265: Punching the Baby Seal of PC Gaming

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The_root_of_all_evil:

danpascooch:

......I also have a choice of hundreds of games, all in a neat row on my dresser shelves, just a press of the disc tray button away, I've saved money by buying games that don't freeze up and make me quit them, and my 360 DOES allow me to play all my own music.

I don't need the shelves. Fix the games that freeze. Play videos, write letters, don't have to pay for my updates, get free stuff...

I mean, I can see the usage of a console, but there's no REASON for hating the PC if you just get along with it.

If you don't want to play MMOs, RTSs, FPSs or the like, then that's fine and dandy; but spitting acid over a game that's not that great because it crashes just as you're about to play it? How the drek do you play MarioKart without shooting someone?

danpascooch:

PC's can play every game ever made? Wow, I didn't know PC's could play console exclusives [/sarcasm]

Well, exclusives don't transcend emulators, do they?

Sure emulators are fine if you want to play the SNES, but show me a nice 360/PS3 emulator that works.

I thought so, there are DS games that can't even be emulated properly on the PC for god's sake!

I like how you placed FPS in the realm of PC exclusive genres, when most FPS players play on console.

Personally, I don't have much of a problem playing PC games, but lots of people do, and it's a big annoyance when you paid for the thing!

Also, don't talk about "watching videos" and "writing letters" just because I play games primarily for the console doesn't mean I don't own a PC, this is about their relative merits as gaming platforms.

Another thing, it's harder to cheat online with consoles.

Buy a better PC Chuck.
Or stop whinging when games your setup can't handle inevtiably die on you.

Ah PC gaming.

Such a sweet doubled edged sword.

My personal gripe is with Empire:Total War; bloody thing crashes when you try to start a game. And I've troubleshot it to the moon and back, even deleted and re-installed it. Now it'll run if I run the game in window, but crash if I try to go full screen. Ah well, don't really need it now that Starcraft is out. XD

Thank god I have a new computer. My last one is now in about 5 different computers as scrap metal and silicon, after a little... incident.

Suffice to say, My old computer couldn't survive a fall from 10 stories up.

danpascooch:

Sure emulators are fine if you want to play the SNES,

Or the BBC, Electron, Spectrum, C64, Amiga, PS1, PS2, DS, Gameboy, GBA, Arcade, Pinball, C16, Dragon, Oric, etc.

but show me a nice 360/PS3 emulator that works.

Sort of tough to do that without breaking forum rules, doncha know.

I like how you placed FPS in the realm of PC exclusive genres, when most FPS players play on console.

Well, Micro$oft seems to put FPS squarely in the realms of PC.

Personally, I don't have much of a problem playing PC games, but lots of people do, and it's a big annoyance when you paid for the thing!

This is up there with "it costs too much" and "it always breaks down". Lots of people die from being stung by a bee each year (around 53) but that's hardly a reason to go on a bee vendetta.

Also, don't talk about "watching videos" and "writing letters" just because I play games primarily for the console doesn't mean I don't own a PC, this is about their relative merits as gaming platforms.

One of the relative merits being that I can switch between game/video/music/letter with a few key presses.

Another thing, it's harder to cheat online with consoles.

It's also impossible (legally) to mod anything. Or upgrade it. Or...lots of other things.

I'm not saying Consoles are bad, I'm just saying that PCs aren't that bad.

I never used to have a single issue or crash with PC Games.

Then I sold my trusty nVidia GTX 280 and purchased an ATI 5870.

Now there are certain PC Games I simply avoid (Fallout and Crysis, I'm looking at you) because they tend to become crash-centric games of Doom.

My PC has failed less often than my XBox 360 (0 versus 2). I was told that Consoles were basically fool-proof and needed little maintenance; why is it that roughly 54% (the most common number I've seen was actually 54.6%) of XBox 360 owners have had to send their consoles back to Microsoft?

Maintaining a PC is exponentially easier than many of you suggest. Here's what I do:

1. Play games (repeat this step several times daily.)
2. Wait for a friend of mine to tell me about nVidia's new drivers, if they're significant (Otherwise, see step 1.)
3. Download and install said drivers. (This will halt your step 1. For about six minutes.)
4. Return to uninterrupted Step 1 for several months or longer.

