Are Consoles Holding Back The True Potential of Video Games?

The one thing that held CGI in movies back for as long as it was is hardware.  Movies like Jurassic Park needed computers that filled warehouses to produce their effects.  Then, good hardware starting dropping in price and movies like The Matrix became possible.  But of course, though it still looks great, The Matrix’s CGI can hardly compete with Inception’s or Looper’s.  Why?  Because instead of having to use digital still cameras to capture realtime events from multiple angles, the computers available today can use a 3D scan of a person to create a CGI model of them and place them in a photo-realistic 3D environment without costing three times the production’s budget.

To me, gaming is the same way.  GoldenEye blew people’s minds when it came out and is the reason console FPS games are so popular, especially multiplayer FPS games.  But the N64 is a dinosaur compared to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.  Now, because the hardware needed is cheap enough, we have games like Battlefield 3, Crysis 3, Call of Duty, and Halo, to name a few.  But this current generation of hardware was starting to show its age 4 years ago.  BF3 on console vs PC isn’t even a matter of opinion, it’s a totally different game on PC.

This is where I see consoles beginning to hold back innovation in gaming.  The consoles are designed to last for 7-10 years, which is great as far as long term electronics investment is concerned.  The only problem is, the hardware market cycles almost every 2 years.  While the locked down and uniform nature of a console certainly gives developers a lot of leeway and to push its hardware as far as it can go, it can still only go so far.  BF3 serves as probably the most glaring example of a game that’s been held back and tortured into working with console hardware.  It’s obvious that even in the PC version of BF3, DICE had to cut corners to make it work on current generation console hardware.  An even worse example would be Far Cry 3. (Just Google it. Trust me. It’s not pretty.)  And, don’t even get me started on Skyrim.

The problem is that in order for a console to be worth making, it has to last a really long time.  For the first few years, I’m sure the Play Station 4 and Xbox One will do a fine job with most games.  But once GPUs like Nvidia’s Titan hit the $300-500 price point, you better believe that we’ll be seeing Far Cry 3 all over again.  With consoles, there is no room for improvement, there is no way to fix the weaknesses brought on by time.  Because of that, game development will always have a major bottleneck so long as the consoles are the biggest distribution platform for games.  While first party exclusives might not suffer too much from this bottleneck, multiplatform titles certainly do.

I wish I could share the feeling I had when I played BF3 on PC for the first time after having played it on Xbox 360 for 6 months.  All I could think of was “THIS is how the game is SUPPOSED to play.”  And it wasn’t just the graphics, it was everything: Player counts, map layout, gameplay – everything in BF3 is better on PC.  I realized then just how held back most games are because of consoles.  Last month, I sold my Xbox 360, all my games, cancelled my Xbox Live membership and went 100% PC, and I haven’t missed a thing.  My gaming experience since has felt much more “full.”

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “PC isn’t a well optimized platform for gaming as things like driver issues, hardware compatibility  and version support are almost always an issue for PC and console has none of those kinds of issues.”  And you’re totally correct.  Every day I run into a new bug or software issue that takes a Google search to fix.  Games like Metro: Last Light get the firing squad from PC gamers for its crashing issues.  But considering Last Light was a multiplatform title developed by a bare bones staff on a shoestring budget in a concentration camp, I wonder how much of its issues wouldn’t exist if they hadn’t been stuck porting it to current generation consoles and making sure what they were putting into the game was scaleable.  In fact, between hardware becoming cheaper and easier to use, and services like Steam simplifying the gaming experiences, I wonder how long it”ll be before those Google searches stop being an everyday thing.

One of the few positives that console gaming has to offer is UI and controller interface design.  The software running today and tomorrow’s consoles is genuinely impressive, intuitive, and incredibly convenient for the end user, albeit littered with ads.  The customer satisfaction, though, with the console and smartphone UI experiences over the past few years has inspired companies like Valve to design similar UIs like Big Picture.

For those of you unfamiliar with Big Picture, it is genuinely a fantastic piece of software and, in my opinion, if developed to include more features, will easily compete with and outshine almost any console UI in the near future.

Valve is making it clear with their release of Big Picture that they want PC gaming to be simple for the average user.  Considering how much clout they carry in the PC gaming community, if anyone can make PC gaming easier, it’s going to be Valve.  In fact, it wouldn’t shock me if Big Picture were to receive a big update this summer that greatly expands what it can do.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you should wholly ignore the Xbox One or PS4. They will most likely be great devices for both media playback and gaming.  What I am suggesting is that, if you’re really into gaming, keep in mind that 4 years from now, the hardware in the PS4 and Xbox One will be hitting 6 years old.  6 year old hardware, even in a console, is pushing the limits of what developers can scale back their games to in a BIG way.  So if you really want the best games possible, maybe we need to trade convenience for power.

