Big Smoke

'cause it's hard to see from where I'm standin'


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Tim Schafer, whose career was started by making adventure games for the PC, categorically denies the PC as a market for his latest adventure game. To quote why he won’t produce a PC version,

Well it’s really an action game, that when you play it you’ll see that it was meant to be on a console. My question is, ‘Why all the hate for consoles?’ If you hate consoles, that means you hate Katamari Damacy, Okami, ICO, and you are in fact a bad person.

leading a great internet backlash against him and opening yet another wound on the festering corpse of the PC vs Console wars. Thing is, the grand debate of PC vs Console was manufactured to begin with. Case in point,

  1. Consoles are PCs. To be specific, they’re smaller, standardized PCs with specifications to do a very limited set of tasks.
  2. As such, any exclusivity on a console is solely the product of the marketing efforts of that console’s home company. M$ bought and moved Bungie Studios (of Halo fame, but also of the venerable PC games Myth, Marathon and Oni) from the PC market to console market exclusivity for the expressed purpose of selling xboxes. This brings this salient point:
  3. the “division” between consoles and PCs in terms of culture, custom or gaming style are by definition solely the product of the marketing efforts of companies that want to slice off and control their corner of the market. If a company says that Katamari plays better on a console, that company isn’t saying that consoles are better at playing Katamari. That company is saying “we’ve bought the rights to this game in order to sell our consoles.”

Indeed, the very existence of consoles is due to two factors:

  1. The original fear of an nonviable PC market. A Nintendo worked with your TV, needed no extra prepping, and cost less than a car, as compared to, say, an IBM. But that was then, and this is now.
  2. The current fear of a nonviable PC market. Parts are so cheap due to competition that some computer manufacturers have gotten out of the market of making them (Apple stopped making processors, for instance) and others are getting the squeeze on their niches (Intel’s newfound rivalry with nVidia). What we know as computer companies – Dell, Compaq, etc; are mere assemblers of computers and what they sell isn’t the hardware (which you can get cheaper elsewhere) but the technical support. Likewise, what console manufacturers are selling aren’t so much the systems (since you can get better PCs for cost) but exclusive game titles. They’re creating markets out of whole cloth.

In conclusion, I’m not buying a console for the very simple reason that I already own a PC, and I’m not about to buy a smaller, less useful one because of a marketing gimmick.

So long, Tim Schafer. It’s been nice knowing you.

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One Response to “Marketing”

  1. Kamos
    on Jul 20th, 2011
    @ 9:55 pm

    While I *completely* agree with what you’re saying, I’d just like to point something out: videogames are not smaller PCs, but computers with unique architectures. This is perhaps the first console generation where the underlying technology is standardized, but most videogames have been built as specialized machines. The 1994 Sega Saturn, for instance, had something like 10 CPUs (two general purpose, two for graphics, two for sound, one for the system, and so on…). It is said that one of the reasons the PS1 was successful was that it was so difficult to make games to the Saturn…

    Anyway, there is simply no excuse nowadays to create non-portable code (aside from the one you have pointed out). So your point stands: consoles are smaller, less useful PCs.

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