Oh, I cleared the dust out of my PC once, I guess. I'd do that with my consoles too, but opening them would void the warranty.

I understand my experiences don't speak for everyone, but I don't notice myself putting particularly more time or effort into PC gaming than any of my PC-gaming friends (and, from what I know, none of them have had any major issues either.)

I have a piece of shit NVIDIA GeForce 7100 card and Fallout 3 (with tons of mods) rarely crashes on me. I wish I could give more insight on the matter, but I can't.

Yeah I've been there too. Here I am browsing Wikipedia one night and I find that some old game I loved is on Steam. I look on Steam and it's only $5, so I get it. And my brother gifts me Deus Ex once I have my account set up. Here's the fun part: Neither game plays any sound. We spent all day messing around with drivers and settings and anything we can think of and nothing worked.
EDIT: Just to save anyone else some time, what The_root_of_all_evil just said below worked somehow. Also I'm really PO'd right now that I'm certain we tried that before and it did nothing. BLAAAH. But yeah, thanks man, at least now I can play.

Now, other games on my PC had sound. Command and Conquer 3 bought from the EA Store had sound. Older games like Doom, Roller Coaster Tycoon, The Incredible Machine, and Fallout all play sound. I even managed to dig up our old CD copy of the game I originally signed up on Steam to buy, and low and behold, it worked perfectly, sound included.

It made no sense but apparently Steam hates me! But that can't be right, Steam is just a storefront, right? And my brother sometimes came over here to this computer and played his Half Life 2 and Sam & Max titles no problem in the past. Maybe it is just those two games, let's try some of these demos in here. Mass Effect 2 demo... Won't launch. Okay. Here's some demo for some indy game I've never heard of... Won't launch. WTF. My brother brings his external HDD back and tries his Half Life 2 and Sam & Max and so forth again. Won't launch, won't launch, and won't launch. What in the fucking hell?!

So, yeah. I can't figure this out. Apparently Valve and Steam just hate me. So I went back to my PS3, 360, and Wii, where all I have to do is pop in a mere game disc and HEY LOOK! The fucking game launches and I get to play it with sound. No wasting a day trying to figure out what the hell ails this damn computer.

I'm not trying this on some Walmart Dell or eMachines either, before someone wants to say that.

mjc0961:
Yeah I've been there too. Here I am browsing Wikipedia one night and I find that some old game I loved is on Steam. I look on Steam and it's only $5, so I get it. And my brother gifts me Deus Ex once I have my account set up. Here's the fun part: Neither game plays any sound. We spent all day messing around with drivers and settings and anything we can think of and nothing worked.

Open your DuesEx folder, go in to system and open "deusex.ini"

Find the section that says: [Galaxy.GalaxyAudioSubsystem]

In that section their will be a line that says "Latency=40"
Change it to read "Latency=60"

Close the file (saying yes to save)

Restart DeusEx and the sound works fine

Found by Googling "Deus Ex Sound Problems"

But the real problem is that PCs use kazillions of different configurations, and good old Micro$oft won't fix their compatability errors. So it's the Xbox developers who are causing all these problems.

I have to pity you, Chuck. I totally agree with your article, but you have to understand that PC elitists really can't be reasoned with. Ever.

Don't get me wrong. I LOVE playing games on my PC. When it works, it works better than the 360 or PS3 could ever hope to, and that's just on my (somewhat expensive) laptop.

But people are just being ignorant if they don't recognize the rampant problems befalling the PC market nowadays. Most new PC games are just ports of console versions that often refuse to run on half the rigs you throw at them. PC gaming is inconvenient and annoying. And, as has been illustrated in these comments, there's just this attitude of "if you don't understand the ins and outs of the system you're using, you don't deserve to use a computer".

You don't have to be horrible with PCs to be unlucky with compatibility issues. Yet, most of the people responding to this article just go "You are so unintelligent, you lowly peasant," as they condescendingly wave to you with the pinky finger protruding from their glass of fine wine.

"Go build a PC! What? You can't build a PC? What do you mean you'd rather use the time it takes to research that for other things? What, pray tell, could be more important?"

