Alright, I’m taking a break from putting together other parts of the site to knock out a more complete post.
So last time I left off on PC gamer elitism. While my stance hasn’t changed, there are a few undeniable drawbacks to gaming in this medium. Price is the biggest issue. If I want my games to run at bleeding edge graphics and sound then I have to shell out big bucks for premium class hardware, like the latest in graphics and sound cards. Combined, that’s a near-total of one grand. In and of itself, I guess it’s not so bad, considering that console gamers have to shell out the same kind of dough for a hi-def television. The problem for the PC gamer arises when the graphics card people release the next gen model six months down the line. That means game developers start developing for that level of performance, leaving your current card to play catchup. In this regard, console gamers have the luxury of shelling out a one-time payment that will last them for years to come since game developers only have to focus on one set of specs.
That brings us to the other major problem: Game developers focus more on the console market. That means all of these cool games, like Gears of War or Halo 3 don’t get released on the PC until way after their original release, if at all. Typically, these “ports” are half-baked messes that are more insulting than fun.
The last major problem is the “consolization” of games that are released on PC and consoles simultaneously. Whenever I see this happen with a game I want, I cringe, because this means that the game will dumbed down to accommodate the understandably younger audience playing on consoles. Two games that illustrate this point are The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion and Bioshock. You’ll find that in Morrowwind, Oblivion’s predecessor, you had more options for weapon and armor types. You could open separate parts of your menus individually. Lastly, you didn’t have “helper” icons to point you where you needed to go. Then, of course, there’s Bioshock, the direct descendant of System Shock 2 in everything but name (though it came quite close in that aspect, too). System Shock 2 had a nifty inventory system that prevented you from carrying every weapon in the game at all times. Furthermore, you could pick up food and stash them in safe areas rather than what you have in Bioshock where you consume everything you can upon grabbing it. What happened to the skill system, too? In System Shock, you specialized in a class that afforded you access to particular weapon types and hacking abilities. In Bioshock you can do everything instantly! If Bioshock is billed as an FPS/RPG, where’s the RPG?
Speaking of which, I’ll take the Baldur’s Gate’s and Fallout’s of the PC over any Final Fantasy on the consoles for my role-playing. RPGs are about choices, not watching fancy cinematics.
Unfortunately, this is the state of PC gaming today. The only real solution here is for PC games to start selling more, proving to developers that the PC market can be a reliable revenue stream in its own right. Sadly, with bittorrents as prevalent as ever, the PC market has a long way to go before it reaches that kind of status again.