Which console will win 2012?

Four systems, four editors and three different reasons why each could claim this year as its own

PC

1. Blizzard’s triple threat

Argued by: Tyler Nagata, Senior Editor

According to a recent announcement, Blizzard plans to cancel this year’s BlizzCon in order to focus on “getting Diablo III, Mists of Pandaria, and Heart of the Swarm into players’ hands as soon as possible.” Could this mean that all three titles will see a 2012 release? It’s possible – and if they do, 2012 may go down in history as the year I died from lack of sleep.

Above: This Diablo III screen doesn't really convey its addictiveness, but you probably don't care

But even if they don’t release, past experience leads me to believe that it’ll be worth the wait. Blizzard Entertainment doesn’t just make games. They make genre defining titles that are built to last. StarCraft II was the best thing that happened to the RTS genre since StarCraft I. Diablo III looks like it’ll be the best dungeon crawler since Diablo II. And even though I’m on vacation from about six years of on-again-off-again World of Warcraft benders, you can be sure that Mists of Pandaria will keep ten million WoW subscribers busy for quite some time.

Games that are actually good and are worth the wait: Blizzard makes them for the PC.

2. Games still look best on the PC

You know what makes me sad? Hearing my friends and co-workers trade war stories about their adventures in Skyrim… on consoles. These are grown men and women who have loved games all their lives, the kinds of people who will argue to the death over the tiniest of details. I’m not saying Skyrim is bad on consoles, but at the end of the day, when they go home, it hurts to know that they’re playing one of the most beautiful games ever created on the wrong platform. I picture them at home in front of their TV, assaulted by inferior textures and unnecessarily long load times.

To say that games, like Skyrim, look best on the PC is nothing new. But this truism will be especially visible in 2012. As it stands, the PC is still the only truly next-gen gaming platform. This year, the Xbox 360 will turn seven and the PlayStation 3 will be six-years-old. So what multi-platform game will look best on the PC this year? How about everything?

Above: Skyrim looked better than both console versions at launch. But with the free high-res texture pack released by Bethesda, it looks even better. You can download it from Steam here

Games that have good graphics: the PC has them.

3. It's still the most open platform

Out of all the platforms discussed here in this joke of a debate, the PC is the most open. So it’s only natural that innovation comes here first.Impressed with the 3DS? The PC has had excellent 3D with NVIDIA 3D Vision for years now. And I’m not talking about 3D effects for remakes of games released in the ‘90s, like Ocarina of Time. I’m talking about just about any game (new or old) ever made with a 3D engine. PC gamers just don’t talk about it that much because we didn’t think it was that big of a deal. Think it’ll be cool to watch all your favorite HBO shows on demand when Xbox Live gets HBO GO? Let me know when that happens. In the meantime, I’ll be catching up on the first season of Game of Thrones with this thing called a web browser.

Above: This year, the Xbox 360 will get Minecraft. Finally

Of course, the openness of the platform also applies to games. As mentioned earlier, the biggest, high-production titles will always look best on the PC. But the PC is also the place where independently developed games can flourish. The democratization of game development has leveled the playing field significantly, making room for games made by individuals or very small teams – and this trend will continue with 2012 with the PC seeing the biggest small games first.

This year will see the release of Minecraft on the Xbox 360. But by November of last year, the indie sandbox sensation Minecraft had over 16 million registered users and 4 million purchases. With no help from the deep pockets of a larger publisher or assistance from commercial campaigns, designer Markus “Notch” Persson’s Minecraft is a shining example of how an independently developed title can succeed on the PC.

Consoles: eating the PC’s indie leftovers since the late '90s.

WINNER: Nintendo

Yes, even after that spirited argument for the PC, we’re still calling this one for Nintendo. Here's why:

Nintendo’s prosperous turnaround of the 3DS’s fortunes during the holidays will continue to roll into 2012, starting the N on the path to success. The handheld already has a killer set of games planned for this year, with more certain to be announced down the line. It looks like DS/PSP history could possibly repeat itself when the 3DS faces the Vita this year, as the technologically inferior Nintendo system with better content once again beats Sony’s new handheld.

When you combine the 3DS’s continued success with the potential the Wii U represents, Nintendo had this contest won handily before it even began. Both Sony and Microsoft seem to be stuck with their aging systems until 2013, while Nintendo has a chance to do something really different with home gaming. Maybe it’ll be too gimmicky, and perhaps Nintendo doesn’t have any great software up its sleeve for the launch, but we’d rather believe Nintendo has a stellar E3 re-reveal for us. While Sony and MS try to convince us how “cool” Kinect and Move can still be, Nintendo will be moving on to the future.

The Wii U could end up being a technological half-step compared to whatever its competitors and PCs have in store, but that’s in the far off future. In 2012, the Wii U will stand tall and put Nintendo over the top to glory.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

After graduating from college in 2000 with a BA in journalism, I worked for five years as a copy editor, page designer and videogame-review columnist at a couple of mid-sized newspapers you've never heard of. My column eventually got me a freelancing gig with GMR magazine, which folded a few months later. I was hired on full-time by GamesRadar in late 2005, and have since been paid actual money to write silly articles about lovable blobs.
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