PC Gaming is taking a turn for the worst.

Posted By | On 26th, Oct. 2009 Under Editorials


PC Gaming is changing. And not in good ways.

This has been a recurring theme from doomsayers and large developers alike for, oh, 10 years. Spurred on by false alarms and an increasing number of consoles in people’s homes, there have been some who have been absolutely convinced that ‘PC Gaming is Dying!’ And, we can see that as the PC gaming market has thrived over the past few years, and showing no signs of letting up. However, it has come to the attention of many that the naysayers may finally be right.

Please don’t view this article as an opportunity to bash Infinity Ward, folks. Yes, any devout PC gamer will have heard about the Modern Warfare 2 fiasco in the last few weeks. However, this is not an isolated incident. Other major developers have seen that it is cheaper and easier for them if they focus on the masses; console owners.  Because of the perceived ’cheapness’ of consoles versus a gaming computer, it is very difficult to find nowadays a true PC gamer with a computer that can run the latest games in the kind of high-fidelity that they warrant. Nowadays, if you talk about gaming with most people, they will go on about how great their 360 or PS3 is. The PC is shunned almost every time.

Because, ladies and gentlemen, there is less money in PC gaming than console gaming!

Are consoles the only way forward?

Are consoles the only way forward?

A sad fact, yes, but most definitely true. Why should developers waste extra time making a game for PC that will sell less, for a lower price and be pirated when they can invest the same amount of money in a 360 game that will sell millions, for less work? PC games require mod support, dedicated servers and both off-the-shelf hard copies and downloads. The reason console players don’t mind paying extra for less in a game is frankly because they have never known any better. Dedicated servers, mod support, LAN games? Alien words to any console owner.

As if big developers shying away from PC gaming wasn’t enough, there are more problems. Is anyone else beginning to realise how games are coming out unfinished and buggy as hell these days? It’s almost like there is no point buying a game on the day of release, because there is bound to be some major issue or hardware compatibility error. We have to wait a month or so for the game to become playable to the point where it is actually enjoyable. Anyone else see the problem with that? For example, I am still waiting, almost 8 months after release, for a patch to the issue in Empire Total War that allows other nations to actually attack you from across the sea. Crazy, huh? And Fallout 3….well, the number of times that game crashes…

It really comes as no surprise that the big dev’s are trying to get away from all of this. And can we really blame them? If I had the opportunity to make more money and have fewer problems with my work, I would certainly do that.

At least their are still some dedicated PC developers.

At least their are still some dedicated PC developers.

Additionally, more money is being pushed into multiplayer online games. Just look at the most recent games in the CoD series. For $60, you get a 5 hour campaign, and multiplayer. Admittedly, both the SP and MP were of a very high standard, but what happens when you phase out the features that set PC gaming aside from the consoles? All you get a glorified console; a PC.

Of course, it’s not all bad. We still have Valve, who have created (and are still creating) some of the best PC games ever. And Blizzard. And BioWare. But how long will they stay as loyal PC developers? Only time will tell. Other than them, there are also many small Eastern European developers who are dedicated to the PC. But again, how long will they keep at it?

Well, whether you agree with this article or not is up to you, but as for me, I’m off to play some Diablo. At least that’s guaranteed quality.

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  • Phan

    Good call, I still love Diablo too 🙂

  • selits

    “Dedicated servers, mod support, LAN games? Alien words to any console owner.”

    To any console owner huh? This is one of the dumbest statements I’ve ever heard.

    • It’s a figure of speech. And I agree with the author, these aren’t features available to the majority of console games. But at some point in the future, I think the aspects that made PC gaming great (the social aspect) will be made available on titles on the Xbox and PS3. Dedicated servers for example make social gaming a breeze – more players and a common location! Great article btw.

