To: The Game Industry
From: Gen Katz, Editor
Topic: Is the PC Platform Passe?
Date: Feb 2004

We review lots of games in many different platforms. In the past we have been PC boosters. Better graphics, in depth stories, even ease of internet connections. But now, the number of games on the consoles is outpacing the ones on the PC. It is only the occasional edutainment game like Zoombini, simulations such as Sims games or the in-depth wander and story telling adventures like Syberia or URU that don't get ported to the consoles. They are the slower paced games in which speed and manipulation are not the first order. Most of these type of games are still the bedrock of PC games. Will they be ported - very likely yes.

Installing games on a PC is beginning to feel like an arcane, tedious and often a frustrating process. We install a lot of them and roughly one out of every four presents some problem. Besides changing settings and leaving game detritus around, we have the partial and total crash, the sound problems, and then finally, simply, not running. We have technical know how and multiple machines. I can only sympathize with casual gamers.

How many read the small print on the bottom of the box? Consider these requirements:

  • Pentium with 750 MHz
  • CD-ROM 8x speed
  • Video card DirectX 8.1 compatible 64 MB GeForce2
  • Ram 128 MB or more
  • Hard drive space - 1.7 GB free space with additional for saved games
  • Plus "DirectX may require the 'latest drivers' for your particular hardware"

Now compare that with simply inserting a disk or cartridge into a slot. Plus, with the consoles, I don't have to go through uninstall or reinstall if I want to replay a game.

So why haven't some of these PC-type games moved onto the consoles. Cost is one factor, both in licensing and final sales price. Console games are almost twice the price of PC games. Forty dollars is a lot for a kid's game. The other problem is trying to convince game designers that they don't have to use all the buttons - just because they have them. Think of a skilled painter who doesn't have to use every color in his palette. Multiple button combos only get in the way of the story and sometimes even the action.

But still, the pleasure of gaming through the back story instead of its being presented through introductory cut scenes; the ease of peer to peer playing, the ability to add onto the game, the keyboard that makes educational games possible is not in the console repertory. And so, there's still life in the old PC.