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
Bill Loguidice's picture
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Joined: 12/31/1969
By the way, ignoring the

By the way, ignoring the silliness for the moment, my original post was about how consoles are holding the PC back in some way OTHER than visuals, which do not make games better in a meaningful way since we're already at a certain minimum graphical threshold. So all this talk of consoles holding back PC's graphics was most definitely beside the argument I was after. The idea that if the power of high end PCs was truly unleashed we'd have more visual flourishes, like exploding, interactive whatevers - which also means needing improved physics engines to better model reality - is the closest argument I've read in this mess on here for consoles holding PCs back in a meaningful way. I'm still not convinced it's "old" console technology holding that back as much as it is developer skill/need/engines. I believe if there was a game need or gamer demand for more interactive environments, we could certainly have them at the present technology level. In short, more time is needed in that area to refine/develop things than just having the platform available would.

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Xan (not verified)
I can assure you that

I can assure you that non-capitalist countries do not see the PS3 or 360 as impressive (little bit racist, there)! However, here is another problem: Memory constraints. With limited RAM a console can't create big game worlds like one could on a PC. That is another reason aside from graphics that consoles are holding back PC games. I worked as a game designer (level design, to be exact) for a few years, I know the process.

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