Death of PC Gaming May Mean Death of Windows

In the past I argued that PC Gaming is far from being dead but the more I think about it the more I start believing that I was wrong. I don’t want PC gaming to be dead – I have been a PC gamer most of my life, and all my favorite games are PC titles.

  1. Upgrade Treadmill – It is getting progressively harder to keep up with the new hardware. Few years I was shopping around for a new video card and a I was looking up specs online, comparing prices on neweg and doing all kinds of research and I could not figure out what to buy. I ended up asking a friend who builds and sells tricked out gaming rigs (you know, water cooling, binged out cases and the works) for advice/ And I consider myself a knowledgeable computer professional. A Shamus wrote about this some time ago and it is getting progressively worse. At this point for example my brother doesn’t even bother reading the system requirements on the box because he knows he won’t understand them. He just asks me to investigate whether or not a given title will run on his machine before he buys it. Average customer won’t “upgrade” his video card – he will wait and buy a new computer when the time comes and hope that it will expect it to come with a video card that is able to play the newest games out there. Unfortunately this is not the case. A computer illiterate friend of mine bought a brand new, very expensive Dell which was advertised as a top of the line gaming machine. Few months later he bought Crisis and was disappointed and outraged that his brand spanking new gaming rig could barely run that game on medium settings. This is the sad reality which causes people to jump ship and buy a console. When you buy an xbox360 game you are guaranteed it is going to run on your xbox360.
  2. DirectX 10 – in addition to upgrading hardware, you are also forced to upgrade your OS. As far as I can tell, no one wants to run Vista these days. All my coworkers who recently bought new computers absolutely hate it, and keep telling me how happy they are our company is not migrating to that infernal system. But guess what? If you want the new shiny game to run on your PC, you may just have to switch to the big V and take the 80% performance penalty that comes with it. :P
  3. Stable Development Environment – I’m going to link to Shamus once again because he explains it better than I ever could. Console developers can rely on a stable environment that never changes. They can optimize their code, polish their engines to perfection and squeeze every last bit of juice out of the hardware. PC game developers on the other hand tend to be stuck in a runt, always chasing the latest and greatest rendering/shading/mapping technology. Consoles simply offer friendlier developer environment and one where you can accurately test the game play experience you are delivering to the player. No wonder many development studios shift their focus towards consoles more and more
  4. Price – a $600 buys you a PS3, including software, a blue ray player, controllers and etc – in other words a complete gaming system. Or if you are a PC gamer you can spend that $600 on a new video card alone. I don’t like this, but you can do the math and see where this is going.
  5. DRM – most PC games these days ship with a draconian DRM, online activation, installation limits and hidden rootkits. Not only do you have to jump through hoops to get them installed and activated – they can also damage your CD/DVD drives, or make your system unstable and vulnerable to attacks. Console games have none of the above.
  6. Fewer and Fewer Exclusive PC Titles – at the moment, the only games that actually require you to own a computer are the popular MMO’s. Almost everything else gets released on at least one of the nex gen consoles almost simultaneously with the PC title or soon afterwards. Interestingly enough many of the MMO’s are not exclusive to the Windows platform. For example WoW will happily run on a Mac.
  7. More and More Exclusive Console Titles – this trend started long ago, and is becoming more and more prominent. A lot of popular games never get a PC version.
  8. Console to PC ports done as an afterthought – those console games that do get a PC release, often get a poorly done direct port, complete with a cobbled interface designed for a controller rather than a mouse, and wonky controls and many artifacts of the console-centric design. In most cases you are better off playing the original rather than torture yourself with the PC version.
  9. Demographic Shift towards Consoles – most people around my age and younger these days own a next get console. Some own both the xbox360 and PS3. Most people own a Wii in addition to their primary gaming console. Conversely few of these people actually own an up to date PC gaming rig. Some do, but most either have an older machine that won’t play newest titles anymore, or a lightweight laptop that has enough powa to run WoW but not much else. Younger people seem to eschew desktops altogether, and shop for computers that are most battery efficient, and have good ratio of size/weight and comfortable keyboard layout rather than checking the specs on the video card. You can see this trend when you go to a local Wallmart (or other high volume retail chain) for example. One close to me has a single wire rack in the corner of the gaming isle where you can find PC games. And you’ll be lucky to find anything other than WoW and it’s expansions there. Occasionally there are few boxes of new hot releases but most of the time it’s mostly the same old MMO’s, 1 or 2 WW2 shooters, and few RTS games which have “Age of” in the name. Each console on the other hand has it’s own isle full of games. Consoles are the mainstream market now.

