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Is The Xbox The Cause Of The PC Gamer's Downfall?

simoniker posted more than 10 years ago | from the boxen-be-foxen dept.

PC Games (Games) 194

Thanks to GamerDad for its editorial discussing whether the Xbox has grabbed much of the development effort and talent from the PC gaming scene, with the author arguing: "From what I've been able to gather, there just isn't much interest in PC games unless as an afterthought to a console release. Deus Ex 2 and Thief III are superb examples of this mindset." He continues of the Xbox: "Its introduction has clearly robbed a lot of the resources that used to be dedicated to making PC entertainment. This is fine if you're willing to buy an Xbox and support Microsoft directly that way. It's not fine if you're a PC gamer that wants what the PC can offer specifically, and not some watered down version of what you've come to expect from a company." Do you agree?

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No.... (2, Insightful)

smoondog (85133) | more than 10 years ago | (#9355421)

First of all, pc games are not dead. Second, their reduced popularity is certainly due to the rise in all consoles. With a game cube costing a 100 bucks, consoles are competing well. Anyways, nethack is alive and well.....

Re:No.... (3, Insightful)

bigman2003 (671309) | more than 10 years ago | (#9355554)

I am one of the people out there who switched from PC gaming to console gaming (see my link).

The PS2 and Gamecube would not have made me switch. People repeatedly say 'the Xbox has a lot of the same games as the PC, there are no real exclusives'. Fine, right. That shows that they are going for a similar crowd. I can play first person shooters on my Xbox, which was about 60% of what I played on the PC. There are also the racing/sports/3rd person shooters and now I'm set.

The Gamecube and PS2 don't target the same audience. I wouldn't buy a Gamecube if they were only ONE buck, because it doesn't have the games I want to play.

So for me, and a few of my friends, the Xbox is the one that stopped me from buying any PC games in the past 18 months. Instead I've bought about 35 games for my Xbox. I do have a friend who is a die-hard PC gamer- and he says he will stay that way forever...even though I harass him constantly to buy an Xbox. In the past 4 years I think he has purchased 2 or 3 games for the PC. I think you would find that the number of games purchased by the average Xbox gamer is much, much higher than the number of games purchased by the average PC gamer. And buying games, translates to support.

Of course, he used to COPY my games. I had a similar 20+ per year game buying habit on the PC, and he would copy my games. But his copying does not put money in the pockets of the developers, who would be willing to make more games for the system.

I tell him that if he wants the developers to support him (make more games) he needs to support THEM (buy more games). But he figures someone else ou there will do the buying...sadly, this is why the content providers are pushing for more and more DRM.

Re:No.... (1)

Jesselovesscripts (719652) | more than 10 years ago | (#9357177)

Is there a different controller you use for your FPSs? what about strat games? a keyboard and mouse, (which most /.ers know as well as there own hands) has to have an advantage, unless you just plug in a keyboard and mouse...

Re:No.... (3, Interesting)

LordPixie (780943) | more than 10 years ago | (#9356102)

It should be noted that consoles in general have a higher market share than high-end gaming rigs. So it's much more enticing to release your game for a console. Not so much that all the talent is being used to up on the XBox persay, but just that developers aren't willing to spend the effort on their PC releases.

Deus Ex II was a perfect example of this. The abysmal PC release interface was obviously built for the XBox controller, just as level design was for the XBox architecture. But the part that really killed the PC version was the complete and utter lack of effort to make it anything less than a port. v1.0 included .ini settings from the XBox for Pete's sake ! (and were clearly labelled so) It didn't require a top-notch developer to clear this up -- a $5/hr QA trainer and 15 minutes of effort would have done a LOT.

Of course, the crappy sales figures for the PC version then led to the circular conclusion that it's not worth developing for the PC.


It's funny (4, Insightful)

Pluvius (734915) | more than 10 years ago | (#9355435)

When the XBox came out, I figured that it would be killed by the PC, not the other way around.

Microsoft might not be too popular around here, but they sure aren't stupid or lacking in business sense, either way.


Re:It's funny (2, Interesting)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 10 years ago | (#9355767)

well.. the thing is.. .. it didn't kill the pc.

pc gaming is not dead, it hasn't changed all that much in the past 5 years. sure, most games suck, but that's how it has been for the past 15 years on PC.

pc killed some platforms though, like the amiga, but then again the amigas were just pc's on a different architechture anyways so no big deal there either.


Re:It's funny (4, Interesting)

TRACK-YOUR-POSITION (553878) | more than 10 years ago | (#9355918)

Microsoft is taking business away from the PC industry that's given them hundreds of billions of dollars to a console market on which they have yet to make a single dime. It is too soon to praise the virtues of their business sense yet.

One wonders what the gaming market today would look like if Microsoft has spent the billions they invested in Xbox into making PC gaming vastly better than game cube or PS2 could offer. Suppose they had launched a "Windows XP Live" service, and invessted in/bribed game developers into using it. Or if they had worked to make installing PC games as easy as playing an Xbox games--by encouraging the PC market to make a transition to DVD-ROM faster, or perhaps creating some sort of DirectX Virtual Machine. Suppose they invested money in DirectX 9 games, which would be far and away vastly better than anything today's consoles can offer, but doesn't really do much today because who the hell cares about pc games when Microsoft is willing to bleed money on the XBox?

And if they had done all that,and then perhaps integrated Tivo-like features into the OS, and even made it simple to view movies downloaded from the internet on your television (as if MS would fail to brush the MPAA aside like a gnat if they so felt it expedient to do so), and even co-opted the Apple route of writing consumer-level tools for editing music and video -- then that would have been it. Microsoft would have owned our living rooms,and no one could be happier.

Basically, Microsoft has given up The World, so that they can be fighting neck and neck with lowly Nintendo scavenging for the scraps left over by Sony.

Re:It's funny (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9356494)

"Suppose they invested money in DirectX 9 games, which would be far and away vastly better than anything today's consoles can offer"
Guess what, DirectX 9 games on a 586, will look like garbage. No amount of money can overcome old hardware. The XBox, when it was initially released, offered some good hardware at a price point that was much lower than the same hardware would cost you in a PC.

Your post is stupid.

when it was initially released, offered some good (1)

dpilot (134227) | more than 10 years ago | (#9357711)

But that's the kicker - when it was initially released. Wasn't that back at DX8.0, or does the XBox have DX8.1 hardware?

And it hasn't changed, since.

Meanwhile, the PC has been through DX9.0c, IIRC. No, every PC isn't at that capability, MY PCs aren't at that capability. But the leading edge is. So some of the new games will have multiple render-paths, and give leading hardware better graphics. (nothing about gameplay, here) The multiple renderpaths are the curse of games programming on PCs, compared to consoles. But it also gives programmers a chance to flex their muscles on new stuff, too. It also adds to the value of PC gaming.

For that matter, DoomIII, presumably this summer, will be DX9 on PCs, and presumably DX8 or DX8.1 on the XBox.

Re:It's funny (1)

TRACK-YOUR-POSITION (553878) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358096)

I'm not saying the XBox is a bad deal--but looking at the financial results, you have to wonder if it was in Microsoft's interest to offer that particular deal to consumers.

Remember that the particulars of DirectX 8 vs 9 have been designed to assist their gaming strategy--DirectX 8 was explicitly written to benefit the XBox. If MS pursued a PC-only strategy, DirectX 8 could have been delayed and modified to have more features that PS2 and GC wouldn't hope to compete with.

Re:It's funny (3, Interesting)

SuiteSisterMary (123932) | more than 10 years ago | (#9356528)

Microsoft tried the Live service with Windows; DirectPlay and the Zone. Developers didn't go for it, for various reasons; one of the hallmarks of the PC world has always been 'do it your way.'

But with the console, it just makes sense. You slap in your disc, it plays. You don't need to configure the sound drivers, select OpenGL or DirectX, you just slap it in and play. Well, extend that to online. Click the 'online' button and your done.

None of this 'buy the addons, figure out if the game works over the dial up or the broadband modem, does this game use a headset, does that one, do I pay for this one, do I subscribe for that one, how do I find a game to join, blah blah blah. With Live, it just works.

Or, put another way, in many ways, the Xbox is more 'consoly' than the Playstation 2....

Re:It's funny (no i think you are the funny one) (1)

jocmaff (714526) | more than 10 years ago | (#9357600)

PC games will always rule in the graphics department. Consoles just don't get it done in this department. We just sit farther back and think they look as good.

Re:It's funny (1)

TRACK-YOUR-POSITION (553878) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358033)

This is interesting. So this, along with Windows XP Media Center (which I'm surprised no one made fun of me for completely forgetting about) are slight movements in the direction I'm talking about, but Microsoft doesn't seem to have put their full weight behind them. Microsoft has proven they have the power to push around video game developers when they want to, even pre-XBox--remember the old days of John Carmack defending OpenGL against DirectX?

