -Just a few years ago, most games would only run on a single massive thread, because.. it was way harder, to run a code that would max out 4, 8, 10 cores cpu’s.

    – we’re in mid 2017, and most triple a games only need 2, 3, 5gb of memory, when gamers easily have 2, 3, 4x 4gb, 6gb, even 10gb of video memory.
    If a gamer has 3x titans= 30gb of memory, why can’t the game utilise as much ram as possible, instead of only 4 or 6 gb ?

    – gamers have 2 to 10 terabytes of storage…yet all companies will only use less than 50gb…guess why…so it can fit in a single bluray disc.if you add some ultra high-res photo realistic textures, it can easily take another 20 or 30gb of space. The lack of high def textures explains why, going from high to ultra settings, the difference in quality isn’t that big: the bump in resolution and better AA will make things look clear… but not prettier.
    Just look at a vanilla vta5, and a modded gta5 with high res textures: night and day, it almost looks like cgi stuff.

    -laziness
    The console dev: *we need to add some features to the game engine, type some to-the-metal code, and optimize everything in order to only use 50mb of memory and 0.002 seconds of gpu time, to render that scene*
    now, the pc dev :* who cares, the gamer has a titan and a 8core cpu, let’s just add more stuff to the game engine, no need to optimize anything, the same scene will need 600mb of memory, and will use 0.2s of gpu.deal with it ! *

    let’s take horizon zero dawn. 5 little gb of memory, running on some underpowered cpu, along a cheap gpu. No time wasted on multiplayer, no time wasted implementing microtransactions. The game looked amazing.in 4k too.

    now, to reach the same quality, a pc dev would need a 12core cpu at 4.5ghz, 16gb of ram, and quad Titan card. Like 10 times the power of a ps4 pro.
    optimization anyone ?

    2017… and where are the full compatible dx12 games, with the amazing features, where a several gb terrain can be optimized to only take a few mb, for the same quality ? Like the ultra tesselation feature..?
    Yeah…ok…

    • ProAssassin84

      You’re missing the point.

      High End PC Gaming is a Niche market. A Company won’t survive building a game for that market alone.

    • LordCancer Kain

      once you go titan…lol

    • Dynasty2021

      High end PC gaming has the past few years made more money than the console market.

      This is down to lazy devs and a broken view of piracy (which does exist, but can be good and bad, and is nowhere near as bad as people claim).

      Also, some PC exclusives sell more than some console exclusives COMBINED.

      City Skylines? Sold over 3m copies on release.

      Most consoles exclusives don’t do that.

      Here’s Steam’s 2015 total sales:

      https://cdn-images-1.medium.com/max/800/1*16OJm4ARHhJleeO6iyzJKA.png

      Most console exclusives don’t sell as well as a lot of those games, so take your “less money” argument and shove it.

      And the most revenue-generating games the past few years have been PC games, beating out CoD etc.

      “Oh they’re just MOBAs”

      So? Still PC exclusive. And all you console guys bang on about is exclusives. Of which, you get less of, and the average review scores for PC exclusives are higher.

      So take almost every console vs PC argument, PC wins.

    • Eddie Battikha

      Plain and simple Console exclusives games are way better than PC Exclusives , keep having fun with Starcraft and Warcraft. How many times did u beg for Destiny 2 to be on PC LOL.

    • ProAssassin84

      So much Fail in your argument.

    • ProAssassin84

      Don’t know where you’re getting your facts but every multiplatform game sales triple PC and you are bragging about sales for CS GO that can be played on a Toaster. City Skylines is on XBox. Every Multiplatform game that has Multiplayer has triple the player base on consoles. Top selling games on PC is games that Moms and pops play like City Skylines and they can be played on the lowest end computer. Quit spewing feces. Consoles made 30 Billion with Mobile above PC and Consoles. Google it clown.

    • suli559

      I agree with you, but the least they can do is optimize their games to run on a system that ive payed 5000 dollars for (monitor included)

    • Psionicinversion

      “now, to reach the same quality, a pc dev would need a 12core cpu at 4.5ghz, 16gb of ram, and quad Titan card. Like 10 times the power of a ps4 pro.
      optimization anyone ?”

      lmao no they wouldnt. the cpu is getting less important these days as there trying to push more and more gfx processing to the gpu which is vastly easier for a fixed spec console. with pc youve got to deal with differing levels of bandwidth etc, the easiest thing would be to target the bandwidth of the reference/stock level gpus but theres still alot of different models

      Horizon zero dawn isnt that graphically amazing really, they just spent alot of time optimising shaders and working on gfx tech then implementing features to fake there way through stuff like consoles need to do to get around hardware limitations. Its a good looking game sure but its far from what is possible.

