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Activision Wants Consoles To Be Replaced By PCs 344

Posted by Soulskill
from the oppose-on-principle dept.
thsoundman writes with this excerpt from thegamersblog: "We live in a world where we have multiple platforms for gaming: PC, PS3, 360, Wii, etc. Each platform has varying amounts of power when it comes to playing games. Activision, one of the leading cross-platform publishers, wishes to move away from the 'walled gardens' set by Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo. ... [Activision CEO Bobby] Kotick’s solution is to turn to the PC, where it can set its own model for pricing — not unlike what Blizzard has done with World of Warcraft and Battle.net. Kotick stated that Activision would 'very aggressively' support the likes of HP and Dell in any attempt at making an easy 'plug-and-play' PC that would hook up directly to the TV."
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Activision Wants Consoles To Be Replaced By PCs

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  • Wait, Activision? (Score:2, Informative)

    by _KiTA_ (241027) on Thursday July 08, 2010 @03:55AM (#32836748) Homepage

    Wait, Activision? They're still in business? I would have thought Robert Kotick would have ran them into the ground by now. God, he's getting slow in his old age.

    What's that? He's trying to turn Battle.Net into "Facebook for Gamers?" He's going to require everyone playing WoW to use their real names on the official forums (and in the in game friends' list), so that the next time you piss off some mentally unhinged social reject you can figure that out by the knife embedded in your front door and the creepy breathing phone calls at 3 AM?

    Ah, nevermind, he's right on track for running the company into the ground, he's just going slow so he can show off.

  • by ScaledLizard (1430209) on Thursday July 08, 2010 @04:25AM (#32836874)
    "We want an open, standard platform which is much easier than having five which are not compatible,"
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/7052420.stm [bbc.co.uk]
  • by icebraining (1313345) on Thursday July 08, 2010 @04:58AM (#32837040) Homepage

    Very few games can afford to shoot for the leading edge of hardware as it simply restricts their gaming audience too much.

    Bullshit. PC games provide ways to reduce the load for older PCs. I could play COD4 in my P4 with a two year old $75 graphics card. Now that I have a quadcore and a HD5770 (total PC price: $450) I play it with much higher resolution, particles, etc.

    People are not forced to upgrade significantly more regularly than with consoles. They simply have the option to do so, and enjoy better graphics if they choose to.

  • by j4s0n (1121943) on Thursday July 08, 2010 @05:54AM (#32837308)
    There's a program called MW2SA that you can use that works completely on the router side that interprets incoming packets and allows you to ban ip's of users through steam's web interface. I use it all the time and love the shit out of it. Seriously. If it was a girl, I'd stalk her until she court orders my ass. The only thing is that you MUST be host, but you can get host pretty easily.
  • by bami (1376931) on Thursday July 08, 2010 @06:00AM (#32837336) Homepage

    I disagree on that, games themselves now ARE probably 10000x more complex.

    Think of Mario:

    One object which has to do some collision detection, movement and input, and some other things (koopa's) that just move about on one axis.

    Think of GTA4:

    A whole city where parts of it have hundreds of physics-enabled objects, some of which can be interacted with, destroyable cars, pedestrians, rubbish, along with complex missions (well, sorta), collision detection for both movement as well as shooting, and so on.

    New games are a lot more complicated.

    But that is no reason to just ditch quality assurance and ship a half-assed attempt at porting a game from console to pc, where everything must be set on low because the developers can't be assed to properly change code so it works reasonable on the pc.

  • Price competition (Score:3, Informative)

    by tepples (727027) <tepples AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday July 08, 2010 @06:12AM (#32837396) Homepage Journal

    If every publisher started up it's own variant of XBox Live, you'd have to pay subscription fees for every publisher, maybe for every game.

    You already see this with MMORPGs. But publishers will try to keep prices low even if only to attract price-conscious customers. Look at Activision with every Blizzard-brand game other than World of Warcraft: anyone with a valid serial has at least 5 years of free online play.

