Hypothetical Q: Would PC games, and PC game development, be different today if gaming consoles and associated controllers had never been created?

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Dec 23, 2022
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I wasnt going to comment again but... I disagree with Shodan_. The assumption that consoles would be an niche medium is unlikely. Consoles did not evolve from PC's, nor PC's from consoles. It was very parallel different markets, and while they did share similarities, and sometimes 'off the shelf hardware', both devices fulfilled specific markets in society.

PC gaming primarily continued because alot of people wanted to do other things with PC's beside games. The general purpose CPU was more attreactive to mom & dad to do taxes spreadsheets, and print flyers for the bakesale.

Consoles continued development mainly for people who wanted 'no hassles' with configurations, software, compatibility, compact size, and alot of other conveinent features like plugging into your TV instead of a very expensive computer monitor. Developers enjoyed the proprietary market.

Trust me, if consoles didnt develop in parallel, they would have branched off at some point, they fill a hole in the market, a big one I might add.

Iin the early days, 70's & 80's, consoles intent was to bring the arcade to your house, not to push the envelope of graphic design. I doubt any console from the 80's could compete with a high end PC at the time, graphicaly or otherwise. But its not really the point, and I couldnt care less.

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mainer wrote:
but it just feels like the advancements could be even more dramatic had the development been for PC only.
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Of course, branch anything and both are diluted.

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Shodan_ wrote
Advancement in raw power or speed/efficiency of runtime code?

Anyone can make raw power but at what price? Who's going to buy it? What size market are you looking for? Is it reasonable to spend 3 years developing a masterpiece of a game that 20 people can play?
/quote

I agree

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Shodan_ wrote
Wolfenstein 3D made your 286 look like a Power PC.
Doom made your 486 look like straight up teh futurrzzz. I played Doom for the first time on a 386 actually. Low details, decrease screen size, get me those 12 fps and I'm dimming the lights and having a grand old time.

That was all because of optimization and fast code. It's brain power, not silicon power.
/quote

That was all because people wanted to develop for the PC. I think the piece of the puzzle you might be overlooking is the hardware market at the time.

IBM. IBM had a copyright on all the hardware, now I have long since forgotten the details of how it came about perhaps through licensing, or their copyright ran out IDK, but 'IBM compatible' hardware became a thing.

Now dont get all sensitive here, but the Japanese are responsible for the mass market consoles. American and european designers were more focused on PC hardware, and thus PC software. Alot of American and West European's had access to PC's at their job, any many wanted one at home. PC game developers focused on that 'adult' market, mainly professionals whos used a PC at work, and could afford expensive hardware, and college kids that had access to PC's at school. Where alot of consoles were button masher ala 'arcade style', or educational games for kids.

Lets not overlook that a software engineer can sit down at his home PC and develop a game. To get access to proprietary hardware back then you needed the propreitary hardware/software only the manufacturers had.

Unless you wanted to work for Nintendo, you developed games on the PC.

/quote
Shodan_ wrote:
Maybe without consoles there would be ultra specialized, ultra optimized gaming PCs that are actually cheaper than corporate workstations? The PC market would've branched out in very different and extremely specialized directions but then you would face fragmented development and probably compatibility issues because in order for those hypothetical gaming PCs to even boot you would need specific types of components.

/quote

I refer you to read about Chaos Theory, and entropy, which is out of the scope of my post.

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Shodan_ wrote:
All this to say, I firmly believe consoles actually contributed to PCs advancement by democratizing gaming to the masses, creating a huge market with huge revenues, and the ripples of those dividends helped the PC become what it is gaming wise.
/quote

Again, PC gaming filled a market for people that already had PC's, and for whatever reason, preferred to play on them. Lets not forget alot of PC gamers own consoles.

