Mark Rein Says PC Has “Shot By” Consoles

By John Walker on July 11th, 2011 at 11:01 am.

Mark Rein, loving PCs, yesterday.

Over the weekend, Eurogamer posted a story about how PCs are better than everything else, including new babies and planets with rings. Well, those weren’t quite their words, and nor were they of Mark Rein, VP of Epic, but he said something close. He in fact said that, “We’re at the stage in the life of the consoles where the PC has shot by them in terms of capabilities.”

This is a regular occurrence of course. Consoles at launch attempt to match the contemporary tech of PCs, and then as their non-upgradeable bodies age, the PC trundles forward until a comparison becomes ridiculous.

This time around has been slightly different, however. The extraordinary mainstream popularity of the 360 and PS3 has meant that developers this time haven’t chased after the PC’s opportunities quite as quickly. In fact, PC gamers have been in the rather odd position of not needing to upgrade their equipment for many years, with development held back by the need for games to work for the majority of sales, on the plastic boxes. And while the rumours of the next hardware releases from Sony and Microsoft change every other day (currently the next Xbox is expected in 2013, and the PS4 has recently been rumoured to be as far away as 2016 and as close as 2012) either way the PC has likely a couple of years far out in front.

However, it seems like patience is finally running out for those developers who’ve always been at the forefront of the shiny. John Carmack recently told Eurogamer that PCs were ten times as powerful as current consoles (although suffer from API issues). And Mark Rein continued,

“Don’t forget every game that’s ultimately built is built on a PC. PCs are always going to be the tools through which all games get made. With the PC you can simulate the future – you can put enough hardware in a PC to show you what a future console will look like.”

Whether this means that some companies will be tempted back toward AAA PC exclusives is unlikely. While the PC is still the only place to sensibly play strategy and MMO games, the market has perhaps changed too dramatically for major FPS releases to risk only selling to a fraction of their regular audience. That’s only true for the biggest names, of course. Expect to see some truly epic PC games over the next couple of years from those not so entwined in the console market.

You can see the first part of Rein’s interview on EG now. And Alec’s in it!

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113 Comments »

  1. Choca says:

    By Mark Rein I assume you mean Marky R.

  2. skinlo says:

    My 4 year old PC was ahead of consoles when I got it. This isn’t, and shouldn’t be big news. It just seems developers are a bit slow.

    • El_MUERkO says:

      agreed

      PC exclusives have been making console games look dated for years.

    • lurkalisk says:

      I never could understand why anyone thinks consoles ever manage to catch up. I mean, the PS3 has 256Mb system RAM. That sure as hell wasn’t even close to high end in 2006.

      Consoles tend to trail rather far behind PC hardware standards even at launch.

    • Nallen says:

      Yes, this. The PC has been more powerful than consoles since they launched, but PC users are pretty unlikely to settle for upscaled sub 720p rubbish.

    • aircool says:

      Apparently Smedders at SOE has hinted heavily that Planetside 2 will be on the PS3. I can’t see how they’ll manage without huge amounts of RAM.

    • LionsPhil says:

      The PS3 isn’t running the Steam overlay at the same time as a game, or Mumble in the background, and your e-mail client, and your browser. It’s not entirely comparable.

      That said, a quarter-gig is still crazy-small and we have it to thank for LOADING every five seconds.

    • AdamK117 says:

      “Apparently Smedders at SOE has hinted heavily that Planetside 2 will be on the PS3. I can’t see how they’ll manage without huge amounts of RAM.”

      Ahh PS, the one game that made my christmas list turn into a justification of why I need twinned 1gig sticks instead of any other idea my parents may of had

    • Rinox says:

      @ Lionsphil

      True, but if someone has a PC that’s so crappy that it actually has a noticeable problem with running stuff like that in the background during a game they may as well get a console. ;-)

    • PoulWrist says:

      @Lionphil, sure it is, the PS3 OS and its overlays is running and it accepts “emails” and all other kinds of stuff. But it doesn’t quite multitask as readily as the PC.

      Also, the consoles are able to be tapped more than the PC, more complete control gives more performance. And the displays they run on are less resolutiony than PC monitors :p

    • Nameless1 says:

      I totally agree.

    • edrick says:

      You cannot compare specs of a PC and a Console, they are just not the same. 256 ram on a console does not mean it would be 256 ram on a PC, etc.

