Why Do We Even Have Consoles?
Consoles should go the way of the dodo, as should DVD players.
Editor's Note: Nathan makes some pretty good points about how consoles are become less and less relevant.
The past couple of days people have been complaining about the Xbox One with a series of legitimately complaints, because quite frankly, the Xbox One is going to suck. There's no way around that. The marketing decisions behind that machine are absolutely bonkers, and they're going to dig themselves the biggest, deepest grave I've ever seen a gaming company dig itself into. That aside, the whole ordeal has resurrected one of my age old complaints, dreams, and realizations, and that is: why the fuck do we even still have video game consoles?
A lot of people complain when I say this. They talk about "healthy competition" and, well, okay. I still don't need to buy a Disney brand DVD player to watch Tangled, and I don't need to buy a Warner brand CD player to listen to Linkin Park (People still listen to CDs, right? Linkin Park is still licensed to Warner, right? Linkin Park is still relevant, right?) The competition argument just doesn't make much sense to me, and neither do the separation of our utilities.
We live in a time when we don't need video game consoles, not exclusive ones anyway. Hell, I'm amazed the home video market still exists with video game consoles being capable of playing videos of both the DVD and Blu-ray formats in addition to playing games in addition to having Internet browsers in addition to having a billion custom apps in addition to also handling music in addition to having a thousand output opportunities in addition to handling all of this media from a USB hard drive. But you know what else does that?
Now, I'm not going to tote the computer "master race" bullshit, because I actually don't do a whole lot of computer gaming. Home computers simply haven't developed in a direction that pleases me, but that doesn't mean they can't, and they definitely should have. A long time ago. We're at a time when pretty much every family as a local Wi-Fi network, so there isn't any reason variously sized monitors (televisions) could be displayed around the home each one syncing with controllers, remotes, whatever.
But even taking a step backwards from that, let's look at a computer tower. Most of them can handle gaming, despite all the "uber nerds" bitching about the necessity of a high performance system. I have a pretty ratty set up, always have, and I've only ever had minimal issues with gaming. Nothing that's any worse than my dedicated consoles have given me. Progressive TV screens are already pretty much computer monitors, and it wouldn't be that difficult to include an RF input on the back of the tower for analog televisions. This is something which can be done. Why isn't it possible for games manufacturers simply to release their games on DVDs and Blu-ray discs like everybody else, and allow those things to be played on the average PC?
Let me take a brief moment to explain that when I say "PC", I refer to all home computers (Macs, Windows, Linux, doesn't matter). I know this is probably wrong, and it might confuse some people. I've heard a few people use PC only in reference to Windows. Whatever. To me it means "Personal computer", and that's about it.
Some people complain about "Oh, well, but the ingenuity! The consoles with their controllers and their motion controls! How would the Wii work?" and to that I say: USB peripherals. Is it so hard to imagine plugging the motion sensing bar into a USB port? Controllers, too? Or maybe just a type of wireless receiver which accepts the commands of various controllers? This isn't rocket science, and this isn't difficult to figure out. Would it hold games back? No, absolutely not.
If anything it would keep them relevant, and that's part of the real problem here, isn't it? If people retained the ability to play old games, publishers would lose the ability to repackage them. That's what the real reason for the removal of the GBA slot on DS systems is. Kind of weird how that happened right alongside the launch of the handheld WiiWare market, which was closely followed by the handheld Virtual Console, isn't it? Same deal with the recent Wii models and the Wii U not being able to handle GCN games. Expect a GameCube Virtual Console soon.
All the hubbub about the lack of backwards compatibility on the Xbox One? Sony tried it with the PS3? It's all to force people to re-buy games they already had. These corporate overlords don't want people being able to use the same copy of a game generation after generation. They want to repackage the same thing instead of innovating. This is a major issue.
All it would take is one operating system dedicated to keeping formats playable and simply adding new formats alongside the old ones. This is something PC developers haven't quite figured out yet, either that or they pull the same bullshit the game corporations do. I can't play my old copy of Sonic R for some reason, because my computer is advanced beyond Windows XP. That's not right. It's also talk for another post.
