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Activision Wants Consoles To Be Replaced By PCs 344

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 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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  • Bobby Kotick again (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SquarePixel ( 1851068 ) on Thursday July 08, 2010 @03:56AM (#32836478)

    While moving away from consoles 'walled gardens' sounds great and the summary makes it sound all nice and everything, this is Bobby Kotick [] were talking about. The CEO of Activision who's primary goal is to milk as much money from computer games as possible by any means necessary.

    In the article he is angry that while people pay for XBL subscriptions, Activision doesn't get any share of that. Basically he wants people to pay Activision a monthly subscription for online services, on top of the normal price for games. While it makes sense for games like MMO's where the developer needs the monthly subscription to keep up their massive server farms and keep creating new content, the usual multiplayer games don't require that. Just see Valve and TF2 or countless amount of other multiplayer games.

    Forget about "opening up consoles", making the world a better place, ending wars and famine, he just wants more money.

  • by Chrisq ( 894406 ) on Thursday July 08, 2010 @04:02AM (#32836508)

    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."

    So would I .... it would like a great MythTV box

  • by sznupi ( 719324 ) on Thursday July 08, 2010 @04:13AM (#32836550) Homepage

    More to the point, he is surely frustrated that he can't really pursue his own 'walled gardens' on consoles; for that he needs 'open' PC.

  • by TechnoFrood ( 1292478 ) on Thursday July 08, 2010 @04:18AM (#32836568)

    the usual multiplayer games don't require that. Just see Valve and TF2 or countless amount of other multiplayer games.

    Thats simple to get round, you just don't release a dedicated server for your game, and force everyone to use your matchmaking service for P2P play.

  • by FriendlyLurker ( 50431 ) on Thursday July 08, 2010 @04:28AM (#32836624)

    The CEO of Activision who's primary goal is to milk as much money from computer games as possible by any means necessary.

    In this case, the point is moot. Anyone who supports an open standard platform for gaming gets my vote, greedy or not. Walled gardens, especially when they are the dominant garden in the park, are never good for consumer choice or price in the long run. Sure Kotick can charge more on the PC than on some propriety gaming platform where he must follow orders. But he also can't exclude competition or dictate any terms to anyone else... so go to it Activision, I really hope you succeed in making a plugin and play gaming PC platform based on open standards!

  • by bhunachchicken ( 834243 ) on Thursday July 08, 2010 @04:29AM (#32836632) Homepage


    1. Buy game
    2. Insert game disc
    3. Download patches as required
    4. Play


    1. Check back of box for requirements
    2. Mull over whether or not your PC is ninja enough to play it
    3. Buy, take home and insert disc(s)
    4. Install, download patches, upgrade DirectX
    5. Play
    6. Game is slower than you like, tweak resolution, AA, sound, effects, etc. until game is smoother
    7. Play
    8. Crash
    9. Play
    10. Crash
    11. Log into forums and post hardware specs, discuss with others experiencing problems
    12. Download new driver for piece of hardware
    13. Play
    14. Crash
    15. Remove / disable piece of hardware
    16. Play
    17. etc.

    That's my own personal experience of PC vs Console gaming, and quite frankly I (as I imagine quite literally millions of gamers also do), prefer to simply insert the disc and play the game. I don't care that I don't have a nVidia 10 Billion X, allowing 19404 x 19304 resolutions, 256-bit colour, 32x multi scene ahead-of-frame anti-aliasing, with hardware bloom and post-processing eyeball burning rendering effects, I just want the game to work the developer intended it.

    (goes and puts on anti-flame suit)

  • by daid303 ( 843777 ) on Thursday July 08, 2010 @04:37AM (#32836664)

    Download patches as required

    I never had to do that on my NES, SNES, Atari, Wii, Sega, gameboy, etc...
    Downloadable patches is the current evil for console games, it ruins the "plugin and play" spirit. If you cannot supply patches you will make damn sure your game works. Yes, most oldies have a few bugs, but nothing that make the game unplayable, more glitches that require special actions. (super mario 1 - level -1, zelda links awakening - screen teleport glitch, pokemon - "missin no")

    These days we have games that simply are unplayable unless you patch them, which is crazy.

