Home Editorial Gamer Philosophy: XBOX One vs. PS4 vs. PC vs Gamers

We all have our opinions on the matter. XBOX is better than PlayStation is better than PC is better than blah blah blah. While I’ve certainly got my own set of biases, I want to put an idea out there that’s circled teh interwebz since the console “war” began. How about we take each platform on its own merits and simply say that we prefer one over others without all the hissing and clawing?

Where I’m at

Before I try to go the objective, intellectual part of the discussion, I want to get my own prejudices and opinions out of the way. I am first and formost a PC gamer. Not because I don’t care for the consoles, and indeed I still own both of them. I’ve not played either in some months, but not because I don’t think one is inherently better than the other.

The simple fact is: I’m bad on the control sticks. There’s no other real reason. I don’t care about the frames per second debate, or the content recycling, or the digital vs. retail delivery market, or whatever marketing speech people pump out these days. I’m below average at best and terrible at worst on the XBOX and PlayStation, and I do not have fun playing because of it.

Take away the indie gaming scene, the easier patching, the huge F2P market, Steam and Amazon and Greenman Gaming. Take away everything that separates PC from consoles, even graphical fidelity, and I’d still prefer to play with a mouse and keyboard, because I can succeed with it. And I think I’m not the only one who enjoys doing well as opposed to sucking huge ass.

And the main thing is, I’ll probably pick up a PS4 and XBOX One to play the single player exclusives if they catch my fancy enough. The Last of Us won’t be on PC, but it might be the game that makes me get a PS4. If Destiny doesn’t release on PC, I might get for XBOX One to play it with my XBOX friends I’ve neglected for far too long.

Where gamers can be

Let me be clear. I didn’t watch either the Sony or Microsoft reveal light shows, but I will be paying careful attention to their E3 raves. I’ll do it the same way I’ll do it for Blizzard and Ubisoft and Valve and Tripwire and all the developers who have something impressive to show off.

People seem to remember as they trash any and all platforms, we’re in this hobby for the games. I could give a hoot what my GPU’s top clock is, so long as it can play the games I want to play at really pretty resolutions. I don’t care how much RAM the new consoles have, nor do I care how much they’re behind or ahead of the PC. If there are valuable stories to tell in the games on offer, I’m all ears and my wallet is open.

I’m aware of the underhanded tactics publishers are using. I know on some level the abusive tactics Microsoft has planned, if indeed they stick to the course they apparently set during their event. I know Sony is on a warpath to oust both Microsoft and Nintendo as the top console again.* As a member of the gaming community, these things are important to me and important for gamers to talk about. As a guy who loves games and wants to see the medium obtain the same literary legitimacy as books or movings, these things are important to me.

But as someone who plays games as an escape or the only true type of interactive entertainment, I care first and foremost about the games. If they run at 30, 60, 120, or 3000 fps shouldn’t be an issue. Whose paid who money for first dibs shouldn’t matter. Which big celebrity name is attached to what game shouldn’t affect the quality of the story** or the number of people who enjoy and invest themselves in a game.

Where the consoles are going

At their current rate, the console war isn’t going to stop. It raged between gaming communities and now fills the hardware creators to the brim. In the XBOX vs. PlayStation war, the Battle for the Living Room is only just beginning, and the price has never been higher for everyone. Before I begin taking the Jimquisition’s stuff, I’ll say simply that I don’t like the route the big guys are taking. If it doesn’t affect the quality of the games much, then they can go over the brink under the weight of their own greed and short-sightedness.

And I say that because I know in my heart that games, as the next literary form, will survive. Maybe it’s on the PC, maybe it’s with Nintendo or the OUYA or the Steambox or some new contender not yet revealed to us. I think the communities, as disparate and hate filled as they are, are far too large and indebted to games to broach the thought of letting the medium die. There will be chaos, there will be jobs lost, lives and reputations tested, and angry people by the millions.

I think gaming is too big to fall now, and as the future unfolds, we’ll see where the winds take us.

*Nintendo’s stayed fairly well out of the XBOX vs. PlayStation conflict, and while WiiU might not impress, it doesn’t seem to want to compete too much with the Big Arguing Two Headed Giant.

**I’m looking at you Call of Too Much Expense.

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13 replies to this post
  1. The idea of the physical user interface is disappearing. Computer systems that are controlled through our body movements, facial expressions, pupil direction, thoughts and even feelings are beginning to make there way into advanced and military science. If I know my sequence of events in videogame technology evolution the we (as gamers) usually receive any type of advancement either soon after or at the same time as the military. In other words… look grandpa the idea of a mouse and keyboard is already outdated and will soon become obsolete.

