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Why Consoles Overwhelm PC Games At Retail 139

Posted by simoniker
from the kicking-and-screaming dept.
An anonymous reader writes "With the GameCube at $99 and PlayStation 2 sales still huge, people are starting to really notice the shrinkage of PC games at retail. Why? What does the future hold? An article at JoeUser.com asks that question and looks at what is likely to happen to PC games as consoles slowly take over most of the retail space for games." This piece, written by Brad Wardell, creator of Galactic Civilizations, argues: "The issue isn't whether the PC game market will die. It won't. The issue is whether PC games will be able to keep up with console games from a production values point of view."
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Why Consoles Overwhelm PC Games At Retail

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  • by Thinkit3 (671998) *
    Well, PC games are more likely to be tipware (information that is free! but donations accepted). Since consoles are less likely to do this, PC games will dominate.
  • From Atari 2600 to NES to Genesis to Playstation - console games have always outsold computer games. I know we computer geeks like to think of our game pond as rather large, but it really is rather small. There is definitly something to be said for a game-appliance without all the cruft of computer system around it to administer.
    • First person shooters belong on the PC...so do complex RTS games. In fighting games and sports games the consoles have an edge.
      • "First person shooters belong on the PC...so do complex RTS games"

        Consoles are capable of running great FPS and RTS, just that the developers must take care of the joystick-based user interface.

        • Consoles are capable of running great FPS and RTS, just that the developers must take care of the joystick-based user interface

          Just because a Console can run a game doesnt mean it will provide the same experience.

          Give me a mouse/keyboard for FPS games. Playing FPS's on a joystick just isn't as smooth. Also, its hard to play user mods on a console. Xbox has some mods for Halo, but with a network card and HD make it a more of a PC.
      • Most types of games belong on the PC. Any kind of shooter, any kind of strategy game, the more complex RPGs, any management (SimCity-type) game, and any semi-serious simulation game really have to be on the PC.

        Tim
        • real folk colin: "Most types of games belong on the PC. Any kind of shooter, any kind of strategy game, the more complex RPGs, any management (SimCity-type) game, and any semi-serious simulation game really have to be on the PC."
          real folk colin: is it really a game anymore?
          moped cowboy: lol
          real folk colin: simulation "games" are so awful... they're simulators, and simulators are not games
          moped cowboy: my fav semi-serious sim game is MS Money 2k3
          real folk colin: hahaha
        • Most types of games belong on the PC.

          Clarification needed. Do you mean "most" as in "51% - 99% of the entire universe of games" or "most" as in "all the games I like." I suspect the latter.

          • As in most types, genres...

            A lot of them can be done better on PC.
            Some of them can be done the same (platformers, racing games maybe, etc...)
            Few can be done better on console. (Fighting games, maybe those 4-players on one screen minigame things?)

            Tim
            • Few can be done better on console.

              So you do think that 51-99% of the entire universe of games can be done better on the PC.

              One of the reasons people like console games vs PC games (or vice versa) is because the developers (usually) create the games specifically for the hardware of that particular system. Mario Sunshine is going to be a better experience on the GameCube than the PC simply because of the controller. Crystal Chronicles is going to be a better experience on the GameCube than the PC because

    • by Hedonist123 (681091) on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @11:26PM (#7565414) Homepage
      While they may belong on the PC, many many people are still more likely to buy them on consoles, simply because they don't like the effort involved in putting a game on a computer. Driver updates, patches, most people don't ilke dealing with that. They just want to put a game in and play the game. That's why consoles are always going to be at the forefront of pop culture gaming. Us computer nerds are just a fairly large minority. Now, back to a little Day of Defeat (mods, the reason computer games really stay popular).

      hed.

    • The truth is, we DO have a large "game pond." It just doesn't show up in the sales figures. But every little Flash game, every little Java game, all the little shareware games, and finally the retail titles taking in the brunt of the cash, they all add up. I would say more games are made for computer platforms, or even just Win32 platforms, every year than all consoles combined. And this will always be so, since the general-purpose computer is the perfect place for a commercial developer to start off in.

      If
  • One recent example: (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Txiasaeia (581598) on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @10:55PM (#7565207)
    KOToR was released both on the XBox and (much later) on the PC. Despite my initial misgivings, it's a great game on the PC. As long as companies continue to support the PC, even as an afterthought, I don't think there's going to be any problems.

    If I had a nickel every time I heard"PC GAMES ARE DEAD!"...

    • by prockcore (543967) on Wednesday November 26, 2003 @02:06AM (#7566303)
      good example.

      KotoR on the PC recommends half a gig of ram and a 128meg video card. This doesn't seem like much, but the xbox only has 64 megs of ram total (that's shared between vram and system ram), and yet kotor somehow runs just dandy on it.

      Plus the PC version isn't as stable as the xbox version.. it's like they didn't do as much testing.

      Which are the two main problems of the PC. Expandability, and patchability.

      They won't spend as much time optimizing a PC game, since they can just demand that you get more ram/faster cpu/better video card. Whereas there's no alternative to optimizing a console game.. it's required or the game won't run.

