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Is gaming on console dying?


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#1 ChaosEngine   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2228

Posted 30 October 2013 - 02:31 PM

Ok, apologies for the overly hyperbolic title, but there's precedent :)

 

So for the last two nights, I decided that the best way to play Arkham Origins would be on my couch in front of my TV.

So I set Win7 to autologon and Steam to start in Big Picture mode. After plugging a grand total of 4 cables (power, network, hdmi and xbox controller), I sat down and was soon striking terror in fluid 1080p on a big screen.

 

Over the last few days it's been revealed that even the so-called "next gen" consoles will be upscaling 720p content for some of their big titles. The consoles aren't even out yet and they're already underpowered.

 

I get the idea behind a console. Consoles served a dual purpose of simplification (no visible OS, filesystem, drivers, etc) and also they provided economies of scale (the manufacturers had enough buying power to deliver a machine that would probably cost you a lot more to build as a PC).

 

It seems that neither of these things are true anymore. I've demonstrated that setting up a PC as a living room box is trivially easy (and with the advent of steam machines, it's only going to get easier), and cost wise? Well, rock paper shotgun ran an article that showed how to build a PC that was more powerful than either console for pretty much the same money. And that was nearly 5 months ago now. As time passes, a similar or even better spec'd PC will just get cheaper.

 

So my question is, why would anyone buy an xbox one / ps4?


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#2 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 19757

Posted 30 October 2013 - 02:53 PM

So you think it is dying because you can build a more powerful machine.  That argument has been brought up ever since the first few rounds of home game consoles.

 

Why buy an Atari 2600 when you can get more powerful home computers? Why buy an N64 when you could buy a Pentium Pro that had so much more power?

 

Why would anybody today buy a PC with an i3 or i5 processor when they could by the i7 or the server-level E7 processor?

 

Why would anyone buy a PC with 4GB of RAM when they could buy a machine filled with 256GB of memory?

 

Why would anyone buy a PC that didn't have a bleeding edge graphics card?

 

 

 

The answer is simple:  You buy the equipment not because it is top of the line, you buy it because it meets the requirements.

 

A game console's requirements are to play specific games. That is all.

 

If you want to play the game and you are wealthy enough to afford it, you get the console for it.


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#3 Servant of the Lord   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 18099

Posted 30 October 2013 - 02:54 PM

I get the idea behind a console. Consoles served a dual purpose of simplification (no visible OS, filesystem, drivers, etc) and also they provided economies of scale (the manufacturers had enough buying power to deliver a machine that would probably cost you a lot more to build as a PC).

 

They also have well-defined hardware and software specs that developers can develop against, allowing the same hardware to be used more effectively.

For example, until all your PC customers have 8GB of RAM, you can't assume they have it. With consoles, you can. Same with the number of cores. Or the amount of videocard RAM, or the size of the CPU caches, the read/write time of the harddrives/disc-drives. These hardware guarantees allow for greater optimizations - new games released at the beginning of a console cycle look inferior to those released at the end of the console cycle... but the console hardware hasn't improved, just the developers' abilities to optimize.

 

You also mentioned that PC hardware will get cheaper - and so will the console hardware. The console hardware will get cheaper and have the economy of scale working for it. For each console, games will get better, while the console gets cheaper, with each year.

 

This doesn't make consoles better than PCs (I'm a PC gamer), but it's another thing to add into the mix.

 

Also, in the USA, getting pirated console game discs is unusual. Not uncommon, but not mainstream. With PCs in the USA, pirated computer games (and smartphone games) are common-place. With the US being one of the largest markets for videogames, that might also influence where developers decide to invest money.


Edited by Servant of the Lord, 30 October 2013 - 02:55 PM.

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#4 N.I.B.   Members   -  Reputation: 1094

Posted 30 October 2013 - 03:00 PM

Good question. I'm going to get a PS4. And here's why:

  • Exclusives. Some of the best PS3 games I played were exclusives. Sony has great franchises you can't find on PC.
  • It's a gaming machine, designed specifically for games. I don't think PCs provide the same gaming experience when you place them in the leaving room.


#5 Grimshaw   Members   -  Reputation: 619

Posted 30 October 2013 - 03:03 PM

Plus, games are supposed to be games, not benchmarks. Most games need to be fun, and not meet the maximum specs of the hardware they are running on..

 

I might be naive in saying this, but I don't think the console market is dying at all, its seems to keep going steady. New hardware and software always coming out, lots of sales, as in the case of GTA V, which actually broke records..

 

I believe playing either on a PC or on a console will always be a matter of personal preference, and neither will ever die. At least until some technological breakthrough for gaming comes out!


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#6 ChaosEngine   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2228

Posted 30 October 2013 - 03:44 PM

So you think it is dying because you can build a more powerful machine.  That argument has been brought up ever since the first few rounds of home game consoles.

 
Nope. You completely missed my point. 
 
Of course, you can build a more powerful machine. You always could, you just throw more money at it.

