Why Game Consoles Are Dead And You Are The Casualty



Filed under : Computers, Consoles, PC Gaming

I’m about to make a bold statement. I will receive hundreds of emails, IMs and comments telling me how wrong I am. Probably a few death threats too. But it has to be said, and no one else is saying it.

Console Gaming is dead.

Oddly enough, the date that Console Gaming died is a quantifiable one; 8 October 2012.

That is the date that Ubisoft announced that Rayman Legends – a previously announced Wii U exclusive game – would be delayed so that they could work on other console versions of the game. Of course, this was sugar-coated with the idea that it gave the Wii U team more time to make the game better but the writing was on the wall and everyone could see it.

The Wii U wasn’t selling enough for a AAA exclusive third-party game title.

So what? How does this signal the end of game consoles?

The Beginning of the End

To me, the Wii U was the last possible savior of the game console market. Off-screen play, full HD graphics (some even at 1080p at 60fps), amazing GamePad, first party titles … it really had it all. It was the first time in a long time I really thought Nintendo had a chance at being “the one console to rule them all”.

While first party games are selling like crazy and Amiibos are a striking force to be reckoned with, the truth is; the Wii U is a dead system for third parties and this isn’t going to change.

But wait … why does Wii U’s demise have to signal the end of console gaming? It doesn’t; it was just the first salvo fired in the final war of video game devices.

Wii U’s failure reveals a few things. First, there is no room in third party gaming for anything but the “dudebro” console – that is, one with “uber” high technical specifications and no “gimmicks” (regardless if they are gimmicks or not). The Xbox One proved this with its shunning of the new Kinect (later removed as part of the base system; they death knell for any peripheral) and the gamer denouncing of the system’s standard “900p” gaming resolutions. Paired along with early mistakes made in the Xbox One business pipeline, the Xbox One is really on life support as well – just no one has told the family yet.

Who is left in the Great Console Game? Sony and its Playstation 4; THE “dudebro” console of the generation. No tricks, no gimmicks … just shiny raw tech specs and a supportive third party software base.

… and a network they can’t keep up to save their asses. Network issues, password thefts, infrastructure issues. Terrible attempts to resell you your PS3 games as a streaming service (100s of games you don’t want, btw).

To say that “Playstation 4 is the big winner” in this generation’s console war is like complimenting one of three piles of dog crap because it is “tightly coiled and well-formed”.

Watching the End Happen Before Your Eyes

All circumstatial … let’s talk about the real reason console gaming is dead; it isn’t console gaming anymore.

That’s right. Remember back … oh, not that long ago … when you bought a new console, turned it on, put a game disc or cartridge in and you could play the game? Those days are gone. Remember how much faster cartridges were than those long Electronic Arts Commodore 64 disk loaders? Remember when the game console you bought worked out of the box and games worked right off the disc? Remember what it was like when you had fifteen or twenty minutes to play some video games you could flip on your console and actually play?

Gone. All gone. In fact, your game console would rather you do ANYTHING than play games. They would rather you update the console OS (to protect the storefront from filthy pirates) or download 32GB to update a brand new game you just bought on disc. They would rather sell you NFL Sports packages and have you Skype chat with other people with “game” consoles that they aren’t using to play games.

Consider GTA V on Playstation 3. When I flipped on my PS3 and inserted the GTA V disc I immediately was forced into a system upgrade (reboot pleeeeease). Then, the game required an 8GB download before I could play. Once that download was complete it had to “install” it (reboot pleeeeease). Then I ran the game for the first time; and was treated to a nearly 20 minute “slideshow” while the game did something (unpacking? phoning China? what?). Once all was said and done, I was about an hour into this process and still hadn’t played a single minute of the game.

If only this was the exception instead of the norm.

So now instead of playing video games on your game console – you’re spending all that time doing the same crap you used to COMPLAIN about on your PC when you used it to game on. Insane loading times, large downloads and patches, glitchy gameplay due to hardware or other concerns.

Guess what? These are all alive and well in the latest “game consoles”.

Remember the day when the game console was a fourth the price of comparable PC? Those days are gone too. At $350 to $400+, you’re talking about near the cost of a completely servicable PC. One you can actually upgrade a hundred dollars at a time or so. Meanwhile, the Xbox One gamers can do nothing about their 900p games except bitch, complain or try to justify that “graphics don’t make the game”. Hypocrites.