Consumer products are designed to be enjoyed with base-level knowledge, and they are not meant to require painstaking hours of research and troubleshooting to use properly. For example, do I really deserve to have to update a plethora of drivers constantly when I can just pop a game into my Wii/PS3/360 with absolutely no hassle?

Timbydude:

You don't have to be horrible with PCs to be unlucky with compatibility issues. Yet, most of the people responding to this article just go "You are so unintelligent, you lowly peasant," as they condescendingly wave to you with the pinky finger protruding from their glass of fine wine.

OK...

I've had some horrible compatibility issues in my time. I've some games that never have worked, but I've never seen someone do that.

If you want a game just d/l the demo, check google for "[game] problems" and try a few out. Sure you might lose a few hours to fixing something, but that's way in the minority.
[edit: mjc0961's problem might not have been fixed, but this time it's worked. Crysis on the other hand, ugh...not even going there]

For that, you get a huge bundle of payoffs, like free DLC, PC exclusives etc.

While the PC fanboys 'may' flick their pinky at you, they don't hurl expletive laden insults like some of the console fanboys 'may' do.

Anyway, fine wine isn't as good as a proper beer. ;)

So this article was just someone whining about PC gaming? Gee, that's worth a read.

This article is troll fodder. There are a great many PC elitists about the Escapist and they will defend the platform to the death. Personally though, I'm almost on their side.

I have no problem with you being angry when things don't work, or writing an article about or anything of the sort, but I do have to point out that it's not the computer's fault. It's almost always human error that causes these kinds of problems...but I'm sure you knew that.

This article is great. And this is why I avoid PC gaming wherever possible. There are a few titles that I will continue to play simply because they only come on PC, but for all else, its consoles, and basically for every reason that chuck outlines in this article.

My example: Starcraft 2. When I finally got to my computer, I popped in the disc and let the installer start. 2 hours later it finally finished. Ok, long install times aren't so bad. I load up the game, for some reason, the game has shifted 50% to the right on my monitor, so I have the left half of the game showing up on the right half of my monitor, the rest is black.

So, just because it sometimes works, I close the game and reload it. This time a popup informs me that my drivers and DirectX might be out of date. Updating GFX card drivers, simple enough. Updating DirectX.....not so much. Navigating Microsoft's website might as well just throw you into a labyrinth.

In the end, it required 4 update downloads, 3 restarts and a lot of swearing...and I'm fully aware that this was a MILD experience by comparison.

I told this to a couple friends of mine who suggested a) that I switch to Mac (which I cannot even remotely afford), and b) that I should never have bought a dell and should build my own (which I also can't afford, and for that matter don't even know how to do).

Hell, all I want to do right now is make WoW run a little better on my PC but even something that simple is another labyrinth of graphics cards, memory, and I don't know how many other components. God forbid I were to make my own...

PC gaming problems boil down to insufficient resources - not enough RAM, running too many things in the background even if you have enough RAM to meet the game's requirements, running at high settings when your GPU can't handle it, having a crap OS like Vista. One thing to remember is that a game's minimum system requirements means you can play that game at the lowest graphical settings. If you want to play at medium to high settings, try to match or exceed the recommended specs.

Oh and the XPS, unless you customized or got the higher end versions, isn't that powerful. I'd say midrange for gaming purposes at best. Tweak your settings till you get the best performance; most PC games have some sort of benchmark utility to let you get the best balance of visual goodies and high framerates.

Oh, and if all else fails, you most likely had a bad install. Yes it happens. Reinstalling should fix it.

PC gaming really isn't that much of a chore if you know what you're doing.

Timbydude:

You don't have to be horrible with PCs to be unlucky with compatibility issues. Yet, most of the people responding to this article just go "You are so unintelligent, you lowly peasant," as they condescendingly wave to you with the pinky finger protruding from their glass of fine wine.

"Go build a PC! What? You can't build a PC? What do you mean you'd rather use the time it takes to research that for other things? What, pray tell, could be more important?"

Consumer products are designed to be enjoyed with base-level knowledge, and they are not meant to require painstaking hours of research and troubleshooting to use properly.

