Why New Consoles Are Good For PC Gamers

 

In Mass Effect 3, I favored a set of Terminus armor. Gleaming, black, with a network of glowing red piping, it made Shepard look invincible, deadly, and extremely cool.

Until the conversations started, that is. I played Mass Effect on PC, and during every conversation, the close-ups made the game‘s low-resolution textures distractingly apparent. Those glowing red lines that looked so cool while I was busy setting Husks on fire suddenly appeared jagged and dull, as if someone had drawn them on in red Crayola.

As the gulf in performance between PC’s and consoles continues to grow, such problems will become all too frequent. XBOX 360′s and Playstation 3′s are simply not capable of running modern game engines at high resolutions, while still maintaining a stable framerate. Even console mega-hits like Call of Duty resort to rendering a lower-res image, then scale it up to fit a TV screen.

In an ideal world, this would be an easy problem to fix. Software is flexible, and can be easily adjusted to match the capacity of different hardware. Unfortunately, developers increasingly don’t think that way. Lured by the huge audiences and huger profits found in the console market, they carefully tailor games to suit consoles first, then add PC support as an afterthought, often without doing a very thorough job. PC users, even if their machines are actually better suited to running an engine as designed, have to contend with grainy cutscenes, ugly, low-res textures, awkward control schemes, and other avoidable compromises. Many turn to mods that fix the problems developers were unable or unwilling to fix themselves.

Still, hope remains. Released in 2005 and 2006, respectively, the 360 and PS3 are reaching the end of their console lives. Sooner than you think, they will be replaced with new, more powerful hardware. The nature of PC customization and development will always result in superior performance, but with the release of new consoles, that gap will narrow abruptly — from the widest possible difference to the narrowest.

Games ported from the next generation of consoles will blow games like Mass Effect 3 out of the water, without requiring significant upgrades on the part of PC users. Textures and cutscenes will better match a player’s chosen display resolution, and designers will take advantage of physics modelling and anti-aliasing technology that 360′s and PS3′s just can’t run. Console games and their ported half-brothers will never look as good as native PC games, but they’ll look at lot better than they do now.

To be sure, hardware manufacturers looking to market their new consoles will insist on a slew of exclusive titles, which will pain PC users looking to get in on the action. Once this initial flurry of activity is over, however, many of the games will eventually become available on PC. PC-centric developers will also have to step up their game in the meantime to weather console resurgence without seriously compromising their market share.

Some might say that the “PC vs. console” debate is a manufactured controversy, but it’s a fact that dedicated PC gamers tend to be derisive when the subject of a new console generation is raised. This is a short-sighted reflex. New consoles benefit all gamers, even PC gamers that don’t buy them.

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8 Comments on Why New Consoles Are Good For PC Gamers

Metaldaze

On March 30, 2012 at 3:49 am

I was just thinking about this exact thing a couple days ago, my computer is way beyond the capabilities of the 360 and PS3… once they catch up developers might actually be able to stress my system slightly. It’s exciting :) hope they come out soon.

k1DBLITZ

On March 30, 2012 at 6:55 am

I understand what you’re saying but I don’t like your logic and justification, true as it may be. History will repeat itself and once again we (PC gamers) will be held back by an artificial ceiling when the consoles age.

Electronicks

On March 30, 2012 at 7:07 am

I agree that new console benefits PC gamers. I thought the latest games weren’t as impressive visually as expected. The only down-side is the irritating dedicated games : ex: no Halo on PC??? Why PC gamers are your clients too Microsoft!
And I hope the steam-box project fails : don’t try to consolize a PC. Buy a console then! If you want a pre-built gaming machine there’s Alienware and the likes. PC 4 ever

David

On March 30, 2012 at 7:23 am

There is no steam box project, they already debunked that rumor a little while ago. At the very least nothing that’d be coming out any time soon.

Pibbolt

On March 30, 2012 at 11:15 am

Yeah! With the next generation of consoles I can expect a new wave of prettier, yet still very crummy console ports…. I am so excited.

Ron Whitaker

On March 30, 2012 at 12:10 pm

@k1DBlitz: You’re right, the process will repeat itself, but that always happens. New consoles come out, games improve, and people rush to consoles. As they age, people move back towards PC games because they are higher quality. I’m not sure why they leave PC in the first place, but hey, people do.

Kiljoy616

On April 2, 2012 at 6:10 am

This is circular thinking, first because there is no real news on new console coming out any time soon. If console go up to 1080p gaming then they will be around for at least 7 to 10 years, which means PC will have double or triple the raw power of any console in just 3 years and we will be back to the same issue.

We are stuck with a mediocre gaming world now, what was suppose to be the golden era of gaming turned to the lowest common denominator of gaming. The issue is not that console suck, but that games are not been made for PC then ported to console which is why so many games do not impress anyone. still there are a few games that are coming out that take advantage of the PC but they are few.

Tiagonal

On April 5, 2012 at 12:10 pm

The real next-generation is already here, everywhere.. Just the most notorious OnLive working right now, for more than 2 YEARS NOW!!! The jump to cloud gaming consoles is so scary, trying to reach the clouds and all. For once I begun seeing PC upgrading efectively useless to match up to the capabilities of such systems. I foresee a cloudy future ahead, thus real next-gen consoles won’t be but new platforms other than nowadays common names (Sony, Microsoft), and an unexpected change of the paradigms of this article.