  2. Couldn’t agree more with you.
    My main reason to play PC is because of the periphery as well.

    I spent 5 long months in my school time in America, where they still had Dial Up Modems and Roll-Ball-Mice, but everyone had a TV bigger than my living room wall and an XBox (360 was just out )
    So I played a lot of Halo with my American friends, and while after a bit of practice I didn’t suck at it, theres just no denying that Mouse+Keyboard is way more comfortable to use.

    And for the few games who’s developers can’t be bothered to port the console version properly you can still pick up an XBox controler and plug it into your PC’s USB.

  3. Let’s gaze far into a dead future which never lived for a second, one where all physical input devices have been transcended in favour of government spy- I mean, motion detection or above, where YOU are Always-On thanks to biomechanics, that sort of thing. The cycle continues, so be it.

    Assuming that the technology will actually see some proper development and be able to convert your inputs faithfully and accurately, it could succeed. However, it will consume any actual hardcore gaming in the process. Now, I’m not saying that every Kinect user is a middle-aged housewife with three kids, even though they are, but such technology is simply not compatible with what we see as gaming today, that which makes politicians scratch their heads as to how we’re able to input more than ten signals a minute and go back to comparing gaming to certain WW2 forces.

    For instance, take Dark Souls. It’s got many flaws, but through all its artificial difficulty shines one thing: It forces accuracy of button pressing. If you press button A (or maybe rather button B) at precisely the right time and lunar phase, then you’ll succeed and be able to continue, if you don’t, you’ll mess it up and watch your character’s face meet the ground with a giant club to introduce one to another. Success at it means a variety of button presses, all the right ones, all properly timed.

    The Kinect just can’t provide that, even with an upgrade. If we assume that one hand would be used for directions, you’d still have to often input two buttons at once with the other, so good luck building gestures for that.

    It’d be the same problem as is today, without physical feedback you’d have only seeing the result to know whether your gesture was recognised in time. That “in time” is quite a challenge, too, since you’d have to form not only gestures for every necessary input, but they’d have to be recognisable and executable out of one another in a matter of split seconds. Oh, and of course the user has to be able to remember every input. With thirtysomething buttons on a controller plus combinations, that can be hard enough, but now do it with every button replaced by a random gesture. Not too easy, I’d imagine. Granted, I grew up with games controllers, so perhaps the same is true for physical button inputs, but at least those are consistent across games. (i.e. you move the same way to input the same button.)

    And so every actual gamer will have to resort to PC gaming, where mouse and keyboard will prevail, and all shall rejoice. Not because there wouldn’t be any of that technology on PC, of course, but simply because of how PC input differs. For instance, typing and stuff. Yes, voice recognition might be a thing, it might be improved, but there’s still a certain brand of people who’d prefer the accuracy and correctability of a keyboard. That being at least the writers, of course. So unless Microsoft finds a way to kinect their system and keyboard input, like a holographical keyboard except without holograms. Coming to think of it, that’d be both awesome and extremely awkward. Well, looking to the future.

    In all seriousness though, the systems are nice ideas, but I think the big guys are going way too far to push them to the customer as not a waste of however many moneys a Kinect costs nowadays. See, it can work, if done right. I could imagine a game like Diablo 3 (or, as a matter of fact, Diablo 3 itself) working fine with movement inputs, considering that anyone with a decent mouse can play it one-handed already. (Too bad that my wanking hand is also my mouse hand…)

    To use an example that already exists, Skyrim. You continue playing as normal, but the system enhances your gameplay, such as translating a FUS RO DAH into an actual Shout. It serves well to give additional inputs on a system where input space is limited. I’ve just realised that I haven’t used any of my number keys during my adventures in Skyrim, nor any which wouldn’t have been mapped on a controller… anyhow. The point is, the controller remains the main input device, but the Kinect adds functionality. Optional functionality, that is to say. That’s how it should be done with every game. Like parentheses in text, the main product should be designed without the Kinect in mind, then it is added on top to give access to comfort features. Maybe stuff like Assassin’s Creed 2’s interactive cutscenes which were cut for no apparent reason. Who wouldn’t like to jump up and hug Leonardo themselves? Granted, they’d have to ship the game with a lifesize dummy. Worth it, if they then allow you to do certain things yourself, such as stabbing some unaware people or the aforementioned hug times.

    • The Kinect is not just a bad input device. It’s far more, and Microsoft has already commented on what it is supposed to do in addition to not working properly as a periphery.

