Extra Punctuation

Extra Punctuation
The Trials and Perils of Returning to PC

Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw | 10 Dec 2013 16:00
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Then there's technical issues. Playing games on PC required a certain amount of know-how just because PCs could have any combination of hardware inside them. Back in the day you had to setup games and tell them what sound card you were using, how big a display you could manage, etc, whereas on consoles you could rest assured that each game was standardised specifically for the colourful plastic box before you.

This is still an issue with PC gaming, but it's lessened hugely these days. That problem I mentioned earlier with Bioshock having no sound was fixed inside five minutes with a Google search, and the solution was to head into the labyrinth that is the Windows control panel and activate something hitherto deactivated. And while expertise is required to understand all of it, the PC operating system is happy to grant access to its inner workings, even if you don't know what the fuck you're doing. Meanwhile, if you get a technical fault in a console - as has become increasingly common in this generation and the last - then because it wants to keep its frontend simplistic, it can only communicate an error through an arcane language involving red rings.

While I was waiting for Ryse to download and install the day-one one-gig update, it had been on 0% for so long I began to worry that it might not be progressing. I went hunting around for some kind of Active Downloads screen to at least ressure myself that some movement was occurring. Not a sausage. 'Installing: 0%' was the only interaction the console was prepared to make with me, and I was just supposed to trust that it hadn't crashed or melted behind that static facade. If I wanted to know how long I was going to be waiting, to decide if it was worth popping out to buy some muesli or just dig the iPad out to play Mega Dead Pixel for a bit, then I could feel free to eat shit.

And then there's multiplayer. Consoles used to be all about local multiplayer, because they are creatures of the living room and other places where one might entertain guests. PCs were rarely made to be used by more than one person at a time, and so pioneered the online multiplayer. But rather than concentrate on their appeal as a party device for friends getting together, consoles (with the exception of Nintendo) threw that specialisation aside to jump aboard the online multiplayer train, for which they were and are vastly poorer equipped. And the extra subscription charge one must pay to game online - not to mention the restricted game library and inflated prices - in the long run surely balances out the greater cost of a gaming PC.

In short, consoles have worked a long campaign to essentially become PCs, the end result of which will be nothing short of total obsolescence. The only problem consoles now solve over a PC is the problem of not being able to play their exclusive titles, a problem which the console created by making the games exclusive in the first place. Pack up and blow the whistle, chaps - this train has to move the fuck on.

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