Valve Steam Controller Preview

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Roma

I will stick with my Nostromo thanks tho

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the_blur

We need a meme of Gordon holding the controller, below it says:

"Mildly satisfied."

If Gordon can be even within miles of liking this, this controller will rock the socks off us mere mortals.

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FuzzDad

Until they work the kinks out of their OS, I'm more interested in whether or not the controller can be used as a replacement for other consoles. If so...would it mean the increase in control would render traditional controllers obsolete for hard-core FPS console players? If I'm MS or Sony...the last thing I want is Valve taking away a part of their cash stream...I have to think they make a decent profit selling you that second and third controller.

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John Pombrio

I wonder what the cost of the controller will be? It's more complicated than a console controller with all its touchpads so I am expecting to be a minimum of $100 each. That would add considerably to the cost of the SteamBox itself.

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AFDozerman

Well, I've read estimates around half that, but then again, they are just estimates.

The Wiiu was what, 300 at launch with that obscenely over engineered controller? Surely the console itself isn't only 200-300 dollars (assuming they are taking less than a 100 dollar loss per unit). X

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the_blur

That's why historically their consoles have always made money. They may sell the console at cost, but never below.

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glpeter90

Well it is just that the almond joy is really just a mounds bar with a couple of whole almonds stuck on top. At least crunch them up and spread them around.
I dislike steam, but your review may have convinced me to try the controller.

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Glorfindale

You're full of it, Gordon! Almond Joy is delicious!

On a serious note, it's exciting to see some innovation happening. They're doing a new thing, and maybe they won't get everything right exactly, but they'll get there, and they're pushing the industry in the right direction. I appreciate it overall.

Keep up the good work.

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PCWolf

seconded!! Almond Joy is win!!

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iheartpcs

Just curious, can you use a KB/mouse with the steam box?

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sickley

Yes...

Valve isn't going at this from the same perspective as Sony or Microsoft. What I mean by this is that they aren't trying to force anyone to have an experience they don't want. The strength of PC gaming is choice and versatility, and valve is doing there best to not only not take that away but actually focus on that.

They won't be forcing anyone to use any device they don't want to; if you like your KBM, you can keep it. They aren't forcing anyone to leave windows; if you like your OS, you can keep it. They won't be forcing anyone to buy a steambox, if your like your gaming pc, you can keep it.

The whole point of the steam box is to show that PC gaming is better than console gaming in every respect. Or better stated: PC gaming is even better at console gaming than game consoles are.

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Roma

You can still use your current peripherals with the steam machines. I have installed the new Steam OS on one of my gaming rigs. Its still Beta and there aren't a lot of game choices at the moment but everything seems to be running very smoothly.

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JosephColt

Isn't it obvious? Yes.

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Led Weappelin

I've been a reader of Maximum PC since 1999 or so. Love all it's had to offer over the years and have learned much from many of it's contributors and staff. Gordon Mah Ung has been my go-to guy in recent years when it comes to getting it right. His rants on the pod-cast are LOL hilarious at times and his opinions reflect my own. But today is where we differ in a big way.

Gordon, I have just one question and I'd like a serious response from you.

What the hell is wrong with an Almond Joy? Come on man.

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John Pombrio

My son knows exactly what is wrong with an Almond Joy, it's the coconut. Some people REALLY dislike coconut.

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Damnlogin

LOL

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Damnlogin

LOL

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macmooda

I play a lot of games on my pc. I also play a lot of games on my console. The biggest issue that I have with a pc is that it took a lot of money (and time to get that money) to get the components that I have now. And in a few years, They won't be able to play the games at max like they do now. But with the console all the games are designed to run on that hardware. Which is really nice in so many ways. But it can also be hindering. Kinda a pick your poison issue. On one hand you can spend a lot of money and get a sweet computer and then have to upgrade your system every so many years, or you can spend a couple hundred dollars and get system that will play games for 8 years to come, but not at what the games could be running at. Just all a matter of what you want or what you can afford.

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Eoraptor

I think part of the problem that PC gamers have with console controllers is not "habit"

-"Well I'll never give up my WASD keys for some controller it just feels wrong,"-

I think it's flexibility. Even the most complex hand controller only has about a dozen buttons. (including the d pad) Compare that to a bare minimum of 104 keys on a keyboard plus the mouse's half dozen controls and it quickly becomes apparently that there's a flexibility gap between what a controller can be made to do and what a keyboard/mouse can be made to do.