  • by d_jedi ( 773213 ) on Thursday July 08, 2010 @04:39AM (#32836678)

    Ex. Modern Warfare 2:
    "Criticism has arisen of changes made to the PC version of Modern Warfare 2 including the lack of dedicated servers, latency issues of the listen server-only IWNET, lack of console commands, lack of support for matches larger than 18 players, and inability to vote towards kicking or banning cheating players immediately"

    Remove the benefits of PC gaming, and gamers won't game on a PC..

  • by ultranova ( 717540 ) on Thursday July 08, 2010 @04:52AM (#32836728)

    In this case, the point is moot. Anyone who supports an open standard platform for gaming gets my vote, greedy or not. Walled gardens, especially when they are the dominant garden in the park, are never good for consumer choice or price in the long run.

    One should also remember that consoles hold back the development of games. Even something like XBox 360 has only 512 megs of memory, which severely limits how complex gameworlds it can represent; just compare with the 2 gigabytes minimum on newer PCs, and 6-8 gigs or more on high-end machines.

  • by Eraesr ( 1629799 ) on Thursday July 08, 2010 @05:02AM (#32836764) Homepage
    Bobby Kotick's ultimate goal isn't an open platform. His goal is a platform that's very much closed off, but where he determines the rules instead of Microsoft. The reason he roots for the PC as a platform to do this on is because it's the only platform that is open enough for him to start up his own walled garden.

    It's bad news all-round. 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'd be working yourself into serious debts if you want to sustain (multiplayer) access to a variety of games from different publishers.
  • by bloodhawk ( 813939 ) on Thursday July 08, 2010 @05:05AM (#32836770)
    And the various levels of hardware in PC land hold back development even more. Very few games can afford to shoot for the leading edge of hardware as it simply restricts their gaming audience too much. An X-box will set a gamer back $300-$500 (depending on accessories), a modern gaming machine while relatively cheap nowadays is going to cost you at least as much and is a constantly shifting target that forces gamers to upgrade regularly (I am one of them), with a console I can spend more on games with slightly less capable hardware, with a PC I spend more on hardware which reduces what I can spend on games, but get prettier games.
  • Sort of (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Moraelin ( 679338 ) on Thursday July 08, 2010 @05:06AM (#32836784) Journal

    Well, sort of. Actually, not really. Someone who explicitly just wants to replace Sony's walled garden with his own, doesn't exactly strike me as a sort of freedom fighters. In fact the whole situation kinda gives me the mental image of fighting Apple's walled garden by replacing it with Microsoft software.

    The fact that the PC hardware itself will be open is effectively just a way to pass that unprofitable part to someone else. PC's commoditization just drove the profit margins of PC vendors into the basement and allowed MS to stick to the part where it can rake in the taxes like a king. In the end it's one reason why MS did better than apple, back in the late 90's and early 2000's.

    Activision here wants the same thing. It wants the likes of Dell and HP to do the work of building a cheap PC that's kinda like a console, but not charge royalties for it, so he can get the money instead.

    And generally I would question the logic between giving your vote to someone just because they intend to replace another asshole. The history is full of examples where that was a bad idea. I could even Goodwin it by mentioning a certain election in '32 where some people thought they'll show the established parties and coalitions by voting for the new and vocal third party, so to speak. Yeah, that went so well. But otherwise from Lenin to Yuan Shikai to ancient greek tyrants (yeah, most of those used populism to subvert the self-serving oligarchy that passed for ancient greek democracy), we have some millennia of people who offered to save us from they tyranny of someone else by replacing it with their own.

  • by ScaledLizard ( 1430209 ) on Thursday July 08, 2010 @05:08AM (#32836790)
    ... they could provide their games on bootable Linux discs. No install needed, no patches possible, full control over the player's experience, with the added bonus of being able run the games in Linux. Just a dream? Also no need to update DirectX.
  • by mjwx ( 966435 ) on Thursday July 08, 2010 @05:09AM (#32836796)
    1. try to make out text that isnt aliased/sampled properly.
    2. play for 5 minutes.
    3. Level transition time, loading.
    4. play.
    5. load.
    6. play.
    7. load.
    8. change disk.
    9. load.
    10. RROD.
    11. vendor retroactively takes features.
    12. game vendor nickels and dimes you for DLC.
    13. after 13 DLC's at $5 each you finally have a full game.

