Before I begin, I am going to establish a few facts.
1. I own BOTH an Xbox 360 and PS3 and, for a time, owned a Wii.
2. I still use both systems.
3. The purpose of this article is not to argue which system is superior.
4. This article is based entirely on my opinion, and therefore should not be taken as fact.
5. This article will divide many of you.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s dive in.
Because of the nature of this piece, I’m going to reiterate that this is based entirely on my opinion. If you disagree (which I’m sure many of you will), leave your thoughts in the comments section. For the purpose of this piece, ‘console’ will refer to Xbox 360, PS3, and Wii. And so, with my usual itemized methodology at hand, we begin.
The Consoles Launched in 2005 and 2006
This is the longest console cycle in recent history. What this means is that when these consoles launched, they were using technology that was available at the time. So realistically, the technology in these consoles are between 6-7 years old.
Setting that aside for a moment, let us examine Moore’s Law. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the law, it states that the number of transistors you can place on an IC (integrated circuit) doubles every two years. Simply put, chips get smaller, density increases, and as a consequence, we get increased performance at a predictable rate every two years.
With this in mind, the tech in consoles is absolutely ancient. What does this mean? While the consoles were cutting edge and amazing at the time of their birth, they are so very far behind PCs today.
The Rise of Mobile Gaming
Since the time the consoles launched, smartphones and tablets have been on the rise. As a result, more and more people are gaming on them. But…why are people playing on these devices?
I believe there are a couple reasons. For one, they wish to simply pass the time at an airport or other public venue. I do this all the time. However, the true reason I believe can be traced back to Moore’s Law. One needs only to look at Infinity Blade II, developed by Epic Games.
Just take a look at that screenshot. Now, I own this game. So I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that it actually looks that good in-game. The visuals are stunning. What’s even more stunning is that this game runs on mobile devices. This game looks just as good, and in some cases, better than some current console games.
So what happened? Moore’s Law. Technology caught up and surpassed the consoles. We can now get console quality graphics on something you can hold in the palm of your hand. This is absolutely unacceptable. No handheld device should ever rival a console in power. Period.
PC Power Is Ignored
Once again, I’m going to reiterate that this is my opinion. Keep in mind that I still own the Xbox and PS3. I bought a PC just last March. But in that short span of time, I’ve seen the true potential of PC gaming. Yes, PC gaming is more expensive than a console. Yes, I understand the convenience of owning a console. You don’t have to upgrade every few years. You’re (more or less) guaranteed that the game you bought WILL work on your console. You don’t have to worry about drivers, etc.
We did it you guys. We’re totally heroes.
But, at the end of the day, the PC is a superior machine in every quantifiable way. A mid-range PC today completely outstrips the performance of any console. So then, why do we still see (most) games developed for console, then lazily ported to PC? Many of these games are not optimized, thus completely ignoring the extra power and capabilities a PC offers. Why is that?
Publishers know that PC gaming is a much smaller market than consoles. You want to make money? Develop your game on console. Oh yeah, and to ‘satisfy’ the PC crowd, let’s just throw them a half-assed port.
Just this morning, I read this post from IGN. It basically says that the PC version of Dead Space 3 will NOT, I repeat, NOT be superior on PC. Their reason? They wish to provide the same experience to players regardless of platform. Reading between the lines, you’ll realize that they’re developing the game on console first, and then porting it over to PC.
This angers me beyond belief. If you know that you can make your game better on another platform, do it. Don’t just settle for “that’ll do”. As a developer and publisher, you owe it to your customers to provide them with the absolute best game you can make. Games should be developed for PC first, then downscaled and ported to console. Dice did this brilliantly with Battlefield 3.
This game was developed for the PC first, then ported to console. Battlefield 3 features absolutely amazing visuals, sounds, level design, etc…all designed to take full advantage of the PC’s extra power. Dice did it right. This is how games should be developed.
My Final Word
I would like to conclude by reminding you that I own consoles. I play consoles. However, I feel very strongly that the aging consoles have adversely affected growth in our industry. Their ancient hardware has forced developers to seek other platforms to develop on, such as mobile devices. They discourage pushing the boundaries of what’s technologically possible. As a result, those of us who own PCs suffer.
Fellow gamers. We deserve more. We deserve to have the absolute best graphics, the absolute best sound, the absolute best writing, the absolute best game that developers can create. It’s an outrage that they have been shackled by consoles.
What a damn shame.
To read Bradford’s (aka LOTRLore) Response in Support of Consoles, click here!