May 20 2016

PC vs Consoles: Part 2

This is a part 2 to my previous article on PC vs PS4. You can read the original article here.

We all know that PCs are more powerful than consoles but the key word here is optimisation. Optimisation is the process of checking and altering a game to ensure it runs on a certain platform as expected. This costs the developers and publishers a good chunk of their budget by having to run test after test ensuring each stage of the developed game works on different hardware, and its easier to optimise for two consoles, the Xbox One and the PS4 than rather a million combinations of components. If games were only ever created and optimised for consoles, it would quite frankly save developers time and money, hopefully invested back into making the game even better.

Optimisation can make games play and look just as good on a console as they do on a PC. The only games that make the most of any hardware are the triple A titles which requires a greater amount of optimisation, otherwise for any indie/small games, the games are usually underpowered on both console and PC. Some say that consoles do hold the graphics of the PC back, but I feel that rather than constantly upgrade a machine every year to play the latest games, I prefer the ecological and financial argument of using the same machine for at least 5 years, which shows the creativity and ingenuity of engineers and designers at the end of a console’s life cycle when the games are pushing the boundaries, all thanks to optimisation.

Even though we may think that PCs don’t need much optimization as they’re so powerful that they can handle any process pushed down the pipeline, different manufacturer and different gen cards behave differently to each other due to layouts, etc and something like the GTX 970 which has the 0.5gb of vram with slower bus speeds than the rest of 3.5gb vram, has to be optimized so that only slower processes are put into this smaller and slower vram rather than just dump all the processes into one 4gb chunk which most other modern graphic cards have. Thanks to this issue with the GTX 970, it basically makes it its own console that has to be optimised one way, then all the other cards have to be optimised by the other.

A good example of why it’s important to optimise is if we were to take the porting of Batman: Arkham Knight from the consoles to the PC. Warner Bros and Rocksteady did drop the ball with the porting, allowing a smaller studio to handle the port (which happens all the time in the industry), but without properly checking and the small time scale they had, the game was released in a broken state before it was even ready for the PC market with a game that severely stuttered, raising a massive stink in the gaming community and losing a huge amount of money on all the refunds they had to issue via Steam. They then had to take down the game from Steam, taking a few weeks to re-release it to a degree were it did finally work but only on single graphic cards and dropped all support of SLI. Again, kicking up another stink in the community, mainly due to pc gamer’s expectations in this day n age.

Also with PC, we all know prices of games drop quicker than they do on consoles. Whereas Sony and Microsoft can monitor prices via their own marketplaces, prices on PC are more sporadic with G2A and CDKeys selling a load of codes cheap. I’m sure developers, publishers and distributors are now aware of this, just like CD Projekt RED who had to really push after the months of release of The Witcher 3, to keep the price of the game on PC as high as possible rather than being instantly devalued (if anyone remembers their issue with greenman gaming who were trying to sell the game £10 below the recommended retail price on release).

So overall on a development and profits bases, it’s easier to build and optimize a game for 2 consoles with strict market sales than for a pc platform that is too customised and with no control over the market.

Warner Bros after all the trouble they’ve been through recently with Arkham Knight, have seen in a better light the advantages and disadvantages of PC gaming, and have considered it that it’s not worth it. That’s why their next game release, a HD remaster of Batman Arkham Asylum and Arkham City are only going to be released on current-gen consoles. They’re entirely skipping on the PC and I understand why. Games are still beautiful on the PS4, I don’t think the PC can really do any further justice to the graphics that are already at 1080p, which is what I would only be ever to play at on a GTX 970 that has cost me an arm and a leg and has yet to make me feel that I’ve made a return on investment yet, whilst the simplicity of the PS4 makes me and Warner Bros just love using it.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.thelategamer.com/blog/pc-vs-consoles-part-2/

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