These trends are scaring me. I don’t want PC gaming to die, but the facts above do not suggest a rosy future for the PC as a game platform. Unless something changes, consoles will take over and the number of original PC releases will dwindle. It made me think though – the imminent death of PC gaming may mean hard times for Windows monopoly.

Let’s face it, gamers make up a very large chunk of Windows user base. The biggest source of income for Microsoft is naturally the business sector. I don’t see them being pushed out of there any time soon. The home desktop market however is huge chunk of change for them, and loosing it could mean trouble for the high and mighty MS. Home market consists of three types of people:

  1. Clueless users who don’t know any better
  2. Gamers who elect to run Windows as a gaming platform
  3. People who would love to switch but are locked in
  4. People who simply prefer windows

Group #4 consists of MS fanboys, Visual Basic developers, or simply loyal customers who might have tried other alternatives but prefer to use windows for some reason. These people are stuck in their ways and will likely use Windows until the day they die.

Group #3 includes people who are locked into the OS because the software they use for their hobby/creative work is not available on other platforms and there are no good alternatives. Many of them might be open to an alternative OS if they can figure out a way to take their favorite software with them or find an alternative. Since projects such as Wine and Cedega are continuously getting better, and emulation is getting easier, and open source community is rolling out new projects to replace proprietary software every day the number of the people in this group is bound to fluctuate and fall over time.

Group #1 is the most flexible one. A clueless user is usually bound to windows because that’s the OS which came with their computer. They generally rely on relatives, friends or co-workers for tech support and generally don’t know how to use anything other than a browser. They’d be equally confused using Windows, Apple or Ubuntu so you can swap their OS at any time. I mean, if your user doesn’t know the most basing stuff like navigating the file system, copying files or changing basic display settings will it really be a big shock to move them to another platform? They still won’t know how to do these basic things, no? So what is the difference?

As long as they can still get to MySpace and Facebook they will be fine. In fact, a lot of members of this group actually buy Apple laptops these days and use them without realizing they use a different OS. In fact, I recently talked to someone who was convinced that everything looked so different on his new MacBook because it shipped with Vista. This is a market that can dwindle down to zero provided that there is enough computer savvy people out there willing to switch their clueless friends and relatives to a non-windows platform.

Then there are gamers, whose primary reason for using Windows is that it is currently a major gaming platform. What happens to this group when the PC Game market fades away into oblivion? There will be some reshuffling. Some gamers will decide to stick with windows and move to group #4. Others won’t know any better and will move to group #1. Some will remain stuck and will end up in group #3. The rest may jump ship.

Note that each gamer jumping ship may potentially pull several friends and relatives from group #1 with him. Why? Many gamers are computer savvy enough to provide free tech support to their close ones when needed. Enough gamers switching away from windows may whisk away a huge chunk of group #1 sales from Microsoft. This in turn may create a critical mass of Apple and Linux users forcing major software and hardware companies to acknowledge these platforms and make their products available for them. Thus members of group #3 may after a while find themselves unstuck. Perhaps the death of PC Gaming will be a first step towards a better world – one in which no software company has almost complete market monopoly.

Again, this is wishful thinking – sort of best case scenario if you will. Still, being a gaming platform is a major selling point for Windows. Apple marketing has already cornered the “all fun and no fuss, entertainment platform” market. Windows is already viewed as a primary work related OS by many people. If the PC games go away Apple may actually have a chance to crave out a nice chunk the household computer market for themselves. And where Macs go, Linux will follow since both OS’s are of the Unix’y kind.

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34 Responses to Death of PC Gaming May Mean Death of Windows

  1. Nathan UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    > Home market consists of three types of people:
    > [proceeds to list four different types of people]
    That must be the new math.

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  2. Craig Betts UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Solaris Terminalist says:

    I am all for gaming consoles. I still remember gaming back in the DOS days where you had to put DOS on a floppy where it could grab the system.ini and config.sys files with all the proper tweaks to allow the game to even run. I spent hours configuring HIMEM, QEMM and SoundBlaster settings just to play Doom on my old 486.

    I am a sysadmin professionally and I don’t want to “work” just to play a game. I can take my Halo 3 disk, drop it into my Xbox360 and play within just a few minutes. Now that is nice!
    The consoles are also supporting us casual gamers with titles like Uno and PacMan CE, where we can sit down for short amount of time a wind down without having to go to the computer. I like gaming from my LazyBoy!

    Best of all, I know my Xbox360 will play any Xbox360 game! No driver issues, no more spending $300+ just for RAM or a video card, no upgrades.