  3. talon03 says:

    (currently the next Xbox is expected in 2013, and the PS3 has recently been rumoured to be as far away as 2016 and as close as 2012)

    I assume you mean PS4 there?

  4. Koojav says:

    For me it’s actually quite good to have the same rig for 4-5 years and still be able to play newest titles on medium/high settings.

    I don’t really want to go back to having to spend 200eur every few months just to play new titles.

    • skinlo says:

      I agree, but that won’t happen. What will happen if that you’ll have to buy a new PC or upgrade in a few years, then can use that for another 4/5/6 years, as we’ll be waiting for the PS5 and Xbox 1080 or whatever.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Likewise, I’m quite happy for devs to keep targetting consoles as a graphics hardware target. It’s been nice not having to be on the upgrade treadmill for years yet still play games on high.

    • skinlo says:

      Its been 5 years, surely you want technology to progress sometime??

    • Xercies says:

      Hmm sometimes, but I actually think the non upgrade every 3 months and people able to play there games on 4 year old machines means that probably the PC gets more popular. I’m really glad that can happen.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Not really, no. Graphics have been getting aesthetically worse these past years with shaders, blurry shaders everywhere. Art direction still trumps tech, and the capability is there to depict anything gameplay needs.

      The stuff that allows for more interesting simulational excitement, RAM and CPU (especially efficiently using all available cores), are not yet being pushed to their limits.

      Gaming hardware can sit here for another five years as far as I’m concerned.

    • Rinox says:

      I love technological process, but what baffles me the most is that in this brave new world of slower tech progress in gaming there doesn’t seem to be any indication of developers taking more brand new design directions or risks.

      It would appear that the consoles’ efforts to keep in check any tech progress goes hand in hand with stale, risk-free sequelitis design. And that is not a good thing by any measure.

    • Danorz says:

      oh look, it’s this outright lie again. nobody spends €200 every few months on upgrades, nobody.

    • LionsPhil says:

      You could probably point to “economic downturn” for both.

    • Rinox says:

      I find it funny that there is an economic downturn while most massive companies (in gaming too) are still making money hand over hand. And infuriating that it’s used by those same companies to exploit/fire people so they can get even more profits.

    • D3xter says:

      I do… but if you spent 200Eur (was that even already there yet?) every few months back in the day you did something deeply, deeply wrong… you know video games have those things called Video Options with many sliders and checkboxes, use it xD

      Regarding “sequelitis”, UbiSoft has also been saying that the lack of new tech stifles creativity e.g.: http://www.mcvuk.com/features/911/25-Years-of-Ubisoft
      “That’s part of the reason why the industry is in depression. Consumers like the current formats, but there is not enough creativity at the end of a cycle to really spark the business.”

      I tend to agree, developers will barely want to move along and improve/modify their engines to support new types of gameplay or possibilities aside of a few indies… instead they just license a famous one like Unreal 3 and do their game on that without barely changing anything of the “base” and so we barely see any new improvements in fields like AI, physics, destructibility etc. and the visual style of a game will also look very similar to other ones using that same engine. Also see games like SKYRIM, that DID get a new engine but basically look almost exactly the same as their predecessors because they have to work within the same limits and restrictions.

    • skinlo says:

      I disagree, I think graphics have been getting better, just art direction as been staying at the same level, so they are struggling to utilise it. I do agree that though, Portal 2 has great art direction, but technology wise they aren’t with the big boys any more.

      I don’t understand why people need to work with extremes. Its not either upgrade every 3 months, or every 7 years. 3/4 years is a reasonable time frame to consider upgrading to me, especailly as Moores Law dictates processing power doubles every 18 months, you’d have 4x times the power each upgrade in theory.

      @LionsPhil specifically

      No, we aren’t using all of the computing potential, but as I’m sure you know, the amount of time and resources need to optimise rises exponentially as start to hit the limits. The simple way to get around that is to have more power available. The end user doesn’t care if the program is optimised 99% or 67%, as long as it runs well.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Even at it’s worst in the 90s you didn’t need to upgrade your pc more than once every 2 years. At the point of transitioning between the DOOM era and the Quake era was probably the worst. Even then it wasn’t anything like months.

