Console boom a boon for PC gamers?

Here’s the thesis: PC game programming teams are now being forced to write games for both the console and PC markets, which causes them to streamline memory usage and rethink control options to become more intuative. Also, there is the more strict QA procedures involved. The result is tighter programming and fewer bugs for those programs that cross from PC platform to console.

I’ve read no analysis of this, so I’m just going by gut reaction – but it seems the PC gaming crowd has benefitted from inferior hardware, limited configurations and big money associated with the console market (specifically, the X-Box). Certainly, consoles have taken from PC game shelf space, but it appears the gaming publishers are doing better since the console boom of two years ago.

As consoles age, programming houses must take this old hardware in consideration when designing new games, therefore lengthening the time our gaming PCs remain viable. Sure, we’ll always want the latest hardware to get the highest graphics detail from titles like DOOM 3 and Half-Life 2, but the difference between the minimum and recommended specs is a much wider gap than it used to be, thanks to the large console market.

But, as I said, this is all just a gut reaction on my part and have no real facts to back this up – other than casual observation. For you gaming writers/programmers/producers out there, is there any truth to what my gut is telling me? Has all the past static about consoles taking over the gaming market missed the reality of how the gaming market is woven together?

So how do you account for all the crappy console-to-PC ports?

For every GTA:Vice City, there seem to be ten Pirates of the Carribean. I’m just hoping the PC version of KoTOR doesn’t blow chunks.

Some things have been bad for PC gaming:

–“streamlining” the interface can mean “dumbing down”. Some people liked the kind of deep, complex interface that works best with keyboard and mouse, or with a fancy programmable joystick.

–Some games that were to come out on PC have been delayed so they can be console “exclusives” (Halo)

–The market for gaming-oriented PC hardware is shrinking, so there are fewer/more expensive choices for things like high-end graphics boards, sound cards and joysticks

–Even high-end engine developers (like id and Epic) aren’t producing engines and content that are too big for the current generation of consoles to handle. Levels and art are smaller and simpler than the current high-end gaming PC might handle.

So while things are good for the PC gamer who would be just as happy playing console-type games and doesn’t want to spend money upgrading his PC, things aren’t so good for the PC power gamer who likes running complex games with a tricked-out box. This trend will continue: the PC will be seen more and more as a platform for casual gamers, and games with high production values will be targeted at the consoles. PC power gamers will be more and more a niche, served by small developers that don’t really have the resources to produce the content that might push the PCs.

I’m tired of people constantly saying that console games are a haven for better control schemes, or better games in general. Having purchased two consoles in the current generation, I simply don’t see it. Some console games have really slick controls and gameplay. Many, many others have mediocre-to-clumsy controls or are absolute drek (or both). I have yet to notice any sort of fundamental shift in quality between any of the platforms, PC or console. I find it perplexing that people want developers to apply console-style thinking to PC games or even control schemes, especially when you consider that the PC has fundamentally better input devices (a mouse is a hell of a lot more precise than even the most sensitive analog gamepad).

It’s not that I don’t like console games–there are a number of them that I enjoy quite a bit. But as a whole, the stuff on consoles seems no better than the stuff on the PC, and when people wax on about how PC developers need to learn from what the console folks do… well, I just don’t get it.

Is there something wrong with POTC on the PC ? I thought this was Sea Dogs II ?

Is there something wrong with POTC on the PC ? I thought this was Sea Dogs II ?[/quote]

The control scheme on the PC felt more like a console control scheme, even thought it used mouse and keyboard – but badly done, like so many console-to-PC ports.

Actually, though, a better example would be the Enter the Matrix PC port. It was okay on consoles and sucked abysmally on the PC.

Oh that isn’t good news. Hopefully Akela will improve it in a patch.

EDIT : I just read the FiringSquad review of POTC - damn a real shame - I’ll give this one a miss.

So while things are good for the PC gamer who would be just as happy playing console-type games and doesn’t want to spend money upgrading his PC, things aren’t so good for the PC power gamer who likes running complex games with a tricked-out box. This trend will continue: the PC will be seen more and more as a platform for casual gamers, and games with high production values will be targeted at the consoles. PC power gamers will be more and more a niche, served by small developers that don’t really have the resources to produce the content that might push the PCs.

It’s all doom and gloom, huh chicken little?

Oh… PC gaming is going to die! Oh… the world is comming to an end.