Like I said, Steam wants gaming to be easy to do and to be accessible to everyone.  If they can implement a standard that makes running games on PC a no-brainer for the average person, or if they change the console market by proving an upgradable console can work for the average Joe, I’d be totally on board to buy a new console from them.

As a gamer, it’s not just about the best graphics or best framerates to me, but when the next-gen consoles fall too far behind PC hardware to run 2K or 4K games (if they even can), the gap in performance will be painfully obvious, just like it is with current generation consoles.  This slows down the innovation and graphical advances in gaming that we so desperately want.

As a gamer, I want developers to have the freedom to develop games how they see fit and not have to worry about scaling down or holding back their games so they can run on old hardware that nobody uses anymore.  I know that PCs aren’t immune to this issue, but the big difference is you can always upgrade your PC to something that can run any game for the same price as buying the version 2.0 of a given console and on roughly the same timetable too.  Unfortunately, because the console market is the biggest gaming market their is, game developers have develop for it.  That means engines like the CryEngine, which are capable of nearly total photorealism, won’t ever be used to their full potential.

While it’s clear the next gen consoles will be able to handle newer engines without substantial downscaling, it’s still something that’s required to get them running properly and that developers are having to remove features to make that downscaling possible.

A great example of this is the Unreal Engine 4 running on the PlayStation 4 vs. the PC:

The key differentiating factor between last year’s demo and this newer iteration is that the Sparse Voxel Octree Global Illumination (SVOGI) lighting system hasn’t made the cut. Instead, Epic is aiming for very high quality static global illumination with indirect GI sampling for all moving objects, including characters.

‘[SVOGI] was our prototype GI system that we used for Elemental last year. And our targets, given that we’ve had announced hardware from Sony, that’s where we’re going to be using Lightmass as our global illumination solution instead of SVOGI,”‘ senior technical artist and level designer Alan Willard told Eurogamer. (Thanks, Nick Gigante.)

What are your thoughts?  Are you excited to finally have a new console in your living room?  Or are you worried that despite being decent now, it will show it’s age just like the current-gen consoles and hold back games from their full potential?

  • awkenney

    I’m not as concerned about the next generation of consoles holding back experiences as I was about the Xbox 360′s technical limitations holding back this generation. Mainly this has to do with the SOC architecture and the fact that many PCs do not have the key functionalities of this SOC yet. Unified RAM and the system’s ability to address any data in the RAM from either the CPU or the GPU – this essentially means data can now be shared directly by the CPU and GPU without the two addressing each other first. In a world of full programmable CPUs and GPUs this could be interesting.

    I am concerned about the Xbox One however. It has embedded RAM which is normally used to make up for bandwidth limitations, but instead may make the Unified RAM functionality less effective. It will probably also have a slower clock on the CPU and will have less compute units on the GPU than the PS4. I don’t like developers being put into a position where they have to find ways around poor system design decisions, and I think that’s exactly what is going to happen with the Xbox One. Unfortunately, devs always develop for the lowest common denominator, which means the PS4 and PC game experiences are probably going to be held back by the Xbox One.

    • Jason Davis

      I highly doubt the 33% Article you shared earlier and there is no need to explain why again since EVERY chart I have seen is missing something. How would Fast Embedded Ram hinder Unified Ram? Again, not saying you are wrong, just can’t see how there would be that big of a difference. :)

    • BOSS jediZOHAN

      I agree. Sony is making the PS4 gaming first, media second. But I think that and MS signing deals with companies like EA and Activision, not to mention ESPN, is going to really force developers to focus yet again on MS’s hardware.

      • Dirtknap

        As tentative as I am about the XBOX one and its limitations, I think Microsoft are onto something here, perhaps a little before its time without the necessary tech quite being in place. Total media solutions in console form (without the limitations) will be possible by utilizing tech similar to that used by Xi3′s Piston, with all those easily upgradable parts on a rack, I predict this is where consoles will be headed following the next gen. The “Steambox” will be king of the living room, and I’ll be good with that, it’s a great option for former PC gamers like myself who find console more practical these days.

        • BOSS jediZOHAN

          A fellow MP1st writer and I had a discussion about upgradable consoles and while I feel if done right they’d be amazing, he made an excellent point in that the level of optimization we see with console games today, would be ruined by upgradable consoles. Which means games wouldn’t run as well, look as good, and the hardware wouldn’t last as long.

          • Dirtknap

            This is true, however i still see it being inevitable, it’s a matter of when. Clearly it’s not currently possible, but a time will come where upgradeable consoles will very much be a reality, consoles become more and more PC like to the point we’re at now, the point of difference obviously being the ability to upgrade or not. I believe it ultimately comes down to the structure of the current publishing model for consoles.

            Who knows, give it another generation and it may just happen, true platform equality may not be achieved but parity could be (think Gabe Newell’s good, better, best model).

            Current business conventions and processes are the biggest stumbling block in this scenario, and that is one huge stumbling block!

