Consoles are nice and all....

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Bill Loguidice
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Fanboy Cliff, Matt? No one

Fanboy Cliff, Matt? No one is calling Starcraft II a strategy game. It's an RTS game, and that's something that's just as common on console now, which I detailed in the previous message and you chose to ignore. I'm not saying adventure games are the domain of consoles, but there are adventure games on console. True, there's no Nancy Drew yet, but one is coming soon. For every game a console is missing, there's a game the PC is missing. That's the whole point of owning multiple platforms.

Maybe you should verse yourself better in the console world so you can make better arguments than just "complexity" versus "simplicity" when the vast majority of mainstream games originate on consoles nowadays. Even games you recently played like Mass Effect and Falllout 3 are console games ported to PC. All games are simplified these days to the point where they don't need to rely on a full keyboard. That has nothing to do with complexity, that's interface design and approachability. Console games offer all the same features, and often then some thanks to their integration with the platform's feature set (for instance, Xbox 360's ubiquitous online features that are the same across all games).

You choose not to see that console gaming is a better experience than PC gaming these days. So be it. I think the sales figures and what people actually utilize more of (usage) tells the story better than any textual argument either of us can make. Again, PC gaming is not going anywhere, it has its place, but it's likely going to remain a third or fourth tier platform as long as the consoles keep on doing what they're doing and taking over the vast majority of entertainment functions that were previously the domain of the PC.

By the way, all three consoles offer full USB keyboard support and some form of voice chat, with two offering video camera support. So yeah, I think the two hi-def consoles that are out now could easily handle WoW. It's a failing of the interface if it's difficult to work with even on the PC. I think the smart guys at Blizzard could easily improve a broken interface/control scheme. And as for me trying WoW, what's the point if I'm not going to play it? I've already tried out at least three MMORPGs in the past that I can recall, and while I'm sure WoW is a massive improvement, it's just not a game type I want to bother with for the range of very reasonable reasons I gave. It would have to be the best game ever for me to even consider it and I know that that's one thing that it's not. There are tons of other games across all four platforms (not to mention the two handhelds) that I've got to play still, so I don't need a regular obligation that will cost me money. Thanks but no thanks.

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Xbox 360: billlog | Wii: 1345 2773 2048 1586 | PS3: ArmchairArcade
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.

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Matt Barton
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Meh
Bill Loguidice wrote:

The thing is, there's nothing keeping MMORPGs from succeeding on consoles. It really is just a matter of time, so there is no speculation there. Strategy is all but dead in the mainstream anyway outside of handhelds like DS and PSP with games from Japan and the PC with indie stuff. Even the latest Civilization game was designed for consoles. The moribund adventure genre is just as alive on console as it is on PC, with a smattering of titles across all platforms except PSP. RTS is doing quite well on conoles with several entries in the Command and Conquer series now and Tom Clancy's Endwar, which is voice controlled. It's no exaggeration then to say that a good console can be a sole game machine and the PC can be ignored for all but emulation (since consoles only have legal emulation), and, at present MMORPGs if you don't care about the mediocre Fiinal Fantasy MMORPG on 360.

Definitely drifting off the fanboy cliff here, Bill. The PC dominates the MMORPG, RTS, and adventure genres; I don't see how anyone could deny that. Strategy dead? What about all the hubbub around Starcraft II? Let me quote a bit from the site:

Will there be a console version of StarCraft II?
StarCraft II is being developed for Windows and Mac. We have no current plans to bring the game to any console platform.

Civilization IV was also a PC only game. I assume you're talking about the Revolution version released for consoles which simplified:

The question is, are PC gamers missing out? Not at all. This is an entirely different beast and was created to simplify the classic genre for console gamers.

There is an MMORPG or three out for consoles, the biggest of which (last time I checked) was Final Fantasy. The problems are enormous, which you would know if you ever condescended to give WoW a try. It's a complex game to control even with the keyboard and mouse; trying to map all that onto a simple controller is ludicrous.

Consoles excel at certain kinds of games, but you'll notice there is an inevitable simplification and ratcheting up of the action (i.e., adrenaline over brainpower) whenever a PC game gets "re-imagined" or whatever for the console market. There are obvious exceptions to this, but I think you'll be waiting a very long time if you want to see an epic MMORPG like WoW on a console.

