Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Consoles and PC Games, and why the former is dying

I have been of the camp since 2011 (when I gave up for good my unrequited love of Nintendo and faced the future) that the PC is superior to consoles in nearly every way. There's a lot of talk about the "death of consoles", and I don't think that mobile devices are to blame in any way for that (otherwise we would've surrendered to Game Boy and its descendants a long time ago), consoles are killing themselves.

Back in the 4th and 5th generation of video games (the 1990s, from the SNES and Genesis to the N64, PlayStation, etc.), while playing games on DOS or Windows computers did offer a ton of variety and could offer superior graphics than the console offerings at the time, required mucking around with settings to make them run properly, while the other consoles required just a disc or cartridge and you could be off in new worlds in minutes.

In the 6th generation, things got more complicated for consoles, offering new menu features and still loading off of discs. After the GameCube failed to impress, the Xbox and PS2 moved ahead with new features like hard drives, Internet connections, and ultimately patches, which would make them more complicated but also ended up killing what they did best--the plug and play experience. With patches, it allowed developers to use console gamers (much like PC gamers had done) as unpaid beta testers, and everything got worse. Meanwhile, online play undermined the experience of more than one person playing on the TV (you can't do that on a PC), which Nintendo continued to capitalize on and run with when others had abandoned it. It makes even less sense that while N64 and PlayStation utilized split screen, today's consoles are fast enough to run split screen with no lag, and today's televisions can easily give a decent split screen experience that is clear, crisp, and large enough to see comfortably. Meanwhile, as consoles continue to evolve into less of a game console and more of a set-top box that expands the use of your TV, it should make sense that they ought to be more usable than a traditional computer. But I don't make the rules, I just play the games. In the meantime, I can hope I can install the proper drivers so that the PC side of my MacBook isn't a 16-color, 640x480 nightmare. I just downloaded the latest version of the "Network Add-On Mod" for SimCity 4. I heard they included BRT, too. That's cool.

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