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Editorial   

Leaving the Console Behind

The choice between console and PC has never been so clear.

It all starts with a box.  It’s shiny, and it’s white, and it’s metal.  It’s also empty, but it won’t always be this way. 

Into this box will go all sorts of doodads and whatnots; silicon chips in plastic casings, wires going this way and that, whirring fans, and metal.  It will house a veritable cornucopia of technological components, and they will make it sing.

But for now it’s empty.  If it were a canvas it would be blank.  If it were a vase, no flowers would spring from its lip. It’s rife with possibility; of what it could be.  But it’s also representative of the unknown.  And that’s scary.

Consoles were always comforting to me.  They offer stability – consistency – a promise that things would never change; at least for a while. What started with a simple NES, became a love affair that has lasted near 30 years.  Generations and iterations would come and go.  The machine - the platform - may change, but the idea behind it would stay constant.

I was a console kid.  I was a console teenager.  I was a console young adult. 

But now things are different.  Over the years I’ve changed, of course, but that isn’t what started everything.  It’s the console that changed.

Years ago many declared the PC dead (long live the PC!).  I was among this group, as I’m sure many now reading this were too and perhaps still are.  The console reigned supreme, and in many ways still does.  But nothing lasts forever and the technological landscape began to shift, ever so slightly at first, and the console began to lose its identity – a condition that isn’t easily treated.

Over the past few E3’s I’ve watched as Sony and Microsoft began touting the “other things” their gaming consoles could do. I don’t understand, I thought then, isn’t the point of a console that it only plays games?  Isn’t that specialized purpose what made these machines so good at what they did?  These new boxes are more like PCs….

Last year Microsoft spent its big E3 conference telling me everything that Xbox could do BUT play video games.  Platform developers have made it a point to ensure everyone knows that users will have access to Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, and You Tube, which is great, but the attention paid doesn’t jive with my interest in getting these machines for that purpose.  It’s great that I can watch movies on my PlayStation 3, or watch Football on my Xbox, but for me – as a gamer – that’s just not that important.

Sony’s reveal of the PlayStation 4 was very gamer centric – but not the way that I wanted it to be. Executives in expensive suits trotted out a bevy of developers who gushed over the architecture and the 8 gigs of unified RAM.  Impressive tech, for a console, but graphical prowess has never been the reason I’ve purchased hardware in the console space – it’s always been about the games.

To Sony’s credit they did show off some games, but there was an air of “more of the same” about the proceedings. Killzone and inFAMOUS showed their faces – franchises I wasn’t exactly clamoring for new editions of – as well as known entities such as Watch_Dogs (a title coming out for current generation machines too) and Diablo III.  There were a couple of interesting elements like Knack and whatever the heck Media Molecule was up to, but it all felt very safe.

Graphics sure can impress, but alone they don’t do me much good.  Console manufactures don’t want to take risks anymore.  Somewhere along the way they all started to play it safe – even the usually oddball Nintendo.  Perhaps it’s the result of a fragile ecosystem; it’s an industry where one big flop can put you can down for the count (ask THQ if they wish they could get a mulligan on the UDraw tablet).

My thoughts return to that box.  That box of possibilities.  Of risks.

I’ve said goodbye to my console roots.  I won’t abandon them completely – I don’t think I could ever do that – but they certainly aren’t center stage anymore.  That position belongs now to the PC – that empty box that will soon be filled with new ideas.


 

Comments

Jendrix

02/27/2013 at 06:15 PM

I went over to PC gaming when the PS3 came out and never looked back.  Better graphics, more control, and cheaper games.  What's not to love?!

Though to be fair, I did eventually get a PS3 solely for the MGS series...

and Red Dead Redemption turned out to be a great reason to own either a PS3 or 360.

Mike Wall Staff Alumnus

02/27/2013 at 06:20 PM

"One of us, One of us"

Aboboisdaman

02/27/2013 at 06:38 PM

I am probably not going to get a ps3. I wasn't impressed at all with the demo. If anything, I think I'll just buy a new pc next time. Steam is fantastic for providing different gaming experiences, and I could care less about all the sharing they kept talking about.

Matt Snee Staff Writer

02/27/2013 at 06:47 PM

Steam is the bomb. The sales, the indies, and then there's sites like GOG, Green Man Gaming, and Desura.  I want to buy a new PC to play newer games, but I can't afford it right now. I'm curious about the Steam Box though.  

BrokenH

02/27/2013 at 06:50 PM

I've been seriously contemplating being a pc gamer next gen. Also, it's kind of gotten to the point where consoles are becoming pcs themselves. (Yet without the customization options that go along with a "true" pc.) I rather have choices personally.

