The Trials and Perils of Returning to PC

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The Trials and Perils of Returning to PC

People tell me I've been too much of a PC gaming cheerleader since the new console generation started. Fair enough. In the time since I got my new Alienware I've been swiftly reminded of the reasons I turned away from PC gaming in the first place.

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Sooo... basically what you're saying is, "Console gaming is dead."

Man, how things change, eh?

What? I paid 8£ for just cause 2 on the 360 last week! I need a better PC. Still, grapple hooking every little buggering thing to a barrel of explosive fuel never loses its charm :)
Faith is lost in consoling now. Apart from nintendo, which most ppl i know still don't seem to understand. Fucktards they are. Ahem

PC gaming is always going to include a fair bit of faffing about. It's all arcane sorcery to me, but as long as the games keep behaving themselves, I must be doing something right.

Zhukov:
Sooo... basically what you're saying is, "Console gaming is dead."

Man, how things change, eh?

Well, more like on failing life support in the intensive care unit, I'd say. There's still a glimmer of hope to consoles, and people still find them preferable sometimes. The recent batch is just not terribly good for what they ought to be trying to achieve.

I do hope they recover, or some more lively console contender appears. Even if they're not what I'm after, I can see the merits of console gaming and I hope that the genre gets some new blood in the future.

It really is a shame. I used to just game. I'd game on my N64 playing amazing games like Zelda, and I'd game on my PC, playing amazing games like Jedi Knight. Nowadays, the PC is exactly as described above. I have to choose sides, because I feel dumber for using a console, like the machine doesn't trust me to know how to keep my fingers out of my nose.

Do not forget to try the JC 2 multiplayer mod it is amazing chaos albeit bit laggy, still ton of fun. Another advantage of pcgames awesome community made mods.

Xsjadoblayde:
Faith is lost in consoling now. Apart from nintendo, which most ppl i know still don't seem to understand. Fucktards they are. Ahem

Indeed. Nintendo could rise above the other consoles because of its traditional local multiplayer buffet and exclusives that do at least enough to break the mold while staying true to classic games of the '80s.

Speaking of which, I'm hoping that Super Mario 3D World is next for ZP. It seems to be a 3D Mario game with the design of Super Mario Bros 3 and definitely has the story and characters of Super Mario Bros 2. That could impress Yahtzee. After all, there are no interesting next-gen game besides Knack that came out recently, and it seems like Yahtzee rightfully passed up on the PS Parade's pristine piece of play.

Wait, Just Cause 2 was only $2.50 on Steam a while ago?

Why was I not informed?!

PCGamingWiki makes stuff less daunting at times.

It never leaves my favourites bar.

The beginning period of adjustment to PC can be a bit daunting, but over time it becomes as easy as using a console; if the game I am playing is acting up, a simple alt+tab, google search can resolve most problems within minutes.

Also if you dont feel like gaming for a bit, alt tab, go to youtube, watch a few videos or listen to music whilst you read an article in another window using that lovely win7 half-window feature(since I got my 23" monitor, it is so much fun to do that).

But I will say, that if a console goes wrong, it's usually a common error, such as RRoD, the Xbone grinding or the original rubber band nonsense with the original xbox, whereas with PC, if something fucks up at the OS level, things can go really bad.

Also, Yahtzee,

I was just thinking about the comments being "Lol @ Yahtzee having Alienware" >.>

Yeah consoles are slowly starting to lose all of the advantages they once have, I'm bit more hopeful about handheld gaming.

Isn't it a sick joke now that you can install a game from a disk FASTER on PC than on a console? How did THAT happen?

I think the problem with this whole consoles vs. PC "debate" is the assumption that, because there is a new console generation coming out, you have to upgrade in some way and buy something new. The fact is, the smartest thing you can do right now as a gamer is to keep whatever setup you have, because there's a good chance that that setup will serve your gaming needs just fine in the near future.

They're still releasing PS3 games, Xbox 360 games, and PCs don't have generations. Whatever you have now is probably the right choice for you.

Also, I feel like we shouldn't be so quick to cheer on the death of consoles. Consoles are the reason that gaming became mainstream, not PCs. I think their accessibility brought in a lot of new gamers, and I think it's important that the medium can retain that accessibility.

marioandsonic:
Wait, Just Cause 2 was only $2.50 on Steam a while ago?

Why was I not informed?!

It has been that cheap like 4 times. Put it on your wish list and steam will send you an email about it when it goes on sale.

The price for games is a really big factor for me. I think the difference isn't as pronounced in the US but 70€ for the console version vs. 50€ for the PC one adds up real fast. Prices drop faster and lower on the PC so discounted games are similarly cheaper.

