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17 April 2014

Voice of Dissidence: Evolution Of Gaming Platforms

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Kyada's thoughts on the future of gaming.

Did you hear that? It was the sound of Bill Gates facepalming at how badly Microsoft messed up with their latest Xbox One reveal and its reception. It was also the sound of a great many Nintendo and Playstation fans laughing. Honestly, while the console war drama is fun to watch from the side lines as a PC gamer, I can't help but facepalm myself. Why? Well, there are more than a few games coming out that aren't being developed for the PC. As a tech junkie, I find this to be its own cruel joke. When I looked at the hardware specifications for all three consoles, I noticed something rather interesting; in isolation, they all have very similar, albeit poorer performing hardware setups to traditional PCs.

The hardware setups the Playstation 4 and the new Xbox One are shipping with are comparable to low end gaming PCs. Therefore, for the next generation consoles, PC gamers stand to benefit from the fact our computers have more computational power than many of these consoles ever will, precisely because they stack up so poorly. The only huge difference is that they mostly run off of ATI-based chipsets, while many PC gamers opt for an Nvidia/Intel chipset. Not all do, some stick with ATI/AMD, mind you. This is perfectly fine.

In and of itself, these are not big problems to overcome. It is not as if you cannot run software designed with Nvidia and Intel in mind on ATI and AMD setups. It might not run as smoothly and might be missing some of the more proprietary shinys that each respective setup has (for example PhysX for Nvidia), but it will run. So where am I going with this? I am going to say something that will not win me any fans today, but it isn't as if that's why I write, now is it?

Its time to end the console wars. Its time to bring about the gaming singularity.

Video game controller evolution. Source: www.cxpartners.co.uk

 

How I envision this singularity

Its important to understand that for the longest time, consoles have been computers that evolved differently. Back in the day, computers were restricted to those with PhDs and/or military backgrounds, and so gaming with them wasn't really possible. So, in their place, machines designed for entertainment evolved separately to run programs that were designed as games. These were the very first consoles and they date back quite far, almost as far as computers go. As time passed computers became more and more popular, and, more importantly, more commonplace. Consoles these days are nothing more than locked down PCs.

For those of us who are older, I'm sure most of us remember the first time we laid eyes on the early PCs we grew up with, built by tech giants like IBM. They had versions of games from earlier consoles like Frogger

The only thing that separates a console from a PC is in its hardware's performance and operating system. Suddenly, a singularity to end the console wars isn't so far fetched, is it? What it comes down to is selling a virtualization for the hardware and the required drivers in addition to selling the consoles themselves, so that console games can be played on a standard computer. It wouldn't even have to be a desktop computer, as most console hardware is so mediocre that it could easily run off of a laptop with little effort.

I can hear it already, "But wouldn't that mean they'd lose money by not selling consoles?". Well, no, actually they wouldn't. They could still sell consoles, and I'm sure people would buy them right up, but it would also open up a wider market. It would mean people who build their own computers can still enjoy games that aren't being made for Windows or Mac OS Mountainbunny or whatever the latest one is. It would actually be positive for gamers in general, as there would suddenly be a way to play games made for consoles on personal computers, beyond sloppy ports.

That way, perhaps we can do away with the war over which console or platform has "the best games" or "the better hardware". If games are developed for both major consoles as well as PC, choice of platform would be down to preference and budget of the gamer. It might encourage game makers to save the time they currently spend on infighting and turn their creative energy towards something more useful - creating a melting pot of ideas and cultures that benefits everyone. In the end, isn't that something that ALL gamers can get behind?

Will the console wars ever end? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Last modified on Monday, 24 June 2013 16:49

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