PC Gaming: E3’s Dirty Little Secret

It’s a bit odd to cover E3 with a PC-focused slant. Initially, I felt horrifically out of place roaming the LA Convention Center’s banner-plastered halls. The Kratoses and Master Chiefs of the world leered at me from their billowing sky perches, and I longed for the warm embrace of, say, a game about embracing people – as Rambo. Xbox controllers and PlayStation pads contorted showgoers’ hands into unnatural, vice-like claws, and I could only grasp feebly for a mouse that failed to materialize.

But, after the initial explosion of senses-overwhelming glitz and glamour, I started taking stock of the show’s inner workings. And you know what? Turns out, this is a PC gaming event – perhaps moreso than anything else.

Did you know that nearly every multiplatform game demoed at E3 – especially during press conferences – is running on PC? I’ve asked, and so far, I’ve yet to get a “no.” Watch Dogs, Splinter Cell: Blacklist, Far Cry 3, Metro: Last Light, Medal of Honor, Battlefield, Crysis 3, etc, etc.  Here’s the weird thing, though: no one talks about it. Presenters mainly brandish Xbox pads as their weapons of choice, and viewers – unless gifted with Thundercats-esque sight beyond sight – are none the wiser.

It is, to be perfectly honest, fairly, well, dishonest. Demoing your game on PC is the new CG trailer. Once again, these demos aren’t representative of what console players will be seeing, but oooo, look at the pretty particle effects, perfect frame rate, individually rendered hair follicles, and no aliasing anywhere ever. Is it sketchy? Absolutely. But PC hardware’s so advanced that I almost find it funny when people at these events complain about the lack of a “next generation.” Look in front of you. It’s already here.

And then we get to the game lineups. What do Far Cry 3, Metro: Last Light, Battlefield 3, Crysis 3, The Elder Scrolls, Dust 514, Hitman: Absolution, Max Payne 3, Call of Duty, and a billion or so other heavy hitters have in common? They all got their start on PC. Moreover, many of them – Far Cry, Metro, and The Elder Scrolls, especially – initially fell into the “ambitious to the point of jankiness, yet lovable for that precise reason” category.

It’s interesting, then – if not always encouraging – to watch how these franchises get molded by “wider audiences” and, in turn, shape those players’ tastes. Skyrim, for instance, was (in some cases, unforgivably) glitchy, but many of those lumpy clumps of code ended up endearing Bethesda’s opus to players even more. The notorious basket glitch and giants’ penchant for sending slain foes into geosynchronous orbit spawned countless YouTube videos. One might accuse The Elder Scrolls’ lore of lacking personality, but its world has it in spades – warts and all.

Less encouragingly, Metro’s flawed-yet-fascinating bullet economy is getting polished right out of existence in the name of faster action, and I worry that much of its trademark quirkiness won’t survive the harried tunnel flight to accessibility land. Far Cry 3, meanwhile, remains ambitious, but more from a conceptual standpoint than a structural one. So these things run quite a gamut. To write it all off as “dumbing down” PC games, however, would be a knee-jerk blanket statement that doesn’t even begin to try and really understand the situation. The scenes are mixing, and game design’s evolving in new directions as a result.

Disappointingly, however, newer imports from our multicored shores – for instance, cloud gaming, free-to-play, and wildly inventive indies – are mere whispers next to E3’s figurative cannon that fires guns that fire bows-and-arrows that fire dubstep. Indiecade’s presence is definitely promising, but the bulk of E3 chatter steers clear of the burgeoning booth. From a design and distribution standpoint, E3 remains a worryingly traditional show.

Encouragingly, however, if you ever needed clear proof that PC’s setting the pace, this is it. The hesitance to acknowledge it is mildly insulting at best and majorly dishonest at worst, but it is here. It is, admittedly, an incredible shame that no one’s really pushing this as a reason to grow PC gaming’s mindshare, but then, E3’s a show rooted in the retail scene first and foremost. We dedicated all our bricks, mortar, and cardboard boxes to worthier causes (like fortresses!) years ago. And yet, PC gaming’s still steering this ship. That, I think, is pretty damn cool.

For more E3 diary-ness, go here.


  1. Optimaximal says:

    Hasn’t this always been the case, apart from when talking first-party games and hardware reveals?

    I remember when Doom 3 was first shown at QuakeCon and it was running on two PowerMacs duct-taped together because the OS X OpenGL performance was better at the time. They hid the units in a cupboard and nobody thought to ask to see the hardware, because everyone just assumes it’s going to be a great box of circuitry.

