Console: The Leash That Is Holding Back The PC
Console: The Leash That Is Holding Back The PC
Writers note: All mentions of the numbers “360” refer to the current gen console Xbox 360 and all mentions of the name “nextBox” refer to the unreleased next gen Xbox console
November 13, 2007. The day Crysis is released. The graphics of this game were mind-blowing. It was one of the most graphically advanced games at the time. The trees were stunning, the colors were amazing and the humans were life-like. It became known as one of the most hardware intensive game ever made and was used as a benchmark that only the toughest computers could reach. The sad part is that it’s still like this today, 5 years and the benchmark has yet to be raised. Why is this? What happened to Moore’s law? What happened to technology advancements? If Crysis, a game that looked THAT good, was released 5 years ago, then the games today should look life-like! Instead, we are just now reaching the point where games are looking as good as Crysis. So who is to blame for this despicable graphics deprivation? Microsoft? Sony? Game developers? Hardware companies? The consoles themselves? Well, they are all to blame.
The 360 launched on November 22, 2005. The 360’s sales were massive. Game developers saw the potential for millions of dollars. Shortly after, the turning point began. The time when most developers started caring less about the PC, graphics, gameplay, and making good games and instead focused on consoles and money. The 360 and PS3 were the developer’s cash cow. More people buy games for consoles than for PC, which leads to the console’s products making more money than PC’s products. As such, Developers started to focus more on making games for consoles instead of PC. When the developers started to focus more on consoles, they made more ports, made less changes from sequel to sequel, copy and pasted work from previous games, and rushed the game so that they could fill their wallet as soon as possible. When most console games are ported to the PC, very little changes are made and that includes the graphics. Consoles have very limited hardware and today, most PCs are equal to many consoles in terms of hardware and the ability to have better graphics. So when developers make the game for a console, they are constrained by the systems poor hardware. PC gamers are then stuck with a port that has console quality graphics. What could have been a mind-blowing realistic game on PC is now just an average game with mediocre graphics. Crysis was a game that was made for only PC (at the time), the developers weren’t constrained by the limits of the console hardware, so they made a game with glorious graphics, something no console could even come close to. Then Crysis was released on consoles on October 4, 2011, but even though every 360 game developer had 5 years’ worth of knowledge of the ins and outs of the 360, the game still came nowhere near the PC version. So just imagine if games were released for PC only or at least developers put more thought and care into their ports. With today’s technology, if developers pushed modern day PC hardware to its limits, just as Crysis did, we could have games that look almost life-like!
When the nextBox launches, it should have hardware that is comparable to the PC hardware of the year it launches or at least be comparable to today’s PC hardware, right? Hahaha,WRONG. A widespread rumor says that the nextBox will have a Radeon HD 6670. This is a video card that has only about half of the power of today’s mid-range to high tier video cards. Assuming Microsoft stays true to their sayings that the 360 will have a “10 year lifecycle”, it means the nextBox will be launched in 2015. This also means that when the nextBox launches, the video card will have been 4 years old and 4 years is an extremely long time in the hardware industry. The console will be outdated the second it hits the shelf! Even if the nextBox launched today, a 6670 might be acceptable, assuming the developers actually use it to its full potential. Though in the coming years, there should be no excuse for a video card with power this low. The video cards in the next gen consoles should be at least double, if not triple the power of the 6670. Console graphics aren’t going to increase by a whole lot if Microsoft stays true to their word. If the next gen consoles are on another “10 year lifecycle”, that means we could have 20 years of almost no increase in console graphics (from 2005, the launch of the 360, to 2025, the end of the nextBox’s proposed lifecycle) and since most games on PC are console ports, PC users could be stuck with 2005 graphics until 2025.
Video game companies aren’t the only reason why consoles hardware power is so low. There is also the matter of the hardware companies themselves. Console prices are based around (more or less) 2 things, the price to make the console and how much the company wants to sell it for. One of these directly affects the other. If the price to make the console is high, than the MSRP (manufacturer’s suggested retail price) will most likely be high. If the price to make the console is low, then the MSRP will most likely be low. The price it costs to make the console all depends on the hardware. This is the reason Microsoft decided to use the 6670, because it is an old video card and it costs less, which means both the price to make the console and the price the consumer buys it for is lower, which is what Microsoft and the consumer both want. So what if you could buy a video card that’s double the power of the 6670 for the same price? The console price is lower, the price the consumer pays is lower, the graphics are improved and the PC isn’t stuck with ports that have terrible graphics. Everybody wins. This is why we need another major technological advancement, something that will either lower the price of hardware, or increase the power of hardware by a magnitude, such as when we switched from vacuum tubes to solid state devices and the invention of the microprocessor. Both of these inventions reduced the cost of computers, something that was very much needed. Until another major technologic achievement is made, console hardware is going to stay pathetically weak for a long time.
It’s been 5 years since Crysis was released. It was one of the most beautiful and graphically advanced games released and it left people wondering what kind of games could be released in the future. Yet 5 years later, the game is still king of the hill. Game companies and hardware companies are the ones to blame, and it’s a shame that nobody is doing anything about it. Until someone breaks the norm, our game’s graphics will be at a standstill.