In what ways are console gaming holding PC gaming back?

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Bill Loguidice's picture

I recently tweeted - to some degree in frustration after reading the same tired complaint yet again - "For all those who insist console gaming is holding PC gaming back, I'd like to know what that might be other than slightly nicer graphics." In other words, we continue to hear talk that this almost six year old console generation is responsible for holding back what the state-of-the-art in PC gaming can be. But really, keeping in mind that both the Xbox 360 and PS3 are capable of 1080p and full surround sound, and have default controllers with lots of buttons, how exactly are consoles holding PC game designs back? Sure, PC's have more memory, storage and polygon-potential, as well as more buttons thanks to its default keyboard, but really, what game designs would be getting exactly if consoles didn't exist? Flashier versions of current games don't count.

What games would PC developers be giving us if they weren't "held back" by consoles? How much more power is really needed given the designs currently being unleashed? I can't think of one game released where I thought, "boy, more processing power/memory/storage would really make this game so much better". If a dev said, "I have this really radical idea, but I can't do it because consoles are holding me back," THEN I'd listen and maybe even agree. Wanting more polygons is not a design issue.

On Facebook - where my tweets also automatically go - we're having an interesting discussion about some of the possibilities, but I don't buy what's being said. For instance, even though Civilization V was designed expressly for the PC, a commenter thought that its interface design was held back because of the influence of consoles in the thought process of the designers. In other words, Civilization IV, which was apparently designed at a time when console ports (or console originals) were a less pervasive presence, was not influenced by the thought that interfaces should be simplified and/or get out of the way as much as possible, and as a result featured a more sophisticated and better interface than Civilization V. To me, any perception that Civilization V's interface was somehow dumbed down is incorrect. Instead, if there's any issue with the interface, it's just bad design, period, and has nothing to do with whether consoles exist in the world or not. I also don't think any of the Civilization games are a good example for anything, simply because Civilization 1 was perfected right out of the box. Sure, the rules became more refined and sophisticated, as did the artificial intelligence and options, but all the essentials were in place way back in 1991 (and that engine could arguably accommodate most of the new rules and additions), so technological limitations have little to do with anything in the case of the Civilization series.

So, what are your thoughts on this multi-layered, hot button issue?

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Bill Loguidice
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Funny that you call the

Funny that you call the argument stale, anonymous, when you pull out the mythical notion that you can build a console-killer PC for less than the price of a console. You can't. The bottom line is that the two sides - PC and console - offer very different experiences, and, simply put, a tricked out PC is NOT for everyone. It's NOT cheap, it's NOT necessarily easy to maintain, and it's NOT necessarily user friendly. Big strides have been made in those areas, but the fact remains that, while the PC has MANY advantages, some of those advantages are disadvantages to many people, including the open nature of the platform.

Here's the best part, though... We can all live in harmony. It's NEVER an either/or situation unless your personal resources are extremely limited, in which case that becomes a different type of discussion. I play on my consoles, handhelds and computers just about equally. They all offer different experiences and offer different benefits and usage scenarios. I avoided PC gaming for quite some time except in specific cases, but now I've gone back simply because of the great strides made in improving the stability and end user experience, and also due in part to game hardware requirements stabilizing enough for me not to have to chase some unrealistic yearly upgrade path. You can thank consoles in part for that stabilization and for arguably HELPING PCs regain their footing as a more versatile gaming platform. With that said, it probably can't ever replace what I get out of consoles, which is dedicated TV and home theater system gaming, with little thought or concern on my part about setup.

As for your "blurry" argument, that's silly. The only way Battlefield 3 is blurry or has poor textures on console is if you were playing it on an Xbox 360 without the hi-def texture pack installed, which in other words is saying it was installed on a system without a hard drive. In that case, you'd be right, but then you're comparing a $150 net cost Xbox 360 to a PC that is easily quadruple the price.

Also, to say that consoles are holding PCs back again is silly. It's easy enough to argue that there wouldn't be a monumental improvement in audio-visual quality in a world where consoles didn't exist. Devs and publishers still need to support the vast majority of users who don't have gaming-grade PCs. It's nice when there's support for the PC gaming enthusiast, but a world with or without consoles won't change that support in the positive.

And thanks for calling me and my views disgusting, anonymous. It takes a big boy to say stuff like that in public anonymously. Your schoolmates will surely cheer you if you can prove it's you who said it...