      I hope these links won’t fry your google translater:

      http://www.spiegel.de/netzwelt/games/ueberwachung-datenschuetzer-peter-schaar-kritisiert-microsofts-xbox-one-a-901893.html

      http://www.focus.de/politik/deutschland/ministerin-kritisiert-spielekonsole-aigner-die-xbox-one-ist-trojaner-im-wohnzimmer_aid_1003592.html

      In Germany there’s a big discussion in politics wether or not this device should even be (in it’s current form) allowed to be sold, and I heard in Australia similar discussions have begun.

      When it comes to ratings and youth protection through censorship I think Germany has to calm the fuck down, but this I actually support. Even if I’m not a console gamer, I’d not like going to a friends house and be watched (over?) by a machine in the living room which I don’t know who ultimately has controle over.
      I mean, it’s always on and detects movement to power itself on, check your vital signs and whatnot?
      Other than monitoring your vitals and calling an ambulance I don’t see an advantage (and I doubt it couldn’t even do that properly without you having to put in even more delicate information before – like your adress, phone number…)… And the elderly, who would profit from something like this most, won’t buy one anyway.

      • If indeed the One can collect vital sign data, and could call an ambulance for you, I worry about when the data is misinterpreted and there’s an emergency response team at your house when no emergency exists. I heard somewhere that you can in fact turn the Kinect all the way off with a few caveats, but if Microsoft waffles anymore, there might be problems.

    • Button presses are very accurate, but there is a lot they aren’t good at. They’re not good at analog input. Yes there are analog sticks and analog triggers, but the reality is that real life is analog, not digital.

      They’re not good at context. So you have 4 or 6 or 8 buttons, maybe you program 4 or 6 or 8 discrete actions, then a few contextual actions. But something like Heavy Rain is probably the upper limit to what controllers can do with context.

      I agree though it is probably best to mix these inputs, not rely on one or another. Digital precision, mouse precision, voice input, analog movement context.

    • Toraka used being born in a German-speaking country!
      It’s super effective!

      Ah, silly Germans. Makes me glad I’m not under their rule, but I agree that they’re right for once. Had to happen eventually, what after banning every game that’s not fluffy clouds and rainbow coloured ponies instead of actually doing something against the reasons why rampages happened at schools, putting up a stop sign over bad things in the internet instead of actually hunting the criminals who did it…

      Okay, they do some things wrong and my kind finds that funny, but that’s beside the point. It’s unlikely that Microsoft will actually do anything evil with the thing, more than they already do anyhow, but it serves as the first step. With the Xbox “No Not The Good” One in people’s houses, it’d be easy to either use the existing device or install more to directly monitor their lives.

      I’ll just guess here that you are not exactly next to Germany. For years now, there’s been a rising trend of them installing more and more surveillance, often with dubious motives. It has sensitise the population against it, so it’s understandable that they’d be cautious.

      In more and more fields of science, we are reaching the point where we need to question whether our progress is justifiable, or whether we need to stop it in the interest of our ideals somewhere.

      @Wing: Exactly what I’m saying. The Kinect can be a wonderful system, but it’s about the opposite of buttons. Great at analog control, crap with actual precision inputs. Let’s assume that the new Kinect is so accurate that it can discern gestures which differ only in finger placement (stretching out one finger compared to two and such) regardless of position. Even then, the game could not demand that you do many different ones, especially not many at the same time. As said, you need to be able to remember and do the gestures fast enough. That limits your options as a developer quite a lot, I’d expect. Too bad that most games just are made for the precision that buttons offer, so a game made for Kinect input would differ heavily from what we know.

      If worked into it without pressure though, it could be glorious. Imagine a game where your menu screen opens with a snap of your fingers and is laid out to be used through motion controls. Seriously, I’d buy that game and the console to go with it even if it played like absolute arse if only its inventory screen let me wail around like a Mass Effect-like spaceship pilot and have an explanation as to why I’m doing it in case somebody walks in. It wouldn’t be a very good explanation at that, but hey, who wouldn’t like to put down the controller while it’s not needed and wave your way to victory like a king?

      You could even extend it that, in a game like Skyrim, all peaceful controls such as moving and using are mapped to the Kinect as well, so you could be walking through Riften and doing your dragon-murdering space-laser-breathing hero of destiny business without even touching the controller.

      • “I’ll just guess here that you are not exactly next to Germany. For years now, there’s been a rising trend of them installing more and more surveillance, often with dubious motives. It has sensitise the population against it, so it’s understandable that they’d be cautious.”