    • povu says:

      I thought developers preferred presenting their games on consoles, since they’re more predictable than a PC, which can have a large variety of hardware/software configurations. The last thing you want is to crash in the middle of a gameplay demo.

      I guess that changed.

      • Kal says:

        Maybe in general, but at a demo, that one PC you’re demoing on doesn’t have a “large variety of hardware/software configurations”. It just has the one, and you can be as confident of your code working on that one config as you would be on any console.

  2. McDan says:

    What? That’s the first I’ve heard about the removal of the bullet economy from the next metro game. That’s a real shame, I thought it was great how (on the harder difficulties anyway) it did force you to think about shooting things and buying bullets. Rather than assuming you’ll find plenty on fallen bodies. Also yay PC’s!

    • AJ_Wings says:

      Actually, 4A haven’t removed the bullet economy. It’s still there just much more balanced. I don’t know why Nathan claims it’s been removed.

      According to some interviews I’ve read, all the systems from Metro 2033 are still pretty much there and they were very upfront about how they were showcasing it on High-end PC hardware since its announcement.

      • Keirley says:

        That’s encouraging to hear, but gosh am I a little bit terrified that Last Light is going to try too hard to capture the Call of Duty market. I’m no COD hater, but what made Metro 2033 great was its unique feel – conserving ammunition, decisions between currency and firepower, gas masks, sneaking past patrols, and a morality system that actually makes a hell of a lot of sense.

        I’d hate to see it turn into just another run-and-gun shooter.

      • Lev Astov says:

        That’s a relief! Nathan had me scared for a minute there. The bullet economy made me really conserve my ammo and be more careful with my shots. It adds a psychological depth that the game would be greatly lacking without.

      • woodsey says:

        I’ll add to the collective sigh of relief. All it needs is to be tuned up a bit.

  3. Njordsk says:

    Until the next-next-gen and so on. It’s always been this way.

  4. Xzi says:

    It’s pretty humorous indeed that the drooling console loyalists can’t tell the difference in graphics quality between the Watch Dogs demo they showed at E3 and the urban settings they’ve seen on the X360/PS3 previously.

    Do they think that they just have super graphics-enhancing HDTVs at these events?

    • thegooseking says:

      I remember, back before it was released on PC, Xbox partisans completely losing their shit over the fact that Alan Wake had barely noticeable elements that weren’t true HD.

      Partly that’s a question of “What did you expect?” like you say. But on the other hand, it is the proverbial molehill of which was made a mountain.

      That said, of course console gamers expect future games to look better than past games, because that’s been exactly the trend since this generation of consoles was released, as it was the trend for every generation before that. There’s no comparing Xbox 360 launch titles with current Xbox 360 titles visually. They’re worlds apart. It’s not like the PC, where better looking games inevitably require better hardware; console development advances by using the existing hardware more efficiently. You can do a lot more optimisation on a console because you don’t have to worry about it working with a range of hardware, so people are always finding new ways to squeeze more juice out of it.

      I suspect that’s reaching its limit now, though, which is why we’re looking at 8th gen consoles. I actually think that’s a bad idea, but that’s another story.

    • Kinth says:

      Thing is the upgrades over the years will probably cost you less than the full console will at release. The PC will also be more powerful than that new console. You can also use a PC for a lot more than you can use a console for.

      Don’t forget all the money you save on games as well. Most PC games are £10 cheaper than their console counter parts and then you have stuff like the steam sales where you can pick up high profile games for £5.

  5. Drayk says:

    That’s it. Strangely reading this article made me take an odd decision.

    I just decided that I won’t buy any of those next gen consoles. I’ll build a proper gaming rig instead. I don’t play on xbox or wii anymore and i play the more action minded games on my tv with a pad already.

    Problem is still that you have to upgrade from time to time but i feel like it’s less often than before.

    • mrwonko says:

      Problem is still that you have to upgrade from time to time but i feel like it’s less often than before.

      Hardly. I’ve upgraded 3.5 years ago and had I forked out more than €65 on a CPU I could probably run just about everything, DX11 aside. As it is there are just a couple of games that are CPU demanding enough to not run smoothly at 1920*1080 for me, like GTA 4, Dead Rising 2 or Achron. You don’t need to upgrade more than once or twice per console generation unless you always need max details from my experience.

      Disclaimer: I’d sure love a better PC though. Just saying that it still pretty much does its job.

      • Xzi says:

        I think that’s what he was saying to begin with. Because of the extended console cycle, you don’t need to upgrade near as often as you did in say, the 90s or early 00s in order to play the newest games.