      They can get away with not testing games as much, since they can just release a patch the day after the game ships.. and more patches down the road. With a console they have to get it right, or the game will forever be flawed.
      • Not true in all cases. They do fix the game up sometimes. eg MS recalled 007 and rereleased it so the buffer overflow exploit would no longer work. And Morrowind originally had lots of bugs, these were fixed (but not all of them) in the GOTY edition.
        • And Morrowind originally had lots of bugs, these were fixed (but not all of them) in the GOTY edition.

          I call BS. GOTY is much less playable than the original Morrowind for me. Granted, GOTY has only "flat-out" crashed (the dirty disc error) once in the week that I bought it, it has hung 2 or 3 times, and the load times are horrible.

          Still a great game, though. But I disagree that many bugs were fixed in GOTY.

      • "Whereas there's no alternative to optimizing a console game.. it's required or the game won't run."

        That's why EA's Need for Speed series on the PS2 has few frame rate issues, yet the ports for the GCN and Xbox will become slideshows very easily? Or Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance on the tanker's deck (XBox port)?

        "With a console they have to get it right, or the game will forever be flawed."

        Sadly, the amount of flawed games is getting up there. The Xbox is probably the worst offender here, because it's g
      • KotoR on the PC recommends half a gig of ram and a 128meg video card. This doesn't seem like much, but the xbox only has 64 megs of ram total (that's shared between vram and system ram), and yet kotor somehow runs just dandy on it.

        Well, look at the output resolutions? Look at the fact that you don't have as large an operating system. Heck, I wouldn't choose to run WinXP with less than 512 MB of RAM.

        In addition, since the game has to be generalized for all hardware, they have to provide the lowest commo
      • KotoR on the PC recommends half a gig of ram and a 128meg video card. This doesn't seem like much,

        Seems like plenty to me. I got myself a shiny new Radeon AIW when the first run of Radeons came out. It was blazingly fast, and yet even on older games I was still getting inconsistent framerates. And on newer games (NHL 2000 in particular) I was getting terrible framerates with one of the faster cards on the market. I think the only recent game that ever rans smoothly was Quake 3. I can't stand PC game

      • You forgot the most difficult obstacle in developing PC games: the wide variety of hardware on which your game needs to run. It's gotten better, mainly thanks to a unified API owned by a certain software behemoth, but it's still a mess. When developing for a console, there's one hardware configuration. I'm sure it cuts QA budgets by half, if not more.

  • by Qweezle (681365) on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @10:55PM (#7565208) Journal
    Look, while most homes have PCs, most of those PCs aren't able to play games very well, and so the situation that many people who are just either jumping into games for the first time or casual gamers have, is the decision to buy a $1000+ PC that can play PC games well for a while(until it is obsoleted), or a $200 console that will always be able to play games well that are designed for it(which should be for at least 4-5 more years into the future).

    Thus, you see the more economical, frugal players going with consoles, and the much higher-end players going with PCs.

    Not that consoles aren't made for "serious gamers", however they hit the mass market, every kind of gamer, much better than a PC, which plays high-end games for players who are more serious at gaming.

    A while back I had to help a friend choose between a $600 PC and a $200 PS2 and he chose the PS2, and although skeptical of its capabilities/staying power at first, he is very happy with it today, over a year later, and he says he will continue to use it instead of upgrading his old PC for games for quite some time.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I don't know if I would agree with you on the "serious gaming" bit. Firstly, I've seen amazing dedication for certain console titles. It seems a lot like the arcade days: people are beating times and scores again, not just necessarily playing against each other (I've not experienced online consoles yet). Otherwise there are relaxed games played among friends who are physically at the machine, and now there are online games. For most people on the PC, gaming is for relaxing also.

      I see nothing about the PC
    • I think this is the major problem with using the PC for games instead of a console. And it's not really necessary that it be a problem. The companies that develop games for PCs look at all the new eye candy they can make with the newest graphics card, processor, and RAM upgrades, and decide that it's not worth making a game that will run on hardware that is a couple of years old. But really they are just limiting their own market. I'm sure that Duke Nukem Forever will be a kickass game if it ever comes

    • Not that consoles aren't made for "serious gamers", however they hit the mass market, every kind of gamer, much better than a PC, which plays high-end games for players who are more serious at gaming.

      I consider myself a serious gamer, but I'd never game on a PC (except for FPS and RTS games, which I won't touch on a console). You'll never find a great PC-exclusive fighting game, racing game, platformer, and only rarely RPG. I'll agree that there are many more casual gamers using consoles (after all, p

    • i'd add that the basic reason is that consoles are a specifically designed and purposed to be mass market devices.

      if you see a ps2 game in a store, you know that your ps2 can play it. no questions asked. no weird driver problems, no 3d card or processor requirements.

      turn on machine, plug in game, and play.

      PC gaming is inherently more complex (variable system requirements and all), and unrealistic marketing of 'minimum' requirements isn't helping any.

      I love PC games as much as the next guy - but the reas
  • "With the GameCube at $99 and PlayStation 2 sales still huge, people are starting to really notice the shrinkage of PC games at retail. Why?"

