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Are Consoles Holding Back PC Gaming? 518

Posted by Soulskill
from the pc-game-makers-are-holding-back-pc-gaming dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Despite all the excitement over Nvidia's upcoming Fermi GPU, there is still a distinct lack of DirectX 11 games on the market. This article points out that while the PC has returned to favor as a gaming platform, consoles are still the target for most developers, and still provide the major limitations on the technological sophistication of game graphics. Inside the Xbox 360 sits an ATI Xenos GPU, a DirectX 9c-based chip that bears similarity to the Radeon X1900 series of graphics cards (cards whose age means that they aren't even officially supported in Windows 7). Therein lies the rub. With the majority of PC games now starting life as console titles, games are still targeted at five-year-old DirectX 9 hardware."
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Are Consoles Holding Back PC Gaming?

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  • So? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dayofswords (1548243) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @10:28AM (#31647090)
    StarCraft all the way! *zerg rush* Dang it...
    • Re:So? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Sunday March 28, 2010 @11:56AM (#31647762) Homepage Journal

      All it would take to "revive PC gaming" is to have a few truly great games get released. Even the best of last year were little more than machinima.

      Not only does console gaming make computer games worse, but as the horrible control mechanisms of Mass Effect 2 and others showed, by using console gaming as a starting point can kill an entire franchise. I was a big fan of Mass Effect, but found ME2 such a mess that I won't spend any money if and when ME3 comes out.

      • Re:So? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by mabhatter654 (561290) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @05:13PM (#31650358)

        PC gaming IS revived.... It's just not what traditional gamers want.... the big games are things like plants vs zombies, Dinner Dash, Farm Town.... things specifically excluded from Console (and apple) platforms. I'd venture the number of hours on Facebook or Myspace games dwarfs Xbox Live and the demographic spread is much wider.

  • Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dangitman (862676) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @10:29AM (#31647094)
    Why would you target DirectX 11, when nobody really wants to use it? PC gaming would be better off if you targeted OpenGL.
    • Re:Why? (Score:4, Informative)

      by poetmatt (793785) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @10:39AM (#31647180) Journal

      Yes, this is the issue. Lack of cross platform pc gaming is holding back a ton. However, it's almost equal to the amount if games were available on both wii/ps3/xbox360 at the same time.

      The difference, and why the PC gaming will win in the long run? It's easier to just program a game in openGL that runs on all platforms than it is to program for wii/ps3/xbox360 where you have 3 entirely separate hardware and development requirements.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tepples (727027)

        It's easier to just program a game in openGL that runs on all platforms

        As I understand it, working around NVIDIA driver defects, ATI driver defects, and Intel driver defects is almost as hard as writing a wrapper around PS3 OpenGL ES, Xbox 360 DirectX, and Wii GX.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Really? You seriously think PC gaming is being held back by the tiny market share of Linux and Mac desktops?

        That's a little like saying iPhone game development is being held back by the N-Gage....

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Xest (935314)

        "The difference, and why the PC gaming will win in the long run? It's easier to just program a game in openGL that runs on all platforms than it is to program for wii/ps3/xbox360 where you have 3 entirely separate hardware and development requirements."

        No it's not, because you have to cater to the different levels of processing power, memory, disk storage, you still have to optimise for the different iterations of difference graphics cards for each different vendor, you have to implement optimisations. You

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sopssa (1498795) *

      And who exactly are those who want to use OpenGL? Not the developers, as it has serious problems and shortcomings compared to DirectX [slashdot.org] - not all technical, but other issues too.

      Gamers? They probably don't even know the technical or philosophical differences between OpenGL and DirectX, and if they do, they don't care.

      And who doesn't want to use DirectX 11? You should make your games to support if already, along with providing fallback to DX9 and DX10. Gamers and their hardware will catch up.

      • by dangitman (862676)

        And who exactly are those who want to use OpenGL? Not the developers,

        Plenty of developers want to develop for multiple platforms, and don't want to be tied to Windows. Especially with the rise of powerful mobile gaming platforms.

        Gamers? They probably don't even know the technical or philosophical differences between OpenGL and DirectX, and if they do, they don't care.