What I'm really getting at here is this: we, as the consumers, shouldn't have to put up with these "dedicated" machines when we could have easy and unlimited customization at our fingertips. We should no longer have to put up with having three billion devices plugged into our TVs and power strips and jacking up our electric bills. Technology is at a point where we can literally do with one device per television which is capable of handling all of the media. Hell, that device could even be the television.
Don't worry about your precious competition, though, because it's still going to exist in a number of forms. Who develops the best controller, who develops the best motion device, who develops the best games? Of course we already have an active competition between PC developers, so that part of it shouldn't be tough to imagine at all.
There's no reason for companies to insist on all of this hardware any longer. The way I see it, people need a total of about four things, three if you imagine the TV as capable of containing the necessary computer components: a home media device, a handheld device, and possibly a dedicated eInk e-reader for people, such as myself, who can't stand reading on the harsh screens of the other devices. Unless, of course, they figure out how to incorporate eInk in with the other screen styles, in which case, rock on. The only other potential device I can imagine is some equivalent to the laptop.
Consoles? DVD players? Phones? Remnants of a bygone era. Reminders that we are all under the thumbs of people trying to halt progress, to halt freedom. But more than any of that political stuff, reminders that there are people who are just trying to ruin it for everyone, and we're all just trying to have a good time.
I think it's about time we started actually doing that.
" The marketing decisions behind that machine [XBox One] are absolutely bonkers, and they're going to dig themselves the biggest, deepest grave I've ever seen a gaming company dig itself into."
I despise this one line and made a point of signing up just so I could mention: Microsoft is NOT a gaming company. That's why their marketing appears "bonkers". They are a computer software company that stepped into the video game console community.
You can Google solutions on how to get old PC to work on new computer you know I'll be it they're modding in the most ridiculous kind of way (sometimes depends on the game) but they're are ways to play old games without rebuying them it's just not as easy. also I really don't see how tweaking your graphical setting so you don't overload your PC is terrible and troublesome because you can just put everything on the lowest setting and if your computer runs the game, great, no more need for tweaking, you can if you want but I personally think graphic don't make a game anyways. To your last point about bad PC ports should mean that you just need to spend $25 extra bucks for a decent gamepad with Xbox 360 emulation (like any wired Logitech one) and than the game should be able to recognize it, otherwise I'm sure there are modders who can fix the issues.
The reason why we still have consoles is because PC gaming is still terrible and troublesome and it will continue being just that as long as we have the customization options we have. Everyones consoles will be identical with exception of hard drive size, so everyones game will work the same way by default. We don't have to tweak the options for hours to get the best performance that our specific RIG can handle.
And not being able to play old games isn't just a console issue. I haven't been able to get Knights of the Old Republics to work on my new computer for the death of me. Once I didn't get my original discs to work, I rebought them from Steam. Nothing. Dying to play one of my favorite games, I then went to a store and bought a re-release collection that said in the box that by any logic, my computer should be able to run without any problems. Still couldn't get it to work. You shouldn't be required to have a freaking degree on computer science to play games. If you don't know how to cook, you can get stupid-proof ready meals or go to a restaurant, you don't have to figure it out or google recipes. So why should this be the case in gaming?
Also take a look at Dark Souls PC port. There are bazillion developers who simply doesn't know how to make a game for PCs. By removing consoles, right off the bat we'd lose at least half of Japanese games. And honestly, some of them are pretty decent so that would be a huge loss for gaming.
PS3 is not current anymore, when it came out it was 600+, or if you live in my country, it was almost 1400. The Xbox 360 was about $900 in my country when it came out The Wii was cheapest at $500
I don't know all the release prices in the US, but as far as I've heard, it was $600 for ps3, $500 for 360 and $350 for the Wii
The Wii shouldn't really be considered as it wasn't current gen when it came out, the only thing it had was an interesting gimmick, a computer capable of playing the same games the Wii could with the same graphics was near impossible to get new; due to the fact that the graphics were already outdated making the hardware needed for a PC of same capabilities pretty old and thus hard to get.