/quote
Shodan_ wrote:
Console games ported to PCs with varying levels of fidelity is the price to pay for having access to these games in the first place.
/quote

...Is the price to pay for software THEFT, and a propreitary captive market. Follow the money. Games are developed for the console first in mind because the ROI (return on investment) is much higher. Its a business, here is a hypothetical:

Companys says "Lets develop a game" (and trust me, they dont care what game)
Lead engineer says "How about a game like this for the PC?"
Some VP says "No."
Engineer says "But Why?"
Some VP says "Because the ROI for a PC game is typically between1:1 and 3:1, thats if you lucky"
Engineer says "What do you suggest?"
Some VP says "If we develop for the Gameblock we could expect between 10:1 and 25:1. Best of all we can still port it to the PC, sucker that market with a bad port, and recoup our initial investment"

When you take the money out of something you gut it. Red Dead 2 Redemption cost a half billion dollars to develop, but I bet Red Dead 1 for console only net more profit. Honestly I dont know the answer.

If I had one wish it would be that people stop comparing consoles and PC's!!

I would like to upvote or whatever Brian Boru post I just cant figure out how :p
 
I would like to upvote or whatever Brian Boru post I just cant figure out how :p
It's a mystery to those of us out of the loop, but I think you have to have a certain post count before you can Like posts and do some other things on here. It's a safety net against spammers that flood the forums with one or two posts. But you're well on your way with all of the quality posts you make here. Glad to have you around, Dan.
 
IBM had a copyright on all the hardware, now I have long since forgotten the details of how it came about perhaps through licensing, or their copyright ran out IDK, but 'IBM compatible' hardware became a thing
They didn't have any hold on the hardware, since they used almost all off-the-shelf components—that's what allowed the clone manufacturers to get into the game so quickly that they overtook IBM within a decade.

What was proprietary was control software, mainly the BIOS. But the clones were able to reverse engineer it and IBM gave up suing pretty quickly, to the extent that the first big cloner Compaq had a clear run at the market.

IBM's main and very valuable contribution to the PC industry was in giving it cred with the business community. IBM 'owned' the computing space in 1980, to the extent there was a saying among IT managers "You can't be fired for buying IBM". PCs were very dear back then—my first 1990 one was over £3,000 incl a good employee discount, which is roughly $8,000 today.

So when IBM launched the IBM PC in 1981 they created the big market surge among the business community, perhaps advancing the industry by a decade.

I would like to upvote or whatever @Brian Boru post
What an uplifting desire, I wish you good fortune on this noble quest.
 
What was proprietary was control software, mainly the BIOS. But the clones were able to reverse engineer it and IBM gave up suing pretty quickly, to the extent that the first big cloner Compaq had a clear run at the market.
It took a little while to get it hammered out, though. I remember in the very beginning of the "Clone Wars," the clones weren't 100% compatible. One of the selling points of each brand was how close to being 100% IBM compatible they came.

Do you remember when OS/2 Warp was trying to get a piece of the operating system market share?
 
May 11, 2022
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The assumption that consoles would be an niche medium is unlikely. Consoles did not evolve from PC's, nor PC's from consoles. It was very parallel different markets, and while they did share similarities, and sometimes 'off the shelf hardware', both devices fulfilled specific markets in society.

Mainer referred to PC gaming as "our games" so that's what I meant : that PC gaming would've remained a niche market for a lot longer if consoles hadn't brute forced their way into the mainstream. Consoles were never a niche market because they were designed from the ground up to explode in popularity.

When Atari was the fastest growing company in the USA, computers were not seen as gaming machines. Gather 100 people in a room from that time maybe 10 of them had heard of Bard's Tale, maybe 3 of them played it. 60%+ of them knew the game Space Invaders on Atari.

Consoles absolutely evolved from PCs. the 2600 used a stripped down 6502 chip meant for PCs. Atari was making computers in 1979 and made computers throughout the 80's. Atari 800/1000. Atari ST.

The NES also uses he 6502 chip.

The markets were different for sure but with all due respect saying consoles did not "evolve" from the PC is ridiculous. It's extremely cool that two different markets managed to find their own slot for the same hardware but overall no consumer grade PC parts = no consoles, no gaming explosion, no expanding market for PC gaming.

This aspect of console development became common knowledge when Microsoft decided they were going to make a console and it was running a windows kernel just beefy enough to implement directX. They called it the Xbox because it was literally a "Direct X box".

