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