        Heck, if you’ve got a quad-core CPU and a DX11 compatible card, you’re probably all set to ride it out through the NEXT generation of consoles. And you can build something like that for $700 or less these days.

        • Drayk says:

          Exactly. My pc is more than 4 years old, self builded from scratch for 700€, with keyboard, screen, mouse, everything. I just changed the G card last year and put 1Go RAM more and it still runs games more smoothly than the latest games on my Xbox.

          Granted I play in 1440×900 and can’t play Witcher on very high. But it’s still is beautiful and run at a steady 30+ fps. (except in floatsam but I am bottenecked by my old CPU a dual core 2.6 overclocked to 2.9.)

          I’ll try to keep this computer for at least a year and put some money on the side to build a new one. Would want to build something for around 1000€ Hoping it would get me trough the next cycle.

        • spanner says:

          I would point to the switch away from fixed-function graphics hardware as being more significant than what the consoles are up to in influencing upgrade timing. In the late 90s/early 2000s your ability to run many games full stop depended entirely on whether or not your graphics card had a particular piece of fixed-function capability. In the age of fully programmable shaders that’s not an issue anymore, now it’s a question of how many compute units you have and how efficient they are, and which graphics options you need to enable/disable to reach the required level of performance.

          In short, the need to upgrade used to be driven by not being able to run games at all, and that’s usually no longer the case, even though it still is in many people’s minds.

        • teljuiceme says:

          Not to mention that after upgrading you can sell your old components and earn some of that money back, so that the net cost of your upgraded computer will probably end up being about the same as the next-generation consoles, anyway (and still perform much better). Remember when X360 and PS3 were between $400 and $600 when they were first released? You can obtain much better hardware than the next-generation console can offer at that price. A computer is also much more useful than consoles.

      • MuscleHorse says:

        Agreed. My quad-core CPU is around about 5 years old now and I haven’t upgraded it once. I’ve thrown in a few sticks of ram, upgraded to Win7 and upgraded my video card twice. Everything still runs on max (occasionally medium for stuff like ambient occlusion, but I’m not that bothered). Partly thanks to the slowed consoles generations, PC gaming isn’t nearly as expensive as it is made out to be.

      • gunny1993 says:

        My 500 GBP system 3 years ago kept me going till recently, only thing i upgraded in that time was the GPU for about 100, then i only found problems when BF3 came out and i noticed some bottlenecking due to my daul core.

        • Sparkasaurusmex says:

          Yeah my builds are lasting twice as long lately. I wanted to upgrade after Christmas because it felt like time, but there wasn’t a single game I had to play at medium or low settings, which is usually when I upgrade. So it used to be a yearly thing, but this build is 3 years old and still running new games very well.

      • Kinth says:

        Don’t see why you had a problem with dead rising 2 :S I could run that game on max with a 9800gt and a dual core 2.6ghz processor :S

      • DrGonzo says:

        GTA4 requires a gpu with 2 gigs of ram too. You won’t max it out no matter how powerful your processor if you don’t have that.

    • MSJ says:

      I’ll still buy a console, because I need to play some games that are not on PC.

      Sometimes I feel like I’m the only gamer that care more about games than about the system I’m playing them on.

      • Drayk says:

        It’s not true… I have a wii, a Xbox 360 a vita and a DS. All because of exclusive games.

        Wii for Mario, Zelda and the like; 360 for Fable, FF, GoW, etc… Vita because I need something when I travel and DS because of Solatorobo and Radiant Historia.

        But life is about choices and I’ll make the choice to play on just one system because I don’t like this segregation that makes me buy several devices that take room, gather dust, are anoying to swap and don’t add anything to my gaming experience even with all those shenanigans like the wii controlers or Kinect. PC offers me the largest choice, the best prices, and the most utility. Plus I like my Keyboard and mouse for some genres.

      • Derppy says:

        I hate to have PS3 for exclusives.

        I already have a pretty powerful HTPC for “couch gaming” with a gamepads, It’s far superior to PS3 and I’d rather play every single PS3 game on it.

        When I have to turn on the PS3 to play an exclusive, I curse the game industry because I have to deal with 10 minutes of various updates and agreements to play a game with bad framerate, only because Sony paid the developer some money to keep it exclusive to their inferior system.

        I care more about the games than the system, that’s why I’d want the games to be on the system where they can reach their full potential and give me the best possible experience.

        • grundus says:

          Edit: Oops, totally misread your post.

