I'm using my official PS3 butt plug right now!
Every week or so, someone in the gaming media feels the need to mention that PC gaming is dead. PC gaming being dead is a horse, also dead, which the media can't seem to stop beating. It's not surprising, then, that CNet is running a story saying that PC gaming is dead. What is surprising is that the basis for this particular declaration is not declining sales figures, developers jumping ship or the difficulty getting a game to actually run (or even install) because of increasingly consumer-hostile "copy protection." Instead, it's based on previews of the next-gen consoles at E3. Golly Beav, those pre-rendered demo videos look awesome! It's so powerful it will replace your PC! And the Emotion Engine will usher in a new golden age of gaming with AI so realistic you won't be able to tell which opponents are real people and which ones are bots!
Wait, that was the E3 hype about the PS2. But I'm sure it'll all come true this time! This time they're calling it the Cell Processor--if that isn't high tech sounding I don't know what is!
In the warzone that is E3, the first casualty is the truth.
PC gaming sucks, no question. Every game is either a FPS, RTS or MMORPG. Or the Sims. But what does the PC actually have that consoles don't? They both can have a hard drive, they both have online play, and they're both less innovative than the Nintendo DS.
All PC gaming has--other than legions of Minesweeper and Solitaire players and a hardened corps of zealots whose superiority complex is big enough to house the population of Mexico--is the mouse. Without the mouse you have no RTSs (not that that would be bad) and you have really shitty FPS controls. But ever since Halo showed that shitty controls will be overlooked if the game is fun, more and more FPSs are making the jump to the profitable side of the platform war. What will really put the final screw in the PC case is if mouse/keyboard setups for consoles, or a more sofa-friendly facsimile, become widespread.
Of course, the original selling point for PC games, the massive extant install base, hasn't gone away. The problem is that the PCs most games are written for are not the PCs most people have. You don't need a 3GHz processor or a 512MB videocard to do anything except play the latest games. Certainly, there is no reason for anyone other than the elitist hardcore PC gamer to spend more than $1000 on a new PC. So, obviously, the first thing PC gaming needs is to get off the upgrade carousel and make games that will run on the lower-end PCs people are actually buying. And it wouldn't hurt if they'd make something that isn't Yet Another WWII Shooter or OB/GYN Tycoon or Warcraft With Tanks.
But what the PC really needs is for someone to go around making stupid promises at E3. Someone like Peter Molyneux, only instead of just lying about his own games he can lie about PC gaming in general. He could say things like: "By Christmas, every household in America will have a 10GHz computer." "The next PC will run every game ever made for any system, even cartridge-based systems like Intellivision." "The next PC will have fully functional artificial intelligence, and will learn from your gaming style in every game you play, providing you with the most personalized gaming experience ever. It will always let you win without letting you know it's going easy on you." "Everything will be massively multiplayer with realistic physics. Even Bejewelled."
There's a definite hype-gap between the consoles and the PC. Maybe because console-gamers are dumb enough to play crap like Driv3r if Atari buys enough good reviews. But maybe it's because there's no counterspin to maintain the hype-balance. People hear from one side that the XBox 360 will jerk them off while they play DOA Xtreme Beach Volleyball 2, and from the other side there's Intel saying that a larger level 2 cache will result in a 2-3% speed increase in some applications. You can't fight lies with logic--look at religion. If you're competing for mindshare with someone offering eternal salvation, then you'd better offer eternal salvation and a guardian angel, because the cold hard truth about the meaninglessness of existence will not close the deal.
There needs to be a PC gaming advocate so that when Sony says "the PS3 will let you do most of what you currently do on a PC, plus record your favourite shows and bake you a delicious pie" the PC Advocate can say "The next generation of PCs will wirelessly integrate with every electronic device you own, from your Tivo to your alarm clock to your car stereo, and stream media of every sort anywhere you want it, before you even realize you want it." It doesn't have to be true. Lord knows 95% of what the console salesweasels tell you is crap. Remember hearing how Saddam Hussein bought 4000 PS2s to use for vehicle guidance systems? I guess he must've stored them with the rest of his WMDs, in Fantasy Land.
Or maybe what you need are some pointed questions about the reality of the console hypists' claims. Sure, the next console will replace your PC.... So can you print with it? Run iTunes or the latest P2P porn-appropriation program? How about burning DVDs? I'll have my vasectomy reversed and become a Mormon if the XBox 360 ships with a DVD burner.
Today's fan filler was provided by loyal rape-joke enthusiast Dru. Thank you Dru, for saying what we're all thinking.