      Of course I get that you were exaggerating. But upgrading on pc has never been that big of a problem. It’s only really an issue if you must run every game maxed out. If that was the case you wouldn’t still be using the pc you had 5 years ago.

    • Urthman says:

      The real problem is that console / PC hybrid games can release PC versions with higher graphical settings, but the things that really effect gameplay like AI and the size and complexity of levels are going to be the same for all platforms, all stuck at what the poor little Xbox can handle.

    • Bart Stewart says:

      Exactly as Urthman says.

      Going from Deus Ex to DX: Invisible War was a perfect example of this. The sequel’s graphics were shinier, but the levels felt much more cramped than the exterior levels of the original, in turn restricted gameplay opportunities. The logical explanation for this was that the PC had become secondary to fitting within the limited RAM of the consoles. (The level contraction from the vertigo-inducing spaces of Dark Forces 2: Jedi Knight to the corridor-shooty Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast was also painfully apparent.)

      This wasn’t as much of a problem in the transition from Thief 2 to Thief 3. The “sneaky” gameplay meant you were already spending most of your time in cramped spaces, so there wasn’t as much of a pullback necessary. But for games that need a wide-open feeling, such as open-world games, console limits have reduced the span of gameplay from what’s possible on a typical PC.

      It’s knowing that the power of the average PC is being squandered that’s frustrating. Of course PCs are not some perfect, holy device, and “bigger” does not imply “better.” But it’s still interesting to speculate on what game design might look like today had it continued the trends up to about 2000 instead of being leashed for a decade by console limitations.

    • sassy says:

      D3xter have you seen the comparison pictures between Skyrim and Oblivion? It isn’t a minor overhaul, it is quite a major step up. Oblivion was a beautiful game when it came out, adding so many little details to a massive world. Skyrim has taken that a step up (in what has been shown, maybe outside pics they’ve decided to do the world as flat wireframe).

      The only thing comparable between the 2 is the art direction, which gives it a very similar feel. Though I believe sequels should be using similar art direction so it isn’t a problem for me.

  5. rareh says:

    Also playing sims like for example the X series(best games of all time imo) is kind of unfetchable without keyboard+mouse.

  6. Khemm says:

    Too bad according to Mr Rein, PC doesn’t deserve Gears of War 2 or 3.
    I bought the first one for PC for full price, ffs – why were people like me denied the opportunity to play the sequels?

    So, I don’t care what he says. I’ll start caring once Epic releases some GAMES for the platform.

    • rareh says:

      They are 360 exclusives, they made a contract with M$.

    • thegooseking says:

      But only because PC sales of the original were “disappointing”.

    • The Colonel says:

      Well the game too was “disappointing”

    • KillerB says:

      Here here! I for one didnt think the control system worked on the PC properly (This has nothing to do with the fact that at the time my Rig was pants, but im not biased)

    • Khemm says:

      @KillerB
      The controls were absolutely PERFECT. I played the SP campaign with a controller, but when I jumped into MP, I realized my mistake – k&m controls are super comfortable, make the game so much more fast and dynamic.

    • Mad Hamish says:

      You aren’t missing that much with the sequels. You only really need to play one. I really can’t imagine 3 is going to be that different or that big an improvement on the formula. 2 was probably technically better than 1(which I thought was excellent) but I had to put it down half way though because it was just such a similar experience I just seemed to be wasting my time and no one cares about the nonsense story. There’s too many games out there I haven’t played to be playing a copy of another.
      edit@Khemm : nothing makes you feel like you are lumping around a 400 pound meat head than a big sluggish game pad. Almost feels like RPing.

    • Raiyan 1.0 says:

      As I understand, they released GoW on the PC nearly a year after the console release and provided very little support for a buggy port – some reasons why it didn’t sell so well.

      As my GoW-modding friend puts it, so don’t quote me on it.

    • Boozebeard says:

      @Raiyan True by the time it was out on PC I already played it through on xbox. I remembenr playing it on PC, taking cover behind a truck and teleporting on top of it. From up there i was able to walk off the side of the bridge I had been fighting on and walk around under the water.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Boozebeard, that problem is in the 360 version too. That’s why the multiplayer sucks, people standing in walls. Lag making anyone but the host useless. Shotguns of doom followed by shotguns of nerf.

    • jonfitt says:

      GoW2 was much the same as GoW1, but if you’re following the story Dominic is now totally back on the market so here’s hoping Marcus makes his move and doesn’t Hold A and get stuck in the friend-zone.