If you like simplicity, the console is king. For those of us who revel in complexity, though, it's the PC all the way.

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Bill Loguidice
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There's already virtual parity
Matt Barton wrote:

On the other hand, there's no reason to argue that consoles will be just as good at PCs in the MMORPG/adventure/strategy markets "soon" or "one day," since those kinds of predictions are difficult to make properly. I'd rather just look at the situation as-is, keeping the speculations to a minimum.

The thing is, there's nothing keeping MMORPGs from succeeding on consoles. It really is just a matter of time, so there is no speculation there. Strategy is all but dead in the mainstream anyway outside of handhelds like DS and PSP with games from Japan and the PC with indie stuff. Even the latest Civilization game was designed for consoles. The moribund adventure genre is just as alive on console as it is on PC, with a smattering of titles across all platforms except PSP. RTS is doing quite well on conoles with several entries in the Command and Conquer series now and Tom Clancy's Endwar, which is voice controlled. It's no exaggeration then to say that a good console can be a sole game machine and the PC can be ignored for all but emulation (since consoles only have legal emulation), and, at present MMORPGs if you don't care about the mediocre Fiinal Fantasy MMORPG on 360.

The bottom line is, publishers will target primary development to the platforms they can sell the best on, which is why the majority of mainstream development is centered around consoles with eventual ports to PC if the publisher deems it worth it.
Vintage Games book!
Xbox 360: billlog | Wii: 1345 2773 2048 1586 | PS3: ArmchairArcade
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.

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Matt Barton
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I think the best way to

I think the best way to resolve this would be to simply give up on trying to prove what's "a better game machine" and just be content that people have preferences, or the old standby (that I used) that each platform has its own strengths and weaknesses that will appeal or turn off people in different ways. To wit; if all I cared about was football games, I'd be dumb to advocate the PC as a universal gaming platform. On the other hand, there's no reason to argue that consoles will be just as good at PCs in the MMORPG/adventure/strategy markets "soon" or "one day," since those kinds of predictions are difficult to make properly. I'd rather just look at the situation as-is, keeping the speculations to a minimum.

I think where the lines get really blurry is with people who love games like Halo and Gears of War. Clearly, those same types of games are available on PC and consoles, and there are good arguments to make about which platform does them more justice. Otherwise, it seems pretty clear that every platform has its niche.

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Bill Loguidice
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So what if a console is a better game machine?
Matt Barton wrote:

I certainly wouldn't try to talk someone out of buying an Xbox 360 and convince them to get a gaming rig instead. Why take on that responsibility and have to deal with the person's disappointment if he wasn't satisfied? Not for me. I can state my own opinion, but won't take responsibility for someone else's decision. I *wish* people would show me the same respect, but I'm constantly badgered by friends (not just here) on this and am getting fed up with it. If you are happy and content with an Xbox 360, why is it important that I go out and buy one if I don't want one? I just don't understand why people get so worked up over that kind of thing. Who cares what *I* like?

Nobody here cares if you get a 360 or any other console for that matter. The genesis was you complaining about us not getting into WoW, and we listed a myriad reasons why that wasn't practical. In turn, we suggested that it would just as easy and beneficial for you to get on a 360 so we could more easily do stuff like you suggested, that's all. If you're happy, you're happy. While I'd like you on a 360 and you'd like me on WoW, neither is going to happen for our own reasons and there's nothing wrong with that. Then the debate devolved into gaming on a console versus gaming on a PC, and which is better and why, which is a valid debate. So I see nothing wrong with how this evolved and I don't think anyone is picking on anyone else.

Vintage Games book!
Xbox 360: billlog | Wii: 1345 2773 2048 1586 | PS3: ArmchairArcade
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.

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Mark Vergeer
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Consumer Evangalists

It seems that some of that Hardcore Amiga evangelism still sits somewhere in your system Matt. ;-)

Dr Mark Now in regard to your question about evangalist behavior, it is quite an interesting phenomenon and it has been studied quite a bit.
When you take a look at it from behavioristic- and groups-perspective it is easy to see that belonging to a group makes most people feel more comfortable. Belonging to a special group will increase that feeling, especially if the group is even a bit elitist or when it takes certain skills or knowledge to become a member. When you take a look at the computer world you can see it with the Linux Evangalists knowing their way around the Linux command line and being able to configure Xwindows with VI whilst mere mortals were in no way able to get a GUI up and running. Same goes for Macintosh users, in the past those machines were quite elitist with graphic designers & creative people flocking towards the machine and you needed a big wad of money too. This all changed a little after the return of Steve Jobs. Same goes for Amiga users to a large extend. Mind you in case of the Amiga you pretty much had every right to feel good or superior about using the system as it was lightyears ahead of the PC and even the Mac.
Depending on certain personality characteristics people belonging to these groups might be susceptible to persuading others to join or display quite the opposite behavior. Certainly radical 'in your face Evangalism' actually is meant to do both at the same time. It's all basic psychology actually.