        What exactly do you mean by that?
        To what extend have they introduced more surveilance? If they did, then they did it good, because I haven’t noticed any.

        And when it comes to censorship in Germany it’s sadly the same idiotic story as in most countries. For some reasons a violent videogame gets the politicians all upset and crying about our youth protection measures, but when it comes to movies (or even books?!) they couldn’t care less (as long as it’s not child porn of course).

      • Well, first off, the Germans are very sensitive against surveillance and partially censorship, from what the government has done in the past, but also the Stasi and DDR spying back in the day. It feels weird that they then censor as much as they do, but the population doesn’t really have a say in their politics, so there’s that.

        www(dot)dubistterrorist(dot)de (I’m not sure if and what kind of spam filter is in place here) gives a nice overview of the topic. Most of it is in German for obvious reasons, but the video alone should give you an idea of what’s been going on and it’s available in English.

        I still have no idea of whether or not you live nearby, but assuming that you don’t, there’s been some movement a few years back which essentially gave the government free roam on private data for the purpose of national security. It included accessing hard drives, internet and phone traffic, and the ability to install HD cameras which could still monitor you from a respectable range. I obviously wasn’t there, but from what I could gather, there have been some things going on since then.

        It’s widely criticised because it doesn’t really seem to do its official purpose. But hey, taking off the rotting fish’s head would imply thinking!

        In my opinion, I can only laugh at those calling the Xbox “Pun Here” One a surveillance device without irony. However, with a country of Microsoft’s size, it’s not completely unthinkable either that somebody bad will get your data.

        Not that it was the first such thing, of course. Eventually though, there seems to be a grid forming up. Apple always knows where your iPhone is. (Don’t think that Android producers are exactly innocent either.) The Kinect will monitor your position, activity, and condition when you come home. Any work you do is registrated and archived. Sprinkle in social networking to fill in the gaps of information. There might not be any cranial microchips yet, but you could exploit the system as is already to get some strong surveillance on people.

        As for censorship, aren’t Germany and Australia those two overly conservative mothers who won’t let their sons touch anything that hasn’t previously been sanctified by two priests and a rabbi, then go merrily about their cookie-baking whilst said sons are getting laughed out and beaten at school, by us? And when they come home Germany and Australia just gossip about how nice it is that their offspring has so many great friends already? And when that offspring then brings one of their fathers’ three guns to school and the mothers can spend all day crying into cameras about how nobody ever expected their children to do such a thing? And when they make analogies which sort of fall apart three sentences before they even begin?

        The point is, times have been tough on Germany in the past, so as far as I know, there is a slight imbalance towards older people now. At least, there are way less youngsters actually interested in politics. In consequence, the country as a whole and the government especially are very focused on older people. Not to hate on any of their politicians, except the fences, but they don’t seem to understand how to tackle the problems they’re facing. People who even understand what the internet is are rare experts, much more so people who know how to deal with it or other problems coming from the youth. So they go on merrily censoring everything that’s been invented less than 50 years ago because doing that is easier than learning about the subject and finding actual solutions.

        Oh well. I can only say I’m glad not to be a part of it, so that I can get all the funny stuff without having to feel bad about it. I mean, I could get it anyway, since Steam gladly provides the English version of anything and the banning people apparently don’t expect any Germans to be able to speak English, and most German translated versions have the common trait of sucking, but it’s about principle.

        I suppose I’m a mouth-foaming, overly aggressive mass murderer waiting to happen. Oh wait, pacifist-ish, always level-headed, able to separate zombie-splattering fun from reality. (Corpses don’t despawn as fast. Bad.) Who would’ve guessed, German government?

      • *Don’t know why but I can’t log in via WordPress and the button is lacking on the website*

        I’m flattered that you can’t tell I’m German :D

        You are right, although that whole scandal you pointed out turned out to be much less of a thing than it was made out to be initially.

        You are very right with the demographic issue though. Birth rates are going down while medical treatments get better and better,, leading to a situation were insted of 1 elderly’s pension I’m gonna be paying 4 in 20 years.

        When it comes to internet and modern media questions we just last election saw the uprising of the Pirate Party. They, of course, don’t stand a real chance to become part of the government koalition, but with a little luck and good arguments they might get a few seats in the Bundestag and play the part of the opposition, which would bring, hopefully, some fresh new perspectives to the politics of the well established parties.
        We will see this September I guess.

        On that topic. a famous german movie streaming site has mysteriously gone offline a few days ago and then a few days later used the domain to link to the pirate party’s website.

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