The Future of PC Gaming, Part II

The Future of PC Gaming, Part II

TomMcD.jpgThe phrase “Consoles are Better” is on the short list of verboten opinions at any PC magazine, and certainly not one I would have voiced a few years ago. I’m a PC gamer through and through, down to the bone. I didn’t have a hardcore console childhood and then drift into computer gaming as I grew older. I began gaming on computers such as the TRS-80 and Commodore 64.

But tell me: Did the C64 plug into a computer monitor on a desktop? No, it plugged into your TV and you sat on the living room floor. My first desktop PC was an 8088 with a black-and-yellow Hercules monitor, and it didn’t even have a mouse until I added a special mouse board. A bus mouse was exotic hardware, partner.

So when I say the future of PC gaming is in the living room and not on the desktop, I’m not talking heresy. I’m talking about a return to our roots. The Xbox 360, with its Windows Media Center OS and PowerPC core, doesn’t feel like a typical game machine. It feels like a proto-PC that connects to the TV. And because it’s capable of streaming media, can connect to the Internet, and of course, play games, it certainly feels like a PC. But it’s certainly not a full PC yet.

The lack of keyboard/mouse control is a major handicap, but the low player cap for certain Xbox Live games (Call of Duty 2 is limited to eight players) is an even bigger hurdle.

More to the point for gamers, however, is the promise that the distinction between a PC game and an Xbox game will vanish at some point in the next generation. Let’s face it: The PC gaming market is not as vibrant as it once was. PC gamers are more likely to get solid titles for their desktop PCs if games can be PC/Xbox hybrids right out of the box. The 360 isn’t the machine to do that, but it points the way toward a true home-entertainment/PC convergence where the standard desktop/console distinctions fall away, and everyone benefits.

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