and why I believe PC gaming will be on a decline (albeit gradual):

Ive got alot of material to publish, but since Ive had a very enlightening conversation over on a site in regards to todays gaming, I thought it may make an interesting article to discuss and give my opinions here.

Games, games, games.  Whilst I wouldnt consider myself a gamer, I am partial to the odd title now and then. We own a 360 and more recently a WII.  The WII (as you would expect) is a massive hit with the kids and whilst I considered the 360 the best “all rounder” of the recent consoles, its now been relegated to second place as the kids WII love means that its Nintendo’s offering that is permanently plugged into our TV.

But what for the Windows platform.  An argument put forward to counter the title of this article was that PC games are far more advanced both graphically and in terms of features when compared to the console version.  This is cited for the whole reason why gaming will not decline on the PC and ergo a selling point for Windows, whilst Wine offers great results with some Windows games, its not got the same “out of the box” compat as Windows.

I would agree with that statement… mostly.  I would though ask you to consider how many issues pop up on forums when a new title is released on the PC.  How many workarounds/patches do some users have to subject themselves to simply because of some conflict with their hardware and the latest game?  Add to that the need to keep ontop of the current specs (something which is expensive at the best of times, let alone in the middle of a recession)

I would argue that one of the reasons consoles are so popular is that they offer no such problems.  If you buy a console title you can be sure that once you put the disk in, you will be playing in minutes.  No fiddling with batchfiles or patches.

I cite the Atari Jaguar as a good example.  When it was released the specs of the machine made it a far more advanced system, capable of offering a much better gaming experience to that of the “big two” at the time, namely the Megadrive (Sega) and the SNES (Nintendo) so why did the Jaguar fail?  Simply because, (IMO) poor marketing and the fact that what Atari had hoped would be its flagship title (AvP) was a buggy and unpolished released.   The Jaguar disapeared from the shelves, which for your information is now quite a popular retro machine to buy on ebay, and the AvP title goes for quite a bit of money.

So whilst the three consoles are going from strength to strength, the PC gaming base (IMO) is declining.  Take a look in your local games store and see how much space is dedicated to console gaming compared to PC.  Speak to the next generation of gamers, IMO they mostly have consoles since I dont think your average 16 yearold is likely to be able to afford to keep ontop of the latest specs just to play PC games as they are intended.

The point Im making is that history has shown us that the more powerful platform is not necessarily the one to survive.  Lets look at a few examples:

Amiga 500 / Atari ST – These two battled it out for top slot for a good few years, the Amiga “won” in the end, but people were mostly unaware of another machine around at the time which was far better spec’d than the two, that being the Acorn Archemedes.  The first example of a more spec advanced platform loosing out.

Snes/Megadrive – As stated above, outspec’d by the Jaguar, but I dont think these two were affected.

DS/PSP – The battle of the handhelds winner, (IMO) is easily determined with the DS getting the prize.  There can be no argument which platform is better spec’d and capable of more advanced software (PSP)

and finally more recently:

WII/360/PS3 – Which highlights the point nicely.  Which one is the most popular?  Id say the WII by far and so it surprising then that it is the least powerful console of the three.

Specs dont make a success, simple, affordable and most import fun computing make for a winning platform and whilst Windows may have games far in advance of console titles (if you have high enough specs to run them) I put it to you that the reasons above are why we are seeing the increase in popularity of the console.

So whats in store for the PC?

The PC will always remain in the home, but I believe more and more is being seen as a productivity device.  You surf, you email and you Word process.  The average home user (IMO) has very simple requirements of their PC, which is why I challenge the Microsoft adverts where mother and son are out for a bargain.

However/

Are Microsoft saying that the average user needs MSoffice?  Why isnt OpenOffice considered?  We could debate into the night about the features MSoffice offers in comparison to OpenOffice, however at the end of the day, how many home users do anything more than basic WP tasks anyway (something which arguments about features aside, OpenOffice is more than capable of)  Brandon Le Blanc recently ran an article in regards to saving money and avoiding “Apple Tax” very noble Im sure, however he’s never answered the question of why a child or indeed any average home user should need the alleged benefits MSoffice offers over OpenOffice.  OpenOffice is free, and for anyone who hasnt tried it, why not?  Its available for the Windows platform.  Use it and tell me if it offers the functionality you require.  If it does great, youve saved yourself money.  If it doesnt, why not?  Im genuinely interested.

Conclusion

It is my opinion that Microsoft supporters are using the games argument as the justification to the average user, its already been shown that alternatives can offer free computing and there are many people that have never had Microsoft products in the home for years.  I am one of them (in respect of the PC)  Has it prevented me doing anything?  No not at all.  Have I had to settle for “second best” in any aspect of my computing requirements? No.

So it only leaves games as the “bastion of salvation” which judging by the sales figures Ive seen (and what ive seen at the local games store) Id say the PC platform as a gaming machines days are numbered.  Or does anyone want to argue that a GTA release on the console would be less profitable than on the PC?  In addition you have to consider that with piracy rife in the PC gaming market, and the fact its far easier to get hold of and run pirated PC software than console, how long do you think software houses will put up with lower sales and piracy?

Even Microsoft themselves I believe discontinued arguably the best and most popular Flightsim software, which to me is a further sign of how viable the Windows platform actual is to software developers.

Whilst Wine offers compat on Linux with some well known titles, it hasnt the out of the box compat that Windows does (obviously) however we you read people commenting that they are finding the Windows games that work on Wine run far better on Linux than they did on Windows, I think questions need to be asked about what really is the definitve gaming platform.

I believe that should software houses release all their games with Wine compliance, it would completely negate any reason to have a Windows based machine in the home (IMO)  since myself and many others in the “alternatives” community are proof that you dont need to have the Microsoft logo on your PC in order to be productive and/or enjoy your computing experience.

Goblin – bytes4free@googlemail.com