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Is The PC Still The Home Of The FPS?

We issue a formal RPS Yay to id's Tim Willits, and a stern RPS Boo to Microsoft's Kudo Tsunoda, with regard toward attitudes to the thriving PC gaming market. Tsunoda made the rather unsubstantiated claim to Game Informer a couple of days ago that "hardly anyone plays first person shooters on the PC any more." Today Willits told Eurogamer that the PC was still the best place to play the FPS, saying, "In my opinion the PC will always be the core of the gaming industry - it is the timeless stable platform that as developers we will always be able to rely on."

Tsunoda's comments are peculiar, in the face of the popularity of everything from Team Fortress 2 to Modern Warfare 2, Counter-Strike to Battlefield: Bad Company 2, Left 4 Dead to ArmA 2. His logic is, apparently, that Halo was popular on the 360. Of course, games like MW2 sold massively better on the consoles, but MW2 is not equal to all FPS. Take a look at Steam's stats to see the hundreds of thousands of people playing FPS games at any time.

Of course, Tsunoda's comments need to be understood in context: he was hawking Kinect - an exclusive Microsoft Xbox 360 platform. As self-defeating as it may seem, Microsoft really do seem to see game promotion as the exclusive domain of the 360, with the PC left with the horror of Games For Windows Live, despite a near total platform dominance by the megacorp.

Willits' comments, made to EG this morning, give a very different impression. id, of course, built their company on the PC, and were relatively late to embrace the consoles. And certainly, with people like John Carmack working for the company, they're aware that the PC is always a significant technological step ahead of its plastic-boxed cousins.

"The PC is still a very viable platform for not only FPS games but also all other genres," he told the site. "In my opinion the PC will always be the core of the gaming industry - it is the timeless stable platform that as developers we will always be able to rely on. Unlike consoles, the PC doesn't disappear because one company decided it wasn't profitable or decided to make a new version. The PC platform is always evolving but staying stable."

There's obviously no sensible argument to suggest that the analogue controls of a console - while now a very viable way to play and FPS - can match the mouse for accuracy. Willits agrees:

"The FPS genre is still great on the PC, the input controllers are very responsive, the keyboard allows many more choices and options, and the social networking of the PC allows you to reach out and play with your friends much easier than any of the consoles. Plus, as any hardcore FPS gamer will tell you, the mouse is still the best device for aiming."

So how about you? There's no question that the FPS has become an enormously popular format on the consoles, and certainly their market dominance on the PC is a thing of the past. As RPG and RTS dominate PC gaming, the 360 and PS3 certainly have claim for the FPS as their strongest sales. But does this equate to strongest performance? As the consoles reach the grand old age of five, the PC continues to take vast technological strides. Where do you prefer to play your FPS games? Does the precision of the mouse outmatch the simplicity of online gaming of the consoles? Or do you find the controller is now your preferred method of sniping?

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John Walker


Once one of the original co-founders of Rock Paper Shotgun, we killed John out of jealousy. He now runs buried-treasure.org