 

For the first few console iterations (NES, Genesis, N64, etc) consoles and pc games were entirely separate. Hell even between consoles most games were platform exclusives.

 

Over the last few iterations (xbox/ps2, 360/ps3) and now the new iteration things have started to converge.

 

But even then, building an equivalent machine at launch was probably at least 120-150% of the cost of the console.
 
My point is that for pretty much the first time in history, you can build an equivalent or better machine, for the same money, at launch, and the software ecosystem is such that you can now play 90+% of the same games, except they will look better.

 

The next gen can't even run current titles at 1080p, and yes, people do care about this. Especially in the next few years as 4k TV sets start to become affordable.

 

 

They also have well-defined hardware and software specs that developers can develop against, allowing the same hardware to be used more effectively.
For example, until all your PC customers have 8GB of RAM, you can't assume they have it.

 
Good point about the well defined spec.

But I disagree with the second part. You can just specify that 8GB of ram is required to run the game. Increasingly, games are starting to do this. Most "next-gen" titles are requiring 64bit OSs and the new supernatural fishy dog simulator (aka CoD: Ghosts) requires 6gb.

 

Obviously I'm not talking short term. The xbone/ps4 will make their respective companies lots of money.

 

But from a business perspective, it's got to the point where it's almost impossible to make a AAA game for just one system. Sony manage to do it, but I'd be willing to bet a large amount of money that Sony bankroll the likes of Naughty Dog as a loss leader. 

 

I think the line between what we consider PC gaming and console gaming will blur. I just don't see the current console business model of building a machine as a loss leader to get sales royalties to be viable anymore, and I don't think MS/Sony do anymore either, as evidenced by the fairly uninspiring machines they put out this generation.


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#7 Servant of the Lord   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 18099

Posted 30 October 2013 - 04:17 PM

But I disagree with the second part. You can just specify that 8GB of ram is required to run the game. Increasingly, games are starting to do this. Most "next-gen" titles are requiring 64bit OSs and the new supernatural fishy dog simulator (aka CoD: Ghosts) requires 6gb.

 

Try as you might, your support team will still field a bunch of calls from consumers who didn't read the tiny print on the back of the box, or who don't know what RAM is ('Is that a new CoD gun?'). And you still can't really expect any but your most tech-savy customers to understand you if you say you need a CPU with SSE4 and a L1 cache of 32KB, and a videocard with 2 GB of GDDR5. Ask them what their harddrive speeds are, and they'll give you the MPH of their Honda.

 

As a programmer, I'm above-average when it comes to tech-savviness of the general population, and if you asked me my own L2 cache size, I'd have to go check - I don't have it memorized. Knowing what games run on your computer shouldn't require you to be a hardware enthusiast. What Microsoft was doing with their Windows Experience Index was a good idea, though it never really gained traction and wasn't that accurate (apparently, they removed it from Windows 8.1).

 

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#8 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 19757

Posted 30 October 2013 - 04:18 PM

My point is that for pretty much the first time in history, you can build an equivalent or better machine, for the same money, at launch, and the software ecosystem is such that you can now play 90+% of the same games, except they will look better.


The game experience is still different. Yes there are some games that come out on PC and console at the same, and some people will prefer one over the other.

But really, as I mentioned, people do not buy game consoles because of the system specs. I don't think "I want a game console that has such-and-such processor and such-and-such memory".

This is why people buy consoles:

A game console's requirements are to play specific games. That is all.
If you want to play the game and you are wealthy enough to afford it, you get the console for it.

People do not buy a game console just to have a game console. They buy it for a purpose.

Yes there are a very small number of people -- that DO NOT represent the majority of game players -- who will buy a specific console on opening day without any research or study of the games. They will just buy whatever they can find on the shelf.

The vast majority of consumers wait to buy until they find games they want to play on the system. Then they will buy the games and the console. The game console is a means to an end, not an end in itself.

The question is not if gaming on console is dying, the question should be if the games coming out are compelling enough. I see no evidence to suggest the games are not compelling.
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#9 ActiveUnique   Members   -  Reputation: 799

Posted 30 October 2013 - 05:45 PM

If I see another one of these threads I'm going to think of a way to ask if fun is dying, just to see what I get.


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#10 Hodgman   Moderators   -  Reputation: 28578

Posted 30 October 2013 - 07:00 PM

That article is comparing £600 PCs with £350-420 consoles (when you don't cheat and you include the HDD, labour and warranty).
Also they forget that you need some extra RAM to mirror the GPU memory, they dismiss RAM speed because that's not a bottleneck for modern CPUs (lolwut), and they don't back up their assertion that an i5 is twice as good as the console CPU at all...

That's not an historic moment in PC vs console gaming to me :P

#11 tmccolgan88   Members   -  Reputation: 253

Posted 30 October 2013 - 07:32 PM

No gaming platform is dying.



#12 j-locke   Members   -  Reputation: 811

Posted 30 October 2013 - 09:19 PM

No gaming platform is dying.

Well, except maybe BlackBerry OS as a gaming platform...