A PC -at the time- that would run the same current games PC wise as the PS3 and 360 would have costed you at the time, roughly $700. Today, that price can and will, go way down. Admitedly it's harder to get the same hardware today; at least new, due to the age of the hardware. But if you go back -several- generations of graphic cards, keep in mind, the nVidia 8800GTX was the highest end graphic card when the PS3 came out
Now, you need to know a few things about nvidia cards, I'll be going by the current naming scheme for the explanation the first number is the model number, and not too important, the higher the better. second number is essentially the "power" 6 or higher is what you're aiming for third number doesn't really matter Lastly is the G, GT, GTS, GTX prefixes. You'll want GTS or GTX
A GTS260 might be pushing it, but a 460, or a 560ti will easily do modern games as well, or better, than a PS3 or 360. And that is roughly the only thing you really have to worry about when making a gaming computer. 2gb ram is minimum, 4 is better, 8 is better than that, 16 is only if you want to record what you're gaming 2ghz processor is requires 2.2 is better 3.0 is great anything above you're an enthusiast
A prebuilt machine, as far as I know, can in the US be bought for a low as $200, yes, its specs are shit, but the only true drawback is the graphic card, replace it, and hey, you got a machine capable of playing at least the same games as the PS3 and 360, as long as the game has a PC version.
I honestly can't link you to anything specific, since it's a matter of keeping your eyes open, either at stores, or on things like craigslist. Example; friend of mine bought his wife an i5 laptop with an nvidia 460 graphic card, for $500 on craigslist, only a few months back, that was a laptop, why'd he get it so cheap? Owner complained about a ticking harddrive, replace it, good as new.
I may be exhagerating a little when saying you can make a computer -today- for the same price as current gen consoles, but honestly, I'm not. Because -current- gen consoles don't have a price yet, our guesstimations range the PS4 and XBone at about $600 for the full fledged versions. And the funny thing about the PS4 and XBone is... their specs? Are pretty shit, hell they're using stuff meant for tablets, exactly how this will work out remains to be seen.
But chances are, if you build a computer on their release date for the same price, putting the most money into the graphic card, that PC, barring any major hardware faults, will last you as long as the PS4/XBone and run the same games at the same graphics.
Are you constantly buying intel video cards? >.> Intel video cards are the only video cards I've ever seen stop you from directly playing a game, and even then it was only the older intel video cards because they didn't support the functions used by Direct3D.
If you're buying ATI or nVidia, you should never be outright stopped from playing the game, as long as the drivers have been installed.
I have NEVER had a case where I have had a "hardware" incompatability issue with a console game, MMO or otherwise. Three of the five MMORPGs I have purchased required me to change my video card, and one of those stopped working for the particular brand of vid-card I installed after a major update (I quit the game following that.).
Consoles are easier to use and play games on.
I'm a console gamer. I always have been. Therefore, I probably have a slight bias. Now, that being said, I do respect the PC as the most powerful and versatile gaming platform ever. It always has been and it always will be. I also think that the PC has a natural advantage with certain game types. Simulations, RTS, and Perhaps MMOs all seem to favor the PCs flexibility and mouse and keyboard setup.
However, I also believe that the console has it's strengths as well. Say what you want to, but historically consoles have been much easier and simpler to use. Buy a game for your respective console, pop it in and it plays. It's that simple. No worrying about hardware capabilities, software compatibility, installation requirements, RAM et cetera. Now, I would consider myself to be a power user of sorts and as such I understand these things quite well. Computers come natural to us because we have experience with them. But to a great deal of people, computers represent a complicated and alien territory presented in a foreign language. Rather than deal with this challenge to play games, they opt for a console instead and I can't knock them for that.
I also believe that consoles are better in some respects for social gaming. If I want to play games with friends that come to my house, all I have to do is toss them a controller and we're playing. If I want the same thing on a PC its a bit more complex. First of all, everyone has to bring their rigs (or laptops) to my house or vice versa. Then we have to set up a network through a hub of some sort. Then there's the issue of software compatibility. My point is, the console definitely wins in the local social gaming department in my opinion. The system link process with consoles while similar at it's core is a bit simpler, if for no other reason than the hardware and software are all the same (most of the time).
Even during internet play, the PC can be a very different and complicated place vs. say Xbox Live. On PCs there's the matter of people being able to host games on their own private servers. The PC online environment is usually where you find games with different MODs, not to mention the slight threat of malicious software and users if you happen to find yourself playing on the wrong private server. These things, while rare have happened.
