Progress and Upgrades

Progress and Upgrades

As the games become more important and the hardware less so, maybe the simplest path to Rapture really is the best one. If I'd just stop worrying and learn to love the Box, the little big guy could finally be set free and I'd get to see first-hand what all the hullabaloo is about. It certainly makes sense. So why do I, and the PC crowd at large, struggle against it?

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The console will never take the place of the PC. In the same way as you can never become your father's father. Consoles were born of PC technology, they are nothing more than specialized PC's with games that are made for specifically for them. PC games on the other hand drive the advancement of technology. Even now computers can be built that make the PS3 look like an antiquated piece of junk, and even if you take price into consideration you can still create more than a match hardware wise. If all PC games become only console ports or disappear all together, who will be left to advance the technologies that advance the consoles.

Will we just sit in a stagnant state with the Xbox, PS3, and Wii as our only options. Sure new and exciting games will come out and new and exciting gimmicks, such as motion sense and reactive optics (both of which are not new technology by a long shot). But eventually this will become superfluous and bland, and the people will want something new.

Therefore i will buy new graphics cards (plural, it's seems to be the norm; it failed with the Voodoo 2 and it will fail now). I will buy a new original copy of Hellgate: London. And i will pay the damned online subscription fee. Because i like the versatility, the precision, the choice, and i sure as hell want to look forward to new future gaming advancements.

I've officially given up trying to keep up with PC tech. From now on my PC is going to be a glorified word processor and internet surfing machine. I'll get my gaming fix on my consoles. The rest of you can can keep imagining that you are driving forth the gaming market in some righteous way by being a PC snob.

PC snobs don't pay as much for their games, admittedly, so there are advantages. Consoles are not PC's, and PC's are not consoles, I don't see why anyone feels the need to argue for one or the other since both can exist at once. If a console ever can "replace" a PC, it is a PC!

As for upgrades, upgrading a PC (or a few bits) every few years is becoming the norm, with mid-range cards being pretty damn cheap, since 5-10 years ago there was a rash of complicated standards and operating systems which crashed often with games, and the dawn of DirectX3/4/5 (Windows 95/98). Today its a lot more stable, and moderate PC's from OEM people usually come with enough umph to play plenty of games.

Games for Windows is a joke though, marketing through and through (or money being paid to publishers through and through), to push Vista, and MS's own delivery services which will apepear, hmmm.

And consoles, yeah, are being outpaced by the power of todays PC cards, I don't think that the 5 year life span of the Microsoft and Sony consoles will be top of the line half way through their life, although standardising to them will mean both the gamers get a game which should run fine, since its only one type of box, but the PC games (especially on cross-releases) would look nicer/are more expansive then the consoles in the consoles later part of the life span. Its how its worked for every other generation.

A lot of the PC vs console battle is perception, but I don't think you can argue that in pure hardware terms, the PC isn't a more expensive proposition. You can upgrade individual components every year or so to keep things rolling for awhile but sooner or later the crunch comes and you have to make a big (and costly) leap forward. The transition from AGP to PCI-X, for instance: At a bare minimum you're looking at a new motherboard, RAM, CPU, video card and power supply, and while you could probably get all that for the cost of a PS3 (ballpark guessing here, of course) as a gamer, and therefore as someone who needs a little more zing out of his rig than the average Peggle-playing, email-sending, digital-photo-taking grandmother, would you really want to cheap out that way?

Andrew pointed out the games, which are typically cheaper for the PC than for consoles, but where the consoles win out in that particular area is rentals. I have Blockbuster and Rogers both within a half-hour drive, which both offer a metric asston of games for rent. Seen that kind of action for a PC lately?

I don't necessarily think that some future console will "replace" the PC, but the future doesn't look overly friendly to our kind.

I've still got a bookmarks folder filled with "PC gaming is dead" posts from 2005. I've been slacking off: there's no 2006, and this is my first entry for 2007!

I disagree with the use of "we" in this article. The author's "we" is only relevant to those obsessed with keeping up with bleeding edge tech - who are in a tiny minority. It doesn't reflect my experiences at all, which is of a new PC every six years and never having had a game refuse to run because I was out of date, or needing a ridiculous reduction in quality (but then I'm hardly a graphics whore).

Given that I can also use my machine for everyday PC uses and modding and get games ~10 cheaper before we even start to factor in online subscription services like Gametap (or for Europeans like me Metaboli) it's a brilliant bargain too. No need for HDTVs and component cables here!

Edit: forgot to mention independent digital distribution that isn't restricted to casual/small games.

People will continue to game on PC's because they will continue to need computers for work. Many of us make due with the processing power that we have or spring for cheap graphics cards.

That said, I also presume that a niche market for bleeding-edge gaming will continue.

I would like to see more games with lower graphics requirements but, given that I'm a cheapskate, I don't think that I'll be driving the market.

