Thursday, April 5, 2012

Hold Your Horses, PC Gamers

I have said before that how I hate this doom and gloom people paints about gaming, and how I hate the VS mentality predominant in the industry were something have to die to another thrive. Nowadays, the talk of the moment is how PC gaming is the future and consoles are going to die horribly and probably in fire. And how I think there is plenty of short sighting here.

First, PC enthusiasts loves to use the growing numbers of people who says they play on the PC. The problem with those numbers is that they do not show how many people bought a PC with gaming in mind and how many bought it for other uses and play games as a secondary function. Almost everyone who don't live in a third world country have a PC today. And use it to play games. But that does not mean they have a gaming PC playing Battlefield 3 at maximum specs.

Those researches may go with two questions: Do you play games and where do you play? The 'yes' and 'PC' may be very common combinations, but what do those people play? It can be FarmVille or Minesweeper or any browse games. it can be people who only play World of Warcraft. They are all gamers, yes, and all PC gamers. But it does not mean they are the kind of public big developers and publishers want to make games for.

Many PCs out there barely can play Minesweeper.
Another question is that many people predicting the death of consoles and rise of PC aren't exactly unbiased people. They are mostly PC developers. They want their investors (manly) and the players (secondly) to believe this. In the same way smartphones game developers wants everyone to buy a smartphone instead of a 3DS or Vita, PC developers want people to buy more PCs so they can sell their games to them. And scare tactics like those are a way to convince people that investing money in a PC is a safer bet than consoles.

And them we come to my third point. Will consumers shift from consoles to PC? I cannot see this coming, anytime soon. PC gaming is expensive to start. Even the cheap PC games are more expensive than consoles, and what is the point of paying more for a PC who will have a configuration barely enough to run games slightly better than consoles? And a PC who will be outdated in one or two years?

Also, even the most problematic console is still more practical than the PC to play games. If everything goes as simple as possible, you buy the game, insert the disc, load, play. But what happens when everything goes as wrong as possible? Let's rule out hardware fault and see a PS3 game with on-line pass VS a PC game.


- Turn on the machine;
- Download and install system update;
- Go to PS Store, input code, download pass;
- Put game on tray;
- Download day 1 patch and install;
- Install game;
- Play.


- Turn on the machine;
- Put game on tray (or download it);
- Install;
- Install require CD key, input it (skip this step if downloaded game);
- Install finished, load game;
- Download day 1 patch and install;
- Game have incompatibility problem with video card;
- Download and install newest driver for the card;
- Solve all incompatibility problems;
- Play the game like crap because your computer is minimum requirement;
- Go buy more RAM, a better graphic card and anything to make the game run smoothly;
- Play.

Of course, I am talking the worst case scenario here. And expecting that the majority of the consumers to be as tech wise as long time PC gamers is absurd. One reason many people like Apple products is their ease to use settings. And while many people will play simple games like browse games on PC, many others will be pushed away because of those technical difficulties in PC gaming. And the price, of course.

So, will be PC the go to place to play games? I think it already is for the biggest portion of people. Most people plays on PC today. Will consoles just disappear? Hardly. PCs have being the platform were games plays best since forever. It is not this what attracts the consumer. Pricing and ease to use is. If PC can solve this problem, than maybe they can steal market share from consoles. 

But kill consoles? I hardly believe it.

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