My first experiences with PC gaming were with text based games. If the text based Star Trek was not the first then it was Zork or Bedlam on the Tandy CoCo. Back in those days (1980-ish), many times games would be published for free in gaming magazines. Literally – the source code (usually in some form of BASIC) would consume page after page and all of it would have to be hand-typed into the computer. Since I was already a computer geek, it worked out great. I got to play games and mess with programming all at the same time – even at school.
My next chapter of PC gaming was closer to what we think of today as Video Games. Ken and Roberta Roberts had this little company called Sierra On-Line and I gladly spend hundreds of hours playing nearly every Sierra title that came out. The Space Quest series was my favorite but Kings Quest, Police Quest and Leisure Suit Larry were all among the very best games at the time. Since audio was very simplistic on computers at the time, MIDI support was the big advance in game music. I had a Roland MT-32 connected via a MIDI controller to my PC and the music sounded amazing.
Then digitized speech came along. This was ground breaking and opened the door for adventure games to be more interactive outside of the realm of reading and typing and then id Software released DOOM – and that was an entirely new take on PC games – a first person point of view.
All along this evolutionary path I had to upgrade my PC in small steps. Add a little memory here, an audio card there. It was affordable and infrequent. The straw that broke my camel’s back was DOOM 3 released in 2004. That was the game that made me take a look at console gaming. I had reached a point where my PC was maxed out and to jump to the next generation of games I would need to replace my entire PC. I still play some casual games on PC, but no high end games.
Recently, I started getting the itch to return to PC gaming so I priced out the parts to build my ultimate gaming PC. Here are a few specs: Intel Core i7 Processor overclocked to at least 4 Ghz, 3 Nvidia video cards (2 for graphics + 1 for PhysX), 12 GB high speed RAM, large hard disk array(RAID 5), MSI Big Bang motherboard, Nvidia 3d Vision, Silverstone Raven RV02 case, liquid CPU cooler, THX certified audio, 3D monitor, etc. This PC wouold last me a very long time and be able to handle 3D gaming with ease. It’s simple enough to research benchmarks and spec out an ultimate PC – but the $3,000 to buy it is pretty hard to swallow. Would it really be that much better of a gaming experience to justify the cost? That’s the same as buying a new Xbox 360 every year for the next 10 years. The DirectX 11 graphics look amazing and the PhysX processing is so realistic – but how long will it be until we can get all the same features in a $400 gaming console?
Perhaps I will find the answer someplace in the middle. Having a mid-range gaming PC only for the PC games I want to play – without 3D – or THX – but it’s all so sexy and seductive. The lure of playing Metro 2033 in hi-res 3D with DX11 haunts me – but I’ll probably get over it. With $3,000 being the price of admission (granted I am pricing out an overkill PC), I can be happy with my console games for quite some time still, but not forever. Maybe it’s time to revisit Zork. At least I know it will run on my antiquated PC.
Have a look at what PC gaming used to be. Try Zork here for free.
WHAT OUR WRITERS HAD TO SAY
As someone who is a frequent MMORPG gamer, an avid social forum patron and a user-created content junkie, I’ve always been shocked when I read people identifying the PC gaming industry as virtually dead industry. People have made statements regarding “PC gaming is coming back” or variants without substantial thought in the PC gaming field.
PC gaming — in my opinion — has always been the nerd’s way (read as: better way) to go. It is better in terms of content creation, graphics and customization and always has been. With hundreds upon thousands of peripherals that you can add to your already multi-purpose system, to state that your little controller is superior to the combination of my gamepad, gaming keyboard, gaming mouse, foot pedal, customized headset and macro programs is entirely absurd. The PC is what the user makes of it and that is why it will always be superior. I’ve played dozens of games from first-person shooters to arcade games that were featured both on PC and on console and I cannot find one situation where I found the console to be superior. My PC either ran the game better or offered much better functionality. PC gaming has — and always will — put the user’s customization first.
Thus, we look again to the industry – why does it seem like PC gaming doesn’t gross as much as console gaming? Well, truthfully, it probably doesn’t; that’s because that a significant amount of PC gaming elitists and nerds — as well as anyone that has the knowledge — will opt to pirate their games rather than buy them. Individuals who know how to pirate their games are generally a bit smarter than the frat house which spent $1000+ for eight people to play Halo or Call of Duty together. The second major issue with the PC gaming industry’s gross is that in reality, it is a lot easier (and I say easier, not better) to hook up 4 controllers to a single console and play a game on a single television unit rather than setting up four fully-functioning gaming consoles and purchasing four different games or CD keys. The combination of these two things bring about the supposed “death” of PC gaming.