          I’ve only had a PC since November last year after years of PS3 and Mac ownership, and I switched from PS3 gaming to PC almost exclusively pretty much overnight. However, I still play on my PS3 for Final Fantasy 7 & 8, GT 1-5, MGS1-4, Journey, LBP and a few others. As much as I hate thumbsticks now (and can’t use them for first person manshoots, whereas I was quite good with them back in the day), you have to admit there are some games that just wouldn’t be possible on a keyboard and mouse.

          In short, I won’t be buying a PS4 until some really good exclusives come out. I made the mistake of buying my PS3 near the launch for GT5 which didn’t show up until 2010. I bought it, stuck it in my PS3, and the damn thing YLOD’d two hours later! Still, Uncharted was excellent and I got a lot of enjoyment out of it, but PC gaming is just much more my style (because you can’t get Arma II on a console and triple monitor gaming is much cheaper and easier).

          • Jraptor59 says:

            Curious what games would be worse on a PC because of the mouse and keyboard combination? I have a PS3 and Xbox360 and really miss the mouse and keyboard.

          • PiratePuncher says:

            @JRaptor, racing games are rather rubbish with keyboard and mouse. A controller, or preferably a wheel, is a much better option than a keyboard and mouse setup.

          • 357SIG says:

            @PiratePuncher Very true, which is why I own an Xbox 360 pad which works flawlessly with just about any modern game and a Logitech G27 wheel which, while a little fiddly sometimes is fantastic with racing games. (Gaming on a laptop of all things, man is it powerful! I remember when laptop CPUs were weak, but my mobile i7 sandy bridge is as powerful as a desktop i7 950!)

      • Narzhul says:

        Buying a console just for some exclusives? That’s not caring about systems, that’s more like caring about spending frugally.

        I honestly think they should stop offering exclusives. Timed exclusives maybe, but being exclusive forever is just dumb to me. I’m never gonna buy those consoles for only one or two interesting looking games, and after one or two years of it being released if people haven’t bought it, they probably never will.

      • djbriandamage says:

        I think the system itself is extremely important because it’s designed to fill a specific void. My family doesn’t watch TV and has no TV service subscription. Our PCs are our media hubs and fulfill our needs just fine.

        We have greater need for a flexible, customizable entertainment platform than a fixed-purpose console. If your console doesn’t give you the features you want your only recourse is to buy an additional console that fills the game. On PC you just add a component or install some software.

        I’ve owned almost all the major consoles between NES and PS2 but I’ve always preferred PC by a huge margin. Over a decade ago I decided that any non-PC game may as well not exist because I was through buying crippled computers that can’t be upgraded or reliably maintained.

        I want 100 games installed and ready to go at all times to cater to my every whim. I want to use the controller of my choice, configured to my liking. I want to play games from 4 generations ago with minimal trouble and maximum fidelity. I want to build it with my own two hands and install only the software I approve. I want to hack, crack, mod, make, and break games. I want to extract a funny WAV file and use it as my ringtone. In my nearly 30 years of videogaming only one system has met my needs.

        If you enjoy games, buy consoles. If you love games, PC is the only choice.

      • Highstorm says:

        I have all of the current gen consoles, bought for the same reasons – exclusives. Sure there were some fun times, but largely those expensive machines just collect dust now. I’ve grown tired of a lot of the platform-exclusive franchises and much prefer to be playing my games on the PC where there’s not just higher fidelity, but also a much larger selection of games.

        In hindsight I wish I’d saved all that console money and been able to spend it on more PC parts.

    • MordeaniisChaos says:

      As long as you don’t go for the absolute cheapest rig, you won’t need to upgrade very often, and little things like more ram or a better CPU is usually enough to keep you up to date. And occasionally getting a nice new video card, but that can be really spaced out depending on how much better you want your games to look than 360. I’m running a 5770 with 2 GB of ram and a 1.9ghz core 2 duo. It’s not a powerful machine, but I run most of my games well enough at 1920×1200. It’s two years old, and I haven’t upgraded anything except for getting a new hard drive.
      That said, I am going to be upgrading very soon as I just got my first job, and the rig I have set out to buy is a couple grand not including the $500 I’ll be spending on headphones+amps or the money I’ll eventually spend on a fancy Dell 24″ monitor. My current rig is finally starting to have issues with the occasional game, but I played the BF3 Beta and was able to run it decently at medium settings. The only game that really struggles is Witcher 2, which is very poorly optimized. If you get a 670 (and equivilant components) it’ll last you fuckin forever man. And eventually you’ll just be able to SLI it pretty easily and by the time you need to, the Kepler cards will be super cheap. Cheaper than a just released console, and you could easily get a generation out of one of those cards because console games, like it or not, drive most of the engine development and that means the games will always be designed for the generation of cards that was out a bit before the console came out. Albeit probably a souped up version.