Arcane faffery seems to be needed mostly by big publisher games that fuck up because they expect specific driver versions or run shitty DRM, indie games tend to be much easier to run with the lack of publisher-specific download programs and nonsense like that. Overall faffery has decreased MASSIVELY though, I recall the hell of autoexec.bat and config.sys tinkering to get the right amount of "conventional memory" to run games. Nowadays it's just click and play. And many of the old games that once needed tinkering are now available in pre-packaged form that will run without any messing around.

Even building your own PC got massively easier, I haven't paid attention to the hardware market in a long time so I just asked the sales clerk for part recommendations and went home with a good part combo. Assembling parts is really easy these days with no need for jumper settings or stuff like that and the mainboard even includes a manual for assembling the PC. Even the sharp edges that used to scratch your hands up have disappeared, everything's round and smooth now.

And then there's the fact that every time I mention that I got an Alienware, all the smug eye-rolling schoolyard elitist tossers burst from the woodwork to patronize me about it. Shut the fuck up. It plays the games I want it to play, it doesn't sound like a jet engine's flying past and I can write the cost off on my tax return.

Ouch. You're probably not going to stop getting shit for the Alienware thing, most PC gamers hate them for their poorly balanced builds and being so overpriced. Although since you obviously don't care then complaining about it is an exercise in futility.

But yeah, PC gaming has hit a sort of renaissance as of late thanks to Steam. And as technology moves on the specialized hardware consoles had are becoming steadily less relevant. I wouldn't be surprised, even if the Steam Machines failed, that we'll hit full PCs in the box by next gen.

themilo504:
Yeah consoles are slowly starting to lose all of the advantages they once have, I'm bit more hopeful about handheld gaming.

No, not slowly - consoles ARE dead. Just too many people refuse to see it. The console-paradigm ended after the PS2. Nintendo may still holds the light but SCEE and M$ surely do not.

Now I own 1TB of games on my PC Laptop and the problems I had are a handfull.

Thanatos2k:
Isn't it a sick joke now that you can install a game from a disk FASTER on PC than on a console? How did THAT happen?

Hahah so true, just a few weeks ago i borrowed my friends ps3 and gta5. So i'm standing there gonna pop the disc in and play GTA (yeeeeeeeeey) so i have to install it and it takes longer than any PC game i ever installed. I was shocked, since these forums led me to believe it's just put in and play. Weird

I built my desktop myself. But I have an Alienware M11x from when they were still making those tiny little wonders, and it makes me a happy man. I won't criticize anyone for having an Alienware.

I was "dual"- both computer and console- for much of my childhood, with both an Atari 2600 and a Commodore 64. It was clear from early days of playing text adventures with my sisters on my eldest sister's Atari 800 computer that the two were meant for different things, but the programability and better graphics and sound of the C-64 slowly began to draw more and more of my time.

Now as an adult, I'm in a similar boat with my PC and a Wii. I might move onto a Wii-U or PS4 at some point, but I'm in no hurry, and Yahtzee's article kind of highlights why. I still like a console for many of the things that console gaming used to be about- sharing an experience with people in the same room on a television that was kind of central to the home. But my PC tends to give me a more intricate experience that's more about what I want than what the publisher or developer wants. It's less worried that I might play a game some way they never intended, it's less worried about publishing something that might confuse or offend someone. And if the game I want to play isn't out there, I can make it.

One wonders if the Steam Box proves successful if the proprietary hurdles that form the core of today's console experience might prove the death knell.

There seems to be some kind of "PC Gaming Master Race" on The Escapist, when I compare this article with Jim Sterling's video yesterday... I like this a lot though! The article is really well written and an entertaining red.

My gaming career started on my mother's Amiga 500 and I never turned away from home computer gaming for almost 25 years now. During this time a I had a lot of trouble getting all my games running and there was the occasional "Okay, that's it! This game is dead!" situation... But I never gave up easily and learned a lot about the inner workings of a PC. Today I work as a software developer and one the reasons for this is my curiosity to find out, why the man on the screen moves to the left, when I move the joystick to the left :) Without PC gaming this probably would never have happened.

I don't think it's really about "consoles vs PC" anymore.. as I see it's just about the good old common sense.

You buy a product for its features. Because it does something that you appreciate and enjoy. And you choose one product over another because it does something better than the other product, or in a different manner that you personally appreciate.