Of course the "we" is a minority, that was a bit of the point. And while I'm quite impressed that you're able to go six years between major PC upgrades, I don't think I could do it. Just for fun, I cracked open the June 2002 issue of PC Gamer (five years seemed an easier number to work with than six) and checked out a review for what was back then a super-hot rig from Falcon Northwest, the Mach V Exotix. The Intel-based version of the computer included a 2.4 GHz P4, 1 GB of PC2100 DDR, dual 40 GB hard drives, and an AGP GeForce 4 Ti 4600. I'm not even sure if that would qualify as baseline these days, although my old P4 rig (with a Radeon 9700 and two gig-o-ram) ran games like FEAR and HL2 reasonably well. Thing is, if you'd sprung for that piece of iron five years ago, you'd have dropped over 3300 bucks, which is pretty hardcore stuff - basically the equivalent of buying a PS3 every year from then until now. And that's assuming you don't pop for any upgrades along the way.

Which of course illustrates the fallacy of the whole "us vs them" debate when it comes to PC gamers, because it's perfectly valid to say my mom is a PC gamer too and we obviously have just about zero in common when it comes to our electronic entertainment habits. Certainly the group I had in mind tended toward the more serious and demanding PC gamer, who would insist on something beyond just a "minimum system requirements" kind of computer, but there's still a huge gap between a decent gaming rig and the "bleeding edge," and that's where most of us live.

Malygris:
I cracked open the June 2002

Ah. I built my last machine in 2004, based on a purchase from 2000. Make my last post four years. :o

My current machine was bought after only three years of the 2004 one, but that was partly because I needed a laptop. Although that did mean I missed the PCI-X upgrade-fest (which still isn't strictly required, AFAIK), I would point out that system changes of that extent don't come along very often at all.

Malygris:
Certainly the group I had in mind tended toward the more serious and demanding PC gamer, who would insist on something beyond just a "minimum system requirements" kind of computer, but there's still a huge gap between a decent gaming rig and the "bleeding edge," and that's where most of us live.

That's something I thought about after posting. In my mind, it's anyone playing AAA titles in the console-equivalent group.

There's really one big difference. A PC really is a personal computer: you can do anything you want on it. This is a general-purpose computing device. All that power adds to it a great layer of complexity, which in turn adds some unreliability and some fuzzy reasoning.

A console, on the other hand, is not a personal device in that sense. It's really an appliance. Your refrigerator keeps things cold, your blender turns food into beverages, your console plays video games. A computer with the right hardware can duplicate any appliance with finer control and greater flexibility, but there's much more complexity involved with having your PC in charge of your washing machine, when all you really want is a clean shirt. The popularity of consoles is based on the realization that giving up control in exchange for dedication is a good trade-off when you know exactly what you want to do with the device.

This probably isn't unique (in fact, I know it's not because there's at least one other guy in the world who does exactly the same thing) but one of the bonuses of PC gaming is that you have the ability to simultaneously pursue other activities. For me, it's IRC. For years, since shortly after the release of System Shock 2, I've spent virtually every night talking on IRC with a friend (whom I've never actually met) while I game. I can't imagine any kind of serious gaming without that conversation. At the same time, I can hit GameFAQs, send off pissy emails to developers who drop the ball, type up "stuff," and do pretty much whatever else I want. It's an extremely rare event for me to just game by myself and with nothing else on the go. It's certainly not the main reason I'm hardcore PC, but it's definitely an influential factor in keeping me away from consoles.

Tom Edwards:
Ah. I built my last machine in 2004, based on a purchase from 2000. Make my last post four years. :o

That's still pretty solid. Some systems serve us very well, performing beyond expectations well past the point where we should reasonably expect them to do so. My previous system, a P4/Radeon 9700 rig, was like that. Had it for over three years and it handled everything I threw at it, and I was gaming with it right up to a few days before I unloaded it. Sometimes we get lucky. If you can do that consistently, then you're very lucky. ;)

Nice one Bill

Unfortunately if you want to play all the games, you have to buy all the platforms. PC's have FPS's, PS3 and 360 have action/RPG and racing, and the Wii has family games.

But the PC is one up on all the consoles, because you can do all your 'personal computing'. A PC can even generate profit for you if you run a business.
So once your PC has payed for itself, you can spring for that new graphics card and enjoy some well deserved leisure time.

Can anyone actually say that their console has generated any kind of profit?

What does generating a profit on your PC have to do with the PC as a games machine? Maybe I'm just missing your point entirely?

I think his point is that the real cost isn't as high as the initial price tag suggests.

How many gamers realistically make a profit from their PC's though? I'm guessing miniscule amounts.

Money has everything to do with everything.

Everybody's complaint comes down to the cost of upgrading PC's. But no one takes into account the fact that PC's generate cash.

When i bought my PS3 i just kissed the money goodbye. Ruling it as a luxury purchase. But my PC that just happens to be able to play the latest games payed for itself within months.

I quite often can't get my PC to boot up let alone pay for itself ;)

Chinster:
How many gamers realistically make a profit from their PC's though? I'm guessing miniscule amounts.

Of course most gamers don't, you can tell that by the amount of consoles being bought. but my point is that you can with a bit of initiative. And if you have a gaming PC the facilities are already in place. Graphic design, sound engineering, video editing, high end programming, graphic programming, game design, art. To name a few that actually use the PC's resources. There are thousands of other less technical jobs that require computers.

