In my distant pre-parenthood past I was a casual PC gamer. My gaming was casual to the extent that I’d buy about one game a year from the discount rack at Best Buy (usually after bonus time). As a software developer I’ve been interested in computer graphics and high performance computing since high school, so in addition to playing games I am interested in how they are developed.
I have been reading for quite a while about the decline of PCs as a gaming platform. It never really made sense to me, since PCs are typically much more powerful than consoles and easier to develop on to boot.
The decline didn’t make sense until Angry Overeducated Catholic bought me “Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War: Dark Crusade” for my birthday.
Let us compare the gaming experience for a casual PC gamer and a casual console player.
The PC Game Experience:
- Insert the DVD ROM. Run the autoplay that it starts up, if your PC is foolishly configured to run what ever DVD you insert into it.
- Run through the typically crappy win32 installation script.
- Type in 20 alphanumberic digits to prove that you are either not a thief, or a thief bright enough to copy a 20 digit number along with a DVD-ROM.
- Try starting the game.
- Find out that the “spooge could not be found.”
- Google for “Spooge could not be found” and discover it means that you don’t have direct X 9.0c installed on your PC.
- Install Direct x 9 on your PC. No, wait, unpack the installation files for Direct X 9 and then run an installation program off the directory.
- Hope your PC still boots. It does
- Start the game.
- Discover that the game lets you move the camera in every direction except up.
- Search the web for patches. Find several, none of which are hosted by the maker of the defective software.
- Fill out two registration forms, including ones that want your birthday, to download patches. Let me get this straight — I’m sold buggy software and now I have to provide my personal information to get the fixes for bugs?
- Try to figure out which ones you have to download. Do you have to download each one in order, or are they all inclusive?
- Struggle through the download process, which is the typical crapware that wants to install an executable so I can simply download a file. Not like that problem hasn’t been solved on TCP/IP for thirty years.
- Discover you’ve downloaded a patch for “Warhammer 40000: Dawn of War”, not “Warhammer 40000: Dawn of War: Dark Crusade”. Download the correct patches.
- Discover that the training module works, but that the game does not.
The console game experience on my brother-in-law’s PS whatever.
- Select DVD-ROM.
- Insert DVD-ROM.
- Start playing game.
You’ll notice that one of them sucks and the other doesn’t, and that the difference has nothing to do with the hardware. It’s the software. And near as I can tell, if the PC gaming market is failing, the market is working just fine. The PC gaming market deserves to fail.