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  3. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    My biggest gripe with console gaming is this: no mouse. Really, a mouse is the ultimate pointing device perfect for FPS, RTS and RPG games. You can see it when you compare someone playing a console FPS and PC FPS – the movement on console is jerky and awkward, while on PC it is fluid and smooth. RTS and RPG games for consoles usually have their interfaces designed in specific way to work around limitations of their controllers.

    I won’t be perfectly happy playing FPS games on a console until we have something that can actually replace a mouse with respect to accuracy and fluidity of movement.

    And no, Wiimote doesn’t count.

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  4. Craig Betts UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Solaris Terminalist says:

    [quote post="2653"]My biggest gripe with console gaming is this: no mouse.[/quote]

    The newer “nextgen” consoles have third party support for keyboard/mouse adapters. They work pretty well, but you need a table or desk-like surface to utilize them. This can be difficult in most console environments.

    I will agree with you that the mouse is the best aiming device for FPS type games, it just doesn’t work well in a LazyBoy recliner . . .

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  5. jambarama UNITED STATES Epiphany Linux Terminalist says:

    I’ve long said there are only 3 things that prop up Windows dominance.
    1. Software piracy – both of windows and expensive windows-only apps.
    2. Gaming – both the DX dependency & Windows only games
    3. Momentum – those who know windows want to stick with it

    As for the death of PC gaming, I doubt it, more likely just a shift. Most of the problems you list are only matter with big expensive titles. I can imagine PC gaming shifting towards more stuff that sells cheaply, plays on lower end PCs, and

    There are also pluses to PC gaming. Apart from a mouse, which a controller will never approximate, there are many fewer startup costs to develop a game for a PC than a console. This won’t matter when developing something huge – like spore or starcraft 2 – but with independent publishers it matters a lot. This strengthens the push towards smaller games.

    There are huge gaming firms that still only develop for the PC – blizzard comes to mind (starcraft for N64 & diablo for PS hardly count). I can’t imagine playing SC2 with a controller, nor can I imagine Diablo 3 (how would you pick up gear??). I also can’t imagine valve or the makers of Crysis ditching the PC – consoles just don’t do what they need.

    I suspect it’ll just get to be more of a niche thing. Mostly smaller cheaper games, bad ports, and the mega PC-only games.

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  6. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    [quote post="2653"]I will agree with you that the mouse is the best aiming device for FPS type games, it just doesn’t work well in a LazyBoy recliner[/quote]

    That is precisely the problem. I don’t want to sit at a desk while playing xbox, but I also don’t want to use thumb-stick for targeting. There has to be a way to construct a living room couch friendly controller that would approximate mouse accuracy.

    Shamus at twenty-sided proposed replacing one of the thumb-sticks with a trackball which seems like a decent idea. It is still not perfect, because trackballs have their inherent flaws (the bearings getting grimy over time) and combining them with this sort of a controller could introduce new ones. For example, if the ball has to much resistance then your accuracy will suffer. If it has to little, sudden jerking movement of the controller could send it spinning.

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  7. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    @jambarama: I actually played the original Diablo on PS1. It wasn’t bad. You pretty much had to rely on auto targeting. You would walk up to a monster and it would highlight. If you wanted to hit the other monster you would nudge the controller in that way and usually the focus would shift to the right critter. Of course sometimes in the heat of battle you would hit a barrel instead of a monster but it did work ok. It did not compare to having a mouse there of course – everything was slower, and more tedious.

    You are right about the switch to indie games. But again, the crowd goes where the high budget blockbuster titles go. So if consoles have all the big, hyped up titles and PC has only low budget titles that do not get 10 page reviews in gaming magazines, PC may stop being a gaming platform.

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  8. So, consoles has for it what the Amiga had. Stable platform with good hardware. And all the good games, with better sound and graphics than for the PC, in fewer disks. Then the PCs got better, and the Amiga 1200 replaced the A500. The PC won out.

    Now you got the consoles. I got myself the XBox (after a while), and now it is used exclusively as a replacement for the DVD player – either for actual DVDs or for streaming/playing content copied to the disk. Ok, the disk is a bit bigger than original.

    Anyways. I can’t buy a new next-gen console every time it is released, so I can’t play the newest games. I can’t buy new hardware for the pc all the time either, so I’m stuck with old games. So I can play old games on old consoles bought cheap, or old games on a pc upgraded for cheap (my current is old enough that I understand the hardware – 1.8GHz and GForce 4 card). The pc can be used for other stuff, so I’ll stay with that.