What makes this a bit scary is when commercial companies and marketing people are using these psychological behaviors and start modeling them. A term 'Consumer Evangelists' is often used. And console or pc or 'platform' evangalists probably are just victims of business marketing schemes that have been going on for decades modifying human behavior and choices.

"Church of the Customer" authors Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba provide tips for turning loyal customers into brand ambassadors. Want more word-of-mouth marketing for your product or service? Create customer evangelists. They wrote a book about it as well.

Mac, PC, Console, Amiga Evangalists could all be victims here...
Here's a link to the Everything2 website posting some funny tips on the c64 vs spectrum war.

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Editor / Pixelator - Armchair Arcade, Inc. | www.markvergeer.nl

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Matt Barton
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Good points, Bill, and I

Good points, Bill, and I certainly understand the appeal. I do tend to get frustrated when I can't get a game to work (especially when it's because of bad copy protection!). I actually enjoy upgrading my computer, though lately it's been hell with things not working even though I followed the instructions to the best of my ability. Still, this seems to be a moot point, since we're familiar with faulty consoles that don't work either. This seems less a PC/console issue as a simple quality control issue. Replacing a GPU, for instance, ought to be pretty much plug and play, though we all know this is seldom the case.

There's probably some psychological term (Dr. Mark?) for people who get too defensive about one platform. I was definitely a hardcore "Amiga'vangelist" back in the day, and held on much longer than I should. It was a complicated set of emotions for a kid to deal with--desire to be right, feeling betrayed by the company, humiliated as it became obvious the machine was dead, etc. I see kids and adults going through the same thing now--fanboys of Nintendo, Xbox, etc. No doubt a lot of this is by design; the companies want you to self-identify as "one of us," with direct confrontation in ads like we had with Commodore vs. consoles or Sega vs. Nintendo, Mac vs. PC, Firefox vs. Explorer, etc. In any case, I've never gotten that passionate about any platform since, even though it crops up here a lot (esp. with Macs vs. PCs.) What I resent is how these corporations play us against each other so well.

I certainly wouldn't try to talk someone out of buying an Xbox 360 and convince them to get a gaming rig instead. Why take on that responsibility and have to deal with the person's disappointment if he wasn't satisfied? Not for me. I can state my own opinion, but won't take responsibility for someone else's decision. I *wish* people would show me the same respect, but I'm constantly badgered by friends (not just here) on this and am getting fed up with it. If you are happy and content with an Xbox 360, why is it important that I go out and buy one if I don't want one? I just don't understand why people get so worked up over that kind of thing. Who cares what *I* like?

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Bill Loguidice
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What's available on what
Matt Barton wrote:

I agree to a large extent. There are similar arguments about what console or handheld is better, etc., it goes on and on. If we see the PC as purely another gaming platform, the question seems to come down simply to what kind of games you like playing the most, and what platform will accommodate that need the best. If you prefer high-end Japanese games like Final Fantasy, get a PS3. If you want a more casual Japanese gaming experience with Mario and Zelda, get a Wii. If you want Western racing and sports games, get a 360. If you're into adventure, RPG, strategy, emulation, etc., the PC is the obvious choice.
I might compare it to going to a seafood restaurant and ordering a hamburger. Sure, they may fix a burger for you, but it's unlikely to be anything special. The point is to go to the restaurant that specializes in the type of food you want.

Your categorization of what's on consoles is too basic. Every mainstream genre and game type is represented and represented well on all the systems. The only underachiever category is MMORPGs, so that's certainly one in the PC's favor. And while it's true that the PC is best at illegal emulation, the legal route gets a bit more cloudy, with a lot of official stuff on the console side. Hell, the Wii has a whole library of official NES, SNES, N64, Neo Geo, Tg-16, etc., games available.

