Your dollars are your vote in shaping the future of gaming. Will you keep the walls up or promote the end of first party games?
Microsoft and Sony tell us the next generation is here! Now! Why doesn't it feel like it? Why are no industry experts telling us just how amazing console games will be for the next 7-10 years? As you've probably heard, these consoles are nothing more than PC components on a custom Micro ATX motherboard. The specs are on everyone else's website. Dorito it. As usual, there are some technologies that will give these consoles legs like: a true shared memory pool for the PS4, an ultra fast GPU cache for the Xbox One and GPGPU acceleration for physics and procedural AI algorithms across both platforms. All of these technologies have been fleshed out for years and have not been able to get any traction on the PC.
Barriers for these and many other technologies lies in the software realm. On the PC, they have to be supported by Microsoft in Windows or in the game engine, or both! How can you convince a company that has its own interest in Xbox to add technology to Windows, that will improve game performance on your PC, so you won't buy that Xbox?
So let's assume that support for said tech was in the driver there has been a lot of resistance by game developers to spend a lot of time and money, adding optimization for something that will only help them sell copies on the PC build of their games. It is easier to design the game to the lowest performing platform rather than the higher performing one, meaning that PC games in particular have been at the mercy of the consoles. The PC version tends to be a direct port with higher texture quality and resolution support. Current generation consoles and PCs not being the same architecture held back the industry's growth. It has kept game developers from reaching out and pushing the envelope on PC hardware and reduced their likelihood to make a PC port at all, since the sales on the platform is just lower and porting across architectures is an ugly thing.Who's to blame them? There are so many more consoles than gaming PCs in the wild. So where does this leave the consumer and the industry entering the next cycle?
Everyone has the chance to have more games of better quality with the next gen and PC sharing hardware. All PC only game houses will be more likely to make big money selling on more platforms with a lot less work to port to console. Console only developers will be able to cross the streams and put their games on Steam and maximize their profits! With Steam, you don't have to worry about physical distribution expenses (duplication, console royalties, shelf space, price changes...) Hardware optimizations that are not platform specific are also far more likely to be used by third party publishers since it impacts more consumers. In turn, Microsoft will be more likely to serve their customers request to adopt standards like HSA, in the kernel, because it would be impacting more of their users.
This generation has much more, away from the hardware to consider. Xbox wanted to move closer to a walled garden, tougher DRM and add some digital only options. Sony is interested in offering gamer perks like spectating, streaming, digital distribution and indy games. And then there's the PC...
Consider this, the WIntel box is so mature of a platform and Steam has been refining their game for many years now as well. Recently Gabe has been saying that they aim to reduce the bottlenecks that have kept Greenlight games from releasing more often and faster. Their Big Picture program has been encouraging developers to bring full controller support to their games because they intend to release Steam hardware as well. Now more than ever, your dollars will shape the direction of gaming in the future. Let's talk money.
You can buy an Xbone with Kinect 2 for $499 and a PS4 for $399. I spec'd a PC with a more powerful 8 core CPU (the 1.6 Ghz CPUs in the next gen consoles are not available to consumers. The lowest available was 3.5 Ghz), otherwise on spec to the PS4's graphics and Xbox One's memory speed, for $730, after rebate and 2 free games from AMD. I know, that's a lot of dough... but there are a lot of things to consider:
I play fighting games. Our arcade joysticks start at $129. If you also have invested in current generation peripherals like headsets and additional controllers, you may want to consider the PC as well. All of your current gen stuff just works with the PC. If you choose a next gen console, it has been stated on both sides of the fence that no peripherals will work from last generation. The value equation is hidden from plain sight from the consumer. You will be bleeding money if you are a serious gamer.
It is not an accident that Live for Windows is shutting down before Xbox One's launch. They are trying to make the PC less attractive and make you buy an Xbox for "The Ultimate Online Experience". This will leave Origin, UbiPlay amd Steam to fend for themselves for matchmaking with your friends list. This is a very strange position for Microsoft but it is reality. They are all in for Xbox as their premier gaming platform. When you think about it, it looks more and more like Sony and Microsoft are doing all they can to keep everyone else paying them as much as they can. Gabe Newell of Steam, very much wants the Steam Box to break up with Windows, and go Linux/OpenGL, to stop having dependency on them. Sony is not as obvious about their anticompetitive agenda but be sure that they don't want anyone else to have their money. They are so quick to share the evildoings of M$ at every chance to keep that cash coming in as well. I'm not trying to suggest that Steam isn't partaking in thier own money grab, because they are, just that sometimes we need a fresh start on things. It's way overdue in gaming. Maybe Steam is or isn't that horse in this race...
Peripherals and first party games are Sony and Microsoft's ways of making money and keeping you coming back. Is it worth it anymore? You can buy a way more powerful box that plays the same third party games, can run more background tasks with all that extra CPU and post to Gouki.com about the fall of the giants because you didn't give them your money! Strong words I know but I GoukiJones plays Halo and was a reason to keep buying Xbox. He says the franchise is dead. He says his game is ruined. I have not played a single first party game on Xbox and have only played Journey on PS3. Sony has always struggles with first party games and has leaned heavily on second party. First and second party games are dead in my opinion. Console exclusives are very expensive for Sony and M$ to lock down and there seems to be less and less of them as time passes. Gaming PC sales are on the rise while the rest of the PC industry sees more and more decline. Developers demanded that they have more of the cut and begged these industry giants to use PC hardware for multi platform porting because it's cheaper and easier for everyone to have return on investments. My current generation peripherals are great! I have no desire to replace my amazing stuff that I payed good money for, especially for no reason, besides to pay out for compatibility to next gen hardware!
Capcom has come out of the closet and said that everything they are making is coming to PC. EA and Ubisoft have been ramping up their infrastructure into UbiPlay and Origin for a couple years now because they all had early insight to all of this happening. They have been getting their developers and tools ready for this too! You will gain access to more games than you will be losing access to by jumping over to PC. There's League of Legends, DoTA, WoW, FFXIV and that is just scratching the surface. Everyone else besides those that actually get paid by Sony and Microsoft know that they are all leaving money on the table by not making PC games and they are actually stifling growth of their industry by playing their game. Just some things to consider before you keep those preorders.