    The indie card is also a strong card. I’ve bought just a few games this year, but they’ve all been indie games. I received Portal as a gift, but hasn’t been able to play it on my own machine. I’ve played through it, though – and am planning on buying myself up to a usable machine as soon as HW prices come down over here. Something that I possibly won’t understand the specs on. Luckily I have a friend who buy (and build) himself, squeezing great frames out at high res on new MMORPG’s and FPSs.

    And if Microsoft makes console/PC multiplayer available… who wouldn’t want to upgrade his PC until his wallet bleeds to be able to boast better resolution and fps than his XBox 640 (or whatever) owning friend?

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  9. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    @Tormod Haugen: It’s all very true but I’m afraid that the market forces go along the path of least resistance. Consoles are easy to use, and easy to upgrade. To stay up to date in the console world you only need to spend around $300 every 3-4 year. You just give your old console to someone, and replace it with a new one. Anyone can do this.

    A gaming PC these days is much more expensive. A top of the line Dell XPS that is marketed for best gaming experience can cost you somewhere around $3-4k. You can probably put together a machine with the same specs for much cheaper (bellow $1k) but that means shopping for good deals on sites like neweg, and actually building it from parts. So you either know what your doing or you pay out of your ass.

    There will always be PC gamers with tricked out rigs they have built themselves. But more and more decide to shift their gaming primarily to consoles because all the reasons I listed above. So the shift will happen not because PC gamers will abandon their platform. It will happen because game publishers will notice that there is more money to be made in the console world.

    Again, I hope you are right but the more I think about it the more I see the balance shifting away from the PC.

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  10. Ian Clifton UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Linux says:

    Instead of PC specs listing processor, RAM, video card, etc. they need to utilize categories.

    2008 A – Top of the line system from January 2008
    2008 B – High-end system
    2008 C – Good system
    etc.

    An organization of some kind could determine what makes a computer fall into each category and then have a certification process (“This computer is certified as 2008B performance”). They might base it on specs or maybe something like 3dmark scores. Then a game can simply list its requirements as “2008B” or whatever.

    There would need to be some consistent way of changing each year (maybe 2008A is equal to 2009C?). Then again, if they utilized a score, each system could get a specific rating (e.g., “1327”), which would be good until the scores got to 100k and up ;)

    The biggest problem is when you run into software that has a high requirement in one category and not another (e.g., needs 8GB of RAM but processor can be 286). Computers are too complicated; we should just go back to the Atari 2600.

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  11. Mart SINGAPORE Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    For me, part of the fun in PC gaming is actually keeping up with the hardware trend. I basically change my gfx card each time there is one that I consider to be the most value. I went from a GF4200Ti to a 7900GT and now, an AMD3850. Right now, the card with the most value would be an AMD 4850, and I’m very tempted to change again. :P

    Again, to get the most value for your money, PC gamers cannot really rely on branded PCs (like Dells and HPs). All the time, a PC marked as “gaming PC” by these companies usually sport a very good CPU with a very bad GPU. Most of the time, I find I could build a better gaming machine at half the cost and run the latest games much better.

    The DRM with consoles is already built into the hardware, so to speak, so gamers do not really feel it. Why I say this is because you can never use a backup copy of your disc to play on the console. This can always be circumvented via firmwares (Xbox, PSP), flash carts (GBA, DS) or modchips (everything else). I think that piracy is just as rampant on the console as it is on the PC, except that for some reason, it is the PC that is gaining the most attention and FUD.

    I, myself, prefer gaming on the PC. Morrowind, Civ4, GalCiv2, Diablo, WoW, Fallout 2; you can’t replicate these games with a controller and a high res TV! I don’t find the games on the X360 or PS3 that much fun at all, but that’s just me. At one time, I did own a PS2 all for 4 months before I decided to cut my losses and sell it off as I had stopped playing. I do have a Wii right now, but I mainly play it for the party games with friends.

    Seems like now, publishers are always concerned with graphics, graphics, graphics. This is regardless of platform. So much effort seems to go into it that the gameplay seems to suffer. I buy very few so-called “hit titles” these days, and is spending more of my money on indies. I avoided Spore for the DRM and instead, for the same price, I got Galactic Civilizations 2, Depths Of Peril, Jagged Alliance 2:Unfinished Business and Fallout 2 (the last 2 from gog.com’s 2-for-1 special).

    DX10 is not yet essential for gaming. I’ve tried it and it doesn’t do any wonders at all. The games still look the same to me! Compare the screenshots between DX9 and 10 online (there are many). Don’t tell me that while playing, you will notice that ray of light bouncing off the water causing diffractions and reflections to the 4th differential, and think to yourself “I didn’t see this on DX9!”. Again, I think MS is just hyping DX10 up to entice gamers to make the switch to Vista. Just another marketing ploy people!