A PC does everything console does, and does it better. With a lot of additional features. For less hassle and - quite often when it comes to games - a fraction of the price. Unless you are extremely eager to play new releases as soon as they become available, the sale prices are so low it's incredible. In fact, I am always amazed that PC game piracy is a thing anymore - you have to be really damn stubborn or truly cheap to risk getting a pirated version with such dirt cheap prices on various sales, humble bundles and whatnot.

Why even consider console as an option? I can see two reasons that aren't insane - you have enough money to get a PC AND a console, or the exclusives appeal to you so much you just cannot fathom a reality where you end up NOT playing them.

Arguing what is better is childish, because it's almost always a non-issue. You cannot argue for consoles if console is pretty much an overpriced castrated PC in disguise, and the energy used for arguing why console gaming is so great would be much better spent for advocating that console gaming needs to become so much more than it is today. I would LOVE to see a console which would blow me away the way SNES console blew me and my C64-gaming ass away back in the day.

Now excuse me, I'm going to grab my XBox controller and play some console games (which I bought for 5% of their console sale price) after which I will fire up XBMC and watch some movies on my PC. Maybe I'll be slightly sad that my PC doesn't have a shiny X on it, but somehow I doubt it.

Good to know we see eye to eye on the consoles/PC issue Yahtzee. I've been a console gamer (with rare exceptions) all the way through the 360 generation, but I'm abandoning consoles for much the same reasons you put forth. For some bizarre reason, consoles have been desperately trying to rid themselves of as many advantages as possible. Long installation times, NO. LOCAL. CO-OP. (kind of a hot-button issue for me), extremely expensive peripherals (seriously, a damn controller used to be $20. What the hell is all this $40 and $60 shit?) and all the DRM. At the end of the day, consoles have lost all of their advantages in exchange for only some of their enemy's advantages (DLC). PC still has the mods.

EDIT: I've already responded to responses to this several times. If you really want to progress the discussion I recommend seeing another one of my responses and latching on to that instead. I am adding significant edits right now to presuppose some disagreements.

Pros of consoles:

1. Cheap. Edit:(Sure, you can get a cheap PC that is good by today's standards and superior to the ps3/360, but one that's better than the ps4 is not going to be $400. It's likely to be four digits)
2. Plug and play. (minimal/no troubleshooting, just have to plug things in and play. Edit: If you build a pc from scratch to get the best deal, that's the definition of not plug and play. If you buy one from a store then it's not only going to be a lot more expensive but drivers and other issues can screw up your game. You also have to worry about hardware specs with each new game you play. I get that Yahtzee said otherwise, but it's not always the case)
3. Generally gauranteed support for nearly a decade at this point. Edit:(meaning that developers will continue to produce games specifically for the console for the entirety of its lifespan whereas computer hardware will be outdated without them batting an eye).
4. Excellent living room group fun. (PCs still lag behind in multiple controllers Edit: and most games still don't support local split screen gaming. This should change and has gotten better but even Valve games require enabling dev mode and entering some code in a dev console. Not for the faint of heart and usually still not more than two players)
5. Software optimization thanks to known/standardised hardware (the reason a 512Mb console can function like a 2Gb pc). Edit: Let me explain this: Consoles have one set of hardware. Developers know the hardware and test it tirelessly to make their game fit in the console at all costs because of the significant target market it adds. Because PCs have no standard configuration, a lot more juice is required to accomodate for poor optimizations. That's why a pc with the exact same specs as a 360 or ps3 can't play modern games at all but the consoles can.
6. Relatively low piracy, this is a plus for game publishers. Edit: Apparently a lot of people responding to me don't get the word "relatively". Yes, Piracy still happens on consoles but is SO much rarer than pc piracy. Not only does it require significant hardware and software investments but on a PC it's as easy as clicking a link. So there's almost no real reason to pirate on a console.

Consoles have enough advantages to maintain their life expectancy (again, this is games being developed specifically for them). They may get more competition with PCs being released for living room entertainment but these would only be more consoles to compete rather than necessarily a replacement.

It's important to consider that consoles are the steam box for the living room. We just don't like how closed they are while developers do.

Thank you Yahtzee for explaining to everyone why I'm probably not going to get a console this generation.
I say probably because there is that possibility that they may come out with some sort of exclusive that I must play. But yes, I have been noticing how consoles have adapted all the worst part of pc gaming and not giving us any of the benefits. I used to like to have both a console and a gaming pc in the house but there seems to not be much reason for both anymore as I do need a pc anyway.

bobleponge:

Also, I feel like we shouldn't be so quick to cheer on the death of consoles. Consoles are the reason that gaming became mainstream, not PCs. I think their accessibility brought in a lot of new gamers, and I think it's important that the medium can retain that accessibility.