But, I think that once Valve implements the touch screen into these controllers it will go a long way towards replicating all the macros and 0-9 commands that PC Gamers are used to having from their 104+ keys worth of flexibility. Plus fine tuning control schemas. After all, this is the beta test and feedback stage, getting that mouse-replication nailed down will take input from the gamers who use the thing 10 hours a day on weekends, not just paid game breakers in a lab. As Gordon says, it's already markedly closer to a traditional PC experience than analog sticks and D pads. And of course, failing that any modestly sized wireless keyboard still has a ten to thirty foot range if you absolutely need to contort your fingers to the WASD triumvirate.

The point is to break down the walls between traditional PCs and consoles and going into it with a bad attitude doesn't help

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JosephColt

Most gamers/games do not need more than a dozen keys unless your playing an MMORPG(I used to have like over 100 macros in WoW ages ago for all my characters with almost every key assigned to something).

Touch screen on a controller won't help macro wise at all; the screen is to small and inefficient for that.

Gamers can just use both and quit acting like a controller is the anti-Christ.

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vrmlbasic

Even RTSes of the previous decade, like Empire Earth and Age of Empires I & II, require far more than a dozen keys.

Even _StarCraft_ requires more than a dozen keys. I'm pretty sure that even Command and Conquer: Red Alert required in excess of a dozen keys.

In an RTS, if you're clicking on icons for which there are hotkeys then you're already dead.

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Ghost XFX

Some say Mouse. I say Trackball. But that doesn't make us any less of a gamer than somebody using a controller and vice versa...

PC is still better than consoles however. You can't refute that.

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PCWolf

The things I Love & Hate about PC Gaming:

Love:
1: Modding: You can't Mod games on a Console the same way you can on a PC.

2: Upgradability: Consoles are outdated before they are even released. Not a problem on a PC. A console can never be upgraded. Only thing you can upgrade on a console is the Hard Drive & the Controllers.

Hate:
Requirements: Sometimes, your game acts like crap even when you meet the requirements because the recommended requirements are not enough.

Driver Issues:
Wonky Drivers can cause your games to act like poo. & Drivers made for newer games might ruin your older games.

Multiplayer Support: Playing with multiple people on a PC seems to be more geared to being done online, where each person playing has their own PC, copy of the game, & a Internet connection, While on a console, each player just needs their own controller.

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JosephColt

Modding, HUGE PLUS.

Upgrades ANOTHER HUGE PLUS.

I agree with requirements, but that is due to the developer most of the time.

Don't think I have had a driver issue in the last 10 years keeping me from playing any game.

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JosephColt

To a degree it is...

Consoles are better in these ways:

1. Sit down and play
2. Games just work
3. Portability
4. No tweaking
5. Cheap item that lasts you 6-8 years.
6. Their own fun exclusives
7. Easy to use and access media functions
8. Better for a group of people to play games in a room with
9. You can trade and sell games to pay for new games without DRM.
10. Etc

Neither console or PC is really better then one another, they both have their pros and cons.

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PubstarHero

So here we go with this again -
1) You can do that with PCs. But here is the kicker - unless things have changed this console generation, the games patch when they are launched. Steam patches games in the background while the PC is on. So sometimes, its "Sit down and wait for patch to download and install, then play". Not seeing a pro here

2) GTAV not working on older consoles due to changes in architecture over the years. That, and games also get broken and buggy as fuck releases as well (See: BF4 fiasco)

3) Portability? Really? Why is that even a pro? You can bring your console over to a friends house? Man, my PC has a handle on it, and its not that hard to unhook and move

4) No tweaking? I'm failing to see what exactly you were getting at here. You mean tweaking to get work, fine, but no tweaking also means no mods... so thats really a wash.

5) 100% failure rate due to RROD on the 360 or YROD on PS3 says otherwise. You get 2 year warranty on it, and if it breaks out of there, its hosed. All my parts on my PC are 3 year to Life time warranty. With the current release price of these consoles too, you can build a PC with the power of a next gen console for around $450

6) Purely subjective. PC has its exclusives too. Not a pro.

7) You are stuck using formats deemed acceptable to the console, and to use streaming content, you have to pay. That, and if you really have an issue opening up VCL media player, then I'm not sure how you were able to get online to write this post

8) The one that I can agree on to an extent. As someone who has been PC gaming for as long as I can remember, I've always loved the LAN party. A time to show off the rigs, talk with friends about builds, and then kick some ass online.

9) You know why you can trade and sell games? Because you're still playing $60-70 for new games on physical media. Do you think that if you buy a game on their online store that you're going to be able to sell and trade that game? Hell no. AND its going to cost you full retail price to buy it from there. The trade off for not being able to sell used games is never paying full price for games. I got BF4 Digital Deluxe Ed with Premium for $71. Borderlands 2 was $32. MW3 was $36 with a free copy of MW1.

