Cliff Bleszinksi’s Criticism of PC Gaming is Valid — For Now

Cliff Bleszinksi, the head designer at Epic Games, has criticized the state of PC gaming, declaring it vastly inferior to console gaming. He is receiving heavy flak for his comments. And rightly so–he’s wrong.

The war of the console versus the computer is a war that the console, by its very nature, cannot win.

At present, the console gaming system is king. Game play runs smoother than most personal computer games, its graphics are better, and it offers the best games. Add to that the fact that consoles aren’t any more expensive than a top video card and you’ve got a console-dominated market.

But it won’t last forever.

One could make the argument that console gaming will never be beaten by the personal computer. While the personal computer must concentrate its efforts on a multitude of functions–word processing, email, chat, music, web browsing, gaming, etc.– the console exists for one primary purpose: to play high-performance video games. And if a machine focuses on a primary function, how can it not be superior?

But how much difference is there between a console and a computer? They both have video cards, and they both use the internet to play games online. Newer consoles like the PS3 and Xbox play CDs and DVDs, and even the older PS2 had USB ports to allow use of computer controllers. They both download software upgrades and anti-virus software from online servers. And newer consoles even have hard drives built-in to their system for storage.

With so much in common, what’s the difference between the two?

The major difference is that people need their computers more. Internet isn’t cheap, and paying for console internet services like Xbox Live service is the same as paying two internet expenses. Network adapters to access the internet are already included in computers, so why purchase another one? I just upgraded to a 200 gigabyte hard drive on my computer, so why pay over $100 for another hard drive in my Xbox? Computers can play DVDs and CDs, so why do I need that function on my console? I can’t chat on MSN with my console, and the only way I can chat on it in game servers is if I buy a separate keyboard for it. I have a keyboard already–why would I want to buy a second?

Why pay two internet bills, why buy two video cards, why buy two hard drives, why buy two internet adapters? Why take up a ton of space with extra cords, controllers, and keyboards when I’ve got enough space taken up with my computer?

In short, why not consolidate everything into my computer?

That will, ultimately, be the thinking of gamers. The simple fact is that the computer can do everything the console can, but not vice-versa. Consoles can’t surf the web, can’t chat, can’t use word processing to write an essay, can’t print, can’t check my email, can’t stream movies, etc. And it’s only natural that gaming would progress toward the personal computer.

At present, a good portion of Americans own a computer and have access to the internet. And as new generations of children grow up with computers as a part of their daily lives, they will only become more prevalent in the decades to come. Personal computers and internet technology will dominate this coming century and the centuries to follow. And that’s not an opinion; it’s an undeniable, irrefutable fact.

That’s not to say everyone who owns a computer has the ability to run high-performance games. Computer gaming usually requires an upgraded video card that has a good deal of RAM, and those can run anywhere up to $600. But as technology in computers becomes more advanced and better technology becomes standard in new computers, more people will have access to better gaming machines and it will open the industry to a wider scope of consumer.

Just think how advanced video cards will be in a standard computer in 10 years. Just as the 56k modem blew away the 14k modem so many years ago, top of the line video cards that run for hundreds of dollars today will be put to shame by cards found in most any stock home computer at Best Buy or Wal-Mart.

And not only that, but computers are more easily upgradable than consoles. Take the card out of the slot, stick a new one in, run a setup disk and voila, you’re upgraded.

The console gaming system is king–for now. But will it remain atop the gaming world in 2010, or 2020, or 2050? In my opinion: no.

At the moment, it’s just as expensive to buy a top of the line video card as it is to buy a brand-new console. But when technology advances to the point when everyone has a good video card in their system, and can upgrade to a better one for less than half a grand, computer gaming will become king. It may take 10, 20, or 40 years, but computers are machines that can’t be replaced by anything else on the market.

The computer is quickly bringing the music industry to its knees and is just beginning to take a toll on the movie industry, so what chance does the gaming industry stand?…

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