It isn’t too often that as the epic-minds of DeltaAttack.com we bring you anything else but informative, fact-based, hard-nosed, up-to-date, and in-your-mother’s-vag-face reporting on the latest happenings in all things related to video gaming and culture. But here we break from the norm, and I, the “I” to the “K” to the “E” raised to the power of Three, gives you a behind scenes look at the methodology and decision making process used to turn this long-time PC-only gamer into a Console Convert. Traditionally the console realm has belong to the Mulletsaurus and MarkhamAsylum.
Let me start by explaining that I’ve owned various consoles and computers and other game devices throughout the years – even one of those terrible Tiger hand-helds (now get off-my-lawn!). But my stint of PC-only gaming, starting in 2004, was the result of me not being compelled or engaged by any of the offerings of the console generation of that time, despite owning a Game Cube and Playsation 2.
The only game I ever played on my GameCube was Super Smash Bros Brawl , because I had only bought the system because I got a great deal on it, and I was expecting to play StarCraft: Ghost on it someday. (Excuse me while I pour out a Frappuccino in honor). The PS2 was used mostly to play nostalgia games like the Final Fantasy Anthology. The neglect of attention to these systems was exacerbated when World of Warcraft came out in 2005.
The Gamecube I unloaded to a friend, and the PS2 got pawned (not PWND) in 2006, and from then on, my gaming was strictly PC-oriented. I gamed on the Dell desktop that I had purchased in 2005 until summer 2010, which by historic standards in the PC industry is a long-ass-time for a gaming machine, but thankfully gaming-standards had began to wane about this time.
The industry-life of consoles until this time had also been approximately 3 years, so I feel like I got my money’s worth out of that machine, except that at the time, I had expected new consoles to keep churning out at 3 year intervals. Needless to say that this projection was wrong, and much like the Mars Rover: Opportunity, this generation of consoles has far exceeded their intended life of functionality, which has caused many types of upsets in the gaming industry (which will be the discussion of another post).
So, toward the end of my near-WoW-addiction, when the leveling, resource-gathering, collect x of y, rinse and repeat questing, had far worn through the shininess of gaming that was my escape for approximately 160 days of the game time, I began seeking out other engaging games on the PC. Tromps through nostalgia favorites Diablo II, Warcraft III, Starcraft, plus new additions like The Orange Box and Braid couldn’t keep me satisfied as those games weren’t as immersive as WoW, and the physical discomfort of playing video games at a computer instead of on a couch kept pulling me out of the relatively shallow games.
A last-ditch attempt at holding on to my PC gaming nature (who doesn’t love the openness and customization possibilities that you get on the PC that you can’t on consoles?), I bought a new laptop to replace my old desktop. I chose a moderately priced Toshiba that I made sure would meet the next couple years worth of PC gaming titles that I knew I would be playing, namely Starcraft II and Diablo III. Although the release of Starcraft II did stymie my new-found discomfort in non-WoW PC gaming, the novelty of SCII wore off after I beat the campaign and realized that I didn’t have the available time to invest in performance and mastery of competitive ladder play.
So when a gathering of three of your DeltaAttack.com heros (Markham Asylum and I hosted at MulletSaurus’ for a game-night) resulted in my first taste of Demon’s Souls, I had finally found a console title that I could immerse myself in and relax on a couch instead of sitting at a computer.
I hadn’t decided at this time that I would get a PS3 (although I did), but instead I decided that I needed to investigate the titles that were being released on consoles. Below are the considerations I made in ultimately choosing a console platform amongst the primary choices of Microsoft’s XBox 360, Sony’s PlayStation 3, and Nintendo’s Wii, and roughly the order in which I prioritized them.
I. The Software
A platform, whether it is a Windows, Mac, Newton, or Palm is only as great as the software that is available for it. The same is true of consoles, and in this category, the decision is compounded not just by general availability, but by consideration of backward-compatibility and exclusive titles, price ranges of titles, and the size of market for used games. Also, the availability of titles distributable through online-stores.
II. Social Features
Games are fun solo and even single player games are fun in a group growing up (I have fond memories of my brother and I trudging through the Legend of Zelda and Metroid when I was younger), but many of today’s games are built from the ground up with multiplayer in mind if not as a function for the primary game, then as a major feature. In fact, terrible games can be made fun if the multiplayer itself is fun, (because value created by social interaction in a shared content medium helps fulfill underlying social needs – like going to watch movies).