And as a final note: let us also not forget that a huge genre of gaming — Real-Time Strategy — is virtually impossible to play on a console. Halo Wars was easily the best RTS the console has to offer, yet it was possibly the most aggravating system to bother with for any real RTS enthusiast.
I am not a PC gamer at all. I’ve only ever played 3 games on my PC (not counting card games); Starcraft, Diablo, and Final Fantasy XI. I’d rather play games on a console any day. I don’t know why, I just don’t like to play on the PC.
I’ve never really gamed on the PC. The only game I have properly played on PC was Portal – and what a fine game that was. The reason I don’t game on the PC is price. When buying a console, it’s a more, too me at least, viable to purchase a console. I don’t have to worry about upgrading my graphics card or RAM. With an Xbox 360, PS3, and dare I say, Wii — I don’t have to worry about any of this and just focus on buying games.
PC Gaming is fantastic but the problem that will always plague it is that all PC’s have different specs. I mainly play 360 over PC even if I have the option of getting the PC version. Just because I know my 360 won’t slow down.
It’s annoying to have to install a game, install the DRM, install any updates, and then sort out the gfx settings before you can even play a game, whereas on 360. Disc in, game on.
I bought a PC for Diablo 3…. a year and a half ago. I’m already going to have to update the graphics card and memory if I want to play this game if (and when) it gets released. This is one problem I never have to worry about with consoles: When I buy the console, I know I can buy games for that console for the life of the console. I got my start on consoles, but a large part of my gaming history is in PC gaming, and it has never changed: If it’s not 4 GB of ram required now, it was 640KB then. If it’s not Windows 7, it was Dos 6.1.
I started my gaming career on the PC and have very fond memories of those times. The learning curve was steep for the young FPS fan that I was, considering you had to patch the game almost every other week to stay up to date, that is, when the patch itself didn’t need a patch. Once I actually got a more gaming oriented desktop all my gaming was done through my PC.
It’s been a long time since then. I have since moved more towards console play, simply due to ease of use and less time and money required to contently upgrade the system. I still use my PC for gaming, I can’t say it’s an even mix compared to my console use, but I will never be afraid to game on the PC.
If you ask a PC gamer if PC games are ready for a comeback, they’ll ask you what are you talking about, call you crazy, and tell you PC gaming hasn’t plummeted. I can respect that, but I don’t really have an interest in playing PC games as much as I used to, though I do have a plentiful bounty of them thanks to Steam and all of their sales (I’m a sucker for a sale). I can understand why PC gamers game on their computers, tons of keys allow for easier controls and hotkeys plus a mouse is easier to aim with than a console controller’s right thumb-stick, but I rather like the feel of a controller. And I have no interest in their fancy super awesome graphics, the graphics of some console games blow my mind, if I were to play a PC game with the best graphics my mind might go into a time warp.
I’ve switched from being a hardcore PC gamer to the console fanboy so there is a part of me that still loves PC games and wants to yell at people saying PC gaming isn’t dying, it’s still alive and kicking. And it is, if you think PC gaming is dead or dying, pick up a copy of Team Fortress 2, Left 4 Dead, or Battlefield Bad Company 2 for the PC and go online, you’ll be very surprised at the amount of people playing matches. And let’s not forgot that the PC is home to most MMOs such as WoW, of course, which has millions of players. PC gaming is far from dead and I don’t think even close to dying, it’s just not as widely supported as it once was.
As I have mentioned in the past, I am fairly new to PC gaming after buying an Alienware laptop(probably won’t do that again) and I have become addicted to DC Universe Online. However I don’t think it will ever surpass console gaming for me in the long run, I have grown up using a controller and nothing will every replace this for me. The keyboard just feels unnatural and often causes a death that wouldn’t have happened had I been using a controller. (Although this may be as a result of the keyboard/touchpad combo rather than keyboard/mouse)
I do have a couple gripes with PC gaming though and it is the elitist snobbery that I have come across when asking for help, there is a vocal albeit small group of people who see consoles as 2nd best, or as the toy equivalent of their machine. It is this group that stops new players coming in and makes the whole PC game experience suffer.
What also hurts the PC games industry is the utter confusion that is graphics cards, processors etc. When you buy a console you know that any game for that console will run (obvious exceptions for Kinect and Move titles etc) but with a PC you need to check if your computer is up to the task. Thanks to Moore’s Law, technology moves on extremely quickly and what was cutting age today is obsolete tomorrow.
When you look at buying a computer now, there is so much information that is incomprehensible for so many which is why computers are getting sold by color rather than performance. This is what is hurting the industry. I would like to see either a new naming system so it was obvious what chip is designed for which purpose rather that a name like 2X MegaForce Turbo Max Extreme which in reality would struggle with a word document. Even some consistency would be good so a 2X MegaForce Turbo Max Extreme would not be as good as a 2000X MegaForce Turbo Max Extreme but this doesn’t happen that often either. Even a simple scale of Good Better Best would be an improvement.