I think they could have "consoleified" the PC if they wanted to. First step would be to lean on ATI and nVidia to make sure graphics cards weren't so damn confusing (like the GeForce 4 MX not having DX 8.0 features while the GeForce 3 and normal GeForce 4 did.) Perhaps get computer retailers to sell a Windows XP Gaming PC, equivalent to Tablet PC except with standardized gaming configuration

XBox investment trivial (3, Interesting)

Creepy (93888) | more than 10 years ago | (#9356547)

Yeah, it's true that MS gaming division isn't making them money, but their bread-and-butter, MS-Office and MS-Windows make so much dough that they pay the losses of every losing division and still rake in over a billion dollars without even mentioning their other profitable divisions. I don't think MS has anything to worry about, except maybe the PC drying up as a gaming market. I have my doubts about that, as well, because graphics technology continues to be pushed on the PC side, which eventually influences consoles. Consoles have the plus of standardized hardware, so it's easier to write for them, but you don't get "cutting edge" graphics, except maybe on the console's release.

MS has hurt PC gaming, by buying many PC developers and moving them exclusively to XBox dev (then porting to PC with a different developer later). The FASA (Mechwarrior) and Bungie (Halo) teams are prime examples. Basically, they've moved the PC game to play second fiddle to the XBox game, but adding all the missing features later. In many ways this works out good for MS, because the XBox is basically a standardized PC, which means many less configuration problems and simplified debugging (meaning shorter release schedule and thus less investment), so they can shovel the cost of PC hardware debugging to a third party developer. Unfortunately, it also means late releases on the PC and controls that either don't work, or are so dumbed down the game is either too easy or too hard :(

MS has hurt PC gaming, by buying many PC develo... (2, Interesting)

dpilot (134227) | more than 10 years ago | (#9357750)

In the next few years, we'll see how this plays out from a strategic point of view.

As things like OpenOffice mature, Linux becomes more ready for the desktop. But there's always been that, "Where are the games?" argument the Linux has had a hard time matching. Now that Microsoft is deprecating PC games in favor the the XBox, they're also chiseling away at the "Where are the games?" argument against Linux on the desktop.

Re:MS has hurt PC gaming, by buying many PC develo (1)

TRACK-YOUR-POSITION (553878) | more than 10 years ago | (#9357926)

Combine this with rising anti-American sentiment in Eurasia, and the wait until 2006 or later until longhorn's release, and we might just start to see interesting things happening with Linux on the desktop really soon.

On the other hand, between Avalon, new security models, and possibly even its relational database file system (not sure about that), Longhorn might end up being a really big deal.

Re:It's funny (1)

pommaq (527441) | more than 10 years ago | (#9356252)

Disclaimer: IAANF. But slow down a little there, cowboy - they've yet to prove they can make any money from the xbox. It's been nothing but a humungous money drain so far: they still have to massively subsidise every unit sold to keep their prices competitive, they've went on shopping sprees and acquired companies like Bungie and Rare ($375 million IN CASH! damn!) and only 5% of their userbase have subscribed to the much-ballyhooed Live service. Forgive me if I'm not yet convinced that's good business sense. I also think they might shoot themselves in the foot a bit by killing the PC games market - games are a force to be reckoned with when it comes to hardware upgrades, and most sales of Windows are OEM deals with new PC's. I kind of hope that's what will happen, actually... it would be nice if the upgrade cycle slowed down a bit.

Re:It's funny (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9357319)


To a degree (2, Interesting)

fozzmeister (160968) | more than 10 years ago | (#9355449)

Once the computer was the console (spectrum etc) then nintendo took the platforms, sony took the arcade racers, xbox has some of the half racing sims, things like colin mcrae, toca race driver 2. I was nuts on Rainbow Six 3 on XBox then i saw it on the PC blew me away totally, much bigger game, much more beautiful and the planning is awsome. In short its a dumbed down game on the XBox. Similarly you aren't ever going to see something like Grand Prix Legends or EF2000 a console for a very long time.

I think PC is where the hardcore ultra-realistic things happen, as well as the ultra innovative (see Gish slashdot article a bit ago) because you don't need a super expensive development kit.

Yes (1)

68k geek (573999) | more than 10 years ago | (#9355452)

i do.

Re:Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9355561)

ooh ooh ooh me to


My Problem with the X=Box... (5, Insightful)

Prien715 (251944) | more than 10 years ago | (#9355462)

Is that it's essentially PC hardware. Heck, it uses the DirectX API. So what's my problem? Why not port games to PC since it's almost exactly the same. Answer: MS pays developers to develop for X-Box exclusively (think Halo).

While I wouldn't mind buying a PC X-Box kit (I'm not calling it an emulator since it wouldn't be emulating anything), I feel stupid maintaining two x86 PCs just because his Billness decided that's the way it should be. (Everyone talks about the extra X-box features, but really the feature set is dumbed down PC interface).

Dumbed Down (1)

superultra (670002) | more than 10 years ago | (#9355666)

Name one other title that has been "exclusive" to the Xbox and not the PC. Even Halo eventually made its way to the PC.

As far as interfaces go, dumbed down does not always equal bad. In fact, unless you're coding in assembly and using nothing but pure unix command line, you've dumbed down as well.

Re:Dumbed Down (1)

Prien715 (251944) | more than 10 years ago | (#9355860)

Ninja Gaiden. Riddick.

I'll agree that there is a balance between ease of use and power, but with a PC you can do what you please. But there's programs that challenge this notion. I=tunes is pretty easy to use but also very powerful.

Re:Dumbed Down (1)

SuiteSisterMary (123932) | more than 10 years ago | (#9356509)

Just going from my own shelf: Buffy, Ninja Gaiden, Dead or Alive 3, Dead or Alive Volleyball, Brute Force, Robotech: Battlecry, Crimson Sea, Toejam and Earl 3...

Re:My Problem with the X=Box... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9355670)

What do you have to maintain w/ an XBox? To me, that's the attraction. I can come in, sit down, and be playing a game in 30 sec without worrying about whether or not I have the right patch to play online w/ my friends or all the latest drivers or spend an hour customizing the graphics/audio to get decent performance.

Cycles.... (2, Insightful)

master_xemu (618116) | more than 10 years ago | (#9355465)

This is nothing new consoles vs PC, they always swap positions every few years. As for it being XBOX thsi time? No, more likely it was Sony's PS1 or PS2, MS was a little late to the game.

Re:Cycles.... (1)

fr0dicus (641320) | more than 10 years ago | (#9355872)

Cycles of what? It certainly doesn't look that way from sales figures, PC game sales are just on a big downward curve.

Re:Cycles.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9355985)

This used to be true. The consoles would surge ahead early in their cycle, but then the PC would be dominant by the time they reached the mid-point.

It hasn't happened this time...

A number of factors, such as the over-reliance on the Quake 3 engine, the amount of money the console manufacturers are willing to throw at developers for exclusives and the skill with which the console manufacturers keep adding new incentives to buy their products (such as the Eyetoy and X-Box Live) has ensured that at the mid-point of this cycle, the consoles are still dominant. The PC is capable of better, but most PC developers simply aren't delivering. If this isn't addressed before the start of the next console cycle, the PC will never catch up.

Worked for me... (4, Interesting) (317514) | more than 10 years ago | (#9355467)

Sure I'm supporting Microsoft by buying an X-box, however, it means that I don't have to have a separate windows partition to play the few games that I do play.

Hopefully the next round of pc-gaming will come about on a Non-MS Platform -grin-

Re:Worked for me... (1)

MrDickey (653242) | more than 10 years ago | (#9356960)

Since Micro$oft loses money on each xbox sold, you're not really supporting them by buying one. I think that would be a good strategy for pc loyalists- buy xboxes by the dozen and burn them. or mod chip them and copy games to the hard drive. Either way, you don't buy games, microsoft loses money and will pc gaming will triumph again

OMG (5, Interesting)

Apreche (239272) | more than 10 years ago | (#9355482)

Ok, I've said it before and I'll say it again. The cause of the PC Games downfall is well known.

Because of the differences in controls and displays some game genres are better on the PC and some game genres are better on consoles. Anything with lots of information on the screen like a Civilization or a Master of Orion, RTS games like Warcraft 3 and first person shooters are all PC genres. Games like platformers, fighting games and such are all console genres. A big screen and a gamepad are perfect for these. Some games work well on either, like puzzle games.

The reason that PC gaming is going down the tubes is that there is no innovation in the genres which are good to play on the PC. FPS and RTS are pretty much stuck in a rut. Each new game is the same as all the others. Sure there are better graphics and sound, but eye candy does not a hit game make. Think about it, there are only 2, TWO pc games coming out that people are anticipating. Doom3 and HL2. The reason they are anticipated is because they promise innovation is a dormant genre. But look over in the console arena, what do you see? What's that? Nintendo with its GBA hookups and FF:CC? XboX Live? I see new things there! It's not the same old game its always been.

Sure, there are more reasons than one why the PC is going downhill as a gaming platform. All the cheapass commodity games stocking up at Wal-Mart are no help. But then again, you see the same sorts of things coming out for the PS2 and GBA. The primary reason for PC gaming being in a rut is the lack of innovation in PC genres and the extensive innovation in console genres.

