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Which console will win 2011?

PC

1. Blizzard

If the recently leaked production schedulethat outlines Blizzard Entertainment’s five-year plan turns out to be accurate, we can expect to see the release of both StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm and Diablo III in 2011. Blizzard already rules the world of MMOs with World of Warcraft and the realm of real-time strategy with the release of StarCraft II. But once Diablo III releases, Blizzard will be able to add dungeon crawling to its list of genres that it already dominates.


Above: StarCraft II is the best thing that happened to real-time strategy games since the release of StarCraft I

There is no question about it: WoW is the best MMO, StarCraft II is the best RTS – and Diablo III will be the best dungeon crawler. And all three will only be available on the platform of choice for all gamers who have enough self respect to not get too excited over the latest baby Kirby adventure, Disney-branded title or console-friendly shooter.


Above: Unlike the Official Nintendo Seal of Quality, Blizzard’s logo still means something

2. The best hardware

There are lots of great multi-platform games coming out this year, and we promise you that all the ones that matter will look and play better on a PC. You may think that Portal 2 and Crysis 2 look good on your HDTV, and that’s awesome. But for the price of that costly television, you could’ve invested your cash towards a decent gaming rig that can run circles around your “next-generation” console. Adjust your resolution, slide all the settings to maximum, and enjoy the best gaming experience available with silky smooth frame rates. Games just look way better on a PC, and nothing is going to change that anytime soon.


Above: If you want your game to look as good as possible, you’ll need to play it on gaming PC

And when it comes to new technology, the PC is still the place to be. Excited about 3D gaming on the 3DS or with a 3D TV? Yawn. We’ve been there and done that. Spoiler alert: It’s cool, but also highly overrated. Expect cloud-based gaming services to be the next thing that next-next-gen consoles adopt as Gaikai and OnLive pave the way for a disc-free world where on-demand gaming is as convenient as clicking on a YouTube video.


Above: An early look at Gaikai’s streaming game service. Imagine a future with no discs and no installation

3. The most open platform

You also don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on hardware to fully appreciate the PC as a gaming platform because it’s also the most open platform, the kind of place where you’ll see new trends, the best independently developed games, and spectacular fan-made mods first.

Just look at Minecraft, the indie game by Markus Persson. His blocky playground revolutionized the whole idea of what a true ‘sandbox’ game can achieve. Since it first released in 2009, the game has already sold over a million copies – and it’s still in the beta phase! With nearly four million (million!) registered users, gamers around the world are digging, crafting, exploring and creating with thousands of unique worlds created by players, for players.


Above: The PC will continue to be a place where creative people can make amazing games come to life with a limited budget

For frugal gamers, we also expect Steam to remain ahead of the curve with competitive prices and a larger offering of niche and indie titles. What will this year’s equivalent of the biggest ‘small’ game of Plants vs. Zombies caliber? Whatever it is, we’re betting that when we tell you about it, it’ll available on the PC first.

WINNER: PLAYSTATION

Nintendo and Microsoft can be cagey about their plans all they want, but Sony has clearly laid out its strategy for the next 12 months, and that strategy is extremely impressive. The NGP looks like such an enormous improvement over the PSP that we want one right now, but what really gives Sony the edge here is its unprecedented slew of exclusives. Two or three of these games would be a big deal in any year, but Uncharted AND Twisted Metal AND Last Guardian AND Killzone AND Resistance AND InFamous AND Ratchet? That’s a pretty overwhelming proposition. Not even the prospect of Diablo III and a new StarCraft II chapter in the same year can make us any less excited about that.


Above: More Nolan North cannot possibly be a bad thing

It’s possible the competition still has some aces up its sleeves. New hardware might be on the horizon, new exclusive games could be revealed at E3 and the widespread adoption of Steam as a distribution method could usher in a flood of inexpensive, high-end PC releases that make consoles seem puny. Based on what we know now, though, 2011 already looks like a year that’s going to be increasingly dominated by PlayStation.

Feb 4, 2011

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