The new issue of PCGAMER has arrived to us lucky subscribers. Seeing as every writer for PCG has blown their own trumpet on their blog about the articles they’ve got in, I’m going to do something rather similar. Granted, I may not have got a full article in. I didn’t even get into the letters page. But one of my angry tweets got in, and thus I’m a happy boy. I’m not planning on a whole post about the tweet, but on a letter a Mr Steve Rowsell sent in. The letter is about how consoles haven’t killed the PC gaming industry, but popularity has. What an interesting idea.
Leaving aside that PC gaming death, destruction, doom and gloom, I just want to speak about that idea. There’s usually a whole load of people who blame consoles for the decline in PC gaming, which I half heartedly agree with, so is Rowsell a madman for suggesting differently? Actually, no. The clever chaps over at PCG very rarely print a letter that isn’t in some way thought provoking, one of the main reasons my ramblings have never got in, and they’ve hit the mark right again by printing Rowsell’s letter.
The reason that games are now “put together with huge teams to strict and unattainable deadlines”, “created on PC, optimised for consoles and then ported back over to the PC with little care taken to ensure quality” is because gaming has become mainstream and thus the greedy fat cash men want to cash in on it. Meaning that the bedroom programmers died out, because they couldn’t create games at anywhere near the same speed or shininess. Meaning we now get games designed to make money, not to make fun.
What PCG usually do very well is a good comeback to most arguments, but they just suggested to Rowsell that he should look at indie gaming. Which, to me, isn’t the point that he was trying to make. The indie scene is doing very well, and creating the little games that are eating into our time, but that doesn’t solve the fat cat problem. As an audience increases, the most profit margins increase, since more people are likely to buy your product, which is precisely what the fat cats like the idea of. And, as gaming becomes more acceptable, and more people have consoles, the fat cats will try to bring more people into the gaming world with those god awful TV cash ins.
I once stood in my local GAME and overheard a girlfriend (I think) of a gamer who exclaimed ‘Oh my God! Lost: The Game!? I am totally going to buy a PS3 to play this!’. Inside I died a little, more so now I contemplate that she probably survives to this day. Most reviewers (Some of whom were Lost fans themselves) panned the game with varying levels of hatred, because they were gamers before they were fan boys/girls. However, if you are a fan boy, then you are blinded to the horrible game you bought, because it’s “Just like the show/film/creature/piece of wood!”.
Let’s be honest, we can’t do anything about it. We still have amazing games, and some that couldn’t have been made in someone’s bedroom on their own. If Team Fortress was being developed in someone’s bedroom, we’d still be waiting for it now. However, what we all should do, without a moment’s hesitation, is go and support indie developers we like. Introversion, who made Uplink (Which I still love to this day), Defcon and Darwinia, have come so close to bankruptcy so many times but are still clinging on with their fingertips. Don’t pirate any indie games, pay for them properly. They won’t hide behind piracy as an excuse for going out of business, but they will feel the crunch more than Actiblizzard would.