          • Silverwolf

            I think considering that using Thunderbolt connections you can now actually have external GPUs, that we’re not far from a point where essentially manufacturers will be able to setup “Plug & Play” upgrading of consoles.

            Essentially, give them something along the lines of a high end Intel board (Solid as a rock, reliable), and put RAM, CPU, and GPU into ‘modules’ which can be relatively easily swapped out for new ones and a firmware/software update included in the package to get it all working again.

            As it stands, Consoles have become both the Grandfather, and little brother, to PC gaming systems… but I think if the above can be implemented then it will put a bit more life into Consoles.

            Consider a 3-4 year cycle, with a console now potentially having a 10-12 year total life-span. And with the console users having the ability to essentially do what PC Gamers do, and go out and grab a uniform upgrade module to swap into their console.

  • http://www.facebook.com/TheNeoReaper Chad Eugene Rash

    No cosoles = No video games.

    • BOSS jediZOHAN

      Of course, but just because something starts in one place doesn’t mean it will always be stuck there.

    • pbvider

      No consoles -> better video games!

      • Dirtknap

        You wouldn’t be gaming on a PC if video games hadn’t been popularized by arcade titles and then console, so while I’m sure Chad’s suggestion wouldn’t be quite accurate, we are where we are today because of consoles. Lets all leave the flame wars at the door and keep the conversation constructive.

  • Dantehh

    This is quite pathetic, and you call yourself an “old-school” gamer? One who played Super Mario Bros 3 and enjoyed the magnificent GAMEPLAY? Cause I am…

    Or maybe you are now a graphics whore?

    For shame! :/

    • http://mp1st.com/ David Veselka

      It’s okay to only talk about graphics and visuals once in a while :)

      Of course it’s not the most important thing, but it certainly warrants its own discussion.

      • Shitatapo

        Is not only Graphics. Is also gameplay. Some games has to take out features to make them fit on consoles. Hence BF3. became a CoD game instead of a BF2 sequel.

        • PuddingAuxRais1ns

          Graphics plays just as big, if not more bigger or smaller, of a role in games as does gameplay. The problem with most developers is finding the perfect balance between the two(mainly on consoles).

    • BOSS jediZOHAN

      So because I want games to have as much power behind them to run as best they can, I’m pathetic?

      I loved my NES, Genesis, Jaguar, PS1, PS2, and Xbox 360, not to mention all the handheld devices like GameBoys (basically all of them), the SEGA Game Gear, and PSP. So excuse me if I’m intelligent enough to recognize a trend in which gaming systems become more powerful over time and currently the most powerful gaming platform is the PC.

      It’s not just about graphics. The more powerful your hardware, the more dynamic and complex your games can be in general.

  • Mac

    I think cloud computing is going to keep the next gen relevant after its hardware becomes outdated. While developers are only toying with this now, in the next five years or so it could really make a difference. Things like draw distances and low res computations could be handled off console. It has a lot of potential.

    • BOSS jediZOHAN

      OnLive…

      • Exare

        Ah, OnLive failed because of bad business practice and an arogant, hot-headed CEO who ruined partnerships. The tech was there and it worked really well. I used it to play games on my Mac (games on my Mac!) with it back in the day and was thoroughly impressed. Cloud processed gaming can defnitely work. Even Nvidia seems to think so with their Shield. Although I would never use that thing and I’ll go ahead and label it right now as the next N-Gage.

      • Mac

        Onlive was a gaming service; I’m not talking about renting a game from the cloud and playing it. I’m talking about taking some non-essential computations and letting the cloud handle it. AA, draw distance, pre-rendering the next room in an RPG, pre-rendering a map in a FPS and so on could be handling on the cloud, freeing up assets for essential processes on your machine. This could work with existing games, that you already own in tangent with your console or PC. No more need for 1000 dollar GPUs, a server could handle some of the heavy lifting. It’s a benefit that would work for every gamer, PC and console alike. It’s a way past the hardware limitations and price hurdles for every machine that plays a game.

        • Jamic

          But the cloud also needs powerful hardware to perform and it costs for the cloud services to get so big server farms.

          Moving only centrain processes to cloud services is very pointless unless you have top notch fiber connection and even then, you would be better off with your own dedicated gaming hardware.

          Cloud isnt the solution, its alternative and we will never completely move to cloud-only system because hardware still needs to evolve, its just the matter of who is doing it, consumer or service provider ? We are already in consumer based system so why change ? Its not going to offer basic gamer anything significant, its just opening the market for people that are extremely poor (which is not a bad thing in general)

          • Firestorm

            I cannot even begin to recommend cloud gaming with the input latency anyway. That’s a problem that cannot be solved without proximity to the server itself and it’d have to be DAMN close to make it worthwhile.

  • Goose

    I started to steer away from online multiplayer on the pc ever since the superman hoppers in Delta Force. Get rid of hackers and I’d be back to pc gaming in a heartbeat.

    • BOSS jediZOHAN

      Hacking isn’t nearly as out of hand on PC as people make it out to be these days. Most hackers get banned or kicked from every server they’re on in a matter of minutes.