10) etc? wat?

PC is better. Period. The only thing that it really has going is split screen gaming, and even that seems to be getting less and less attention.

Disclaimer: Yes, I am a PC gamer since birth, but I did have my time on a 360, and I still have a love for retro consoles. I just prefer to do any "serious" gaming on PC.

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PCWolf

What I disagree with:

2: Games just work

This is not always the case. Not all games just work, & quite a few of them have Bugs. That's why they get Patches, because they don't always just work right.

7. "Easy to use and access media functions"
This based on user skill. If you are a moron that has problems accessing media on a PC, then you will have the same problems on a console. Also, you don't have to pay Monthly Fees to access content your already paying for. Just as you are forced to pay Microsoft to access Netflix on Xbox.

9. You can trade and sell games to pay for new games without DRM.
Another "Somewhat of a lie". Both PS4 & Xbone have the ability to give Publishers the right to block used games from being sold. So the Publisher can decide to add DRM to it's game at any time.

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JosephColt

2. Yes, I agree, but 95% of the time games simply just work. Put the disc in and play. This can also be a flaw though for the games that are messed up as PC users usually can find work around.

7. Well, you can start a PS3 then go to your PC and stream your content easily or just go to Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, or the other services and stream(PS3 Media Server) immediately. While I find PC programs such as XMBC neat(I find it inefficient), I'd rather just use a PS3 for those services or stream directly over network(or things like Roku).
Windows media center has a lot of potential, sad it's just meh...

9. Sell and trade games on PC? Last I checked you cannot. Steam game sharing is closest, and risky to share a library as it's subject to abuse from another user still.

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AFDozerman

Also with number 9, it is extremely easy to trade/resell/gift games on PC, especially with Steam.

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JosephColt

You cannot trade and resell used PC games through Steam, Origin, Uplay, or others like that; of course you can gift games easily.

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AFDozerman

Uhh... yes you can. I know for sure steam let's you.

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JosephColt

What are you on about? Once you buy or register a game on Steam it's attached to your account forever. You cannot sell or trade PC games that are on digital distribution clients like Steam or Origin.

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jth

Some people may want this, and Steamboxes might enrich PC gaming as a whole. Fingers crossed. But, there's nothing here for me. If I wanted to be playing games with a controller on a lower resolution monitor from my couch, then I would be. And if that sounds enticing enough to a console gamer to get them to plunk down the dough and bring more attention to our platform, great. I'll stick to my current setup and hope to reap any benefits this may have for us if the console converts end up bringing greater quality game development with them.

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vrmlbasic

Why even bother testing the controller with a RTS? Besides NOT being a RTS, didn't Valve itself use Civ 5 as a showcase title for the controller? I think that would make one want to pick a different game to try.

More importantly, if you're playing a RTS and you're not using keyboard hotkeys, you've already lost. Just as you said there is no way to make an AVP movie that doesn't suck, there's no way to make a controller-oriented RTS that doesn't suck. Halo Wars :(

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Engelsstaub

That's a pretty thorough review and I appreciate your take on this (early) controller.

I do play PC games a lot *now* but I've been a console gamer all my life (many years.) It's just what everyone else had and I didn't know anybody who gamed on PC until later in life/more recently.

TBH I wouldn't mind leaving consoles behind completely but I like playing most games with a controller. I understand how people like you and those who've been playing on PCs for a really long time could despise the controller, but for people like me (those looking for any excuse to ditch consoles altogether and have a decent gaming machine for the whole family in the living room) controllers are almost a must.

Looks like the Steam Controller may be a step in the right direction. Some console users view hardcore PC gamers as (at best) "enthusiasts" and (at worst) "elitists." I personally would just like to see Steam give MS and Sony a good run for their money. Steam always has WAY better deals, and more reasonable pricing, on games than XBox Marketplace.

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PubstarHero

Thanks to XInput, you can basically plug in any wired 360 controller and have it automatically mapped to the game's controls. I used my 360 controller for games like Saint's Row 4, GTA series, platformers, and some space sims as well.

That's the beauty of PC. Use whatever you want. Though, I would not use a controller in FPS. You'd get destroyed online.

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ShinRenNu

Why over complicate things between the two platforms where you can just use them whenever it pleases you. It's not like you're married to one platform or bound for eternity to it. I mean, seriously, it's just a "thing". Would you like to buy something that would dictate the way you use them?

