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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.

kitty gamer wii hugs

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.

29 Comments

  1. OoP says:

    Although PCs have become more standardized, I think one of the strong points of consoles against PCs is that all of the hardware is the same. The devs only need to develop a game for one set of hardware, meaning less bugs and overhead (which makes me wonder why console games are more expensive). With the blurring of the lines, consoles have gained the abilities that have set PC gaming apart (patches, mods, communications, peripherals, etc)

    Things like Direct X has definitely helped gaming, but there are still plenty of variables. The advantage of the PC seems to have dwindled to just being able to tinker, and upgrade to the latest/greatest hardware and costs potentially. Any software advantage could be removed by consoles with an update.

    One advantage I can see PCs having is emulation. Which seems to have died out over time (I haven’t looked into it for a while though.) Consoles are certainly not going to want to do direct emulation of their competitors, PCs don’t have that issue. This way PCs can take better advantage of cross-platform peripherals. With VM usage growing, having a VM of a console would be interesting.

    Anyways

  2. OoP says:

    Heh, that was suppose to be a /book tag, guess it ate it up=)

  3. Gazz says:

    I struggle to use anything but my thumbs to plsy games; no accuracy with the wii and no control with a keyboard/mouse (although I *do* rock at Guitar Hero/Rock Band :P).

    I think it’s largely due to the fact that I never owned a pc till I was around 16 but had spent my formative years on the NES/master system but the pad seems the most intuitive way of playing.

    Since the pads for the XBox 360 are USB, howeevr I still haven’t been tempted to make the transition into PC gaming.

    The draw of PC gaming for me is the abundance of MMO’s and the modding community, however with things like the new community games available through the marketplace, I can see alot of the convergence starting.

  4. Espen says:

    [Insert PC Elitist tantrum]

  5. loyalkng says:

    Oh Noes! I really hope that the PC gaming doesn’t cease… but it does seem likely with all the bootlegging going around. *shifty eyes* not me though.

  6. loyalkng says:

    Oh and great, informative article Nixie. Fun little read.

  7. Marvin says:

    I do like how building a gaming capable PC has come down in cost over the years. Save for the few small “spikes” of required purchases to get something to run decent (when Crysis first came on the scene for example), the price/performance of computer parts has continuously improved. I also like how PCs are eternally backwards compatible with games (conceivably/theoretically).

  8. Marvin says:

    Price/performance ratio* (where’s the edit button when I need it… damn me for being too confident and not using the preview button lol)

  9. Dave says:

    PC’s own consoles. However, for $199 you can get to play almost any game you can play on a PC with standardized performance. Show me a PC you can get for $199 that will run Fallout 3.

  10. dreamhunk says:

    lets watch watch companies like AMD go bankuprt how about invidea.

  11. dreamhunk says:

    these days I hear invidia is diperate. I think invidea will go bankuprt.

    That being said console companies and console soft ware companies will go bankuprt first.

    here is a link with sony
    http://www.videogamer.com/news/05-01-2009-10282.html

    hey did you checkout the new mods for gta 4.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0CXMflnnOss

    the very reason pc gaming will never die.

  12. dreahunk says:

    Oh i forgot one more thing the ression or depression will not help those companies much.

    Pc gaming will make it in a ression and depression.we pc gamers have alot of long term games like

    wow
    guildwars
    daiblo
    free games
    indie game devs etc

    games with mods

  13. Stonedrunk says:

    Personally I don’t see either going away anytime soon. Consoles will be around due to their ease of use, and PC’s can be used for so much more in addition to just gaming. PC’s are also the de facto platform for MMO’s, which are one of the most popular forms of gaming to date.

    The reason why console games are much more expensive than their PC counter parts is due to the cost of the hardware. I’m talking new releases of course. When games first come out for the 360 or PS3 they’re $59.99 yet the same game on PC is only $49.99 or even $39.99. The reason for this is because consoles, like the 360 and PS3, sell for less than it costs to manufacture them in the first place. Although considering the fatal flaws in the 360 I’m starting to doubt this. So Microsoft, who I guess feel they don’t make enough money from Live subscriptions and downloadables, and Sony charge more for the games themselves.

