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PC and Console Gaming: Where We Are and Where We’re Going

/ Nov 12th, 2012 1 Comment

XBOX 720
XBOX 720

XBOX 720

The world of personal computing versus console gamers has a long standing tradition of the two sides dropping verbal bombs against one another. Console gamers cry afoul that the hardware costs to enjoy gaming on PC is much too steep for entry and retention. Technology and software changes in the PC community occur so frequently that keeping up with the times as a gamer becomes compounded financially. On the other side of the throwdown, PC gamers enjoy more options in entertainment but also complain that the console can only deliver watered down resolutions and graphics (Battlefield 3 being a good example). Developers have difficulty scaling down to consoles and must become creative to address hardware limitations. This slows and delays game releases. The Witcher II is a prominent example of such a case since it was originally released on PCs May 17, 2011 but was then released to consoles nearly a year later on Apr. 17, 2012. Aside from these hardware limitations, gamers enjoy the same experiences across the board. With the emergence of internet gaming in consoles and launch of entertainment services, the differences between consoles and computers are becoming few and far between. The days of schoolyard fisticuffs between PC and console lovers may be coming to an end. For more next generation console coverage check out, Xbox 720 Rumors, Xbox 720 Leaked Info, Anticipation Grows for the Xbox 720, PS4 Dev Kits Distributed to Developers and NVIDIA’s PhysX and the Next Generation of Consoles.

Since the time of the original Nintendo Entertainment System, gaming has always been about proprietary hardware working with software specifically designed for that machine. However, the last generation of consoles pushed them into territory typically reserved for those of the PC community with online multiplayer. Although there had been various attempts at internet gaming on a console, very few were commercially successful.  Released on Sept. 9, 1999, the short-lived Sega Dreamcast successfully merged internet and console gaming together with its built-in modem and online SegaNet service. Mainstream acceptance ensued when Sony and Microsoft introduced their own online initiative with the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. For the first time, console players were able to join lobbies, choose their desired maps and group up with, or against, all of those who were playing the same game.  With just the power of a console and controller, the PlayStation Network (PSN) and Xbox Live succeeded in uniting gamers across the nation. Their online services gave them what they desired most, to talk trash and score killing blows against one another from sunset to sunrise. (Or until school or work rears its ugly head)

PlayStation

The introduction of internet services with consoles created the pursuit to be the central media entertainment system for households. With services such as video streaming, social networking, internet browsing and music already commonplace on Xbox Live and PlayStation Network hubs (and the soon to be released Wii U), there are now few fine lines between platforms. The experience of navigating the user interface of a PlayStation or Xbox to access these applications is not unlike working in a Microsoft Windows operating system. Searching for game shortcuts, managing drives or files and bringing up menus and sub menus within the system UI is what being on a home PC is. The very act of navigating these systems is intrinsically part of the experience of anyone who has used a computer. This transition is even more evident for Microsoft. With the introduction of the new OS Windows 8 “Metro” interface, The PC’s commonalities with the Xbox are even further pronounced. Pressing app tabs or navigating the large boxed UI in Windows 8 doesn’t feel too far off when coming from using an Xbox 360.

There also exists the new emphasis on downloading games to console hard drives. Aside from recording game saves onto a console, being able to digitally download entire games and store them onto hard drives is an act that PC gamers have always been accustomed to doing. With the PlayStation Vita, Sony encourages those who have the system to download games instead of purchasing them at retailers. The discount of purchasing on PSN with the PS Vita can save the gamer five dollars or more in addition to avoiding applicable sales tax. Having a tangible monetary benefit to gain from downloading instead of physically purchasing in store is, once again, an experience that PC gamers enjoy. The best example of this is Valve’s Steam service, which was released in 2003. It is the current leader in the PC community for providing a service to give gamers discounts and video game downloads in one place. This is a model that console makers are continuing to integrate to this day in their services and ease of access.

Now, in spite of all these similarities, the PC and console camps will always have the hardware gap between one another. This is not likely to change since technology is always on the move and a time lapse of even six months can dramatically alter the landscape in the tech world. However, these are intriguing times as gamers face a future when consoles and computers enjoy gaming and experiences similar to one another overall. Internet gaming functionality, streamlined computing and entertainment will become more realized and integrated in the upcoming console war. The computer and console are no longer two completely different beasts and are mutually beneficial to one another since PC ideas continue to innovate and push gaming consoles while consoles provide an endless stream of quality titles for all to enjoy. That said, the PC community is in an interesting state since data storage is moving towards flash memory based Solid State Disks (SSD). This kind of hardware provides remarkably fast access and writing times for games and applications. Installing a game onto a console is a relatively lengthy process on traditional hard drives but with an SSD these load and access times can be cut down significantly. Whether or not this can be incorporated into consoles, Sony and Microsoft have an exciting war for consumers’ dollars ahead of them while Nintendo enjoys an early head start with the Wii U on Nov. 18, 2012. So now is a good time as any to be a gamer. Avoid the flame wars and enjoy the crossover of platforms. With such an exciting future ahead, the hardest choice for gamers remains in choosing a controller or keyboard and mouse to enjoy the same experience.

Mark Gonzales

Mark Gonzales

Contributor at Gaming Illustrated
Mark is a contributor to Gaming Illustrated and part of the editorial team. He always has had an intense love for gaming and of the spoken word. During conversations, he is known to create elaborate anecdotal references to popular 90's phrases with varying levels of success.
Mark Gonzales
Mark Gonzales

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