  7. PickyBugger says:

    I’ve been on that bridge…

  8. mortimasIV says:

    When I first read this article’s title, I thought it said that the PC had “been shot by” consoles.

    I was worried, not only because of the uncannily violent metaphor, but by the idea that consoles won somehow.

    • Mad Hamish says:

      “PC SHOT DEAD IN NIGHTCLUB SHOOTING
      A rival console gang are believed to have carried out the attack.”

      Where’s the News of the World title when ya it.

    • Tams80 says:

      “PCs last phone call to ‘girlfriend’: The Steam sale has bankrupted me”

      Too soon?

  9. thegooseking says:

    Hardware is kind of overrated. The most beautiful games of yesteryear (e.g. Homeworld) are still beautiful. The flashy whiz-bang hardware-punishing games of yesteryear now look pretty crap.

    On the other hand, I wouldn’t mind saying goodbye to tiny levels.

  10. Real Horrorshow says:

    The last paragraph is true but true of consoles too. As a casual observer, it seems like exclusives to one console or another are dying fast too. You still have developers that the console makers actually own and some that are still under contract (I don’t know if Sony owns Naughty Dog, the makers of Uncharted, for example) but by and large it seems like third party developers have correctly decided that you make the most money by releasing on Xbox, PS3 and PC.

    Again, I don’t pay too much attention to console games, but it seems like all we’re missing out on now are console stalwarts like platforming and sports games, like they miss out on the mentioned RTS and MMO games.

    Around 2007/2008 when that “PC is dead” feeling really started to come back with a force, it did kinda feel like that way for a while (even though I logically knew it was horse shit), but now it feels like everything you could see as a PC game too gets released on PC.

    Its nice to be a PC gamer in 2011.

    End rambling.

    • Rii says:

      Fully half of IGN’s Top 100 Modern Games list is comprised of titles exclusive to their respective platforms.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Over half of that IGN list is pretty pants though and doesn’t deserve to be in there. Problem with lists like that is they are completely useless to anyone other than whoever wrote it. Or if you coincidentally have the exact same taste as them.

      IMHO only around a dozen console exclusive games from the last decade would even be in that list.

    • Rii says:

      If you say so. Seems a fairly respectable list to me.

    • Real Horrorshow says:

      You didn’t read what I said, Rii. I was clearly talking about the last few years. That list was from 2005-present, and to be honest it looks like they made sure each major platform had a fairly equal amount of exclusives to appease all the fanboys.

  11. John P says:

    It kinda sucks that the potential of PCs will be wasted for a few more years yet. Like with Stalker 2, which will be multiplatform. It would be sad if that was limited by current console abilities. Although, given how long the first game was in development, maybe they’ll target the next gen.

    • skyturnedred says:

      On the other hand, those of us who haven’t upgraded our PCs in almost five years can still happily play pretty much everything without any trouble on our old rigs.

    • DrGonzo says:

      I don’t want that though! I haven’t upgraded my computer in 5 years as it’s been unneccesary. If I didn’t want upgrades and progress I would be a console gamer exclusively.

      I do like that it’s slowed down to and extent. But 5 years is rediculous. PC games should be pushing the market forward, but it hasn’t in a long time graphically.

  12. DK says:

    Oh look, the traitors speak. Now they want to come back hat in hand. They can stay away for all I care – they’ve been surpassed by the developers that stayed on PC. Eastern Europe now owns PC gaming, and they’ve taken better care of it than Epic or ID has for a decade.

  13. strange_headache says:

    If only EPIC would start making good PC games again…

  14. Stevostin says:

    The real point of PC Market is the democratization of gaming laptop, IMO. It’s not about horsepower but horsepower vs portability. For nearly the price of an Xbox you have a laptop probably more powerful – who also is a PC, and also is portable. That beats the crap out of the xbox. So here comes Free to play, Facebook gaming, funny snack indie games sold dead cheap on steam.

  15. Rossi says:

    I’m more interested in the fact that what a developer creates is a good game, rather than if it taxes my hardware or not.

    If one thing consoles has done for PC is ensure that the game engines are rock solid, rather than bug ridden. Although saying that, I’m saving to update my PC for the release of Battlefield 3.