The fact remains that in the timeline we live in, consoles made gaming mainstream, which created big leaps forward and reverberated back to PC gaming. By the time the SNES came out Sierra was a household name. If consoles hadn't been around and gaming was exclusively a PC thing, gaming would've remained less popular for longer.
 
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ZedClampet

Community Contributor
This is just a hypothetical question, and I am not bashing or disrespecting anyone who uses a gaming console or controller, this is more of a "What if...." kind of question, like a PC game utopia where only PCs, keyboards & mice existed for game development and for us to play the games.

Technological advances rarely progress in a straight line, but often branches out into different directions to create other parallel innovations. But looking at many of the older games I've played (going back to the 1980s) I look at all the advancements made in graphics, controls using KB&M (or KB only in some cases), UI, sound, gameplay, AI advancement, and the addition of voice acting, all before the advent of console games, and I have to wonder where our games would be today if those consoles & controllers had never existed.

In this fantasy world of PC games/development, where do you think we would be in terms of immersion in games? To me, it feels like we'd be much closer to a "virtual reality" experience, even without the addition of VR headsets. Focused game development based on the advances in PC hardware as well as the advances in the game creation code that developers use. Games & game's development have progressed radically since the 1980s, even coexisting with consoles, but it just feels like the advancements could be even more dramatic had the development been for PC only.
As far as tech advancements, I think that consoles have done a good job of keeping up with PC's. The only problem is that there is a delay. When the latest consoles came out, they were up there with PC's that had high end 20xx cards in them. The problem is that the console generation is still new, and PC is already up to 40xx cards. But evelopers don't optimize PC versions as well as they optimize console versions. Also, most PC gamers seem to only upgrade about every 5 years anyway (per Steam survey), so I think as far as pure computing power, it's probably not as bad as it seems.

The controller is a different story. I'm a fan of racing games, so I'm very happy they exist. As far as other games, IDK. Some of the control schemes seem kind of crappy to me, like the selection wheels, etc. but I almost think that if there were a significantly better way to do it, then modders would have done it already.

I play a number of PC games that are not on console (like Total War), and it's obvious that no special attention was given to the controls. I also play games that are PC centric (like Darktide, which will some day go to consoles, but they aren't in any hurry), and I don't really see them pushing the envelope.
If you could take the history of consoles out of the equation, and game devs only ever really focused on PC hardware, just imagine where gaming could be right now! But that's not where the money is, so it will never happen.

For at least the last 5 years, sales of games on PC have often beaten the sales on console--both consoles combined. That's the reason Xbox and Playstation are now selling their games on PC. We got too big to ignore. It's also the reason that Capcom announced that it would focus primarily on PC and that PC is making up more than 50 percent of its sales.

The primary reason for this is that there are well over 300 million PC gamers in China. As a reference, total worldwide sales of PS4 was just over 100 million. Most Chinese gamers don't use Steam, and yet they are at parity with US customers on Steam, so you can imagine how many games they are selling on their native platforms. We never hear about the Chinese platforms and how they perform, but they are driving companies to go after the PC market more and more.

This isn't really relevant to Mainer's question. I just wanted to point that out. We still have a lot of PC gamers who think we are the small platform compared to consoles, and that's not nearly the case anymore even though we don't hear much about the Chinese market over here. They are selling a ton of PC games in China. Granted many of those games are made in China, but the market is there for the taking, although it's very complicated with Chinese regulations.
 
For at least the last 5 years, sales of games on PC have often beaten the sales on console--both consoles combined. That's the reason Xbox and Playstation are now selling their games on PC. We got too big to ignore. It's also the reason that Capcom announced that it would focus primarily on PC and that PC is making up more than 50 percent of its sales.
Didn't know that. That's great news.

I'll say this about China, though. They're pretty big on pirating, and putting out knock-off consoles/handheld devices loaded with ROMs. I used to be into the Wii U, which was a fiscal disaster. I remember when they got access to the Chinese market, and some of us fans were hoping it would make a huge difference in the Wii U's market share. What ended up happening was that the Wii U didn't sell there at all because people could get knock-offs much cheaper.

But it's good to hear the PC gaming market is going so well there.
 

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