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Rob Daviau
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But Bill....

Perhaps you missed it but anonymous ended his post with "PERIOD!" so it must be true! You cannot argue with any post that ends in that manner!

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clok1966
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old thread that is close to

old thread that is close to my heart... Now.. as im on the pc side (not quite in the same way as ANON is)...
"Your 1080p argument is stale. It's only 1280 by 1080p on console vs PC 1920 x 1080p and higher and yes there is a remarkable differnce."

Ok i agree ( sort of with this, those numbers are not really correct).. console are lower resolution then PC in almost all cases.. and even thou most console manufactures claim 1080P but very few games run it. In fact almost all games ran 1280X720 on both console for the first years (many even lower) They liked to fudge numbers by using one of the 2 .. stuff like 600X1080 (and claim 1080P SONY does this ALOT) games like COD4 used 1024X600 on both the 360 and PS3. Alot use some strange upscaling (the ps3 was horrible for this early in its life with the crappy ports) most games run in 720p or often some wierd res (360 has a ton of games with wierd res -Tony Hawk Project 8 was 1040×584, Perfect dark was 1138 X 640 . The simple fact is the lower the res the less pixels the easier it is to keep framrates. I really havent paid much attention in the last year.. MS dropped the requirments on the 360 way back in in sept 09, orignally set at 1280x720 ... but when they couldnt get halo to an accpetalbe frame rate and it was released at 1152x640 that requirement was dropped.... one thing consoles make up with the lower resolutions is standard chips so they can make sure all the effects are the same.. you can tweek the smoke, the particals for that card.. on PC's we hae 2 manufactures and have to make sure it works on both.. for highe end cards htis is easy Horsepower can make up for any lack in specifi areas.. but the AVERAGE card user does not have this horsepower and whre one card shines in partical effects the other chokes, one is better with smoke, the other chokes.. Consoles can deal with this by designing specificly for the chipset, use its strength.

Both consoles are actually pretty strong graphic wise, of course no where near top end PC's.. they always say when a console is released its about 2-4 years behind PC graphicly, but that is high end. If you ever look at average PC user hardware (steam has made these public for the steam users).. most PC are using video cards that are roughly the same as consoles. 1920X1084 is the most used resolution.. so while many high end users are way ahead of the curve, most PC users are not.

its almost strange in a way, PC users have super high resolutions yet the screen is more often then not 22".. I run a 27" with 2056X1440... and love it.. but its a pretty small screen for that amount of pixels if you really think about it.. if it was 60" it would be awsome.. MY 65" TV is 1080P and i cant think of a console game that looks bad becuase of resolution.. plenty of other reasons.. poor textures, etc.. Consoles are played on bigger screens so they would benafit from higher resolution.. but then you think a blue ray is curently the cutting edge.. and I myself think they look awsome.. its 1080 P and looks clear as can be.. so a game should be fine at the res too 9and i think they are).

there is the one spot PC gamers "normaly" have an advantage.. TEXTURES.. its hard to stream textures off a DVD/Blueray.. so its true.. alot of them are compromised (compressed, downsized, etc) for consoles.. but while a pause or a game mags screenshots show it.. its seldom somthing you will notice when playing the game.. DragonAge was one of the few games it was actually something I noticed. If you really want to pick an issue with Console Vs PC gameing i woudl say POP up.. consoles seem to have more of it.. but again.. i have SLI cards so I can crank the view distance (you cant do that on consoles, and im guessing if i had the average cards MOST pc gamers have I couldnt do it either.. and some PC games dont even give you the option).

in the long run its pretty simple.. Numbers game on paper (pure graphics and CPU performance) PC wins.. in practice.. not SO many things to take in account, the price above all.. games for consoles have a set hardware unlike PC games so the game can easliy eliminate the weakness and stress the tweek to that hardware producing some amazing stuff.

