The fireside chat with Michael Dell of Dell Computers was one of the more disappointing events of the Austin Games Conference. Typically, if you've got a good moderator and thought provoking questions, you'll have a great interview. Unfortunately, when the questions are all prepared ahead of time, the interview turns into a press release of sorts. Did any of us really need to know that Michael Dell plays World of Warcraft and prefers the Alliance to the Hoard? I thought not.
The only saving grace was that they decided to open up questions to the audience at the last minute. Supposedly, the Q&A section was in extreme jeopardy up until the last minute and saved the chat from being a complete waste of time.
It seemed like people were somewhat intimidated though because at one point with a crowd of nearly 60 or 70 people, no one wanted to ask a question. So filling the void, I actually got the opportunity to put a few questions out there and he danced around the questions with finesse of a ballet dancer.
The one point he was pretty rough about was how superior Dell's computers are to consoles and even took time to take a punch at the price point of the next generation systems. However, all I could think of was that it's easy to scoff at the $200 wii, $400 X-Box 360, and $600 PS3 - but not when your XPS system is $1,200 to start with. Also, considering how long the next generation consoles will last, you're probably getting a better value than you would with a gaming PC depending on what type of games you play. What do you guys think? Which is the better investment, the PC or the console?
Monetary-wise the console is the better investment, yet emotionally the PC could be if that's where the games you enjoy are to be found. When it comes to myself, in the long run, it's the games that make it a worthwhile investment, yet I can't get there if the system costs too much. Consoles clearly win the cost battle, but do they win the overall war?
We should always remember that you can do a lot of stuff else than playing with a PC. And just don't start with "PS3 is a Blu-ray unit"...
We actually already discussed it here on the forums.
PC. No question about it.
If you're going to consider more than just games, then yes, PC/Mac is my preference too. Much of that owing to variety of purpose and lack of split screen multiplay.
Fifteen years ago, 15 percent of the general population had a PC. Now, that number is close to 100 percent. But PC game developers still seem to aim at only the 15 percent with souped-up PCs. They're missing a whole lot of business there, I think.
Well... this is partially what the casual games market is attempting to do by targeting the whole 100% of the spectrum with a focus on the 85% that don't normally play games.
Yeah, sites like Reflexive bring the games to that remaining 85% and I am sure they make a lot of money doing so, even when most the games aren't even theirs. :)
Anyhow, we did discuss value of computer vs. console before and which was better and no one is going to change anyone's mind. Everyone has their preferences. Personally, considering I already own a PC and I need one for other things than just gaming, it makes more sense to put the $200/$400/$600 into upgrading it if I need to rather than buying a console. Besides, I went and posted a lot of information in the discussion back then that showed how cheap it really is to keep a computer upgraded enough to play even the top games. The initial cost may be high for someone with a cheap computer, but most new computers coming out aren't going to need that much more. And once you have yourself set up to a decent system, keeping it upgraded isn't any more expensive than buying new consoles all the time. And, considering the fact that you can emulate a lot of consoles and handhelds as well as having 100s of times more games than any given console and if you like gamepads, you can still use one.... it's better by far to do that than to use consoles.
Sure, consoles tend to be easier to use and have fewer compatibility issues, but if you keep your computer updated with parts from good companies rather than no-name stuff, you really have few compatibility problems on a computer. In either case, compatibility isn't what we're talking about... we're talking about value. And as far as I'm concerned a PC has a much greater value than a console.
"Sure, consoles tend to be easier to use and have fewer compatibility issues, but if you keep your computer updated with parts from good companies rather than no-name stuff, you really have few compatibility problems on a computer."
I would strongly disagree with that based on past experience. And I'm still rather miffed at all of the trouble I had getting Sim City 4 running (on both Windows and now my Mac), and I still can't get the flippin thing to run full screen. As things stand there's little to no chance I'll go back to computers for gaming...
Well, SC4 was a real memory hog. It was horribly written for the PC. Even on a high end computer, if you have a decent sized city, it is very sluggish. I gave up trying to play that one shortly after getting it. That was really just bad programming rather than compatibility problems, though.
Anyhow, I have a good computer, but it's not top of the line... and I have only had issues playing 3 games (not counting old games that just don't play well on Windows XP). Those include X2: The Threat, Sim City 4, and Darkstar One. And I can play those... they are just slow. Darkstar One isn't even slow very often, but it's noticeable. Of course, I know why it's like that and it's because I have a cheap video card that I got a few years ago and never bothered to update.
Considering how intrusive computer games can be, I prefer to keep them out of the environment where I otherwise work or communicate. And consoles are perfect so-called "casual" games, since they can be played in the sofa or in the bed.
Also, with notebooks replacing stationary computers more and more, developer will be forced to cope with smaller hard drives, slower screens and slower GPUs, because you can't cram a 4x SLI graphics card into a laptop.
I'd hate to disagree with you so openly (playing the Devil's Advocate), but since when have developers -ever- coped with their customer's platforms? Sure some developers try to fashion their games to work across a broad spectrum of configurations, but most if not all of the big-players (id, Valve, EA) almost always push the envelope.
It's always been this way as long as I can remember. The software pushes the hardware, and the end-user needs to either upgrade or deal with it.
Just a thought,
First of all, I was never saying that there was a time when PC developers coped with what hardware the users had. I am saying that they will be forced to cope with it sooner or later, or face being even more marginalised than they are now.
Also, unlike you I remember another time. I bought my first computer in 1992. It was an Amiga 500. It was released five years before that, in 1987, and sold virtually unchanged for five years. Games got better, but the hardware didn't. All I had to do to play all games was to buy a 512 KB memory expansion which even I as a young boy who had never touched a computer before could fit, without even needing a screwdriver.
There is a similarity between the ever more popular laptops and the Amiga 500: Neither computer facilitates thorough expansion by dropping in new graphics cards, motherboards or CPUs.