Comments on

Consolation Prize

Original entry posted: Sat Jun 14 00:03:54 2008

That Fuzzy Bastard @ Tue Jun 17 12:56:07 2008 EST

I spent a lot of years as a theater director, so I heard a lot about "dying". And my response was always the same: What does "dying" mean?

Does it mean that in a few years, there will be no good games for the PC? Obviously not---if nothing else, the PC is way more attractive to indie developers, which'll assure some good content. So if it's dying, that's a hell of a prolonged death.

It's true that the PC-console relationship is no longer quite so clearly assault rifle versus pistol (to put it in FPS terms). There's a lot of advantages to console gaming, most prominently knowing that your game will actually work when you get it home, and those advantages are even more prominent now that the processing-power gap isn't so large (or so important---one does hit a point of diminishing returns in that regard). Couple that pressure on the consumer side with the pressures of piracy on the production side, and there's definitely a real push away from the PC, and certainly away from PC exclusivity.

But the PC still has plenty of games that don't make sense on a console, particularly text-heavy genres like sims or MMOs. Those genres will be reinvented for consoles---the race is well underway for who can build the first major RTS and MMO for a console, with a lot of companies in the running---but the PC will probably continue to dominate those and other genres for the future. Similarly, the lack of an evaluation process means that the PC will continue to be the go-to platform for new, original, and often half-formed ideas, as well as for a modding community that consoles will never equal.

It's true that consoles are no longer the kids' table, and PC gamers can no longer look down on console gamers quite so comfortably. Most of the major commercial releases of the last few years have been console releases, and that looks likely to continue for a while----WoW, Audiosurf, and, hell, Club Penguin are all dandy, but Grand Theft Auto, Rock Band, Wii Sports and Katamari have all been big gaming landmarks, and all are either console-identified or, in many cases, console exclusive. There's definitely a bright future for games like Portal and Mass Effect that can comfortably exist on both platforms, but the direction things seem to be going in now is platform differentiation, not platform dominance.

That Fuzzy Bastard @ Tue Jun 17 12:57:46 2008 EST

And that's an excellent point about casual games. While the Wii and DS have proven that a lot of casual gamers are willing to buy a console, there's still no comparison with a platform that people who aren't hugely interested in gaming *already have*.

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