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GDC 08: Can These Men Save PC Gaming?

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February 21, 2008 12:48:19 AM

Article written by Travis Meacham.

In order to save PC gaming from itself the heavies of the industry have banded together to form the PC Gaming Alliance: an advocate group to address consumer and publisher challenges present in the business.

http://www.tomsgames.com/us/2008/02/20/gdc_long_live_pc_gaming/

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February 21, 2008 5:09:50 AM

This is surreal. Consoles are like dinosaurs. All our computers and phones have been coming together to provide more power and creativity in one place. Except for consoles which are basically game-dedicated idiot-boxes. Why would you (in-effect) buy a second computer basically cocooned and handicapped by corporate america into being a dedicated and idiot-proof fast way for them to get folks gaming their way? Consoles are for babies. They are the Ford-escorts in a land that should be dominated by hot-rodded PC's capable of doing everything from making music and movies to playing World of Warcraft and Runescape. You cannot upgrade the hardware on consoles. They added the capability of playing movies so no one would notice as quickly how bad they are being ripped off...

Consoles are playskool -- they are for kids. There was a place for them back when no one had computers (I had a Nintendo). Today they are a lame-duck product. Don't buy them. Don't buy them for your kids. Its totally stooooopid, got it? You can't overclock them, you can't upgrade the video cards. Corporate america doesn't want you to have control. They don't want you mucking around in there... Neo in the matrix did not have a console, people. dont let them force gaming companies to produce for consoles only. It is not in your best interest.
February 21, 2008 5:39:32 AM

@spiralsun1 - Quite eloquently put. There is just one more thing: freedom of choice. While I do agree about the idiot-box thing, telling people what to do even when having their best interests in mind and not money is bad and evil.
I would say: I'd never buy a console, not for me, not for my friends, not for my kids. And I certainly would not tell people to buy one.
And then I'd enlist the advantages of PC vs. console.
And this would leave the stoopid free to do stoopid things. Think about the advantage: an easy way to tell if people meet the standard of intelligence for being your friend.
It is nice from time to time to have a simple device for a simple function. So consoles might just do the trick even for those smart enough to use the pc. I mean all the trouble people might go through with PCs (the way Family Guy, Star Wars episode 4 makes fun of) is gone with consoles. And what about the virus list?
I did enjoy your post better than the article though.
Peace!
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February 21, 2008 6:14:26 AM

Too right. If parents want their kids to grow up to be retarded and have no attention span they should just go ahead and get them a console. There's no creative input on those things, so they can't learn any skills useful as an adult on them. At least on a PC you can learn something that will get you a job. I'd say consoles are taking over from the TV and becoming the new baby sitting idiot box. There's more to learn from watching TV.

Thankfully consoles completely suck from a developer's point of view.

If for example I wanted to develop on the Wii, I'd have to pay Nintendo ~$2000 for one of their precious developer systems, AND have to satisfy them that I'm worthy, by having produced a successful game already, and belonging to an established developing group. Then I get my black Wii and access to the (tiny and NDA bound) developer community and whatever documentation Nintendo has cobbled together. The PS3 dev system costs more like $10,250.

I'm going to university to study game development, but the above reasons are why I've got a complete 'F*** consoles' attitude (even though they have console development systems). I got into development through modding, something you just can't do on a console. Games like the quake/doom/unreal/half life series aren't just games in their own right, they provide a platform for anyone to come along and make a completely new game on top of the graphics engine, and they encourage this, by giving away documentation and tools to do it with. Even if you wanted to make your own engine, all the docs are online, and you can do it with the free Visual Studio Express.

As far as I'm concerned consoles are the ones that will die out. The Xbox 360 is already a POS (1/6 fail), and now with HD canned they're going the way of Betamax. The PS3's cell CPU is apparently a pig to write code for, and the Wii's only advanced feature is it's controllers. That leaves PCs with the huge majority of games (because anyone can write one) and more quality ones (because the hardware can do so much more, and so can the developers for it).
February 21, 2008 6:47:54 AM

isn't the nintendo developement kit free?
and you can release on the wii shop if deemed worthy, else sell yourself?
February 21, 2008 7:00:12 AM

My mistake. Must've misinterpreted news reports at the time!
February 21, 2008 10:03:08 AM

Personally, I too have felt a deficient lack of games lately and was completely horrified at things like Mass Effect being only a console game (that type of game should have been PC only if anything). However, after thinking about it a bit I've come to a different realization. I think the big problem is that our expectations are inflated these days and like an old guy in a nursing home talking about how good the good old days were, we look back through rose colored glasses.

