Paper #2

Posted by & filed under Game Culture Class, Paper2.

Drew Griffin

Andrew Hicks

Game Culture

12/15/11

Paper #2

In 10 years the video game console will be extinct. Computer technology will have advanced so much in 10 years that our home computers will be the central entertainment hub in homes of the future. Powerful PCs will be on the market at an affordable price, since computer parts will be made and sold more inexpensively. Computers will be able to browse the Internet faster than ever, play HD movies, write documents and run nearly photo-realistic games with ease. When a home computer can do all of that, having game consoles specifically for playing video games will seem redundant.

There is no argument that technology is getting better. PC is pushing innovation, making hardware producers always create new and more powerful hardware. Because PC development works in this way, Microsoft and Intel, which are big enterprise-oriented companies, are becoming more innovative with every new development—they are always pushing forward, prevailing over game consoles in the future. Gaming on the PC would prove less frustrating to gamers and more productive to game producers; it is exponentially faster and easier for video game developers to patch a game’s bugs and glitches. It has proven very difficult to keep up with updates on games on most consoles, and this is not helped by games being produced under pressing time constraints with such high demand and pressure. Games are not being put onto shelves in absolute-perfect running order, and using a computer as a gaming console is the perfect way to stay on top of that. It is also the perfect way to get more creative and personalized with games; users can create game mods, custom maps for man video games. From a game-developer’s view it is easy to see why PC gaming could very likely make consoles extinct.

There are so many additional reasons why using personal computers as an ultimate game console would be so much more convenient and efficient for the millions of everyday gamers across the world. For example, MMO games are already made only for PC usually; you need a mouse and keyboard to play it. Mouse and keyboard controls have stood the test of time and proven themselves capable of providing convenient and comfortable control of any type of game. In addition, computer monitors can be found with considerably higher resolution than High Definition TVs. More RAM, Hard drive space, and insanely powerful graphics cards would need to be produced at affordable prices, since Microsoft and other home computer companies would want consumers to have powerful computer so they can buy their games, programs and equipment.

There are a remarkable number of similarities between the current crop of consoles and PCs. The new generation of consoles all have built-in memory or HDD options, something that was almost non-existent in the gaming industry a few years ago, but has now become commonplace in the computer market. Consoles are trying to take a turn away from being simple game-playing machines. On the PS3 and 360 one can download and watch movies, and communicate with others using various messaging services. On top of that, consoles are adding a main menu screen from which all these various services can be accessed, not unlike a PC desktop/start menu. Also like PCs, consoles now require regular firmware updates to patch holes or add necessary features to the system. One can clearly see consoles and PCs growing closer together, and becoming more similar. This is no coincidence, and eventually gravitation toward one or the other must occur.

The main and most obvious sign that this may come from Sony, leading the last generation of consoles with the PS2. Sony Computer Entertainment is the name of their video game department. This may have something to do with the fact that Sony used publish games for the PC, but they never changed the name of the division. Even when the PS3 and the PSP were their primary focus. There is a pattern with Sony’s development of new video game consoles. They go from simple CD based software, to evolving the video game console into a multimedia machine capable of playing Movies, limited web browsing, MP3 and video store as well as a virtual game store. With the Ps3’s massive size, it resembles a current generation PC. It can even run Linux, like a PC! Ken Kutaragi wasn’t not lying when they called the Play Station 2 a “computer” a few years back; the PS2 could play movies, music and other things that consoles were never even thought of being capable of doing years ago.

 

The consoles that Sony and Microsoft have developed today, when it really boils down to it, are just closed PCs. This means that it’s much harder to bring change to these consoles, and as stated before, PC holds the performance advantage here—in the future, current consoles will have a harder time attracting customers for this reason. In fact, it has already proven hard for console-makers to recover the original investment they made in the consoles that they are currently selling. As costs are being projected for a new generation of consoles, there’s a real chance that Sony and Microsoft will take the SEGA route: on top of the market one day, nowhere to be found the next. The bottom line is that PCs can always be upgraded if need be, while consoles cannot, which seems to me the pivotal difference and the reason PCs will prevail.

Such a huge change in gaming arises many questions about how everything would work out, and the following are very important and interesting points for one to consider when taking this hypothetical console-less world into full perspective. Without Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo as the top-three competitors, the competition factor remains ambiguous. One may entertain the idea of gaming without the restraint of only owning one console—all games made would be playable on your own computer, no matter what. However, the reality of competition persists, and it looks to me that the potential competitors would be PC and MAC. This leads us into the arena of operating systems. Games could either be produced using the same OS or be limited to a single platform, but that remains to be seen.

Logistically, the distribution of games could be problematic. One would wonder how games might be distributed in the future—it’s possible that computers no longer use CDs. It is possible that all programs and games will be downloaded digitally via platforms such as Steam and EA’s Origin Store. It is foreseeable that there could be an entirely new form of program storage that is completely unheard of to gamers now. Along the lines of distributing, questions arise about what will become of the issue that is already present today: piracy. A rise in PC gaming would force publishers to crack down in some fashion to prevent video game piracy. It is obviously a huge problem today, and one could only imagine it getting worse in this situation. Perhaps this could be avoided if the games are not downloaded to the hard drive (and subsequently “ripped”) like they are today, but rather the games could be stored on a CD/Memory card/new form of storage that cannot have data “ripped” from it. All these questions may seem overwhelming, but they are not as far away and impossible as they seem.

In conclusion, the video game industry is such a quickly progressing industry and change is not far down the road. Ultimately, the most successful consoles of today are modeling after PC with their multimedia machines, running on more advanced operating systems and adding countless features, while the console as a whole remains unusable for anything but gaming. In 10 years, game consoles will be obsolete, for PCs will have proven a more efficient and accessible platform for all games. Powerful PC hardware will be produced in mass if the video game console is extinct and everyone is buying PCs for gaming and all other functions.

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