    I’ll happily take good games which are developed multi-platform on a regular basis, and wait for the rare PC exclusive that shows me what my PC really can do!

    • D3xter says:

      Unfortunately not many people see that the two often go hand in hand… you can still do Jump&Runs and Point&Click Adventures/Puzzle games using minimal graphics but on a lot of the other genres the presentability of the graphics (and the hardware behind it) does have a big impact on ones experience… just compare The Witcher 2′s world with Dragon Age 2′s or Crysis’s with Crysis 2′s.

      You can’t do certain things with todays consoles… certain things like making big open worlds that look graphically pleasing… it’s always a trade-off between small levels that look great or big ones, which stream a lot and re-use textures and certain models heavily. If you want your games to run acceptably with that 512MB RAM in mind and the general processing power of todays console you better not put any complex AI subroutines. If you want it to run better not do much of anything having to do with physics, particles or rendering more than a dozen or so NPCs on the screen at once or you’ll have to compromise even more on those visuals etc. Lighting and real-time reflection/refraction of materials using radiosity is another thing that is a great factor to how “real” or “fake” something looks and is just now somewhat being pushed by the new Battlefield Engine and the updated Unreal Engine 3.

  16. Freud says:

    More like lazily strolled past the consoles in capabilities. It’s not like the PC has been trying to race, quite the opposite. We now live in the age of non-upgrading.

  17. reticulate says:

    In other news, water is wet.

    We’re at an interesting stage here. The big ‘AAA’ releases that get the news and the hype are almost always console titles – outside of MMO’s, that is. There’s been a solid argument in the last few years or more for previously PC-only houses (like Epic) to invest in the platforms that will ensure sales. Undoubtedly that has had a negative impact on the development of games for the PC in a multiplatform environment, and I can understand why some people might feel a little left out.

    But, to me at least, this is less an argument against console gaming as it is playing console-designed games on the PC, where the porting experience is often less-than-good.

    So, I don’t know, maybe PC gamers could manage to sit on the couch and play a game on the TV when the title calls for it, as well as supporting those companies that continue to only build games for their superior platform? Although considering Glorious PC Master Race games like Crysis or Witcher 2 were/are exceptionally popular on the torrent sites doesn’t fill me with hope – and further that the usual complaining about PC gaming being the red-headed stepchild rings a bit hollow.

    • skinlo says:

      Nope, I couldn’t manage to do that, I’d rather do without.

      The piracy rates shouldn’t be considered at all, what should be looked at is the raw sales data. It doesn’t matter if 20 million people torrent your game if you still sell 5 million copies and make a good profit.

    • reticulate says:

      @skinlo
      Well, as long as you don’t become one of those people who bitch about crappy PC ports when you could just move to the couch I don’t mind.
      As to the other thing, are you telling me Crytek don’t cringe at exactly how much their game is pirated? I imagine EA aren’t particularly fond of it either. We can live in a fantasy world where raw sales figures should be the only thing that matters or return to reality where an accountant is trying to work out the ratio of paid:pirated. It has a direct impact on how publishers view the platform, whether we like it or not.

    • Rinox says:

      @ reticulate

      move to the couch as in, hook up your TV to your PC, or as in buy a console?

      Cause some people don’t own a TV or have the money to buy a 200 € console and 60 € games just to play them from their couch…

    • Archonsod says:

      I don’t own a TV. Or a couch.

    • reticulate says:

      @Rinox

      I mean, either is doable, any modern video card will output to HDMI or at the very least DVI, which just needs a cheap cable. The 360 controller works fine as a gamepad.

      And yep, console games are more expensive.

      But I’ve never really subscribed to the view that it’s a zero-sum game. A decent gaming PC is not as expensive as it used to be, but is still a pretty significant expenditure. A console and a TV is also a considerable expense, depending on the TV. But there are also valid arguments for both platforms, and I suppose I’d like it if console games were used as intended, and PC developers lacking such constraints could make awesome games for our rigs.

      I’m neither a drooling console fanboy or a member of the Glorious PC Master Race (at least, perhaps, the stereotype), I just think good games are good games. If Epic is happy to take Microsoft’s money to further make a ton more on stuff like Gears, then good on them. There’s still plenty of value in the PC as a platform, and Gears is hardly a bad game if you’re into that sort of thing. It’s not so much an argument for owning both a rig and one or several consoles, just that given how the market is we should expect some experiences are going to be better on one or the other.