  • Goose

    The patch argument is a moot point now, considering console game launches are also bug ridden with unplayable multiplayer components etc. PC games are cheaper because of piracy, and that’s a good thing! Look at the console game prices, they are much higher, why? The games cannot be pirated (unless you want to play online with X360). I don’t buy the “because M$ and Sony must make money from the licensing” BS. I don’t care about their profit, I care about what I get for my hard earned $$$. If there was no piracy on PC, the PC game prices would be much higher, not cheaper as everyone would have us believe. It’s all about the $$$$$ in the end!

  • demonz

    Capcom deserve a mention too.

  • l;

    ” Admittedly, both the SP and MP were of a very high standard, but what happens when you phase out the features that set PC gaming aside from the consoles?”

    a big ass boycott

  • Kutocer

    And what about DICE, They are fully supporting the PC community and even coming out and saying BC2 will feature more stuff than the consoles version because “we have shafted the pc community in the past years” which they fully admit. I really do think IW will retract what they said and will provide DS by the time the game is out. I have a really stange hunch that this was just a PR stunt to build hte hype up for hte PC version. They are either really dumb or bloody clever if it is.

  • Chris Vogt

    I’m kind of upset about the direction PC gaming is going in because my gaming rig isn’t even a year old. Now that everything is being optimized for consoles it’s getting less and less playing time. However, even when I did play I always gravitated toward older games like Starcraft and Diablo II.

  • twingo

    PC gaming is depressing when you purchase a new game and it sets the graphics to medium or max on your 1 or 2 year old rig. And even then the framerates stut and jump. And from a developers point of view they must tire of testing games on so many different rigs, amount of ram, graphics cards, sound cards, piracy. Why spend all the resources on testing on x amount of platforms when you can do it for 2. Console players also get the ‘game directors’ vision intact, play online on an even field and sit comfortably after a hard days slog infront of a 32″ screen on a comfy sofa. Or as i put it the gamerking’s chair!

  • raynich

    Valve saves everything. Without them PC gaming would be dead already. I think it will be a long time before they turn their backs on us loyal PC gamers.

  • mike

    “Dedicated servers, mod support, LAN games? Alien words to any console owner.”

    That is insanely condescending and untrue. I own a PS3, AND am a longtime PC gamer who has built his own rigs for 15 years now. The reason console gaming is making a surge is simple and a trend that has been ongoing for years: the decreasing gap in technical quality (i.e. graphics and audio) and depth in console games vs. PC games.

    Go back to the mid 90s. The PC had Falcon 3.0 and Doom. The SNES had Starfox and Contra 3. NO CONTEST…the PC games absolutely destroyed their console counterparts in visuals and depth.

    Fast forward to now. Look at Crysis on the PC and Uncharted 2 on the PS3. Does Crysis look better? Sure. But damn if that margin hasn’t gotten much thinner. And other than Crysis, it’s tough to come up with much else to give Uncharted a run for its money, at least at this point.

    On top of all this, online gaming on consoles has also made huge inroads. Just 2 consoles generations ago, it was almost unheard of. In the last generation, it was there, but was a rare feature. This console generation, it’s integral to the experience in a wide variety of games, and the consoles have online communities outside of the gaming realm.

    Dedicated servers? Mod support? LAN games? Yeah, I’m extremely familiar with them. The remainder of the response is “who cares?”. The first two are nice, but I can live without them. The last one is meaningless to me.

    PC gaming WILL survive. However, it will once again become the niche it used to be. Perhaps this is for the better. Do you REALLY want to play all the same stuff that’s available for the consoles? Further, did PC gaming really ever come OUT of its niche? Or are people’s views just warped by the fact that developers like Infinity Ward are moving to greener pastures?

    In any event, again, saying console gamers just don’t know any better is wishful thinking. I for one know exactly why I prefer some games, including CoD, on my console. I have more friends who can afford consoles that I can play against, the control pad is hardly a handicap as everyone else is doing the same and developers have made strides in improving them (I can easily jump from PC FPS’s to a console and post the similar stats at this point), and…this may sound like heresy…sometimes I want my games to “just work”, and not have to fudge with new graphics cards and software instabilities (though some developers…e.g. Bethesda…release buggy code for consoles as well).