    The question answers itself.
  • by Herkum01 (592704) on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @11:04PM (#7565271)

    One of the things I have always liked about PC games is their ability for players to expand the game. Take a look at Counter-Strike. Noone would have been able to do that with a Console based game. Enjoy D&D, play one of many player made modules that are available online, SP or MP. There are tons of games like that. I think many game makers do themselves a diservice when they don't allow players to create their own missions, or characters, anything to make the game different or fun. If NWN were to just sell improvements to the game engine and keep it compatible with current modules I would pay for it.

    You cannot do the same thing with a console, you play through the adventure and that is it. You spent your 50 bucks and got 20 hours of game play, your done. Maybe you can play the whole thing over with *SHOCK* another character! How is that for flexibility from a console!

    Consoles are easy to setup and get going, but they lack that ability for people to truly attach themselves to it and expand upon it.

    • I think once more consoles start getting hard disks, we are going to see mod-able console games.

      Initially you'll have to use a PC to burn expansion data to a special disk and then upload it onto the harddrive, but eventually, consoles are going to have the option to put an OS on the hard disk (like Linux for the PS2), once console games are designed to work with these OSes, console modding will really take off.

      • once console games are designed to work with these OSes, console modding will really take off.

        In turn, killing the console (in my opinion).

        I have a PC. I use it for computing. I have a console. I use it for playing games precisely because I know that ny game that says "Your Console" on the label will work, no questions asked. I don't need to worry about if my hard drive is big enough, or my video card has the latest drivers, or anything else that causes games to just not work on my PC.

        Just my opinio
    • I've been downloading new mechs, maps, and gametypes for MechAssault ever since it was released. Also upgrades to the lobby system. With a console with a hard drive, the options open up, and there will probably be a lot more of this type of thing in the next generation of consoles.
    • You cannot do the same thing with a console, you play through the adventure and that is it.

      That's not going to be true for too much longer. The recently released SOCOM II for the PlayStation 2, for example, allows you to download new mission content to a PS2 equipped with a hard drive.

      The only thing holding up the system as yet is that the PS2 Hard Drive isn't due to hit shelves outside Japan until Spring 2004.

      (Hard drive setup for gaming, that is. Those of us with the PS2 Linux Kit already have a hard

    • If the devs build the game to support more ways to play it then one (besides making a new character) it is fully possible on a console. Besides few games gets an active mod community, and even then most of the mods are crap, or just not good enough to warrant most peoples time where you have full games to play.

      but see - there is also a trick to this, make a game one can play forever, and why would one want to buy a new one? like a selfgenerating book wont sell more then once per customer a game with endle

      • The replay value in mods is amazing. Take Counter Strike (the example used in the Original Post). That is way more popular that half life. Quake III and UT (in it's various forms) can't come close.

        Half Life is an excellent example of homebrew mods expanding the longevity of a game. But thre are plenty of others. Real GTA is superb. Battlefield 1942 and Freelancer are other examples. Modding is just one example of how the PC gives something which consoles can't provide.

        P.S. Check your spelling and
    • When I play a game, the time I invest into it is infinitely more valuable than the 50 bucks I invest in it. I don't evaluate my purchases on the basis on how many hours they kill per dollar, because time isn't something that you're supposed to waste.

      But you've got a point here. The key difference between a console and a computer, other than the fact that a gaming-worthy computer costs ten times as much as a gamecube, is that computers are capable of CREATION as well as CONSUMPTION. If I didn't entertai

      • I think developers will really want to get MMORPGs for the consoles soon. Popular, internet-able consoles are becoming a reality; and MMORPGs generate $20*400,000*12 per year, potentially. I should be able to cite FF11 on the PS2 here, but I don't have the info.
    • Vselka Infiltration (Available 11/13/03)
      Having located the Vselka, Sam Fisher must now infiltrate its claustrophobic corridors and access its archive system to locate the nuclear warheads.

      Vselka Submarine (Available 11/14/03)
      Having neutralized both Alekseevich and Masse, Third Echelon finds out from Masse's files at Kola Cell that Alekseevich's plan is already in motion and his men have captured a submarine docking station. Third Echelon suspects that the docked submarine, the Vselka, carries nuclear warhe
  • Consoles overwhelm (Score:2, Insightful)

    by schnits0r (633893)
    because with PC games you need to deal with many things (installation, hardware setup, drivers, updates, etc). With consoles it's typically just put in your CD/cartidge and it's ready. No installing, no drivers and unless you've fucked around with your hardware, it will work. that is why consoles are better then PC games.
    • Actually, that's why consoles are better than PCs, not why console games are better than pc games. I'd much rather have a game with near-infinite replay value than Halo, thank you.
  • No pc innovation (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Apreche (239272) on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @11:15PM (#7565349) Homepage Journal
    What it all comes down to is the lack of innovation in pc game genres. Some genres of game do well for the pc. Usually things like rts, fps, simulation. Anything with a complex interface. Anything that absolutely requires a mouse and keyboard. Anything that requires networking. These are the games that are good on the pc. The rest of the games are good on the console. Platformers. Fighting games. Space Shooters. Some genres do well on both, puzzle games like Tetris for example.