    • michaelfeb16 says:

      That is part of the real beauty of playing on the PC.

      You choose when to upgrade. Satisfied with low end graphics? You can make a good card last as long as the consoles do (and often longer). Want a visual or frame rate upgrade? You can do so whenever you want; there is no waiting for the “next generation”.

    • Gnoupi says:

      It is less often than before, and that’s probably a side effect from console gaming being such a success. There are not many PC games which came with an amazing and demanding new engine. A large chunk of them used the Unreal Engine 3, which is scaled according to the current generation of consoles. Others were mostly aligned to consoles, being multi-platform.

      We even reached the point where you had a large amount of people complaining about games being made for DirectX 10-11, seeing it as a problem more than an achievement. We are getting far from the early 3D days, with the rush for the new technology, the always faster GPUs.

      Not saying that this is necessarily a bad thing. I’m personally not really running after realistic graphics, so that saves me from upgrading. But for sure consoles had a large role in it.

      • MajorManiac says:

        Yes. There is no doubt that the quality of PC gaming has greatly suffered by being made to fit console hardware (the sudden shrinking of game levels being one example).

        But its also come with a wonderful pay-off. I probably spend half of the money I used to on upgrades, and have far less hassle with dodgy frame-rates.

    • InternetBatman says:

      My interest in buying a next gen console went out the window with my interest in WiiU. Nintendo offers such a large number of quality exclusives that they’re the most tempting to me. I’m just not interested in a half-hearted dual analog machine that’s going to get half as much support as everyone else, including the PC.

  6. Secundus says:

    this is some sonydefenseforce console warrior garbage, nathan. who cares?

    • RvLeshrac says:

      How is pointing out that most of the software shown at the shown, including many console-exclusives, is run on PCs, not the consoles they advertise, “sonydefenseforce bullshit”?

    • Quarex says:

      No. It is presenting the facts that E3 wants to ignore. This is not like saying “Sony and Microsoft sucked at E3, it was all Nintendo!” it is more like saying “did anyone else wonder why everyone at the vegetarian conference was wearing leather and eating beef jerky?”

      • Secundus says:

        who cares? do you really think that the highly scripted pretend gameplay in watchdogs running on pc instead of 360 means anything?

        • deke913 says:

          If you purchased a Porsche online with your hard earned money, and when it was delivered got a 68′ Volkswagon you would understand perhaps.

        • Jraptor59 says:

          It’s called deception. People see the graphics and think it represents their console, then buy that game and wonder why it looks bad.

  7. Garmr says:

    I feel a little sad due to all the gamefication in accessibility land. I want to be left with the feeling as if I’ve been slapped in the face with a trout when I do something idiotic, instead of being guided across my pixellated landscapes by the smooth hand of the game designer. I dearly hope Far cry 3 won’t fall into that grave. But jay for the Pc

  8. Muzman says:

    What it means is as soon as the next gen comes along we can expect developers to start decrying the PC as a piracy filled cesspit they’d just as soon be out of and consoles are the future, like it’s 2001 again.
    We can spin them around and try and point out the money Brain Slug that’s doing the talking, but they will deny it as a some sort of squishy fashion item. Which, in a way, it is.

  9. MaXimillion says:

    I’ve been enjoying the Planetside 2 streams from E3. A great looking PC-only title with AAA production values, I feel Sony missed a chance of getting some great PR when they decided not to show it during their press conference.

    • Njordsk says:

      Did they finally annouce a release date or some beta news?

      • MaXimillion says:

        Beta is supposed to start soon, they’re giving out keys at E3 and have a beta signup on their website.

        • Xzi says:

          They’ve had the sign-up on their website for months, though. I put in my “priority beta access” key from April’s issue of PC Gamer. I’m beginning to think that priority access won’t even start until sometime this Fall. Getting a bit antsy, quite frankly.


          • Reefpirate says:

            There really does seem to be a lot of encouragement at E3 for this game and its beta. “Within a few weeks” and “in the next COUPLE weeks” are quotes uttered by two separate devs on the game for when the Beta starts.

  10. gunny1993 says:

    Sounds like advertising to me, show something at its absolute best rather than what the average person can expect.

  11. Jamesworkshop says:

    Star wars 1313 was the only one I remember talking about being on PC, Since it was made directly with Nvidia they probably had to, shame you missed that one.

    link to cdn.ientry.com

    Most next gen talkings are held back as sony/soft aren’t talking about their new machines and the whole idea of “Next gen” is not a fitting term on the PC side of things.