    At the end of the day, I don’t think PCs are fading. Consoles have just become more competitive, and have stolen the attention of an idolized PC developer. I say put away the hard feelings. PC gaming is not going to die.

  • name

    you forgot to mention the best PC developers.
    ID
    they created FPS, games would not be what they are today without them.
    O and crytek there freaking awesome developers.

    its a shame though and im really pissed i spent 3K at the beginning of this year for a brand new top of the line PC, and what have i played on it?
    crysis and crysis warhead.
    3K for 2 games.
    all the other games the PC versions are crappy ports.
    i miss the good old days where the pc versions of games were leaps and bounds above their console parts.
    i swear to god if crysis 2 gets toned down because of the 360 and ps3 im going to be so pissed!

  • >>> Because, ladies and gentlemen, there is less money in PC gaming than console gaming! A sad fact, yes, but most definitely true.

    This is definitely not true.

    It all depends from which angle you approach the subject. If you are talking about triple-A titles, often subsidised to encourage brand loyalty and hardware sales, then yes there is definitely a clearer route on the consoles. The big titles succeed on consoles because there is a captive audience with little real choice – no wonder the chosen developers love it. And no wonder the gaming media swallows the sales pitch whole.

    But that isn’t because there is less money in PC gaming. It’s because the marketplace is so competitive. You are competing with the huge MMOs, the free-to-play games, the casual market, the stronger-than-ever indie market, the social networking sites and the ‘Second Life’s, the niche and specialist gaming communities, along with the hugely powerful back catalogue of the machine. And as a retail product you are competing with a slick digital download industry.

    As gamers, why do we want the PC to just replicate what the consoles do anyway? The PC innovated most of the game styles that are popular on today’s consoles in the first place. And the PC market continues to innovate, offering a wider audience a wider variety of game than ever before.

    The media will continue to peddle this myth about PC gaming for one reason alone. They are cosseted by the big console players, and attracted by a games industry they can understand, and scared of being thrown to the wolves of PC gaming, where the scale and variety of gaming on offer is bewildering.

    And can I suggest instead of Diablo you play Torchlight – the Diablo-esque PC indie gem released today at a budget price.

  • Boo

    Unfortunately as usual it is impossible to read an article about PC gaming without the author claiming superiority over consoles.

    “Dedicated servers, mod support, LAN games? Alien words to any console owner.”
    Not at all. Many PS3 games run on dedicated servers, many consoles have supported system link cables, and as for mods, consoles don’t need them. Unlike the PC, there are enough new games constantly releasing on consoles that people don’t need to go back and hack their old ones in a desperate attempt to squeeze a few more hours of play out of them.

    • Will Kenny

      I think you will find that to say that ‘consoles don’t need mods’ is a little….foolish. There are more games released on the PC than on the PS3 or 360. Secondly, a mod is not a hack; many games come with modding tools supplied by the developer, and some games are scpecifically designed with the modding community in mind.

  • Will Kenny

    Thanks for commenting folks, I thought I would try and answer some of you queries.
    @Alex V
    Like others have said, it is cheaper for the major companies to mass produce console games than PC games, and a combination of this and the mass media misinterpretations mean that there is a self-fulfilling prophecy of developers moving away from PC development to focus on other consoles. This makes it extremely difficult for the PC to get back on its feet, when suddenly people cannot be bothered to make games for it.

    @selits
    @mike
    When I said that mod support, dedicated servers etc were alien words to any console owner, I did not mean it literally. Of course there will be some who have both a PC and a PS3/360 and will know exactly what those words mean. What I meant by that statement is that consoles have never had mod support or dedicated servers.

    @Kutocer
    I was only listing a few of the great PC game developers, of course DICE would be on there if I were making a comprehensive list, along with many others. And I doubt IW will back down now. But if they do, kudos to you for seeing into the future.