        Gamers in general (90% console), maybe not, but PC gamers are much more likely to understand the difference.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by sopssa (1498795) *

          Saying OpenGL allows direct development to multiple platforms including mobiles doesn't make much sense because in pretty much every case you would need to do the rendering engine again, and in most cases also change the gameplay completely. Mobile phones don't scale up to same performance as consoles or PC.

          If PC gamers understand the technical difference, then they know DirectX is technically superior. But those who understand and care about the philosophical difference are probably along the same numbers

    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Informative)

      by TheRaven64 (641858) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @10:48AM (#31647246) Journal

      DirectX 11 in this context does not mean 'version 11 of the Microsoft API for game programming' it means 'graphics cards with geometry and compute shaders and hardware tessellation support'. Whether these are programmed using DirectX 11 or OpenGL 4 (with OpenCL) is largely irrelevant. If you use these features effectively, you need quite a different design to the older model where you just had vertex and pixel shaders. If you target the older functionality, supported by consoles, then your game will work fine on newer hardware. If you target the newer hardware then a console port will involve a significant amount of rewriting.

      The Voodoo card did texturing in hardware and the GeForce did transform and lighting as well, but these were just accelerating parts of the fixed-function pipeline. You used the same programming model with and without this acceleration, it just made your code run faster. With pixel and vertex shaders, you had two separate code paths, one for the fixed-function pipeline and one with shaders. This was a bit more effort, but you were mainly using the shaders to do the same thing as the fixed-function pipeline, just with a few more special effects. With geometry and compute shaders, you can generate a lot of your data on the GPU. Writing fall-back code basically means either writing the engine twice or not using the new hardware to anything close to its full potential.

    • by msormune (808119)

      If "no one really wants to use it", why are AMD (ATI) and nVidia implementing it then in their hardware? In the past those companies have been succesful, because they have made products people want.Yes it's true, we have to wait for the games that can use it, but so what? It's the same as with DX9 and DX10 before.

      Besides you need a lot more than just OpenGL, because you need input and sound right?

      • by CritterNYC (190163) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @11:52AM (#31647728) Homepage

        This used to be much more true when DirectX wasn't artificially limited to the OS version. You just downloaded your new DirectX version and went to town when you bought a new video card.

        DirectX 10 became a "Vista exclusive", despite the fact that unofficial ports made it work on Windows XP without much muss or fuss. It was an artificial limitation. So, in order to upgrade from DirectX 9 to DirectX 10, you had to buy a new video card and a new OS. Even some Microsoft games artificially limited detail to make the game seem better on 10 than on 9. Of course, a few clever hackers exposed this as well. DirectX 11 is and update to DirectX 10 and similarly incompatible with Windows XP.

        This bs has left a bad taste in a lot of people's mouths. Couple that with the absolutely absurd Digital Restrictions Management in some PC games and the taste is downright sour. (Related note: Honestly, if you knowingly buy an Ubisoft game at this point, you're an idiot... their games are basically useless because of DRM now.)

    • by Joce640k (829181) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @12:23PM (#31647950) Homepage

      When you program a console you know exactly what hardware is available so you can create a "budget" for polygons which uses it 100%.

      On a PC you have to program for 20 different levels of hardware capability and try to scale the graphics up/down accordingly. It never really works properly and programmers hate doing it.

      There's also the issue of drivers. On a console you know what the drivers are and what bugs are present. On a PC you have no idea.

      The stability/predictability of a console's environment is what gives it the edge over a PC, not raw processing power.

  • by cthellis (733202) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @10:30AM (#31647106)
    That's still where the majority of PC gamers can handle things well, too. (Their hardware may be newer than the consoles, but DX9 is still the majority support, and they have higher resolutions to cover.) The real questions is if the developer is even INTERESTED in targetting higher-performance hardware with unique features, or if they mainly want to use it to be "slightly shinier" and hit better framerates.
  • Why the tech? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rurik (113882) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @10:32AM (#31647126)

    Why are modern games being judged based on their technological prowess? How is this holding back PC games? Games produced for five year old tech still run on modern machines. So what if games are targeted towards years-old technology? Are they fun? Are people buying them? There's more to a game that shading effects and the hundreds of hours that dedicated teams put into making realistic water ripples.