That's close to my feeling -- ultimately, I try to put my feet in the shoes of a casual user. I have friends who aren't particularly PC-savvy, but they get new computers and they walk into Target or buy one or two PC games, and then get home and... what? Have to jump through hoops just to make a piece of software work? Feel like the money spent on the PC is wasted? Instead take the time and effort to build their own PC just so they can play a $30 game? Ask around on a forum and be called idiots because they own an HP, or a Dell?

To me it feels like we're long past the point where these issues should be ever-present, yet it seems like they're only worse.

Some of the most strident PC gamers appear to have built up an indestructible and ever-shrinking niche, but then rail against anybody *calling* it a niche.

It's a shame, because while PC gaming has its faults, it is a unique platform and offers great benefits -- despite how people have read it, the joke of the article is that I clearly *do* play PC games and intend to keep doing so regardless of my frustration.

But increasingly, it offers those benefits only to the truly devoted. Or, rather, the truly zealous. Hence, the console market grows, and the zealous grow more ardent about their console hate, and the cycle continues.

My zwei pfennig. Feel free to discard at your leisure.

-- Chuck

The_root_of_all_evil:

Timbydude:

You don't have to be horrible with PCs to be unlucky with compatibility issues. Yet, most of the people responding to this article just go "You are so unintelligent, you lowly peasant," as they condescendingly wave to you with the pinky finger protruding from their glass of fine wine.

OK...

I've had some horrible compatibility issues in my time. I've some games that never have worked, but I've never seen someone do that.

If you want a game just d/l the demo, check google for "[game] problems" and try a few out. Sure you might lose a few hours to fixing something, but that's way in the minority.

For that, you get a huge bundle of payoffs, like free DLC, PC exclusives etc.

While the PC fanboys 'may' flick their pinky at you, they don't hurl expletive laden insults like some of the console fanboys 'may' do.

Anyway, fine wine isn't as good as a proper beer. ;)

I'm not saying that anyone does that in a specific case. I'm saying that whenever anyone makes the perfectly legitimate complaint that PC gaming is more frustrating than console gaming, the majority reply is "You don't know what you're talking about".

While it's true that most issues can be resolved from a basic Google, there are those rare issues that just can't be fixed, and it's incredibly annoying when those pop up.

Two examples from personal experience:

1) Jade Empire: Special Edition. I bought it over 3 years ago on Steam, and encountered a game-breaking issue for which no fix was available until 2 months ago. It had to do with the fact that I have 64-bit Vista; in other words, I really couldn't have done anything. Now, is it fair that I had to wait three years (during which time the game's plot was spoiled, anyway) to play a game for which I paid full price?

2) Mirror's Edge: It's just plain incompatible with SLI. It "works", but seeing as how the screen repeatedly flickers during play, it's not quite for me. I could disable SLI and play with one video card, but then I'm stuck with mediocre performance on middling settings; that's not why I bought a $3000 computer.

Damn I love you Chuck! :P

I played Crysis on my home built. It never crashed even once. I play Fallout 3. I've lost MONTHS to it, I've modded it until it forgets what it's name is. And yet, somehow, it runs!

Dude build your own. It takes all of 10 minutes to assemble it, and another 35 to install Windows. Most of that time is spent staring at a "Windows is copying files..." screen, during that time you can play something on the 360. And maybe when you aren't trying to game on a Dell Crysis won't crash on you. It never crashed for me. Dells just aren't built to game. It's like buying a Geo Metro and trying to win the Daytona 500 with it. Just ain't gonna happen. And you'll probably crash.

JordanMillward_1:
Damn I love you Chuck! :P

Why, thank you, sir.

And thanks all, for reading.

Thanks even to those who think I'm an addlepated dipshit, or who want to stab me in the face with a stick of RAM.

-- Chuck

TestECull:

The issue here is not one with the games or the platform, but of a PEBKAC nature. Dells just aren't built to game. It's like buying a Geo Metro and trying to win the Daytona 500 with it. Just ain't gonna happen. And you'll probably crash. Even with Fallout 3's known crashing issues it's still quite stable on my machine with more mods than I care to count active. It doesn't crash for me.