  14. dreamhunk says:

    any of you ever looked at the history of consoles. How take a good look at the psrts in side a console.

  15. dreamhunk says:

    How about take a good look at the parts in side a consoles?

    Do any of you know how well AMD Invidia is doing?

    aorry I think faster than I type.

  16. nixiepixel says:

    No, Dreamhunk.. I’m out of the loop in the Nvidia department. However, since this issue has intrigued me, I smell an article… =D

  17. OoP says:

    Do you mean AMD/ATI? AMD bought out ATI a while back, nVidia is still independent.

    Last news I heard about nVidia is from the GF8* series, a manufacturing problem that caused the chips to crack with improper cooling.

  18. PC Gamer says:

    Well this is My 2 Cents…The Console
    Industry has always been trying to
    get the upper hand on the PC but
    really the PC is and has been superior
    to the Consoles for decades now…
    Consoles have been trying for ages to
    become more like PCs because they are
    capable of much much more.

    we have internet now on the consoles
    granted it’s not as wide in variety as
    the PC but it’s something.

    The Main problem with Consoles is that
    they are Time Capsules…they are
    only superior for a short time then
    with new PC technology out the PCs
    can be superior…if u are willing to
    spend some cash.
    when Consoles are about to be released
    they are fitted out with the newest
    tech on the market. pretty soon they
    become out of date.

    before the 360 and the ps3 graphics
    were amazing and nothing could
    compare, however over then years
    new graphics cards have been released
    and with that new capabilities.
    now most PCs built for gaming have
    crazy Graphics with HD capabilities.
    PCs have always dominated the market
    that is why u see alot of games
    make only for consoles because that is
    the only way the consoles can try and
    even the playing fields…

    well this is in my experience anyway

    i bet good money that PC will be
    superior for quite some time more

  19. Dark ethereal says:

    I dont think there will be an confluence as such, PCs will always stay PCish, they will always be moddable, because consumers want to upgrade their desktop rather than throw it away, and PCs always be the medium for the newest technology.
    However, Gaming consoles want to sell to more people, they have tapped into a new “caual gaming” audiance, but still PCs sell more, because consoles are for games, PCs are for everything! so in order to eat away at the PC market, they will continue to be more PC like, Consoles already are able sure the internet like PCs, download games like PCs, Stream TV like PCs and play DVDs like PCs. Eventualy i think Consoles will end up allot like Macs (with gaming ability), they will be able to do most things PCs can but they cant realy be modded much, and their supposed advantages will be the same (e.g. More stable, no viruses, does lots of cool media stuff blah blah blah). but as PCs will always exel with utilizing new technology, the consoles might have to take an extra step… Modular consoles, where the HDD, Graphics card, CPU and ram are all in seperate detachable compartments, and can be interchanged with better standardized components that can be simply clipped in (like PC building for idiots). and since most games will be downloaded, not on CDs, the download center could check if you Modular console hd the right components fitted to run the game.
    pretty clever, but id still prefer PCs

  20. Frank Brebbin says:

    Damn consolers stifling creativity and dumbing down my PC style games! Consoles are for Mario and hedgehogs!

    Thats my PC elitist rant, enjoy.

  21. Shiro-Nuba says:

    I cant really see PC games and consoles merging to much, I see it to a degree but Ithink PC will always have that enthusiast niche of crazy people like me and my friends who are poor yet save to spend crazy amounts of money on hardware to not only run the latest games but emulate all the consoles (still waitin for 360 and ps3 emulators, but for now I got everything till wii) XD….Im not really understanding what dreamhunk is getting at here? AMD and Nvidia arent goin down any time soon from what I see, especially with AMD/ATI the recent success of the phenom II and the radeon 5000 series, they gained alot, nvidia even gained.

