Victim of Technocide

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So the article states that needing to upgrade is why the PC Gaming industry is currently stalled, compared to its success in the 90s. I wanna take this in the opposite direction and say that it was the need to upgrade that led to this success, and the lack of upgrade options that has seen it piddle out.

Remember the 90s? A new processor every couple years, exciting new video card technologies, software constantly pushing the boundaries of how much ram a typical system required? My first gaming computer was a 100mhz 486 with 4 megs of ram. From the first day I had it, I wanted, NEEDED to get a pentium, and all I could settle for was to add another 4 megs of ram to it. It played Doom like a piece of cake, but it was NEVER going to play Quake. The demand for games drove the demand for new hardware, and the dearth of new hardware drove the demand for games. Yes the open availability of the PC format got people interested in gaming, but the expandability is what made us full converts. You could upgrade your N64, ONCE, but you'd never see an improvement in anything but Conker's Bad Fur Day (maybe some other titles, nothing memorable.) But a good computer system could keep going and going and going... constantly evolving until you no longer had any of the original parts installed, but were still playing the same savegames of Doom right along side your shiny new copies of Quake III, Soldier of Fortune, and Unreal Tournament.

Now look at today. I've got a Geforce 7800, 3 gigs of ram, and a dual-core processor, all from four years ago, and I can still play new releases. And they'll NEVER look as good as they do on XBox 360! Maybe if I get that new Geforce 285, but for that money I could just get the damn console! Until the PC offers some valid, tangible selling points to contend with console platforms, it'll be a declining medium. I do agree with you, of course, that integrated chipsets need to offer better performance to offer the uninitiated something to chew on... maybe then they'll find a passion for custom content and homebrew modifications.

Great article, real food for thought!

As a person who, for every computer I've gotten, never took into consideration whether or not they could play the latest games, I understand and agree with the points made here. For me, a computer is a word processor, calculator and internet gateway before it is a gaming platform. I still enjoy playing PC games (in fact, they're the only games I play, since I stopped buying consoles after the Nintento 64). But when you get right down to it, I'm not going out of my way to buy an expensive, powerful computer just to play 'em. I'll play 'em if I can, and ignore 'em if I can't. I could care less about fancy graphics, and I don't buy consoles anymore because I figure they don't do anything worthwhile that my computer doesn't already do. Just make games that are fun, and I'll be happy.

Sheamus has an interesting spin, and of course the development of decent gpus for consoles has helped that market take a chunk out of the pc gaming industry, especially since some high-profile pc games seemed to require a very high-end system: Oblivion, Neverwinter Nights, Crysis, Bioshock, etc. The first two were developed pre-Vista, and just as multicore processors were coming onto the market, and Oblivion was so high-end that some reviewers said that the machine that could play it at full settings had yet to be developed. The Xbox360 had just come out, and for players interested in Oblivion, the choice was to 1) put up with a laggy pc game, 2) spend money on an XBox360, or 3) get a new pc with a high end graphics card that would cost twice as much as the 360. Option 2 was the better one for a lot of consumers.

However, high profile games like these help perpetuate the myth that gaming pcs need to be several thousands of dollars, or involve yearly upgrades that each would cost the same amount as a console. This simply isn't true, unless you want to buy one of those special gaming pcs reviewed by PC Gamer or other hardware sites. And how many of those are rated as "must buy or be forever labeled 'n00b 4 life'? For $800-$1000, you can buy/build a machine that will play just about any game you throw at it--at least for three years. That isn't a bad life. Both pcs and consoles each have about 3 years of life. Microsoft is getting ready for the next generation of console, about 3 years after the release of the 360. For pcs, new releases of operating systems and software that makes use of cpu/gpu technology upgrades will drive us to get new pcs about every 3-4 years. Since we're spending the money upgrading our pcs anyway, we'll spend just a bit more to ensure that we're getting something that will play games, too. My current pc cost me about $1000 to build, and I can play any game on the market right now. But I also use my pc for other purposes than for gaming, so it's cost effective to have a machine that can game AND do other work. I'm not spending as much as I would for a pc + console.

However, consoles do have a cost edge when it comes to family gaming and the portable market. If you like to pass along your older pc to your children for their homework, then you'll probably want a console for family entertainment. If you tend to use a notebook, then it makes sense to game on a console since gaming notebooks tend to be quite expensive.

Still, the myth that pc gaming is geared toward the high-end persists, as we can see here:


I think to save PC gaming people developers need to stop developing for gaming rigs, and start developing for out-of-the-box Intel home PCs.

Here is where I believe that Valve's Steam has real potential to change things. Valve's Monthly Hardware Survey can show over time the rate that consumers adopt new technologies in OS, graphics, and cpus. As a result, the survey can serve as a gauge for software developers to write games for the software that will be the new mainstream by the time the game hits the market. Games can look good yet still be playable on mainstream machines.

However, I don't see the pc gaming market surging back to where it was in 1998, but I do see it as evolving. I've played both console and pc, and I simply prefer the pc. I like the configurability of the controls and flexibility of input. However, if I had children, I'd likely have a console. Kids can be hard on computers, so I'd rather have to replace a new controller because it was dropped than to replace key pc components.

Technology has developed a new age of increased personal freedom, reduced the social hierarchy, enhanced possibilities for leisure, and allowed a greater quality in social interaction and communication. Video games have allowed people to enjoy themselves alone or with friends. Vastly improved technologies have enabled electronic game characters to look, sound and move in a more lifelike way. Action, adventure and fighting games these were samples of how computer have become part of almost everybody's lives. And you can't blame technology from growing so fast and influence those game enthusiasts..including games lover

Kojiro ftt:
I think it could have been avoided if the marketing of graphics cards didn't get so out of hand. In the beginning, it was Voodoo 2, 3, 4, etc as Shamus has mentioned. But then marketing got involved in naming the chipsets. Next thing you know, you can buy a GeForce 3 and it would actually be WORSE than your GeForce 2, because you bought the retarded GS version, or whatever the tag is they came up with that week. That's when the market became unnavigable. You couldn't just say "I need a better card" and find one with a bigger number than the one you already had. You have to research stuff so you don't get hoodwinked by marketing. To GeForce and ATI, I say a big "Fuck You" and good riddance.

Now I just wish consoles and their games would natively support keyboard and mouse input...

Lol, you're absolutely right.

I'm still tethered to the computer.. I don't any any current generation consoles, and won't own one in the foreseeable future.

Of course, that could change with mouse/keyboard support.

My 2 cents worth: the game developers need to introduce scalable performance. Not resolution changes but honest to goodness scalability. I know some do, and I know it is the dickens to program, but when they start doing that, they'll have something consoles don't again. If this happens, consoles will be left behind again, since a year-old console will be inferior to a newly upgraded computer for the enthusiasts; but a 4-year old system can play the same games as a year-old console for the rest.

Sad but true. Few of my friends are PC gamers, because they don't want to have to go to the trouble to inject steroids into their systems to run a game well. I have the same problem: I bought a brand-new midrange computer eight months ago, and I still have to run Oblivion with all the settings turned down to medium/low. It's no longer easy to be a PC gamer, when you can go out and buy a 360 for a third of the price of a decent computer.

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