    • D3xter says:

      @reticulate: As far as I know Crysis(1) sold over 3 million on the PC alone, Crysis: Warhead 1.5 million+: http://www.zuse.hessen.de/mm/Konrad_Zuse_Kongress_Yerli_Final.pdf
      They predicted ~7 million sales for Crysis 2 and so far and so far in Retail according to some inofficial numbers they haven’t even broken 2 million (on all 3 platforms), I don’t know what they should be so happy about… I rather believe that they released that DX11 Patch and those Mod-Tools and generally tried to “mend” relations with the PC gamers they pissed off because of that fact…

      And it’s not like consoles are somehow piracy-proof… very own’s Epic “Gears of War 3″ in fact also leaked out 3 months ahead of their targeted release date: http://www.kotaku.com.au/2011/07/is-this-where-gears-of-war-3-was-leaked-from/

    • Retribution says:

      Witcher 2 sold 500,000 copies in a week, on PC only; Crysis sold 3.5 million, on PC only, while Crysis 2 is struggling to hit 3 million across 3 platforms, but yes, let’s blame pirates…again

  18. aircool says:

    Double edged sword. Whilst PC technology steams ahead (albeit at a more acceptable rate these days, and, as mentioned, choked by API issues), console programmers work hard to optimise their code and squeeze as much performance out of the consoles as possible.

    Wouldn’t it be nice to have a PC that has a dual boot function. One for Windows (or your OS of choice), and one for gaming applications.

    Alternatively, just stick some more RAM into a console and ship it with a mouse and keyboard. I tend to buy new consoles after they’ve been out for a year or so. However, I’ve no idea why as I usually give up with them and their irritating controllers after buying a few games. My PS3 is used as a DVD player and that’s about it.

  19. Rossi says:

    I have to admit to being excited about a future release and then silently thinking ‘Oh…’ when it’s mentioned that the release will also be on console. But it’s not all bad, there have been some good games released on both console and PC, Bad Company 2 for example?

    With Battlefield 3, I cling on to every word that DICE says when they mention that PC is the lead platform, but at the same time I can’t help but feel we’ll be sold short in some respect.

    But like I said, if the game is good, that’s all that counts?

  20. Kent says:

    “The extraordinary mainstream popularity of the 360 and PS3 has meant that developers this time haven’t chased after the PC’s opportunities quite as quickly. In fact, PC gamers have been in the rather odd position of not needing to upgrade their equipment for many years, with development held back by the need for games to work for the majority of sales, on the plastic boxes.”

    This is what I have been saying to everyone the last 4 years!

    • aircool says:

      Yup. Shiny new graphics cards aren’t progressing in the huge leaps and bounds we are used to. The current crop of single GPU cards aren’t that much more impressive than the last iteration. Bog standard 7200 1TB HDD’s are still plenty enough (although a second HDD for the OS is still preferable) and SSD’s just don’t offer enough for their price. 1Gb of headroom in the RAM department is still enough for gaming as far as I can tell and any of the current crop of cheap, quad core CPU’s seem to be ample for gaming (although a 3GHz clock speed is preferable).

      Looking at AMD’s 6xxx series of cards, there hardly seems any point upgrading of you already have a 5850/5870. Seems like the GFX market is trying its hardest not to get ahead of itself. You can get a GTX570 for about £250 which is plenty for modern games (unless you’re playing at silly resolutions), whilst the slightly more powerful GTX580 is going for a ridiculous £350+; what’s the point of spending all that money?

    • skinlo says:

      The reason why the 6xxx series isn’t much better than the 5xxx is due to TSMC’s failure in producing 28nm chips. AMD and Nvidia were originally planning on being 28nm this generation, but the people who makes them messed up, so they had to scale back and cut out some of the features and power. The next generation should be more interesting, as they should then be on 28nm :)

      I will admit that there is little point in upgrading though if the games don’t need it.

    • Chorltonwheelie says:

      My new GTX560ti is waaaaay better than my old HD4870 in every respect.

  21. glennw says:

    PCs have always led the consoles in all aspects. Looking at graphics though isn’t really that interesting, even without PCs we could imagine how console games would evolve graphically.