While I'm not cheering on the death of consoles, I'll have to disagree. PCs did a lot to bring gaming to the mainstream - just think of the effect Doom had on any workplace/school with computers. And after the console market crashed, it was the Commodore 64, BBC Micro and ZX Spectrum that kept gaming alive with an explosion of indie bedroom developers. And even before the popularization of home consoles, arcades brought gaming to the mainstream with Pac Man and Space Invaders - which were franchises by their own rights. Every platform did their bit to bring gaming to the masses.

As for accessibility, core console gamers aren't too inviting of the concept. The Wii was all about accessibility, and hardcore gamers hated it. Now it's much more viable that new gamers will cut their teeth in smart phone/tablet games (once again, disregarded by the likes of you and me) with their simple, intuitive controls. It might not seem apparent to you, but the controller you are used to can seem like an aircraft cockpit to a newcomer with its 15 or so buttons - a far cry from the likes of the NES controller that popularized gaming in the '90s.

OT: While I've been a PC gamer my whole life, I always had a soft spot for my friend's PS2. Even as recently as this year we would whip it out for a local MP match of Soul Calibur 3 and Ace Combat Zero. But for the generations after that, consoles somewhat lost their charm after their infatuation with FPS and dark and gritty games in general, which are much better served on the PC anyway. And with the console franchises I'm interested in bothering to bring out barely any installments this generation (only one Armored Core, and a shit Ace Combat, a shit Final Fantasy), getting a console this generation felt like a worthy investment less and less. I hope the likes of From Software keep churning out more PC ports in the future.

But Nintendo still retains its... magic. I wish I had the money to get a WiiU if only for the next Xeno game.

Between the fact that I am cyberly challenged and that my job revolves around a PC I find a console more relaxing.

Besides they don't make computer monitors as big as TVs yet do they?

As long as there are children there will be consoles.

As long as consoles don't require you to faff about and make it hard of little kids to get them to play their games, they will not become irrelevant.

So all you have to do is get rid of the children. ;)

Lightknight:
Pros of consoles:

1. Cheap.
2. Plug and play. (minimal/no troubleshooting, just have to plug things in)
3. Generally gauranteed support for nearly a decade at this point.
4. Excellent living room group fun. (PCs still lag behind in multiple controllers)
5. Software optimization thanks to known/standardised hardware (the reason a 512Mb console can function like a 2Gb pc).
6. Relatively low piracy, this is a plus for game publishers.

Consoles have enough advantages to maintain their life expectancy. They may get more competition with PCs being released for living room entertainment but these would only be more consoles to compete rather than necessarily a replacement.

It's important to consider that consoles are the steam box for the living room. We just don't like how closed they are while developers do.

1. Nope. They are posting clips on youtube about putting together a $400,- Console Killer. (Better specs all the way)
2. Yatzee actually covered this. Most things are P&P on the PC and if not a google search will help you fix whatever doesn't.
3. Define support. Support for games? PC has that and even better we have Mods, some even so big that they can be counted as DLC. See Skyrim and Skywind and ofcourse my favourite Jagged Alliance 2 (Still alive after 15 years!)
4. No they don't, only limiting factors are; Can the game support it, do you have enough USB ports for the controllers
5. That was true with the previous gens this gen... They are already lagging behind in every aspect.
6. True, there is less piracy on consoles but publishers actually get less money compared to PC as they have to pay for toolsets, certificates and the share that the console's creators take.

Hyperstorm:
Between the fact that I am cyberly challenged and that my job revolves around a PC I find a console more relaxing.

Besides they don't make computer monitors as big as TVs yet do they?

Yes they are called TV's. Some even have a DVI input you can hook the PC up too, but usually a HDMI cable is enoug. Nearly all graphcards have HDMI outputs.

Remember when some people claimed that PC gaming was dead? Turned out they were wrong.

As such, I urge people to not jump to conclusions. Calm down and play nice.

Well I'm glad you felt the need to bring it up before it became toxic in Zero Punctuation (it may still, we don't know).

I love the fact that Nintendo had to be brought up when it came to living room fun. Yeah so long as Nintendo is still around we'll still have living room fun.

Lightknight:
Pros of consoles:

1. Cheap.

When you add the cost of an HD TV, HDD extensions, extra charge for online MP, the fact that console games cost $10 more than PC versions and aren't discounted as heavily/frequently as Steam sales, the costs keep adding up.