Some people I tell this to try to argue that there is PC innovation and I'm wrong. If this is you then consider this. Why is Counter-Strike the most popular online game ever after all these years? When it came out it was revolutionary. Real weapons, team based objective gameplay that wasn't CTF. And staying dead until the next round. This did not exist then. And since CS came out, no game has made such great leaps into making new gameplay as to unseat CS. Nothing. If one of them did, then CS wouldn't still be the most popular game. Tribes 2 and NS both came close, but they both suffered the same 2 problems. 1) Gameplay too complex to jump right in. 2) The devs killed the game off unintentionally.

So until HL2 and Doom3 come out my video game money is still going to Nintendo.

Re: OMG (2, Insightful)

Jeranon (184097) | more than 10 years ago | (#9355620)

I blame publishers who are more interested with "safe games" like Warcraft 3, Diablo 2, Deus Ex 2, and Blah 14 or those with a big money inducing licensed name in the title like Enter the Matrix or whatever other game Hollywood thinks will get them more cash.

Innovation is tough when no one wants to pay you for it. Developers are kind of stuck in this twisted games industry that says you can make something new or you can make something everyone is buying.

Re:OMG (2, Interesting)

TRACK-YOUR-POSITION (553878) | more than 10 years ago | (#9355773)

Do you really think Doom 3 and Half-life 2 are going to do better than The Sims 2, sequel to the best selling PC Game ever? There are two genres you didn't mention that the PC is strong in--MMOG and games with player created content. And consoles are catching up with MMOGs--if they're smart enough to sell the next version of consoles with included microphone and/or keyboard, then the pc will lose its only advantage in that sphere.

But player created content--I can't foresee the PC losing its edge there. If the Sims 2 is "designed to allow players to easily integrate content created by players outside the game", then how could this content be created or used on the XBox?

Then there are things even further out there like the frequently-hyped-on-Slashdot Second Life, an MMOG composed entirely of player created models and scripts.

Consoles will keep growing,simply because as hardware grows cheaper it no longer makes sense to have one cumbersome, all purpose device to do everything I want to do with computers. The apparent innovations on consoles number exactly two: convenience, and price. The games on consoles aren't truly more innovative--but consoles are the path of least resistence to players.

However, there are still some serious, non-FPS, non-RTS experiences that the PCs have to ofer that are simply not possible on the path of least resistence.

Re:OMG (1)

kaisyain (15013) | more than 10 years ago | (#9357566)

If the Sims 2 is "designed to allow players to easily integrate content created by players outside the game", then how could this content be created or used on the XBox?

Every game system has some kind of external save game mechanism. Today I can buy 256 MB of USB flash storage for under $40. How much space do you reckon that player-created Sim 2 content is going to take up? No, it isn't as convenient as having a 40 GB hard drive but for a lot of gamers and the games they play it'd be more than sufficient.

Re:OMG (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 10 years ago | (#9357690)

But player created content--I can't foresee the PC losing its edge there. If the Sims 2 is "designed to allow players to easily integrate content created by players outside the game", then how could this content be created or used on the XBox?

I don't see a problem. You won't be creating much content on your Xbox (unless you put linux on it, which makes the use of Live a little more difficult but not impossible) but you can create it on your PC and use it on your Xbox. Or, did you not notice that A> You must have broadband internet to use Xbox Live unless you are more clever than the average person, and B> that the Xbox has a hard drive? These things add up to being able to download and cache new content in the form of models and textures. Since you'll only be able to see a few of them at once the cache need not be large.

I've always considered that XBox == a PC (1)

torpor (458) | more than 10 years ago | (#9355487)

Apart from the fact that Microsoft are the only ones who can afford to make the XBox at its current specs, I've always considered that its just a PC made for games, like any other.

I don't see the differentiation, I guess, between an "XBox" game and a "PC" game. Aren't they using the same API's, the same fundamental OS, the same principles of development?

Why the differentiation, really, when under the covers, XBox == Microsofts Gaming PC?

Another thing I don't understand, though I think we'll probably see something on this subject within the next 6 months, is why Game Studio's don't just release their own, little, purpose-built PC system for each of their games? Its not like building cheap hardware that works is hard, any more ... so throw away all cardboard packaging boxes, and just wrap a full PC around those CD's ...

Re:I've always considered that XBox == a PC (1)

fr0dicus (641320) | more than 10 years ago | (#9355714)

That's all nonsense. The interface is fundamentally different, no mouse or keyboard, instead a joypad and headset. No monitor, instead a TV. This leads to fundamentally different game types. Sure you can plug those things into a PC, but games aren't aimed at them, they're aimed at a mouse+WASD on the keyboard.

Re:I've always considered that XBox == a PC (1)

torpor (458) | more than 10 years ago | (#9355812)

So you're saying that the interface makes it a PC?

This means that an Amiga (with mouse and VGA monitor) is a PC?

I dunno about that. This article is about development of games... and I think that the API's/methods used to develop games for XBox aren't that much different than those used for PC development ... whatever the end-packagin is going to be.

Would you then say that a custom-built PC running Windows and only being used as a Point of Sale (cash register) isn't a PC, since it has a cash-drawer and custom keypad interface?

From the perspective of a developer, I thought that XBox was supposed to 'be like developing for a PC', so then to me it doesn't make sense that "XBox Games are Killing PC Games" ... but I truly am not an XBox programmer (nor a PC programmer) so I can't say that I really understand the hard-line difference between the two 'platforms'. To me, XBox as a platform is in the same category as a PC would be ...

Just because mfr's choose not to package their games for PC's as well as XBox doesn't seem to me to infer that XBox development is killing PC gaming ... just that, for some types of PC games, you need to buy a special PC to run them ... one from Microsoft, directly.

Point is, Microsoft have created this 'alternative platform' situation, when in fact there is nothing really that alternative about the platform, other than, packaging-wise, that XBox PC came from the same manufacturer of its operating system ...

Re:I've always considered that XBox == a PC (1)

fr0dicus (641320) | more than 10 years ago | (#9355968)

Alike APIs bear little relevance to the gaming experience, as playing games that have versions for all console formats with very little difference and utterly similar control methods will feel a world apart from sitting at your PC with a control method designed for keyboard/mouse usage.

The control methods go a long way to defining the software. You'll find games that bear more functional resemblance on an Amiga than on a console to the PC. There's nothing unique on the Xbox (gameplay wise, not specific title-wise) that the Gamecube or the PS2 doesn't do, and yet you'll struggle to find even half the software on PC as you get on Xbox.

Only because the PC has such a narrow range of styles and the Xbox being the most capable and easy platform to cross develop will you see marginally more titles shared between the two. But you'll still struggle to find any meaningful RTS, CRPG's, MMORPG's etc. they're really not related by any particular game medium any more than the other consoles, it's just marginally more capable and as such is in scope for certain titles.

Re:I've always considered that XBox == a PC (1)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 10 years ago | (#9356802)

"I don't see the differentiation, I guess, between an "XBox" game and a "PC" game. Aren't they using the same API's, the same fundamental OS, the same principles of development?"

APIs and OS's are not the dividing factor between a PC game and an XBOX game.

"Why the differentiation, really, when under the covers, XBox == Microsofts Gaming PC?"

Why isn't this blindingly obvious? You're comparing a general purpose computing device to a focused game machine. No KB and mouse for the XBOX. No common game pad for PC. PC games need to be installed. XBOX games have a fixed resolution. PC games need to be made to run on a variety of hardware. XBOX games need to be made for only one type of hardware. Etc.

But that really isn't the issue, is it? Unreal Tournament 04 is a lot more fun on a PC, whereas Soul Calibur is a game that would work a lot better on the XBOX.

Yes, PCs and consoles are very different machines. Having similar internal organs doesn't mean they're alike either on the development side or on the player's side.

I for one don't ever plan on playing consoles... (3, Insightful)

genrader (563784) | more than 10 years ago | (#9355493)

Since this latest generation of consoles came out, I have a GameCube that collects large amount of dust, and my friend's Xbox would be collecting dust if I was still borrowing it from him. One reason I simply hate consoles is controllers are usually much to annoying to mess with, keyboard and mouse is usually better for any game in my perspective, but GREATLY excelling in the first person shooter genre. Another reason consoles are not preferred by me is the lack of options most games have: Sensitivity, complete customization of controls, etc. Playing a first person shooter where you turn around at 1/3rd of the rate that you can on the PC by twitching your mouse just slightly gets on my nerves. It makes games basically "If he comes up behind you you're dead." Anyway, enough rambling and I'm sleep deprived so if none of this makes sense don't kill me.

Re:I for one don't ever plan on playing consoles.. (5, Insightful)

StocDred (691816) | more than 10 years ago | (#9355639)

keyboard and mouse is usually better for any game in my perspective

Translation: better for the genres I prefer.

Which is fine. But would you play Mario Sunshine or Wind Waker and think "Boy, I wish I could control this with a mouse and arrow keys"?