  22. I have to say PC’s will always out-perform consoles for years to come. The way I see it is that the Console companies (Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo) will create something every 2-4 years that matches current Tech/Hardware then by a couple of months PCs will have better hardware. Also in my experience Consoles normally are for the user friendly person, if PCs worked in the same way then Consoles will seize to exist, imo…. 😀

  23. Fatman says:

    I’ve been playing lot’s of different games from xbox ps123 also pc and i must say the best graphics would go to the pc at this generation have you seen that game on maxed quality? It’s epic
    I honestly love all of them but pc’s over-all wins since it can do most of the stuff i want easily.
    but there are differences between a console game and a pc game since a console game would be something like Gta 4 , prototype , dead rising , Crackdown 2 , Demons soul , assasins creed 2 . resident evil 4-5 , red dead redemption 2
    While a pc game would be something like left 4 dead , oblivion , fallout 3 , crysis , bioshock . call of duty
    If you notice fps games work best with a pc game other then that the feels of playing a console game on a pc feels wrong horrible controls.. yes i am a gamer i love gaming but i got taste i’ve played it all i know it all. i used to hate pc gaming but when i tried it i love it i remember i used to hate the keyboard and i would try to use the arrows keys instead of using w a s d .
    playing a console game as on fps like call of duty would suck because the aiming doesn’t feel good at all as on a pc it’s way smoother and feels right .
    over-all getting to the point consoles get outdated quickly while pc’s keep getting better ram hardware motherboards processors graphic card few months like 3 on average.
    they all have their pro’s and con’s i go for everything i would want.

  24. Asmodean says:

    One thing I will disagree with you on, Nixie.

    When I look at my desk, my rig, I say to myself on a nearly subconscious level, full of pride: “I built that.” I made sure that every piece was to my liking. I did the research that made sure that every piece worked together. I hand picked every component. Later, when I wanted another video card, I installed one. When I wanted to double my ram; I did. And when I said to myself that my compy could smoke any console that you put it next to; I wasn’t lying.

    Okay, you can download games on a console. So can I. You can chat with your friends online, so can I. You can hook your console up to a 60 inch HD screen. So can I. You can put a skin on your console; I have a case the size of a mini-van sitting on my desk that when you turn off all the lights in my house – you can boot up my computer and see through the whole house. I have 2 portable drives and innumerable thumb drives, each with a separate persistent OS. If I don’t like my proc, I put a i7 870 (4x 2.93) in there and watch my lights dim. 😉 Mr. Gates think that people want a bigger hard drive: well, here’s the 4 you can choose from. You want a controller? Would you like white or grey? And don’t even get me started on controller vs. mouse and keyboard.

    Perhaps it’s just an aesthetic thing for me. I don’t want anything thats mine to be like what anyone has. This beast is of my creation, and it is mine to control.

    Asmo

  25. inolle says:

    me console gaming all the way the only thing my pc is used for as gaming goes is roms of said consoles so i dont have to switch out my wii or 360 for the nes in the closet and games like super tux and secret maryo

  26. Chris says:

    Personally I hate it when people get into the big arguments over PC, 360, or ps3, they are all great in their own way and that’s all there is to it, none of them are superior, and none ever will be. Sure the tech of one may surpass another for a short amount of time, but the others will catch up. Eventually our electronics will stop advancing, as you could learn in any basic computer structure class we can only make the components faster and stronger up to a point until they start to become a burden on themselves, take for example RAM, most people go oh my PC is slow, must need more memory, not necessarily, having more ram then you need will slow you down, because its more memory you PC has to look through before it finds what its looking for. So I think your completely right, consoles and PC will eventually be almost the same.

  27. zareldyn says:

    My nerdy mind has always considered that PC and consoles are same things which would tend to become only one with years, because basically both are a machine with a processor (or several), some RAM and I/O signals… But I think the most obvious link nowadays begins with the fact that computer screens and TVs are more and more…the same device, due to HD technologies etc

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