I think we still have consoles because consoles still serve a purpose, and people still have a need for them. Simplicity is the consoles' greatest strength, and I truly believe that is what does and has always made them so appealing. Computers are awesome, and they are bar-none the best platform you can play games on if you understand them. I think it takes certain kind of person to appreciate and want a platform such as computer for games. If you want a platform that gives you complete control over your experience then a PC is the platform for you
The Xbox One has me genuinely afraid and I fear that the age of console gaming may be coming to a close with machines like this leading the charge. So, in the end you may very well get your wish anyway. The Xbox One and similar devices may have unknowingly sabotaged the very thing that made them successful in the first place. Simplicity is key and in a attempt to make a machine where everything is in one place (simplicity) they have had to create behemoth of a machine running complex software that will make it difficult (and cumbersome) to do things that we've been easily doing for years. Like playing games offline, alone in the comfort of our homes. Or sharing games with our friends.
All these years console wars had a true meaning to brag.
Do you like the sega dreamcast for playing audio CD's, 128bit games, Sonic and online multiplayer.
Do you like the Nintendo 64 with, Mario, zelda and others jumping into the 3rd dimension?
Even in the 8bit days we had every right to brag on what console sucks and which ones were great. At the end of the day no console of the past years were never perfect.
SNES had a slow processor compared to the Megadrive. Megadrive lacked stereo sound quality and graphics but still got some nicely detailed games out of that machine. SNES had a steroid injection of great RPGs. Megadrive had a steroid injection of sports games up the butt if your into those kind of games. Megadrive had Sonic as their leading mascot. Nintendo had Mario as their leading mascot.
These days modern home consoles do a shitty job of trying to keep up with current modern PC specs. PC gamers are always evolving into new hardware or software every month thats one thing home consoles can not do.
If I'm going to buy a PS4 or Xbox one then I may as well no bother with these two systems and just settle for a PC... Unless I get lucky and find one cheap in the next 5 years and if a Sly Raccoon 5 was made for PS4 and Banjo Kazooie 3 for xbox one.
I rather stick to the WiiU just for the sake of nintendo games and most indie developers are focusing on the WiiU lately.
I have to say home consoles are dying for me and I rather stick to the 7th generation of consoles from the NES/Master system/Comodore 64 to the Xbox360/Wii(U)/PS3.
PC Master Race here (I won't brag about it) but I honestly agree after seeing the Xbox One, it's nothing more but a Windows 8 machine with an ugly case. You can buy the next Kinect and plug it to the PC, you can plug the Xbox controller into the PC and it'll work. So what exactly differentiates PC to consoles now? Nothing, consoles cannot be upgraded though and that's it. With the rise of Mini-ITX motherboards (to be fair they existed for a while just never picked up mainstream) people can get a very small case the size of 1.5x Xbox 360. AMD CPUs (I say AMD because they're the budget CPU) are getting better and to max all settings in a 1080p TV only needs a 200-300$ video card these days. It's funny it's like an electric car, expensive initial cost, but the post-cost is lower than your console/gas powered car. The only "console" left is the Wii U, I mean it uses a completely different controller than your standard USB powered controller (although it's Bluetooth/IR powered) it's powered by a PowerPC architecture, something that you'll never see in a modern PC, the last PC to have them was Apple Macs before they used Intel... The Wii U is providing me an experience that a PC cannot, while the PS4 and Xbox One does. I suppose the only reason now as to why to buy a console is it if A: You cannot afford a PC or B: Exclusive Titles
I can back this idea(akira's reply) up in saying there has been plenty of time where I haven't touched my ps3 in a few days, went to pop on and throw down a quick session of ssx and had to wait as the OS updated, then waited as patches for the game wen t through. An MMO is a significant amount of additional dat aan dpatching. WHen I used to play EQ2 patching was an almost daily proces and even if you didn't patch it typically scanned your files to ensure they were up to date, which takes time. So yeah.. this goes on both sides.
Exactly. Plenty of people had issues with early release consoles where they freeze, brick, or just DIE. It is not just pc's that do this. I agree with Akiraokami, if you had that many problems with the system, especially after paying $2400 (jesus christ man.. that better be one hell of a gaming rig for that price..with a massive 3dmonitor) you should have returned it for new or demanded a refund. I built and fix pc's for a living, that kind of problem is fixable (usually), but after so many tries they should just start swapping in newer parts or scrap the whole rig and just transfer your files to a new one.
