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Old 01-12-2013, 09:13 AM   #1
Join Date: Mar 2011
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Posts: 371
The cycle of Console VS PC performance shift

This post was originally a response to Ingsoc on this thread, but my response got so long and covering a new topic that I thought it warranted a new thread that can bring up a very interesting debate. This is Ingsoc's comment that fueled my response:

Originally Posted by Ingsoc View Post
I agree. It's also possible for Valve to produce a game that is simultaneously developed for both PC and console, especially given that hardware power is increasingly becoming less and less of an impediment for developers.

I am glad to see that there are still a few people here who have the sense to know how ridiculous the tribal platform elitism really is.
You're right, but are missing a little bit of nuance: PC/console adoption is and has always been a cycle. Allow me to explain.

If we reflect on the current performance chasm between consoles and PCs, what is the main factor? Other than the obvious age difference, it's plain and simple the fact that consoles are STUCK. Stuck with DX9 while PCs have advanced to DX11, stuck with older slower CPUs, stuck with really old GF7-era GPUs that don't even have unified shaders.

When current-gen consoles came to market around 2006, their graphics were amazing. Top of the line PCs where just about to get that performance level if I remember correctly, but weren't there yet (UPDATE: more or less. HL2 Ep1 was released that year and looked, I would say, as great as many PS3 games of the time, maybe a little better, but not much - depending on how much money you had for decent upgrades). 3 years went by, PCs started the shift towards DX11 while consoles were left behind in DX9, bringing the great divide we see today, exacerbated only by their unusually extended lifetime.

I mention this because all this stupidly irrational hatred towards consoles we're hearing seems to be based in how underpowered consoles are, with this argument's supporters seemingly forgetting that the same current-gen consoles where as powerful if not even more than PCs at some point in time, years ago.

Fast forward to the new console batch in 2013: they're surely going to be quite powerful, expect DX11 games in 1080p as the minimum base. As Ingsoc said, this new hardware will certainly be "less and less of an impediment for developers" but to that I'd add a BIG caveat: FOR NOW. During 2013 and possibly 2014 we'll see next-gen consoles render beautifully at a very similar level than modern PCs do and undoubtedly gamers will gravitate towards consoles.

But what happens in 2015 and beyond? The same cycle starts all over again. Consoles will start to show age in comparison. Most likely we'll be using Windows 9 or (insert your favorite OS here) and we'll start transitioning to DX12. Nvidia's Maxwell GPUs will bring ridiculous performance improvements and what we now see as next-gen consoles will look like a joke. By 2016/2017 gamers will once again gravitate towards PC gaming due to superior tech. And sometime around 2018/2019 -provided we don't get such a ridiculously lengthy console cycle like the current one yet again and consoles aren't 3 DX generations behind, most likely just 1 behind-, next-next-gen consoles will be released (well, if consoles survive and they don't become, as I would expect, gaming-as-a-service that you'll play in your by-then ridiculously powerful Cortex A50 SOC-based Surface/iPad/Nexus). Rinse and repeat cycle.

Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with said cycle. It's technology evolving at different points. What astounds me is the naiveté of most likely an increasingly young gaming audience who thinks our current situation is unprecedented (again, I'm not saying this is you Ingsoc, it's a general comment. I don't want to be misinterpreted ). I'm just 28 years old and have seen this EXACT same cycle play out three times: PS era, PS2 era, PS3 era. I have no reason to believe it won't happen again in the PS4 era, possibly the last console-as-we-know-it period before we begin transitioning towards gaming-as-a-service.

Bottom line: pc VS console gaming is a cycle. PCs get more powerful constantly. Consoles come out with much better performance. It lasts for a few years, attracting consumers, until hardware gets longer in the teeth, then PCs become more powerful eventually and attract those same/other users to the platform. The market-share shifts constantly every 3 or so years: there's no sense in giving hatred to one or the other side, simply accept that this swing-effect WILL happen and plan/enjoy accordingly. You can swing from platform to platform in concordance with their "peaks" or you can stay with your platform of choice and wait until it recovers its power and importance until it loses it again momentarily.

Everything is always in perpetual motion.

Last edited by zabealgorta: 01-12-2013 at 10:16 AM.
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