:x

Yeah, people have been saying that ever since the days of Nintendo. And yet, every year sees plenty of big budget, high-production values titles on the PC. If this is the generation of consoles that are supposed to steal the wind out of PC gaming sails with big titles, then why was this year’s E3 dominated by PC games? If games like Half-Life 2, Rome: Total War, Railroad Tycoon III, World of Warcraft, Temple of Elemental Evil, Warlords IV, DOOM III, etc., etc. are the death knell of PC gaming, then PC gaming needs to die more often.

Yeah, I don’t understand the doom & gloom naysayers either. Methinks its just people who like to be spiteful out of some really misguided sense of superiority (Earth to these people: they are games, there’s nothing there to be superior about, it will not impress people if on your tombstone is written “Mwa ha ha ha! PC gaming died with me!”) What irritates me is that you never really have any great discussion about why this might be, its just people blowing around salt on old wounds, pretending like its going to open them again. Now that the PSP is on the horizon, suddenly people who never had any interest in the GBA want it dead in the water? Huh? Apparently coexistence is just never an option. My thing just needs to destroy your thing or yours mine, why an earth would it be alright for them to find a good equilibrium that complements each other, which is exactly what most gaming platforms do now?

Besides anecdotes about shelfspace and stuff, haven’t market studies shown that PC gaming’s revenue has increased for the last few years in a row?

Though I disagree with you about things to learn. There are always things to learn and apply from the different markets. And I do think control is one of them (but you probably already know this from the other thread :wink: go there for details, I don’t feel like repeating myself) that PC games can learn. There are hardly any real 3rd person action classics on the PC, mostly because of awful, awful control that is nearly always worse. Even traditional games on the PC, I find, rely way too much on memorizing of keyboard shortcuts when a simple control scheme based on learning the intricacies of only a few buttons or controls in different contexts would never seem less ideal and always more intuitive. It also wouldn’t hurt PC developers to try out some lighter themes, even the humor when it happens outside adventure games, is usually a dark. It seems its lost some variety in homegrown light, good games. Nearly every RPG has that brownish color pallette and a rather somber tone overall. Its not such a bad thing, 'cause its usually done well, but variety is nice and its kind of disappointing that you don’t really see super colorful PC games tearing up the critical consensus much, the last one seemed to be Freedom Force. Also I disagree about following technology so much, certain ideas on the PC that were good years ago seem to fall out of vogue and its really because the idea became outdated, but that no one was interested in pursuing it well. On the other hand, you see modern classics in old standby formulas for consoles quite frequently and it supports that niche well. I really don’t see why PC games can’t do the same. (Whether its turn-based fighting, or sidescrollers, or turn-based strategy.) I’ve heard some people espouse the opinion that now that there’s MMORPGs, there’s no need for regular ones and its surprising how much I’ve heard this, I hope that attitude dies soon…its not healthy. If shmups or classic-style RPGs or sidescrollers or beat-em ups had died when they were “supposed to” because they were “outdated” we wouldn’t have modern masterpieces like Radiant Silvergun, Silhouette Mirage, Ikaruga, DQVII, ToD2, Wario Land 4, Shin Sangoku Musou, Viewtiful Joe, Klonoa 2 and so on.

I also completely disagree that the traditional places where PC excels can’t do well on consoles, especially in wake of Pikmin which is a nice control scheme and way to adapt an RTS-ish strategy. And really, is there any reason why turn-based strategy can’t work anymore? All the old roadblocks are long gone. It just takes a little creative adapting and you have a different take on the same theme thats just as valid, the reluctance to do so just seems like sales worshipping to me. And its so lovely now to see RPGs that support just as much reading and text as PC RPGs, it used to always rankle me that people claimed you couldn’t do or expect that on consoles because of the freaking resolution (give me a break, its called using a bigger font and spacing it between more screens, pure laziness). I hope more RPGs do it. And while I do not agree at all that being able to save at any time improves games (it depends on the game, it can be really appropriate for challenge and balance issues) surely its not too much to ask for a mandatory “save disappears when you come back to the game so you can’t restart ad infinitum from that spot” like is so common and almost universal on GBA, just out of courtesy so you can stop at any time but the challenge is still there? Also, this is kind of small, but for a little while there were some cool console logo animations, and while you might skip them after a while, they’re really cute and inventive and console companies could always a little more personality that way. I mean the various LucasArts logos are classic. And I always cheer when I see that Snowblind penguin in Dark Alliance walk by. It just increases the charm factor of games. Also, would it really hurt console developers to offer the very standard options that nearly all PC games have, after all, it is the more user-friendly standard, right?

-Kitsune