Last I checked there was no governing body over the PC gaming community, let alone a spokesperson that could speak the mind for the industry as a whole. However, that hasn’t stopped the concerted effort of the vocal PC gaming participants from trying to pick a fight with consoles makers, and their fans, on the eve of this upcoming generation.
But no matter how much Nvidia executives or PC websites yell about hardware strength, it won’t change the quality gaming experience consoles offer and the relative stagnancy of their own platform.
The competition in the 90′s between Sega, Nintendo, and Sony pushed console innovation and set the foundation for the sales surge seen since 2000. If anything consoles have slowly been stealing what works on the PC and incorporating it into their devices. In 1998 the Sega Dreamcast made consoles first big effort into online gaming, and later Microsoft’s Xbox began perfecting the service with its release in 2001.
Bringing us to the current and upcoming console generations where functions like cross game chat, online multiplayer, downloadable patches, downloadable content, and online stat tracking are expected. Not to mention media functions like DVD/Blu-Ray playback, MP3 and MP4 support, and access to countless apps and video content such as Netflix and Vudu.
Over this time consoles have taken gaming into practically every household in the developed world, and recently mobile gaming has created even more room for games to grow in terms of both market size and experience. And while consoles have seen such huge strides PC gaming, aside from graphics, has been quiet in terms of evolving their platform and the functions it offers.
The current state of PCs isn’t completely stagnant however, Valve’s Steam service has been very successful, and seems to be the new standard for game distribution and profitability, and new hardware like the Oculus Rift, a virtual reality 3D headset, is poised to revolutionize gaming as a whole. But even these success stories aren’t doing anything but trying to help reclaim PC’s past glory. Chances are any new hardware based on the gaming experience will eventually find its way to consoles, because that’s where the money is, and has been. Advances like the Oculus Rift won’t stay PC exclusive for long.
Piracy, accessibility, ease of use, living room integration, marketing, and piracy (for good measure) are just some of the reasons PC gaming has struggled financially in the past. Unfortunately none of these issues are easily fixed.
Valve, maybe recognizing these barriers, has been developing the Steam Box, which is basically a gaming PC designed to hook up in your living room. While the success or failure of Steam Box is still uncertain it would retain a key advantage PCs have had over consoles; upgrade-able hardware.
PC enthusiast can improve the physical performance of their machines literally whenever their hearts and wallets will allow it, while console owners have to wait the 5+ years it takes their company of choice to come out with the new model.
Looking at the functions being touted for this upcoming console generation and the direction Valve is trying with the Steam Box it seems likely that PC and console gaming will likely merge at some point in the future. In company’s efforts to provide the best home entertainment experience, they are dialing in to a balance of accessibility, features, integration, and price that centers on the living room and consumers preferences.
And while fans of PCs and consoles will always argue for their platform of choice, it would be nice to leave the major bashing to the jilted company execs and media outlets with an agenda to push, because sooner or later we might all end up on the same side anyway.
(Nvidia quotes since the PS4 announcement: worth mentioning AMD will provide hardware support to Sony this gen as opposed to Nvidia owning the contracts for the PS3 and 360 last gen.)
“Compared to gaming PCs, the PS4 specs are in the neighborhood of a low-end CPU, and a low- to mid-range GPU side,”- Nvidia’s Tony Tamasi
“What you get today in terms of performance is what you’re stuck with 5- 10 years down the road. PCs don’t have these problems,”- Nvidia’s Tony Tamasi