2. Plug and play. (minimal/no troubleshooting, just have to plug things in)

The flip side being that if something even minute goes wrong, you've to drag it to the store instead of being able to just look up for a fix on the 'net. And if the developer of a game fails to patch a bug (Fez, anything Bethesda on the PS3), then God help you, because there's no community-made mod to sort things out. Not to mention in general games and updates take much longer to DL and install than on a PC (XBL is much slower than Steam).

3. Generally gauranteed support for nearly a decade at this point.

But once the generation is over and the console is bricked, say goodbye to all your online purchases. Not to mention having to rebuy old games as ports on a new platform as well if you want to play them again.

Community-made patches/emulators have kept 20 year old PC games alive, and ironically, almost every single console games up to the Wii through emulation.

4. Excellent living room group fun. (PCs still lag behind in multiple controllers)

Except for console developers have been steadily dropping local multiplayer support for a while now. About the ony ones that still bother are fighting games, which PC versions have as well.

5. Software optimization thanks to known/standardised hardware (the reason a 512Mb console can function like a 2Gb pc).

... while providing lower resolutions, FOV, framerate and online MP player count. As for the XBoxOne, the Windows bloat has been transferred to this generation, with about 20% of HDD space being taken up by the OS and half the cores dedicated to apps running in the background.

6. Relatively low piracy, this is a plus for game publishers.

Relatively high used sale games, which publishers wouldn't shut up about. Plus, with brick and mortar stores and the platform owners taking a hefty cut, revenue from each console game sold is actually lower than a digital PC sale.

Consoles have enough advantages to maintain their life expectancy.

The best advantages consoles have are momentum, market visibility and customer loyalty. And even that can change drastically. Compare Wii and WiiU sales.

The only problem with PC gaming is shitty ports. That thing Jim just talked about yesterday. What a coincidence.

Hyperstorm:
Between the fact that I am cyberly challenged and that my job revolves around a PC I find a console more relaxing.

Besides they don't make computer monitors as big as TVs yet do they?

They make TVs and big as TVs, and graphics cards these days have either HDMI out or mini-HDMI out so you can hook up to a TV just as easily as a console would. And you can get a nice wireless controller so you can still sit on your couch or whatever and play just like you would a console.

Zhukov:
Sooo... basically what you're saying is, "Console gaming is dead."

Man, how things change, eh?

No, I don't think he's trying to say it's dead. I think he's saying that consoles have been trying to become PCs for so long that they've given up the conveniences that made them unique from gaming PCs. I agree. I have a lot of consoles. Mine go all the way back to the Atari 2600. There's definitely a noticeable change in "attitude" in the consoles as you start moving up the line that goes beyond their physical capabilities. You can see the gradual shift from local multiplayer to online multiplayer in units like the Dreamcast or PS2. Online had been tried in other consoles before but those two stand out in my mind as the heralds of the online multiplayer boom in consoles. But even they only offered online multiplayer as a side dish. It wasn't the main event. I think what our man Yahtzee is getting at is that this shift of focus to online multiplayer is harmful to consoles. Consoles used to be able to fill a niche, (ease of setup, the nearly instant gratification of a cart or CD/Bluray spooling up without a lot of hassle etc), gaming PCs could not. That niche is being reduced by console makers themselves and it's harmful to their industry. Dude's not saying console gaming is dead. Dude's saying console manufacturers are making a mistake by removing the features from consoles that makes them special. That's my take anyway. What do you think?

So... Nintendoooooooo and PC gaming then?
Good article as always, sad state gaming is in! :(

Hyperstorm:
Between the fact that I am cyberly challenged and that my job revolves around a PC I find a console more relaxing.

Besides they don't make computer monitors as big as TVs yet do they?

My PC has been connected to a 32" tv for almost 3 years now (and a 21" second monitor).

So yeah, they totally do. You can hook pretty well any modern tv up to a PC.

Zhukov:
Sooo... basically what you're saying is, "Console gaming is dead."

Man, how things change, eh?

BloodRed Pixel:

themilo504:
Yeah consoles are slowly starting to lose all of the advantages they once have, I'm bit more hopeful about handheld gaming.

No, not slowly - consoles ARE dead. Just too many people refuse to see it. The console-paradigm ended after the PS2. Nintendo may still holds the light but SCEE and M$ surely do not.

When the PS4 and xBone have the first and second largest pre-holiday sales for any home console ever respectively, it is hard to believe they are anywhere near dead.

The old console experience of popping in something and having it playable in seconds... In order to truely compete that will need to make a comeback soon. First, though, wild tangent's patents need to expire.

Edit: (Though through foot-in-mouth and memory of in spoiler box) I'll claim credit for inspiring St. John's essay ;o)

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