#13 tychon   Members   -  Reputation: 652

Posted 30 October 2013 - 10:40 PM

The big win of consoles for me has always been the couch cooperative opportunity. I'm a little sad that the recent generation of titles has seen more and more exclusively online play, so I'm vaguely hopeful for the Ouya or something similar to push back and provide a healthier niche for having two or more people in the same room playing the same game without also needing two TVs, two consoles, two copies...

 

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#14 FuzzyRhombus   Members   -  Reputation: 750

Posted 31 October 2013 - 07:44 PM

The big win of consoles for me has always been the couch cooperative opportunity. I'm a little sad that the recent generation of titles has seen more and more exclusively online play, so I'm vaguely hopeful for the Ouya or something similar to push back and provide a healthier niche for having two or more people in the same room playing the same game without also needing two TVs, two consoles, two copies...

 

Look at me dreaming.

This!

 

Online multiplayer is great, but the fun to be had on split screen or coop with you friends in a basement is a whole other story. You don't get that with on a computer. You technically could, but no game is made like that since they expect you to be ON your computer, not hooking it up like a console lol.

 

But in defense of the OP (not for his initial reasoning), this aspect of consoles is definitely dying. sad.png And I think it is a huge factor in console > pc, besides the game library itself.

I can't tell you how many times my friends and I would pick up some awesome looking used games in the past few years, only to come home and find out it only has online multiplayer, or only 2 player split screen (really???), or a very limited version of multiplayer if you're doing local..angry.png



#15 TheChubu   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3965

Posted 31 October 2013 - 09:12 PM

 

No gaming platform is dying.

Well, except maybe BlackBerry OS as a gaming platform...

 

Next year will be the year of BlackBerry OS gaming.


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#16 ChaosEngine   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2228

Posted 31 October 2013 - 09:21 PM

@tychon and @FuzzyRhombus, who says you can't do that kind of gaming on a pc? 

 

I'm not arguing against a living room machine played with controllers, I'm simply saying that it's no longer really necessary to limit yourself to an xbox or a ps4 to do so.

 

I kinda regret the post title now, which I made as a throwaway joke reference to the "is pc gaming dying" thread.

 

My point is that two are starting to converge more and more and the console business model as now know it (big corporates creating fixed hardware platform at a loss) is increasingly untenable in a environment where spiralling AAA development cost force cross platform development.

 

That coupled with the failure of the new generation to play the current big titles (Ghosts, BF4, etc) at HD resolutions... well, I just don't think it's viable long term.


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#17 j-locke   Members   -  Reputation: 811

Posted 01 November 2013 - 02:41 AM


That coupled with the failure of the new generation to play the current big titles (Ghosts, BF4, etc) at HD resolutions... well, I just don't think it's viable long term.

 

The Steam hardware & Software Survey looks to be showing about 35% of players using 1080p or higher resolutions. So while the technical capability is there, it looks like a pretty decent sized majority of PC gamers are also failing to experience the games at HD resolutions.

 

http://store.steampowered.com/hwsurvey/

While certainly not scientific, it's probably about the best stash of info on PC gamers as a whole...

 

Also, an Ars Technica article about the apparent 720p and 900p resolutions that the XBox One and PS4 are running BF4 at, respectively.

http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2013/10/op-ed-why-im-not-too-worked-up-about-the-next-gen-console-resolution-wars/



#18 RivieraKid   Members   -  Reputation: 372

Posted 01 November 2013 - 07:09 AM

Sony's gaming entertainment division profits dropped last year because of lack lustre sales.

 

You have to remember that mobile gaming is hitting pc's and consoles.

 

However, I don't have the figures, but I think valve's profits are continually going in the right direction.

 

I think the ps4 / xbone generation will see a tough battle, especially in their later years.

 

I think there are also diminishing returns on graphics improvements. The amount of effort to improve the graphics by 10% is quite high and consumers are now looking for content. I don't think hardware will remain a bottleneck for the industry and, in a few years, you might be able to pick up a steam box for £250 which will play everything except PS4 exclusives. As mentioned above, your likely to see exclusives less and less as it becomes harder to make profit on a single platform.



#19 kryotech   Members   -  Reputation: 838

Posted 01 November 2013 - 10:33 AM

Why do people use consoles? It's easier. There's no need to worry about anything. Get the game, put it in the console, and it runs.


Kryotech

#20 cardinal   Members   -  Reputation: 810

Posted 01 November 2013 - 10:59 AM


Sony's gaming entertainment division profits dropped last year because of lack lustre sales

 

Of course profits are down in a transition year. People are spending less as they are waiting for the new consoles, and Sony is spending more on marketing, developing and manufacturing the PS4.

 

It doesn't really represent any sort of trend. If it continually declines over several years then it represents a trend. Most AAA publishers are likely operating at a loss over the last two quarters, compounded by the expense of transitioning to new hardware, and will make most of their money in the current quarter, mostly on current gen games due to the initial low install base of the next gen platforms.






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