Editorial: Why PC Gaming Is Dying
It's a common topic these days, and always subject to much debate. For the longest time, I refused to believe PC gaming really was dying, primarily because some of my finest interactive experiences as a child came from my old Tandy/IBM. I distinctly recall the good ol' days of text adventures (shut up, they were great), Hero's Quest, Earl Weaver's Baseball, Ms. Pac-Man and more. Later, in college, I had a blast playing the likes of Diablo, Heroes of Might and Magic III, Baldurs Gate 2, Icewindale and Unreal Tournament with a bunch of friends. Therefore, in no way would I ever want to come to the conclusion that PC gaming is dying. If I do that, it feels as if a part of me would die along with it. But unfortunately, the time has come: it is dying, and I have to come to terms with it.
Now, I could spend hours comparing the cost:value ratio between PCs and consoles, but that's an argument that can be spun in a variety of ways, and one that's loaded with hidden pitfalls. And I could claim that an appalling lack of diversity and innovation in the past decade has led to the PC's demise as a gaming platform, but I'd rather not. It's a valid claim - just about every last big title these days simply builds on the foundation set by either Half-Life, Command & Conquer or Baldurs Gate - but that just generates a lot of animosity. The PCers hate to hear it, regardless of how true it is. There's far more diversity in terms of genres and innovation when it comes to gameplay on consoles, and that's a straight-up fact. All of this has contributed to the PC's downfall, along with the elitist PC developer mindset ('cough' Valve 'cough') that basically says, "we're the best, we don't ever have to change." However, it goes well beyond this.
I'm playing through The Orange Box on the 360; this is my first time through Half-Life 2. The hype for this game was through the roof, so of course, I was very excited to finally get a chance to play it. And this is a great game, but the further I got, the more something was eating away at me...it was gnawing at my brain, desperately trying to tell me something. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but last night, it hit me- it felt cold. It felt stark, bland, and most importantly, lifeless. At that moment, I realized that most all PC exclusive games felt this way to me now. They lack the warmth of some of the colorful, vibrant, dynamic worlds we've been seeing in the console realm for quite a while. I had just completed Uncharted: Drake's Fortune before starting The Orange Box, for example, and the contrasts are plain. Granted, it wouldn't be fair to compare the two games in terms of gameplay because they're in completely different genres, but it is certainly fair to compare graphics and design.
1/9/2008 Ben Dutka