    1. Set resolution to monitors native (most games do this automatically now).
    2. Play.
    3. Keep playing.
    4. Holy crap, there's more then 4 hours of content in the game and no loading screen.
    5. Enjoy quicksaving.
    6. Get free content from the distributor (thanks valve and stardock).
    7. Play the game 15 years later on your modern gaming PC.
  • green eyed monster (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bloodhawk ( 813939 ) on Thursday July 08, 2010 @05:14AM (#32836820)
    What you have here is serious jealously of Xbox Live and soon PSN as they look to monetise it. They are seeing the huge profit MS is starting to turn on XBL (while at the same time forgetting the years of investment ie losses it took to get there) and just like a petulant child they are trying to figure out some easy way they can claim a slice of this pie (while at the same time not actually do anything to earn it).
  • by Shikaku ( 1129753 ) on Thursday July 08, 2010 @05:46AM (#32836970)

    Hell they could release something like SteamOS (name just for explanation) where it installs like Wubi and can be updated/patched from Windows but to play you have to boot into their OS.

  • by KDR_11k ( 778916 ) on Thursday July 08, 2010 @06:14AM (#32837132)

    To be fair this whole subscription service mania is a result of revenues not growing as much as costs so sooner or later their whole operation will crash down anyway (they'll focus on delivering fewer and fewer titles that must all be huge hitters but epect failures to eliminate publishers going that route) and people who are less hostile towards the customer and blowing less money on nonsense like cutting edge graphics (of course you need decent graphics but you don't need expensive cutting edge ones) will take over. While Activision et al build bigger and bigger blockbusters countless avenues for cheaply made games are springing up everywhere. The future of gaming is not ridiculous prices, it's cutting back the superfluous costs and delivering reasonably priced games with good enough graphics and good fun (which isn't terribly expensive).

  • by scdeimos ( 632778 ) on Thursday July 08, 2010 @06:24AM (#32837170)

    Today's games are 10000 times bigger.

    Today's games are only 10,000 times bigger because of the higher-fidelity audio and higher-resolution graphics. The games themselves are not 10,000 times more complex, otherwise they'd be unplayable by humans, so they have no excuse to be any more unstable than their older counterparts.

    Sorry, I agree with the GP... patchable console games make for shittier games because publishers are more inclined to say "she'll be right, we can patch it after release."

  • by daid303 ( 843777 ) on Thursday July 08, 2010 @06:27AM (#32837186)

    Todays games are larger, yes. But today we have different tooling.
    Yes, it's not that hard to build a platform game like super mario 1. Unless you only have an assembler, 40K of ROM, 2K of RAM, a CPU at slightly less then 2Mhz and a GPU with some strict timing requirements.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 08, 2010 @06:32AM (#32837212)
    Current gen consoles are looking at lasting 6+ years. Try running your COD4 on a 6 year old PC with a 6 year old graphics card. so something like an ATI X600 or Geforce 6600 ( 5 years ago) will struggle even in a game like wow nowadays.
  • by bloodhawk ( 813939 ) on Thursday July 08, 2010 @06:41AM (#32837254)
    So even with an only 2 year old graphics card you have to reduce performance, 2 years is a way to frequent upgrade. This is the whole damn problem, if you want to keep up with games in the PC world you have to upgrade or have the game operating at less than the designed intent. I can afford to keep up with that, I actually upgrade at least once a year but I have friends that can't afford to upgrade there 3,4,5 year old machines and find it almost impossible to play newer games. the 360 came out in 2005, the PS3 came out in 2006. Even games purchased in 2011 or 2012 will work the same on a 2005 model as it will on a 2012 model. get a gaming machine from 2007 or 2008 even and you will find you have to turn down the graphics on modern games.
  • by stealth_finger ( 1809752 ) on Thursday July 08, 2010 @06:53AM (#32837302)