I remember when I was growing up, (starting out on a TI-99 with cassette tape drive) that at most there were only a couple games worth buying each year. Even then I could usually only afford one a year (two if I begged hard enough). Imagine that now days..... Playing a game for a whole year and liking it (mostly because you just had no concept of getting more). Now days I sometimes chew through a $40-50 game a week and then toss it aside whether I've beaten it or not, and mostly just because I'm bored with it. Sins of a Solar Empire has lasted me almost two weeks but now that I've beaten it on huge, I'm back in that "I'm bored, now what can I get to play" mood again. When I bought Crysis, I started on Friday night and beat it by Saturday night (less than 24 hours), uninstalled it and haven't touched it since. Bioshock- about two weeks, Supreme commander- 1 week, re-opened my Eve account- <30 minutes before I realized why I canceled in the first place and canceled again, AO- re-downloaded the free version several times but just can't get back into it, etc....etc.... Ironically, the only games that have kept me playing (more so because I can't find a good game to keep me hooked) is games like Battlefield. I guess it's the constant "oooh, new unlock....now just 200000000000000 more points at 20 points a game till the next one" that keeps me from getting completely bored.

I think as a older more mature (in some respects) gaming public that we are, well.. we're just spoiled. As kids we couldn't afford all the games and now as adults we have money to burn and at this point we've just about played every angle on everything. I am looking forward to a few big games this year...like the new Fallout but aside from that, there isn't going to be a big difference. Buy'em, Burn out on 'em, and toss 'em aside for the most part.

As far as the PC gaming industry it's self goes, there is isn't any real difference in how much is available each year compared to the "good old days". It's just that we chew through them like un-supervised kids with money in a candy store (or arcade in the good old days, do those things still exist?)

February 21, 2008 10:43:41 AM

I still can't find all the levels on Super Mario World after 15 years (I was how old when I started?!?), yet most FPSs seem to last just weeks if you're lucky.
February 21, 2008 11:05:22 AM

mi1ez said:
I still can't find all the levels on Super Mario World after 15 years (I was how old when I started?!?), yet most FPSs seem to last just weeks if you're lucky.


hehe same here...

anyway, i think games have gotten easier and more complicated......


look at your old games like R-Type(i never got past level 4, but it was my fav game), Starwing(couldnt beat it on hard), Sonic(you had to spend hours to reach the end and it was hard)

these days you pick up a game sling it on the hardest level and complete it in about 12 hours, i can run through Quake4 in 3hours, i also completed the MoH Airbourne in about 6 hours on the first run through, then CoD 4 in about 12(because i wanted to find the intellegence)....

my old games i still play now and havnt fully completed them, my new games get a few hours and then put in a draw and forgotton about...

P.S

if your wondering what i meant about more complicated compare Street Fighter(SNES) with something like DOA(PS2) and tell me that the control scheme isnt overly complicated for a special move...
February 21, 2008 11:39:11 AM

Agree with all the above, PC is a platform, consoles are stand alone.
February 21, 2008 12:25:28 PM

I agree with a lot here. I love gaming on my PC and there is no real competition when playing first person shoots, MMO's, God Complex Games (Sims, spore, etc), or real time strategies; PC wipes the floor.

Consoles are good for racing games (from what I found) because they do not make the racing games for PC (Grand Turismo, Forza). Or if you like the sports games... I don't know why you would play them... but if you do, console is for you.

I think there should be more cross platform, more interaction. But handicaps may have to be given out to console users.

Even though I have a 360 (for Forza Motorsport 2) and will get a PS3 (only for GT5... err... HD), I only play those games for a week or so and then I am back playing battlefield, COD4, Crysis, CIV4, Star Craft, Guild Wars, NFSU's, Homeworld, War Craft (1, 2, or 3), WiC, BioShock, and many, many others.