Ehhhh. I'm not sold on the comparison -- unless you want PC games to be a very minor niche, then they have to offer a common denominator less crazy than "Daytona 500."

Wanting a Dell to play a game feels more like wanting a Geo Metro to drive on the highway. Maybe it won't be the best at the task demanded, but it it'll still do it.

-- Chuck

Hey guys, I've been looking through the thread, and I'm noticing a lot of particularly heated opinions coming up in regard to the merits of PC Gaming over the merits of Console gaming, or vice versa. While this is a perfectly valid discussion, I'd like to remind you guys that debate and argument are separated largely be tone online.

So, if you'd all be so kind, try to keep the discussion light and easy, and don't take it personally when folks disagree with one another. I'd rather if things didn't get too out of hand, especially since this discussion has so much potential.

I appreciate it guys.

wadark:
This article is great. And this is why I avoid PC gaming wherever possible. There are a few titles that I will continue to play simply because they only come on PC, but for all else, its consoles, and basically for every reason that chuck outlines in this article.

No it's not, it's no different from any sort of anti-PC whinging I've heard before, and I've worked in bloody tech support and build my own systems, so I know what I'm talking about.

wadark:
My example: Starcraft 2. When I finally got to my computer, I popped in the disc and let the installer start. 2 hours later it finally finished. Ok, long install times aren't so bad. I load up the game, for some reason, the game has shifted 50% to the right on my monitor, so I have the left half of the game showing up on the right half of my monitor, the rest is black.

That alone tells me you should've replaced your DVD drive a long time ago. 3 disc installations should take about no more than an hour.

wadark:
So, just because it sometimes works, I close the game and reload it. This time a popup informs me that my drivers and DirectX might be out of date. Updating GFX card drivers, simple enough. Updating DirectX.....not so much. Navigating Microsoft's website might as well just throw you into a labyrinth.

Actually, the latest version of DirectX you'll need usually comes packaged with your latest game. Say, Starcraft 2.

wadark:
I told this to a couple friends of mine who suggested a) that I switch to Mac (which I cannot even remotely afford), and b) that I should never have bought a dell and should build my own (which I also can't afford, and for that matter don't even know how to do).

You don't have to build your own system. Dell's website offers customization options. Make sure you get the system that lets you pick decent GPU and memory options.

I have the same problem as you Chuck, in which whenever there is a Steam sale I buy everything in sight.

"Indie Game pack? 5? I've never heard of any of these games.. add to shopping cart"

"Rome: Total War? 2? I don't even like RTSes.. oh well, it's only two quid"

And so on and so forth till I am surprised when my credit card gets rejected for having no money on it.

My first laptop I bought was a pre-built Dell one for 300. Before I get stoned to death for stupidity, I was twelve. I assumed it worked the same as it did when I bought my Gamecube: You buy the console, you buy the game, game goes in console, game works. However it surprisingly didn't work with hardly anything, and the games it did work with were riddled with issues.

I wasn't going to take chances with my second one, so I scanned the internet for a month for a good price. Eventually I found my current laptop, normally 800, reduced to 500. Bought it and its served me fine.

I have been playing Team Fortress 2 a fair amount and a problem that keeps surfacing which annoys me is sometimes, rarely, I will load the game and it will freeze randomly while loading. Either while loading the main menu or loading a map. It gives me no reason and googling "Team Fortress 2 loading freeze" got me nothing. It is irritating, but rare, so I should count myself lucky in that sense.

Great article. My PC gaming has tapered off over the years for the same reason. Seems like every time I get interested in a new game, it ends up requiring hours of dicking around to get running (more, if you take the "buy a new computer! And build it yourself this time!" ignorant advise from the technowonks). Now, I look at a tempting new PC game like Starcraft II, and think about buying it, but then I think "Hmmm... Am I going to need to upgrade something... Or reinstall my OS so that things are 'clean enough' for it to run... Never mind, the XBox and Wii are sitting right here."