    PC gaming may be dying; that I will not deny. But to me, it is already dead when the shift went from innovative gameplay and compelling stories to all about the graphics.

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  12. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    @Ian Clifton: Wow, I actually like this idea. It would simplify things immensely. But you are right, computers are complicated and it would be hard to come up with a single score that would encompass all the requirements. Perhaps we should split the score into few components. I’d suggest keeping the names straightforward and keep the scores numeric. So a game would have something like this on the box:

    Speed:10
    Memory:8
    Storage:3
    Video:16
    Windows XP or Vista

    Hardware then would put “This video card is certified as Video:24″ on the box. Of course these scores would need to be standardized – some organization would have to be created to keep track of all the hardware specs, requirements, compare and benchmark components to certify them. Especially the video cards – since two cards with similar specs, can often have very different performance. Which sort of makes me think that this will never happen.

    @Mart: I actually can’t stand shopping for video cards. Every time it’s time for me to upgrade I spend agonizing hours scouring Tom’s Hardware and other places, and asking people around where should I invest my money. I just don’t keep track of these things on a day-to-day basis and whenever I try to shop for a new card I am lost. I can sort of tell what is decent and what is crap, but the devil is in the details. For example, is it worth it to invest in the expensive card X with awesome specs, when the card Y with much lower specs offers almost the same performance at half the price? This stuff always gets me.

    With respect to games I’m the same as you. I can’t imagine playing Morrowind, WoW, or HL2/Portal on consoles. In fact there are few exclusive console games that actually interest me.

    Oh, btw – my GOG beta code just came in today. :) I might just pick up Fallout 2 to see why everyone seems to be crazy about that game.

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  13. Thinking about it; I kind of didn’t tell the whole truth above. I also bought Wii and DS games this year, so I’m kind of staying in the console land too.

    @Luke Maciak: Well, I don’t think that the mainstream/hardcore will stop coming to the PC. Still, we’ve seen t, games getting released on consoles first, then much later on the PC. I’d like if that happens; I guess the developers who make games I like will stay back. In that regard I’m much like @Mart, of Morrowind, Civ4, GalCiv2, Diablo, WoW and Fallout 2 I haven’t tried GalCiv2. It is on the “to buy” list, but I feared the requirements.

    And though I loved Fallout 1 to bits, I haven’t played through the second one. I didn’t even get far. It’s strange. I’ll have to have a look at it again. There is a widescreen/res mod – I haven’t tested it yet, and I am not sure if it works with the GOG version (as I don’t have a GOG code). Linkish:http://www.nma-fallout.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=42386

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  14. [quote comment="10248"]…I am not sure if it works with the GOG version (as I don’t have a GOG code). …[/quote]

    Err.. now I do. Thank you nice commenter on this post whose love for old games are great :)

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  15. James Heaver UNITED KINGDOM Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    [quote comment="10244"]Instead of PC specs listing processor, RAM, video card, etc. they need to utilize categories.

    2008 A – Top of the line system from January 2008
    2008 B – High-end system
    2008 C – Good system
    etc.
    [/quote]

    Hasn’t Microsoft started doing this on Vista?

    My experience of Vista is limited to seeing my brohter’s gaming machine, and playing Spore at home, but it looks like they’re giving each system a rating between 0 and 5.0 (atm, I think that they will go higher in the future), and games are rated to their requirements.

    I don’t know if these figures are pritned on game boxes, but they appear when you install and run the game.

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  16. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    @Tormod Haugen: I think most GOG games are un-tampered with so the mod should work. I haven’t bought anything from them yet, but definitely let me know if the widescreen mod works. The low resolution thing always kills me with these older games.

    @James Heaver: I really have limited exposure to Vista. Now that you mention it I think I did see that system rating thing. Cool. I didn’t think about doing automatic benchmarking by the OS but it is a good idea. I think vista uses that number to show how well this system can run the OS itself. I wonder how accurate would it be for specifying video game requirements.

    Does Microsoft actually publish any documentation on this process? Could a game developer figure out the requirements he needs and then find which vista “number” would need to be put on the box? Or is it all some secret magic that is going on behind the scenes?

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  17. Craig Betts UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Solaris Terminalist says:

    Now that I thought about it for a little bit, I still game on my PC . . . with MAME. Arcade ports to consoles just suck! I keep buying them only to be disappointed. Well, that is where MAME steps in. It plays well on my older PC hardware (my main MAME box is a 733Mhz P3 with 512Mb RAM, Rage 128 framebuffer and a 9Gb HDD) and I can play all the games of my youth exactly like I remembered them.

