Thursday, September 08, 2011

PC versus Console gaming. Or, PC Gaming: "Rumours of my death have been greatly exaggurated"

I can, these days, call myself a "wannabe gamer". I have the consoles and a decent PC and have a bunch of old retro machines as well. I love gaming.

However, life being what it is, and being in my thirties, I find it extremely hard to find the time - or worse - justify the time to play these days. So, I find it fairly easy to see it all from "outside the box".. so to speak.

You can be a PC gamer. You can be a Console gamer. Within that, you can be a 'fanboi' for either the Xbox 360 or PS3 on the console side (we'll ignore the Wii for a minute) and on the PC side you can be an Intel or AMD fan - or argue the merits over AMD or NVidia's implementation of 3D. But that's your lot these days - unless you pretend that iOS is the best thing to game on, in which case, go away. Now. (Yeah it has it's place, especially casually - but a 12-way LAN party will never happen on a 10inch touch screen).

But, before PC gaming there was the argument over whether your Amiga was better than the Atari ST - and, hell, even PC gamers tried to get stuck in with their fancy "256 Colour VGA graphics".. heh, yeah, if you could afford the £1000 price tag and put up with Adlib sounds.

So, I'm a gamer. I don't really care what I play on as long as the game works for me.

But things have changed hugely over the past 10 years. Prior to the PlayStation in the late(ish) 1990s, consoles were the place to be for cutting edge gaming for the masses, in front of the TV. You loved SEGA or Nintendo - and that was that. Amigas and PCs were usually relegated to the bedrooms and back rooms of the house, but in the living room, it was a console world - and that's pretty much why I never bothered with them. Too limited. Too.. casual.

Once Sony got in on the action, things changed. I very much remember my Bro and I buying a PlayStation between us and marvelling at those 3D graphics (remember that dinosaur?). That was the first time I really got interested - but even then, no matter how clever, I was a computer gamer.

When the XBox hit the scene - when Microsoft (you know, they make Windows and Office) decided they could make a console (fools! it'll never work! it's Microsoft!) - well, that was when things changed. Whether you agree or not, that's a fact of gaming. SEGA were already bowing out of the console market at the time. Nintendo had started to fail. Sony was on a roll and the PS2 was close - but a bitch to code for - and Microsoft came along with this DirectX sporting box that could. Perhaps they were lucky, perhaps they picked the right time - perhaps... who cares? It happened.

That was when I really got interested. I bought one on release day in the states (as did the Bro) and we're both now long-time owners of the XBox franchise.


We never gave up on the PC - and I have to say, that in those days we were very much in to the early days of MMOs (Massively Multi player Online games) such as Neocron and Star Wars Galaxies.

In 2005 we got the Xbox 360 and soon after, the PS3. I've only recently gotten a PS3 - and it's a great Bluray player. It's also a so-so game machine with few exclusives worth buying (and due to it also being a bitch to code for, it gets the short straw when it comes to ports, too). The 360, though, despite it's tendency to eat it's graphics core, still sells well after over 5 years on the shelf, and can just about produce some gob smacking games and graphics.


We never gave up on the PC. During those years I've picked up a fair few games - mostly exclusives like Gears of War, Halo (see previous blog) or Forza - and very much enjoyed them. However, the likes of WoW kept me PC gaming and the pure flexibility of the PC kept me coming back (it can, after all, provide pure FPS gaming with the well known WASD and mouse combo - and use a 360 controller for anything else).

And now, as the current console generation starts to wane, and we're being told not to expect the next-gen for years (another 5.. I don't believe it), I am moving back to PC gaming - using such systems as Steam and Origin to digitally purchase and download the game I want. I can choose the resolution. I can choose the control method (mention Kinect.. it's coming to the PC as well!), I can have triple-screen gaming support (available if you have three Xboxes) and to add, because Windows and DirectX are evolving, I can have higher-resolution textures and frame-rates too.

So I'm in the "But.. I never gave up on the PC" stage - as I await the "Next BIG thing" in console gaming.

PC gaming, or Console gaming?

Well, both are valid. Both have their Pros and Cons (price, availability, accessibility and so on) and the mass wide-spread adoption of the console has meant that games now have a much higher budget (and, with it, longer development times) that mean even "my" PC games are better than ever.

So. There is no one winner. I chose both - and within that, every variant.

Would I tell others to do the same? No. I'd say, pick a franchise and buy the console that fits it... except the Wii. Nintendo have bailed on us so-called hardcore gamers. But don't discount the PC as the rewards for a little bit more money and time invested are far better in the long run.

Oh, and if you don't believe me - wait until the juggernaut that is Star Wars: The Old Republic hits - and then tell me PC gaming is dead ;)