      Star Citizen is a prime example of a build for PC primarily game with lots of funding and able to go all out. when it drops its going to advance gaming in every single area. Before the jokes of ugh its taking to long… HZD took like 5 years and its tiny compared to SC. SC needs vastly superior tech to allow it all to function, far far superior and complex tech to a game like HZD, Uncharted, Infamous, Forza, Halo… when they pull it off maybe itll light a fire under the backsides of these game publishers to not put out “safe” games anymore and take some risks.

    • Hvd

      “Star Citizen is a prime example of a build for PC primarily game with lots of funding”more like lots of suckers buying ships…lmao.

      Star Citizen will never come out and just keep taking money for moronic pc gamers.i say keep taking it….lol

    • Psionicinversion

      More console jealousy from a console loser. Keep on going you’ll ever get something half as great as star citizen

    • Hvd

      ill be playing games on xbox scorpio in native 4k/60fps i think we know who the jealous ones will be.

      time for pc to go back in to hideing like when the 360 launched…lol

    • Psionicinversion

      You aren’t playing any games designed to run at 30 @4k 60. If you do I’ll be laughing at you when your crying

    • Hvd

      anyone with a brain knows games that are locked at 30fps on xbox will be 30fps on xbox scorpio.im talking battlefront 2 will be 4k/60fps,cod ww2 will be 4k/60fps,forza 7 4k/60fps the games that can hit 60fps on the xbox one will be 60fps on the xbox scorpio.

      its not rocket science.

    • Psionicinversion

      Just making sure because there are alot of delusional console guys out there. Might get one myself when I can be bothered get a 4k TV.

      Will be useful for games like battlefront 2 where the single player looks good but multiplayer I won’t be bothered about as I can just sell the disc after and lose about £15 on it.

    • Hvd

      yea i dont have a 4k tv yet my self even tho some games that come out when the xbox scorpio launches will be 1080p/60fps that mite be worth it alone also down sampling will make games look better.

      there is still a benefit to get one if you dont have a tv.what you can do to see a difference is look at Virtual Super Resolution videos.this is what they are talking about.

      games will still look better with down sampling.

    • Psionicinversion

      Tbh the awesome thing about Scorpio is the system level downsampling. The pro has to be patched by the game dev to do it. NVidia has DSR, AMD has VSR exactly same thing just different names.

      Problem is with games on Scorpio is it sounds like it can do the downsampling at system level so doesn’t need a patch. But let’s say it’s 1080p 30 locked. It could downsample from 4k for example but you can’t do say 1080p 60 instead with better settings. That needs be patched to allow for the b better frame rate. A game at 1080p or 900p like witcher 3 can only be upscaled because they are not patching for either system.

      But tbh ill admit that what they are doing is pretty damn good. Goes to show that being the guy in the last place forces them to do better.

    • Hvd

      actually digital foundry already said that 900p/1080p games will run native 4k with a patch if you have a 4k tv.its still worth a buy even if you dont have a 4k tv yet.get xbox scorpio then get a 4k tv a year later thats my plan.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RE2hNrq1Zxs&t=159s

    • Psionicinversion

      Tbh its speculating for the MS game yeah but others I dunno. I was elaaden on mass effect. I 2x res which I don’t thing is true more like 4x because why would eladdsm running St 100fps drop to 30 at 4k. It wouldn’t. So have to see what happens

    • Hvd

      i also forgot about the vr that xbox scorpio will have which will be better then psvr so even if you dont have a 4k tv you can still do vr.

    • Psionicinversion

      Yeah or can with a patch but like I says CDPR is not doing a patch for any system. Therefore w3 will never be 4k native

    • Psionicinversion

      Also thing is of your want the ultimate gaming TV you’ll have to wait till 2018 anyway so manufacturers have the time to put in the tech to allow stuff in the future

    • Psionicinversion

      Also the 2017 Samsung QLEDs not that good. The colour volume it’s much better but there’s to many downsides for the price. In UK, the lowest end model 49 inch Q7F is £1,899 starting price. Same in the US.

      Best off getting the KS9500(UK)/KS9800(US)

    • suli559

      Far far superior and complex tech to games like HZD, uncharted etc etc, yet they look better than SC does lmao. Its all about the devs buddy

    • Psionicinversion

      No it doesn’t. Wait till you see the latest stuff, it blows them all away. Squadron 42 when they use the super high quality assets in the cut scenes like uncharted and HZD it will destroy them

    • suli559

      Well I do have a gaming pc for a reason and if Squadron 42 can “wow” everyone then my money is theirs, I’ve played it before and I do agree with you the game does have nice looking textures and all, but the colors and design are all limited to the claustrophobic surroundings which are all mostly inside space stations and unfortunately they’re only limited to that, yes they do have a couple explorable planets but those planets look completely dead sorry to say. HZD blew me away when I played it, if you’ve never experienced the game first hand from beginning to end then you are missing out on one of the best games ever made.