Re:I for one don't ever plan on playing consoles.. (1)

fr0dicus (641320) | more than 10 years ago | (#9355743)

Yeah, or Prince of Persia, Ninja Gaiden, driving games, beat 'em ups, stealth 'em ups (try tiptoeing with a keyboard, not really as good as an analogue stick).

Not to mention sports stuff like SSX, Tony Hawk's, Pro Evo soccer.

I flogged my PC because I got bored with FPS, but actually I quite like how different the likes of Halo and Timesplitters 2 are with a joypad, it makes aiming more difficult, which helps the gameplay as you don't get people with unrealistically godlike aiming accuracy.

Re:I for one don't ever plan on playing consoles.. (2, Interesting)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 10 years ago | (#9356210)

Sneaking with a keyboard is actually easier than with an analog stick. The reason is that with an analog stick, if you push the thing too far you're suddently no longer sneaking and very likely messed up the mission. Not everybody can hold an analog stick at exactly the position that lets you sneak with maximum speed. On the keyboard you hold a button and are restricted to the maximum sneak speed. Sure, you can do that on a console as well but that kinda defeats the purpose of the analog stick, no?

Fighting games are easier on the PC, in my experience. The keyboard is the most precise directional input, since you have separate keys for each direction which you hit with different fingers. No accidentally pressing diagonal or something. Also, the keyboard resembles the controls in an arcade much closer than a joypad, since you're pushing buttons with different fingers instead of using your thumb for all of them and there must be a reason people want to play fighing games on arcade sticks.

Also, mouselook helps against the shoddy camera systems most third person games use. Generally I have more problems with the camera in console games than in PC games. Super Mario Sunshine, for example, has a really bad camera system (yes, I'm aware there are worse, but Sunshine's is bad enough). You can correct it with the c-stick, but that helps little if you're busy doing something else (like running over a small path of timed blocks). On the other hand, I never had problems with the camera in Quake 3's or UT2003/04's third person modes or the games Oni and Max Payne.

Re:I for one don't ever plan on playing consoles.. (1)

Anonymous Cow herd (2036) | more than 10 years ago | (#9356279)

This is a little OT, but I really liked the sneaking system used in the PC version of Splinter Cell (at least, Pandora Tomorrow, I didn't play the original) You use the scroll wheel to set your movement speed, and then WASD to move around. Worked pretty slick.

Re:I for one don't ever plan on playing consoles.. (1)

ksiddique (749168) | more than 10 years ago | (#9357484)

With a bit of practice, it's not that hard to sneak with an analog stick on a gamepad. In my experience, developers are usually pretty generous when setting thresholds between walking, jogging, running, etc. And there are some games that give you a sneak button (Eternal Darkness comes to mind).

Re:I for one don't ever plan on playing consoles.. (2, Insightful)

fr0dicus (641320) | more than 10 years ago | (#9357637)

You're kind of missing the point. Use of the analogue stick is part of the atmosphere, skill and challenge of the game in all the examples that you mention. Sneaking about in Splinter Cell and trying not to make a sound or sudden movement. The level of turn applied in a driving game. The direction of turn, shot, or flip in skateboarding, football or snowboarding. The fun is in the realism of analogue control, else we might just as well play BSD Battlestar.

I'm not sure what fighting games you play (indeed I can't really think of any that have come out on the PC for a while), but the keyboard has always been terrible for anything since Way of the Exploding Fist, when moves weren't mapped to directions but combinations of buttons. Quite how you think using a keyboard is easier to pull off a special move like in any modern fighter dating since Street Fighter II is beyond me, notwithstanding the minimum six different attack buttons, you've got to worry about getting to 8 directional buttons. My hands just don't work that way. In terms of precision, joypads have digital inputs too, still easier to use than a keyboard, but don't allow for the dynamics of analogue input, different walk speeds, move strengths etc. Proper arcade sticks are of course preferable to recreate the arcade feel, but joypads are clearly a closer relative than a keyboard; ultimately being a scaled down handheld version of them. Also bear in mind that all joypads since the SNES have at least two shoulder buttons, so you're not mapping everything to your thumbs.

In terms of third person cameras, the one in Quake 3 is not a serious part of the game - there's no mechanic for aiming in the 3rd person, they're more of an irrelevant demo hack. Same goes for UT2k3/4. You just don't see that many 3rd person camera games on the PC because you've only got one analogue input method, the mouse.

The quality of the cameras on consoles is besides the point, there are as many good examples as there are bad examples, but they're used more because it's a different method than has been enabled by the inclusion of two seperate analogue directional input methods. It is used more in adventure style games where seeing the character perform certain tasks is part of the cinematic atmosphere. Just look at the Dreamcast with it's single analogue input, and noticeable lack of 3rd person 3D games for proof, you're pretty much stuck with a view locked behind the character until some form of cutscene frees it up.

Ultimately the mouse is more accurate for looking, but it's fairly trivial to modify the game mechanics such that it doesn't matter, very moderate auto-aim, or wider attack damage for example. It really doesn't affect the gameplay at all. IME the only people that really complain about joypads in FPS are those who've spent more time than is healthy with the keyboard/mouse combo, possibly the need to unlearn before they can relearn, or maybe simple annoyance that proficiency with the mouse really doesn't map immediately to proficiency with the analogue stick puts them off. Suddenly that FPS that was a piece of cake is frustratingly hard. The only other mechanic it suits better is point and click. Although opinions on control methods are subjective, I think you'll find the masses prefer a joypad for most genres out there, and this is shown by how much broader and numerous console titles are.

The final nail in the coffin for the mouse/keyboard is the singular lack of multiplayer support, without multiple units. LAN parties are fun and all that, but not really practical or convenient, and generally unfair, due to such varied levels of horsepower allowing greater framerates, or more highly detailed levels etc.

You will see keyboards plugged into PS2's, but only for communication. The Xbox will supposedly never see a keyboard, and what do you think the chances of Nintendo ever supporting one? It's not like consoles are incapable of supporting a keyboard at all, it's just that there is no demand for it.

Re:I for one don't ever plan on playing consoles.. (0)

illuminata (668963) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358306)

You will see keyboards plugged into PS2's, but only for communication. The Xbox will supposedly never see a keyboard, and what do you think the chances of Nintendo ever supporting one? It's not like consoles are incapable of supporting a keyboard at all, it's just that there is no demand for it.

Both the XBox and Gamecube do have keyboards for their Phantasy Star Online offerings for communication puproses.

Re:I for one don't ever plan on playing consoles.. (1)

molarmass192 (608071) | more than 10 years ago | (#9357324)

I wish I could control this with a mouse and arrow keys

Personally ... yes. Why? Because I map out my keyboard so that every function/move is a finger flex away in the order I find most useful. Console games would need to allow for this of course (which I don't know of any that do) but if they did, I would take full advantage of it. I'm not saying it's for everybody but I would really make use of a keyboard/mouse option.

Feeling torn (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9355516)

There can be absolutely no doubt whatsoever that the X-Box has been pretty successful at muscling into the PC games market. Halo, Deus Ex 2, KOTOR and Thief 3 would all have been PC exclusives in the past. What I can't make my mind up over is whether this is a good thing.

At first glance, the arguments for it being a bad thing are pretty damned strong. Deus Ex 2 was clearly crippled by the limitations imposed by console hardware. Halo is also widely believed to be "not the game it could have been", had it not been transformed into a console-first game. Console games have a reputation (among PC gamers) for being shallow button-mashing fests.

However, if you look at the issue with more of an open mind, there are some more positive aspects to this. KOTOR rocked... I've played it through twice and I can't see any way in which having the X-Box release harmed the game. Having an X-Box release no doubt increases the sales of these games dramatically, increasing the incentive for developers.

As I grow older, I find I care less and less about the factors that used to tie me to PC gaming. It's nice to be able to just stick the disk in the drive and play a game... no install procedure, no driver updates, no worrying over whether I need an upgrade. The issue of playing fpses on a console controller no longer really bothers me. A lot of my PC-fps playing friends say "that must suck, because you can't... like... turn around instantly". This kind of misses the point that a decent console fps will be engineered so that you don't need to and, in multiplayer, you're playing against people on a level playing field.

I don't think the current X-Box is going to make much more progress against the PC gaming market. I suspect (although I may be wrong) that titles like Farcry are, at last, pushing PC games beyond the technical capabilities of the current consoles. However, when the next-gen consoles arrive, PC gaming could be in very deep trouble indeed.

Re:Feeling torn (1)

sheared (21404) | more than 10 years ago | (#9355688)

KotOR is a very good game (playing through it for the first time now), but it DEFINITELY has console written all over it. The control menus are horribly implemented (for a PC game - I'm sure it's decent for a console). Baldur's Gate (which is now, what, 6 years old?) has a much more user friendly control system for inventory than KotOR. Not being able to control movement with the mouse is another annoyance.

The game is great. I certainly hope that it's success, on both platforms, enable BioWare to continue making great games long in the future. Which includes the PC-specific Dragon Age.

PC gaming was going down before the Xbox (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9355589)

When was the last great Ultima game made? Long before the Xbox was conceived. The last Ultima game was turned to crap because of Ultima Online.