    Stage presence I would be very impressed to see someone stand up with a keyboard, mouse and mouse mat (That would be quite a talent)

    Maybe we could take the silence as a sign that maybe the PC doesn’t really need all the flimflam, the hardware side of consoles that push their machines to the forefront is very different from an Intel, Nvidia and AMD perspective where exclusivity is maybe a slightly different shader based AA solution.

    I think it’s those guys that need convincing (Intel certainly has the money for an E3 appearance) we fall into the gap of hardware and software having little to do with each other.

    A 3rd party buttering up to Sony/Soft get rewarded, It has real benefits whereas saying

    “Hi this is the PC version”

    has no direct financial incentive like licencing deals.

    Looking at it another way look at the new nintendo machine, AMD graphics, IBM PowerPC cpu. (Like the last 2 machines)
    At the heart of every console box is PC silicon on a bespoke motherboard.

  12. phenom_x8 says:

    Just read this :
    link to pcgamer.com

    It’s make me drops my tear. Such a perfect PC game conference!!!
    I hope you make it true at REZZED, RPS!

  13. SiHy_ says:

    I blame the government.
    Seriously though, I am a bit sick of having this conversation:
    Person: So you play video games?
    Me: Yes I do.
    Person: What console have you got?
    Me: I play on a PC.
    Person: Oh so you play World of Warcraft then?

    I’ve got nothing against WoW (can’t say I’ve ever played it but each to their own) however it seems that it’s the only game people relate to the PC. The lack of PC gaming popularity amongst the majority means that I’ve been ostracised from my real life friends when it comes to computer games as they all own consoles. What a shame.

    • MordeaniisChaos says:

      I’ve never had that conversation. Many of the popular games are on PC.
      But then, I’m also not a true PC gamer because I just like /video games/. So maybe that helps me. Still, my focus is almost entirely on PC and I never put up with uneducated stuff like that.

    • michaelfeb16 says:

      I can sympathize; I’ve had that same conversation a hundred times over.

    • Xardas Kane says:

      I am from Bulgaria. PC is king there. For the past two years I’ve been in Germany. PC is king here.

      In conclusion, never had that conversation.

      • Brun says:

        PCs do seem to have a bigger footprint in Europe than in the United States, where consoles have long been king.

    • YourMessageHere says:

      Perhaps talking to people who aren’t arseholes might be a solution?

  14. MSJ says:

    There is actually a feeling from all gamers lately that none of the publishers really care about making big announcements at E3. Giant, earth-shattering announcements or new entries into beloved franchises are few and far between. Heck, even some stuff people want to hear are not mentioned in the main events (examples: a new Fire Emblem was not mentioned at all by Nintendo except via Twitter and apparently Sony has 25 new Vita titles they neglected to promote). They apparently now prefer to do announcements at their own events. To quote another message board:

    “Megatons and surprise announcements simply aren’t what these companies care about because there’s no real benefit outside of a few weeks of message boards kudos for every company to throw out new (and possibly unfinished) stuff out into a crowded competition for mindshare with every other company. Hence, why more and more stuff gets announced at individual company events or just when they’re ready to show it.

    You can announce a project that won’t come out for 2 years and make people fatigued of it and possibly get overshadowed by the 100 other games announced, or you can announce it 6-9 months (or less) before release at a special press event just for it. “

    • Xardas Kane says:

      What makes this even more amusing is that basically on the Spike VGA awards each year we get more announcements than on E3. One has to wonder what’s going on here.

  15. Maldomel says:

    There is truth in those words, and while it’s good that PC gaming is still defining lots of stuff in the industry, and that in term of graphic quality it is still and always light years ahead of what consoles can do, I’m nodding my head from left to right in disappointment when I see that consoles are still considered as THE thing to develop for.
    I like consoles too, but damn, why is computer gaming the poor man here? We have the tech, we have the games, and yet we are getting fucked over tons of stuff, all in the name of so-called accessibility.
    Why make compromises everywhere and align our games on consoles when we are starting it all?
    Why do we have to do with (often) bad ports, or delayed releases compared to gaming boxes for tv?

    • YourMessageHere says:

      I believe the thinking goes:

      Consoles = control of whole game experience
      control = security of game experience
      security = reliability of game working as intended
      reliability = trust in dev/publisher/console
      trust = sales of above products
      sales = profit

      thus, consoles = profit!

      PC = no control
      no control = no security
      no security = no reliability
      no reliability = no trust
      no trust = no sales
      no sales = no profit

      thus, Steam is just a bad dream.

