Console Gaming Rise and Fall:
As a gamer of the late 80's I grew up during a time when Nintendo exploded out of the shadowy grave of Atari whom nearly took the entire gaming industry with them, I was locked into being a console guy. At the time, I presumed computers were only meant for making spreadsheets or it was a glorified calculator. I didn't get a PC in our house until 1998 and I was just a few short years from high school. My first game on it was some pinball games that I couldn't get to work on it. I abandoned the idea and went back to my N64. Eventually, I came to discover Final Fantasy 7 in the infamous TV spots they had for the game making everyone think the game looked like the greatest looking thing ever. I bought the PC version of the game, again having no idea if the PC I had could run it. Luckily it did, and I was able to play one of the greatest games of all time.
I didn't think much of it though, the novelty of playing a game on a PC. I just figured it was a good way to play games my N64 couldn't play. Fast foward to near the end of the Gamecube era, when nothing was coming out for it, and everyone was enjoying release after release while Nintendo spends a year transitioning to their new console and ignoring their current one as they always do, and I sit twiddling my thumbs trying to get more life out of Smash Brothers and Mario Sunshine.
Having nothing new to play, I started playing around with my new PC, that I bought for college. I heard about a game called Lost Planet, and it looked gorgeous, and I knew Nintendo would never get it on their new system the Wii, because it wasn't capable of running it. I didn't want to buy an Xbox though, at the time I was quite a Nintendo fanboy. I still am, but I'm not against a system anymore because of who makes it. But at the time I was totally that way, I wanted nothing to do with anything Xbox. Then I discovered Lost Planet was out on PC, so I searched to discover how to get it on my PC.
That's when I discovered Steam. My very first purchase on Steam, was Lost Planet. I had no knowledge of PC gaming though, literally none. I tried to run Lost Planet and it would barely launch. After some research, I learned I needed a graphics card. Didn't know anything about those either, so I bought one that was $150 and figured I'd be good. I was good luckily, the game ran great. I also learned how great it felt to do my own handy work on a PC and get things running. Also, I really liked using the mouse to aim and shoot. It felt way better than controllers.
Still being the Nintendo fanboy I was though, I tried my best to get through my gaming needs with the Wii and would use the PC sparingly for games I couldn't get on the Wii. It wasn't long until I learned Nintendo didn't care about a gamer like me anymore, and was busy making casual games with crappy waggle. I defended it, tried to work with it, forced myself to like it. But something in me knew I wasn't happy. I even bought a Playstation 3 when it came out. Buying the Playstation 3, and having a Wii at the time I did, was what drove me away from console gaming to PC. Neither console had any killer games on them for quite a while, what felt like an eternity. I got very impatient.
Emergence of a PC Gamer:
Then Crysis became all the rage. A game to end all games in terms of sheer beauty and action and only PC gamers would be getting it. I obsessed over how I would play it, what did I need, etc. I wanted to spend as little as possible, and did everything I could to limp my cheap computer along giving it new graphics cards, and a new processor, more ram etc.
I learned a lot about PC's trying to get Crysis to run. I finally did, and I was rewarded with a really good FPS game. I also now had a PC that was on par with a PS3 and Xbox 360. The 360 was getting a lot of great games the PS3 either wasn't getting or was getting sub-par horrible ports. From Bioshock to Oblivion, I started collecting games on PC. I discovered modding, old RPG's I never heard about, and the infamous Steam Sale. The value of PC gaming was compiling, and I was drawn in. I still bought console games, but I was ready to actually build a fully fledged gaming PC and pour some real money into it.
I built a great gaming PC. It was more powerful than current gen systems, I could mod games, the load times were superb, the system didn't update every time I wanted to play since it did that stuff in the background. The interface of Steam was just so perfect. I started to notice PS3 games ran jittery or would lag making me start to concern myself with frame rates. Playing on PC these same games ran smoothly, like Fallout 3 and Far Cry 2. Developers were seemingly making games barely able to run on the consoles they were developing them for, but the PC could with ease. It became apparent to me putting forth the effort on PC gaming rewarded me with the gaming experience developers were intending on their games.I started buying games on PC first before considering consoles.
It was a magical time. I got the better versions of games like Dragon Age, Metro 2033, I got PC exclusives like Civilization 4 and Diablo 3. Apart from console exclusives I got all I needed out of my PC. Load times, modding, mouse control, all digital games no need to change discs (yes I'm lazy), cheap game sales, etc etc. I felt like the future of gaming was PC.