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  18. Mart SINGAPORE Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    @Luke Maciak:
    GOG’s Fallout 2 is working with the high res mod. But if the resolution is too high, then the fonts may be too small to see. So far, been playing it at 1280×1024 without any problems.

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  19. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    @Craig Betts: Ah, yes – good old MAME! :) Thanks to it I was able to re-live my college freshman year by playing Marvel vs Street Fighter again. We spent so much money on that arcade, running ad-hock tournaments in the cafeteria that it was not even funny.

    @Mart: Nice! Good to know. Yet another reason for me to buy it. :)

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  20. ZeWrestler UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    I think at this point, gaming is the only thing that is preventing me from switching over systems. And I don’t even game much anymore. Why can’t D3 be out sooner.

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  21. Mack UNITED KINGDOM Safari Mac OS says:

    I commented on the last post and I’ll comment it again

    “Cool, I’ll just go blow 700£ on a sweet setup. And then have too continually update graphics cards”

    I guess I underestimated.

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  22. Alphast NETHERLANDS Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    I am in the category who keeps Windows just for the Games. I used Win2K until now, but I will soon have to upgrade to Vista, which I don’t want to do, just for the games. My blessing is that I like old games (Morrowing, GTA San Andreas, Archlord) which run fine on my decent machine with my old windows. But that’s not going to last. I hate it, but I’ll have to go with it, unless Wine becomes so up to date that I don’t need Vista any more… ;-)

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  23. vacri AUSTRALIA Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Looks like I missed the party on this thread. Most of the points listed here are a load of tosh, but there are a couple of good ones.

    Upgrade treadmill – tosh. I bought a Core 2 Duo when they first came out two years ago. It plays games fine – the only game that taxes the CPU is Dwarf Fortress, and I play a lot of different games. I bought a $300 video card at the same time, and it’s still reasonable – I play at max settings (1920×1200 and other fluff) and do slow down a little sometimes… but I do play at max settings. The only thing that’s making me think upgrades now is that my motherboard is letting a squeak out every now and then and I’m so used to upgrading that it feels unnatural that I haven’t felt the squeeze yet.

    DirectX 10 – tosh. There’s really not much new in directX 10, not that makes a heap of difference. Seen a lot of side-by-side shots with Dx9, and while yes, 10 is a little nicer, it’s not chalk and cheese different. I’ve just reinstalled from XP64 to XP32, eschewing Vista as I have no real need for it.

    Stable dev environment – reasonable point

    Price – meh, you can get a low-end Dell for $400 and drop in a $100-200 graphics card. If you’re a l33t gamer you’ll go for something more expensive, but you’ll also end up with something which looks far better than a console.

    DRM – good point

    Less exclusive titles – meh, depends on the kind of games you like to play. Consoles aren’t great for the RTS games I like. There is certainly a problem with the homogenisation of titles though.

    Demographic shift – yes and no, see the above point. Some things are better on one, some are better on the other. There’s also stuff you can do with a PC that you can’t with a console… like alt+tabbing out and checking strategy guides or IM or whatnot. And there’s stuff you can do with a console that you can’t with a PC.

    PC gaming isn’t dying, but it is sick.

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  24. name AUSTRALIA Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    death of windows?
    you seriously can not believe that!
    you do realize PC gaming has been going down the shitter latley.
    PC gaming use to be king, top trump but now its the bastard child.
    it use to be the best of the best, now its got the short end of the stick.
    PC games use to be made around the PC than ported to consoles, so PC games were always heads and shoulders above consoles, thats not the case anymore.
    look at the PS3, every 6 months or so theres a new game taking the game industry to a new level, raising the bar.
    first with heavenly sword than uncharted than MGS4 than resistance 2 than killzone 2 than infamous than uncharted 2.
    same goes for the 360.
    but what has the PC had?
    crysis and crysis warhead and arguably S.T.A.l.K.E.R
    thats it, 3 games compare to how many console games?
    crysis is over 2 years old and nothing on PC has topped that.
    if a 2008 computer (thats how advanced it was, took almost a year for hardware to catch up) can give you crysis i want to see what a 2010 computer can give you.
    ive got a 1 year old PC with a 9800GTX+ and i can run crysis at max settings.
    if 1 9800GTX+ gives me crysis i want to see what 1 265 GTX will give me.
    i want to see what a 295 GTX will give me.
    i want to see what Nvidias new DX11 cards will give me.
    were constantly releasing new VDUs and CPUs but what for?
    theres not 1 program available that requires it, so what is the point?
    sounds like overkill to me,its like spending thousands of dollars for a crane to lift and move a leaf.
    sure i can do it with my hand, but there is much bigger more fun ways to do it.