    The major pc game genres have had a serious lack of innovation as of late. The RTS and the FPS have both been stagnant. Look at the newest fps. Tell me what new major fundamental innovation in gameplay has changed since Half-Life? Why is Counter-Strike still #1? Because no new game has done anything new and amazing to beat it out gameplay wise. Before pc games will become popular again the genres which sell big on the pc must have major gameplay innovations.

    Look at the console. Games like metroid prime, gta, etc. etc. All of these games represent huge fundamental advances in gameplay within the genre. People aren't going to buy the same game 10 different times just because you upped the graphics or changed the theme. Once you've played one stock space shooter you've played them all. Unless someone releases something like Ikaruga with it's color changing awesomeness that makes the genre fun again.

    If you want people to buy your game you must innovate. There has to be a gameplay element that is new and awesome that the genre needs. I think there is much hope in Doom3 and Half-Life2 to breathe new life into the fps. Natural Selection has done it and it's popularity is soaring.

    • Rather than say there is no innovation, I would say that PCs continue to excel in the genres you mention: RTS, FPS, simulations, as well as RPGs and strategy games.

      I think what's happening is that consoles, with their inexpensive, stable platforms, are closing the gaps that made PCs better, such as Internet multi-player and performance.

      I see the future of gaming as a client/server model with PCs as the servers and consoles as the clients. PCs will serve as content creation platforms, dedicated servers, we
      • Wow, I never even thought about content creation for console games on computers. It certainly does make more sense for the tools to be on the computer, though. Hopefully one day I'll have a ultrathin laptop and a console.
        • how do you think they make the games in the first place? Do you think they programmed F-Zero by putting a gamecube c compiler on a little gamecube disc and typed in the code with a purple controller? No. They have a GCN dev kit from Nintendo. The dev kit is essentially a computer. It just has plugs to interface with the gamecube, make discs (I think), and compile cube games. And of course the software libraries to code those games. Also I think it has an emulator that will play cube games if you put the
  • Standardization (Score:5, Interesting)

    by zenintrude (462825) on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @11:18PM (#7565371)
    I mainly buy console games because, as opposed to pc games, I know they'll always work... and I know that I'll be getting the same experience (except for differing TV/sound quality) that everyone else is getting.
    • im into pcs for gaming for a few reasons:

      first is my type of game. i prefer shooters and RTS games, both of which lend themselves better to play on a pc than a console. max payne is a great game...but i hated to play it on my friends x-box. nothing like a keyboard and a moue for first person shooting.
      second, the internet: i love multiplayer games, not exclusively, but quite a bit. there has for the last few years, and even currently, been more online games for pc than for a console, understandably so.

  • eh? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by saqq (685613)
    With the GameCube at $99 and PlayStation 2 sales still huge, people are starting to really notice the shrinkage of PC games at retail. Haven't consoles always dominated the pc in terms of selection by a longshot?
  • OK, aybe what others wrote about console games outselling those for PCs is true, I don't know. But whenever I am at a shop I can see that there are more PC titles on shelves than console titles.
    The problem is the limited variety of PC titles. There are FPS, RTS and RPGs and sports simulations. That's it. Gone are adventure games, gone are arcade titles (platform, kill'em all etc.) That's sad.
    • OK, aybe what others wrote about console games outselling those for PCs is true, I don't know. But whenever I am at a shop I can see that there are more PC titles on shelves than console titles.

      That's just an optical illusion. Sure PC games take up more shelf space -- do you see how HUGE their boxes are these days?

      Compare that to a PS2, Gamecube, or XBox title, which comes in a standard plastic DVD case which is small, compact, and protects your games well. They also have a whole lot less airspace in

      • I haven't been in one of these stores for a few months, but for a while the industry seemed moving toward standard box sizes that weren't very much wider or taller than dvd boxes (about 4 times as thick, though). Dvd boxes are still better, though, since those are permanent holders of the media, while the computer game boxes are thrown out.
    • Where have all the puzzles gone, long time passing?
      Where have all the puzzles gone, long time ago?
      Where have all the puzzles gone?
      Killed by 3D, every one.
      When will they ever learn?
      When will they ever learn?
    • One reason they take up more space is because they still come in ugly bulky boxes, while console games come in resin cases. The EB Games around me has a section of each of the big 3's used games turned sideways or stacked instead of facing the consumer, just 'cause they were running out of space.
  • was the prediction of what games on the PC looks like by 2007, where Duke Nukem Forever is still pending release.
  • by crazyphilman (609923) on Wednesday November 26, 2003 @12:17AM (#7565708) Journal
    Hey, things change all the time. I've got a Playstation and an XBox, and I love both of them. I'm having an absolutely kick-ass time playing FPS games on both consoles, and I finished Aliens Vs. Predator Extinction on the XBox a while ago. More FPS and RTS games are coming out all the time.

    Another issue: buy a console and you don't have to upgrade for years. Possibly a lot of years. Offloading the most strenuous software you'll ever use from your PC to a console means your PC might NEVER need to be upgraded. It saves money over time, more than you might think.

    Here's one for the Linux crowd: buy a console and it won't matter that you can't find many games for Linux. You'll be free to choose the O/S of your choice for your PC, freeing you to really leverage the machine's power, because you'll still be able to game to your heart's content. No dual-booting necessary.