    Games are sold based upon gameplay and fun. In this current market, those are more easily found in the console market. I don't see that changing. //PC Gamer since 1986 ///Now happily a 100% console gamer ////Though I love to play Cave Story

    • Re:Why the tech? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Sunday March 28, 2010 @10:48AM (#31647256) Journal

      You're somewhat wrong, because games are also sold by their graphics and sounds and such. You're probably thinking that great graphics and sounds make a bad game, but you can have the both. I enjoy some of the old games, but seriously I rather play with awesome graphics and sound environment too.

      Also, you are missing one important thing. If you free more resources from the graphic rendering by using newer technology, you can have more resources on AI and other gameplay elements.

      • Re:Why the tech? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Rurik (113882) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @11:04AM (#31647366)

        "Graphics" != "latest hardware". Graphics are important, but to a limited extent. The graphics created on five-year old tech pleases the vast majority of the market. The common gamer does not see a need to move to DX11 when games produced on DX9 are "good enough". I never said that graphics were unimportant, just suggested that continually pushing the graphical envelope is a fruitless journey.

    • by tepples (727027) <tepples@nOSpAM.gmail.com> on Sunday March 28, 2010 @10:53AM (#31647294) Homepage Journal

      //PC Gamer since 1986 ///Now happily a 100% console gamer ////Though I love to play Cave Story

      Your example of Cave Story just illustrated another point: PCs tend to be better for games from smaller studios. Indie games on PCs are commonplace; indie games on Sony and Nintendo consoles need a jailbreak unless some major label notices the developer. See Bob's Game [wikipedia.org] for an example of what Nintendo can put developers through. And the modding tools for PC games tend to be far more complete than for console games. For example, the stage editor in Super Smash Bros. Brawl is limited to just a few predetermined pieces on a grid; there's no way to add custom pieces, custom characters, or a custom soundtrack.

    • by frieko (855745)
      Exactly. About a decade ago I gave up PC gaming because I was sick of buying games only to find out my $299 computer wouldn't play them. I can pop any brand new game in my console and it just works. I find it hard to believe I'm having less fun in MW2 because it's only DX9.
  • by RobotRunAmok (595286) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @10:34AM (#31647142)

    There is no shortage of MMOGs. The category is growing, even, at an insane rate, despite (or because of?) WoW's dominance. There are only 24 hours in a day, and peeps who play MMOGs can never "beat" their game -- they are continuously rewarded for playing, constantly and forever, and pay monthly for the privilege in many cases.

    Many no longer have the time or inclination to start a new, one-off PC game. I recall an interview with supposed "Diablo-Killer" Titan's Quest creators who attributed the poor sales of their well-reviewed game to the fact that their prospective player-base could not break away from their MMOGs.

    • by sopssa (1498795) *

      That's not holding back. It's just that players find those MMORPG's more fun to play. Isn't that improvement in gaming?

      That's almost like saying that a few more fun and great games are destroying the market because people play those and don't buy the ones they don't enjoy so much.

    • by Exitar (809068)

      In theory, MMORPG are more profitable than other games because:

      1. They bring money from monthly fees if P2P or microtransactions if F2P
      2. As you need to connect to a server with a valid account, cannot be pirated

      Seeing the low quality of the latest games (the cannot possibly keep a large number of players after a couple of months),
      it seem to me that the second reason is the real one for the constant production of new MMORPGS (companies are more interested
      in the "fast money" from boxes sold)

  • by ducomputergeek (595742) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @10:36AM (#31647152)

    ...prefer game consoles. For starters, you're dealing with a uniform hardware platform. The core specs and capabilities don't change too often, only about once every 5 years or so. So if you are developing for the Xbox360, you only have to get it to work on one 360 and it should work on all. On a PC, you're encountering a vast array of hardware configurations. X CPU with Y Motherboard using Z GPU. So while you can optimize for a number of these, you can't do it for all and that leads to a certain percentage of your customer base complaining.