    • The ‘major companies’ of which you speak do not represent gaming as a whole though. Of course the developers owned or subsidised by Sony and Microsoft are making games for Sony and Microsoft’s consoles. But that has nothing directly to do with the state of PC gaming.

      Nobody can be bothered to make PC games anymore? This is nonsense in my opinion – there are more games being released of a greater variety than ever before on the PC.

  • Candy Colored Clown

    There is something that they are not taking into account with console gaming that is much different than pc gaming. Only a person who has actually worked in the industry would understand this but when you develop games on a console like Xbox 360 and PS3 there is a FAT TON of specs that your game has to follow that developing a game on a the PC is liberated from. These are specs that MS and Sony force their developers to follow if they plan to develop something on their console. These are things you probably don’t even think about like loading screens, message prompts if a controller gets disconnected, even color schemes can be dictated to by MS and Sony.

    There are also other things to take into consideration. Like localization. If you are creating a game for a global launch not only do developers have to meet the qualifications of their publisher but they must also meet the qualifications of Sony and MS. Another hoop to jump through.

    PC games will always be cheaper to produce than console games because of the above issue because it takes more money and more time to develop. Piracy unfortunately is always a problem and I don’t blame developers for wanting to make money on their hard work.

    I actually think PC games maybe making a come back. Moores law is no longer in effect for PC’s which will give developers longer development time on the PC platform allowing for better more polished games.

  • srkelley

    I do understand your frustration in losing features that you’re accustomed to having, but let’s not diss many up and coming developers and companies that make enjoyable games. Many Games like Braid, Trine, World of Goo, and my recent favorite AaaAaAAA!!! — A Reckless Disregard for Gravity have been very satisfying. Yes, they’re not FPS’s or rts’s, but these new developers are expanding the commercial field for pc games. And yes, it’s because of consoles. They’re able to make their start on pc and for the cheaper digital distribution channel on consoles. If it weren’t for all of the cheaper platforms available to developers today, pc gaming really would be doomed.

    Yes, consoles offer a better experience for gaming right out of the box. They’re designed entirely around that concept. With us, the ore dedicated pc users we can get to console level or beyond with our pc’s, but we can’t act as if Steam, our equivalent to Live is synonymous with pc gaming. Most people havn’t heard of it and the interface could really stand to be tweaked. Maybe it would explode in growth if Valve struck a few deals with having Steam pre-installed on more pc’s being sold.

    Having more games autoconfigure themselves based upon the pc’s ability would go a long way also. I’ve introduced a few people with decent pc’s to Steam and some of them didn’t understand the basic view or what a resolution is for. People just want to play. Get them into the game as quickly as possible, then let the ones who want more make changes. That and I’m tired of configuring new games I buy. Maybe I can create a base settings I’d like for my pc for every game I play, make it simpler Valve, we is somes lazies peoplez here.

    Nintedo, Sony, and Microsft advertise the heck out of their platforms to whichever crowd or part of the market they want. Could you imagine what would happen if one of them built a “Virtual Console” for pc that only required people to attach their controller and a “tv kit” so that anyone who couldn’t afford the hardware could play the games? They’d still offer a dedicated system, but I could see something like exploding the size of their market. They’d be striking straight at facebook users and many other people.

  • Chad

    I’ve always found this to be a war of opinion. PC gamers defending the PC to the death. Console gamers bashing the PC.
    PC gaming has always been the less promoted of the gaming platforms. Not to mention that consoles offer hardware setups that cost a fortune to compare to buying or even building your own gaming computer.
    To defend the PC gaming community, Look at some of the online populations of people playing older games like counter strike for example. At any given time there are hundreds of people still playing online. Pc gamers have their favorites, and I think you’ll start to see that with console gaming as well, with games like final fantasy online….. maybe.

    PC gaming is not dead though, just look at how many people play world of warcrack.

  • tareq salah

    sorry pc but it’s becoming obvious that its going extinct. even as a personal computer becoming laptops and laptops becoming pads. the hole generation of gaming is shifting towards consoles. they are just more comfortable and easier to operate.


 

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