I had a long weekend. And I used it to clock approximately 24 hours of Assassin’s Creed 2. I was glued. And hooked. And completely blown away.
The History books will prove that with the coming of the PS3, PC gaming officially crossed the tipping point which would lead to its rapid demise. It is still an expensive machine, but by becoming a platform and not just a console, the PlayStation (and also the XBox 360) has made that critical leap which will lead to an explosion in adoption, usage and evolution. The PC made a similar leap when it went from Win 3.2 to Windows 95.
Catalyst 1: Table Stakes
It used to be that a fully modded gaming PC had graphics & processing power which just couldn’t be outdone by any console sold on the mass market. With the Cell Processor, that is no longer true and games like MGS 4, Assassin’s Creed2 and GTA 4 are out there to prove every PC enthusiast shouting from the rooftops about invincibility, horribly wrong.
Catalyst 2: Online Everywhere
Some of the most important technological inflexion points have come when the best of two or more worlds have been combined. Convergence became a buzz word in the 90’s with people predicting micro devices which packed in everything possible. But this utopian(?) dream faced the road-block of human preferences for devices which did a few things brilliantly and more importantly, simply.
With instantly online wireless abilities, consoles have become true gaming platforms. Online applications are focussed, but the few that they do, like online gaming, content downloads & updates, customisable player profiles and avatars, they do really well.
Catalyst 3: Developers, developers, developers
It’s still early days, but the actions hotting up with flagship franchises launching with motion sensitive controls, console controller friendly features and UIs.
Catalyst 4: Is my PC good enough?
With a PC you are always wondering if its got what it takes to run the games you are drooling over, but mentally you know it probably does not. Yes, if you have previous generation console you are pretty sure you cannot play the games you are drooling over. But since this comparison is about the best PCs out there and the latest consoles: programs for consoles are written with every square inch of the configuration and capabilities known by the developer. The games therefore perform at peak performace. And you know they will play. You just have to insert the disc. With even a slightly old PC, the latest games are merciless. You are always playing catch up. Eventually, a new console upgrade is far more expensive, but it takes a while for that to be needed.
Catalyst 5: Owning the TV
The TV have evolved form the good old CRT to fabulous LEDs. But it’s still the good old TV and remains the best way to view stuff at home. It has become a true hub which a whole gamut of modern devices hooking into it. With the latest disc-reading technologies, consoles are better placed to become the dominant entertainment hubs of any home. True, a PC can hook into the TV just as easily (the Mac Mini’s a brilliant example, but its more expensive to assemble a fully kitted PC which has Blu-Ray, and graphic cards and good enough processors.
I know a lot of you will be saying that complete with a hard disc, the new consoles are nothing but PCs in disguise which do the entertainment functions of the traditional PC really, really well. But think about it: The PC started off as modifications on the main-frame architecture which did basic computing functions really, really well.