  • by robthebloke (1308483) on Thursday July 08, 2010 @06:14AM (#32837406)
    Pardon? The gameplay may not be 10,000x more complicated, but I can assure you the game engine code certainly is. Our last title required the following things just to get a character walking around:

    - a quaternion based animation blending and transitioning engine (and more importantly the tools to author the animation networks)
    - Inverse Kinematics, aim/orient/point constraints
    - 1000's of animation takes (our last title used approx 3000 animations per character)
    - A rigid body representation for the physics engine, including joint limit set ups etc.
    - A way to blend and transition back and forth between animation and physics (simple ragdolls aren't good enough anymore)
    - The geometry & textures need to be authored by an artist(s)
    - Vertex & Pixel Shader to render the character.
    - Particle systems to generate smoke near the characters feet.
    - A lodding system where number of bones in a character, geometry detail, etc can by changed dynamically.
    - This data needs to hook into the collision, AI, and networking systems.

    All of that has to run on the PS3, which means you need to use the SPE's (and the code most be heavily vectorised to make use of the altivec instruction set). This means all of that body of work has to be split up into lots of 256Kb chunks (for both code and data) so that you can schedule them to run on the SPEs. Finally you get to the really easy bit, rendering the data. That volume of work would take a team of 10 programmers about 3 or 4 years to complete.

    Now lets compare that to how you'd do that for a 2D NES/SNES/Gameboy game:
    - get an artist to draw some sprites.
    - blit correct sprite to screen.

    That should take an experienced programmer no less than half a day to write that. Art assets are certainly increasing in complexity, but the code complexity has exploded to another level completely.

    because publishers are more inclined to say "she'll be right, we can patch it after release."

    All games have to go through extensive QA testing, both in house, at the publishers, and at microsoft/sony/nintendo before the game gets gold status ready for release. This process alone can take anywhere from 6 months to 3 years. Unfortunately despite game teams best efforts, we can't catch all of the bugs, so patching a game after release has become a necessity.... I can assure all game teams want to get all bugs before a game is released. If you don't, you get bad reviews, and your sales suffer....

  • by tepples (727027) <tepples AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday July 08, 2010 @06:20AM (#32837452) Homepage Journal

    Modern video cards already have TV out hardware; DVI -> HDMI adapters come in the box of nearly ever video card I've seen in the past 2 years.

    The impression that I get from reading comments to other PC vs. console articles is that gamers tend to play games on secondary TVs, not the main living room TV, because someone's watching a show like American Idol on the main living room TV when they want to play. These secondary TVs are often $10 thrift store CRT SDTVs that don't take HDMI. However, they do take VGA through a $40 adapter cable [sewelldirect.com] that produces composite video and S-Video.

  • Re:Sort of (Score:3, Informative)

    by Moraelin (679338) on Thursday July 08, 2010 @06:32AM (#32837548) Journal

    Pretty much my point actually. I'm pretty much disinclined to believe any claim to be a freedom fighter if it involves his own benevolent autocracy (or even oligarchy) at the end, and much less so from someone who is candidly honest up front about being just pissed off that he's not the king collecting taxes off the land. I mean, I appreciate the honesty, but you won't find me with a torch and pitchfork in his mob at the castle gates.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 08, 2010 @06:54AM (#32837726)
    perfectly playable, but the drop in graphics quality is significantly noticable even on a crappy utube video, that game is running 640x480 to achieve that at low res settings.
  • by daid303 (843777) on Thursday July 08, 2010 @07:07AM (#32837846)

    I can see you are a game programmer then.

    Now lets compare that to how you'd do that for a 2D NES/SNES/Gameboy game:
      - get an artist to draw some sprites.
      - blit correct sprite to screen.