Driven Out of Paradise:
Jump to today and PC gaming is in shambles. Negative after negative of being a PC gamer rears its ugly head. From having to maintain expensive parts, to rampant online cheating, to baron online games, and the most egregious non-functional PC ports.
Starting with expensive parts, I've never been a good judge of being able to future proof. I'm too cheap I guess. I kept buying graphics cards that were just good enough. Then a new game would come out that I could barely run, and force me to buy a new card. This has happened about 4 or 5 times, and it's REALLY expensive to keep making those mistakes.
Baron online games is another good place to show the cracks of PC gaming. The PC gaming community is small, and I didn't expect it to be as small as it actually is. Today, if you're not CSGo, League of Legends, Hearthstone, Star Craft etc, the tip of the iceberg of games on PC, then you're going to struggle finding games to play with others online. Battlefield Hardline was when I first noticed this problem. The game died in less than a month. $60 completely down the drain, you literally cannot find a game online to play on PC for that game now. I had this happen with Street Fighter x Tekken also. And believe it or not, it happened with Call of Duty AW on PC too. You can find games, but only TDM and it takes a long time, sometimes there are no games.
After finding no games in SFxT, I popped in my copy on PS3 and there's an abundance of people still playing it. It's then I realized I really shouldn't buy multi-player games on PC unless they cater to the PC crowd who seems to like free to play type games, MMO's, or games that if you put thousands of hours into you can unlock hats and shit. The PC crowd is just too small, and too picky. They'll hold onto their 15 year old Counter Strikes and 10 year old World of Warcraft and not embrace new games like console gamers do. They are just not the crowd I can relate to. I can't play a game more than 50 hours anymore it feels like before I move on to another game.
Lastly, non-functional PC ports has been the last straw. Two series specifically caused the straw to be the last one...that broke the camel's back? Anyway...Assassin's Creed and Batman are two game series I bought exclusively on PC from the get go. They looked great, they ran even better. Then Unity and Arkham Knight came out...I'm not sure I even need to go into the gory details of those suffice it to say Arkham Knight is still not available to purchase anymore after being taken away for how broken it was on PC and no one could run Unity properly even if they had a $4,000 PC. I've been lucky enough to not have bought any of these broken messes of PC port games because reviews come out fast and hard on Steam warning me of them. Mortal Kombat, Watchdogs are two other notable PC port debacles, as was Dark Souls and Final Fantasy 13 (both have mercifully been fixed).
I shudder to think how Mad Max will run or Metal Gear Solid V. I can only presume they'll be awful on PC, the track record in the past year has been appalling, and I can't with confidence buy any of these games on PC like I can on PS4. In many of these instances, the core development team has nothing to do with these PC ports. They are hiring contractors to port these games to PC, and on the cheap because the return on PC isn't as good as console. They are treating PC gamers like a dog and throwing them table scraps. It has made me give up on treating PC as my first choice for new games.
So, as I sit here reflecting on gaming in general I find myself disappointed. The potential of PC gaming is so high, the heights of which console gaming wishes it could do, and it's being ignored because there's no money in it versus making a game on PC where you can sell digital hats, or digital cards. I understand it, that doesn't mean I have to like it, so I return to my roots, back to console gaming where making a buggy mess of a bad game is punished with reduced sales and angry people on twitter and your sales suffers because of it. They're just not as afraid of when that happens on PC because they don't need as many sales to make it profitable.
If PC gaming keeps going this way, the progress made will quickly contract. Steam was growing at a very fast pace, but this kind of behavior from developers will ruin PC gaming further than it already is. To wrap this article up in a nice little bow as I pretend to be a good writer, this is what Atari went through. They released a deluge of buggy, non-functioning, or complete garbage games that drove players away and stopped trusting that their $50 would amount to anything more than buying a plastic paperweight thus culminating into the video game crash that Nintendo eventually swooped in to fix. It was also the very reason they had what was called the Nintendo seal of quality badge on their boxes, to ensure customers they were buying a quality game.
This isn't the road you want to go down PC developers, you're going to lose us.
*That picture is us leaving...not literally on a ship mind you...figuratively speaking...thought I'd explain that...seemed important...yeeeeeaaahh....*