Maybe I have had some bad experiences, but I found that the PC gaming has a lot of obstacles that it needs to overcome if it want to encourage people to leave their console.
PC Gaming is and always will be dead for me. The reasoning for this is that it seems too expensive for me to keep up with, even with all of the price drops over the last couple of years. With all the hardware and software modifications that are seemingly constant, I simply cannot afford to keep upgrading my PC or Mac to keep up with the latest trends and technology that comes with the territory of being a “PC Gamer”. I totally appreciate the intense graphical appeal for most games running on super powered PC’s, and it is easy to become jealous of PC only services like Steam, that bring not only the hottest titles to you with ease but the community aspect of it would very easy to get used to. I have always been a console gamer and those habits will be hard to break due to the simplistic compatibility. When I buy a green boxed Xbox 360 game, I know for sure that it will run on my system and that is a true advantage for consoles in my opinion.
I got a new laptop last year, and with that came diving into the deep end of pc gaming. The thing is, it’s not a high-end system, so there’s a limit to what I can run, and how well I can run it. Games built on Unreal are out of the question. Also, the card doesn’t handle shadows too well, so those have to be low or off. Everything else can be jacked all the way up.
I’ve enjoyed my time with Dragon Age, Stalker, Amnesia, The Sims 3, and others, but I think in my heart I’m still a console gamer. Having a standardized platform where you don’t have to worry about buying up just to enjoy a game is where it’s a for me.
Years from now, as I get new hardware when needed, I’ll enjoy what I can on the pc, but I don’t think I’ll ever go out of my way to play games on it.
I have played a lot on PC games but I don’t bother for one main reason – compatibility. Basically I know when I stick a disc in my PS3 it will work. The same can’t be said for PC games. I recently “attempted” to play Black Ops which has been a pain from the word go. The default optimal set up for my machine is apparently 1024*768 even though I have a half decent gfx card and a 1680*1050 monitor. So if I tweak the settings to even 1440*900 then the game is choppy even on a server with a ping under 30. Modern Warfare 2 was graphically excellent on the same machine but was ruined by the match making process.
If you have the money and the time to invest in a decent gaming PC then coders like Crytek are able to push things along nicely. Graphically with a high end machine nothing can match a PC but I just can’t be bothered spending £2,000 plus when my £250 PS3 looks almost as good, plays the same game in most cases and is worry free.
I don’t game on the PC, mainly because I can’t afford to build one that’s worth it. However, if I did have a PC worth gaming on, I would absolutely abuse STEAM for their awesome deals. I would also play many, many other games on the PC, as the games offer you the ability to scale the settings based on your system hardware.
Ah ha – A topic very close to my heart.
The death of PC gaming is often rolled out at regular intervals each year but for me the PC gaming scene has never been stronger. Just compare Xbox live vs. Steam. At some point last year the Xbox Live team celebrated 2 million simultaneous users but just log into Steam, look at the graph displaying users and 2 million users is considered a bad day. A mid range PC is more powerful than both major consoles. I wrote an article last year that console gaming is holding PC gaming back (Will The Next Xbox Be A PC?) and it gets worse every day. PC games are capable of graphics that this generation of consoles can only dream about. The PS3 hardly has any full 1080p games and now Sony is expecting 3D on top of this. Every single PC game can run at 1080P easily, with 3D, 5.1 sound and on multiple monitors. It’s time the gaming world woke up and smelt the coffee as PC gaming is the future. See ‘Will the next Xbox be a PC?’ article as I would like to get more feedback.
MY FINAL STIR
I have all but abandoned PC gaming – but the urge to jump back into the fray is tugging at me every day. I like the stability of console games since I don’t have to upgrade my video card just to be able to run the latest games. It just got too expensive to keep up, and that’s when I got a PS2. I still do some PC gaming and love Steam – but for the big titles – I always go with Xbox. This may change in the future but it will depend solely on my ability to purchase a PC that will support 3D gaming as well as push other 3D content to my home theater system. Until then, I’m content with console gaming.
THE RULES FOR STIR ARE SIMPLE
I pick a topic and ask the Platform Nation writers, editors and staff to send me their opinions. Thanks go out to all the Platform Nation writers who contributed to Stir this week. They are all part of the best writing team in the industry and I couldn’t do this without them.
Now, drop down into the comment box below and let us know what your opinion of PC gaming. Is the cost justified by the better frame rates, better graphics, game mod capabilities and cheaper game prices?
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