    What is more interesting is to look at the trends in PC gaming (for better for worse) off the top of my head:
    – Free to play / Micro transactions
    – New ways of delivering games and rolling them out (Minecraft)
    – Cloud delivery / device agnostic type services (Onlive)
    – New models to sell games and deliver content (Steam sales, multipacks, the recent steam summer vouchers)
    – Tighter integration with the web, youtube, facebook etc.

    I’m sure there are loads more interesting things going on in the PC space people can think of.

  22. Po0py says:

    I have an E6850 dual core and 4gigs of ram with a Radeon HD 5850 (only upgraded the gfx because my 8800gts died). I built that in July of 2007 and I still see no reason to start a new build just yet. It can handle crysis ok and I expect Battlefield 3 might make it chug a little but it should run ok. Maybe in a year I’ll build something new just for the hell of it.

  23. Cunzy1 1 says:

    What the consoles lack in graphics and diversity of games used to be offset or balanced by usability and provided more social offline gaming experiences.

    People here may not have problems with usability issues but I suspect for the average person who might want to play a game fucking about with upgrade and patches and messing around with settings is prohibitive and frustrating. Of course now the HD consoles provide an almost equal amount of patching, upgrading and downloading, usability issues are less of an issue for PC game but certainly more of an issue for wider gaming.

    As for widening the appeal of games, consoles, particularly the Wii continue to be comparatively nice, easy experiences. You can buy a game, stick it in and within minutes be playing a game on the TV in the living room. PC games still have to shrug off the anti-social desk in a corner perception.

    Obviously, I write the above with caveats galore- what counts as ‘PC gaming’, how social is online gaming etc.

    • skinlo says:

      What wrong with being anti social? :(

      I’d say Steam is just as easy to use as Xbox Live or whatever. Certainly less menus you have to constantly wade through. Most people I know with Wii’s nearly never touch them any more, they are just collecting dust underneath the shelf.

    • Cunzy1 1 says:

      There’s nothing wrong with being anti social at all! Yes, I’m sure there are a lot of “Wiis gathering dust” but that’s a wider problem with how the games industry runs its business and I’m sure there are a gazillion PCs that only run minesweeper, solitaire and Zynga games.
      I guess what I was getting at is that although it doesn’t look like it to anyone who every took a business 101 class, most game companies are supposed to be making a profit by selling a product to a market. The success of a game will be determined by the cost, availability, appeal, product awareness, usability, quality and other factors (including the game’s title and even the box art).
      This is why there aren’t more whizz-bang PC games because they are demanding, expensive, hard to explain, normally piss-poorly marketed and poorly supported beyond launch week. Also, from comments on RPS, particularly bargain bin, over the years PC gamers are very discerning and won’t pay a dollar more than they absolutely have to if a game isn’t looking utterly flawless and sometimes even when it is. Crysis is often cited in these musings and that didn’t exactly set the world on fire commercially. UPDATE: Total lies but it was a slow burner and wouldn’t have done as well had it not been continually pushed and supported between 2007-2010.

      The returns for super performing games are diminishing even if developers work effectively. On the other hand, cheap, easy to understand virally marketed and addictive games are everywhere even if the actual game is poor.

    • skinlo says:

      I do agree with you, obviously companies will go for the biggest market, and that market is the console games one. People will high end PC’s make up a very small amount of the gaming market. I just wish they didn’t =/

    • Cunzy1 1 says:

      Well there’s always the modding community who don’t pander to market dynamics but I agree with you. It is a shame there aren’t more philanthropic, avant-garde developers who don’t care about profit margins but do it for the sake of the form.

  24. Milky1985 says:

    So wait ,epic games actually care about PCs again now after snubbing them for the past few years?

    lets just wait until cliff belinski opens his mouth again, am sure he will have something to say about the PC as a platform :p

  25. AttackOfTheThumbs says:

    “We’re at the stage in the life of the consoles where the PC has shot by them in terms of capabilities.”
    This is a brand new quote? Reads a couple of years old to me.
    When the 360 and PS3 launched they were already having issues keeping up with PC tech. They can’t even reliably do 720p, most games are below that. The good games at 1080p can typically be counted with two hands. People were playing at higher resolution than that on PCs in 2005/06 when they released. Bang for buck you couldn’t beat them, though you get close with the PS3 considering the price.
    Now beating a console price isn’t too hard at all… it’s just that 100 for Windows that ups the cost.

