The Gaming PC and the Console: Confluence
How do you play your video games?
PC vs Console – The Facts:
For years PC gaming and console gaming have been insanely different. The PC always had the power, customization, data manipulation, and mods that consoles didn’t have. Consoles were more portable and a much lower price point, along with standard hardware and games that worked right out of the box without needing tweaking or tinkering. Consoles have been gaining more power and customization each year, so for quite some time now those in the industry have predicted the death of the PC as a gaming platform.
My Two Cents:
I don’t think that the PC or the console will “win” the gaming “war.”..
Neither platform will simply cease to exist because it has been “beaten out.” I believe that the technologies are converging, and we have seen examples of this time and time again. Consoles are gaining more and more capabilities such as support for voice and other communication, downloadable content, larger and larger storage space/hard drives, and games that have persistent worlds and/or are able to be played with or against opponents on the PC. Consoles have also become relatively more expensive.
Today I came across an article written by Rahul Sood, the founder of Voodoo PC (makers of custom gaming PCs): In this article he predicts the death of the gaming PC “as we know it,” asserting that the cutting-edge PC, the extreme high-end, will no longer be made. This is not the same as predicting that the PC will die altogether, and to me is an example of convergence from the PC end.
PCs are slowly losing much of the proprietary tech that makes it so difficult to develop games and applications cheaply. There are still a great variety of options available, but less so than in the past, and standards have become more prevalent. Their form factors are shrinking as parts become smaller and smaller. The cost of games has dropped significantly to the point where games on the PC are often cheaper today than the same games released on consoles.
The operating systems that run PCs are now running some consoles. We have already seen keyboards made available as accessories for certain consoles. With the dominance of USB we are seeing peripherals that are shared cross-platform. Technologies are allowing the platforms to communicate and work together in new and interesting ways. This goes hand-in-hand with both PCs and consoles taking a greater role in the overall home – from home theater PCs to the Xbox 360 acting as a media center providing streaming audio and video to your television.
The Possible Future:
In ten years you may be hard pressed to make a distinction between the “PC” and the “console,” and even the “smart phone.” I think that software developers and hardware manufacturers see the writing on the wall; that soon all of these technologies will look more alike than different. PCs will shrink and become more standardized, consoles and mobile devices will gain more capabilities, until one day the need to develop for multiple platforms will all but disappear.
What does this mean to you, the gamer? It simply makes all the arguments moot around what is “better” and what will “win” in the end. Consoles and PCs will continue to survive serving different portions of the gaming market, and mobile devices will continue to emerge as gaming platforms. Like most industries, greater choice will mean better products available to us, the consumers. However we might lose some of the uniqueness that make the different platforms special.
There will come a day when all of us have somewhat similar devices in our hands that do all of the things that our consoles, PCs, and mobile phones do separately today, powered by a combination of our bodies’ movements captured by electronics in our clothing and the sun, all connected together wirelessly.
So celebrate and enjoy the differences between your console and your PC – pretty soon they won’t be all that different, and that might not be such a good thing.