Wherea fixing a console is.. a lot trickier. It is possible to ge them repaired, often by a licensed repair shop or sending it in to the console MFG. sending it in takes a good month or so to get back, getting it fixed locally can be quicker but less of a guarantee it's fixed right. Usually if a console bricks you just return it for new, and lose whatever was stored onto that console.... which..sucks.
Ok this I'd love to see linked. The ps3 runs about $170 (amazon) to $240 at Gamestop (new 40gb model) , $200 for the black xlim xbox 360 is about $200 (you'll pay far less if you find the old "arcade" fat models) and the Wii is looking about $130-140 for the Wii black bundles.
Or, if you only buy in stores... The ps3 goes from $250 (walmart) $260 (Target) or $270 (best buy). Xbox 360 runs from $200 (Walmart and Target and Best buy) .
Now that is for the cheapest models to get you started, though some of those are bundles with a game and controllers included. I guess you are thinking the high end where you buy massive bundles of the larger models of consoles? In the store? Ok, Xbox would be about $300-425, Ps3 would be about $300-380. I won't even bother listing the Wii.
Now you are claiming you can buy a gaming pc that can play games at MAX settings. I think you typo'd and meant "you can't play everything at max settings". Still, I'd love to see a solid working new gaming rig for about $400 that can run modern and recent-modern games at 720p at 30-60 fps consistently.
See that is part of why consoles persist. Investing in a pc that costs the equivalent to the LOW end of consoles ($170 xbox 360) is nigh impossible. Finding a console for that price (or less)- VERY possible. Finding a pc that can play games as good as (or better) than modern consoles for $400 or less is possible, I would imagine, but would require knowledge and digging.
And I'm ignoring sale-a-day type styuff that happen occaisonally.
So yeah.. I'm loving seeing where you buy these powerful gaming rigs dirt cheap and new. I may very well start shopping there ;)
If you've been having problems with it since you bought it, you should have returned it, it was obviously a defective product, you can get defective consoles as well... just saying
You can buy computers for $400-$500 as well, and as long as you don't get it infected with shit, it'll be able to play all the same games as a console of the same price.
And that's really the only thing the consoles have over the PCs, a console isn't very likely to get infected with malware/virus that can bog down the system, while a PC both can, and is very likely to, depending on the user.
already happened, almost all computers and graphic cards today have HDMI And all new TVs today have HDMI
No, you can get gaming capable PCs at the same price as a current gen console. You can play everything at max settings, but that's the thing, you can't play everything at max settings on a console either, consoles have everything turned down compared to the PC version.
If you had bought that MMO on a console, you'd have run into the same update issue, you wouldn't have failed booting it unless something was wrong with the console, but that's the point, something was wrong with your computer, anything could go wrong with a console as well.
And the Xbox One wants to do all that stuff you just talked about, all games -have- to be installed to the harddrive completely in order to be played.
And even the current PS3 and 360 have dashboard updates that stop you from playing games unless they're installed.
There's nothing easier about a console than a PC, nothing at all.
I didn't own a console since the NES but I still think consoles have their place and won't be completely gone any time soon. Having said that, the multitude of consoles and no backwards compatibility is kind of lame. The real future of the consoles (and games in general) are streaming services like OnLive and Gaikai. In my vision of the perfect future you can play any game from any generation on a single device with a gamepad of your choice.
Games made for consoles rarely require more than a simple software update that takes five minutes. Computer games, particularly newer games, often require specific hardware that has component parts which sometimes cost $200 or more, AND require installation as well.
When you buy a new game for the PS3, or XBox, or even the Wii, at most it will take you thirty minutes to play (And I am overestimating that too.). I once bought an MMORPG for my desktop computer, and it took over an hour & a half to finish installing, and even THEN I could not play it because something was wrong with my video card at the time.
Long story short: A dedicated gaming console is easier to use, and is easier to play on than a PC.
PCs have a higher initial cost than consoles, but the games are often cheaper, and you don't need to pay for BS like Xbox live every month, just for the privelidge of playing online.