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  25. Ricardo UNITED STATES Safari Mac OS says:

    @ name:
    Your crazy, I have a GTX 260 and While I can play Crysis on high settings, the game plays at around 24 FPS, which is arguably not bad, but I dream of getting two 5790’s in the near future to run the game at 60FPS.

    Upgrade path is a pain, but the truth is as of right now you can get a core i-5, a pair of 2GB OCZ Platinums, decent motherboard, PSU, and an HD4890 for under 600 dollars. That has you covered for at least three more years for gaming. When those two years are up you can just buy a newer graphics card and your good for two more years.

    Unless your doing a lot of video encoding, you don’t need to upgrade you CPU every other year.

    I consider myself an enthusiast and yes, a year ago I had a q9400 with a 3.0GHZ e8400 and in the last month I upgrade to a core i-7 and just spent over 1300 on the upgrade. Yes, but that is me. I do a lot of video encoding and I edit a lot of footage. Sure my GTX 260 is crappy for video editing, which is why I am upgrading. It was ok for the job when it came out, but now it’s showing it’s age. But again, this is just me.

    If you just want to play games, just throw a new video card in your system and you should be good. The upgrading of a pc is the most overused excuse.

    As for the DirectX argument, I can notice the difference. Yes, big time. It’s apparent to me, yes, I upgraded to Vista just for DirectX 10. And I hated Vista, but I ONLY USED VISTA FOR GAMING. Once the OS started acting up and ruining my life ; ) I installed Mac OS X and Windows XP on my 500 GB HDD. My 1TB was being used for games, with two extra 1TB used for holding my files. And it made things livable. Anyways, The minute the Windows 7 Beta was released, I got the heck out of dodge. I am running Windows 7 and I don’t need to use any alternative programs, which still has the exact same Windows problems that have always been there (Maybe the problems are how it’s supposed to be) but it is still less buggy and ‘thick’ than Vista. The point is, 7 is out, Vista is a bad nightmare and the only people who upgraded for DirectX10 are the people who noticed the differences, so it was never a “had to upgrade” situation.

    Am I the only one who does not find the back of games complicated?

    Your PC tells you what you have right in the My Computer start menu option. Can’t you take the number that is given to the right of each category and match it with the number on the box. You only really need the Ram and the Processor speed and your video card model number. you have 4Gb of Ram, box says 1GB (which is what most games use) your good. The box says 3.0GHZ processor, your PC came with a 2.8GHZ dual core, your good. Dual means two, the box only states the minimum, which is obviously referring to a single core. While your processor speed is slower than whats on the box, you got two cores to share the load and they both run at 2.8GHZ. One core is at like 80%, the second gets the other 20%.

    If the box says at least a 6800GT, you own an 9800GT. common sense people.

    I get mad when people don’t know even the most general info on PCs, A friend of mine does not even realize the quad core PC I built him a year ago is better than that Dell branded crap he is looking to “upgrade” to. Maybe PC gaming should die. Before it was to a point where a generic Joe could understand the specs of a PC, buy himself a basic machine, than buy a few extra components depending on what it was going to be used for. Now a days, the average Joe has gotten stupider, that he can’t understand the exact same information a Joe from 5 years ago could understand. Everyone tends to blame advancing technology, but the sad fact is that humanity is getting stupider.

    You want a way to simplify PC gaming to make it more accessible to the casual gamer. F*** that, if we have to make something match someone elses laziness, than we have a problem. If they really wanted to get into PC gaming to begin with, they would. They would take the time to learn the ins n outs. They would put in the effort.

    Making their products stupider for a more stupid joe, is like having Fender remove two strings of their guitars to make it more accessible for the stupid children of this generation. I’m just saying, I wanted to learn guitar, so I learned. I practiced and practiced. Same deal with PC gaming. It’s super easy to learn, compared to guitar. All it is is memorizing what is faster than what and which component will get your job done. That simple.

    You don’t have to learn what hyperthreading means, you don’t have to have a SLI setup. You just need to ask, what will play, umm, let’s see, Modern Warfare 2 on High Settings. A:GTX 260-200 core i5-200 core i5 mobo-150 PSU-50 4GB DDR3RAM-100=700. The i5 alone will have you in the green for about 5 years. GTX 260 for 200 dollars, that will have you all set for two more years. Odds are your looking to spend that much on a new PC anyways. There are also many guides on building a decent core i7 pc for less than 500. I just picked components of the top of my head. Google a bit and you could game with us. See you on the battlefield, the real battlefield.