What about Falcon 3.0? Released approximately 6 years ago and, while a great sim, was extremely buggy and eventually had to depend on fan-created patches.

The article also ignores the dearth of junk games (Deer Hunter), over-hyped games (Daikatana), and vaporware games (Duke Nuke'em) that have turned some folks away from PC gaming.

Let's also not forget Peter Molyneaux's 'Fable' for the Xbox which will contain those moral choices that the article was lamenting was missing in today's games.

If anything, developers are moving over to consoles because it is easier and cheaper to develop for a closed system console instead of PC systems with a myriad of configurations that need to be developed for and patched.

Irregardless, a great game is a great game no matter the system it is running on. And the games we grew up with will always be better than the games we play today as adults.

Re:PC gaming was going down before the Xbox (1)

hambonewilkins (739531) | more than 10 years ago | (#9357858)

The article also ignores the dearth of junk games (Deer Hunter), over-hyped games (Daikatana), and vaporware games (Duke Nuke'em) that have turned some folks away from PC gaming.

Unless I'm reading you wrong, I think you meant plethora, since dearth means "scarcity." I'm not trying to nitpick, just clarify since people may not know what dearth means.

Oh, and now for nitpicking: "irregardless" isn't a word.

Of course. (4, Interesting)

GodHead (101109) | more than 10 years ago | (#9355634)

And it will get "worse" for PC gamers. What are the big advantages of a PC game over a console? Display resolution, processing power, input devices. Well for the first two - HDTV isn't far off and next gen consoles will run rings around all but the highest-end PC's. As for input - check how many people are playing FFxi on their PS2 with USB keyboards.

So, yeah. Consoles will be the main focus of the big game publishers and devs.

But I do see a silver lining. Smaller game companies and homebrew games will get more play time as PC gamers tire of ports of console games. I also believe that game publishers will promote open-sourceing of games on the PC and encourage mod communities to attempt the sucesses of half-life.

Re:Of course. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9355805)

So to get the same bang for the buck as my 900 dollar home made PC, all I have to do is buy a 3000 dollar HDTV? Ohhh, what a great deal! Please, if you really think that consoles are better than PC's, you have rocks in your head. I agree that they are great for driving games, but any type of shooter, forget it. There is NO WAY you can have the same level of control in a gamepad, that you get with keyboard and mouse. And in cases where there is ton's of shit going on, you just can't get 101 keys on a gamepad. Combinations of buttons? Please. I stoped playing fighting games on consoles because of the whole "left left right top bottom fire fire back front tap tap" to get the "kill" move. Screw that. Hot key f6. I have a PS one that hasn't been used in years. Had a PS2 that got lots of use at first, then only for driving games. My PC, every day. Plus, I can actually do WORK with it. Granted there are usb keyboards and stuff, but now you just have a hobbled PC attached to your TV.

The day that someone makes a cross-over game that lets console and PC players play together, I think you will see who kicks the most ass. The console boys/girls will be cannon fodder.

Re:Of course. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9355846)

This illustrates the mental blind-spot that many die-hard PC gamers (including myself, until about 2 years ago) have about console games.

In a console fps, it doesn't matter that you can't flip 180 degrees with a flick of your mouse. It doesn't matter, because your opponents can't either. This is why I find myself drawn more and more into console gaming at the expense of PC gaming. It's still possible to play console games for fun, while PC gaming seems to be increasingly filled with imature idiots spouting off about "who kicks the most ass" and, worst of all, acting like it ACTUALLY MATTERS. Quake 3, Counter-Strike, Warcraft 3... they've all gone this way, whether you play them online or at a LAN (of any decent size).

PC makes its own grave well. (4, Insightful)

Inoshiro (71693) | more than 10 years ago | (#9355747)

When the way to keep up with your hobby is to spend your time and money upgrading Windows, downloading new drivers, rebooting constantly, buying new sticks of RAM, buying new video cards, replacing HDs, watching games install, dealing with Windows security, rebooting some more, dealing with games that don't work and can't be returned, OR buy 1 game console w/ memory card and 1 game disc for it, and play...

You begin to see that it's just the matter that PC gaming is expensive in time and money. When you stop using your PC for gaming, you'll find it'll take a good 4 years before your computer is "too slow" and you upgrade for a fraction of the cost. Plus your computer's suddenly a lot more reliable because you can use an OS which has fewer games but more stability, like Mac OS X or a Linux flavour.

I'll put it another way: my swiss army knife isn't as good at some things as a butcher knife, and if cutting meat was something I'd want to do a lot, a butcher knife would be the way to go for me. A console's just a better, more concentrated way to game!

Re:PC makes its own grave well. (1)

fr0dicus (641320) | more than 10 years ago | (#9355859)

Yep. I wanted a Mac but was reticent because of the abilities of the hardware (I only wanted a cheap and cheerful eMac) and lack of games available, but I simply bought the consoles instead, Gamecube first as it was cheap and varied, then the PS2 and Xbox followed after the prices had come down. Now I'm picking up great games every week on the manufacturers respective budget ranges. I can't remember a time when I bought two PC games in the same month, it's all hype for titles long long in the future. The Mac will keep me going for a couple of years yet, and without the fairly constant upgrades (I was an upgrade-a-holic) it's already worked out much cheaper than self-assembly PC ownership ever was.

Re:PC makes its own grave well. (1)

innerlimit (593217) | more than 10 years ago | (#9355945)

This is what I've been saying to customers for years already. When they're buying a pc, it doesn't matter if you can watch DVD on your PC, if you want to watch dvd's buy a dvd-player for under your tv-set. Same with games, if you want to be able to just buy a game and play it. Buy a console, it'll take so much hassle out of your game buying, it's great.

I can't count the number of times people asked me 'can i run this game on my pc'...

As to the depth and reach of pc-games vs -console-games, it is clear that, with the lack of innovation in current pc gaming and the upcoming next-gen consoles, consoles will be able to do more or at least just as much as the current PC games.

Not to mention M$'s new XNA initiative which will unify the PC/XBOX dev architecture. Porting games will be even easier.

Differences.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9355803)

One reason I know many people play console games over PC games is the price. For consoles you never have to buy expensive upgrades(only recently any upgrades at all, i.e. PS2 hard drive), so that saves a lot of money. Ease of use is another big point in the console world.

But many people are forgetting about several titles coming out that people are excited about: EQ2 and WoW. The niche genre of MMORPG's will always dominate the PC. Even though FFXI came out for the PS2, it is still bigger on the PC.

XBox is not destroying the PC gaming industry, its game selection is. There is a far wider variety of recent quality games on the XBox than on any other console, or the PC. This is what I believe to be causing this 'downfall.'

Upgrading is a bitch (1)

Mr.Dippy (613292) | more than 10 years ago | (#9355993)

Look, I play both consoles and PC games. I lean more to the PC because I'm more into RTS and Strategy games and consoles are just not there yet. However, the reason why I don't give up on consoles is that they just work! I bought KOTOR about 3 weeks ago and it made me upgrade to DirectX 9. Everything worked at first but when I booted my comptuer up the next day all all my video and sound card settings were screwed up. It took me at least an hour to figure out how to get my box back to normal. (had to update a driver and download some game patches, etc). All I want to do is play a damn game. I don't want to screw around with having to update my system everytime I want to play a new game. I will continue to play PC games because in my opinion they offer a better gameing experience as a whole. I will continue to play cosole games because they have the best "out of box experience".

Different Experiences (4, Insightful)

bgumm (661507) | more than 10 years ago | (#9356009)

When I want to sit down and play a game for five minutes and stop, I turn on my Xbox and play some SSX or Sega Soccer Slam.

When I want a game that immerses me, I open my laptop and play NwN for hours and hours.

There are exceptions to this on Xbox, like Morrowind (also on PC) and the upcoming Fable; and vice versa on PC, with Flash games and the venerable Solitare. But I think for the most part, they offer different experiences, and can and will continue to co-exist...

Rationalization (1, Troll)

metamatic (202216) | more than 10 years ago | (#9356016)

This is fine if you're willing to buy an Xbox and support Microsoft directly that way.

Nice rationalization. Let's get one thing straight: even if you only run Windows in order to play games, and even if you use a pirate copy of Windows, you're still directly supporting Microsoft.

Why? Because you're helping to keep the Windows share of the games market artificially high, which ensures that game development happens for Windows first and other platforms rarely (Mac) or never (Linux). This, in turn, means that anyone who wants to play computer games goes out and buys a PC with Windows, and any developer who wants to sell games buys Microsoft development tools.

Buy a PS2, a Gamecube, a Mac or a Linux (only) system, and play your games on those. Until then, you're a Microsoft whore, whether you're playing on a PC or an Xbox.

Re:Rationalization (1)

moxitek (744525) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358125)

Amen brotha.

I have always been a big PC gamer, but after switching exclusively to Linux, the availability of games has diminished, although I am finding ways to cope. America's Army and Enemy Territory are awesome Linux implementations of FPS which are also completely free. Scorched3D is another great implementation of an OpenGL game based on an old DOS game that I once enjoyed. Hey, and there's always the old Loki releases...

