Not so long ago I used to be a member of the glorious PC gaming master race.
(Yes, it’s a things. Look it up.)
When I was apart of the master race, I spent a lot of my time tinkering inside my computer. I’d change the video card so that I could play the latest game. Then I’d change the power supply because the new video card was killing my system. Then I’d try to find new ways to keep the PC cool, because the new video card/power supply combo was causing the system to melt down.
My friends, most of who were console peasants, just laughed at me. As I’d sit there complaining about heat sinks (little devices to disburse heat away from the CPU), and they’d tell me how easy it was to play a console. There was no screwing around with system settings or running games in various compatibility modes. Just put in your DVD, pick up your controller and play.
What I heard was: “Come to the dark. We have cookies.”
A couple of year ago, I finally gave up and become a dirty console peasant.
It wasn’t the computer, or the simplicity of using a console; it was the games. Basically, there weren’t any. You wandered into stores, and you’d be lucky if you found five titles. But if you looked over at the Xbox or PS3 area, there were walls – WALLS – of video games. Some of these had never been ported to the PC. Some just hadn’t been released in the UAE.
I broke down and bought an Xbox. I even bought the Kinect, which in hindsight was the biggest waste of video-game related money since the release of E.T. for the Atari 2600. (Yes, this is not the first time I’ve been a console peasant. I also had the Sega Genesis, or Megadrive for those of your from the UK.)
For awhile, I was happy being a console peasant. There’s a lot to be said for being able to pop in a game like Crysis 2 and, for once, not having to upgrade your computer to even play the damn thing.
But in the last couple of years, I’ve noticed something. The PC self at the local stores is beginning to fill back up again. Not to the point that I’d like, but finally there is something besides World of WarCraft.
There is also the Steam, an application that acts as a digital distributor of PC games. No more stumbling into a store to hear “Sorry, we don’t have that game.” Steam is estimated to have about 50 to 70 per cent of the distribution market. Steam has its flaws, but most of those can be worked around.
So, I’m beginning to think about re-joining the glorious PC gaming master race. The first reason is that no matter what I do, a hardware upgrade is probably going to be a needed by the end of the year. Sony’s PlayStation 4 is slated for an end of year release, and there is a lot of speculation that Microsoft will be announcing their next-gen Xbox in April. Then, of course, there will be wait for the consoles to launch here.
The other reason is that it’s easy to get a PC that will play graphic-intensive games without breaking the bank or require you to count your PCI slots. No, they’re not cheap, but a PC can at least do something other than plays games.
Only one thing is making me think twice: digital rights management.
Even when I was still using my PC to play games, DRM was already becoming an obsession with game makers. These days, they’re gotten psychotic. The new SIM city game requires users to log into their account even when playing a single-player (offline) game. All of that sounds fine on paper, but it fails to take into account one small problem: no video game maker ever has enough servers, meaning you have wait for a slot to open on the server before you play. This was a problem when I played Warcraft, and it’s still a problem today. Think about it. People who bought SIM City had to wait to cue 20 minutes to login into an offline play they wanted to play on a computer in their own home.
I realize that was an isolated incident, but maybe I’ll stay will the peasant a little while longer. And at least my console still lets my play when the Internet goes out.