Now compareing a 5 year old console price (still lists as $199 for the 360 not $150 (nit picking I know)) When the last generation of console came out it would be a little more fair to compare them at the $400 price when released.. At that time Dell had many PC's that would cost $500 that would play most PC games at 1280X1024 we up that to 1920X1200 and you need to add $100 viedo card so $600.... but! we add LIVE, a 2nd gamepad, a HD cable (so you can actually hook that 360 to a 1080P TV and a network adaptor) soon they are a wash price wise.. cant argue that right now.. today the 360 is a great deal in its bare bones state $199 and yes, a deal here and there or gift card.. its $150.. but it does need a few things.. to really shine.. which do up the price..

its just not so simple for either side.. Plug and play.. Console, best graphics PC, ewasy of use Console, easy to upgrade and keep, PC, most games (this one is touhg it really depends on how you look at games, emulators, etc can tip it to PC but pure new AAA titles is console) but i would say Console. Overall do the most, PC (but consoles are catching up fast!).. Price Console.. especially if you can wait a year or two for price to go down.

i was a PURE PC guy and still prefer it.. but i do see the huge upside to consoles, I'm begrudgingly seeing hte "light" so to speak.. if you are to say the PC is better purely on graphics.. while on paper its true.. i just dont think it translates to use like it did 5+ years ago.. its not the hardware so much.. we have hit a wall on graphics.. how much more real can they get? DO we want them to look like a movie? We talked soem here before.. how much farther can it go graphics wise? Why do you think console makers are lookign at stuff like Wimotes and Kinect.. there are not going to be the huge jumps in graphics the last 10 years has produced. its going to be control, phsyics, AI, content now.. and the pc is actually in the deep end on this, consoles are the hot bed now (and with that said we can open the whole portable phone game thing) and the real advances are going to come here not in PC.

its almsot like argueing if an Apple tastes better then an Orange (we all know the orange is better :) right!!!!) at one time they both did the same thing for most of us played games.. now.. the pc is slowly sliding back into its original idea ... a work machine and the livingroom is the games area where console rule.. And with consoles starting to be multimedia cneters too.. the PC will slide even farther back. MS is pushing to make the 360 a TV cable box.. that might be the single straw that breaks the camels back.. It will be like Jobs getting the Apple into schools.. MS makeing IE part of the OS.. I cant see Nintendo, or Sony or PC's competing with that..

lets see.. cable box, dvd player, media streamer, game machine, ..... all in one.. look what a DVD in the ps2 did.. while the BluRay in the PS3 wasnt near the same.. it sold more then just a few PS3's..

Consoles are one generation from photo realistic graphics at the highest definition TV's can show.. they are so close right now they can almost touch it.. and even me the most ardent PC gamer can see it. (though i will still spar for the PC here and elsewhere every now and then).

Bill Loguidice
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Great, comments, Clok! Just

Great, comments, Clok! Just to clarify one point, I was giving the price of the 4GB 360 at $150 because of the $50 gift card/coupon that has become standard this holiday season. You are correct that it's $199 without that. I still stand by my statement of the hard drive-less 360 at $150 versus the reasonable game playing PC at 4x the cost. I'm being fair on the PC side like with the 360 side of assuming shopping around exhaustively for the best possible price for the components.

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clok1966
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I'm still on the side of

I'm still on the side of console holding PC gaming back.. but only in.. shirt tail ways.. its not really that consoles cant cant do what pc's can.. but when you know the vast majority of your sales will bon on console where a gamepad is used, you have to take that into consideration when designing it.. Esentialy a PC has unlimited keys (well a keyboards worht at least).. something you can do to a dagree on consoles.. left Trg, X.. combo keys can take up some slack.. and no matter what there is a limit to what the user will deal with.. So there is deminishing returns on it.. WOW this game uses all keys on the keyboard.. woop.. no i gotta look at cheat sheet to do everything for a month till i memorize it... not a good thing.. but gamepads are just simply limiting.. you have just so much to work with.. Grapcis is and will alwasy be the huge "wall" between consoles and PC.. and again, purely on paper its true.. but since i have my PC and my 360 and my pS3 all hooked ot the same LCD tv when I get the itch (far to many times) i rent the 360 r PS3 version and compare it to the PC.. (Bayonetta fiesco was the first time I really wanted to see it) So far.. in a paused state is about the only time i can see a differnce.. and its like looking for a lost contact.. I never go LOOK! its always scanning roof edged, looking at the texture of a book cover, seeing if i can see the zipper cogs on a jacket.. and almost always its really hard to see, but its there sometimes. I have seen some things during gameply.. but if i really want to be honest.. the PC will have a hickup more often then the console.. (maybe as i have stuff running in background.. but that is part of a PC if i want to shout its supiriority.. i should be useing it).. at one time I would have alwasy bought the PC game for looks.. but now its simply the control ( i prefer keyboard /mouse).. i havent seen a game in the alst few years whre looks varied enough to even notice.