RPGs (2, Insightful)

timlee (303958) | more than 10 years ago | (#9356057)

Xbox is my console of choice. However I have to complain about the lack of RPGs for the system, especially online capable ones. While Sony is gettings games like Final Fantasy XI and EverQuest, Xbox has released two that I am barely interested in; Morrowind and KotOR. Both of which are not online capable. I mean hell, Xbox has a NIC built right in! Make use of it!

With True Fantasy Online recently canceled and Fable looking further and further away, I'm starting to look at Playstation more and more as a serious alternative to Xbox just to play my Final Fantasy series.

Re:RPGs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9356181)

Xbox is coming out with several good RPG games in the near future: Fable (which they just announced will release in September), Sudeki, Jade Empire, LOTR The Third Age, X-Men Legends and of course KOTOR II. None of them are MMOs, but who cares? MMOs are a financial pitfall for most publishers.

Re:RPGs (1)

spamtest (773282) | more than 10 years ago | (#9357914)

Barely interested in Kotor?

Kotor is a fantastic game, if you haven't played it, you should make every effort to pick it up and give it a run through. The immersiveness of the world, the excellent dialogue, and the fun of being a jedi - at the very least rent it.

It's one of the best games to come out on the Xbox ever.

No joy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9356273)

Until it has a mouse, they'l have a tough time really cracking the FPS gamers - you can play with (BTW, I have an XBox, PLaystation 2 and a gaming PC - I play xbox & PC mostly) the little joysticks but as the Unreal people found, you'll get your ass handed to you against people with a mouse. Past that, of course it's affect the PC market - how can you fight with M$ pouring money in and/or buying off the game companies. Don't know how much impact it would be if they didn't do that. I do LOVE having my games on my 65" ..but the damn thing needs a mouse. I may LOOK at thief, True Streets, etc on the XBox but I PLAY them on my PC.

Adventure Games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9356301)

If this is what it takes to keep adventure games alive I'll be the first one to bury my PC in the back yard. Piracy [] is so bad on PC the only compelling reason anyone has to buy a legitimate copy is to get an online multiplayer code. Single player experiences like adventure games have no contingency plan against piracy like MMORPGs and FPSs do.

Rest in Peace PC. Long Live the Console!

I once wrote an obituary for the games I enjoyed (0)

MikShapi (681808) | more than 10 years ago | (#9356530)

here [] .

too poor that games come on consoles first.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9356535)

While i wait for GTA San Andreas (for PC), i am afraid it wil be a less impressive game, because it have to run in inferior PS2 hardware first...

Think A console like you would think to a mac (1)

dvhh (763607) | more than 10 years ago | (#9356720)

I agree with you as big compagny are thinking about the console market first before the pc one. But dev/test/debug seems to be shorter on console due to unique hardware specification (nothing like the nightmare on PC:proc+OS+VGA+soundcard+CD drive). Of course the consoles are less extendable but that make them more stable against an implementation. plus the cost of upgrading a PC is too much in the current race for global domination that oppose ATI and NVidia. But I know that console are slow when compared to our typical gaming pc, but given the usability of a console against a PC hardware nightmare , a pc wouldn't stand a chance. Why the title, because currently mac gaming is growing again, and the fact the mac are more easy to use and are more stable because apple hold their hardware specification tight, the might gain more and more share of personal gaming computer (no kidding it may happen one day). For High end gamer, pc is the platform of choice, but do we need horsepower for compelling games, I think not. NB: I do give microsoft money for their xbox but I now use it to read my divx in the living room.

Re:Think A console like you would think to a mac (2, Insightful)

Soulslayer (21435) | more than 10 years ago | (#9357526)

The cost argument is getting increasingly moot. If you want to play PC games you need upgrade your graphics card about once every 2-3 years. The trick is purchasing the right graphics card at the right time. Processor, motherboard, and RAM are so inexpensive as to make them an almost insignificant part of the equation. Particularly if all you care about is getting performance equivalent to that which consoles provide. $300 every couple of years or so should keep you well ahead of the console market. And given that the modern generation of consoles has been hitting the market at $300 price points, you're not really spending a tremendous amount more money over the long haul.

On the short end the console market has a 3 year turn around between new generations of hardware. On the long side it hits 5 years. They can't afford to innovate any faster then that. The PC advances on at a 6 month to a year per generation rate. Consoles have some advantages in terms of design that allow them to squeeze some extra performance out of older hardware, but they are unlikely to catch up to the PC market any time soon.

Typically, the A-List Xbox, PS2, and Gamecube titles look like arse compared to A-List PC titles running on nearly identical hardware (meaning 3-4 generation old graphics cards on the PC side) and don't even show up on the radar when compared to those same PC titles running on latest generation graphics cards at 1600x1200 with all the detail settings cranked. The next gen consoles are talking about being able to run in 720p (1280x720), but even if they could hit 1080i (1920x1080) remember that this not only requires you to have a $1500+ television (effectively bringing your console up to the cost of a upper-middle end PC), but you would be stuck with an interlaced signal again. And PC's are capable of even higher resolutions (though finding monitors that support them is difficult).

People have been predicting the death of PC gaming since it came into existence. It is doubtful that the PC market is going to die out. Diminish from time to time? Sure. Have less market share? Definitely. The ease of use, portability, and general lowest common denominator effect of consoles pretty much guarantees that they'll maintain (or expand) their already thoroughly dominant market share.

The Mac argument is not a terribly strong one. The UI is not significantly easier to use that of Windows XP to a novice non-computer user and really the UI is a moot point when we're talking about the ease of playing games. The input devices for a Mac are the same as those for a PC, the hardware has just as many problems as a PC from a major OEM like Dell. When compared to the overall PC market Mac's have less reliability problems, basically because you only have one source to choose from. In terms of gaming, Macs have all the worst of both worlds. Restrictive hardware, high cost, some reliability issues and cumbersome form factor for the living room. OS X has a gorgeous interface (again not necessarily more intuitive, but gorgeous) running on top of a pretty nice operating system and I really enjoy using it, but it isn't really a console killer. Nor is it a PC killer so long as Apple retains tight control over the hardware.

As always the greatest strength of the respective platforms are also their greatest weaknesses.

don't play games (2, Insightful)

Darth_Burrito (227272) | more than 10 years ago | (#9356759)

[DISCLAIMER]I don't play a lot of games.[/DISCLAIMER]

But could the downfall of PC games have anything to do with the upgrade cycle? People still think of computers as expensive, complex, and evil devices. This drastically reduces their desire to upgrade. Relatively few people buy computers primarily for gaming. Rather they want to use internet applications (web, email, chat, p2p) and office applications (word processing, spreadsheets, accounting). All of the latest versions of this stuff run fine on a 3-4 year old PC and with longhorn and the next Office still at least 2 years away, there's no indication that this will change anytime soon. Traditionally, for sale computer games have a lot of high powered graphics that require cutting edge systems. Well, people don't have the same impotus to upgrade that they once did, hence the market has probably shrunk.

Also, it seems to me that improvements in graphics aren't as important as they once were, even in graphically intense games such as first person shooters. Things like reflections or fire effects don't affect gameplay as much as early improvements did. It's all garnish. Since high end graphics were a driving motivation in the PC games market, the diminishing gains of graphics technology has probably affected PCs. Now, today's console's look almost as good, if not better than, most of today's pcs.

I bought an XBox, contributed to the demise... (1)

Capt_Troy (60831) | more than 10 years ago | (#9356811)

I bought an XBox because I was tired of upgrading my computer and fiddeling with drivers all the damn time. When I built my computer, I bought the best hardware available. A year later, I couldn't play any of the latest games without turning down the quality and expecting some choppyness. A year and a half later I need to buy a new video card, and that makes my CPU the bottleneck, so a new CPU is necessary, and that means a new MB which supports different RAM, and so on and so on.

Finally I said, "screw it." and bought an XBox, where the games all work well and I can concerntrate on actually playing the game rather than making the games playable.


Rumors of the PCs death exaggerated (3, Interesting)

Torgo's Pizza (547926) | more than 10 years ago | (#9356834)

People have been quick to point to the PCs gaming death for years and years. While many posters here seem ready to shovel more dirt, I take an opposite view. The PC gaming scene is about to take off again and do it well in 2005.

The reason is exactly what many people point to as being the cause of it's supposed death. Two quick reasons. The first is portability. Consoles have finally reached a point where the price point and power can match that of low cost PCs. A game on a high end console can look an awful lot like the PC. Splinter Cell on the Xbox is almost the same as the PC. I see the next generation of consoles being able to port their games over the PC much easier than ever before. The second is that 2005 will have a gap for console users. The PC will have several new graphic engines out featuring several new games. Consoles have a bit of a lag waiting for the new hardware to show up. PC games will be able to take advantage of the gamer and be able to really "wow" them.