People whining about PC gaming dying might want to stop advocating for it having an even higher barrier to entry and instead advocate for it to get better. If something like a Dell XPS, mass produced more than about any other PC, is too "edge case" for a game to work on it, then it's about time for PC gaming to die.

chuckwendig:

TestECull:

The issue here is not one with the games or the platform, but of a PEBKAC nature. Dells just aren't built to game. It's like buying a Geo Metro and trying to win the Daytona 500 with it. Just ain't gonna happen. And you'll probably crash. Even with Fallout 3's known crashing issues it's still quite stable on my machine with more mods than I care to count active. It doesn't crash for me.

Ehhhh. I'm not sold on the comparison -- unless you want PC games to be a very minor niche, then they have to offer a common denominator less crazy than "Daytona 500."

Wanting a Dell to play a game feels more like wanting a Geo Metro to drive on the highway. Maybe it won't be the best at the task demanded, but it it'll still do it.

-- Chuck

Allow me to rephrase then. It's like trying to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans with a Metro.

My point is that the Dell just isn't built for gaming and it just isn't going to give you a satisfactory experience. It's built for people to get on the internet, which equates to the Metro being a commuter car. It does that well. But when it comes down to gaming it understeers right into a tire wall.

romxxii:

wadark:
This article is great. And this is why I avoid PC gaming wherever possible. There are a few titles that I will continue to play simply because they only come on PC, but for all else, its consoles, and basically for every reason that chuck outlines in this article.

No it's not, it's no different from any sort of anti-PC whinging I've heard before, and I've worked in bloody tech support and build my own systems, so I know what I'm talking about.

wadark:
My example: Starcraft 2. When I finally got to my computer, I popped in the disc and let the installer start. 2 hours later it finally finished. Ok, long install times aren't so bad. I load up the game, for some reason, the game has shifted 50% to the right on my monitor, so I have the left half of the game showing up on the right half of my monitor, the rest is black.

That alone tells me you should've replaced your DVD drive a long time ago. 3 disc installations should take about no more than an hour.

wadark:
So, just because it sometimes works, I close the game and reload it. This time a popup informs me that my drivers and DirectX might be out of date. Updating GFX card drivers, simple enough. Updating DirectX.....not so much. Navigating Microsoft's website might as well just throw you into a labyrinth.

Actually, the latest version of DirectX you'll need usually comes packaged with your latest game. Say, Starcraft 2.

wadark:
I told this to a couple friends of mine who suggested a) that I switch to Mac (which I cannot even remotely afford), and b) that I should never have bought a dell and should build my own (which I also can't afford, and for that matter don't even know how to do).

You don't have to build your own system. Dell's website offers customization options. Make sure you get the system that lets you pick decent GPU and memory options.

Everything you say reinforces my point. You've worked in Tech Support, so you know what you're talking about. I have not, so I don't. I just want to play this game that I've been anticipating.

I don't know that long-install times mean I need a new disc drive. I wouldn't think I'd need a new one since I've installed a grand total of 4 disc games in the 1.5 years I've had this machine.

I don't know that directX comes on the disc for SC2...it certainly never popped up before, during, or after install. And if I don't know that it comes packaged, why would I ever go looking for it in the disc files or wherever I'm supposed to find it.

I got what I could afford from dell at the time and let me be clear, it works great. A couple hiccups now and then.

My point is that I don't know, and considering I've been using computers a bit longer than most people, they certainly wouldn't know unless they were told. But when asked, I get sarcastic know-it-all elitist remarks like yours. Again, you reinforce my point. Sure, its second-nature to you because you have extensive experience in the nuances, but to a layman like me, its a nightmare.

I believe that the article is great and explain (maybe a little less than articulately) the experiences that most anyone new to PC gaming suffer through.

Yeah, Team Fortress 2 got me to download Steam too. I had gotten tired of paying Microsoft to let me play online, and $0.99 seemed too good of a deal to pass up if I got all the updates.

For me though, most of my games work fine on the PC. I'm really glad I got both Mass Effect games for the PC. I think it made my experience better. Of that doesn't mean I will stop buying the console versions. I mean, they just work.

Personally, I prefer the PC; however, I can relate to this article. Computers mess up far too often, and it's annoying. And that is why I can see the appeal of consoles.

