Friday, June 03, 2005

PC Gaming Will Never Die

Well, it won't be dying anytime soon. Many well known writers are out prophesizing about the death of PC gaming due to the huge hardware upgrades in next generation consoles. I think these people are just being short sighted and way, way to optimistic about the next generation consoles. Don't get me wrong, I was as excited as the next guy to see the "specs" of the PS3 and Xbox 360 but I know that all of it is vaporware until I have one under my TV.

First of all, everyone needs to stop drooling over these consoles. The show that Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo put on at E3 was all smoke and mirrors. Very few (if any) actual units were in use on the show floor (I was not there this year, but from all I have read). I think people should lay off making sweeping judgments until we actually see the real deal.

Secondly, every advocate for console gaming says the reason why it will win out over the PC is because it is cheap. Where have these people been? PC gaming has never been cheap. Alienware has been around since 1996 selling premium gaming machines. Basing an argument on price alone holds no real ground.

Another huge issue with these generalizations is the idea that PC and console gamers can be lumped together. That is simply not the case. Many PC gamers are older and have the money to spend on high quality gaming equipment. Also they have games like MMORPGs geared more towards the mature crowd. I have yet to see a halfway decent MMORPG come out for any console, and MMORPGs are still booming and will continue to boom for the foreseeable future.

The bottom line for me is that you just can do as much with a console as you can with a PC. I can have up an instant messenger client and answer messages, I can search google for tips, and I can do any number of things on my computer while gaming that I can not do with a console. Also many gamers prefer the hardware setup of a monitor instead of a TV and a keyboard and mouse instead of a controller. It is very difficult to make an RTS or MMORPG that could use a controller compared to a keyboard/mouse setup. To add more fuel to the fire, there is no real mainstream ways for people to mod console games, or use any decent map editor. All these are features used primarily by PC gamers.

Now, in the interest of being fair, I will say that I will most likely buy at least one next generation console. So let me play devils advocate for a minute:

These next generation consoles are a huge leap in technology. They seem (to early to tell in my opinion) to be good enough to run most games at near PC quality. Therefore the argument that gamers may move over to the console in an effort to save money could be considered, but like I said before it is too weak to stand alone.

The only real threat I see to PC gaming is the developers. Developing for a PC is much more difficult than developing for a console. Consoles are set hardware with set software already on them. There is no juggling of operating systems and hardware setups and anything like that. Console games are optimized and built for one setup so they can be very specialized; it is like having a developer make a custom game to run on your Alienware. If developers decide it is not worth it to make games for the PC than we might have to put the PC to rest. It is the games that people play, not the hardware that they play it on that is the real selling point.

In my opinion PC gaming is at no real risk at the moment. Until we start to see all (or more) of the feature available on a PC in a console I think the PC will still have a place.



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6:10 PM  

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