    Anyway, you see where I'm coming from. I love PC games, don't get me wrong, but I think consoles are winning because they're more convenient, cheaper long-term, and of high enough quality that the switch is painless.

    Just a few thoughts...

    • Please. FPS gaming without a mouse is like coding without a keyboard.

      I have a PS2, and the only use I have out of it is to play FFX. What an expensive game, but imo, it was worth it. Now that FFX-2 is out, the cost of playing FFX suddenly fell by about half.

      Just a note: I played FF9 on the PC with ePSXe. Why should I live with *less* features with a console?
      • A lot of people will argue the "FPS gaming without a mouse is like coding without a keyboard." comment- including me.

        That is what I used to think.

        When I first started playing FPS on a computer, it took a while, a few days, before I became really comfortable with the controls. After a few years, they were second nature.

        The first time I played an FPS on a console, I thought it was the most ridiculous thing ever. Until I spent a little time on it, to get to know the controls.

        It probably took the same amo
  • I think this idea can be more simply understood by the fact that PC's are an open platform (not open like open source, no, but still open to developement). Consoles have large corporations working very hard to get their hardware into consumer hands. Therefore, with competition, these hardware companies demand an edge over the competition. They use mascots, innovation, killer games (often exclusive), and brand recognition to appeal to a mass market. The games sell the hardware, so obviously there is grea
  • Funny thing, that (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dswensen (252552) * on Wednesday November 26, 2003 @12:28AM (#7565766) Homepage
    This is funny considering that consoles are becoming more like PCs all the time. The X-Box especially, with its hard drive and modified Windows OS, is a herald of things to come. As users demand more complexity and sophistication from console games, the consoles themselves will become more sophisticated, which means more chances for things to go wrong.

    I have a friend with an X-Box who's already had to exchange it because the HD on it went kablooey. Remind you of any PC users you know?

    Also, I've often predicted that once internet connectivity becomes the norm for consoles, game companies will slip into the "ship now, patch later" mentality that so far console gamers have escaped from -- but I believe those days to be numbered.

    • by MachDelta (704883)
      I think this is bang on. Consoles are gonna wind up just like PC's. Patches, when everyone (!) has an internet connection. Hardware problems as things become more complex, powerful, and diverse (and, as the ever competative PC market invades the console arena with low cost, high volume parts to push out all that expensive, 100% compatible 'specialty' hardware). Genre stagnation (Street Fighter 43 Hyper-Turbo-Mega-Super-Gamma-Special-Edition, anyone?). All the signs are there.

      I think its only a matter of ti
    • The patch problem will, imo, never be as bad on consoles. Why, you ask? They are building for one particular hardware configuration.

      The thing that makes programming PC games so difficult, and thus the reason they are so buggy, is that to properly test of these games, you have to have HUNDREDS of PC's on hand, with all sorts of different possible hardware configurations. Once they ship, the bug reports start coming in, as users try out those different hardware configurations.

      With consoles, you don't h

    • This is funny considering that consoles are becoming more like PCs all the time. The X-Box especially, with its hard drive and modified Windows OS, is a herald of things to come.

      MS is losing how much on each console sale? Nintendo is selling at $99 because with drops in hardware costs, that's all it needs to charge to break even. The hard-drive might catch on, but maybe not. It's another part that can break, and we know that consoles are designed to be pretty much foolproof. If there's a problem wit

  • Scenario one:

    Parents want to use the home pc whenever they want and don't want kids using it unattended.
    Kids want to play games whenever they want.
    So the only logical answer is to get a console for the kids to play when the parents don't want them on the PC.

    Scenario two:

    You don't own and don't want a PC.

    Scenario three:

    The games you want won't run on, or aren't available for your PC.

    In all other situations I can think of, you already have a PC, and all you get from shelling out $99 for a game cube or m
    • In all other situations I can think of, you already have a PC, and all you get from shelling out $99 for a game cube or much more for another console is the ability to buy all your games for $20 more than the regular price.

      So the regular price is $0-$20?

      Tons of gamecube games are $19-$39. Even new releases. Sure some of the biggest games are $50, but so are the biggest PC games.

      Viewtiful Joe is a great game, it just came out last month, and it's $40.
      • Tons of gamecube games are $19-$39. Even new releases. Sure some of the biggest games are $50, but so are the biggest PC games.

        Point taken, though you probably remember the bargain bin PC games and budget titles at $5-15. Unless a console borks or if you buy used, it's unlikely that you can get games for it in that price range. Sure, the games are often poor or simply old-tech, but they are cheap and some are quite good if not brand-spankin' new.

        Are the games in the $19-25 region for a console any goo

        • Point taken, though you probably remember the bargain bin PC games and budget titles at $5-15. Unless a console borks or if you buy used, it's unlikely that you can get games for it in that price range. Sure, the games are often poor or simply old-tech, but they are cheap and some are quite good if not brand-spankin' new.

          After a while, and if the game sells enough copies, each console's Greatest Hits series repackages the games and they sell for $20 new. It's the biggest bargain bin you would ever want to
      • I came up with that figure while shopping for games at WalMart recently, after noticing that some of the $50 playstation II games had $30 PC versions.
        • I came up with that figure while shopping for games at WalMart recently, after noticing that some of the $50 playstation II games had $30 PC versions.

          Yeah, this is because PC games become bargin-bin faster. A PC game that costs $50 now, will cost $30 in 3 months.. while it'll take a good 6-9 months for a console game to drop to $30.

          So that is a valid point.
  • by JohnnyComeLately (725958) on Wednesday November 26, 2003 @12:32AM (#7565789) Homepage Journal
    I used to be an avid gamer, but it just got so old being forced to constantly upgrade to get even marginal play. My original computer (TRS 80 CoCo1 and 2) played for years with new games, without being forced to go from 4k to 16k to 32k to 64k, etc memory. (OK, yes the games were lame ascii characters, but you get my point).

    I bought a laptop off ebay with a PII 300Mhz and 256 Mb of RAM. I was bored and tried to find anything at Microcenter that would run on it. I gave up after only finding 4 year old lame knockoffs ("Classic Arcade") that my system would meet. My Dell 1.3 GHz that's only about 2 years old is borderline in terms of playing any RPG nowadays. This may be a dumb analogy, but could you imagine if your 3 year old car couldn't find gas anymore that allowed it to run above 55mpg.

    Consoles turned me off for similar reasons. I might have had unrealistic expectations, but I expected games to be similar to DVDs. Expensive at release and then decline to a reasonable ~$30 level (like PC games were). No, instead even games for obsolete boxes are still >$50 often times. Although I played my freinds' Segas, Ataris, Com64, etc, my first console I plumped down hard cash on was the Super NES. Not even a year or so later its EOL. Pissed is an understatement.

    I know this post sounds like a rant, but these are the reasons I stay away from both. I would like to get back into an RPG, but I don't want to spend $100-300 for a box that will EOL within 2 years or be forced to constantly upgrade.

    John

    • Don't know what your experience with consoles being "EOL" is, but I've had a PS2 for about a year now, and there are more games in existance for it than I'll ever be able to play through, let alone the full PS1 library.

      Also: the SNES came out (States'-side) in 1991, and had a fairly consistent flow of games until 1998; that's nearly a decade of game production, hardly a 2-year setup. Even if you waited until 1996 to buy a SNES, you still had 7 years worth of games to buy and play. I'm sorry to hear that y

  • JoeUser makes some great points. I can't really dispute any of his logic. There is something utterly beautiful about buying a console game and be playing it 5 minutes after the shrinkwrap is off instead of switching to CD2 of the installation and looking for the CD key. Or trying to tweak router settings to be able to play online.

    He's also right that the PC will still be a viable, but different, gaming platform. I give you the "killer app" of PC games--mods. For example, Simcity 4 has nearly 2000 cust

    • Imagine a Slashdot style MMORPG.

      Yes, I can imagine it. I'd pick "Overlord" as my class. And once I hit 20th level, I could summon Natalie Portman. Except on the Soviet Russian servers, she would summon me. Of course, the whole game is one big troll spawning ground...

  • by AvantLegion (595806) on Wednesday November 26, 2003 @01:21AM (#7566122) Journal
    .... but as of the last couple of years, I have been playing console games a lot more.

    Why?

    1. PC games are a hassle: We all know the story: patches, patches, patches. The fact is that it's just hard to develop a game for countless hardware configurations that you can't possibly all test.

    2. Consoles are closing the gap: The bleeding edge of PC gaming will always be technologically superior. However, while the difference between an average "gaming PC" and a console used to be unthinkably night-and-day, it's just not as big of a gap anymore.

    3. Decline of PC-centric genres: If you're over 20, you probably remember when everyone used to play military sims on their PCs. You know, Falcon 3.0 and M1 Tank Platoon and such. Lots of Microprose stuff. Well that genre is all but dead now (ironically, now when we have the technology to do it justice). Real Time Strategy games are getting hopelessly vanilla - we need another game on the order of Total Annihilation to kickstart the genre. The point-and-click adventure genre, much like the military sim genre, has been relegated to a small niche audience, despite recent gems like The Longest Journey and Syberia (and even Grim Fandango a few years ago, which got lots of critical attention but did not garner the kind of sales it needed). Probably the only real PC-centric genre that still stands strong is the first person shooter. And even there, the Halos and SOCOMs of the console world are helping to close that gap (though the fragheads will always, of course, desire the fast-twitch gameplay of a mouse-driven FPS).

    4. Cost: Competition is driving hardware prices down, down, down. New game prices have stayed put for years now (not even adjusting for inflation), and in fact have gotten cheaper in many cases (not only the Greatest Hits/Platinum/Player's Choice serieses, but games aren't ever hitting the $70 price point that I paid for Street Fighter II and Chrono Trigger back in the SNES days. Also, even non-discounted games get marked down very often these days, after being on the shelves for 3 months or so). PC games have gotten cheaper too, although often in a forced, "this damn thing isn't selling" kind of way. And while gaming PCs can be had cheaper than before, it still falls well short of the inexpensive nature of consoles.

