Sunday, 15 July 2012

It’s Better on PC Apparently


My last blog post was about what kind of gamer I am and to possibly think about what kind of gamer you are. Just as an extension on that, I concluded that I am in a strange genre I liked to call Casual Hardcore.

I used to be properly Hardcore once. Playing games online all night like Halo, the original CoD, and even in my pre-broadband years – Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight. Oh the evenings spent on MSN, timing it all just right “Right my IP address is…..” then having to quickly disconnect, then reconnect because back in those days of dial-up, after you’d been online for 2 hours you were mercilessly cut off.

I was a hardcore PC gamer. Playing online games a lot, especially Guild Wars. Man that game rocked. But since I left home, started a family and started working for the Ministry of Defence…my time and spare cash got pretty low. I’m not saying I couldn’t pay for things, god no. I had to prioritise my cash, like I said in the previous blog. And back in the day, when I could go to work, come home, shower, change, eat then just play games to my hearts content I now have other things that need doing. I still play on a daily basis – I’m currently reliving my youth somewhat by pumping some hours into Civilisation II (of which you can read my review to further down on this blog). But I digress. Massively.

This blog states – It’s better on PC. What is? Online gaming? Sometimes. FPS games? Definitely. Sports games? Not a chance. But these inane objective questions aside what exactly do I mean?

Well I’ll tell you. Officially, graphics and performance. With the recent release of Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 680 card being shown off royally at E3 using the Unreal 4 engine, and with the soon to come GeForce GTX 690 card being TWICE as powerful. PC gaming is about to turn a corner which the Xbox 360, PS3 and to a much lesser non-gaming extent Nintendo Wii cannot catch them on. Yeah you might be able to have Kinect on the Xbox or the Move on the PS3, but they’re operating on graphics cards and processors that are years old now.

Nvidia GeForce GTX 690 - It looks awesome!!
Anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of how computers work, how they evolve and how quickly that happens; knows that a computer even a year old is considered out of date. And they’re right. Computer technology is advancing at it’s fastest rate ever, and consoles get left behind. They are made, they excel and spank everything else – then they get caught up, overtaken, left behind and eventually they become relics. Technologically frozen in time like a cowering resident of Pompeii, cowering in awe at the technologically unstoppable freight train known as the Desktop Personal Computer.

Nvidia engineer Simon Green told New Scientist that graphics on PC’s are now about 24 times better than on consoles. Right, let’s not kid ourselves though. An Xbox 360 console, from somewhere like Game online (cos who am I kidding, are there any left on Highstreets anymore?) with a 250gb HDD, and Kinect ready will cost you about £150. A top of the range ready made PC will cost you in the region of about £1500-£3000 – depending on whether you buy like an Alienware computer, or make one yourself.

Even when Xbox’s were new, I think I got mine for about £270 with a massive 12gb HDD. Being an Argos worker, I got mine the day before release because I reserved one and told my boss I was at college all day the next day. So I got mine early. Got an iPod Nano when they first came out the same way. Heh.

So look at the price differences. If you bought a ready made PC today, even for £270 – it would probably be alright, but nothing ground breaking. In fact, it’d be cheap shite. A large portion of that £270 would have gone towards Windows 7.

So in consoles, you’re getting a bargain in reality. A bargain and a gaming investment. I bought my PC in February 2009, and it still performs quite admirably. It cost about £800 and was ready made. However I’m getting itchy, and my wife can tell. I’m looking at building my own computer in the second half of the year, and I’d be able to build a pretty good future proofed machine for about £800. For the same specs, I’d be looking at spending at least about £2000 from somewhere like Alienware, PC Specialist or CyberPowerSystem. Whereas when the PS4 and Xbox YZ* is released be it late this year, 2013 or as some analysts in Tokyo think in 2014 – they’ll cost what? £300? £400? This generation of console had already been out for 7 years (Xbox) and 6 years (PlayStation), which is widely thought to be well past their “Best Before” dates. But they’re still holding up very nicely. Just play some Mass Effect 3 or Black Ops or Skyrim and you’ll see how crisp the images are and how smooth the gameplay is.

I admit though…there is 1 sticking point. I’m on my 3rd Xbox. So my almost 7 year love affair with this console has seen 2 resurrections. Bringing the total cost to about £550. Still a bargain though. My PC as I mentioned cost £800, and that was 3 ½ years ago, and I want to upgrade. Let me tell you what that means in a money / time scale. All workings out are approximate.

Xbox: money / time
(£)550 / (days)2465.5 = £0.22 per day. The cost of my 3 Xbox’s have been 22p a day. That obviously isn’t including games, or DLC just the cost of the machine. 22p a day for endless hours of entertainment? Yes please.

Let me do the same analysis on my PC. Again I can’t remember exact amounts or dates so it’s approximate.

PC: money / time
(£)800 / (days)1278 = £0.63 per day. Cheap right! Gaming is the way forward obviously, but it’s still about 3 times more costly than console gaming and doesn’t last anywhere near as long – unless you get it right. If I still had my working Xbox from day 1, the figure above would be minute. It’d be about 11p per day. Amazing right?

Which is were I come to the crux of my entire blog post here. Yes top of the line PC’s are awesome, they’re amazing, they’re brilliant, they’re better than consoles. But nowhere near as cost effective. Not in the slightest. And you’ll find yourself wanting to upgrade when you see adverts for new graphics cards and processors. Something you don’t really get with consoles. You buy a console, you play on it, and only years down the line when the next gen comes out do you start getting itchy. My PC is great. I love it. It’s so awesome, but I can’t help but want more from it. It’s better than my kids PC by a country mile, which is where she’d end up going, giving them a computer that actually works (they have Vista…say no more**). The problem with my PC as well though is that it’s rigid. It’s a Zoostorm PC, and I’ve gotta say, they made a fucking great computer there. But it’s not really my computer. It’s a Zoostorm computer that I own. I want my OWN computer. I want to create her, raise her, and watch her tentatively take her first steps into Windows 7. I want to smile as she logs onto the internet for the first time and I want to beam with pride as she downloads my Steam Library games, and rocks the shit out of them. The other thing is that I thought, maybe I could just upgrade my current PC, throw in some extra RAM, a new processor. Nope. Pre-made PC’s are generally engineered to be non-upgradable in any physical way. The motherboard won’t cope with more RAM, the graphics card is as big as I can put onto it and when I discovered this. I started looking at her differently.

She’d changed.

Which is why I’m going to be laying subtle hints that probably next year, around my birthday, when the kids are at school I’m taking a couple of days leave…and my own creation will become a reality. When that happens. You will know about it.

So yeah, PC’s are better graphically. Who knew?! But consoles are better generally. Unless you future-proof your PC and allow for expansion – then the world is your oyster.

*There is a general acceptance that the PlayStation will continue its numerical continuation, whereas there is no news on what Microsoft plans to call their next machine. Most sites seem content and certain that it'll be the Xbox 720, but I’m going for Xbox YZ “XYZ”

LITTLE FACT: Microsoft called their 2nd gen console the Xbox 360, as opposed to the Xbox 2 because the Xbox 2 would be competing with the PS3 and they felt that the appearance of a 2 being lower than a 3 would give Sony a psychological edge. Hence the 360 was born.

**I wrote this blog a couple of weeks ago, and it’s been waiting to go onto the site, since then I’ve upgraded their computer to Win7. It’s pretty darn good now.

Toolbox 24