    1. Open tray
    2. Close tray
    3 Play
    continue till bored.


    0. Make sure computer can actually run game, if not go out and buy more parts till it can.
    1 Open tray
    2. Close tray
    3. Install
    4. Crash
    5. Hunt for drivers.
    6. Crash
    7. Spend hours tinkering with options and settings to get a decent framerate and accecptable graphics
    8. Crash
    9. Spend hours trawling forums trying to pinpoint exact problem
    10. Recify problems, change registry settings, reinstall game, reinstall drivers
    11. Try Again
    12. Crash
    13. Repeat untill rage
    14. Finally get game working to find any online portion is filled with 99% hackers, modders and general cheats.
    15. .......Crash

    Hey this is fun. []

  • by tepples ( 727027 ) <> on Thursday July 08, 2010 @06:58AM (#32837316) Homepage Journal

    Bnet will be his walled garden.

    The advantage of PCs running Windows is that it has multiple walled gardens:, Steam, etc. You can start your own if you don't like the console maker's, or you can join someone's even if the console maker thinks your business is too small.

  • Re:Sort of (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mcvos ( 645701 ) on Thursday July 08, 2010 @07:09AM (#32837388)

    Someone who explicitly just wants to replace Sony's walled garden with his own, doesn't exactly strike me as a sort of freedom fighters.

    I don't know. Plenty of freedom fighters throughout history overthrew a brutal dictatorship just to institute their own. (Most didn't have the decency to tell you this up front, however.)

  • dead end (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tom ( 822 ) on Thursday July 08, 2010 @07:32AM (#32837542) Homepage Journal

    what a piece of nonsense.

    We don't need a new computer type. We need a little bit of innovation regarding connections.

    If you have a computer in your computer room, and a flatscreen TV in your living room, why can the computer not use the TV as an output device? Wire, wireless, don't care. Why invent a new device if it does nothing you don't already have?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 08, 2010 @08:20AM (#32837990)
    The 360 ticks over 5 years in a couple of months so I doubt it is going to go from dated to absolutely primitive in a little over 12 months lol. The 7800 most definitely also struggled with Crysis and required significant downgrading of graphics, it ran ok on medium graphics but really required low settings to run at full. Geforce 7800GTX and 8800GTX released at those times cost more than an entire bundled console plus a few games thrown in and that is without the PC to put it in. If you built a machine at that time with those cards you would have been paying many times more than the cost of a console.

    I really don't get why people are so antagonistic to the console market.... well actually I get activision, they are simply fucking greedy bastards. I am both a console gamer and a PC gamer, they are 2 different markets, both have there positives and negatives. Cost and consistency along with ease of use with "decent" graphics is the console. High end graphics and games, more complex and even FPS's (even though some of those are now finding favour on the consoles too) is the PC world.
  • by tepples ( 727027 ) <> on Thursday July 08, 2010 @09:09AM (#32838546) Homepage Journal

    Nobody in their right mind views a netbook as a gaming machine.

    Yet people in their right mind have seen advertising that portrays DS, PSP, and iPod Touch as gaming machines.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 08, 2010 @10:13AM (#32839496)

    Pardon? [...] 10,000x more complicated [...] game engine code
    [... a few list items ...]
    - 1000's of animation takes (our last title used approx 3000 animations per character)
    - 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.
    - This data needs to hook into the collision, AI, and networking systems.

    No fair adding those sorts of items just to bump up your claim of complexity. Artists create things within the bounds of your game's capabilities, sometimes with in-house tools, often not. We know this; it doesn't affect complexity. In fact, the more you can have your artists doing things, and your mentioned systems being driven by the data hooking into them, the less complex your game code becomes. Stop overselling your prowess.

    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.

    We're talking volume of work here, because of the size of the game. It's not the complexity of the work. Assuming a good team, a few people (or even just one guy) work on the SPE vectorization, and they deal with that complexity and make it transparent enough so that everyone else can get back to business as usual. Yes, overall the game code ends up being more complex, and you may have a 10,000x increase in the number of entities, assets, and possible individual failure points, but we're still nowhere near a 10,000x increase in total complexity of the game code.