    Personally, I would love nothing more than to see a PC gaming return to glory. I loved the genres that have now all but died out. I love the limitless potential of PC gaming. But developers must find a way to make things more stable, and must be less demanding in hardware requirements. Ever notice how a small sequel (like a new entry in the Madden series or something) will have very modest improvements in video/sound/etc, but often significantly higher hardware requirements? Not acceptable.

    • but games aren't ever hitting the $70 price point that I paid for Street Fighter II and Chrono Trigger back in the SNES days.

      Funny sidenote, if you still have your chrono trigger, it's aged well. It runs about $30 used.. and that's if you don't want the box.

      if you have the original box, the game is about $70.

      There is no market for used PC games.. but the market for used console games is huge.
      • Yeah, I still have it. Got no plans on parting with it, even though it sells pretty high. :) But I do know it has indeed kept its value. My friend keeps looking at buying one, but is never willing to cough up the money for it.

    • 3. Decline of PC-centric genres: If you're over 20, you probably remember when everyone used to play military sims on their PCs. You know, Falcon 3.0 and M1 Tank Platoon and such. Lots of Microprose stuff. Well that genre is all but dead now (ironically, now when we have the technology to do it justice).

      Interesting enough, the genre was basically killed by the ability to do it justice. The cost of producing the games quickly outpaced the return because it became such a niche market. It probably also didn'
  • My DirectX story (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kris_J (10111) * on Wednesday November 26, 2003 @01:43AM (#7566227) Journal
    Back in the days of DOS, every game needed its own video and sound drivers. When Windows came around you could get a niche video or audio card so long as it had Windows drivers. Then came DirectX. It was like winding back the clock. If your card with its Windows drivers didn't have DirectX support, kiss the games goodbye. I'd just bought an (expensive) everything-on-the-motherboard name-brand multimedia PC and brand new it was less than the minimum specs to run new games, if they didn't require DirectX 3 or better support.

    That's when I noticed that you could buy a A$2,500 PC or a A$350 console to play pretty much the same games. I bought a PSX and didn't return to PC gaming for roughly five years. And if Neverwinter Nights had been released on network-enabled consoles rather than PC I might still not have returned to PC gaming.

    • Yea, you can't just use hardware which has no drivers (GUS Max in Win95? hah), but everything that comes out (ATI, NVidia, Creative, etc) has DirectX drivers because people won't buy them otherwise.

      Granted, the drivers are usually buggy, and end up rebooting your PC randomly anyways, but they are much more consistent nowadays. It did take until DirectX6 for this to be more consistent, though.
      • Of course, before DirectX 3 you didn't need Windows support of your card for games anyway, because very few games used it, and DirectX games didn't really become the norm in all genres until DirectX 5.

        My parents had a 5-year-old video card in their system when DirectX 3 came out, and it worked fine with DirectX 3 games (as long as you didn't want to try playing above 1024x768, because it just didn't have the RAM for it).

        Now, you can buy a $50 DirectX 8 compatible video card and it'll play most games at le
        • Since I stopped gaming on my PC, the only upgrades are done about 1 to 1.5 years after the things come out, so they're very budget priced.

          Console gaming is a lot cheaper and has more variety. I was just clarifying that DirectX wasn't as bad as it used to be ;)
          • Since I stopped gaming on my PC, the only upgrades are done about 1 to 1.5 years after the things come out, so they're very budget priced.

            I didn't even stop gaming, I just slowed the upgrade process. Ever since nVidia released their MX line of products (which is actually just coincidence, but has something to do with the level of the current technology both at the time and now), it hasn't really been necessary to upgrade as often. C&C Generals probably pushes my system harder than anything else I hav
  • by GTarrant (726871) on Wednesday November 26, 2003 @02:59AM (#7566501)
    As someone who has worked doing technical support for PC games (and still does), I can state that in my experience, the vast majority of problems that the "average" user experiences are things that are insanely annoying. I'd say a great percentage of problems are: 1. A person's video card drivers are hopelessly out of date and the old ones don't work with the game. It doesn't help that new drivers come out every few weeks - the average user NEVER thinks that they would need to go search for drivers all the time. After all, things like DirectX always come with their game CDs, so they don't have to "Go to some site" to get it. But drivers never are included on anything. 2. Newer games are actually being much more restrictive on what they support. Despite the existence of DirectX which was supposed to make it so you could have "almost any card", a lot of recent games support ATI, NVIDIA, and little else. I don't know how often I've seen someone say "I bought this computer a week ago and it won't run this game, and I have to buy a new piece of hardware?" Add to these things the fact that a lot of games nowadays just don't work out of the box and need to be patched ad infinitum, CD keys which may be necessary but cause more trouble for average players than most people think, the dearth of true innovation lately, etc. No wonder consoles continue to lead! Buy game, place game in console, turn on. No directories, configuration, anything.
  • I suppose (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LuYu (519260) on Wednesday November 26, 2003 @04:01AM (#7566700) Homepage Journal

    if the majority of games are on consoles, I can just get one and be relieved of the last reason to have Windoze running on anything (obviously, that console would not be an X-Box then). If games move away from the PC, there is truly no reason to use MS products. I guess Sony is doing us all a favor (us all = people who believe in freedom).

    Now, if we could just stop MS from suing mod chip makers, all would be golden.

