To call gaming PCs a “console” isn’t accurate at all. In fact, proponents of PC gaming continue to claim that PCs are infinitely smarter, cooler and more “1337” than consoles, despite the fact that everyone has one and there are more Nancy Drew games for them than for any other system. Clearly, such arrogance cannot go unchallenged.
Windows Vista is an abomination: When you have to base an entire ad campaign around the fact that people think your shiny new OS is shit, then you’ve got a serious problem on your hands. When Microsoft made Vista the centerpiece of its Games for Windows initiative, it introduced PC gamers to a whole new world of oppressive digital-rights management and obnoxious hand-holding that results in Windows asking you repeatedly if you’re sure you want to launch a game or go online. With a few fixes, it’s possible to make Vista tolerable, but until then it’s a pain in the ass that sent hordes of serious PC gamers running back to XP.
Above: Are you sure you want to do that thing you just tried to do? Vista frets ever so
Constantly having to update drivers: Again, one of the nice things about consoles is that there’s no need to worry about the hardware; it’s all been taken care of for you, and all the components are guaranteed to work as advertised. Meanwhile, adding new hardware to PCs can be a hit-or-miss nightmare. Conflicts can erupt between new components, and plugging in so much as a new controller frequently means you either have to install its driver off a disc, or go hunting for it online. And then some of your drivers will conflict with other drivers, and you’ll need to download new drivers to fix those conflicts, but then the new drivers conflict with other drivers, and pretty soon “PlayStation” doesn’t sound like the bad word you used to think it was.
MMOs are rapidly taking over: First there was EverQuest, and it was good. Then there were City of Heroes, Lineage, World of WarCraft, EverQuest II, Final Fantasy XI, Star Wars: Galaxies, Planetside and Anarchy Online, and they were mostly good. Now, however, the wild popularity of MMOs (particularly in Korea) has led to a nuclear shitsplosion of largely forgettable, mostly free-to-play and mostly terrible massive games that drop rapidly in and out of the collective internet consciousness and seem to have gone from a cool novelty to the primary form of communication by humans on Earth.
Above: It's seriously getting to the point where we can't tell these things apart anymore
Ridiculously expensive to maintain a state-of-the-art rig: Strange as it might sound, the biggest advantage consoles have over PCs is that – while PC standards change at a much faster pace – consoles are locked into five-year cycles. During that time, the hardware the machine shipped with is, simply, what developers have to work with. The only arms race is between the console manufacturers themselves, and you’re almost guaranteed not to have to buy costly add-ons just to play the newest games.
Above: Want your games to look this good? Let's hope you have deep pockets
PCs, meanwhile, are effective training for the next Cold War, as graphics-card manufacturers continually try to outdo each other and the truly hardcore desperately try to buy more machine than their rivals. And that shit is expensive, with high-end cards and processors running hundreds of dollars all by themselves, and quality rigs easily costing thousands.
Multi-platform games get no love on PC: Dark Sector, which shipped to consoles a full year ago, was only just now released for PCs. Devil May Cry 4 was months behind its console cousins, Halo 1 and 2 came out years after appearing on Xbox (and they sucked) and every Grand Theft Auto game since III has seen a hefty delay before appearing on PCs. And when they aren’t delayed, multi-platform PC releases tend to be lame afterthoughts with crappy controls and no interest in any of the advantages that PCs as a platform offer.
Above: Seriously? This is only just now coming to PCs?
Developers need to either make PC development a strong priority, or not bother with it at all, because all these late and substandard ports aren’t really doing PC gamers' perception of console gaming any favors.
Zero quality control: Much like trying to buy third-party games for the Wii, looking for quality PC games with no external guidance means wading through tons of shareware, freeware and shovelware before you find something you like. We might not mind it so much, except that the crap increasingly floods retail shelves while decent releases have slowed to a trickle. That’s probably going to be the case as gaming becomes more popular and more mainstream, but that doesn’t mean we have to like it.
Above: OH BOY PRISON TYCOON
Patches: These, quite possibly, are the worst thing to ever happen to game development. It used to be that devs had one shot at getting their software right, and it had to be ironclad and (at least mostly) bug-free before it could be sent out into the wild. Then the internet came along, and with it came the concept of downloading updates and patches to fix problems in games that should have been caught during the testing stage. Suddenly it became OK for publishers to ship out games that were problematic or unfinished, because they could just release a patch down the road and make everything OK. Infuriatingly, this concept has bled over into console games, which were once the last bastion of careful testing and quality control, but have now become just as slipshod as their PC cousins.
This can also make playing MMOs a pain in the ass, as they’ll frequently need to download and install hefty patches before you can even get online and play.
Horrible draconian copy protection: As piracy gets more rampant, publishers become more paranoid about protecting their investments. The problem is that their “protection” often does more harm to legitimate customers than to the people who are trying to steal games. And so we see horrible bullshit like the SecuROM copy protection in Spore, which originally required weekly re-authentication and still limits the number of installations you can perform to five – bad news for anyone who has to frequently restore or rebuild their machines. Other protection schemes, like StarForce, have been accused of quietly installing malware.
Above: Oh, what might have been...
If all you want to do is play a damn game, being forced to jump through multiple hoops just to prove to the publisher that you deserve to own the game you bought is more than just maddening – it’s offensive.
Assholes screaming into headsets: Do you think Xbox owners invented the idea of yelling racial slurs at strangers online? Years before the advent of Live, Windows users were flooding the internets with noise that went way beyond trash talk and crossed over into insane hate-ranting. It’s never been quite as widespread as on Xbox Live, partly because you actually have to sink a little money and effort into online voice chat, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there.
Above: YOU STARTED THIS
PC snobs: Hey, guess what, genius? Playing games on a PC isn’t the gaming equivalent of a doctorate in physics, and being able to appreciate the subtle depths of real-time strategy and depressingly realistic combat sims doesn’t necessarily make you any smarter than someone who likes Halo or Metal Gear. All it means is that you enjoy playing a different kind of game on a system that’s the most expensive (yet most widespread) option on the market. Enjoy it all you want, but don’t go assuming that your ability to run Crysis is directly proportional to your worth as a person.
Above: The first image that came up when we searched for 'snob'
That said, you’re right: multi-platform releases are still frequently dumbed down for the benefit of console players. That shit needs to stop.