How the mighty have fallen

If you happen to pop into a high street retailer of games tomorrow then you’ll probably be welcomed by the now standard layout. There’ll be loads of wall space for all of the current gen consoles, a smaller section for handhelds such as the PSP and DS and tucked away in a corner will be the section for PC gaming.

There happened to be a time when upon walking into a shop you’d be greeted by a huge wall of PC games, where finding the right one would take absolutely ages where some work experience lad had forgotten to place them back in alphabetical order, so your copy of Silent Hunter would be behind Diablo.

So what’s gone wrong for the PC? Games are still being released for it, and good games too, yet it just doesn’t have the pulling power that consoles seem to be have.


PC Cases still amazing though!No nasty box that sits under your TV here!

Perhaps it’s the old stigma that you need to have a rig that’ll likely set you back a few thousand pounds to be able to play games by today’s standards, when in truth you could pick up something very nice for as little as £500. But is it just a cost factor? I think it goes a little further than that, probably back to when gaming was really hitting the mainstream. A time when the Playstation was setting the benchmarks for the console gaming of today, a time when the PC scene was in full swing.

It was never easy though, playing on a PC that is. Where a whole host of problems could crop up to stop you playing your game, inadequate hardware, conflicting drivers and of course a very basic internet setup which comprised of nothing more than ISDN and only then if you were lucky. With broadband the internet was ready for gaming, and as ISPs started to roll out 512kb/s us PC gamers were finally getting into the swing of things, but the problems didn’t stop there.

Developers, it seems, weren’t ready for the big multiplayer era, as games came with no lobby, no matchmaking system but a standard “type in the IP of the games server and hope it works” option. Setting up a multiplayer game of Civilization II could take ages to accomplish, especially compared to today’s standards.

How many of us used to use 3rd party apps such as the Gamespy tool to find and connect to online games? How long does it take to have a match in Call of Duty or Gears for example? Would those games have the fan base they have if multiplayer took so much work to get sorted – I doubt it.

Of course, PC gaming has evolved since then and connecting to multiplayer games via a LAN or over the internet has never been easier. With games following in the console’s footsteps and many now having built in lobbys, it’s a safe bet that if you want to play online then you’re good to go, right out of the box.

steamSteam, the shining light of PC gaming at the moment.

You also can’t overlook the benefits of programs such as Steam, which in my opinion does a fantastic job at what it does, both for us gamers and the developers. But is it all enough? It’s hard to say, but as the line between console and PC becomes even more blurred, and a line that come next generation I imagine will be non-existent as consoles build upon their “home entertainment” foundations and offer more and more what a PC can.

It’s hard to say why exactly the PC has fallen from grace. The consoles of today are fantastic machines and it’s all credit to them for helping to bring gaming into the next generation in terms of both market penetration and social acceptance.

But as we ponder on why the mighty have fallen, let us not forget that it isn’t all over yet, and while the PC may not be the gaming unit of choice for many gamers, it’s still here today and it will still be here next gen – and that I’m quite sure of.







4 responses to “How the mighty have fallen”

  1. Barry avatar

    this is just a sign of the times, as this current console generation gets older the more PC gaming will become influencial. At the moment people will be looking towards cheaper methods of entertainment, like consoles.

    Consoles are most definitely more simpler to use, but very often something simple can be translated to being watered-down, especially in the eyes of PC gamers who prefer sophistication and the ability to tweak and modify their setup.

    This would include setting up a TeamSpeak/Ventrilo server for their friends to use. A lobby system is ok, but no one enjoys trying to converse with 12 year old americans whos vocabulary mainly consists of 2 words, ghey and fag.

    As for finding an online game to play, I myself would rarely use third party software, well unless it was X-fire 🙂 Just use the games built in server tracker, you can then guarentee yourself a lag free game. Unlike consoles, where the matchmaker seems to think that a Californian ping would be ideal to play on.

    I dont want to be seen bashing consoles, I love my Xbox, theres just a few points on this blog that I disaggreed with.

  2. Punkduck avatar

    Did you not play Gears 2 when it first came out? Quick and easy to start and find a game my butt… lol

  3. Simes avatar

    I thought it was much more about the huge profits they make from traded-in console games, which is why they devote so much shelf and floor space to that.

  4. Lorna avatar

    Arsing around with PC games has always been a pain. Inevitably, for a new game, you’ll need to upgrade some gubbin or other, or for an older budget game, you’ll have speed issues and compatibility probs. What with bugs, patches, crashes, server lag, and manuals being budled on a disc for budget games leaving you screwed if you get stuck and haven’t printed it out, it can be more of a chore than fun.

    However, some of my favourite games of all time like Dungeon Keeper are PC games and though their reign may have diminished, something tells me that they aren’t yet ready to go quietly into the night.

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