Sponsored By

Undue Aggression: The Conflict between the PC "Elite" and Console Fanboys

A conflict has been raging, one that often breaks out of its murky depths and surfaces in a flurry of sharp jabs that only serve to add fuel to the fire, but ones that never really help to sustain a fierce flame.

Game Developer, Staff

June 25, 2009

6 Min Read

A conflict has been raging, one that often breaks out of its murky depths and surfaces in a flurry of sharp jabs that only serve to add fuel to the fire, but ones that never really help to sustain a fierce flame. I am of course talking of the conflict between the PC Gamer “Elite” and Console Gamer “Fanboys”.



Each year console gamers rejoice, throwing their arms up in jubilation, standing proud (more likely tea-bagging) over the body of the PC gamer, declaring his death. Yet each year PC games are made and sold, regardless of this proclamation. So why is it that PC gaming is being regarded as the rich relative everyone wants to die but somehow inexplicably keeps on ticking. If the console gamer is to be believed then PC gaming is living on borrowed time.

PCs were originally built as tools to increase productivity in areas of calculations, writing, and in many other industrial and commercial areas. Overtime gaming emerged as a natural area in which computers could facilitate. As the potential of computers was being realised the demand for more powerful systems for game developers pushed the hardware makers to produce hardware that could handle the imaginations of the first game developers. These pioneers brought about a medium that would later spawn some of the most well loved interactive experiences.PC gaming naturally has its shortcomings, its buggy (but then again what isn’t), required (more often than not) new expensive hardware to run games at their potential. However, provides the best visuals, RTS games are still best enjoyed on a PC, and online gaming is more accessible on the PC.

Consoles on the other hand were built to fulfill a niche that PCs at the time couldn’t. They adopted a pick up and play attitude providing a more accessible and affordable games machine. A rivalry easily developed because of this but it helped push consoles to become more powerful and eventually adopting much of the PC entertainment functionality (more on this particular point later). Consoles brought gaming into the limelight with devices and games that require no installations and that works out of the box. Admittedly it was and still is inferior, spec wise, to a PC, it lacks the ease of hardware upgrade potential (instead requiring an entire machine to be bought each generation) and therefore lacks the same level of extensibility.

What makes this conflict interesting is the idea of games being “dumbed” down for the console. PC gamers seem to recall a golden age of gaming, where complex, immersive and enjoyable gaming experiences could only be had on a PC. To some it seems the rise of the console platform has somehow lessened the quality of games designed over the years. If anything the quality of PC games has only lessened, but that still means those titles which are true gems, are just that.

Sure enough over the last few years cross platform games have grown (most badly executed), but to say this is going to cause the death of PC games then implying we’re only ever going to use PCs for production purpose. PCs are more essential to our daily lives than ever and so long as there are PCs, PC gaming will never die. The console may have emerged alongside the PC but it will never serve to replace it as the sole means of gaming.

I am, however not saying that PC gaming is better than console gaming (or vice versa), both have strong exclusive titles, but that PC gaming is a necessity for this industry to keep growing as much as consoles. Each platform is now powerful, accessible and potent enough to present equally enjoyable interactive experiences. Each has its own market that it caters towards; the Wii is for anyone and everyone, the 360 for the more hardcore crowd, the PS3 appeals to a more adult demographic, and the PC for the rich and hardcore gamer.

What is implicates consoles as being seen the successors of PC gaming (or usurpers depending on your point of view) is the new breed of consoles known as “entertainment hubs”; centralized device for your music, movie, gaming and photo viewing needs. We no longer have a device just for playing games in the living room and instead a black or white box that can play and store all forms of media. This was of course a natural progression for both Sony and Microsoft, what with both having hands in the wider entertainment markets. Nintendo also followed suit, extending functionality to dedicated “channels” for web, weather, and downloadable content.

Now stop me if this all sounds familiar, a single device for your music, movie, gaming and photo viewing needs, I have to install an X-Box or PS3 game to play them, I update/patch my “console” games, and download new features and content (I actually like this idea, but why make it platform exclusive?). This is a Media Center PC a single device for handling multiple forms of media and entertainment, online functionality and all of this from a living room.

I’m sure we all noticed this the moment the battle for our living rooms began but it illustrates how futile such arguments as to the demise of PC gaming is. In the end however this conflict fails to arrest the simple truth, that while the hardware is important, the execution of the idea is what matters most. It shouldn’t really matter what platform is chosen for a game to be developed towards, so long as it is built to harness that platforms particular capabilities and caters towards the demographic of that platform. We need PCs but we also need consoles, and so long as there is a demand for either of them neither will defeat the other.

Ultimately I don’t know whether writing this article will achieve other than renewed proclamations from fanboys of their respective platform's superiority, but maybe the next time you come up with a game, you’ll think twice before making it multiplatform. So while the PC Elite and Console Fanboys continue to wage this conflict with undue aggression I will sit back, content with my PC Gaming rig, PS3, and Wii looking forward to what experiences we will share.

*Note: I have neglected to mention the civil conflict between the different console platforms. If they stopped fighting and united, they could develop an entertainment/business hybrid that allows you to play games, surf the net, create word documents, spreadsheets, powerpoint slideshows, and for program development, but at a far slower, and more tedious pace. But then again…maybe we should just focus on harnessing our platforms and have some quality control in place that stops rubbish ports and cross-platform games from ever reaching our shelves.

Read more about:

Featured Blogs
Daily news, dev blogs, and stories from Game Developer straight to your inbox

You May Also Like