Where in real life I can have a wife and a mistress at the same time. but not when it comes to PC and consoles. lol

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JosephColt

", but for people like me (those looking for any excuse to ditch consoles altogether and have a decent gaming machine for the whole family in the living room) controllers are almost a must."

I wouldn't say you should ditch a console, there is nothing wrong with having or using one along side a PC. Truth be told the controller won't make much of an impact; it will likely fade away over time as another gimmick or stay at a target niche market. PS4 and Xbox One controllers are as good as they get, you do not need a middle way between a KB/M and controller too.

Consoles will offer better options of media entertainment unless you really customize some software on PC, but even then won't be as seamless as a console for home entertainment with a server PC streaming content; depends on the needs of the individual though. 400 dollars for a PS4 with a pretty much optimal controller, media functions, exclusives, etc. It's not that expensive especially if you can easily afford a standard gaming PC, plus you're going to have it for 6-8 years.

Use both console and PC basically. Enjoy the best of both worlds, elitists are immature(or overly stubborn in a bad way) people who have a need to feel superior, so just enjoy both worlds.

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Engelsstaub

"...Steam always has WAY better deals, and more reasonable pricing, on games than XBox Marketplace."

The last sentence in my OP is one of the main reasons why I'd personally like to ditch consoles altogether. I'm dead-tired of XBox Live with it's ridiculous pricing structure and "Gold" membership extortion.

Here's a quick list of some of the other reasons:

-Taking functionality away from hardware I paid for so they can sell me more hardware to do the same thing (eg: XBox Live Vision Camera being rendered useless so they can sell Kinects.)

-Dashboard littered with irrelevant ads so they can generate even more revenue at the annoyance of paid subscribers.

-The aforementioned disparity between the price of games on disc at Walmart and other retailers and the ridiculous pricing of those same games as digital downloads on their Marketplace.

- Many of my own personal experiences with XBL's customer "support." (One of which is this: once they over-billed me for a month of Gold and when I called them to have them refund the money to my card they informed me that they "couldn't but they would give me equivalent credit in their (bullshit) MS points." ..then I never even got those.)

So, in closing, my experience with XBL (and I've been using it since the 360 launched) has been overwhelmingly negative and frustrating. I can't speak to PSN/Sony but I'm not willing to take the chance anymore. I would rather get rid of consoles altogether. The ONLY advantage to me personally is the ability to rent games. As far as media center capabilities I'd be better served with a PC in the living room. I DO know what I'm doing when it comes to audio and video media and a PC is way more flexible for that for me than a console.

It's not about "elitism" for me. I'm not going to litter comment boards with trollings like "contholes thuck!" I'm just talking about what works for me. YMMV. There are many advantages to a console. I'm just not seeing most of them as advantages for me anymore.

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JosephColt

You have many valid points that I can understand.

Speaking for Xbox, I don't think I'd personally go that route console wise...

PS3 was pretty straight forward if you've ever used it, it's a great media client with the PS3 media server on a home server, and easy to use all the video services offered to watch content. The PS3 was really convent so I didn't have to have a PC sitting out in the open
http://www.ps3mediaserver.org/

Your issues seem to lie in root with the Xbox and MS it appears. PS3 was a much better system for gaming and media; I'm sure you would have liked it much more.

I'd say when the PS4 hit the 300 dollar mark in a couple years, just buy one for the exclusives and media features(if you don't like it just return it too). Sometimes it's more fun to play on a console with others instead of sitting in front of computers even if your playing a shooter with a controllers.

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Nic700

Play with others? Did you assume that your average PC gamer seriously knows no one with a rig strong enough to play the games they do? Now this can be subjective but you don't need to ask your brother to have fun with you, I have a clan for that and I have been with this clan for 10+ years and we all consider ourselves family. We laugh, we cry, we swear and we suffer just like a person with a console would. Now please don't take my comment hostile, we as human beings seek companionship in what ever way we need. The only reason you buy a console is for the exclusives, I can buy a cheap 50 dollar raspberry pi and run a server for more then just media. I do know that a console is important for some, but that is for the people who don't want to learn new things or can't expand their mind. Or for those who don't have the time to "learn" new things. I used to play consoles, I stopped at the PS2 but consoles just don't cut it. I would rather save up buy a new mobo and have the ability to upgrade. As for the controller, I like that steam OS will have mouse and keyboard support. I can see what is good about consoles, but that will only apply to monkeys who don't know jack. If our population is more populated by these sort of people (which I suspect) then that is another story and to be debated elsewhere.

