“Crysis” for PC, By Doug Thompson

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A modern cell phone can do more than my first personal computer could do. The most-modern “iPhone” and other such platforms do what many people would ever want to do with a PC — browse the Internet, check e-mail and so forth.
You don’t need a PC any more, and that seems to be a rather obvious factor in the widely reported demise of PC games. I can’t find any statistics to back that up, however.
PCs used to sit on your desk at home and be the only outlet to the Internet. Now people who have a home computer all tend to have them for the Internet to store things, burn CDs and do other things their phone can’t do. If they have a computer, they are also likely to have a laptop.
Having a big, hulking powerful desktop with a video card costing somewhere north of $200 is not as attractive as it used to be.
Consider this: Go to one of my favorite sites for games, Gamespot, and pull up their list of best games released in the 12 months. Find how many of the top games are not on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 or Wii yet.
Here’s what you’ll find: Crysis, the state-of-the-art shooter.
I did exactly that. My PC’s been a good machine but it’s getting a little long in the tooth. I was daydreaming about a whole new, custom-built machine. Then I caught myself wondering: What would I play on it?
I looked, then asked myself a new question: Do I really want to spend more $1,000 to play “Crysis?” Even if I was, would I still be willing to pay that if I could get to play a bunch of other games I liked better by spending less than half that for an Xbox 360 with all the fixings? Now throw out on top of that that “Crysis” is supposedly being developed for the Xbox 360, also. And the PS3. Throw in that the PS3 can play a Blu-Ray movie disc.
These sorts of musings came up every time a new console generation came out. The PC survived every time. Everybody always talked about how great the new graphics are on the new consoles. That’s the least of the PC’s competitiveness problems. No matter how good a console is a PC can be custom-built from ever-improving components, or upgraded. No console lead can survive for long.
The bigger challenge is standardization. You can put a PS3 game in any PS3 console on the continent and it will run. Various hardware combinations for PCs cause major compatibility problems. It’s very hard to make one size fit all for PCs. Still, that problem has gotten better.
The bottom line now, however, is that there are millions of consoles out there. Few game development companies are going to forgo the huge console market. They have also developed to the point that you can play very long, involved games on them. Even those who dive deeply in to fantasy world can play them. Consider “Oblivion, for instance.
There are too many consoles to ignore — more than 50 million Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii’s worldwide. They can play just about anything. PCs still reign for detailed simulations such as flight simulators and for very deep strategy games, but those are niche markets now.
I think customers have decided that a game machine hooked to a TV — especially a big screen, high-definition TV — is more fun than playing on a computer monitor. It’s more social — you can invite friends over — and the option of playing online is easily available too. Xbox Live isn’t cheap, but it is well run by most accounts. The frustration of finding a server without problems for the particular PC game you want to play is minimized.
Significantly, the only computer games to sell more than 1 million copies last year were the biggest online success stories: “The Sims” and “World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade.”
Finally, there is the serious factor of bragging rights.
Some people might still be impressed that you have a Velocity Micro hand-built custom gaming PC.
Most, however, will look at you and say or think, “You paid $2,000 to play ‘Crysis?’ How can you afford a decent cell phone?”

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