Some of you need to stop being so arrogant. I agree with Chuck; you should be able to go out, purchase something, and have it work. If he doesn't want to take the time to build a custom computer, can you really not understand that? To some, it's a hobby, but not to everyone. He said that he did update his drivers, so his frustration is understandable.

Anyway, good article. And despite the fact that I enjoy gaming on the PC so much, I can still relate.

I hope that you'll not have too much trouble trying to get Civ V working, Chuck. If you do, surely the baby seals will have something to worry about?

It amazes me that every time someone points this out, so many people will pop up and try to claim that there's no problem with PC gaming, that the author is ignorant, that they have the 'wrong' PC or graphics card, etc. As this article quite correctly points out, absolutely none of those arguments is in the least bit relevant.

If you have a console, or smartphone, or pretty much any other gaming-capable device out there, you just buy a game and it works. End of. In the very, very rare case that something doesn't work properly, it's almost invariably a problem that every other user has too (the apocalyps3 springs to mind) or your device has just died on you. Unless you go around using your game disks as coasters or smearing them with jam, that's the extent of the problem.
My own current personal bugbear is Dragon Age. Usually it works fine. Sometimes it just cleanly CTDs for no apparent reason, though lots of strategic pausing seems to trigger it on occasion. Sometimes my DLC doesn't appear, or it won't let me resume a game because it hasn't decided I'm allowed to use it yet. Then there's the toolset, which is built on an ancient database structure that is so unreliable to install that there's a 'Hail Mary' in the installation logfile. My machine is a custom build, with more memory that its OS can even address, no overclocking, up-to-date drivers and drives which are regularly swept for viruses and malware with AVG and MBAM.

It's not good enough to say "Sure, _that_ game is a joke, but that _other_ one's pretty reliable". We're paying our money to buy a game to play, not to enter a lottery where half the prizes are trouble-free gaming and half are hours of irritation. Demos are rarely any indication of stability, nor are reviews except in the case of really, really bugged games. And then, of course, there's the misery of updating your system and finding an old favourite suddenly doesn't want to know. Not to mention the increasingly inpenetrable measures preventing you from moving saves from one machine to another, or even keeping them if you have to rebuild. Let's take a moment to consider Torchlight's lamentable implementation of Steamcloud that can't handle more than one user per system.

Then there's the constant piracy war, with the poor legitimate consumer stuck between the crackers and increasingly desperate publishers. The continuing march to maximise revenue by creating hundreds of different 'account' systems that you have to sign into in order to play, many of which would dearly love to get access to your Facebook account. The constant spam of emails from 'Blizzard Technical Support' or 'NCsoft' offering you everything from beta access to free gold if you'll just click this oh-so-innocent link and enter your account details. The joys of games like DOWII that want both Steam AND GFW running before they will. And hey, look, a social network has appeared on both of those too! Want to link it to your Facebook?

To be honest, though, the biggest threat to the PC gaming market is probably going to be simple economics. It's getting increasingly hard to justify developing for the platform when you then end up with the stark choice of spending literally millions on post-launch support so your customers can actually get the thing running, or just pulling a fire-and-forget and alienating everyone who gets unlucky. If- big if- OnLive or a similar out-of-the-box service manages to start offering the good of the PC gaming experience without the fiddling about, then I suspect it may take off in a big way. But I suspect that for the time being the infrastructure for that isn't quite there.

BTW, I'm no big Blizzard fan, but I quite agree that they are one of the few companies who seem to know how to put a PC game together. Starcraft II and Diablo III are on the very short list of PC games I intend to pick up any time soon.

Majere613:
It amazes me that every time someone points this out, so many people will pop up and try to claim that there's no problem with PC gaming, that the author is ignorant, that they have the 'wrong' PC or graphics card, etc. As this article quite correctly points out, absolutely none of those arguments is in the least bit relevant.