    • Derek Haneman

      I’ve seen 1 hack in BF3, week one where some guy was able to kill everyone at once…nothing since. I play a ton on the PC and I never run into hacks/cheats this day n age. Back when Delta Force and Counter Strike were the popular games it was rampant. But hardly at all now days.

    • Silverwolf

      Funnily enough, only recent title where I’ve seen a fair degree of Hackers was Battlefield 3. However the majority of that was caused by the developer decision to minimise the checking of anti-hacking software within BF3 to avoid causing to much processing on the client side – this enabled players who worked out how to to modify the minimum damage of their weapons, causing them to hit for maximum damage at all ranges…

      This was a decision done to minimise the load on CPUs in the consoles (Needing to run checks on the various game files to ensure they’ve not been modified – standard for most PC anti-hacking software). A decision that was paid for by PC players – and what ultimately turned me off the game.

      So that, is very much an example (outside of graphics and physics handling) where PC gamers paid the price for development decision made to accommodate consoles.

  • Derek Haneman

    Nice to see a little Love for the PC gamers among us. Also nice to see an informed article about PC vs Console tech and pros/cons. I have a 360 and love some games on it like COD because COD is not about the graphics and never really has been. It about fun fast paces action. But when I have a really bleeding edge technology game like BF3 or something that requires more involved game play I will always defer to my PC.

    I love both platforms but just like the author I realize that both have their strengths and weaknesses.

    I do however get terribly frustrated when I see a PC franchise like BF get ported over in lazy ass manner and not allow simple things like mapping of all keys on the keyboard. I feel with the console generation the quality of PC games in general (not all games) has gone down dramatically because console is the primary choice. And I get it…this is business and business is around to make money.

    Don’t even get me started on the effect that the console generation has had on DLC and Mods. Stuff that used to be a million times better than what we get from devs for 10$ a pop used to be free…

  • Zwabber046

    This annoys me so much, I just see all the PC guys hating on console again, because of this. console gaming is not gonna hold back gaming, because they are part of it, and graphics now barely mean something, there is not a big difference between the PC and PS4 version of unreal 4.

    And also quick question because I don’t really know how it works but when a game gets ported to console, the make the PC version first right? why would the PC version suffer if the PC version is done and only needs to be ported to console. PC version would stay the same right?

    • BOSS jediZOHAN

      Developers, even when starting on PC, always have to consider the lowest-end hardware when making their games. Something things simply cannot be ported to console because it lacks the horsepower to do it, even if it’s scaled down or optimized as well as it can be.

      And I’m not hating on console. I think console is the limiting factor for game development. Console as a gaming experience is fantastic.

      • Zwabber046

        You say they have to keep in mind the lowest end hardware, but isn’t that because you don’t really know where to develop for because almost every gaming pc has different specs. And if they keep in mind that it needs to be ported to PS4 and whatever could even potentially mean, that they are helping people who have lower-mid range PCs that might not be able to buy an upgrade for their PC. But if they made it for a high end PC a lot of people would not be able to play it because they can’t afford the upgrade for their PC.

        (hope that was readable, I’m dyslectic and English isn’t my first language and when I keep rambling for a while, my sentences become sloppy)

        Also, I have great trust in the Devs that they will be able to make it work, like some devs said when they were talking about the PS4. “Now they have better hardware, the only thing that will hold them back is their imagination” So I have great hopes

        • BOSS jediZOHAN

          I don’t doubt that the Devs will make it work, but the point is that consoles don’t change with the times. Eventually, the Xbox One will be a total paperweight, while the PC I built last year, after a couple upgrades, will still be kicking ass and taking names.

      • B_Boss

        This is the point I tried to stress above…and how many of the average person/gamer do you believe will care too much for the game dev. factor over the gaming experience factor? I honestly believe not many though that is not to say that the gaming dev. factor is irrelevant, heaven’s no.

  • Amp

    Can yo tell me the source were you got far cry 3 stuff from, like the stuff that was held back in the game.

    • BOSS jediZOHAN

      Just do a youtube search for comparison videos, it’s pretty bad.

      • Amp

        Damn. I looked at Skyrim…….

  • eBunny

    A game doesn’t always require a lot of power to be good or even pretty. Journey is a PS3 exclusive and I thought it looked gorgeous and I don’t think it would be the same if it were developed for the PC.

    I do like me some nice graphics though and yes the next-gen consoles will at a point show their age again and even at the release BF4 will probably be better on the PC, although the gap might be smaller than it was with BF3, not counting the 30FPS.

    But who knows, there might be a point, perhaps in the near-future, where this won’t be a problem anymore and otherwise I think there will be a point where developers have enough power to create what they want, which we are already hearing at the moment. I just think 60FPS 1080p would be a great minimum.

