PC gaming stifled by consoles

It's not just developers who are frustrated by the prioritization of console versions

Speaking with bit-tech.net this week, AMD's worldwide developer relations manager Richard Huddy had a few choice words to say about the narrowing divide between PC and console gaming. He noted that the console-centric nature of game production these days was frustrating developers who felt obliged to use console-friendly middleware such as DirectX rather than writing software that could take full advantage of PC hardware. One of the most common requests he gets from developers, he says, is to "make [DirectX] go away."

"It's funny," he said. "We often have at least ten times as much horsepower as an Xbox 360 or a PS3 in a high-end graphics card, yet it's very clear that the games don't look ten times as good."

It's not just developers who are frustrated by the prioritization of console versions. PC gamers, particularly those who enjoy the traditionally PC-centric first-person shooter genre, have expressed their annoyance on several occasions at the "consolification" of their favorite games. Recent Call of Duty games' lack of dedicated servers and Dragon Age II's accusations of being "dumbed down" for the console market are just two recent examples.

Huddy and many PC-focused developers are in favor of leaving behind technologies such as DirectX in favor of writing code to take direct advantage of PC graphics hardware. This will have the benefit of making individual titles look more distinct from one another and run more speedily, but will be much more challenging work for developers trying to make their titles work on as broad a range of hardware as possible.

This discussion seems to suggest that PC gamers and developers want to break away from consoles into their own distinct entity. While we still see PC-specific titles such as Civilization V that are unlikely to make the jump to consoles, there are increasing numbers of triple-A titles from high-profile publishers releasing on 360, PS3 and PC simultaneously. PC versions of these titles often fail to take advantage of the additional power they have at their disposal -- not to mention cramming in console-style control schemes onto a platform with a mouse and keyboard attached as standard.

It sounds from Huddy's words that both gamers and developers alike would be much happier with a world where PC gaming was its own distinct beast, rather than the boundary-blurring entity it is right now. This would be a return to how things were in the mid-90s, when PC gaming was constantly at the cutting-edge of gaming technology.

Are we looking at a return to those days? Given how profit-driven today's industry is, probably not -- it wouldn't make good business sense for triple-A publishers to exclude either PC or console gamers from the hottest new titles. But traditionally PC-centric developers like CryTek are certainly interested in the possibilities offered by Huddy's suggestions. Viva la revolución?

This article originally appeared on GamePro.com as PC gaming stifled by consoles

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