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PC Gaming Semi-retirement

September 11, 2011

After the whole Dead Island debacle, I’ve decided there are some game genres I don’t want to play on PC anymore.

I still have a slew of good / decent games on Steam that I’ll play through, which will take a while… But I’m hesitant to purchase PC games other than MMOs. I’d like to stick to console. I want to say it’s “sad”, but really it’s not. I guess it’s just part of the evolution of modern gaming. As consoles become more PC like (in terms of utility and performance), PCs fail to take on any of the positive qualities of console gaming, such as approachability, simplicity,  or local multiplayer. So, other than “PC exclusives” (mostly MMOs and RTS games), gaming has become better and easier on consoles with each successive generation of consoles.

Another big selling point for console gaming: refunds, returns, and swaps. With any given console game, I can get an in-store refund for a turd like Dead Island – something I absolutely cannot do with PC digital distribution like Steam, or most even for physical discs of PC games. Almost all stores stores have a “no open box” return policy JUST for PC games. If I could get a refund on Dead Island for the PC, I would have the same day. I can’t however, because I bought it on a PC, not on a console. Along those lines, many stores have some kind of ” console game swap” policy, where if you are tired of a game you can trade it in for in-store credit – only as long as the game is not a PC game. You usually “get ripped off” by in-store trades, but in all honesty I don’t like hoarding games anyway. I’ll keep the ones I really like, and freely swap the bad games, or games with no replay value. I wouldn’t even be surprised if I could swap games on Craigslist or some other site – something that I absolutely can not do with PC games.

Also worth pointing out is the game making process will always sideline the PC development process. The PC version of any multi-system game is usually an insanely lazy port that isn’t properly tested or optimized, and often times released MUCH later than the console versions (hello GTA 3 & 4, Gears of War, and Saints Row 2 – among MANY others), or is released about the same time as the console version but broken, because “we can patch it later”.

I blame both publishers and developers for this. Developers mostly have a “once it’s done, it’s done, and we are moving on” attitude towards their own games – most likely because putting in any extra work in an already-released game is not going to net them much (if any) money (Valve is the ONLY non-MMO major developer that is an exception to this rule). Publishers are also guilty, because they often insist on forcing “firm” release dates for games, so they can appropriate a timeline and budget for the game. By forcing a release date on developers, the developers are often put into a time squeeze, and the first thing that gets axed in the time crunch is proper QA and testing, in particular for the PC version (again because “we can patch it after release”). Gamers that buy the shoddy product at release not only pay the highest price for the game, they also act as open beta testers. Make no mistake, the PC release of Dead Island is most CERTAINLY a beta, and will in beta shape for some time. Rather than pay for play testing and quality assurance, the company just forces early adopters to become beta testers for them – and the customer gets screwed twice for pre-purchasing the game.

I understand the reasons why publishers and developers sh-t on PC versions of games – but it doesn’t make it any less of a waste of money for the consumer.

In conclusion, it is becoming increasingly common to release games across multiple platforms, including PC, but the PC version is almost always broken in comparison for titles developed “mostly” for console games, and I for one am no longer paying for bad ports.

What I am going to do is buy another 360 (since my girlfriend’s kids dominate the one in the living room), just so I can buy console games – since they are largely superior in quality and finish. I’ll keep my “gaming PC” for MMOs and good PC exclusives. Guild Wars 2 can’t come out soon enough.

UPDATE: GDFI. Look at this BS… This is exactly why I won’t buy a multi-console game on the PC ever again. It sucks being a PC gamer sometimes. 😦

With that, we’ve moved the only current XBox 360 into the “kids room”, this way I at least get my big-screen TV and the whole living room back from the domination of the kiddos. In the long term, after a few pay checks at my new job, I want to get a 360 for myself. I’ve done a bit of homework, and cheating / aimbots is possible on XBox and PS3, but far less common than on PC. I’ve asked a friend about it, and I’m going to wait on what he says before I take the dive and get another 360 (they cost +$300 for a new one!)

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