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  17. Sheps says:

    Speaking of consoles dumbing down PC games, I’ll never forgive “next gen” consoles for taking away what was two of my favourite franchises of all time, Ghost Recon and Rainbow Six. I played every iteration of those games with passion, then the 360 came along and replaced my beloved tactical shooters with 3rd person action crap.

    Consoles and piracy on a whole have ruined PC gaming, at least in my opinion. Still have amazing devs out there willing to give PC gaming their best (Creative Assembly, Valve ect) but you have far more companies that either stopped altogether ( Ensemble studios) or that abandoned it’s PC roots and gave us crappy console ports (Red Storm studios).

    • Reefpirate says:

      Piracy happens a lot on consoles too. When I was in university, people used to go down to Chinatown and get special chips implanted in their consoles, then they could buy burned CDs or DVDs for real cheap and play them. They had all the new releases for $5 or less.

  18. Shortwave says:

    /me golf claps

  19. tiedtiger says:

    I suspect what you actually saw were devkits, or the computers used to control devkits.

    You wouldn’t see retail consoles there because they can only run games from retail discs (for copy protection reasons) and they are only produced at scale. So for demos of games you use devkits, which often look a lot like PCs.

    • InventiveDingo says:

      This was more true in the past than it is now. I’ve used current model 360 and PS3 devkits, and they look almost exactly like the retail models.

      Also, y’know, there is the part where he asked the developers if they were running on PCs and they said yes. :)

    • Carter says:

      The 360 and PS3 current devkits look more or less the same as the home consoles, hell the PS3 looks identical except it says ‘Test’ on the side with the same Spider man font

  20. Bishop149 says:

    I have lost count of the number of times I have seen the following on TV:

    Flashy TV advert for game featuring lots of “in-game footage” with tiny writing at bottom of screen that says “Images representative of PC gameplay” only to get to the end of the advert to see a big final screen of the console game boxes, pricing an logos.

    If it wasn’t for that tiny print on the footage they are using to advertise it I wouldn’t even know it was available on the PC.

    I say its false advertising (despite the small print) and shouldn’t be allowed.

  21. outlive says:

    what the article writer does not understand:
    The Development platform for ANY game (with a few exceptions) is PC

    even if you do a console version, you can’t publicly display your project on a development kit.

  22. Fearzone says:

    Current gen consoles are so far behind the times right now that, yeah, there is really no other option than to bring in PCs if they want to show anything advanced in the technology department. It sounds like then they all have to treat consoles in some kind of politically correct affirmative action way, without bringing up the superiority of the PC, such that the gaming masses will still feel good about their extremely dated gaming technology. Cute.

  23. PC-GAMER-4LIFE says:

    PC hardware is a long way ahead but PC game sales are a long way behind (why consoles thrive) few PC games ever hit 7 figures outside of the big names like Half Life, Portal, Diablo, Starcraft etc etc.

    Its nothing to do with DRM thats a load of bollocks as a lot of PC gamers want free games always have always will.Many are happy to pay for expensive hardware but not the games to run on it despite the hardware makers putting little back into PC gaming (apart from Nvidia/Intel).

    PC digital sales already give you almost free games when up to 75% off what more can you expect……

    • Rattlepiece says:

      Loads of PC games sell well! Besides I see a lot of piracy on consoles too. I have friends who exchange pirated games to play on their hacked 360’s.

      Witcher 2 for example just hit 1.7 million sales, on PC alone that is.

      • Brun says:

        His point is that, to a company like Activision, 1.7 million is a laughably small amount.

    • MajorManiac says:

      “…but PC game sales are a long way behind (why consoles thrive)…” – Where have you got this information from?

      I used to work for a global market research company. During the time when ‘experts’ where saying – “PC Gaming is dead” (around 3 years ago), the factual evidence was contrary. I’m out of the loop now, so wonder if the source of information about PC games not selling as well as console ones is now accurate, or still PR hype?

  24. hosndosn says:

    >To write it all off as “dumbing down” PC games, however, would be a knee-jerk blanket statement that doesn’t even begin to try and really understand the situation. The scenes are mixing, and game design’s evolving in new directions as a result.

    Oh, I understand why they’re dumbed down but that doesn’t change the fact that they are.

  25. teknohed says:

    I think that a lot of the “demo on PCs” phenomenon is due to the fact that a lot of these games are going to end up being released on Orbis or Durango which is why the developers are being cagey.

  26. Flappybat says:

    Well is there much surprise that E3 is traditional when it’s all paid for by the big publishers?

