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?

Comments

Xan (not verified)
Skyrim is a good example of

Skyrim is a good example of how a console held back the PC version. When the PC version was released it had a console-centered interface, and the graphics were dumbed down. Bethseda later released a HD texture pack for the PC market to improve quality, and then we have mods like this:
http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/downloads/file.php?id=15105#content

That graphics quality is something we can do on any game, but isn't being done because it won't run on consoles. Developers are forced to dumb down the graphics rather than create something like that because of consoles.

When we look at physics (consoles don't even have physics cards), memory, etc. we can clearly see how consoles are holding back games. If you develop exclusively for the PC you can make your game so much more advanced. No constraints.

Anonymous (not verified)
Nice post
Xan wrote:

Skyrim is a good example of how a console held back the PC version. When the PC version was released it had a console-centered interface, and the graphics were dumbed down. Bethseda later released a HD texture pack for the PC market to improve quality, and then we have mods like this:
http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/downloads/file.php?id=15105#content

That graphics quality is something we can do on any game, but isn't being done because it won't run on consoles. Developers are forced to dumb down the graphics rather than create something like that because of consoles.

When we look at physics (consoles don't even have physics cards), memory, etc. we can clearly see how consoles are holding back games. If you develop exclusively for the PC you can make your game so much more advanced. No constraints.

Awesome post! I'm glad I have one person I can agree with here and who also understands the nitty gritty of it all.

Bill Loguidice
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Again, a bit too simplistic,

Again, a bit too simplistic, guys. In this hypothetical world without consoles, there's no guarantee PC development would be taken to the next level. If 95 - 98% of the machines can't handle the absolute cutting edge in graphics and physics, why would developers/publishers target that niche? Also, the masses trend to casual games, so, without consoles, there's no guarantees there'd be the budget to pump into big budget ideas like advanced graphics and physics. With that in mind, one could argue that the PC world should be THANKFUL for consoles - even consoles of this advanced age - for making it economically feasible for big budget games in the first place!

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Xan (not verified)
Because even te 95-98% that

Because even te 95-98% that can't handle the absolute cutting edge will still be much better than today's consoles. After all, how many gamers do you know with PCs from the same year consoles came out? :P

Claiming that PC gamers should thank consoles for making it economically feasible diverts from the point. It really doesn't matter. The point of the article is questioning if PC games are being held back by consoles. Saying consoles make it economically feasible doesn't answer that question. In fact, even if that were true, it wouldn't mean that consoles are no longer holding back development. I am aware of a few non-capitalist countries that don't have deals with Microsoft or Sony and yet still produce games.

From a technological perspective consoles are holding back PC games. That is a fact you can't really argue with, due to consoles using old technology. And to be honest I find that shameful, to think that companies are still selling technology that is obsolete.

Bill Loguidice
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More terminology parsing
Xan wrote:

And to be honest I find that shameful, to think that companies are still selling technology that is obsolete.

"Obsolete" is one of those terms that means different things to different people. To me, obsolete means technology that can no longer perform its intended function effectively. I think the Xbox 360 and PS3 represent anything but that. Also, you talk about non-capitalist countries and I bet most of those would consider an Xbox 360 or PS3 pretty darn impressive tech...

In any case, you'll likely only have to wait until holiday 2013 for the technological bar to be raised yet again on the console side, so it's not that far off. In the mean-time, I'll be looking forward what can be done with the present "obsolete" technology in the mean-time...

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Anonymous (not verified)
yep here it is
Bill Loguidice wrote:
Xan wrote:

And to be honest I find that shameful, to think that companies are still selling technology that is obsolete.

"Obsolete" is one of those terms that means different things to different people. To me, obsolete means technology that can no longer perform its intended function effectively.

In any case, you'll likely only have to wait until holiday 2013 for the technological bar to be raised yet again on the console side, so it's not that far off..

Obsolete means it's function can be out performed by newer technology by a landslide.

And your "In any case"statement right there just proves our point. Consoles holding back PC gaming.

Anonymous (not verified)
but

But PC games were already heading down that path of excellence way before consoles caught up to them and then developers saw an opportunity to have multi platform games and the expanding of the PC game came to a grinding halt, then it slowly progressed as the consoles did. My god the original unreal tournement (how could I forget about this) was even out almost a year before the xbox or PS2 were released and console gamers could even play it.

Bill Loguidice
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Revisionist history?
Anonymous wrote:

But PC games were already heading down that path of excellence way before consoles caught up to them and then developers saw an opportunity to have multi platform games and the expanding of the PC game came to a grinding halt, then it slowly progressed as the consoles did. My god the original unreal tournement (how could I forget about this) was even out almost a year before the xbox or PS2 were released and console gamers could even play it.

Wow, that's a loaded statement, some would say a "fan boy" statement. I'd LOVE to hear the thought process to how PC gaming was headed down the path of excellence and how the 1995 introduction of the PS1 retarded that. Please, enlighten us, because I apparently was living in an alternative universe at the time...

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Anonymous (not verified)
Bill Loguidice you are are laughing stock

Actually I'm done here. After you just admitted PC games won't improve until after the new consoles come out I see you are nothing, but a troll. Point have been proven over and over again how consoles are holding back PC games and gaming is my career so no matter what you say I actually do know better than you as it's my day to day life. There is nothing more to discuse. I wish you well and hope your thick head can understand this in the future. Good day sir!

Bill Loguidice
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Yep, you really smacked me down good!
Anonymous wrote:

Actually I'm done here. After you just admitted PC games won't improve until after the new consoles come out I see you are nothing, but a troll. Point have been proven over and over again how consoles are holding back PC games and gaming is my career so no matter what you say I actually do know better than you as it's my day to day life. There is nothing more to discuse. I wish you well and hope your thick head can understand this in the future. Good day sir!

Thank you Mr. Anonymous "insider" for setting me straight. I see now I am indeed this "troll" that you speak of, who knows nothing, on my own site no less! What was I thinking? I see now that without these grossly out-of-date consoles cluttering up our living rooms that PC gamers would be enjoying uber advanced gaming the likes of which n00bs like me couldn't possibly conceive. You have a very deep (and realistic I might add) understanding of how things REALLY work that I clearly could never comprehend. Good day to me, indeed!

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