A friend of mine called me a console gaming peasant…
And this made me sad… And then angry!! And then sad again… PC gamers who I don’t know on a personal level seem like arseholes. OK, maybe in your real life you are a combination of Mother Teresa and Superman (“Motherman” or “SuperTeresa”, depending on where you are most comfortable putting yourself on the sexuality spectrum) – but I am sick and tired of PC gamers telling me how much better gaming on PC is, but in a really nasty way. The way that basically says they are better than you. #PCMASTERRACE?
Firstly, people who play first person shooters say that the keyboard and mouse is much better than a joypad. If you’re someone who loves camping and sniping as Widowmaker, maybe it is – but for actually playing games, it’s not a great set up. Why? Because a keyboard is designed for typing, and a joypad is designed for – don’t get ahead of me – games. Whenever I end up playing a game, I always do a mental WTF when I start having to use WASD to walk. There are lots of cool posters that show the evolution of joypads, the only difference with a modern keyboard and a ZX spectrum is the fact that the keys aren’t made of rubber. In fact, that might be an improvement. If someone out there is selling a retro keyboard modelled after a Clive Sinclair special (the other one, not the C5) then I would buy the shit out of that thing. For typing on. At work. Because that’s what they are designed for.
Then there are the graphics. Of course there are the graphics. “I’ve got it running at 120fps on a 4K setting.” Well, bully for you. Here I am, stuck at 30fps at 1080p PS4. I’m sure that you can tell the difference, but I really can’t. There have been studies that show that your eye can’t tell the pixels apart on an HDTV if you’re sitting more than 6 feet away from it. The eye can’t really tell if things run at more than 24 frames per second, because movies. When Peter Jackson decided to make the Hobbit at 48fps, how many other movies used his “High Frame Rate” standard. Um, none. 40 fps is what the eyes perceive as reality anyway. So either the difference is negligible or people are saying that they can see the difference to justify the thousands that they spend on hardware. You be the judge.
I’m not done with the graphics yet, well PC gamers never are, are they? “What about the mods, have you seen how amazing Skyrim looks on PC with God Rays and detailed grass textures?” Don’t get me wrong, I love Skyrim (when I’m playing on a joypad) but I am not going to bother with the remastered version. Why? Because I’ve already played the game – for hundreds of hours. Yes, it may look nicer, but it’s not going to play any better. Give me alternate quest lines, give me Daggerfall in the modern engine (but maybe leave out the original music – the shop theme will actually drive you mad), but don’t make the game look nice and tell me to plonk down fifty notes for it. I have it on the PC, so I can awkwardly play it with keys and mouse in my lunchtime, but I couldn’t even be bothered to pay the six quid when it was discounted to get the rest of the DLC which would entitle me to a free PC upgrade when it comes out later this year. Why? Because a five-year-old game works just about OK on my work laptop, the new game is going to run like horse shit so slow it’s actually working its way back up Shadowmere’s ass.
That’s my biggest problem with PCs. You get a game, and you don’t really know if it’s going to work and even if you think your system requirements are OK, you’re certainly not sure how well it’s going to work. I know, if I get a PS4 game, I know it will work. I know that a machine that I got for £350 will give me about five years’ worth of gaming. How many PC gamers can say that? If you want to play the games at their best, it seems that you have to invest in a new graphics card or CPU about once a year. If you want to play a console game at the best it will ever be, you put the Blu-Ray in. That’s not to say I dislike the idea of PCs, I just don’t get their practicality when it comes to playing games. Yes, Steam is cheap – but there isn’t a second hand market for PC games to speak of. There are things like the Steam Machine that tries to emulate the console experience, but if you get a cheap one for around £500, it’s probably not going to look as good as a PS4 anyway. Plus, it only runs on the Steam OS, which is Linux based. That means you can kiss all your Windows Games b-bye.
Then there are the games. Yes, there are probably more games on Steam than there are available for the consoles, but there are definitely more good games available for the consoles than there are on Steam. Most of the good games for PC will wind up on the consoles eventually, but the reverse is certainly not true. “Well, Microsoft have said that all new XBoxOne games will come with free Windows 10 versions and Cross-Play.” Microsoft may have implied that, but the actually number of those cross-platform games is disappointingly small. As disappointingly small as the number of PC games I have on my shelf next to my hundreds of Xbox and PlayStation Games (“Sonic R”, why did I buy you for PC again? I forgot that I even owned a copy before writing this article). Sitting there, on the shelf. Nestled gentle between the harsh realties of alien an invasion and a badly designed DC comics attempt at gaming capitalization… Waiting for that day. That day when it can finally be free from its boxy confines. That day is… *Bin*.
What is even more disappointing is that Microsoft’s “Project Scorpio” shows that one of the two Titans in the console wars is moving close to the PC model. Their new console will be upgradable, which will mean when you get an “XBox Future” you’re not necessarily sure what you’re going to get when you plug the disc in. They say that there will only be graphical upgrades, and that you will be able to play the same games on an Xbox One, Xbox One Slim and a Project Scorpio. I believe them about as much as their Cross-Play promises. Rather than having a new piece of hardware every five to seven years, they will be able to put out updated hardware all the time. Basic games will play, and big developers will be able to put the effort in to matching the hardware (mobile games companies have to do this all the time) but it’s going to squeeze out the smaller independent publishers again.
Of course, Sony responded to this by announcing the PlayStation Pro – which is just the same as the PS4, except that is can play in 4K and HDR, which is great if you have dropped major bucks on a TV which supports those, and absolutely useless if you haven’t. It’s also still pretty useless, as you can’t play 4K Blu Rays on the device, despite the fact that Blu Ray is the medium that Sony won the HD war with against Microsoft’s HD-DVD format. Apple seems to get away with putting a new camera in a phone, making it ‘jet black’, allowing you to drop it in a toilet and charging you for essentially the same phone over and over – and I hope we’re not going to get annual updates of consoles in the future. I mean, Microsoft are already calling their new version of the stock console the XBox One S – look Bill… Billy Bill Bill! You failed with the Zune, copying Apple is not a good move for you.
So for me, PC gaming sucks, and what sucks even harder is that it looks like console gaming might become more like it.