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Why Consoles Don’t Need To Exist Anymore

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While millions of people around the world might have been excited about the launch of the “next generation” consoles, I sat back and thought to myself “why?” I personally can’t see the need for the existence of such machines and they’re definitely nothing ground breaking. I find it ironic that Microsoft, the billion dollar company responsible for Windows, is trying to turn a pure gaming system into a multimedia machine, I mean don’t they already have that with the personal computer? It would seem that Microsoft is competing against itself, and instead of vertically expanding to uncharted territories, it simply turned a computer tower on its side and called it an “Xbox One.”

This is coming from someone that owns an Xbox One and multiple PCs, mostly because of certain exclusives; which brings me to my first point, having to create the same game for multiple architectures is redundant and inefficient. Regardless of which system a game is originally made on, they almost always become watered down along the line. PC games will always look better on a higher end system, meaning consoles will need to be mainstreamed to lower resolutions and texture qualities. On the other hand, games made for consoles first usually lack many features, such as field-of-view, that are a necessity for many PC gamers. Even amongst the newest systems there’s already disparity, Battlefield 4 wasn’t released on the same resolution for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, with the latter getting 1600×900 instead of only 1280×720. If developers only had to worry about one system to develop their games for, they would no doubt be able to optimize to the best of their ability and deliver a better gaming experience for everyone.

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Obviously this could lead to an argument over which system is the best and why each fanboy would defend their system as the deserving one, so lets take a look at the history of consoles and why they ever existed in the first place. In 1977 the Atari 2600 was released, back then personal computers were something only seen in science fiction movies and arcade machines were too costly to be put in many homes. With only 9 initial games, the Atari 2600 eventually dominated the rest of the home entertainment systems with the release of Space Invaders, Asteroids and the creation of Activision.

Now fast forward to the 1980’s with the Nintendo Entertainment System and Sega Genesis. Computers had seen quite a bit of development, but were still quite large and costly, and these 8-bit and 16-bit consoles had made huge advancements over the years. Children were growing up with Mario Bros., Double Dragon, and spending time with their friends, playing together in the living room. Eventually games became quite sophisticated, with the release of the Nintendo 64 and PlayStation. I remember having parties at my friends’ houses when the newest N64 games would come out, we’d stay up playing Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros. all night.

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That type of bonding which could only come from playing video games with your three best friends on their couch just doesn’t exist anymore. Instead of playing GoldenEye 007 and getting to know your friends, kids are screaming at each other while playing Call of Duty on Xbox Live. No one knows who they’re playing with anymore, and nobody seems to care. Even if you do have friends that play online with you, the console matchmaking systems are atrocious. First you have to create a party, then find a game that supports the number of players you have, and then randomly get dumped into a room and hope no one crashes or loses internet connection. The feeling just isn’t the same and I’d still rather break out Perfect Dark and sit around the television while having a few drinks with my friends. There’s no real companionship in console gaming anymore; its become quite a lonely place.

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About: Nick Shively

Nick is currently a Journalism Major at Arizona State University, taking both writing and gaming very seriously. Formerly a Sergeant in the United States Army, he always found time for both of his passions whether he was touring Germany or deployed to Iraq/Afghanistan. His favorite genres are RPGs, MMOs and MOBAs. His favorite games of all time are Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy VII, and StarCraft. He's also always willing to game with fans and loves nothing more than good competition. Twitter: @Nick_Shively League of Legends: SteelReign Xbox Live Gamertag: Steel Rebellion

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  • Gary

    Nick, you raise good points.

    Your reasons for “Why Consoles Don’t Need To Exist,” however, focus on nostalgia and a hint of community ideology. It’s the same type of argument that has and is used towards the texting/facebook generation. Unfortunately, the answer to why consoles need to exist is based on reality. They make money and in a capitalistic focused society capitalism is more important than any ideological community spirit found in “third world” regions. The PS4 insists that something else compete, and compete they will, because people stay up all night in lines to purchase it after combating against the closest uber nerd in line for the last one.

    Another point, franchises like Grand Theft Auto (as an example) are better played with a controller in which years and years of experience has trained a user for. This forces users to keep with what they have been trained to know.

    Besides the gaming aspect, the Play Station and the Xbox offer Blu-ray, which allows occasional gamers (like myself) to enjoy his movies while taking a break from perusing NETFLIX.. In other words, these consoles offer options for their existence.

    In short, they exist because there is a market. As long as there is a market, they will always “need” to exist.

    • Nick Shively

      Oh, I completely understand the capitalistic aspect as to why consoles have to exist. If people will pay money for it, it’s going to exist and if it exists advertisers are going to find a way to make people buy it.

      I’m obviously not trying to say that people are dumb for buying consoles, as I have owned almost every one of them since Atari, but the reason for them is diminishing. They’re becoming more and more like personal computers, but we already have personal computers.

      As far as controllers and blu-ray players go, PCs generally support both of them. I play quite a few third-person action games with controllers on the PC, and a lot of PC indie games support up to 4-player local co-op with controllers and/or mice.

      • Gary

        You are obviously far more knowledgeable about the subject than I. It does seem ridiculous. I bought the PS3 because of its Blu-ray capability, which my laptop can do. It does save me from having to connect my laptop to my screen every time though.

        There’s also the constant problem with games becoming too powerful for the PC from month to month. For example, Civilization V works great on my high end 8-month old laptop. Will Civilization VI? With a gaming system, you are guaranteed that the game you just bought will work and the one you buy next year will work as well. One doesn’t have to purchase a new gaming system every six months to keep up.

        • Nick Shively

          That’s also a valid point, but will hopefully be corrected with the surge of “Steamboxes.” Desktops can generally be upgraded pretty easily by replacing the CPU or graphics card to handle the new games, but very few laptops have that choice. However, as PCs become more streamlined for living room usage I can imagine the price to purchase, and upgrade, them is going to decrease over time.

          Additionally, while consoles “can” play any game that’s created for them, more graphically powerful games are watered down to fit the specs of the consoles. This is clearly better than no game at all, but it still comes at a hit to the quality.