Features Opinion

PC Gaming: It’s a Love Hate Thing

PC Gaming: It’s a Love Hate Thing

I am in a long term relationship. As with most relationships there have been highs and lows but generally the good times have outweighed the bad. It started back when I was young and the object of my affection came into my life with a beige outfit and magenta makeup on. I was an innocent at the time and I was swept away with the possibilities for our future. Over the years this relationship has grown blossomed, we travelled worlds together, fought off alien invasions, changed the course of history and even began to work together. But recently I have begun to wonder if this is the right relationship for me? My eye has begun to wander to simpler yet sleeker options. My partner in crime seems to be making things harder and harder and this in turn has caused my attention to wander and seek my pleasures elsewhere. Maybe I have changed too, I am no longer as patient with my long time steady. I find myself angry more and more. It is getting harder and harder to forgive annoying quirks. I guess what I am saying is that perhaps it is time for my PC and I to spread our wings and see new people.

I have always been a PC gamer, my parents wouldn’t allow me to have a console so the family computer became my gaming haven. Ever since then I have considered myself a PC Gamer. When the original Xbox came along I began to delve into console gaming but my main focus was pretty much always the PC. But in recent times things have started to sour my gaming experience on my ever faithful companion and I have begun to question my commitment to a system that seems to need so much extra attention.

This screenshot and the reality of the PC version are miles apart.
This screenshot and the reality of the PC version are miles apart.

What brought this to a head was the recent botched release of Arkham Knight on PC. Now this is obviously an extreme case of a developer screwing up on a large scale but it did serve to highlight some of my behaviours in relation to PC gaming that are detrimental to my gaming experience. When I booted up Arkham Knight on my PC for the first time and everything proceeded to grind to a halt (unsurprisingly) my first thought was not “man the developers stuffed this” or “I hope it gets patched soon” but “hmm perhaps it is time for an upgrade.” Yes my pre-conditioned response was to spend more money to get a game to work despite having a perfectly capable system that can play any other game I can throw at it. In some ways I am almost glad for Arkham being as bad as it is because it identified the flaws in my thinking.

But it isn’t just shoddy PC ports that is forcing me towards consoles. I think I have changed too. Back when I was a kid half the fun was getting the game to work in the first place. I remember creating MS Dos boot menus on my old 386 so I could get enough memory to play Doom. The joy I felt when I finally got it working was unparalleled. Now days if I install a game from Steam and it doesn’t work immediately it gets my hackles up. Chasing down drivers and searching through forums for a solution is in no way enjoyable. I want it to work when I press go, not after a couple of hours of stuffing around. I simply have no patience for things that don’t work when I have so many other priorities competing for my time.

RAGE was another botched PC port
RAGE was another botched PC port

The other thing that may have changed for me is the keyboard and mouse. Look I spend all day bashing away at a keyboard in my job and then more time writing stuff for Player2 so it is nice to lean back in my office chair and play with a hand conforming Xbox controller. My reflexes now are at the point that if I am playing online I am just as terrible with a keyboard and mouse (once a very important reason to game on PC) as I am with a controller so I may as well be comfortable. Logic follows that if my main goal is to be comfortable I may as well be sitting on my couch playing on a TV that is 4 times the size of my monitor. Sure I could hook my PC up to my TV but that just goes back to me not wanting to stuff around to play games.

All hail the 360 controller, savior of RSI riddled wrists everywhere
All hail the 360 controller, savior of RSI riddled wrists everywhere

I think the final thing that has changed is the consoles themselves. Sure if you want to get technical a PC can run most multiplatform games with better graphics and visual bells and whistles (assuming that the game is optimised for PC) but does all that really matter anymore? I am finding it harder and harder to convince myself that it does. I doubt even the most hardcore PC gamer could convincingly say that games on the PS4 and Xbox One look bad. Sure the PC version might have slightly better smoke or an extra sexy cape but the price of these extra details is a video card that costs the same as one and a half PS4 consoles. The thrifty accountant inside me is getting louder and louder and as much as my inner tech head wants the latest and greatest I just can’t justify it anymore.

This isn’t me giving up on PC gaming, far from it, it is just me recognising that my once number one gaming system has fallen back into the pack and is now on even footing with the rest of my gaming devices. It certainly has its advantages but its problems mixed with my lifestyle means it no longer reigns supreme. I can no longer deny the convenience, comfort and value for money that console gaming offers. I guess it is time for me to hand in my Master Race membership card, I hope someone who is as excited and patient as I used to be takes up the vacant position.

Matt Hewson

6 comments

  1. I have a Playstation 4 and a PC. I love how simple and easy everything is on my consoles. But after playing a PC game running in smooth 60fps and with graphical effects turned on. It’s a little painful to play a PS4 game.

    I’m thinking about either building a new or re-build my PC to become a livingroom friendly PC. With new Steam controller coming soon we can play all PC games with it. And the new Xbox One Elite controller also looks so sweet.

    And it don’t have the be that expensive to triumph the PS4 and double the framerate. And believe me…the bigger the screen the more pleasant on the eyes it becomes.

    Personally I have never had less problems gaming on PC. I remember back in the days with all kinds of problems. Today almost every game just works.. And if not it’s the developer that have messed up and a patch comes. Just as on consoles. I’ve actually used more time waiting for things to work on PS4 then on my PC.

    But that’s because Playstation Network is a disaster with slow download speeds. And downtime.

  2. I was shocked when my SLI resulted in the black screen glitch and screen flickering for Far Cry 4(later patches minimized issues but not fully) and the AC Unity’s horrendous frame-rate(fully solved with patches). I thought this was just linked to a particular dev but now even Rocksteady with which I had my trust on has brought disgrace to PC gaming.This is really disappointing especially after having to spend a fortune on a PC with SLI GPU and i7-4900 CPU series for the fact that devs don’t value PC as a machine that indeed requires a good port.

  3. There’s a big difference between the PC and consoles though. A PC can be used for just about everything.

    “I can no longer deny the convenience, comfort and value for money that console gaming offers.”

    This is the biggest problem I see in this article. Chances are you’re going to spend the same amount of money on gaming as you would on a console. You’ll just have more to show for it if you buy more than a few games and I call that a better value for money.

    Other than these small discrepancies, I’d say that I agree with the premise of this article. Consoles are easier to use for most people and it can be frustrating to actually use a gaming PC to its full potential for many so it’s not for everybody. While console gaming isn’t just plug and play anymore, it’s still easier than PC gaming for the masses. At least for now. It seems like every new generation of consoles is pushing console gaming closer to the negatives of PC gaming.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.