Jonathan Drake

02/27/2013 at 07:11 PM

Indeed, consoles have become a lot like PCs lately - only not as good as them, without the customization, mods or enticing prices of downloadable games.

I have been mostly a console gamer myself, but mainly due to 1) my ignorance on how to get PCs to efficiently play games, 2) price and 3) the need of my own machine - being unable to play bacause someone wants to browse Facebook or IMDB is kind of a bummer.

But unless the Three BIg Chesses decide to invest on unique gaming experiences, I might seriously consider going more PC than Console.

Michael117

02/27/2013 at 07:15 PM

A powerful PC that can do simple browsing, multimedia and multitasking, but also allow me to build powerful games and play powerful games is a must for me. I will need to begin building one before too long if I want to get real work done, start learning in earnest, and build my portfolio and get experience in general with creation tools and their engines. PC gaming is an inevitability for me, and I'll be new to it. I've likewise always been a console gamer.

Getting consoles in addition to the PC would depend on money and exclusives. I want to go where great games are, and there's great games on all the systems. I want to play ZombiU and eventual Metroid and Zelda games but I have way too many other priorities to go out and spend money on a Wii U. I for one actually liked what Sony showed quite a bit. If I had all that disposable income to throw around I'd get all the new systems. I eventually want to play new Halo, Fable, Last Of Us, Beyond, Zelda, Metroid and I know where to find all those types of games. They're all spread between three competitors and if I want to own the systems they're on I'm going to have to buy them all for around $1000 combined minimum. Exclusives are a blessing and a curse at the same time, they screw some people over and benefit people at the same time. People can't afford to not have exclusives, but at the same time most people don't want to be limited as an exclusive only because it means you'll sell to a smaller audience instead of a multiplatform audience.

I was a Nintendo guy from the NES to the Gamecube. Then in the 6th gen I had a Gamecube, PS2, and Xbox. I was mainly a PS2 person. Then in the 7th gen I became an Xbox 360 person. I've jumped around between the big 3 and loved them all in their own ways. PC will be a new frontier for me and I look forward to it.

I'm kind of there with you in my own ways Jesse, consoles are still nice and if I could I'd get them all, but they definitely don't have that distinction they once had. It's also nice to not have to build anything, buying a console is just a trip to the store away and then I need to plug in the cables and do the setup and it's over. Doing PC could be messier and will demand more effort and investigation but it also gives you more freedom, choice, generally better prices, and you still have more diversity and great games to play than you'll ever physically be able to. I think PC is going to become my center of gaming as well, and the consoles will be on the periphery. If I can get a good PC built, I'll likely end up being a late adopter to some of the new consoles.

Super Step Contributing Writer

02/27/2013 at 07:52 PM

I might still buy a console, but only for convenience and possibly cost-effectiveness (if that sounds stupid, I haven't actually compared prices; don't jump down my throat if gaming PCs are just as cheapnow, I wouldn't know!), otherwise though, any games on Steam that might be ok on my Dell D620 laptop, or free ones, look like where I'm going for right now.

Angelo Grant Staff Writer

02/27/2013 at 07:54 PM

I'll give up my consoles...

When you pry them from my cold, dead hands!

BrokenH

02/27/2013 at 08:46 PM

Devotion! That's admirable. I might break down and get a next gen console. I'm just worried about the at-launch price points. lol.

Julian Titus Senior Editor

02/27/2013 at 09:43 PM

What Angelo said.

GrayHaired

02/28/2013 at 09:47 PM

Same here...never giving up my Playstation

Dandichu

03/01/2013 at 07:20 PM

Amen!

mothman

02/27/2013 at 08:53 PM

Can't do it. I have a steam account, I bought the THQ humble bundle, I have all kinds of older games I started playing and then stopped, Longest Journey, Grim Fandango, Clive Barker's Undying, all the way back to the first Unreal game.

Maybe it's because computers are my business and I sit at a PC all day long when I'm working. I just get no excitement from the technology and I can't play a game for more than an hour without wanting to quit.

It could also be because I love JRPGs and they are few and far between on PC.

Whatever the reason, my heart or my shoes, I stood there on Christmas eve...... No wait that's not right. I'll try again

Whatever the reason, I just can't get into PC gaming. Maybe when I'm 70. LOL

SanAndreas

02/27/2013 at 08:57 PM

I kinda agree with this. At the end of the day, I prefer my PS3 to my PC as a gaming machine. A lot of it is because of all the games the PS3 has that I love that aren't on the PC, but I'd really rather just fire up my console and play even for those games that are on both platforms.