    • BOSS jediZOHAN

      I’m not saying graphics are what’s important. Hardware limitations affect game physics, NPC AI, number of events on screen per frame, and all kinds of detail enhancements like background models and particle effects. Not to mention character control and responsiveness.

  • Hodgez

    I play on pc and ps3 and Vita. Every system has its benefits. Sometimes I get tired of sitting at my desk and enjoy relaxing on my bed playing the ps3. I just enjoy gaming. Graphics aren’t that important to me. I use to play an Atari 2600. Those graphics were sweet.
    Enjoy them all, enjoy the experience.

    • BOSS jediZOHAN

      My solution was Big Picture and a PC connected to my living room TV :)

    • Casavult

      Ah the Atari 2600. What a classic!

  • blondbassist

    I got my PC back in March, I don’t think I’ve turned my 360 on since.

    Why?

    Because I don’t see any reason to, everything is just simply better on PC and I’ve never made such a good choice in my gaming life, ever.

    • BOSS jediZOHAN

      If I could give you a cookie, I would.

      This is the same reason I sold my Xbox. Between everything running better on PC and having to pay just to play online, it was a no brainer.

      • Exare

        Same here. Sold my Xbox 2 years ago and used the money to help fund a gaming PC. Ever since I haven’t been able to take console gaming seriously, they look like cute little toys to me now.

        • Dantehh

          I don’t understand this. How do you play then Uncharted, God of War, Little Big Planet, Heavy Rain, Metal Gear Solid 4, etc? Serious question here. Wut? :0

          • Exare

            In don’t, you can’t play them all. Plus they’re way expensive, can’t justify spending 60 bones on a video game anymore these days. For 60 bucks on PC you can get 6+ good games eaay. Plus, there are equally good experiences on PC so I’m not missing too much. It’s the same for people with consoles that miss out on AAA MMOs like Guild Wars and WoW, MOBAs like League and DOTA, and RTSs like Star Craft. Thoae have infinitely more replay value and content than Uncharted, GoW, and most ofther console exclusives anyway. :)

            • brandon9271

              Not to mention all the mods,being able to play online for free, fan made texture packs for old games.. back catalog of thousands of games, steam sales.. REAL fight sims, racing sims, console and arcade emulators.. seriously PC gaming is the obvious choice :) People say PCs are expense but I really don’t see it. Instead of buying a console I can drop $300 or so on upgrades and I’m good to go for 3-4 years at least. Plus, all my USB gamepads still work after an upgrade and they’re only $20 if I need to buy a new one or I can use 360 controllers. Oh.. and did I mention STEAM SALES! :-D

        • daangelo29

          Why do some console gamers like to bring up exclusives to to defend consoles? Are exclusives the only reason consoles are “better” than PCs?

    • http://twitter.com/hutchesgreatest Cillian Greene

      Same, although ,since GTA will not be releasing on PC ( at least not for a few months after)

      I will have to get my 360 back out, hopefully it still works

    • Firestorm

      Same for me but started at the end of the PS2′s life. Don’t miss anything from them.

  • Doc

    The only thing that makes me skeptical about the Unreal demo is that most of the games shown were built in mind with 4GB of ram, even the first party games. While that won’t cause a huge leap in quality by any means jumping from 3GB available to 7GB available should provide a bit more breathing room for developers.
    With the majority of business being on the consoles in the core market it feels like the bump for PC games in the last year or two has been primarily done so with the next generation of console hardware in mind. As a PC oriented games enthusiast that means, at the very least, games with higher medium system requirements which is nice.

    However more than anything the game mechanics themselves will be the same across the consoles and PC so does it really matter? The true potential of games aren’t tied into consoles or PC but the ability of designers. Battlefield 3 was great on PC, but it was still just Battlefield. There were some benefits on PC but not so much that you could really call it a different game. It isn’t as though PC got a hugely different physics model, improved artificial intelligence, larger maps with more concurrent destruction events, etc.

    It’s on designers to unlock the true potential of games beyond just a boost in graphics and physics.

    • Dirtknap

      Excellent, post. Thanks for your insights :)

    • B_Boss

      Exactly, just as Rare did with DK Country on SNES (one of my all time favorite examples of developers pushing the system to its max and being creative with the hardware…seeing what they can unlock with its potential).

    • RNPGhost

      Except that things like player count can dramatically alter the gameplay and feel of a game (best comparison is BF3 Armoured Kill maps console vs PC).

  • diminishingNova

    No, since, even if consoles didn’t exist, devs would still have to keep the games scaled down to make it accessible to a wider variety of low-med PCs, they can’t just go full out and make a game that’s only playable on a $1500 machine, they have to still keep in mind that many people are running $500 machines and they have to keep the minimum to that.

    • Wiking

      You could always change the options.

    • Exare

      Nah, that’s what graphic level adjustment sliders are for ;)

      • diminishingNova

        By minimum, I meant that they have to make it like so that the game can be played at its minimum settings on at least a PC of that caliber, of course, we can adjust the sliders.

