I've been a console gamer my entire life. I grew up with Nintendo and have owned every Sony and Microsoft home console to date. Sure, I've played some PC, but I've never spent countless hours in front of my computer, with the exception of Civilization IV
and Civilization V
. Pretty much all of the PC gaming I do today is on a laptop powerful enough to run most things on medium settings. I have it for my strategy games. I spend a significant amount of time with my consoles; but, I'm starting to wonder if I'm about to go rogue. Am I going to make the traitorous switch to PC?
It's a very confusing inner-dialogue. All I've ever really known is console gaming. I'm used to my machine being able to run everything that comes out for it. In fact, part of the reason I haven't made the jump to PC gaming head-on is because the amount of technical knowledge required to have the kind of gaming experience I'd want to have on a PC is a bit off-putting. I just want to put a disc in--or download the title, as the case may be--and play the game. I don't want to have to worry about messing with the graphics setting to optimize my framerates, and I don't want to scour the Internet for days at a time looking for exactly the right graphics card. It's the tech-obsessed, pretentious gamer I know I'd become if I made the switch. I like my rowdy and scrappy console crowd.
On the one hand, I like the accessibility of my console. I like that it works with every game that I own. I like the fact that I can use a controller and don't need a keyboard for some games. What? My fingers hurt. I like the fact that N64s still work, cause you ain't
playing Super Mario 64 like it was meant to be played on a PC. But, with all the rumors about the next Xbox and some of the things about Sony's PS4, I find myself seriously doubting whether or not I can stomach another generation that's shaping up to be even more frustrating than the last couple years of the current generation.
There's no way in hell I'm buying a console that requires me to be connected to the Internet at all times. "Yeah... well, like... it's like the 21st Century man... and like... get with the program bro," said Microsoft. First of all, don't call me bro. Second, some people still take their machines to places that don't have Internet, like your friend's house where you like to play splitscreen co-op offline; and sometimes--not sure you're aware of this, Microsoft--our Internet goes out. Maybe you shouldn't think about going always-online until the digital infrastructure in this country is more than what amounts to an old donkey pulling a cart that's ten times heavier than it should be. Poor donkey. Some of the social features on the PS4 could be cool, but they could also be incredibly annoying and intrude into my gaming experience. I don't like how cozy marketing is getting with the creative side of the industry, and I sure don't like the fact that so many of the features we keep hearing about are being called services
instead of what they really are: just another way to increase earned revenue. Ah, the Almighty Dollar.
It is because of those reasons that I am seriously considering saying goodbye to consoles. Let me be clear, I haven't sworn them off yet; but, I have found myself--while pondering the future of our industry-- wondering what there is to look forward to on the console end of things, and every time I peek I find myself coming up with fewer and fewer things. Yes, PC gaming gets bad ports of console titles almost constantly, PCs crash more than consoles, I have to worry about whether or not my rig can run X or Y game, the PC online community tends to be a bit more stuffy, and at the end of the year I'd have to worry about having enough money to make the necessary upgrades to ensure I'd be able to run the coming year's most anticipated titles. But, I wouldn't have to deal with all the bullshit that's been flung in my face the last two or three years as a console gamer.
Maybe it's true: Publishers and developers don't care about PC gamers. Little did we know that would be exactly what would make the PC market so attractive for those of us tired of the slimy business practices of EA and Konami, for those of us who just want our gaming rig to play games and not be the end-all-do-all entertainment device for your living room. For the past decade or so, PC gaming has become a largely self-sufficient beast. There haven't been any publishers propping up the market, and there haven't been any "PC makers" force feeding gamers juvenile bullshit about such and such a service being included to "enhance" your gameplay and entertainment experience. Nope. The majority of PC gamers build their own rigs, and their machine is whatever they want it to be. And for most, it is just simply the machine they game on. I don't have a problem with not owning physical copies of games, and I happen to think that Steam is the greatest invention since sliced bread.
It just may be that PC gaming is the last bastion, nay, the citadel of an honest-to-god, plain ol' form of gaming
. A portion of the gaming industry for gamers who like playing good games on gaming machines and not Blu ray/Netflix/Internet/Amazon/Facebook/Youtube/gaming machines. Sure, you can do all of those things on a PC gaming machine, but isn't that why we have our smartphones and tablets and media notebooks? It may be time to say goodbye to consoles. I don't know. I haven't made up my mind yet. But, if the console portion of the industry doesn't drastically change over the next generation, my mind may just be made up for me.