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  26. Ricardo UNITED STATES Safari Mac OS says:

    as a side not if you really want to build a great PC look into a phenom II, those aren’t the fastest, but super cheap and super fast. Forgot to mention the higher end AMD, so I had to follow up.

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/balanced-gaming-pc,2477.html

    also check that article out.

    Reply  |  Quote
  27. Kev UNITED STATES Internet Explorer Windows says:

    Last summer I put together a Core2quad Q6700 rig and added a $100 Nvidia 9600 graphic card. I have been running 32bit Windows XP which used DirectX 9 and so far it has run every modern game I have thrown at it with maxed out settings, including (but not limited too) Batman Arkham Asylum, MOH Airborne, Drakensang, Sim City Societies, X3: Terran Conflict and Oblivion without any problems. So it is not exactly true that you have to have DirectX 10 to play games. In fact, when I have compared the same games running on DX10 and DX9 and can not see any real difference between the two. I personally think all the hype aimed at DX10 and DX11 being better is nothing but a marketing scheme. While I also enjoy console gaming, I am first a computer gamer and would hate to see the genre die.

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  28. WB UNITED KINGDOM Internet Explorer Windows says:

    Author clearly not educated about chosen subject oO

    And why the talk of Vista/DX10 – never heard of Windows 7?

    Reply  |  Quote
  29. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Linux Terminalist says:

    @ WB:

    Commenter clearly not intelligent. Why talk of Windows 7? Never heard of this thing the past? This article was posted in September 2008. Windows 7 wasn’t out then yet.

    Reply  |  Quote
  30. blinkn UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    I would like to point a few things out. I am not disagree with the author, but I see one of the main reasons that PC games available at stores are so limited because of two things. The first is that all the games there are leftovers no one will ever buy or WoW. The second is of the availability of PC games via the internet. It is true that on the current-gen (PS3 and 360) it is possible to buy and download games, but that doesn’t have near the power that a whining kid and Wal-Mart does (which would explain WoW at stores). Back to my point, has anyone ever heard of Steam? You can easily buy, download and play a huge variety of games. Hard copies of games can easily be purchased online at places like amazon and the like.

    Consoles are much simpler than PCs when it comes to families. A parent buys a kid a console and when he (she?) wants a new game, all the parent has to do is go to the store and buy it. The same is true for mature people, but this is just an example. People who game on the PC usually know how to obtain the newest games…the internet…which is also readily available and used on the PC. Yes, you can browse the web on a PS3 (360?), but it is limited and cumbersome as opposed to the PC. They both have game stores (I think) but simply browsing is much more ackward.

    My point from all of there is the ease factor. Consoles are easy to buy and get games for, making them a good place to be marketed at stores. PC games are also easily obtained straight on the PC and require even less walking. You just click a few buttons, enter a few numbers, etc. The way to obtain each game is in its easiest place at the moment, but because of that, the public view of PC games is such that they are overlooked since normal people (such as parents who buy games for their kids or average people who just want to have a game to pass the time) don’t see them when at stores.

    I don’t really know where I was going with this, but I just wanted to make that point. I have other points I could make, but that’s for another day. Simply, PC gaming is sick, I agree, but I don’t think if it falls too much, people will switch from Windows. They may not know how to use it well, but they know better than anything else and people HATE changing to a different OS where they know that they would know even less than they do now about how to use it.

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  31. blinkn UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Please excuse my broken English. I have been writing a term paper and my head is all sorts of messed up.

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  32. name AUSTRALIA Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    @ Ricardo:
    but thats my point you dont need to upgrade your card.
    i have not monitored the FPS while playing crysis, yes obviously if you want 60FPS you need a high end card.
    a friend of mine has 2 Nvidia 295GTX i think they are hooked in SLI and to be honest crysis off those looks better but not that much better than off my 9800GTX.
    once a game gets to the point where your only improving the FPS the differences are barely noticeable.

    crysis came out and for a good year no one could play it on max settings.
    thats what i want now.
    i want a game to come out and force me to buy a top of the line card to be able to max everything out settings wise forget FPS.

    maybe RAGE or crysis 2 can be that game but neither of those are due out till late next year if that.
    and half life 2 epp 3 well i doubt ill see that in my life time.
    hell knowing what valve are like, my great gran kids will have great gran kids by the time thats out.

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