    That and pirating console games is a bit tougher for the average consumer. Usually requires a hardware mod chip and most people don't feel they have the technical skill to install one. On the PC, piracy is pretty much fire up bittorrent, go to the piratebay, and download.

    • by Wicko (977078)

      I think you're exagerating the amount of configurations developers deal with. Motherboard version is largely irrelevant. X CPU, well, if the software is designed to scale on the amount of cores, then the only concern is if the CPU is fast enough to execute what you need it to. Well, its the same with single threaded games but I would hazard a guess that most AAA games are capable of scaling. As for videocards, its largely about what feature set it has, and many of them share the same feature set, within sim

  • by Rydia (556444) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @10:38AM (#31647168)

    Why should devs adopt DX11? Because the last iteration of DX lasted about a year and a half before being ditched and extended/redone? Because the majority of the market doesn't have DX11 cards? Because there's no clear advantage in developing to DX11 rather than DX9c?

    Why should developers shift from something they know to something that they don't know as well unless there was significant profit motive to do so? There simply isn't in this case.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Pentium100 (1240090)

      Also, Windows XP does not support DX10 or 11.Microsoft did this thinking that it will cause the gamers to upgrade when new games need the new version (in the past games used the newest DX version that was available). However, since DX10 was on Vista, people did not upgrade, so the game companies continued to make games that work on XP since this way they can have a larger customer base (DX9 game runs on XP, Vista and 7), since intentionally restricting your customers is stupid.

      Windows XP is still on ~50% of

  • Wrong question. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mathieuI (1534721) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @10:38AM (#31647172)
    The real question is: Is the rush for performance and graphics killing the fun in video games? I think so.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Rimbo (139781)

      The real question is:

      Is the rush for performance and graphics killing the fun in video games?

      I think so.

      This argument has been made since 1992 and before. I should know; I actually made that claim in a USENET post in response to someone at Id software on the original comp.sys.ibm.pc.games board. Of course, that same company then came out with DOOM a few years later. I was wrong then, and you are wrong now. The rush for performance didn't kill the fun in video games.

      What has happened, however, is diminishing returns. This used to be manifest in the size of the team and expense of the game. Now it's comin

  • by Silvanis (152728) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @10:41AM (#31647186)

    Does anyone really think this cycle is any different? We're pretty much at the mid-point of the console cycle: PCs are flexing their muscle (again) and developers are reluctant to design just for PCs. But, as always, more will jump back on the PC bandwagon as it becomes obvious that the PC is the place to be for graphic quality (and the market loves eye candy). Eventually the console makers will decide to release new hardware to try to coax them back, and we'll repeat this cycle again.

    So what's changed?

    • Eventually the console makers will decide to release new hardware to try to coax them back, and we'll repeat this cycle again.

      Except it appears the next generation of actual console hardware is far off. The new gimmick won't be better graphics but instead "Mii-too" motion control. Sony has the PlayStation Eye and the new Move controller, and Microsoft has Natal. And among the big three, the only console maker that has taken any effort to coax the smallest developers away from PCs is Microsoft with its XNA Creators Club; the others require a dedicated office and prior commercial titles [warioworld.com].

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by grumbel (592662)

      The thing that has changes is that the PC exclusive game has almost died out. There is of course still WoW and a handful of other tiles, but most of the big titles these days are basically console games first and the PC might get a port later on. This is even true for series that originated on the PC.

      Another changed is that the hardcore gaming PC game has died out. The last one that really pushed the envelope was Crysis, but that is already over two years old. All other titles take a much more moderate appr

  • by Thumper_SVX (239525) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @10:42AM (#31647194) Homepage

    ... instead of focusing all your energies on creating fancy graphics for your latest title, why don't you try something different like making the game actually compelling and fun to play?

    I'm not an huge gamer, but my preference is to sit in front of my TV on my XBox 360 or Wii when playing games. In truth I couldn't give a rat's derrière about the graphics of the games I play so long as I find them compelling and fun. Then again when your business model is based solely on churning out the same game time after time and you only differentiate the games by the graphics I suppose this argument becomes reasonable.