What you are seeing is the beginning of the PC and console merging into one unit. Microsoft holds a huge advantage in this area having the dominant OS. Already there are rumors of a Xbox Next PC which combines the next generation Xbox with a PC. Isn't this the logical evolution of gaming? Within five years, it's more likely that consoles will merge into PCs, rather than PC gaming dying off. The gaming community could see exclusive titles for the Sony Playstation PC or the Nintendo GamePC, but with universal PC titles being able to play on all of them.

Schizophrenia (1)

b-baggins (610215) | more than 10 years ago | (#9356907)

Let me see if I have this figured out.

Buy an Xbox to play games and support MS directly is bad.

Buy a PC with a Windows OS to play games and support MS directly is good.

Re:Schizophrenia (1)

WhiteWolf666 (145211) | more than 10 years ago | (#9357007)

This is exactly what I was thinking.

If you are dependant on Windows for your gaming needs, your are already a shill for MS.

All about Genres (1)

obsid1an (665888) | more than 10 years ago | (#9356910)

Certain types of games play better on one system over the other. Take RTS games. Trying to manipulate multiple units like in Warcraft3 would be extremely hard with a gamepad. Compound that with low resolutions on consoles and it becomes apparant why RTS favor PCs. Same goes with a FPS. You can get away with a slower style of FPS on the console (Halo), but no game like Quake3 or UT2004 is going to play well on a console. The controls just aren't there. The good FPS games allow for different movement speeds based mostly on the skill of the player. This is seen in Quake3 with "strafe jumping" and UT2003/4 with double jumping. Those types of physics just cannot exist on a console. Take the PC port of Halo. It worked well on the console but the port is just a bland and boring PC game compared to what exists. Consoles are great for third person games and fighting games, but I just don't see them taking over all of gaming anytime soon. Maybe if HD TVs become standard and consoles start coming with a keyboard and mouse that will change.

Re:All about Genres (1)

gamgee5273 (410326) | more than 10 years ago | (#9357038)

Just remember: a player can hook up a usb keyboard and mouse to the PS2 and play FFXI without ever touching the controller. Sega actually had its own keyboard and mouse for the Dreamcast and things like UT and Quake III. And, finally, the Phantom (if it comes out) is set to use a keyboard and mouse without a console-style controller.

The change isn't coming - it's here. We just haven't noticed it yet.

Re:All about Genres (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9358186)

Phantom has a controller. They showed them at E3.

blah (1)

E1v!$ (267945) | more than 10 years ago | (#9357074)

"Its introduction has clearly robbed a lot of the resources that used to be dedicated to making PC entertainment. This is fine if you're willing to buy an Xbox and support Microsoft directly that way. It's not fine if you're a PC gamer that wants what the PC can offer specifically, and not some watered down version of what you've come to expect from a company." Do you agree?

Yes. I want bolt on components. end of story

Few Differences (1)

sheared (21404) | more than 10 years ago | (#9357082)

Besides the typical genre specific advantage the PC has over consoles, the PC holds two other distinct advantages:

1. Fan mods - this alone can make a PC game last 2+ years. If the game industry taps into this through some type of digital distribution (aka the method BioWare is considering for NWN) and provide content cheap ($5-20), standard PC games could provide nice sources of continuous income.

2. Patches - I realize this is a positive and a negative when you accept the fact that most games come out of the gate with bugs, but as games get more and more complex, what recourse do console gamers have? KotOR had some fairly troublesome bugs pop up in the XBox version. What if some of them had been serious show-stoppers? Is the complexity of story that is provided in KotOR the limit to which developers can realistically provide? Is open ended/multi-path gaming a true console possibility? Based on current play-testing records, I have to wonder if games can continue to expand on the console beyond the complexity of todays games (graphically, obviously yes), or will new stories have to be told using the relatively linear methods currently used?

I never heard much regarding Morrowind on the XBox, but did that turn out okay? It seemed to fall off the discussion boards quickly, but I do still see it discussed for the PC occassionally.

Re:Few Differences (1)

Slyght (784581) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358177)

I bought Morrowind for the Xbox, and it played great. Of course, the major drawback was that you couldn't create your own content. And as everybody has said already, that's going to be a major selling point for PC games until console games are capable of that.

Well (1)

dtfinch (661405) | more than 10 years ago | (#9357105)

I don't own an Xbox. So it's their loss if they want to put all their eggs in one basket. There are plenty of game developers who will still support the PC.

Get enough of them hooked on the SDL+OpenGL combo and we may even see more games for Linux/*BSD/MacOS, since they can just write their games once and they will run on every modern platform with little or no extra work.

I'm not dead yet! I think I'll go for a walk... (1)

TrueBuckeye (675537) | more than 10 years ago | (#9357125)

The sky is falling! The sky is falling!
It seems that every month some writer decides to pontificate on the immenent demise of the PC for still hasn't happened and I don't see it happening anytime soon.
Why? Show me a good flight sim on any console. Crimson Skies? I think is an arcade game. Show me a good military strategy game (real-time or turn-based) on a console. Anyone try to play Red Alert on the Playstation? It was terrible. For every First-person Shooter on a console (Halo) there are 15 on the PC. The gamepad cannot compete with the mouse/keyboard for quick, intuitive gameplay.
In my opinion, Thief III and Deus Ex 2 are exceptions since neither is a true FPS, they are both about stealth and role-playing as much as they are action.
The future will be decided if/when Doom III and Half-Life 2 hit the PC and consoles this fall. I think you will see the hard core play on the PC while the casual/young gamers tend towards the console.
Consoles will always rule the sports games and platform games, as well as action button masing games and fighting games. But I think there will always be a place for the PC in gaming.

Supply and Demand (2, Insightful)

truffle (37924) | more than 10 years ago | (#9357148)

This is a non story. Games makers are driven by market forces. If games makers are focussing on making X-box games to make more money, good for them. You don't like this? Sorry.

How much money do you pay for a good PC game? $40-60. How much does it cost to make one? A lot more. Why can you get it for $40-60, because lots of other people are buying it as well, so you benefit from your collective purchasing power.

The market will grow and shrink based on how much people are spending on games. If there are a tonne of people out there who want to buy PC games, people will make games for them to compete for their dollars. If many of those people switch to console, surprise, there will be less PC and more console games made.

I think it's best to go with the flow. Buy games you enjoy, If they're console games, buy a console. If they're PC buy a PC (someone earlier identified how having a console + linux box is a killer combo of great games without the need for dual boot or a windows layer).

If you want to really whine, try being a mac gamer ;)

Kind of, but not really. (1)

KeeperS (728100) | more than 10 years ago | (#9357167)

What are the advantages of a PC? Well, there's a storage device, better internet support, and generally better graphics. Anybody who's going to be gaming is guaranteed to at least have a keyboard and mouse, which is far from the norm on a console.

Since the Xbox has many of the qualities of a PC at a fraction of the price, it's certainly feasable that it isn't helping PC gaming. It's got a hard drive built in. The graphics, while still not as good as those on a PC, are good enough for most people. Internet support might even be better with the Xbox because everything is standardized over Xbox Live. What's left? A keyboard and mouse? That's a pretty marginal advantage, especially when many of the current consoles already have keyboard and mouse capabilities. The next round of consoles will probably be even better in that aspect.

On the other hand, as people have already said, the PC is contributing to its own demise without the Xbox's help. Using a PC for gaming is frustrating at times. You need a lot of hard drive space and a good video card to play the newest games. This upgrade cycle is much faster than most people are comfortable with, and it's expensive. Then there's the annoyance of installing everything and getting it to work right. Don't forget the complete lack of genres. I'm a FPS and RTS fan, but even I would like to see more games on the PC that go in different directions.

Basically, I don't think that the Xbox is the biggest problem facing PC gaming. It might even be contributing somewhat, since it's easy to port Xbox games over to the PC. PC gaming isn't going to die anytime soon, but unfortunately it doesn't look like it'll have a spectacularly amazing future either.

Reasons why the PC is a better platform (2, Insightful)

October (107948) | more than 10 years ago | (#9357425)

Over the last 3-4 years, I've noticed that my local Electronics Boutique has steadily migrated the PC games from taking up the front third of the store down to three little shelves in the back, with a couple racks for used games. It makes me sad every time I go in there, because it clearly shows that in the eyes of publishers and retailers, PC gaming is quickly becoming defunct. Why pursue a less-profitable market when you could just release your game on XBox and make a killing? Plenty of reasons.
  1. Mods. If you make a halfway decent game with a very modifiable engine, you stand a good chance of selling far more copies than your game would sell on its own merits. The obvious (and overused, but only because its' such a perfect example) one to point out is Half-Life. There are still more people playing HL than most other online games combined, and not because HL itself was that good. It was an amazing game, but it would never have had the longevity that it did without the amazing mods that have been (and still are being) released for it.
  2. Some genres just work better on PC. As noted above, RPGs, strategy games, and various other styles of game just work better with a mouse and keyboard than they do with a controller. Sure you can buy a mouse and keyboard for your console, but not everyone will.
  3. Multiplayer. Again, XBox can do multiplayer, but under certain limitations. When was the last time you had an XBox LAN?
  4. Patches. Also discussed above, some games really come into their own after being patched. What was released as a virtually unplayable mess can still be resurrected as a decent game after patching. However, too many developers rely on this and release their games without testing enough.
  5. Open Source. You can't feasibly do open-source games on consoles. This relates to mods, since to make modding possible, you need to release at least some of the code, but I think the idea could be taken another step or two. Why not release the entire code for your game, or at least the engine the game is built on. If you really wanted to let fans go nuts, you could give them the source for the engine while keeping the art assets, levels, etc. closed and proprietary. That way, if people want YOUR game, they'll still have to pay for the proprietary bits like the levels, story, and character skins, but other people could make completely different games built on the same engine.

