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As all of my brain-spilling over the previous pages will probably tell you, I’m a man who values games as a progressive, developing medium. I’m not Jimmy FIFA or Johnny Halo. I crave new talent, new ideas, new aesthetics and new ways of seeing games as both fun and art. And the more I think about it, the more I realise that the stuff I want is available in abundance on the PC. Just check out this small (massive) selection of this year's stuff for starters. And then this one.
As much as we gamers moan about the increasing homogenisation of mainstream games, we never acknowledge that the problem is utterly exacerbated on consoles. We ignore the fact that the development freedom that we say we want is happening every day on the PC. We rightly champion the odd console release like Braid or Limbo as a mighty strike for creativity, but there's a raft of stuff in that vein happening all over the PC every day, along with more new IP than you can keep up with. We complain, but we rarely make the leap away from the systems and structures that cause the problems we lambast.
And I’m beginning to think I might be ready to.
Above: On a console. a unique narrative experience like Dear Esther would be lauded as a once-in-a-generation avant garde masterpiece. On the PC, it's a PC game
The more I think about what keeps me predominantly a console gamer, the less reasons I come up with. I think that situation can only be worsened, not improved, by a new, more technically-demanding console generation. Console exclusives, except when platform-holders make or pay for them, are a dead concept. And the time and money required to make or acquire single-format games impressive enough to really grab the attention is probably going to mean that they’re fewer and further between in the future anyway. Next-gen it will probably cost far more to buy an exclusive, and any third-party in their right mind will be increasingly drawn to releasing for as many platforms as possible.
Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if push eventually came to shove, and those costs saw even the big publishers turn to the smaller, more audience-specific, enthusiast-targeted games I espoused the virtues of in my recent article about Double Fine’s Kickstarter success. And that sort of stuff is bound to head PC-wards. If indeed it's not targeted towards it in the first place.
Above: Sorry guys, been there, done that
So what would I really be buying a new set of consoles for? Better-looking Halo and Fable? Better-looking Uncharted? Another couple of big new first-party franchises on top of better-looking versions of all the others? A whole raft of family games from Microsoft?
Meanwhile, a PC will give me the best versions of the third-party blockbusters, and all of the medium-size and small-scale creativity I want. Games that will never hit the console market. Games that will never have to. Games that would be hampered if they tried. To rob myself of that would be like limiting my film-viewing to whatever the big multiplexes give me every month. And I’m certainly not going to do that.
Then again, I'll probably change my mind about all of this as soon as I see an HD Mario game running. We shall see, friends, we shall see.