    MS = MacroSlavery

  • by lplatypus (50962) on Wednesday November 26, 2003 @04:28AM (#7566787)
    Give me a team of 10 people (5 programmers, 5 artists) and I'll give you a Warcraft III clone in 18 months that has better graphics. Warcraft III, of course, didn't have all the advantages that came into being with the more recent DirectX's so it's not that we're smarter, it's that it's gotten easier.

    The writer of this article doesn't appreciate that Warcraft III's strength is not in its graphics. I'd be surprised if his hypothetical team of 5 programmers could match its carefully balanced and varied gameplay or even its AI.

    Sure, cool graphics rocks... but I wish more game producers would realise that good games are more than just cool graphics.

  • by MMaestro (585010) on Wednesday November 26, 2003 @05:58AM (#7567011)
    Because of shovelware (both ways) and warez (the countless copies of Doom floating around the net).
  • by jonwil (467024) on Wednesday November 26, 2003 @09:03AM (#7567511)
    Some suggestions for the PC games industry to help pull itself out of the rut:
    1.Modablility Modability Modability.
    This means releasing Map Editors.
    And this means releasing 3D modeling tools (e.g. plugins for 3D packages like GMAX)
    And (depending on the game), it means releasing Source Code for the in-game scripts, Source Code for some parts of the game itself or whatever. For example, C&C Renegade is a good game that could have been top-notch if they had:
    A.fixed the bugs in the game and the editing tools
    and B.released the source code to the gameplay scripts.

    Look at Unreal, Doom, Quake & Half-Life. Those games wouldnt be as popular if it wasnt for the various source code releases.

    2.get over the obsession with Stupid Copy Protection Schemes (Safedisk, Securom et al).
    They do not work and probobly never will.
    Finding "no-cd" cracks for any current game is dead simple.
    Some better ideas to help prevent piracy:
    1.CD-Keys/Serial Numbers that are linked to online play (i.e. if you dont have a valid serial number, you cant play online)
    2.Have things like patches, updates, extra content, online messageboards and the like linked to the CD key. No valid CD key, no access to the online content.

    3.Better testing. Typically, PC publishers tend to have a "ship it out the door as fast as possible and fix bugs through patches" attitude. They need to do more testing (in particular, they need to do testing on older operating systems, testing on older hardware and testing on slow connections).

    4.More variety.
    One idea of a game that I know I would play:
    A game similar to Diablo II but set in the future with laser guns, starships and so on. Actually, the game I am thinking of would be very much like a cross between Diablo II, Star Trek Away Team and an old game called Future Magic.

    and 5.emphasize Gameplay over Graphics.
    For example, there are too many FPS games where most of the game is about shooting anything that moves. If you want to do a good FPS game, have other elements such as puzzles that need solving, keys to find, new powers to find and acquire and so on.
    If you want to see what I would consider a good FPS, check out C&C Renegade and TRON 2.0. I consider both of those good FPS's. Or check out the older game Strife. That was also a good FPS.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    In Germany, PC games consistently sell about twice as well as console games -- even info/edutainment sells better than console games. Germany isn't a huge market, but I suspect that the rest of Europe is the same. I'd say:
    Japan: consoles dominate
    N. America: consoles & PC duke it out, consoles may be gaining an edge.
    Europe: PC dominates.

    Also, don't forget that consoles are at the height of their game sales cycle, and PC sales usually decline at that point; let's wait another couple of years before dra
  • by Sentry21 (8183) on Wednesday November 26, 2003 @11:32AM (#7568870) Journal
    1) Games on PC are all the fucking same - you take one engine, change the weapons, art, and levels, and you're done, it's all copycat shit.

    2) They never fucking work - they don't work on Linux, almost none work on Mac (at EB, only the Blizzard stuff is Macompatible) and fuck, the ones designed for Windows need some pretty fucking specific hardware to work properly.

    3) It's too fucking expensive - if I buy a new video card every odd-numbered year and a new processor or ram alternating even-numbered years, I'm spending a shitload but if I buy an XBox one year, a PS2 the next, and get a Gamecube for Christmas or something, I've spent less than the cost of a gaming PC. In fact, I've spent less than the cost of a shitty PC that won't do a fucking thing.

    So instead of spending $2500 on a gaming PC with everything, I can spend $730 on every console there is. The GBA I can take with me, the XBox I can play online, and that leaves me with $1700 for games, or a new TV, or extra controllers to play two-player, something you can't do on a PC (unless your roommate wants to drop another $2500).

    That $730 will last you 4-5 years on average (or, in the case of the Playstation, 8+ years), while the PC will have to be upgraded constantly, with video cards that cost the same as a new console every two years at least, or video cards that cost the same as two consoles if you want to go hardcore and get the best graphics. On consoles, one purchase is all it takes, and you'll have the best graphics for a long time.

    --Dan
  • The reason why I go console over PC every time is the cost. I can spend the same amount of money for the PC or Console version of a game, BUT I don't have to spend more money on hardware with my Console.

    I have KOTOR for my XBox and love it, my perfectly respectable P3 833 won't play the PC version.

    I'm guaranteed that every game out there for my XBox is going to play beautifully on my XBox, the same can not be said about the PC games.

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