If you have a console, or smartphone, or pretty much any other gaming-capable device out there, you just buy a game and it works. End of. In the very, very rare case that something doesn't work properly, it's almost invariably a problem that every other user has too (the apocalyps3 springs to mind) or your device has just died on you. Unless you go around using your game disks as coasters or smearing them with jam, that's the extent of the problem.
My own current personal bugbear is Dragon Age. Usually it works fine. Sometimes it just cleanly CTDs for no apparent reason, though lots of strategic pausing seems to trigger it on occasion. Sometimes my DLC doesn't appear, or it won't let me resume a game because it hasn't decided I'm allowed to use it yet. Then there's the toolset, which is built on an ancient database structure that is so unreliable to install that there's a 'Hail Mary' in the installation logfile. My machine is a custom build, with more memory that its OS can even address, no overclocking, up-to-date drivers and drives which are regularly swept for viruses and malware with AVG and MBAM.

It's not good enough to say "Sure, _that_ game is a joke, but that _other_ one's pretty reliable". We're paying our money to buy a game to play, not to enter a lottery where half the prizes are trouble-free gaming and half are hours of irritation. Demos are rarely any indication of stability, nor are reviews except in the case of really, really bugged games. And then, of course, there's the misery of updating your system and finding an old favourite suddenly doesn't want to know. Not to mention the increasingly inpenetrable measures preventing you from moving saves from one machine to another, or even keeping them if you have to rebuild. Let's take a moment to consider Torchlight's lamentable implementation of Steamcloud that can't handle more than one user per system.

Then there's the constant piracy war, with the poor legitimate consumer stuck between the crackers and increasingly desperate publishers. The continuing march to maximise revenue by creating hundreds of different 'account' systems that you have to sign into in order to play, many of which would dearly love to get access to your Facebook account. The constant spam of emails from 'Blizzard Technical Support' or 'NCsoft' offering you everything from beta access to free gold if you'll just click this oh-so-innocent link and enter your account details. The joys of games like DOWII that want both Steam AND GFW running before they will. And hey, look, a social network has appeared on both of those too! Want to link it to your Facebook?

To be honest, though, the biggest threat to the PC gaming market is probably going to be simple economics. It's getting increasingly hard to justify developing for the platform when you then end up with the stark choice of spending literally millions on post-launch support so your customers can actually get the thing running, or just pulling a fire-and-forget and alienating everyone who gets unlucky. If- big if- OnLive or a similar out-of-the-box service manages to start offering the good of the PC gaming experience without the fiddling about, then I suspect it may take off in a big way. But I suspect that for the time being the infrastructure for that isn't quite there.

BTW, I'm no big Blizzard fan, but I quite agree that they are one of the few companies who seem to know how to put a PC game together. Starcraft II and Diablo III are on the very short list of PC games I intend to pick up any time soon.

Well said, friend.

It's a pity people have these problems. Having never owned a console, I guess I'm lucky that all my PC games work perfectly? I sure as hell wouldn;t be able to afford having all the games I have on a console...

Look, I agree with many of your points, but I don't seem to have any of the problems you do. Tech should work, yeah. Do computers have problems? Hell yes. Do consoles have problems? Just as fucking many. No, you don't have to go through all of the troubleshooting on a console, you just can't. It's not possible.

I'm not convinced that consoles are any better. That opinion just pisses me off. Crysis will crash if your computer isn't good enough, whereas Fallout 3 will crash because it wants you to have an aneurysm. Both are your fault for not looking into it. What does it take, five minutes? I'd consider those five minutes to be worth the ten dollars I save on those games. Definitely worth it.

Steam, by the way, is the way of the future. If you have poor impulse control, you'll end up spending more than you can. If you have any control whatsoever, you'll end up with a smorgasbord of cheap stuff, free stuff, and the best platform on the PC to date. Did I mention unlimited installs with no invasive copy protection? Because that's a big one.

crazypsyko666:

I'm not convinced that consoles are any better. That opinion just pisses me off. Crysis will crash if your computer isn't good enough, whereas Fallout 3 will crash because it wants you to have an aneurysm. Both are your fault for not looking into it. What does it take, five minutes? I'd consider those five minutes to be worth the ten dollars I save on those games. Definitely worth it.

I don't think it's a case of "better." It's a case of, any and all platforms could *be* better. In this case, we're talking about how PC gaming can/should/could offer a more stable experience.

As regards Fallout 3, though, please know that I spent hours looking into that problem.

A problem that has never been solved, actually.

-- Chuck

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