    Hey game makers, here's a clue: In the last few weeks I have played video games quite a bit due to a knee injury that's meant I can't do much else. If I think seriously about the amount of time I've spent playing video games recently, the one game that really sticks in my mind and has me itching to play it more is Bit Trip Beat on the Wii. Realistically I probably could've run that game on my 25 year old Amiga if I still had it... but damn that game's fun!

  • Has anyone really been far even as decided to use even go want to do look more like?
  • by rotide (1015173) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @10:51AM (#31647272)

    I've always been a PC fan all the way back to the original SimCity on my 286. Throughout the years I've also owned Consoles (Nintendo, Gameboy, SNES, N64, Gamecube, GBA, XBox, XBox360, Wii, etc, etc, etc). I've probably owned/built just as many gaming rigs as well.

    Obviously I take gaming a little more as a hobby than just a time waster.

    The one thing I have loved all this time is Multiplayer. It wasn't really possible back on the 286 unless you shared a keyboard as gaming on PC's was in its infancy. At this point in time it was easier to play multiplayer on one console with a friend.

    A few years passed and the internet became a big thing. Quake for example was one of my favorites! Especially CTF online with clans. I even ran my own unsuccessful one but even so, it was a blast! Consoles couldn't touch this kind of fun! 5 on 5, 10 on 10. Just awesome!

    Consoles at this time, really couldn't do this at all. XBox + Live just wasn't around yet.

    Later on when XBox arrived and I got into the Live! Beta I started to see what multiplayer on consoles is like. Pretty fun! Problem for me here was that FPS games just weren't fun with a controller. I really did (and still do to a certain extent) need a keyboard/mouse combo to be a threat.

    So for quite a while, I still preferred to play FPS's on a PC. However, this has changed as of late. Games that I want to play are either coming out without server support and/or mod support (Modern Warfare 2) or are simply outpacing my hardware. Combine those two and frankly, I simply don't want to upgrade my graphics card every year just to play the latest and greatest games. Especially considering that Modern Warfare 2 works just fine on my 360 and I get to play nice multiplayer battles. When it came out, my hardware was just as good as everyone elses. Sure, I have to get use to a controller, but it seems a small price to pay versus making sure my rig can handle the game (plus I run Ubuntu now).

    In the end, I'm realizing that gaming on a console is just a _ton_ easier than it is on a PC. They both have the same options and generally roughly the same graphics. The only difference is the controllers.

    In my mind, consoles just have the upper hand. Less cost, less hassle (juggling OS's), and the same multiplayer options. It has just become a lot more convenient over the years to play on a console.

    And that's my 2 cents on the issue.

    • by Krneki (1192201) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @11:01AM (#31647350)
      Console = 5 years old PC hardware with locked options.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Console = 5 years old PC hardware with locked options.

        That would be more insightful if PC games didn't typically hold back to support the older cards out there. Depending on where you are in the cycle, PC games are more like 2 years, if that, ahead of a console.

    • by tepples (727027)
      @rotide: On which platform do you prefer to play indie games? Or do you just stick to major-label games?
      • by rotide (1015173)
        I like a lot of the open source games on Ubuntu, but to be honest you could play most of those on a NetBook so a "gaming pc" just isn't required. But I have also enjoyed some of the indie games on the 360 marketplace.
        • by tepples (727027)

          I like a lot of the open source games on Ubuntu, but to be honest you could play most of those on a NetBook

          True, open-source games tend to work better on last-gen hardware. But netbooks? A lot of the games in Ubuntu's repository require a screen at least 768px tall, which netbooks tend to lack. For example, the Dell Mini 10 with Ubuntu still has a 1024x600 pixel screen. At least console game developers can rely on standard resolutions like 640x480 (SDTV and EDTV) or 1280x720 (HDTV).

  • by gilesjuk (604902) <giles.jones@nospAm.zen.co.uk> on Sunday March 28, 2010 @10:51AM (#31647278)

    This is all about piracy. Games are harder to pirate on the consoles. If you can boot a pirate copy on a console it can often be detected when you go online. You then get banned from online play.

    You can also trade in console games and get a reasonable amount of money back.