    This might interest you then. I suggest you do some research on those platforms. The 'GPU' these consoles used are far from what you see these days. There is no blitting, you setup a bunch of memory and registers during VBlank and the GPU does the wonder of rendering for you, the whole screen. You don't say "sprite N at X,Y" every frame, no you setup the sprite once and then it keeps getting drawn there. Which is the easy part.
    All special effects come from tricks, poking the right registers while the screen is being drawn, but in some cases this is only allowed during HBlank.
    Also, don't forget that you only have an assembler, no high level languages. And limited amounts of debugging.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 08, 2010 @07:19AM (#32837980)

    Now lets compare that to how you'd do that for a 2D NES/SNES/Gameboy game:
    - get an artist to draw some sprites.
    - blit correct sprite to screen

    You must have seen some shoddy SNES games then. You should have been doing:

    Write tool to correctly split up animated sprites to a number of hardware sprites, removing duplicates (including flips and palette shifts), sometimes even doing fuzzy matching (losing a stray pixel if they look close enough) and shifting the box placement around to minimise a vague combination of

    • number of sprite definitions, i.e. VRAM size
    • number of sprites on screen at once
    • number of sprites on a line.

    Then obviously compress/decompress the sprites when going from ROM to VRAM using a standard algorithm. This pipeline took weeks to write, not a matter of half a day. Also it meant that even a straightforward SNES game could take nearly an hour to build the data on the PCs of the time, but if it saves the publisher from doubling the ROM size it would be worth it.

    And most of the things you have mentioned (apart from the shaders and the physics middleware) were around on the N64 which has far less grunt and smaller programmer team size.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 08, 2010 @07:25AM (#32838028)

    You have to constantly upgrade your console to keep up with the new consoles, so that is a moot point. A brand new console with all the accessories you need to use it will be over $500 unless you play by yourself. Those controllers are expensive... and don't even get me started on the cost difference between games... Steam games = $5 - $30, console games = $30 - $60. Then if you like any of the fad games that require their own special controllers (Ala GH/RB) your costs increase even more.

    Consoles are the great money sink no one seems to know about.

    with a console I can spend more on games with slightly less capable hardware

    Understatement of the century. The hardware difference between a modern gaming rig now and an Xbox 360 are INSANE. I can't even use my Xbox anymore now that I've run a few games side by side.

    I've spent more on my Xbox 360 than I have my gaming rig (If you count the games, controllers, warranty, etc), and my gaming rig gives me way better graphics, better selection of games, and I can do whatever the hell I want with my own hardware.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 08, 2010 @07:25AM (#32838032)

    "Dice" is plural; the singular is "die".

  • Annoyance (Score:2, Informative)

    by thsoundman (1778564) on Thursday July 08, 2010 @08:18AM (#32838666) Homepage
    The misconception that you have to buy a 500 dollar video card every year is a complete fallacy and myth. I owned a 8800gt for 3 years before I finally bought a new one and to top that off the only reason i did that was so I could run it at ultra high resolutions. I could of run the card for another couple years and been just fine and still been ahead of whatever the xbox resolution is which I think is 720p capped. Furthermore you don't even need to spend 500, 300 or even 200 dollars to have a card that will play most everything on the market maxed. Anyone who tells you otherwise is an idiot. On the flip side this does sound like a call from activision to increase their own profits. I don't think they care if their game is on one system or another they just want to make more money and if they can deliver pay DLC without having to pay a middleman $5 dollar tax on a $15 dollar DLC they would increase their profit %30. I don't know what changed in peoples minds to make them accept pay DLC. Even 6 years ago paying for extra content outside of a seperate expansion pack was unheard of. Now developers charge the price of the game for content that was already included in the game. I hate this practice with a passion. Especially when I'm paying a $60 price tag.
  • by kevinNCSU (1531307) on Thursday July 08, 2010 @09:48AM (#32839970)

    First of all if you want to play the new maps you have to play them in specific gamemode that rotates between team deatchmatch, demolition, sabotage and all the other modes.

    This is either intentionally misleading or you are misinformed. As long as everyone in your party has the new maps they will show up in all the game modes (at least all the standards like TDM, domination, ground war, CTF, ect). What they did was ADD a NEW game mode that allowed you to play ONLY the new maps and that game mode rotated between the various game types.

    This devalues the game for the old players, as they have much less people to play with and possibly can't even find a game to join.

    This is just absurd. you clearly have no concept of the size of the player base. Most of my friends got the DLC but a few don't and we convince more of our friends to pick up the game every few weeks. I've noticed no difference in ability to pick up a game between having the DLC or not. I have noticed the non DLC players seem to be easier on average, but I think that's likely caused by all brand new players being in that category.

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