Matt Barton wrote:

I can't imagine buying any platform just for one game, but I know people who do.

There has to be a personal tipping point. One game just won't cut it. With that said, even if someone did get a high end PC, PS3, Wii or Xbox 360 for just one game, I'd be stunned if they didn't quickly find several more that justify the purchase. I know I've found tons of stun on all the platforms that excite me.

Vintage Games book!
Xbox 360: billlog | Wii: 1345 2773 2048 1586 | PS3: ArmchairArcade
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.

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Bill Loguidice
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Matt Barton wrote:

I said "heavily invested," as in the stakes are very high for that person. I don't put anyone here in that category, since most are able to afford consoles and PCs, etc. I have in mind someone that feels personally invested in one or the other--as in, they had to sacrifice to get that console or PC.

I'm really more interested in responding to the quote below with my own anecdote or two, but I wanted to respond to this for a moment. I see nothing wrong with a PC gamer forgoing the latest PC upgrade just to buy himself a bit more time with a few additional games to instead invest that money into a console, particularly if they already have a hi-def TV (assuming they don't want to use their PC monitor with their console). There are many benefits to embracing the concept of a console as a game and multimedia box designed for a TV. You can even think of it as another PC (and in the PS3's case, it can be another PC, as it officially allows Linux installations). In any case, wouldn't it be nice Matt to never have to think twice about buying any game you were interested in because you were worried about your system keeping up? That's years of worry-free gaming, with little to no sacrifices. I can't think of any PC games that are doing anything that a PS3 or Xbox 360 can't handle, and that's not even assuming that it's some uber expensive super PC that's more than the combined cost of a top-of-line PS3 AND Xbox 360.

Matt Barton wrote:

Again, I point to people who refuse to let go of things like the Dreamcast, Amiga, etc. At one point in their lives, they were heavily invested in these platforms, and couldn't just "let go" like people who didn't have that investment.

Back when I was still in college, there was this guy who was a militant Atari ST user. It was hard enough being an Amiga enthusiast back then - though I had moved on to the PC around that time - but being an Atari ST user in the US at that time was masochistic. He just didn't want to hear it though and was going on and on about how his Atari ST was faster than a 386 and what-have-you. He even convinced a mutual casual friend to go the Atari ST route, which was scary. Of course that guy started to complain about all the software he didn't have access to.

A similar thing happened twice with me, which is why I never recommend anything anymore unless asked and not without good reasoning. A friend of mine got a Commodore 128 and he was frustrated by what was going on on the PC side. Same thing with a guy who I suggested get an Amiga 2000 - he was frustrated by the system's inability to display GIFs to his satisfaction. It's just not worth it to evangelize one platform over another. Everyone's needs are different, and what may be better may not be better for THEM, which is what really matters.

I think the lesson there is that not everyone wants to or should have to deal with upgrading a PC just to play games. If they buy a $500 or $1000 or whatever cost PC now, there's no reason it can't last them into the next five years or so as long as they don't try to play the latest and greatest games in a few year's time. So, keeping that investment in mind, isn't it then logical for them to spend $500 on a maxed out console that will allow them to play the latest and greatest games without having to think about it during that same time period? So that's a $1000 - $1500 investment in hardware say every six years, with little to no compromises. Seems to make sense to me. It's not like you don't have to buy the games anyway.

Vintage Games book!
Xbox 360: billlog | Wii: 1345 2773 2048 1586 | PS3: ArmchairArcade
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.

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Matt Barton
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I agree to a large extent.

I agree to a large extent. There are similar arguments about what console or handheld is better, etc., it goes on and on. If we see the PC as purely another gaming platform, the question seems to come down simply to what kind of games you like playing the most, and what platform will accommodate that need the best. If you prefer high-end Japanese games like Final Fantasy, get a PS3. If you want a more casual Japanese gaming experience with Mario and Zelda, get a Wii. If you want Western racing and sports games, get a 360. If you're into adventure, RPG, strategy, emulation, etc., the PC is the obvious choice.

I might compare it to going to a seafood restaurant and ordering a hamburger. Sure, they may fix a burger for you, but it's unlikely to be anything special. The point is to go to the restaurant that specializes in the type of food you want.

I can't imagine buying any platform just for one game, but I know people who do.

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