Today’s consoles come pre-packaged with access to an internet of other players, and the fact that I have been the lone PC gamer amongst my friends means that they have already entrenched themselves in a console’s social network, but this social network’s features vary from platform to platform much like the size of the network and amount of socializing between the given network.
Other features that I had to investigate for each console platform was the benefits of functionality for each console, like it’s ability to play external media (Blue Ray vs. HD-DVD), Home Theatre PC software, Platform Openness, and accessory options like motion-sensitive controls and required purchases like wifi-adapaters or controllers.
IV. Lifetime Cost and Cost-per-Hour-of-Gameplay
While it is easy to dismiss PC gaming as the most expensive platform to game on, I can assure you that after 5 years of on-and-off WoW gameplay and numerous free games played on the PC (in addition to older PC games already purchased), that PC gaming is far far cheaper. If you dispute this, let me know in the comments, butt until then I’ll assume that you agree.
Depending on the projected number of titles you will play on your console, the actual cost of the console itself will likely only be between 10% and 40% of your total cost since the cost of individual titles is usually about 20% the price of the console itself. If you buy five titles at $50 each, that’s $250. Those things add up quick! Over the lifetime of the console, how many games will you buy?
But that isn’t the only way to look at the cost of owning a device that serves as an entertainment medium. Cost-per-Hour-of-Gameplay (CPHG) is how I like to look at the value of games. This is hard to calculate if games don’t include a timer, or the timer counts something other than when you are actually sitting there pressing buttons, but in general consoles titles have a higher CPHG than PC titles (that is – the length of console titles is shorter as you may only get 20 hours on average out of a given $50 title, whereas many $50 PC titles will last for 40-70 hours).
Because the majority of costs are related to the software that you purchase and the cost of the console itself, I was tempted to roll this up into section I above: The Software, but a more thorough consideration of how price is impacted by software was warranted.
So those are the four primary considerations I made when choosing which console I would be purchasing for my new life as a console gamer.. It is easy to assume that you are already knowledgable as to how each platform stacked up, but I will give a short summary of my findings despite this.You are free to disagree or point out gaps in my logic (as I hope you do), but you must remember that everyone prioritizes the constraints of their choices according to the scarcity of their resources (time, money, power to choose).
The Software category is won by the PS3. I Love the 360’s XBLA and Indie Game stores, but it doesn’t have the exclusives that I want to play. Demon’s Souls > Gears of War, and Pixel Junk Monster’s > …..? Oh – I think that Wii has Mario? That would be great for when my nephew comes over…..I…guess…. Plus, I recently found out that my PS3 won’t play PS2 games, will in fact play the remnants of my PlayStation titles, which includes favorites like Tenchu: Stealth Assassin, Final Fantasy Anthology, and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night!
The Social Features category is won by the 360. Most of my friends are on 360, and most of my acquaintances are on the Playstation Network. Since I’d rather spend my precious game-playing time with people I care about who I can be relatively certain aren’t douche-bags, I’d rather play with those on the 360. And Wii has an online network….I think?
Amongst Fringe-Features, I think it is a tie all around here. Both the 360 and the PS3 have media playback capabilities, and while the 360 has an open game-development platform (XNA), the PS3 has the Blue-ray player. The Wii has some of the best accessories for gaming, but as you can see from my priority list, Social Features isn’t at the top.
Lastly, Lifetime Cost and Cost-per-Hour-of-Gameplay, is important, but only so far as the number of titles I plan to purchase. Given that many of the titles that are on my list of games to play are only for PS3, this category’s winner is clearly the PS3. Plus, when my PS3 starts collecting dust, I can at least use it as a Blue-Ray or other Media Player.
And there you have it. I am now a proud an owner of a PlayStation 3. That isn’t to say that I am without gripes about its functionality or Sony’s anti-modding position, but for the near term, I made the right choice, and Demon’s Souls is sucking my own. What do you think? Should I have waited for the next gen?
About the Author
|I’m the gamer your mother warned you about:
I was introduced to video games on the Atari 2600, and quickly moved to a Nintendo, where The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, and Dragon Warrior dominated my early non-Mario years. Now days, I do mostly PC gaming, and some console gaming. I’ve been in and out of rehab, and there’s no saving a nerd like me. NerdLife4Ever.
ikecube has written 90 posts on Delta Attack.