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Engelsstaub

I wouldn't go as far as to call anyone "monkeys" or "sheep" or any other degrading stuff just because they don't use or appreciate the same tech products. That's usually when constructive conversations and reasonable debates break down and devolve into senseless bigoted bullshit and useless trolling.

There's far more important things to get worked up about than what people game on, what kind of computer they use, the smartphone they like, etc. The people that are really sad (but still not monkeys or sheep) are those who define themselves and others by the products they use, the bands they listen to, etc. People are people and we all have individual tastes and appreciations.

I'd rather have a PC for gaming but it's not for everyone. PCs are (generally) higher maintenance and not everyone's dedicated to that. Some people barely have time to do anything when they come home from work. Why would they want a PC in their living room to play with their kids for a half an hour or so? For people who are dedicated gamers (like you) and have more time a PC is a great choice IMO.

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Biceps

I have a couple hundred games in my steam library, across all genres. For fps, there isn't much to beat the mouse keyboard combo for accuracy, but if I want to lean back and put my feet up, I plug in my xbox controller. It works fine as long as I am not in a competitive fps.

If I can learn the Steam controller to the point where it will give me the same or a similar level of flexibility with an rts, I will call it a win.

To the tool saying pc-only gamers aren't 'real' gamers, you need to reexamine your priorities in life in a big way. Seriously.

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Biceps

Doublepost, sorry

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Ghost XFX

"PC Gamers, gods bless ‘em, are truly the most cynical sons of bitches on the planet."

YES! YES! We love you too Gordon!! \o/

Having played many consoles in the past, that controller has a chance, but it needs some PC gamer input...

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JosephColt

"Again, I’m admittedly an anti-console gamer. I can’t nor have I ever wanted to play games with a console controller because it’s mouse and keyboard or nothing at all for me."

Then you're not a real gamer at all. Limiting yourself to one platform because of the control method is juvenile at best. It's fine to play games with your preferred method, but refusing to use a system because of a controller is just foolish.

Some games are simply better with a controller too. There is nothing wrong with playing on a console. Consoles are fairly cheap with some great media features and fun exclusives.

On the topic of the controller now, I think it will be one of those things you just gotta use to know if you will like it or not; looks uncomfortable to use thumb wise.

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PubstarHero

Reasons why gaming on PC is better than consoles -
*Better Graphics
*Higher resolutions
*Upgrade opportunities
*Mulitasking
*Wide range of communication options
*No monthly payments
*Mods
*More games
*More exclusives
*Component options to suit your needs
*Older games
*Emulators
*Better prices for games
*Steam sales
*Advantages of Mouse and Keyboard
*Controller compatibility
*Quicker patch support
*Better price overall
*Not having to deal with Microsoft, Sony or Nintendo messing with you for whatever reason
*Wide range of aesthetic components
*Acquiring knowledge from building a PC
*Strategy games
*MMOs
*Multiple monitors allowing for amazing multitasking
*Video and audio editing options
*No easily damaged disks
*Defective component replacement rather than entire machine replacement
*Higher FPS opportunities
*Component addition whenever you feel like it
*Player made content
*No upscaled resolutions unless you want it
*Generally more options on games
*Hardware that can have better capabilities in 7 years time, rather than unchanged
*Devs not having to make their games work on outdated hardware
*Being the first to be able to use new utilities

This is why people play exclusively on PC. Why bother with the rest when you have the best?

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Renegade Knight

If they game. They are a gamer. A real gamer.

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JosephColt

That's up for debate.

That is to vague of a definition.

Some little kid playing farm ville would be considered a "real gamer" by the definition, and I doubt you would consider that equal to someone playing AC4, BF4, COD, you name it. A "real gamer" would be someone playing solitaire with real cards.

If they game, they are not simply a gamer. There is a difference between playing a game, and gaming; if you catch my drift.

A "real gamer" or "video gamer" is one who plays games on a certain level, knows all about the culture of games, plays any platform because they want to play games(not be a intellectual childish who is stuck to one platform), enjoy their time with others who share their interests, and so forth.

Just because you play a games does not mean you are a gamer. There is a massive difference between a casual play who plays a few games through a year, and one who actually plays games actively and partakes in its culture.

Examples:

"I am a real football fan because I saw a few games throughout the year, but didn't follow anything else."

"I am a real book lover because I read a couple books last year."

I could go on more, but this should be enough.

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Strhopper

anyone who plays games is a gamer. You are talking about the difference between a "casual" gamer and "real" gamer. But games are games. If you play solitaire all day you are a gamer period. Casual gamer? yes

But on your point of limiting yourself to one platform for just the control method being a bit childish.......... I completely agree! I don't play racing or sport games with the keyboard and mouse.