  26. Tams80 says:

    Here’s a probably unoriginal, unworkable idea:

    Make games that cater to higher end PCs now and let PC gamers have them now. When the consoles eventually upgrade to being able to play them, port them over and then make the majority of the money. Us PC gamers can of course then sit on our high horse (never have more than one horse) and say “O. that game was great back in 2012, but we’ve so moved on. Just look at Crysis 6!” These console players won’t care and everybody wins.

    This of course ignores the fact that using newer tech makes games harder and more expensive to make and takes far longer.

  27. Gabbo says:

    “you can put enough hardware in a PC to show you what a future console will look like.”
    Nothing new or surprising but that line is not how I’d like any developer; large or small, to look at the PC.

  28. Retribution says:

    I seem to remember Mr. Mark singing PC’s swan-song at the beginning of the generation, what with all the Xbox and Manshoot of War hype about

  29. Text_Fish says:

    Dear Mark Rein,

    Please remain seated in the hole you’ve dug yourself, pushing out profitable AAA garbage for the casual gamers. We don’t need your games or your opinions.

    Yours sincerely,

    Joe
    (Somebody who didn’t give up on PC gaming when the going got tough)

    • Daryl says:

      Agreed. Until Epic pulls their heads out of their asses and gives us a proper, PC-based UT game, I could care less what they have to say. Of course, we all know that won’t happen, so they can pretty much go to hell (yes I am still angry over UT3).

  30. jonfitt says:

    The only console-only titles I think the PC is missing are Red Dead Redemption (imagine that with mods!), and LA Noire. Both of which I believe are coming soon.

  31. mrt181 says:

    He must have had a visit by Captain Obvious who explained to him the pc-console hardware cycle. Sure, Rein must be impressed by this wisdom.

  32. UK_John says:

    The future for PC gamers is now decidedly Europe. From America we get HALO, from Europe we get STALKER, from America we get Mass Effect, Alpha Protocol and Borderlands, from Europe we get Gothic, Risen and The Witcher.

    We are currently going through a period, where because of The Witcher 2, gamers and the industry alike are re-evaluating roleplaying. Similar to what happened with Baldur’s Gate, except now it’s a European publisher.

    With European titles being able to come to market with development spends of $10-15 million, half of that of the big U.S. companies, they are able to attack those niche markets one by one. While I expect in 2011 that Skyrim will sell 5-7 million worldwide on PC, 360 and PS3, I expect that the European cRPG’s released in 2011, The Witcher 2, Two Worlds II, Divine Divinity 2, Risen 2, Drakensang The River of Time, the Two Worlds II expansion and The Witcher 2 expansion will, between them sell about 15 million units worldwide between them. All these European titles combined will come to market at just about three times the cost of the sole Skyrim.

    With every rising costs (of about 20% a year) the major U.S. companies are pricing themselves out of the market. They have to produce such generic product to appeal to the widest market, they actually struggle more any more selling to any market. The European companies can be much more precise. For example, making decent profits from 2-3 million selling PC only titles.

    Add to this the ever growing, more professional indie market, and the major publishers are being squeezed. Unless they find a way to bring games to market for $10 rather than $20 million and go after those niche genres (and there is an argument that gamers won’t let them!) there is no long-term hope for them.

    By having a 7-10 year gap between consoles, the manufacturers have let the genie out of the bottle. Gamers today have been weaned off ever and ever better graphic as new consoles come out every three years, as was the past, and no want gameplay quality. It is for this reason that currently around 80% of all AAA titles from U.S. major publishers lose money.

    We are at a crossroads for the major publishers. If the status quo remains, there will be no new consoles, and only AA gaming on PC from European and Indie companies and Sony Arcade and X-Box Live download markets for the consoles, with an ever expanding Steam, GOG and D2D etc, selling retro PC and console titles.

  33. Dances to Podcasts says:

    I think the PC Exclusive idea is quite funny. Who is paying these people to only release for PC?

  34. rocketman71 says:

    So, Epic douchebag #2 wants back into the PC club?.

    Fuck you, Mark. We remember what you said. We remember what Cliffy said. And we remember what you both did in the last 5 years.

    You’re not getting a fucking dime from me. Go away. But keep maintaining the Unreal Engine for PC.

    Oh, and shut up.

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