        • Exare

          icic. So you’re saying it’ll have to be at console quality level anyways to support the low to mid range PC demographic? Makes sense.

  • nelson

    the problem is developers think too much in graphics and forget about gameplay.
    take battlefield 3 vs battlefield 2 for example. in term of graphics bf3 looks a lot better, i hate the bf3 art direction but the textures, effects, physics…are a lot better, but in terms of gameplay, the maps design, mechanics, features, balance…. bf2 is a lot better.
    i always prefer gameplay to graphics, that why i prefer bf2 to bf3.
    bf1943 is excellent design battlefield for 24 players. for me is the best battlefield on consoles.

    everyone hates cod, but i think they prove that graphics don´t sell. they keep there fans happy with the things that mater like 60fps, fast gameplay…

    if a game looks good and the gameplay sucks, the game sucks, but if the game have good gameplay and old graphics, the game is still good.

    • BOSS jediZOHAN

      Totally

  • PertAndPopular

    This is what you console fanboys get! You have people claiming Xbox1 and Ps4 are gonna be a generation ahead….Please! Go kill yourselves.

    • Dirtknap

      You know, Alex’s article raises a valid discussion, but you (amongst others) ruin the conversation with your “master race” garbage. We’re all gamers and we all choose to play on our respective platforms for reasons that are our own, no one should be flamed because of platform preference. Your vehemance on the issue is frightening, akin to that of an al-Qaeda member, you seem like a person that seriously needs to reassess their priorities in life.

  • XFistsClenchedX

    Consoles aren’t holding video games back. Graphics don’t determine whether a game is good or bad. Innovation and fresh ideas do. I think that the XBOX One raises the bar for social gaming experiences with the ability to play video games and video chat with friends or pull up walkthroughs while you’re playing the game you need help with. Microsoft’s ideas on how social relationships and gaming go together are, by far, the best that are out there. I also believe that console games have raised the bar in story-telling and other important areas of gaming. I’ve been a PC gamer in the past and console gaming wins for me. PC gaming is expensive and can be a hassle when things don’t work as they should.

    • RNPGhost

      Can I ask which console gamers don’t also own a PC or laptop? The average laptop or pc costs, what, £400. With the cost of a console at around £400 you could combine the investment and get a sweet £800 rig.

      Although elements like kinect monitoring heartbeat do allow cool gameplay elements, you can still plug a kinect into a pc. If consoles didn’t exist, support on pc for additional peripherals would be even higher. At the moment, PC already supports mouse and keyboard, joysticks, and controllers.

      I understand that ‘innovation’ and ‘fresh ideas’ make games great. Consoles limit innovation and fresh ideas through hardware restrictions. The point about BF3 shows this most clearly. 64 player matches made BF3 a lot of fun to play. This was not possible on consoles.

      Wouldn’t it be incredible and innovative to have 100s of players dogfighting in spaceships through the depths of space, with individual bits of metal being ripped off their hull, individual wires being severed? Without the hardware there to support it, we’ll never know.

      PC provides a constant stream of up to the minute hardware that allows developers and designers to implement the most incredible and high tech features possible.

      You can innovate in terms of storyline and character development on any platform. You can pretty much use any input device you like on the PC, and if consoles did not exist then there would be even greater support for additional peripherals like the kinect.

      With a more technologically minded generation of gamers, small difficulties can be overcome with ease. If something goes wrong on PC, there are a million and one people online ready to help you. If something goes wrong on console, there are people ready to charge you a million and one times the price.

      Online multiplayer is free, and in your control, and you have been able to browse the internet while you game, or make skype calls while you game, or be on 2 games at once (with the higher end pcs), or play music while you game, for many, many years. WOW I CAN PLAY MUSIC AND SKYPE CALL AND PLAY GAMES AND WATCH TV. Great, first, why would you want to do all those things at once? Seconds, you can already do that on pc (and you don’t have to use rubbishy internet explorer).

      Phew…

  • MegaMan3k

    Inception and Looper used very little in way of CGI. Many, if not most, effects in those movies were practically done.

    I’m not saying that you are wrong on that point (although I take issue with the rest of your article), necessarily, but you could have used better examples.

  • kirbaaaay

    For the most part, yes. Consoles hold back the potential of game development, but that’s not my problem with consoles at all. If you’re having fun playing on a console, then do it. Have fun however you can. My problem is with the console players who go out of their way to be ignorant and claim they and their consoles are superior and better than PC when it no way (except maybe a few, small ways) actually is. My other problem is with developers doing everything for consoles just because enough ignorance was spread and enough people began to feel this way. At the very least, developers, stop leaving PC gamers and gaming pretty much in the dust.

  • TOROi3

    the last time I played a pc game was the first time i realized i would have to upgrade it. way back in the nineties i tried to play daikatana but mt pc wasnt powerful enough. i was too young to understand it all i knew was when i put games in a nintendo it worked. so i didnt go back to pc.