We all have to agree that the Wii is awesome though.
February 21, 2008 12:58:00 PM

.:I think the industry wants to squeeze all the gamers into one type of 'console' not for the wrong reasons. We could all play more titles with greater amounts of networked, co-op titles. Imagine a version of Gears of War with 32 players playing a larger modified version of the single player campaign? Or maybe Mass Effect.

Problem is gamers don't all like the same 'toys' so developers and the industry need to stop the exclusive titles and open the playing field. All games for all consoles / PC - and a way we can all play together PC, playstation, xbox players all in the same game:.
February 21, 2008 1:45:00 PM

Looking at the list of companies within this group its clear why they have an interest in keeping the PC from becoming an afterthought for gamers. Money from PC gamers supports the R & D division of these companies with the hype generated for the latest and greatest CPU’s, GPU’s, monitors, etc.
So they reap the rewards of continuous upgrades required for PC gaming but the companies actually making the games continue to lose ground to their console counterparts. Expect the price of PC games to increase if the trend continues.
The insults of consoles being “idiot boxes, for babies, kids, ford escorts” is laughable when you consider the quality of games being produced today. Yes, the PC is better in terms of the comprehensive gameplay but that advantage is countered by the convenience and exceptional quality offered on consoles. COD4 is a lot of fun on a PS3 and the upcoming Battlefield game will also cause the transition from desk chair to couch. All those new HDTV’s are a powerful draw to quickly grab a controller.
Unfortunately, my addiction to sim-racing keeps me gaming on the PC because Gran Turismo and Forza are still arcade racers in comparison.
Bottom line is, keep paying top dollar to enjoy the advantages PC gaming provides but don’t be-little those who’ve recognized they can’t keep supporting the advances in computer hardware to play games.
February 21, 2008 2:15:12 PM

First off, I love PC gaming and do not own any current-gen consoles. The type and quality of games I enjoy are simply not available on consoles and keyboard/mouse is a superior combination to a controller.

That being said, PC gaming is seriously flawed. When Joe user can walk into a Best Buy, buy a $1000 PC (which to him is splurging) and still not be able to play any modern games except at 800x600 and minimum detail, you have a problem. Almost every home in this country has 1 or more computers and if Intel integrated graphics and low-end discrete cards had significantly more gaming power, things would be very different. Instead, what happens is little Billy goes to the store and picks up a copy of CoD4/Crysis/whatever, installs it on his low to mid-range family PC with integrated graphics and is disappointed. To make matters worse, Joe user and his son Billy probably don't even realize that they can upgrade the graphics. Instead, they return the game and buy a 360/PS3/etc. Sad, but true.

| Intel E8400 | GA-P35-DS4 rev2.1 | 4GB Corsair DDR2-800 | BFG 8800GT OC2 | X-Fi XtremeGamer | Corsair HX-520
February 21, 2008 3:25:54 PM

I agree, once again, but just because people are not educated is not a flaw. I think this PCGA goal is to not only help make a uniform gaming system but also may be to educate the consumer so they know what they can do.

Think of it like this. Nvidia runs an add on tv and show their new products, they say that you can upgrade you pc to play this random game on it and then shows a really quick clip of a video card going into the PCIe slot. You have just showed the consumer what they need to do, how to do it, and also potentially sold a product.

I think the first step is to educate the consumer. Also, use Windows Vista's Performance Score as the requirements in tandem with the current.

This is simplified, but could work.
February 21, 2008 4:55:34 PM

The Vista Performance score is a step in the right direction, but is useless for the average user because the vast majority of desktop PCs are going to score < 3 due to insufficient graphics horsepower.

Intel, who is probably the single biggest reason for why cheap PCs are no good for gaming because of their popular (read: cheap) integrated graphics, is really the only company poised to remedy the situation. If you believe the rumors, Intel has plans to increase integrated graphics performance 10x by 2010. This would allow your average $300-500 Dell able to play current gen games at mainstream resolutions. Likewise, the discrete vendors would also need to lower their prices or otherwise add value to their products, probably a combination of both. This would be great for PC gaming, but I won't hold my breath...

!