Fin

So – we have established the following:

  • Consoles don’t work out of the box and require online connectivity; which means someday they will simply no longer work (NES still works, my Colecovision still works)
  • Consoles suffer the same upgrades, patching, glitchy, long load times as PCs have
  • Games on disc are really just bootstrap loaders to redownload most of the game in patch form anyway; giving them no value in preservation or future play
  • Digital downloads on consoles cost the same as retail – so forget about getting any deals for ditching the disc
  • PCs and Consoles have a very small price point span

So If Both “Suck”, Why Are Consoles Dead?

Because the PC finally has more to offer gamers now more than ever. We’ve talked about some of the reasons – but let’s fill in the gaps (as obvious as some may appear).

  • They are incrementally upgradable for about $100 per increment; more RAM, newish video card, newer processor, faster SSDs – and PCs aren’t rocket science anymore for most of these upgrades.
  • Good PCs with decent video cards can be had for about $700 – ones that overall out perform PS4 and Xbox One (you know, actually running games at 1080p and 40-60fps on High to Ultra settings)
  • PCs and game distribution systems (aka Steam) are TV-ready and even TV-Friendly thanks to things like Steam’s Big Picture.
  • You’ll never pay retail for a game again.  Even brand new games or pre-orders; there is always a coupon somewhere for 20% or so off.  PC gamers have a choice where to buy and that drives up competition and drives down price.
  • Games “just work” now.  Sure, if you want to get all “techified” you can go in and flip this bit and change that bit, but most games will happily tell you the settings you need.  NVidia even has a game tuner that recognizes most games and changes them to optimal for your video card.
  • Games support controllers now.  Hate mouse + keyboard?  Plug in your Xbox controller and play Call of Duty; it is supported fully.
  • Some games just can’t be played on consoles properly (like RTS games); the PC opens up the doors to more gaming genres
  • I’m sure I’m missing something …

Do you still have long downloads on a PC?  Sure.  Do you still have to do installs?  Yup.  Will you have to upgrade your PC at some point to play the latest games in all their glory?  Naturally.  But you already have that with console gaming now.

However, I submit to you that the money you save in just buying games on PC at huge discounted competitive prices will cover the additional expenses.

The “dudebro” who demands 1080p at 120fps with every glitzy GPU effect possible?  Most of them are already PC gamers; having been disappointed over and over again by “so yesterday” tech in consoles.  Since the console gamers appear to be going the way of the “dudebro” anyway, they might as well come to the PC where they can actually achieve what they demand graphically and not “hope and wait” for the NEXT promised console to come out and “fix” their “broken” games.

Nintendo’s failure in consoles … Microsoft’s continued stumbling … and Sony’s “dudebro” approach is simple proof that amongst all the game consoles out there, the PC is still the best gaming system available.

I believe we’re one generation away from the “Steam Box” or the “PC Console” that will finally make it big – at which point, the consoles’ life support system runs out and death is inevitable.

About Shane Monroe

Shane R. Monroe has been doing technical and social commentary writing for over 20 years. Google+

4 comments to “Why Game Consoles Are Dead And You Are The Casualty”

  1. This sounds about right. But, there will always be a loud, dedicated console gaming community to “keep hope alive”. The Wii U falls into a category that is very similar than the Dreamcast was back in the day. Powerful, has great games, but stumbles in the sales department. But, every year, or nearly every year, you hear the “rumor” of Dreamcast 2 finally becoming a reality. Or you see a new release of a game from an indie dev studio somewhere in Europe. The PS4 and Xbone don’t have that kind of following. SUre they may have a larger following in terms of sales, but not passion. And that’s why console gaming will never truly die. In 10-15 years, we’ll be talking about the rumor of WIi U 2. Hopefully, my Wii U will still be working then.

    Great article Shane.

  2. I keep expecting Microsoft to announce something like an “XBOX certified” program for PCs, it’s not like they are making money on the consoles anyway. Buy a PC that’s XBOX certified, go buy an XBOX controller and whatever games you want to play and open an app on your PC that runs the game and dedicates a predetermined amount of system resources so that it runs smoothly.

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