I was a PC gamer back in the early 90's but that was because I didn't have an NES or SNES. After the Ultima series died, though, I switched to the SNES from the PC, and haven't really had a burning desire to go back to the PC. And even when I do fire up Steam, I'm mostly playing console-like games like Ys instead of stuff like ArmA or The Witcher.

jgusw

02/27/2013 at 09:13 PM

I never thought PC gaming was dead.  Actually, I've only just recently found out many people thought that.  I don't understand why people thought PC gaming was dead.  There are games all over the place if you look for them.  

I might go PC one day.  It's just to much trouble (for me) to deal with the maintenance and configuring stuff to work properly.  I own some of my favorite console games on PC also and it's a pain to get them working right.  There is all these little things that have to line up to get the damn games to work.  Why deal with it when I can just pop a disc in my console and everything works fine.  I took a couple PC classes over the Summer and Fall and I understand PCs more.  I'm not as afraid of them as I use to be.  Still..., console gaming is convenient.  You just buy the box and done.  If the price is too high, just wait for the price drop and/or buy used.  Simple.  And the best thing about console gaming is that the games I like to play are there.  Until the games follow, console gaming is not dead yet. 

SanAndreas

02/27/2013 at 09:16 PM

A lot of that is because Microsoft got a lot of traditionally PC-only developers to really start supporting the Xbox and 360, although the games they've made on consoles were very consolized compared to the games they made back when they were PC-only developers. There were PC games on PS1 and PS2, but they mostly went ignored in favor of console mainstays.

jgusw

02/28/2013 at 09:39 PM

Yeah, I do remember that, now that you mention it.  I remember thinking at the time, "now I can play some PC games with a controller". :D  Still, I didn't buy many.  Mostly Bioware games.  Now, most PC games can be played with a controller or with a little help, configured to use a controller.  

PC building is more trouble than I want to get into right now.  Even with all the sites that help you build the PC you want, you have to find a case.  Make sure your motherboard can fit the case.  Make sure your processor is compatible with the motherboard, etc...  And, there are so many to choose from.  Plus, even after all that is done, one configuration is not going to work for every game you play.  After using google & youtube to get some games to work properly doesn't help every time.  There's just too many variables and too much for my noob-ass to handle.  If Sony, MS, or Nin can pull some PC devs, I'll go without PC gaming again.  Though, if they want to digital distribute me, DRM me and block my 2nd hand games, then I guess I'm jumping on the PC. :D

Justin Matkowski Staff Alumnus

02/27/2013 at 10:22 PM

The main draw for me for PC gaming is the level of community contribution and interaction. My best example for this would be Skyrim: the amount of quality content generated from the Nexus and Steam communities, from gorgeous graphic enhancing mods, to studio-quality level quests, to an enormous amount of incredible custom armor sets, has me absolutely floored. To see so many people working together, spending long hours simply to make a game better and provide more content for your invenstment is just awesome.  

 In my opinion, fan contributed content and community-delivered content expansion are the future of gaming, far moreso than AAA studios with blockbuster-budgeted titles and paid DLC. I've always been a console gamer myself, but I think this approaching generation will see me take the PC plunge, with open arms.

Jesse Miller Staff Writer

02/27/2013 at 10:27 PM

The last line caused "With Arms Wide Open" by Creed to play in my head.  Suffice to say, my head really, really hurts right now.

Justin Matkowski Staff Alumnus

02/27/2013 at 11:36 PM

lol! I'm sorry, that is something no one should have to endure. Quickly listen to something that doesn't suck, and avoid any imagery containing leather pants and flowy white button downs to prevent a Creed-induced PTSD episode.

Princess Toadstool

03/01/2013 at 06:33 PM

That is the most awful thing I've ever heard. I'm so sorry to hear of your current plight. Hope you feel better soon. 

 

And never think of Creed again. 

MotDrum

02/27/2013 at 11:48 PM

I'm on the other side of the fence. PC gaming allured me last year with all those great Steam sales and such. But I HATE having to do extra work just to play my game. For example, PS3 controllers rarely work and getting it to work with 3rd party software is such a pain. Then I find out things like Bioshock 2 not supporting any controllers.

Atlus*Aspect

02/28/2013 at 04:17 AM

Plus, if go online to troubleshoot console controller use, everyone is too busy being an ass to actually offer help ("why wouldn't you want to use a mouse? n00b bot lolzrofl").

MrDingy

02/28/2013 at 01:45 AM

Outside of the occasional MMO and Diablo style games I don't like using my PC for gaming.  I abhor Steam and the indie game scene and I just don't find gaming on the PC to be fun.  I own Diablo 3 and I love playing it, but now that I'll be able to play it on a console that's what I'm going to play it on.  