In all honesty my only real gripe nowdays is the piss poor handling of keyboard mapping and such on PC games that where originlay made for consoles ( and others mention this all the time).. haveing to put my mouse pointer over a giant button that looks like a 360 Start button.. is annoying.. but its not game changing.. So if its holding me back.. its just a mild inconvince.. gameplay seems solid.. im jsut lazy when it comes to porr interface swaps.

Xan (not verified)
Just use logic. If you want

Just use logic. If you want to make the latest game and need the latest technology to do so, why would you make it for 6 year old technology?

Bill Loguidice
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What is your logic then?
Xan wrote:

Just use logic. If you want to make the latest game and need the latest technology to do so, why would you make it for 6 year old technology?

Just as a point of curiosity, what would you consider the latest technology and what would be a real-world reason for supporting it? In theory, a higher resolution or faster speeds would not get you anything tangible over "6 year old technology," other than more screen real estate or sharper polygons, so I'd genuinely like a good example. There is some interesting hardware-based physics technology in some higher end video cards and/or add-on cards, but I've only ever seen that supported for incidental environmental effects (improving the way clothing moves, etc.), which is not surprising considering the likely low level of ownership...

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Xan (not verified)
From what I understand, the

From what I understand, the PS3 uses a modified version of the GeForce 7800 GTX.
http://www.videocardbenchmark.net/gpu.php?gpu=GeForce+7800+GTX

Current generation cards are not even listed (the GTX 680 for example). But the old GTX 480 is over 6 times as fast as that graphics card. If you were buying a PC graphics card would you select the 7800 GTX today? Back in the day there used to be a big war over games, Unreal and Quake kept bringing out newer and better titles every year. Graphics cards advance by leaps and bounds. That advancement no longer takes place, and there have been very few 'revolutionary' releases since the invention of consoles.

Bill Loguidice
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Still not seeing your point...
Xan wrote:

From what I understand, the PS3 uses a modified version of the GeForce 7800 GTX.
http://www.videocardbenchmark.net/gpu.php?gpu=GeForce+7800+GTX

Current generation cards are not even listed (the GTX 680 for example). But the old GTX 480 is over 6 times as fast as that graphics card. If you were buying a PC graphics card would you select the 7800 GTX today? Back in the day there used to be a big war over games, Unreal and Quake kept bringing out newer and better titles every year. Graphics cards advance by leaps and bounds. That advancement no longer takes place, and there have been very few 'revolutionary' releases since the invention of consoles.

Few "revolutionary" releases since the invention of consoles? You mean back in 1976, or are you referring to some other arbitrary date to make what is - forgive me - a very poor generalization without ANY basis in reality? Terms like "revolutionary" and "innovative" mean different things to different people. Typically, they're misunderstood to the point where they're either applied to everything or they're applied to nothing. If anything, it wouldn't be a higher spec PC that would drive something "revolutionary", it would be a new type of control scheme or methodology, something that consoles specialize in (and smartphones and tablets for that matter).

Also, who cares about the equivalent video card in the PS3 or Xbox 360? They also have far less memory than the majority of PCs, far less storage, etc., but they DO offer more or less a single, unified architectures, i.e., one spec that can be written to and optimized for. It's not as bad as it used to be on PC, but it's still nowhere near as easy to optimize on that side. It does not all come down to raw hardware specs. It never did and it never will. "Innovation" simply doesn't work like that.

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Xan (not verified)
I'm talking about

I'm talking about technological revolution, the era when Unreal and Quake competed in bringing out the latest and greatest tech, all backed by a new Voodoo graphics card which was five times better than the one released just a few months before.

You can't deny the fact that consoles use antiquated technology. Your argument is based on two facts. 1. Good graphics don't make good games. And 2. Console graphics can be optimized.

Point 1 is good, yes, I agree, good graphics don't make good games. However the point of this article has nothing to do with making good games or not, but is to do with if consoles are holding PC games back.
Point 2 can be refuted by thus: If there were no consoles, then developers would enhance games for the PC as they did back in the days of 3DFX graphics.

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