As many of you are no doubt aware, there is a prevailing feeling of newness among gamers who use consoles exclusively. What I mean by this, is that there is the misguided notion that because consoles require less work and have more exclusive titles, the PC is some sort of obsolete relic. This implies that gaming on the PC will gradually be phased out, and become an affair reserved for consoles and mobile devices, the irony is that the exact reverse is happening. What do I mean by this? http://www.joystiq.com/2009/06/01/facebook-twitter-on-xbox-live-this-fall/ consoles were once devices devoted entirely to gaming, and nothing else. You had your disk slot, your controller, and your television, not much you can do with that aside from game. however as time has passed they are becoming increasingly more social, allowing you to check websites and social networks while remaining on your console. What is a PC? A platform on which you can work, browse the internet, play games, and socially interact with other people via the internet. Consoles have begun to adopt nearly all of these traits to a lesser degree than a PC is capable of providing. Effectively what you are doing when you go on your Xbox to play a game, or browse a website, is nothing more than using a more limited version of a PC running off of hardware which is now nearly six years old. To add insult to injury however, Microsoft has the gall to demand a $5 monthly fee of you, to use their obsolete pile of scrapwares multiplayer function and dated hardware! Meanwhile, you have platforms like Steam on the PC and now PS3 where Valve does not charge you anything to use their service. Despite it being a better design, that actively encourages modding and has massive sales on a regular basis along with superior customer support.
Now, why is this such a big deal you ask? Sure, it’s a stupid situation, but it can’t possibly be actively damaging anything can it?
This is exactly what the con artists running Xbox Live want you to think, that “sure, its a shitty situation, but its not really harming anything.” After all, it’s just a $5 fee every month, and that’s nothing. What is happening, has happened repeatedly throughout history, it is not exclusive to our passion, Governments do it, Religions do it, and Corporations do it. You are being conditioned. You are being conditioned to reject platforms that require an ounce of brain power to operate. You are being conditioned to accept mediocrity, to accept being abused as a consumer, and to appreciate the fact that they grant you the “privilege” of using their platform. The way they see it, once you are dumb and happy, they can spoon feed you lesser experiences and you will continue to hand them money for it. Why? BECAUSE YOU DON’T BLOODY KNOW ANY BETTER! These people absolutely loath creativity and innovation in the market, and they have no interest in serving the consumer any more than is absolutely necessary to make a profit. That is why they actively discourage modding on consoles. On PCs modding is often regarded as a way to discover new talent, and hone one’s design skills without spending a lot of money. The key words there are “WITHOUT SPENDING A LOT OF MONEY” these people despise this, they want to nickel and dime you the consumer at every possible opportunity. Do you really believe that they think it is criminal to modify their hardware and software? Of course not. What they don’t want is competition from individuals passionate about gaming. They can’t sell you $15 map packs if you can go play on custom built maps, designed by modding experts with no interest in making money!
If any system is archaic and dated, it is the console in its current form. The PC represents a platform which actively encourages creativity and ingenuity, with total freedom of choice in terms of personal use, and equipment. The console represents its diametric opposite, a closed platform in which creativity is discouraged, and hardware is kept in a state of stagnation for years. You are not rid of the negatives of consoles even if you use the PC exclusively, why is that you ask? Earlier in the article, I mentioned how people prefer simple things that don’t require more than the tiniest bit of brain power to operate. As is humanitys nature we are often drawn towards the easier option, even if it is not the best one. What this means is, there are more people playing games on consoles than PCs (excluding social games like Farmville).
By now how this effects even PC gamers should be somewhat obvious. With the exception of MMOs, very few studios want to make PC exclusive title’s as they are losing out on a massive stream of revenue from the console market. While this is very sensible from a business perspective, it is absolutely counter intuitive to real progress in graphical fidelity and system capabilities. These developers who make games available to the typical 3 platforms (PC, Xbox 360, and PS3) are unable to make games which fully exploit their visual potential for the PC because they must be made to run on six year old hardware. In short, because developers are forced to make games for graphically inferior consoles, PC gamers suffer by not being able to put their hardware to use. Were console cycles shorter to allow for more frequent hardware improvements, you might see more powerful engines and as such, more visually impressive and dynamic games. This would be a boon for not just PC gamers, but gamers as a whole. However the gentlemen running Microsoft and Sony don’t seem to care too much about progress. So long as you continue to buy their garbage without demanding improvements they’ll continue to sit on their successes, and feed you mediocrity by the ton, like pigs eating slop from the trough.
So, how do we reverse this trend you ask? Well to start, stop writing their bills for them, teach them that if they want your money, they’ll have to stay competitive and provide improvements. This doesn’t mean you have to stop buying games, far from it, continue to buy games, support developers that you like, that is key to continued progress in the market. However don’t buy into pointless garbage designed to take money from you without providing a justifiable return, Xbox Live? Fuck it. Play single player or co-op with your friends, have some guys over and play through a campaign on your favorite game together. Microsoft has done nothing to merit $60 a year for providing you with a service which ought to be free. However, if you are not into half measures and want to send a real message, buy a PC with some decent computing power. Show them that the PC is still a more than viable platform, and shouldn’t be abandoned by developers merely because the Console’s dominate an undeservedly large portion of the market. Don’t reward lack of innovation, demand better, and if no one will provide anything better, make something better yourself. You are not cattle, you are humans, show them that you will not be fed mediocrity!