Many people lately have been decrying the validity of PC based gaming, which is easy to do when compared to the rise in console game popularity, AAA title production prices and the push for many companies to become "Casual Game" makers. PC gamers will tell you that while the era of computer-only titles is long gone, there still remains a strong contingent of fans that play with the mouse and keyboard because it allows them to do the things that consoles will never be able to. Modding and patching are things that happen in an extremely limited way on consoles. The closest thing to a mod in the PC sense of the word would be what people are doing with UT3 is doing on the PS3 and even that requires a computer to make the maps and characters. You could cite the face mapping for R6V but that's such a minute tweak I wouldn't really say it counts. Level editors like the one for Halo 3 are about as close as you are going to get my friends.
Today with the amount of user created content for games like Portal, UT3, Team Fortress2, Counter Strike, Battlefield and so many others... more console gamers than ever before may find themselves asking, "Why can't I do what PC gamers can?" Back in the original Half-Life you could spray paint any old jpg file you wanted in to the environment. Push a button and an OBEY GIANT sticker was realistically tagged on to the walls of Black Mesa ( a feature you can still do to this day in Team Fortress 2 on PC). I would KILL to be able to splash a chosen image across the map of COD4, humiliating the corpses of felled enemies by spraying a Goatse or two on them. This will never happen though, because companies like to a) make money and b) avoid scandal.
It's a knock-on effect really. So you have a console like the Wii, which is selling like mad, right? Now this console is aimed at Grandma and Little Billy, old people and kids. They know they already have us; the moderate to long term video game enthusiast. Now other console manufacturers see this and say, "Oh, damn. We need to make games more accessible... cut out all that confusing shit and put in some big headed avatars for them to create." Billy doesn't want customizable controls, he wants swing his arms and pretend to really throw that baseball. Grandma is afraid of options, she wants to be told what to do. Why put map editing in a game if your target demographic doesn't even know what it is?
So what else keeps people separated in to these camps of preferred platforms? Money right? It's the same reason I've gone through three 360s and zero PS3s. I can't afford both. It's a downright travesty how expensive keeping up a gaming rig is. I think Crysis has taught us all a lesson about being too forward compatible with hardware. But when you weigh the pros and cons, you see a deceptive picture forming. Battlefield for the PS2, Xbox and Xbox360 was a tremendous Multiplayer game (Single player campaign? Eh, not so much) and a robust online console specific game. But think of this; there were three expansion packs for this game which were made available to PC consumers that never saw the light of day on any of the consoles. It's content like that that gives a quality title legs and keeps Battlefield played on PCs to this day... meanwhile several big budget, marquee titles have come and gone for the 360 in the same span of time (Halo2, Halo3 and COD4 :all #1 most played games on Xbox live at one point).
But how else is the PC besting the console game? Free and timely content, that's how Take for example the Team Fortress 2 updates to the Medic and Pyro classes. These added feature packs were supplied to PC gamers free of charge. Weapons and achievements were just handed out to anyone who has a copy of the game. The whole time consoles have gotten a few lag patches and multplayer fixes, but no maps or weapons. Do they get this content for free when it comes out? There's no guarantee.
Let's talk about modding. To me, the idea of someone loving a game, playing it to it's extent and squeezing every drop of enjoyment out of it by modding it signifies hardcore gaming. Certain games lend themselves to this pretty easily. Super Mario Bros. has seen more user created mods than anyone can count. But, all you really have to do is look at Counter-Strike. CS began as a mod of Half-Life. It grew so big so fast that Valve eventually brought the modders on to the team and licensed the mod as an official game. the community of CS players is a rabid fan base, giving the game a longevity seldom seen in gaming. And from there, more mods came.
In closing, I have to say the idea that PC gaming is dead is preposterous. People who play explicitly on computers are an adaptive bunch (they've had to be), and I'm sure they will prolong the life of their chosen gaming medium for years to come. After all, the world is going from novels to eBooks, checks to Debt cards and physical to digital. We aren't getting rid of computers anytime soon. And there will be always be a need to play. read