Atlus*Aspect

02/28/2013 at 04:11 AM

I often consider leaning to PC (as long as I can bring my 360 controller), to the point that I purchased (in ignorance) The Witcher and STALKER to blow up my low tech laptop. I want to upgrade to a legit platform, but the price of admission has stopped me in my tracks. 

Not that I'm expecting to afford next-gen consoles either; I'm basically stranded on X360/DS island... not a bad place to be.

bambamthepyro

02/28/2013 at 05:00 AM

TF2 is what turned me into a PC player back in 2007.

I still play consoles, And I LOVE my 3DS. But, I agree, consoles are becoming more PC like. 

Surfcaster

02/28/2013 at 10:08 AM

I'm a console guy, although I did play lots of PC games back in the day (Doom, Doom 2, Duke Nukem 3D, Command & Conquer and Warcraft come to mind).

My intention is gen is to stick with my Wii U/3DS combo and to get a decent PC put together to leverage Steam. It's been a while since I did the PC thing, but I'm looking forward to it.

I love NIntendo games, so I want to stick with that. I didn't get the Gamecube, and as much as I enjoyed my PS2 I wished that I had both. It'll be hard saying goodbye to Sony consoles, I've had every one since the PSX, but the series that were exclusive to them are either multiplat (including PC) or I'm not interested in them anymore. My PS3 is basically a glorified blu-ray player at this point (still love my PSP, though).

That was a well written article!

Jon Lewis Staff Writer

02/28/2013 at 10:12 AM

I can agree to an extent. I've been playing games on pc for a little while now, and I love it. I plan on building my own gaming PC in the near future. That said, I think consoles will always have a spot, especially when it comes to my tastes.

 

Our Take

Jesse Miller Staff Writer

02/28/2013 at 11:16 AM

One thing I want to put out there that possibly wasn't clearly addressed in this piece is that I'm not completely abandoning the console.  I have a Wii U and will likely pick up the PS4, albeit further down the road.  

My main point is that my gaming center is shifting from the console to the PC - whereas now I game primarily on the console and play a few things here and there on PC.  That dynamic is changing, and I'm excited for things to come.  

Since I'll be building my living room, gaming pc from scratch, I'll be sure to post again concerning this.

transmet2033

02/28/2013 at 11:22 AM

At some point i hope to do the same.  I wouldnt want to waste the 100+ games that humblebundle and steam sales have "forced" me to buy.  I prefer gaming in front of a television instead of at a desk or on a laptop.

mothman

02/28/2013 at 11:56 AM

Jesse,

Rest assured that as soon as you finish building it, it will already be out of date. The speed with which PC technology moves makes it impossible to have the latest, greatest for any more than about 3 months. I guess the upside is that you don't have to wait 6 years for "next gen", it comes 4 times a year for PCs. LOL

Jesse Miller Staff Writer

02/28/2013 at 02:41 PM

This is very true - but the machine I'm building will already be more powerful than the PS4, and upgrading will only require certain components to be replaced.  There's a heavy initital cost, but then only replacing CPU and/or GPU ends up being less expensive than getting a new console. 

Plus games are cheaper on PC - a savings that is often overlooked when making this decision.  I'll still have my consoles, but I'll be playing most of my games on my living room PC.

Coolsetzer

02/28/2013 at 11:35 AM

Console gamer all the way. I have dabbled in pc games, but they just never felt "right" to me. It's not laziness or ignorance on my part. Pc games are fine for some people. As for me, I hate keyboard and mouse. Most pc games don't support controllers, even in this day and age. Plus, there is just too much learning and work involved sometimes. I just want to put in a game and have fun, and not worry about installs, or worry if my laptop will be able to handle a new game. Especially since retail has gotten obnoxious with "if you open it, you can't return it."

Rayzear

02/28/2013 at 02:03 PM

I switched over to PC gaming once I got married and my wife was against consoles. Little did she know that by letting me play on a PC that it would be worse than a console because you can get great games for $5 on Steam. I now have a huge game library, play lots of MMO's and don't think that I will ever buy a console for gaming unless its to play with family or friends.

Ranger1

02/28/2013 at 10:01 PM

I went the opposite way, I started out as a PC gamer and switched to consoles. Other than annoying updates, pretty much all I have to do is load the disk and go and not have to worry about tweaking things to make my game work. One of my best friends is the opposite, but he likes fiddling around with electronics and I don't.

V4Viewtiful

03/01/2013 at 10:44 PM

Huh!

If i can trick-out my lap top or buy a desktop pc ill be a pc gamer too. I have to check out my laptops motherboard to see whether or not it can handle a different CPU or if I just need to up the RAMFrown

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