  • B_Boss

    I think a big issue with this entire article is that DiFiori is a certain kind of gamer. the average gamer (console) does not care for SVOGI (for example) and thus, at the very least, the game’s full potential can be realized on PC, which is a great thing. SVOGI (unfortunately) actually was decided against at the end of the day and I doubt its because of consoles. I do think that ultimately this is a well reasoned article (to push your point) but something seems ‘off’ about it lol.

    “So if you really want the best games possible, maybe we need to trade convenience for power.”

    Power = more money, more money = not the average person has (presumably to build a high end or decent PC) nor desires to delve into a hobby that takes proper understanding and time to work with (PC). honestly I live and die for PC’s but at the same time I’ve been into consoles for years and I think they’ll always coexist.

    • brandon9271

      “SVOGI (unfortunately) actually was decided against at the end of the day and I doubt its because of consoles”
      How can you say that though? Something that is taxing on hardware is only removed because a majority of their target platform can’t run it and it would be to expensive to develop two versions of the engine and game assets for two drastically different quality levels. Middleware and game developers have to cater to the lowest common denominator and that is always consoles. That’s a fact. You can go one Steam and look at hardware surveys to see what the majority of PC gamers are playing with. It is, on average, much more powerful hardware than consoles and that disparity increases during the life cycle of the console. When game developers are targeting a 7 years old console instead of cutting edge PC hardware it holds back the advancement of graphics, physics, A.I or anything else that could benefit from more power. Sometimes that just eye candy but other times those elements (such as physics and AI) can provide greatly enhanced gameplay experiences.

  • http://twitter.com/TechS3ek Aria

    1. Consoles are holding back the speed of technological improvements of games.
    2. Consoles are the reason to lots of high budget AAA games,best way to pay devs.

  • hey

    Take a game like Crysis that heavily relies on graphics, if you play that on the current consoles it will be a very average game because you take away it’s best feature, graphics.

    Look at Battlefield 3 i was able to remove the blue tint in multiplayer games and realized that the blue tint was there because of the consoles graphics, it’s supposed to hide jaggies.

    I bought a high-end pc that will last me a long time, i buy new released games like Metro Last light, Bioshock infinite for $40 while i could pre order BF4 for $50 at this very moment, the next-gen consoles will cost at least $500 and the games will be at least $100 now.

    And by the way, the next-gen consoles are already outdated.

  • arty

    Its why i pledged for Star Citizen

    http://www.robertsspaceindustries.com its a AAA MMO space sim, made FOR PC ONLY

    go check it out

  • Axe99

    Author is missing a _huge_ point here – that consoles exist doesn’t stop anyone forking out $300-$500 for a PC GPU and having a beefy rig. Fact is, though, that not enough do to support independent development of AAA games, outside of a few notable exceptions. Both HD consoles have the userbase to support exclusive AAA games that the PC doesn’t, and the reason for this is price. It’s not consoles holding back PC gaming, it’s the fact that it’s too expensive to develop a AAA exclusive that only targets people with GPUs and CPUs that are substantially better than current-gen consoles, let alone next-gen. Don’t blame consoles, blame the relationship between the cost of the rendering technology and the cost of developing software for that technology ;).

    Indeed – if it weren’t for the consoles taking the best PC tech at a certain price and bringing it to the mass-market, there’d be far less games on PC. You should be backing consoles, not slamming them (even more so if you’re interested in PC software starting to really take advantage of multi-core CPUs and GPGPU processing).

  • john doe

    It is all about the exclusives and PC does not have them. Period

    • Silverwolf

      World of Warcraft, Guild Wars 2, Star Craft, upcoming Star Citizen… yeah your right, no exclusives here.

      • john doe

        All of them games would not sell 5 copies on consoles compared to consoles exclusives.

        • Silverwolf

          I find that to be a somewhat naive comment consider the degree of popularity of 3rd person action rpgs on console platforms, when discussing the #1 most successful MMORPG of all time. Not to mention how well games like Star Fox or any of the old Star Wars games did on older consoles.

    • Firestorm

      So your entire unit’s worth, whichever you buy, is based on exclusives? That’s sad.

  • DanDustEmOff

    I have had a PC for a while now. Everything is better. But without consoles and the mass market that they bring with them a lot of games simply would probably not have been made. So to think that consoles are holding back gaming is rather daft. Without them Engines like Cry and Frostbite would probably still look like the Half Life engine.

    Games would also likely spend a lot longer in the Alpha phase much like Arma and Minecraft. They put more money into a title and get less out of it. While certain people rage that they are holding back gaming. Clearly they are funding our features and visual fidelity. Rather than being annoyed with them we should be thanking them for their support.

  • John doe

    Honestly consoles holding back PC was not even a debate until BF3 dropped. BF3 was the only PC game where i even considered building one. But i did not because i knew the new systems was coming and honest keeping up with all the headaches PC gaming has i just passed. Thankfully this time with the new systems we will also get the BF we deserve.