  • by pushing-robot (1037830) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @10:51AM (#31647280)

    Right now, consoles are behind PC gaming and derided by some as antiquated and holding back progress.

    And then, in a year or two, the next generation of consoles will slightly leapfrog the average gaming PC, the death of PC gaming will be predicted, and the new commoditized hardware will sell like crazy.

    The sales surge will fund ATI and nVidia's development of the next generation of GPUs, PC gamers will provide an eager market to test the next generation hardware, and the cycle will repeat itself.

  • by DaveGod (703167) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @11:00AM (#31647342)
    Steam HW survey results Feb 2010 [steampowered.com]:
    • 3% DX11
    • 53% DX10*
    • 39% DX9
    • 5% DX8 or lower

    The simple answer is that 95% of the PC gaming market** can use DX9 while only 56% can use DX10.

    * That 39% for DX9 includes 22% people with DX10 hardware using DX9 Win XP.
    ** Assuming Steam account holders who allow the HW survey are indicative of the relevant PC gaming market. Personally I'm inclined to assume it's not far off, at least not so far that it matters.

  • Good! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ilsaloving (1534307) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @11:01AM (#31647348)

    If not being able to use the latest shiny things is holding things back, then I say good. Why should I have to spend 2 grand on the latest and greatest hardware every 6 months just to play the latest fad game, when the computer I bought 2 or 3 years ago still serves perfectly well for everything else? Computers are expensive, and last I checked most of the world is dragging it's feet out of financial crisis. Additionally, we reached the 'good enough' mark a long time ago. Pushing the technical envelope for the sake of pushing has been an exercise of diminishing returns for a while now.

    The Nintendo Wii in particular has proven a very important point. Hardware spec wise, it's a pile of crap. Yet it's also a wildly popular platform. Why? Affordability is a significant factor. Also it's because instead of focusing on massive polygon counts and 1600x antialiasing and whatnot other geewhizbang features, they make games that are enjoyable to play.

    If I wanted high quality photorealistic graphics withe pixel perfect shading, etc, I can go outside. It's better than 1600x1200x32 bits [userfriendly.org] out there.

    Now get off my lawn!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by HateBreeder (656491)

      The Nintendo Wii in particular has proven a very important point. Hardware spec wise, it's a pile of crap. Yet it's also a wildly popular platform. Why? Affordability is a significant factor. Also it's because instead of focusing on massive polygon counts and 1600x antialiasing and whatnot other geewhizbang features, they make games that are enjoyable to play.

      Popularity has nothing to do with quality. Wii is popular because it's a very social platform. people like to have friends over and play things together. they never really care for game quality, as most Wii games are a pile of crap (just like the hardware), but they are fun when you're with friends.

      Games as a business probably make more sense on the console. but just because most people are happy with crappy games and equally shitty hardware is that a reason to stop pursuing new frontiers?

      Most people don't

  • by jonwil (467024) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @11:04AM (#31647368)

    Most computers being sold today contain crappy integrated graphics (Intel GMA etc). Only the high end expensive machines tend to come with graphics good enough to play modern 3D games on.

    If you want a machine with 3D graphics capabilities, you need to either build one yourself or buy a high-end expensive machine. If you just buy your typical "house brand" PC from stores like Best Buy, Staples, Office Depot etc, you will get crappy graphics.

    Whereas, for the price of a typical "gaming" PC, you could likely buy an XBOX 360 or PS3 AND 1/2 dozen games (if you buy the cheaper titles instead of the latest and greatest that is)

  • No... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by while(true) (626738) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @11:16AM (#31647460)
    No. Piracy is holding back PC gaming. PC sales are ridiculous low for most single-player, non-casual, PC games. Game publishers are doing the natural thing; focusing on consoles where the problem of piracy is much, much smaller.

    IMHO the industry should be commended that it, unlike some other industries, fight piracy by changing it's way of doing business instead of choosing the path of litigation and legislation.
  • by cliffiecee (136220) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @11:21AM (#31647492) Homepage Journal

    There are much bigger issues than graphics in this "Console/PC" debate. The really big issues are things like user interface and game controls. Take Oblivion for example- that game's interface was significantly altered to accommodate console play, which made it a sub-optimal for the PC: an overly simplistic UI and relatively poor use of screen real estate.