    • Psionicinversion

      the first few moons are dead cus there the easiest to do, the point of them releasing it with alpha 3 by end of june is to test the technology behind it. Doing it for a single player game would be relatively easy compared to doing it for a multiplayer game cus you have to be synced over a network with other players so the game technology needs to hold and run well when theres a group of ships with people inside storming down to it.

      Every single planet and moon will be procedurally created so they will be explorable and at launch there aiming for at least 70 solar systems out of the 100+ planned. obviously not every planet will be teaming with life, you only have to look at our solar system to understand that.

      youve only played whats available right now in alpha form. theres another 2 years left on star citizen before it hits gold i reckon and in those 2 years its going to get alot better as the core game tech is nearly done and the tools for building out all this stuff is pretty much where it needs to be for fast iterations on stuff

    • suli559

      70 solar system you say? Nice, my unborn kid should probably enjoy the beta with you in 20 years my friend. If you really believe this game is gonna get properly released even in 10 years to come then i got news for you buddy. I suggest you go play other games cus GTA6 will be out in about 5 years and SC will still be in alpha. Good luck with those planets, seems like no one has learned from no mans skys mistake

    • Psionicinversion

      20 years lol yeah ok when they can create a fully functioning planet with different biomes and oceans in 15 minutes. sure itll be extremely basic but point is its not hard to do.

      Elite dangerous will have the same problems as NMS, star citizen wont. its big enough to have a good play area and small enough to fight over stuff. plus sometime after release when they put in player owned bases they need the real estate to allow them to be placed and then be fought over. But of course keep of hating on the game, its clear your just another one of those losers. Start off rational to pretend like you care then talk a load of BS

    • suli559

      Enjoy getting scammed in the linear world of SC. Enjoy running around dead planets. Oh and enjoy the only 4 colors the game provides, orange black grey and red lmao.

    • Psionicinversion

      You’ll be begging for it on your crappy console when it’s released

    • suli559
    • Gamez Rule

      I had a spare room that I turned into a basic gaming room for the family to continue using the older consoles etc, and every now and then when I buy a new PC I place my old ones into the room as the kids love playing on PC just as much as consoles.

      Think people that use consoles and PC know what each one offers the gamer. PS: ZHD looks awesome I agree.

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/28a5b5025e878ca5188d6944c0325e969b14a189febef7eea9590ff656e92524.jpg

    • suli559

      If You look behind my monitor you’ll notice there’s a ps4 there. PC and PS4, everything else is useless and obsolete

    • Gamez Rule

      I use the PS4 and Xbone, but still waiting for E3 for MS to show off games as so far MS haven’t released any full exclusive games for Xbone within the first four months of 2017 while Sony have pumped out some awesome full exclusive games. So yes I can understand why people are saying it’s useless and obsolete as I’m ……still waiting myself.

    • Psionicinversion

      Yeah well done for finding a picture on the internet. The smell of desperation is real!

  • Robotix

    Gotta laugh” years ago might have agreed with that, but todays generation of what you guys call consoles” are not consoles’ there locked PCs.
    PS4 AMD Jaguar
    8GIG GDDR5
    It’s a console? really…..

  • ProAssassin84

    Anybody with a Brain knew this already.

    You will NEVER beat Consoles for there Price to Performance and Plug and Play Nature. EVER.

    Steam Machines Tried and Died.

  • LordCancer Kain

    a very polite way of saying pc gamers hold themselves back. besides specs you also have to convince them to pay for games.

  • Hvd

    only pc gamers think that because the pos pc they try to run games on doesnt work.games are meant for consoles any way.

    have you ever herd of pc getting marketing rights to cod?…nope.

    fyi the first real native 4k/60fps console is comming soon xbox scorpio.the pc master race is about to go underground like when the 360 launched..lol

    • Mark

      Ahaha, we’ll see what happens

  • suli559

    If console games are holding back PC games then please tell me why my 2 980ti cards, 6700k processor and 64GB DDR4 ram cant play and frikin AAA game @ 4K 60fps. Thank you.

  • Psionicinversion

    5 grand for that lol you’ve been ripped off

    • suli559

      Built this in december 2015. 2 980ti cards, 6700k processor, 64GB ddr4 ram, everything custom water cooled, the computer cost me 3,700 dollars and my acer predator x34 monitor cost me 1,300. Now like i said, crawl back tp your corner and beg mommy and daddy to get you one kiddo

    • Psionicinversion

      You still paid to much for it

    • suli559

      I did build it from scratch, i payed all the exact official prices and didn’t get ripped off for 1 dollar, and yeah obviously its a beast of a system so obviously it’s expensive. Back to your corner now

  • angryguy77

    The answer is no. If anything is holding PC’s back, it’s the market. Developers will in most cases make their game to reach the broadest audience.

    Quite simple really.


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