  • Silverwolf

    Well I’ve left a few comments on other posts, but some of that has gone a little off-topic so I’ll chuck my 2c on the article here.

    In short, yes, consoles have most definitely been holding back the development of games on PC. Chris Roberts, the man behind the upcoming Star Citizen, has specifically gone to crowd-funding to be able to develop a PC-only AAA title, that fully utilises the advancements in PC hardware that have occurred over the years, and will push the envelope in performance and in showing what a game engine like CryENGINE 3 is actually capable of when not being restricted by needing to be compatible cross-platform.

    However there are two major components to this story, and unfortunately we’re at the point in the games industry where you have two very distinct sub-groups as far as development goes;

    1) The Console: Readily accessibly and easy to ‘pick-n-play’ for your average Joe / Jill who just wants to come home, sit on the couch, and play a game. As such it’s where a large % of the market share is, and developers who can’t afford to produce their own material, are forced to cross-platform develop by Producers, because the producers want that extra $$ from that large market share. Console is where the big money is from a business standpoint.

    2) The PC: Harder to get into for our average gamer – but is where the real innovation in mechanics, physics, and graphics comes into play in development, because developers can utilise the PC architecture and performance to really stretch the game engines and create some absolutely stunning titles…

    And so what we end up with is a gaming market where console gamers are essentially keeping the PC gaming side of things alive. While in 99% of cases a game experience will be substantially better on the PC, it’s also harder to get into for the average player, and so they tend to favour the console, and so that is where the big money stays in terms of sales.

    However;

    With the increase in F2P PC titles, funded by DLC, “gold purchases”, and the like – coupled with things like Kickstarter as a source of funding – I believe we’re going to see more and more instances of developers taking the path of Chris Roberts. They don’t have to pay a large chunk of their profits to a Producer, they get direct interaction and feedback from the players/fans on a level never done before, and the games become truly ‘player-driven’ experiences, with the gamer now essentially becoming the games Producer (In the sense of saying ‘yes or no’ to whether a game is developed.

    Frankly, I’d be perfectly happy if from now on, ALL PC titles were PC exclusives that were crowd-funded. Good ideas would get approved, and crap games would never even make it off the design floor.

    In the meantime, console players can play whatever the hell they like. BF3 design was ruined by being needed to be made functional on consoles as well, and EA/DICE can shove their BS about “we’re designing this from the ground up for PC” up their asses, because that was complete and utter rubbish. It wasn’t until ONE of the later DLCs (Armoured Kill) where we saw map design more reminiscent of BF2… and then they went straight back to console maps with Aftermath.

    Honestly, consoles can keep their exclusive titles, I’m tired of crap console ports on the PC. Give us more PC exclusive titles and leave the console games on the consoles, we don’t want them. There’s a reason Chris Roberts has been able to raise $9.5 million from PC players for Star Citizen.

  • John doe

    There is a article in the new Game Informer that talks about this very thing.

    The name of this article is “Dispelling the Myth/ Today’s High End PC is not next gen gaming”. Here is a part of this article.

    When Sony revealed the playstation 4, i read some of the comments regarding the console online and noticed that one persistent myth kept appearing- current PC games are already next generation. That is simply not true.

    The reality is that high-end PC is a small market for developers and publishers, although it has seen some significant growth over the last few years. I played Crysis 3, and it’s beautiful game. However, at its core Crysis 3 was designed to also run on current consoles and less powerful PCs. Every graphical enhancement you see on a high-end PC, no matter how pretty it is, is just eye candy. Crytek could not design levels and enemies that would impact gameplay unless those elements would also work on Xbox 360 and PS3. Core design has to work on all systems, which limits developers working on today’s consoles compared to those are working on next generation consoles.

    This was a great article and a tons more if you have the magazine.

    Now this is a guy with tons of experience in the gaming market and he is a technical 3d artist with 16 years of experience in games on all platforms.

    For me i will listen to professionals that do this stuff for a living not some random nobody’s on this comment section.

    • GuruRenegade

      High end PC games are not next-generation gaming, no. But they COULD be. The hardware is there, and it’s already past the next-gen mark. The problem is that developers won’t utilize that hardware and make games that fully embrace next-gen capabilities in their core gameplay elements, because it wouldn’t be possible play those games on current-gen consoles.

      This, then, is the problem, and it is exactly what the author seems to be saying – current gen consoles are holding back gaming from the next gen potential that has existed for years with PCs.

  • YinYang27

    In the video I only saw one part where PC was noticeably better than PS4. Other than that PS4 met what I want it to be without having any draw backs.

    DISCLAIMER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    In this post I only displayed personal preference and in no way am I saying that one system is the better and only way to game!

    DISCLAIMER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Zukure

    you seem to be under the impression that the new consoles would ever be able to run 2k or 4k, as it appears they’re barely able to run 1080p as it stands unfortunately.

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