I guarantee that there are a very high proportion of people that have jobs like these and also play games. Otherwise how do you feed the habit.

Chinster:
I quite often can't get my PC to boot up let alone pay for itself ;)

That is another advantage of owning a PC. With a relatively small amount of knowledge you can repair it yourself.

Ever tried to get an Xbox repaired.... Good luck

I tend to think the advantages and disadvantages cancel each other out. At the end of the day as you say, if you want to play all the games then you pretty much need all the formats.

My own preference of late is to play console/PC hybrids on the console if at all possible (Bioshock on the 360 and soon to be Colin McCrae on the PS3). A lot of that has to do with the fact that I can lie on my sofa in my comfortable living room and play on a 32" HDTV.

If my PC could play either of those games (upgrades necessary!) as well as my consoles I'd still choose to play from the sofa. That's not to say I don't play games anymore on my PC because I do, but it has often become a second choice to me recently. The last games I played to completion on my PC were Half Life 2 and Episode 1.

Kemmler0:
I guarantee that there are a very high proportion of people that have jobs like these and also play games. Otherwise how do you feed the habit.

I have a job? It pays me money? And then I spend it on leisure items, like my home PC. Which has never generated a cent...

I guarantee that there are a very low proportion of people that can write off a new graphics card as a business expense.

Geoffrey42:
I have a job? It pays me money?

Are you making a statement or asking a question?

Anyway, are you saying that you have never even minimized the game in order to do a Excel spreadsheet or a Word document for this job that someone pays you for each month?

I think what he's saying - and forgive and correct me if I'm wrong - is that there's a great yawning gulf between both the capabilities and the cost of a work computer and a gaming computer. I have an old Athlon rig sitting in the other corner of the room that'll Excel spreadsheet and Word document your ass off, but it sure isn't a viable gaming system for anyone who wants to go beyond PartyPoker.net or Freecell. Admittedly, people who have dedicated gaming systems can do a lot of other stuff with them as well, but as G42 said, the actual number who do make money via their computer is comparatively tiny.

Kemmler0:

Geoffrey42:
I have a job? It pays me money?

Are you making a statement or asking a question?

I am using question marks to indicate a rise in pitch at the end of the sentence. Sort of an indicator of incredulity towards the statement/question that was made/posed and to which I was replying/answering: "Otherwise how do you feed the habit." - Kemmler0

Anyway, are you saying that you have never even minimized the game in order to do a Excel spreadsheet or a Word document for this job that someone pays you for each month?

I am not saying anything of the sort. I do indeed engage in incidental gaming on machines that were provided for the purpose of work. I also engage in incidental work on machines that I have built for the purpose of leisure, because when given the choice, I prefer to use Excel and Word on a desktop, than on a business oriented 15" laptop. What I AM saying is that the times I use my home machine for work in no way pay for the gaming aspect.

@Malygris: Yes, that's basically the gist of what I was saying. Primarily, I'm taking issue with the claim that there is some large population of people who play games, who have turned those machines into a business asset. I'm certainly not arguing that people CAN'T, or that people DON'T, just that it is not a majority, as implied by Kemmler0. Lots of people, myself included, have jobs which do not require a home PC, and still spend their own money on it to enjoy games. Also, G42 sounds like a weapon. This pleases me.

When I first read it, I was thinking more along the lines of the G22, but the MG42 also came to mind (too much DoD). Plus, Geoffrey is my middle name, M is my first initial. MG42 is even more appropriate. And entertaining.

I liked the point that a games console is a specialist machine - I completely forgot to mention that before! If it wasn't cheaper, I'd be seriously worried spending ~1000 for a console!

The fact most people own a PC to do anything that a PC normally does normally outweighs the price factors of it - if you use it just for gaming, I'd agree simply buying what is available on a console and playing it on a PC (And doing nothing else on it!) is a total waste, but I doubt I'd want to go on the internet, program, and do video editing on anything less then my box and dual widescreen monitors anyway!

Notably, another factor that isn't taken into account is the fact that for the most expensive consoles (Xbox 360: 170/250+, PS3: 400+) is the cost of the HMDI compatible widescreen HD televisions, which while slowly coming down in price, are pretty expensive - I can't give a good price estimation, but it'd be 200 minimum, the cost of a PC's monitor at least. A shame really that isn't factored in (and I do wonder what will happen in the future regarding TV's...)

Not that I'm going to argue that the cost of a TV is not worth factoring, but I think the reason that most analysis leaves the cost of a TV out of the cost of a console, is because the assumption is that people have TVs anyway. And people will buy HDTVs without consoles. One might argue that consoles push the adoption of HDTVs, but it's not a 1-to-1 relationship.

As a single datapoint, I have a giant HDTV, and I don't have an HD console yet. *shockhorror*

You can argue the same bits about a PC, that you can have a PC and not game, so the whole cost of the PC isn't relevant. Certainly true. So, let's compare the cost difference between a PC for average use (not computer specialist, not graphics artist, without those outliers) and the cost of a PC for gaming use. Then compare the cost of a TV without a console, and a TV with a console. Careful though, that way lies relevance, rationality, and inevitably, insanity.

 

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