The Golden Age of Gaming (2, Informative)

*weasel (174362) | more than 10 years ago | (#9357456)

This writer seems to have misguided his disappointment with big-money-controlled game publishing. The Golden Age of Gaming he remembers so well has largely been gone for more than a decade.

It didn't disappear when console-centric ports started showing up. It disappeared when big publishers started making big money, started becoming risk-averse, and started pushing the glitz envelope to sell the same-old-game.

With the consoles getting an increasing share of publisher attention, PC Gaming is going to be forced to adapt to its strong suit: independent games, innovation, and user modifications.

If you ask me, this is a Good Thing and is going to usher in a new golden age of gaming: One where the PC market returns to its small-team, innovative roots, as the me-too game-publishing sticks to the console arena.

Not only xbox to blame (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9357580)

I think there's definately cases where the developer chooses to make a game for Xbox instead of PC. But, there's also cases where a game destined for Xbox also becomes a game for PC, so PC also sometimes benefits directly from Xbox - at least in game numbers.

Similarily, a publisher/developer may have chosen to fund a Playstation game over either an Xbox or PC game, but instead finds it more worthwhile to go with a game for both Xbox and PC instead of only Playstation (or indeed, instead of not at all). So again both Xbox and PC benefit from each other. By game numbers.

What really bothers me though, is when games are made for Xbox and then badly ported over to PC - especially where they could have been really good PC games. Invisible War is a good example, it reeks of a nasty port with tiny areas between loads, dumbed down for a shorter attention span and even performance seems shoddy for what it is.

Secondly, a title for both Xbox and PC is liable to be more bland and mundane than one for only PC, and maybe even if it was exclusive to consoles. The more niche they try to fill with one title, the less they fill it well. Always be concerned when the same people are making both console and PC versions of a game, doubly so when theyre doing it at the same time.

Mind you, while everyone is fingering Xbox, dont forget about people who dont pay for their games. Even if 10% more of the downloaded/copied games that would otherwise have been paid for*, actually were paid for, there would be more PC games - wether or not there would be even more Xbox games on top. Moreover, maybe the ones we have would be less bland and more willing to take risks.

* acknowledging a big proportion of pirated games wouldnt have been bought anyway.

Thief III Is Good!!! (2, Informative)

kannibal_klown (531544) | more than 10 years ago | (#9357793)

Personally, I'm a little offended that Thief III was mentioned as a victim of the X-Box. It is still a darn good game despite being a dual-port.

Deus Ex: II sucked. It was HORRIBLE. Not only did it perform horribly, but the gameplay was scaled back A LOT. It didn't deserve the "Deus Ex" title; it was something else, something horribly WRONG. It DESERVES to be an example of dual-porting. But Thief III deserves more respect.

Thief III ran slow, but faster than Deus Ex II. This is coming from someone with a P4 2.4 w/ Radeon 9800XT. But it ran fast enough to enjoy it (Thief is usually a slowpaced game). However, that performance in a SHOOTER would suck (which Thief III is not).

The gameplay felt exactly like Thief I and II. Sneaking around, black jacking people, taking stuff, etc. It was great. The AI was "alright" (better than Deus Ex II, but could have been better). The funny conversations you overhear, the shadows (it was the first game I played where shadows actually MATTERED).

Map sizes. As in Deus Ex II, the maps were shrunk to fit the XBox requirements. But they were complex enough that the size didn't bother you (you could still get "lost" if you weren't paying attention).

The game was fun, despite it's performance and map sizes.

$50 on XBox vs. $0 on PC (1)

CodeMonkey4Hire (773870) | more than 10 years ago | (#9357807)

(This is a discussion about the publishers, not the manufacturer (Micro$oft).)
Would you rather sell a game for $50 on the XBox and be limited to a single console (you could develop across multiple consoles if you really wanted too) or try to sell it for $50 for the PC (while competing with piracy)?

I can see where they might choose the XBox or the PS2, because it takes a lot more effort to pirate these games. PC games get pirated a lot more because they are so easy to download and install. Apply your crack and go!

For the XBox (or PS2 too, I guess), you would have to either install Linux (which will cause some XBox features to stop working) or modify the hardware. Most people would not dare to do the soldering themselves (I wouldn't) and unless you are going to trust a stranger from the internet, most people don't know who to go to for this.

I love using the PC. It seems like a more competitive market. Most games allow you to play multiplayer without having to subscribe to a service. M$ has monopolized that on the XBox and they can get away with it. As long as the XBox stays publisher-friendly (at the cost of the consumer), don't be surprised to see more and more games coming out for the XBox (and more ways for them and M$ to take more of our money).

Moding an X-Box doesn't require soldering... (1)

LordPixie (780943) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358200)

Having helped a friend with his X-Box modifications, I'm quite certain there are no-solder modchips on the market. This particular one simply required scraping off the insulation on a couple contact points. Much like installing your own PC hardware, it was quite daunting the first time. But once you've finished, you realize it really wasn't much effort afterall.

I believe the PS2 has similar chips that don't require soldering, but I can't be sure.

All that being said, it still requires a decent amount effort, not to mention cajones. The average person probably isn't going to bother, without someone to hold their hand.


Re:Moding an X-Box doesn't require soldering... (1)

CodeMonkey4Hire (773870) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358259)

Thanks for correcting me. I haven't modded my XBox and I only know one person who did (he got the modded XBox in the mail from a friend), so I didn't know the procedure all that well. I had thought that I read something on about modding XBoxes, but I could be mistaken. Here [] it is. It looks like the soldering might only be for turning your XBox into a linux computer.... I would think that the overall process is the same.

Multiplayer Environment (2, Insightful)

eurasian (786214) | more than 10 years ago | (#9357828)

PC gaming has another plus that hasn't been mentioned yet. That is, the muliplayer environment. Whereas with XBox Live! you will have to play with possibly some smacktardish stranger, or with a RL friend; with PC gaming, you can join a gaming community, and play on servers that have rules you like (finish objectives, no swearing, don't feed the pandas unless wearing a felt hat, whatever) and end up having IMHO, a MUCH better and more consistent multiplayer experience. As a consequence, you actually end up with a _community_ of people you enjoy playing with, not just a Russian Roulette style of multiplayer gaming where you _might_ play with someone you enjoy playing with.

None of you are seeing the larger picture here... (1)

moxitek (744525) | more than 10 years ago | (#9357906)

It's the fight that Microsoft and every game publisher is fighting against along with the RIAA and MPAA... Intellectual Property Rights.

The problem with PC gaming is simple. Lack of effective copy protection. PC games are being developed for a platform that provides a means to crack, and distribute the owner's intellectual property in a short time period. Often times these titles are available via warez sites and newsgroups before they are even released in stores.

The fact simply is that developing on the PC platform is a losing battle for most game developers and regardless of how much muscle Microsoft has in pushing them towards developing on Xbox, the simple fact is that Xbox copy infringement is not even close to being as rampant as PC game pirating is.

If you guys want to bitch about how the PC is dying as a gaming platform, then do your part to breath life into it and support the developers who take the time to release a game on a platform that it can be experienced fully. Tell your friends too.

No, he's just plain wrong. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9358034)

As a gamer--A console gamer and a PC gamer..I just don't see it. Both platforms have always had something different to offer, which has made it possible for both to really do quite well in the game industry--and that is the continuing trend. Deus Ex 2 and Theif 3 are two good examples of his point, but unfortunately for the author (but not for gamers) they're pretty much the only two good examples of such a point. Yes both of these games were co-developed for xbox--and yes, perhaps the PC version of the game suffered in part because of this sort of developement..but they're both excellent games regardless.

There's really not a lot of other titles to support such an argument; Halo? Nah, frankly the FPS scene on PC's is far from lacking..come on, we freaking got FARCRY this year and it's one of the best we've played EVER. Half Life 2, Doom 3 anyone? Yes, the Xbox has given gamers an alternative in many cases--but it's been regarded by the games core audiences as the lesser alternative. There are still plenty of games that are suited to being played on a PC and will continue to be developed for the PC--for years, and years to come.

Online is better (dedicated servers for xbox live--dream on!), the size and scope is better--in the end, there's just a lot of things a PC can do that a console--even the uber console xbox--can't.

So no..I believe that the PC markets in no danger..this generation or next.


PC Gaming Died With The Adventure Genre (1)

Slyght (784581) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358039)

To me, PC gaming has been dead since companies like LucasArts and Sierra gave up on making adventure games like Monkey Island and Kings Quest to make first person shooters.
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