  27. InternetBatman says:

    This post is just a little whiny for my tastes. Of course they all run on PC. That’s been true for years and years now. E3 is not about the future of videogames, it’s about branding and marketing. PC isn’t a brand, it’s a piece of equipment. It’s functional, not visually appealing. Why should they show it off?

    Consoles can and should have their own glitzy, fake shows, and PC games also have their own shows.

  28. grtkbrandon says:

    At this point in time, there are very few reasons someone shouldn’t have a computer capable of running most games on some level. Most people have a desktop, no? It doesn’t take as much money or “know-how” to upgrade simple parts as console gamers make it out to be. I recently upgraded my mobo, cpu, ram, and gpu for around $700. Sounds expensive, but the parts I purchased were definitely on the upper end of the price point and performance power. One of my guitar student’s is interested in PC gaming specifically for Skyrim mods. I was able to pick out parts for his 8 year old computer that would run Skryim for $400. That thing is a fossil, relatively speaking, and yet it only cost him around $400 to upgrade. For most people, all it takes is a new video card, as long as your CPU doesn’t bottle neck it, of course. Finally, Newegg is your bestfriend. I have seen great lower end systems sell for about $300 in their open box program. Which can be risky, of course, but the payoff is insane.

  29. pilouuuu says:

    And Star Wars 1313… Wow!
    PC is leading next gen!

  30. TwwIX says:

    I never follow nor do i really give a shit about anything that’s presented at E3. That place has no fucking credibility whatsoever. E3’s nothing more than one gigantic corporate blowjob for the investors and brand fanboys. More than half of the games that were shown don’t even feature actual gameplay footage at all. It’s either cinematics or just one fucking scripted event after another.

  31. MythArcana says:

    So, basically we have a Skyrim addon coming this year…

    Be still my beating heart! Let me put my socks back on after seeing that amazing lineup of PlayNToss games.

  32. pseudoart says:

    Most console games are developed on PCs. Builds of the game are usually being tested, during the development process, on whichever consoles the game is supposed to go out on. This is done to catch anything that might be too performance heavy on the console. However, the fine tuning of memory use and getting rid of performance spikes etc etc is done in the last phase of the project. So, when a game is being demoed at E3, it’s usually an early build that haven’t had all the wrinkles ironed out yet.

    This is why games are being demoed on PCs. On consoles, they’ll run like crap up until the last couple of months. Will devs turn up the quality settings/particle count/etc? I sincerely doubt it. You usually don’t get much time out of the usual production schedule to make a killer build for E3. Any time spend on that, will be changes you will revert later, since the console can’t handle it. You’ll also risk introducing crash bugs, since you are in essence telling the game to do more than it was designed for.

    My source? I work on one of the games mentioned in the post above. ;)

  33. Araxiel says:


  34. El_Emmental says:

    E3 is one of the very few occasion to reach the non-passionates. Passionates check news website at least once a week, they don’t need E3 to learn about a new AAA games.

    To be a PC gamer, you have to be a little “passionate”, so E3 isn’t really necessary for you. The only exceptions are PC players rich enough to get the most expensive rig every 2 years, clicking on “auto” (or everything to the highest setting) in the video settings, and paying the local computer shop for every time something is not working.

    That’s the main reason why the console market is so big and represents much more sales. It’s really a “plug and play” platform.

    If you take a look at Ubisoft, EA and Activision 2010 and 2011 reports, you see that PC sales and revenues are rather low.

    – Ubisoft: the average % the PC sales represents in revenues is around 15%. PS3+360 are at 46%, Wii is at 26%. They do a lot of “family-friendly” games on the Wii.

    – EA: the average % the PC sales represents in terms of revenues is around 20%, PS3+360 are at 50%, Wii is at 7%.

    – Activision: PC revenues average at 7%, subscriptions (MMORPGs) at 30%, PS3+360 at 40%, Wii at 9%.

    This is why E3 is mainly about consoles: it’s an opportunity to reach non-gamers, and it’s about their main revenues source (between 40 and 50 percents).

    Also gamepads are much better for smoother movements, for showcasing the scenery.

    With a mouse as the pointing device, the display would jerk around too much for an audience looking at it on a big screen.

  35. DOLBYdigital says:

    Ahhh how I hate the segregation of gamers with exclusives and separate devices that are all really just PCs with limited functionality…. I had a dream… where all gamers came together and enjoyed all games regardless of platform and control preference… where you could choose what type of game you wanted to play without concern of this platform or that console…. where all gamers just… played and had fun together….

  36. anduin1 says:

    PC Master race domination!!!!