    PC gamers expect a lot more from their games- private servers, LAN play, mods, etc.; and as the Modern Warfare 2 debacle showed us, game companies are showing less & less love for the PC. There's tons more money (and less hassle) to be make on the consoles. That's a MUCH bigger hurdle than "Console graphics are the holding PCs back!"

    What's really interesting to me is how MMOGs haven't really made it to the console. I think that's because of the console's revenue model, which really only supports "throwaway" games with a very short life span. You'd think a subscription-style game would have amazing appeal for console game-makers, but where are the games?

  • Yes, sadly (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cbope (130292) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @11:29AM (#31647536)

    Yes, games are being held back by consoles. PC games used to push the edge of the envelope, not they simply follow the consoles. It's getting particularly bad, with many games designed for consoles and then poorly ported to PC. It wouldn't be so bad if the studios would at least make an effort to port them properly. I've come across all of these problems in many games over the past few years:

    - Poorly designed menu systems that do not support mice (keyboard/gamepad only)
    - Poorly designed keyboard maps that don't follow established PC standards, which leads to the next item
    - Inability to remap or customize keyboard controls
    - Games which do not support standard PC peripherals (e.g. some PC games only support console gamepads. I don't own an Xbox so don't force me to buy a damn Xbox gamepad to play your game). Same for driving wheels/pedals.
    - Games with severely limited graphics options. These are a must to tailor the game experience to the hardware and performance expectations.
    - Games with crippled graphics effects (limited draw distances, low-res textures, artificially limited environments, etc)
    - Games with poor savegame support, or only support checkpoints
    - Games being launched on consoles, with PC ports following very late afterward (sometimes 6-12 months later or never)

    I could go on and on. Literally, there are very few games I've purchased in the last 5 years which do not have at least one or two of the above problems, with a few managing to tick nearly all of the above. I blame the cross-platform game development environments which basically force the game design onto consoles with PC's being treated as second class citizens. It's not likely to change either, as consoles are very popular and many game studios see them as a more profitable market.

    I don't hate consoles, they are fine for what they do and I happen to own 2 (Wii and PS2), but the games I play on consoles are vastly different than the games I play on PC. I want my PC games to push the envelop of technology, sadly this seems to be against the trend.

  • by amorsen (7485) <benny+slashdot@amorsen.dk> on Sunday March 28, 2010 @12:01PM (#31647796)

    Desktops are obsolete and laptops aren't powerful enough to run the games. That keeps me from PC gaming. There's no way I can be bothered or justify the expense of setting up a desktop just for gaming, and I already have a laptop for everything else.

    The only way it could work is if my HTPC became a gaming PC too. However that would interfere with its HTPC duties, it would require a more powerful box and hence no 10W idling (and possibly even be noisy, ouch!) and I'd be playing on the TV which negates most of the advantages of PC gaming in the first place.

  • by Colonel Korn (1258968) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @12:37PM (#31648072)

    Somewhat offtopic, but a lot of people have been posting comments equating TFS's question to "is PC gaming dying?" Last year, when the overall gaming market declined, PC gaming revenues increased by 19% worldwide (http://www.shacknews.com/onearticle.x/62729). PC Gaming is definitely not dying.

  • Not consoles (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Todd Knarr (15451) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @02:17PM (#31648960) Homepage

    It's not consoles that're holding games back. It's Windows 7. All the hard-core gamers I know are still running XP on their gaming rigs because of the hit they get to frame rates running Windows 7. These are the people who care about a 5fps difference even when they're getting over 60fps. The game companies know these people are their core audience, and if they put out a game these people can't run on their rigs that game won't sell well. Those rigs run XP, XP won't do higher than DirectX 9c, so the game companies target DX9c. It'll run on the hard-core gamers' rigs, it'll run on the average consumer's Windows 7 machine, so there's no sense in supporting DX10 or DX11. The only games I've seen that require DX10 or DX11 come from Microsoft itself.

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