    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.

    Oh ho ho, well I can make a list too. Back in my day, we had to do these things just to get a guy walking across the screen:
    - A frame based animation and transitioning structure
    - Ability to create sprites from combinations of other 8x8 or 8x16 sprites (but not both)
    - All of the level's animations (main character, enemies, other entities) fit into a single 256x256 pixel page, and the backgrounds in another page
    - Artist(s) make all of the artwork, with only 3 colors per sprite, or 4 colors per background tile (modulated by any of four 4-color palettes)
    - Drawing a new background takes 3-4 frames to fill the memory, and 4-way scrolling requires all sorts of memory trickery
    - Integer-only math, physics, timing, etc.
    - All processing is on a 1.79 MHz 8-bit CPU
    - Background graphics are blitted, a few bytes at a time, through the CPU to the PPU
    - Sprite graphic indices, coordinates, and flags (not the sprites themselves of course) are transferred to the PPU through DMA just before the screen draws
    - Sound effects take up (or interrupt) one of your music channels
    - Everything is written in assembler, or maybe an in-house macro assembler, because other language's aren't fast enough
    - There's no such thing as a middleware game engine, an existing level editor, etc. Much level and graphic design is done using an ancient tool called "graph paper".

    Plus, all of this (code and data) has to fit into chunks of 16kb at a time (or 8kb, depending on the hardware memory mapper in your cartridge), which can be swapped out during the dangerous balancing act of "where did my currently running code go?". And there's only 2kb of RAM, 256 bytes of which is "fast", and another 256 bytes of which is "allocated for the CPU stack". And, if your code is taking longer than 1/60 of a second to finish its processing, the CPU will just interrupt ev

  • by Buelldozer ( 713671 ) on Thursday July 08, 2010 @10:23AM (#32839656)

    You've missed a large part of the OPs point! You say that QA testing spends much effort finding bugs and glitches but we both know that doesn't mean that the managers in charge are going to FIX them before the game ships!

    If they don't fix an issue before the game ships then here comes....THE PATCHES!


  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 08, 2010 @12:39PM (#32841542)

    Just because you can doesnt mean you should.

    IMHO, Morrowind was a much more enjoyable game than Oblivion.

    The primary difference? Oblivion had physics... you could knock stuff off the table.... thats the only benefit it added.

    Meanwhile the physics resulted in ALL KINDS of problems. Players could no longer easily put things where they wanted them, sometimes the physics would screw up & stuff would go flying everywhere, stuff got lost behind a table & you couldnt get to it, the added cpu demands of the physics pushed sys reqs through the roof... etc etc etc

    all so you could accidentally knock stuff off the tables.

    Next time you're adding "A rigid body representation for the physics engine, including joint limit set ups etc." please please please take a moment & think about whether doing so actually adds anything to the gameplay.... or if you're just doing it because you can.

  • by AndersOSU ( 873247 ) on Thursday July 08, 2010 @01:19PM (#32842130)

    Locked down hardware is the only advantage of consoles.

    The primary reason the PC game market is on the long slow decline is "minimum system requirements" and the upgrade treadmill that goes with it. I know that my Xbox 360 will play every Xbox game just as well as yours. I don't have to worry about frame rates or graphic cards. I plug it in, and I know I can play every game designed for the system.

  • by jythie ( 914043 ) on Thursday July 08, 2010 @02:41PM (#32843160)
    That 'reduction' also comes with a price. Higher development and testing costs. One of the advantages of producing for a known hardware set is you can put those resources into further developing the game rather then making it work across a wider range of configurations. Support for multiple resolutions alone can cause costs to balloon and gets even messier when you give the ability to switch particular types of graphics off an on. Each of those configurations needs to be tested and bugs only present in one or two types need to be fixed. Keeping behavior uniform often involves going down into the underlying engine and altering that, which requires regression testing the whole mess. It can turn a '99% done game' into months of development hell.....

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo.