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"Either Malice Or Stupidity"
June 17, 2014 8:03 PM   Subscribe

Many PC gamers were disappointed that Ubisoft's latest AAA game Watch_Dogs did not look as nice as when displayed at E3 in 2012. But this week a modder discovered that code to improve the game on PC is still buried within the released game, and can be turned back on without difficulty or performance hits. Ubisoft has yet to answer whether (or why) their PC release was deliberately handicapped.

A comparison with and without the "mod". Another video showing gorgeous PC gameplay. Most reports are that the changes do not hamper framerates, and in some cases performance is improved.
posted by waraw (109 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
Although this may seem like gamernerd news to some, this is a weird case of bizarre business behavior that isn't easily explained away.
posted by waraw at 8:05 PM on June 17 [6 favorites]


Ubisoft PR Tessa Vilyn (@UbiTessa) tweeted earlier:

"@Beeelow i recall replying saying that the game was not downgraded, i still stick to that yes."
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:13 PM on June 17


this is a weird case of bizarre business behavior that isn't easily explained away.

Console manufacturers have game publishers in a vice with regard to putting content on their platforms. Console manufacturers don't want their brand-new hardware to look creaky compared to gaming PCs less than a year after launch. Ergo, console manufacturers lean on the publishers to maintain parity.

So goes the theory.
posted by fifthrider at 8:21 PM on June 17 [12 favorites]


I'm very interested to see what, if anything, Ubisoft will say. It's not uncommon for PC games to be released with the ability for superior PC hardware to push graphics beyond what consoles can (see Skyrim, for example, which without any mods at all looks vastly better at ultra settings than it does on the consoles).

What is really weird is that Ubisoft chose to pretend that the "ultra" settings in WATCH_DOGS produced results on the PC that were roughly equivilent to those on a console. While the modder here found that simply by altering the config file the real "ultra" settings could be unlocked, producing vastly better graphics than the consoles can make.

The history of the current genration of consoles is, I think, relevant here. The XBox 360 and PS3, when released were either on par with, or somewhat superior to, a top of the line gaming PC from that year.

The XBox 1 and PS4 are distinctly inferior when compared to a contemporary gaming PC. And that's both new, and weird. The decision by both Sony and MS to release a "next gen" console that is markedly inferior not merely to a contemporary top end gaming PC, but really not even on par with a mid-range gaming PC is one that neither company has ever offered a satisfactory explanation for.

And now we're finding that PC ports of games for those consoles are, apparently, crippled to produce console level graphics on machines capable of doing much better than the consoles.

Its difficult not to get into conspiracy thinking as a result of the sheer weirdness of the decisions by all the parties involved. Why would Ubisoft release WATCH_DOGS with the code for vastly better graphics in the game, but the sliders for graphics quality set with a falsely low maximum? Why did MS and Sony release consoles that are incapable of producing truly HD graphics in an era when even cheap gaming PC's can do it? [1]

I'm disinclined to believe a genuine conspiracy is involved here, MS and Sony sinisterly paying off Ubi to cripple PC performance to make the consoles look better just seems unlikely. But I honestly can't think of any reason for Ubi to have done this.

I'll be very interested to see what comes of all this and what the causes for all these decisions were.

[1] My own gaming rig is two to three years out of date and wasn't top of the line when I put it together and it can run games at 1080p and 60fps that the XBox and PS4 can't. That's just plain wrong, the new consoles should run circles around my semi-antiquated PC.
posted by sotonohito at 8:23 PM on June 17 [24 favorites]


"@Beeelow i recall replying saying that the game was not downgraded, i still stick to that yes."

But that is an obvious lie. Doubling down isn't going to help. What are Ubisoft thinking here?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:24 PM on June 17 [3 favorites]


The rain and lighting look great. But that bokeh effect is way too strong for gameplay. I can see why it was turned off. It would make for pretty screenshots, but you literally can't see the other side of a street clearly when on foot. It just makes it look like Aiden forgot his contacts.
posted by figurant at 8:25 PM on June 17 [5 favorites]


Ubi said (sort of) yesterday that the graphics for Far Cry 4 would be the same on PC and consoles. This tends to lend support to the idea that Ubi is deliberately crippling PC versions of their games by limiting them to console level graphics.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jasonevangelho/2014/06/17/with-this-far-cry-4-news-ubisoft-seems-determined-to-alienate-their-pc-fanbase/
posted by sotonohito at 8:29 PM on June 17 [1 favorite]


The decision by both Sony and MS to release a "next gen" console that is markedly inferior not merely to a contemporary top end gaming PC, but really not even on par with a mid-range gaming PC is one that neither company has ever offered a satisfactory explanation for.

In general, the higher the performance of the hardware, the more expensive it create content that maxes out that performance.
posted by straight at 8:29 PM on June 17 [1 favorite]


Ubisoft has a history of ignoring/crippling/refusing to support or optimize their multi-platform games on PC. It's become a running joke with them that they would claim a universal release date for say every Assassin's Creed game and then at the very last minute announce that the PC version would be delayed by weeks if not months. I was shocked that Watch Dogs managed a timely PC release in the first place, and not shocked at all that it is crippled by something as simple as an .ini setting.

The XBox 360 and PS3, when released were either on par with, or somewhat superior to, a top of the line gaming PC from that year. The XBox 1 and PS4 are distinctly inferior when compared to a contemporary gaming PC.

The PS3 released for $499 in 2006 dollars and was taking a big loss on every console sold. Both consoles in this generation are looking to get away from the razor and blades business model and break even if not make a profit on their consoles off the bat. Considering how much a AAA title costs to make these days, they can't rely on games alone to be where all of their profit comes from.
posted by thecjm at 8:36 PM on June 17 [4 favorites]


"In general, the higher the performance of the hardware, the more expensive it create content that maxes out that performance."

So are we at the point where taking advantage of the best hardware is too expensive so publishers are defaulting to cheaper easier work? It used to be having a PC meant you could be on the bleeding edge if you cared to, and if not there was a reasonable console equivalent. If PC games aren't even going to try to be better than what's the point of having a good PC? It sounds like they've decided consoles are "good enough" that writing for better hardware without the same market doesn't make sense (economically speaking).
posted by downtohisturtles at 8:39 PM on June 17


@straight, yes but consoles are (theoretically) designed for a ~7 year cycle. It's only by maximizing hardware at the beginning that they can keep looking decent across that life cycle. By starting with hardware that is already out of date (compared to top PC gear) the result is going to be that well before this generation of consoles reaches its expected end of life they will look awful compared to PC gaming.

And all the conspiracy theorizing won't really explain that. Even if we assume that MS and Sony are cooperating and paying off companies like Ubi to cripple PC games down to console levels, and that's a preposterous assumption, it still won't stop the games on the "next gen" consoles from looking bad compared to games from companies that don't play along with crippling PC content.

@thecjm, maybe but if so I doubt it'll work for them. Yes, they may make a profit on the consoles but they'll really torque off their customers when, in less than 4 years, their console games look obviously and horribly bad compared to PC games.
posted by sotonohito at 8:41 PM on June 17 [1 favorite]


The rain and lighting look great. But that bokeh effect is way too strong for gameplay. I can see why it was turned off. It would make for pretty screenshots, but you literally can't see the other side of a street clearly when on foot. It just makes it look like Aiden forgot his contacts.

That's what Rock Paper Shotgun had to say about it, too:
It turns out that the bokeh depth of field of effect – which games have been able to do for a while now – is kind of insane. This is admittedly just a couple seconds after I’ve stopped jogging, but the angle of the camera makes the game think that the player, that phone booth and bin are the most important thing on screen. If something across the road was shooting at me at this point, I wouldn’t be able to see them. I’m Mr. Magoo.

...For now, what’s here is an interesting curiosity that’s useful if you want to pose some nice screenshots – and I almost certainly do – but I wouldn’t recommend playing the game with it switched on. Yes, it makes it look more like that original trailer, [but] Watch underscore Dogs is already extremely underscore pretty and a couple of these tweaks make it harder to play.
It's the Assassin's Creed fiasco that we really ought to be mad at Ubisoft about, anyway.
posted by narain at 8:43 PM on June 17 [8 favorites]


The enthusiast PC gaming world is smaller than ever when compared to the gaming population as a whole. I've got what is considered a long in the tooth PC for the first time in a long time because I just don't care about any of the bleeding edge PC games out there (although I'll have to finally upgrade when Star Citizen drops) but I really don't think the console makers care how they measure up to $1000 PCs. As long as their games look better than what you can play on an entry level laptop or on an iPad or on your phone they're happy because in most people's eye they're top of the line.
posted by thecjm at 8:48 PM on June 17 [1 favorite]


The decision by both Sony and MS to release a "next gen" console that is markedly inferior not merely to a contemporary top end gaming PC, but really not even on par with a mid-range gaming PC is one that neither company has ever offered a satisfactory explanation for.

Buh? Surely "Then it would cost $1200-1500 instead of $400" is a pretty satisfactory explanation.

Nor is this something new. The ps3 and 360 shipped with 256mb if ram at a time when baseline PC's had sixteen times as much.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:49 PM on June 17 [2 favorites]


Ubisoft is pretty smart. You have to assume they did the math and decided anything better than PS4 graphics is firmly in diminishing returns territory.

So why downgrade Watch_Dogs if the work is already done? I can imagine two scenarios:
1. The increased performance work might actually be more like 80% done (I've only seen shot clips of the newly modded version) and Ubisoft decided rightly or wrongly it wasn't worth completing. Using PS4 assets and releasing the game sooner was better then perfecting it and releasing the game months later. Time will bear this theory out.
2. Perhaps Ubisoft is managing expectations for future releases. This is how good Ubisoft PC ports will look going forward, take it or leave it. By downgrading Watch_Dogs they also avoid negative comparisons with future games (for example, the next Assassin's Creed). The last thing Ubi wants is for people to say Assassin's Creed 5 looks worse than Watch_Dogs.
posted by 2bucksplus at 8:51 PM on June 17 [2 favorites]


My guess is that Ubisoft's major priority was tweaking the game to run well on PS4/Xbox One, so all effort was expended towards getting that experience ready first. Optimizations for other platforms was probably way lower on the priority list. The previous-gen consoles get to live with a whole bunch of graphics settings turned way down, but chances are that audience isn't going to mind much.

As for PC, Ubisoft's probably thinking: well, they still get a higher resolution and better textures and solid framerate, right? So they'll probably be happy, even if in the worst-case scenario we can't get the DOF effects, the dynamic lights that cast shadows, heavy rain effects, etc., etc. ready in time. Which leads to this: a PC version with a whole bunch of effects turned off, either because a) of some grand conspiracy to make sure the PC version doesn't look tons better than the next-gen consoles, or b) mundane development time issues.

From the sounds of things, it does seem like the effects aren't without problems of their own. Some people have reported crashes and glitches, and RPS noted the focal plane issue above where the game can't really decide what the most important thing in the scene is—something I totally believe is true, given that the game can't even reliably figure out what object you want to hack when there's a bunch of hackable items around your reticule.

The real question to me is whether Ubisoft will ever bother fixing that stuff and putting out a Director's Cut patch for free. My guess is no, for the same reason that stuff didn't get fixed for release: priority isn't on the PC version, which sucks. But it sucks a whole lot less than believing in a conspiracy to make PC gaming look not so good by intentionally kneecapping your game, especially when it would've been easier in some (all?) ways to just never build those effects in the first place.
posted by chrominance at 8:53 PM on June 17 [1 favorite]


I'm curious if the work is really done. Sure it may be 99% there but if that one percent contains game freezing bugs with no ready solution I could see turning the feature off for initial release.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:56 PM on June 17 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I was primed towards the conspiracy theory at first, but looking at the Bokeh in those screenshots makes me think that they had it 90% there, and didn't feel like devoting development time to the remaining 10%, so they kneecapped it and threw it out the door.
posted by codacorolla at 9:00 PM on June 17 [4 favorites]


What happened to Ubisoft? Back when I was really into games (the 90s), it had all the best games.
posted by Camofrog at 9:07 PM on June 17


With all of these controversies against Ubisoft, it's like they're jockeying against EA and Activision for most hated AAA publisher in the business.
posted by Apocryphon at 9:09 PM on June 17 [1 favorite]


Every time I see the word bokeh used I have to remind myself that it is a real word and not some weird 4chan or reddit word.
posted by Justinian at 9:21 PM on June 17 [22 favorites]


Oh, Total Biscuit's video is great as always. He is the best current evangelist for PC gaming! We're all pulling for you to beat the butt cancer, man. Good luck.
posted by Justinian at 9:22 PM on June 17 [1 favorite]


I guess my main question is, did they really expect that their code would remain hidden? If so, that's incredibly myopic and delusional. If they left it in figuring someone would find it and turn it back on, are they really that "we don't give a fuck about you" to their audience? I'm inclined to agree with codacorolla's analysis but to leave the code in there, that's just weird.
posted by waraw at 9:34 PM on June 17 [1 favorite]


I think Hanlon's Razor adequately describes the whole situation.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:43 PM on June 17


I'm inclined to agree with codacorolla's analysis but to leave the code in there, that's just weird.

Rockstar left in a whole sex minigame (disabled, of course, but still accessible if you hacked the code) in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas that required the game to be temporarily re-rated as Adults Only by the ESRB, so there is precedent.
posted by chrominance at 10:07 PM on June 17 [2 favorites]


I'm very much not a bleeding-edge gamer (my time lately has been split between VVVVV and Minecraft) so I haven't played this. But what can designers possibly be thinking by including a bokeh effect? Surely it can only make sense and be useful if the game knows what your actual physical eyes are focusing on?
posted by Jimbob at 10:09 PM on June 17 [2 favorites]


But I honestly can't think of any reason for Ubi to have done this.

I wonder if after the first release delay, they simply didn't get the game optimized enough to work across the myriad PC rigs that should be able to run the game. Just because it was found to work well on a particular PC in the above-mentioned case doesn't mean that it was optimized across the board. Someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but I was under the impression that there are many more variables in the PC market (video cards, etc.) to account for to make sure that the game runs consistently well.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:18 PM on June 17


"Surely it can only make sense and be useful if the game knows what your actual physical eyes are focusing on?"

wassup webcam eyetracking
posted by klangklangston at 10:23 PM on June 17 [2 favorites]


What i haven't found an answer too, is can you tweak some .ini file or whatever and set the "draw distance" of that bokeh effect? Because i feel like thats something that's either supposed to be set higher, or at least contextually change. It looks pretty cool, but as it's shown in this video it's set WAY too short/shallow.

Buh? Surely "Then it would cost $1200-1500 instead of $400" is a pretty satisfactory explanation.

Nor is this something new. The ps3 and 360 shipped with 256mb if ram at a time when baseline PC's had sixteen times as much.


The thing is, an "enthusiast gaming pc" is like $600 now, not $12-1500. It's all that much more heinous when you're comparing a console that costs 1-200 less and they're fucking it up this hard. I realize it's a smaller market on the pc side, but it's sort of a 1-2 punch of not caring about PC, and pathetic hardware this console generation. The 360 may not have had a lot of ram, but it had on-cpu dram which is something that PC CPUs are just starting to get now and many other clever tricks. Both system had powerful GPUs, and multi core CPUs. This was back when most people were just barely starting to pick up the dual core AMDs, and core2duo hadn't even really taken off yet.

The new consoles bring nothing to the table, especially for the money. And apparently ubisoft is in on propping them up and making them look better than they really are.
posted by emptythought at 10:41 PM on June 17 [1 favorite]


I get why you're all talking about this, but it doesn't matter at all. Everyone already bought Watch_Dogs and consoles are where it's at. Consoles for the home multimedia viewing, tablets for the couch/road. Sorry, PCs and laptops. You're dying.

I have feels about it too, but it seems like a lot of people are burying their heads in the sand because we can do better than 1080p. Duh. We've been able to for quite awhile but not enough people care.

The new consoles bring nothing to the table, especially for the money.

They are home multimedia boxes. Netflix, Amazon Instant, Hulu, you can watch TV through the xbone. They're more than just gaming now. I had to actually get up to sit at my PC for this and now I'm gonna go sit back in front my superbox that can do all.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 10:45 PM on June 17 [2 favorites]


I get why you're all talking about this, but it doesn't matter at all. Everyone already bought Watch_Dogs and consoles are where it's at. Consoles for the home multimedia viewing, tablets for the couch/road. Sorry, PCs and laptops. You're dying.

I think you'll find that although this was the song being sung 4 or 5 years ago, it is very much (at least in terms of gaming) not the case these days. But it is ironic that PC gaming is undergoing a bit of a glorious renaissance (or is it a swan song? time will tell) at the very time that the PC and laptop hardware market is being eclipsed by media consumption devices, at least in terms of hype and mindshare.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:52 PM on June 17 [5 favorites]


I had to actually get up to sit at my PC for this and now I'm gonna go sit back in front my superbox that can do all.

Well, that's the thing. If you had to use your PC to actually interact in this way with us, then your superbox can't really do it all.

Platform wars and console/PC (and these days /tablet) wars are tedious in the extreme. They're all computers, and different form factors and sizes and locations in the home are better or worse for different tasks. I think it's going to take a long while -- and some revolutionary changes in input mechanics and stuff -- before one single device form factor can actually do it all.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:56 PM on June 17 [11 favorites]


My bet is that the other platforms soaked up the technical resources that would have been required to properly complete the features unlocked by these mods. Someone decided that the PC version was good enough, and called it a day. The console versions will have to pass a series of tests at the platform owner, that just don't exist for PC.

PC versions of AAA multi platform titles during console transitions are in a weird position. It was almost certainly the lead platform during early development, because the next gen kits and SDKs will have been scarce to non-existent. Yet come launch, it will be the one that makes the least amount of money. Well, other than maybe the Wii U version, which I note has been punted to later in the year.

That said, there's probably more than one frustrated developer who deliberately didn't clean this up, leaving the hooks for the inevitable discovery by a modder. That the config files and lua scripts appear to be unencrypted or even obsfucated raises an eyebrow of this veteran game developer.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 11:02 PM on June 17 [2 favorites]


There's no one device that can do it all, in the same way that there's no one motor that solves all my power->motion needs.

I type on the sofa on my laptop. Read books in bed on a tablet. Communicate on the go with my phone. Work at a my desk with a PC. Play games and watch movies on my big screen with a console. Well, currently five consoles, but that goes with the territory.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 11:09 PM on June 17


The thing is, an "enthusiast gaming pc" is like $600 now, not $12-1500

You and I have very different ideas of what an enthusiast gaming rig looks like.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:13 PM on June 17 [10 favorites]


I get why you're all talking about this, but it doesn't matter at all. Everyone already bought Watch_Dogs and consoles are where it's at. Consoles for the home multimedia viewing, tablets for the couch/road. Sorry, PCs and laptops. You're dying.

Awww. Are you here down off your guru's cave high on the mountain to give us the hard cold facts of the world? And you're expecting us to buy them just from the strength of your assertion? How noble of you.

We don't know how it'll turn out. People have been proclaiming the death of the PC for a while now, but oddly, it hasn't happened yet -- and the form factor is turning up in weird places, like the Steam Machine. Oh, there's Steam! It doesn't seem to be doing that badly!

The very fact that PCs so outperform the "next generation" consoles right out the gate contradicts your doomsaying, so let's wait for the unfortunately-heavy woman to sing, shall we?
posted by JHarris at 11:18 PM on June 17 [11 favorites]


The XBox 1 and PS4 are distinctly inferior when compared to a contemporary gaming PC. And that's both new, and weird.

I don't see how it's weird. The consoles released recently were not going to be overpowered, and therefore overpriced, to run games at 4K resolution as most HD sets are either 1080p or 720p at the moment, and 4K probably won't take off until there is a lot more content and the prices of the sets drop. You don't need to be able to drive the resolution that high end PCs can with high end video cards, some of which are more expensive then the consoles alone, and some of which are 1/2 to 2/3s the price of the consoles.

I understand that graphics are not all resolution, there's anti-aliasing, advanced texture mapping, lighting, etc. in real time, but I still believe the price would increase to get to the level of some PC video cards, not to mention the power of the CPUs. They have to find a balance between cost and features, and most people are happy with that balance.

I personally have a PC hooked up to my television, in addition to a production PC for work. They are so much more flexible and able then a console, but then my gaming is limited. Surfing the net is far better with a PC, and very convenient when you're not at your production box, not to mention much more communal then a tablet in meetings and social situations. Great for playing media, audio or visual, and great for collaborative work. I'll get back into gaming should I be fortunate enough to grow old and retire.
posted by juiceCake at 11:23 PM on June 17


You and I have very different ideas of what an enthusiast gaming rig looks like.

Ars Technica's system build guides, usually pretty-well trusted, suggest you have a very specific view of enthusiast gaming rig. Is it possible to build a ~$1500 box? Sure. But you'll do plenty fine for ~6 years or so with a well-purchased $700 kit or so.
posted by CrystalDave at 11:24 PM on June 17 [11 favorites]


I get why you're all talking about this, but it doesn't matter at all. Everyone already bought Watch_Dogs and consoles are where it's at. Consoles for the home multimedia viewing, tablets for the couch/road. Sorry, PCs and laptops. You're dying.

The interesting thing is that, in my wide spread circle of 20something friends, no one bought these consoles either.

While the number one computer by an enormous margin i see people use is the smartphone(to the point that i know more than one person whose actual pc broke, and they just use their smartphone 24/7), and lots of people use tablets constantly, consoles kinda seem to be on their way out too.

This is a crowd of people who had every console from SNES/genesis or so onwards. Most started with the NES before that. everyone got an n64/PS1. Everyone got a ps2/xbox/gamecube. Lots of people owned all three. Similarly, basically all of them went on and got a PS3 or 360. Almost everyone i know owned a wii, and many of them stood in line for one.

And yet no one got a ps4 or an xbox one. I know a couple people who have wii Us("a failure" says the internet), but that's it. And those don't get much use beyond netflix and hulu machines.

I'm the stalwart laptop user among a lot of friends of mine. I'll admit that most people have moved on to tablets. I do use my smartphone a lot, but get too annoyed with input on my ipad to actually use it.

PC's and laptops may be dying, but as was said above while general use generic PCs and laptops die, stuff like both the macbook pro and gaming desktops are holding steady or even gaining ground. I can't remember the last place i saw specific statistics on this, but shit, they're still selling enough really expensive to R&D fancy new PC GPUs that are regularly updated to justify continuing to make them. And valve seems to be making a shitload of money selling only PC games, with very few exceptions.

You and I have very different ideas of what an enthusiast gaming rig looks like.

I'm thinking of something with a mid range intel CPU since that doesn't really matter anymore, 8gb of ram, and something like a gtx 760. That will play basically any game i can think of maxed out at 1080p, and not burst into flames at explode at 1440p. If you have money left over buy a small SSD maybe. That is the bread and butter of the "enthusiast" gaming market right there, not the systems with dual radeon 290x's or 780ti's or whatever. Those exist, but that's an entirely different thing.
posted by emptythought at 11:29 PM on June 17 [5 favorites]


And yet no one got a ps4 or an xbox one.

My crowd (myself included) is much the same. It's not that we don't intend to get one though; we're just waiting for there to be more good games to play on it. So far it's just been overhyped and ultimately disappointing AAA releases.
posted by rifflesby at 11:42 PM on June 17 [1 favorite]


But you'll do plenty fine for ~6 years or so with a well-purchased $700 kit or so.

So close to double the price of a console, or $300 extra to move within.

That will play basically any game i can think of maxed out at 1080p, and not burst into flames at explode at 1440p.

1080p seems like a pretty low resolution for a standard gaming PC monitor. Mine is 2560 x 1600 and it's about 4 years old.
posted by juiceCake at 11:51 PM on June 17


Consoles for the home multimedia viewing, tablets for the couch/road. Sorry, PCs and laptops. You're dying.

Somebody has to write the software that runs on tablets and consoles. So bigger screens and keyboards aren't going anywhere just yet. There's plenty of other use cases where that form factor is just better. Crappy underspec'd PCs and netbooks that were just used for internet browsing have been supplanted by smartphones and tablets, but I don't see anyone with a need to do real work, such as wrangling photoshop, switching to using an ipad or PS4 as their only device any time soon.

I switched to console gaming last generation because I was sick of excessive PC DRM. And then they implemented the same always-on, one-use licence code crap for them, and so. much. advertising. that I came back to PC gaming, and just avoided the most excessive DRM'd games. And I see no compelling reason to buy into the next gen; my PC is faster than a console for damn cheap, and I can do a helluva lot more with it, including games like Civ that work much better.
posted by ArkhanJG at 11:57 PM on June 17 [1 favorite]


Sorry, PCs and laptops. You're dying.

PC Has Surpassed Console in Terms of Revenue.
Despite dying every couple of years, PC gaming is still holding strong, providing offerings that are simply impossible for consoles to replicate. Industry analyst DFC Intelligence owner David Cole says that the PC's foothold in the industry is even bigger than that, claiming that revenues for PC games have surpassed that of all the consoles combined.
Can you provide any evidence for your assertion? Because the facts appear to say pretty much the opposite?
posted by Justinian at 12:03 AM on June 18 [20 favorites]


Also consider that some users like me play almost just one game (Dark Souls in my case) and they are not really interested in the tech / graphic etc. For me my PS3 is a tool and it does what it should do perfectly and without any driver issue, download etc - just hit the button and play. And is very silent.

I have a little story to share: 1 year ago I wanted to play a game on my PC (Trials Gold for PC I think - I used to play it on the Xbox a lot). So I bought the game, a new graphic card, then drivers download tweak .... Moral of the story: just the update of the PC was MORE expensive than a complete Xbox 360 + Game (bonus: comes with a controller) - time wasted not included.

And at the end it did not work for months because AMD had to deliver some driver profile or whatsoever specifically for this game. And when it did the graphic card was whizzing with fans spinning etc, a friend of mine told me "just get a sound proofed enclosure" ... yes sure.

The graphic downgrade thing also happened to Dark Souls 2: the reason was just so that the console and the pc versions looked exactly the same. You dont want to have for example a enemy that cannot be seen on PC because the graphic "hides" him, but is perfectly visibile on console.

Next iteration of Dark Souls is Bloodborne and this will be a PS4 exclusive so the devs can go crazy on whatever graphic effect and be 100% sure it will work for all the users.
posted by elcapitano at 12:21 AM on June 18 [2 favorites]


It might be other graphical glitches in this game, but I am seeing all kinds of problems with the effect. Like the bloom pops in at a distance, in the bright light scenes, it is inconsistent. There also seems to be some flickering as it passes across the screen. I am just watching the video tho.

I fully understand why a feature like this would show up in a vertical slice e3 demo, and then get cut (but not fully deleted, because that costs time).

Also, see all the tricks that deadendthrills does to capture their shots, tons of which are hidden developer modes, but don't make the game play any better.
posted by jonbro at 12:37 AM on June 18


I guess I should be the weird one and say that I've started greatly enjoying my Wii U. The game that did it for me was Pikmin 3 (got free with Mario Kart 8). I'm just finishing up my first run at getting all the fruit, and I nearly can't wait to go through it again and do a proper job of it with an eye for time.
posted by JHarris at 12:50 AM on June 18


I do feel the pain of people considering the costs. I'm going to buy a new gaming rig in the next few weeks and am considering dual Nvidia GTX 780ti cards. Cost of just the graphics cards? $1500. Sticker shock!
posted by Justinian at 1:00 AM on June 18


Screw it, just posting that made me see the absurdity. I'm not buying two of those things. Thanks, Metafilter! You guys rock without even doing anything.
posted by Justinian at 1:21 AM on June 18 [18 favorites]


I get why you're all talking about this, but it doesn't matter at all. Everyone already bought Watch_Dogs and consoles are where it's at. Consoles for the home multimedia viewing, tablets for the couch/road. Sorry, PCs and laptops. You're dying.

Ah, this horseshit again. Happens every time a new console or whatever comes out. Console gaming is great, however it is great for certain types of game. Tablet gaming is great, but why hasn't it destroyed the consoles like everyone said it would? Because touch interfaces are only great for certain types of game. Similarly the mouse and keyboard on PC make it the best for certain types of games (FPS, flight sims, strategy etc)

And this is all before we get to the world of business, where consoles are irrelevant and tablets once again are OK for some things, but are you going to type a thesis into one? Do the accounts and payroll? Enter 10,000 lines of C++ and test it? Do CAD? Or a million other things? No, you are not going to do those on a touch UI. We'd be doing it already if it made sense.

So spare us the console fanboyism.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 1:45 AM on June 18 [6 favorites]


It seems like these changes are all coming from a user named TheWorse on the Guru3D forum. He systematically went through the game code, turning on every hidden effect he could find, and is still fine-tuning his mod even now. So you could have the textures and lighting effects without the bokeh, say, or any other combination of previously hidden features with a mod that turns on the ones you want and leaves the others off. Some of the Guru3D users are having problems with stuttering graphics, but that was apparently a problem with the original unmodded game as well.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:11 AM on June 18 [1 favorite]


So are we at the point where taking advantage of the best hardware is too expensive so publishers are defaulting to cheaper easier work?

Some people were arguing that the last console generation was already too powerful, creating a situation where AAA games were too expensive to make, stifling innovation. AAA video games had to sell millions of copies to break even, and so had to target the lowest common denominator.
posted by straight at 2:18 AM on June 18


The conspiracy theorizing about this is frankly nuts.

It seems obvious to me that those features were pulled because they detract from gameplay, because it makes things harder to see. They did the work, used some of the effects for demos, even, then realized that the depth of field and bloom, and so on kind of sucked when you were trying to actually play the game, so they pulled it.
posted by empath at 2:21 AM on June 18


Though I guess that doesn't really explain the difference in the rain effects -- I'd like to know what they were thinking cutting that..
posted by empath at 2:27 AM on June 18


But what can designers possibly be thinking by including a bokeh effect? Surely it can only make sense and be useful if the game knows what your actual physical eyes are focusing on?

I haven't seen the effect in action, but the game itself is very much "focus oriented," in that you have a crosshair, of sorts, which frequently jumps between many points of interest, depending on where you point it. So I can definitely see where something like selective focus would be an enhancement, once you got used to it.
posted by ShutterBun at 3:59 AM on June 18 [1 favorite]


1080p seems like a pretty low resolution for a standard gaming PC monitor.

1080p is still the de facto standard today. Monitors with resolutions as high as 2560 are still exceedingly rare, as are games capable of taking advantage of them.
posted by ShutterBun at 4:09 AM on June 18


I'm going to buy a new gaming rig in the next few weeks and am considering dual Nvidia GTX 780ti cards. Cost of just the graphics cards? $1500. Sticker shock!

I run a single GTX660Ti, which cost me under $300 a year or two back and is now, what, 4 or 5 tiers below top, and I can comfortably run literally everything out there at highest settings with some degree of anti-aliasing at 1080p. Unless you're going to try to push to a 4k monitor (of which there are vanishingly few, yet) or two 1080p or greater monitors in a multimonitor config, there is literally no reason to spend that much money (unless you just want to tell people you spent that much money).
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:20 AM on June 18 [4 favorites]


Oh, Total Biscuit's video is great as always. He is the best current evangelist for PC gaming! We're all pulling for you to beat the butt cancer, man. Good luck.

I didn't know he had cancer, damn. I used to love his WoW podcast back in the day.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:45 AM on June 18


I don't see how it's weird. The consoles released recently were not going to be overpowered, and therefore overpriced, to run games at 4K resolution as most HD sets are either 1080p or 720p at the moment

The new consoles don't even run at 1080p.

Wouldn't one expect a brand new "next gen" gaming console to, at the very least, run at the standard resolution of your average TV today?
posted by Fleebnork at 5:20 AM on June 18 [6 favorites]


I've taken a quick look at what actually got changed by the mod, and as far as I've seen, "E3 level quality intentionally disabled" is a heap of ox feces.

This is what the mod appears to do:
- Adjust various variables, like increasing rain drop density, making it rain more often, changing color grading, increasing crowd sizes etc
- By adjusting the previous variables, it also boosts the existing Depth of Field effect to insane levels, leaving you with a myopic main character
- Some environment effect textures, like skyboxes etc are set to use higher quality textures that weren't enabled for some reason, but this would only give negligible improvements
- Helicopter searchlight code transplanted into car headlight code, so car headlights now cast (sometimes buggy) shadows

I also see a lot of people claiming better performance with these new settings, but there's nothing that I can see that would improve performance (It would rather be degraded, especially when raining), so I am considering those claims to be mostly placebo.
posted by ymgve at 5:54 AM on June 18 [3 favorites]


League and DOTA2 are insanely popular, and due to the manual dexterity required for the fine-grained interaction I can't see any of them being replicated on a console (at least not without hooking up a mouse and keyboard to them).
posted by codacorolla at 6:18 AM on June 18


Everyone already bought Watch_Dogs

I've not bought it yet and I'm glad I haven't. I was waiting for the price to hit $30, and I'm glad I waited because it appears that in 6 months, I'll not only have a cheaper game but a better looking one, too!
posted by rebent at 6:20 AM on June 18 [1 favorite]


This is why I tend to stick to games from Steam or games that are targeted at the PC market from the onset (MMOs, mainly). I don't want to feel that my money is less important than some dude with an Xbox or whatever. I spend a fair amount keeping my gaming rig up-to-speed and I appreciate companies that cater to folks like me.
posted by tryniti at 6:28 AM on June 18


Similarly the mouse and keyboard on PC make it the best for certain types of games (FPS, flight sims, strategy etc)

True, but we've had console-quality gamepads for PCs now for a long time -- the Xbox gamepad is pretty much plug-n-play on a PC -- so it's hard to see what consoles do that PCs don't anymore.
posted by kewb at 6:54 AM on June 18 [1 favorite]


Over the holidays, I found myself looking at an xbox1 and a ps4 - really wanting to get back into some gaming. But... The titles were limited, and the price was a little too high for it to only game. I bought nothing... taking the wait and see approach. Then I saw the preview for The Division and knew I had found the next gen game I really wanted to play - even better, it was platform agnostic. The good news is it was a late 2014 release (now 2015) which meant it really didn't help me pick my platform. Still PS4 vs XBOx One...

Then I got my bonus check, was pleasantly surprised, and opted to use that to build a computer and say to hell with the indecision.
posted by Nanukthedog at 6:56 AM on June 18 [2 favorites]


"I'm curious if the work is really done. Sure it may be 99% there but if that one percent contains game freezing bugs with no ready solution I could see turning the feature off for initial release."

...which could basically be said about pretty much every game release ever.

We are all beta testers, by design... meanwhile, Ubisoft gets a lot of additional promotion for their new game, and PC gamers get to feel kinda vindicated and happier with their choice. Not the worst scandal ever, really...
posted by markkraft at 7:10 AM on June 18


1080p is still the de facto standard today. Monitors with resolutions as high as 2560 are still exceedingly rare, as are games capable of taking advantage of them.

Every game I've had for over the last few years supports 2560 resolution.
posted by juiceCake at 7:23 AM on June 18


Screw it, just posting that made me see the absurdity. I'm not buying two of those things. Thanks, Metafilter! You guys rock without even doing anything.

A good SSD and a good PSU (worst place to skimp) will give you much better results anyway - one 780 Ti is fantastic on its own.

My main gaming machine is a 4-year old laptop and the only reason I'm tempted to switch back to a desktop is The Witcher 3. I also ended up getting a Wii U because game quality (and fun) is my primary consideration.
posted by ersatz at 7:25 AM on June 18


> it's hard to see what consoles do that PCs don't anymore.

Consoles, a few years after their release when the price comes down, are good at providing a great experience that doesn't cost the same as a decent PC gaming rig costs, because consoles are often loss-leaders initially.

They are also good at letting you flake out on the sofa to do some gaming with friends on the big TV and with your drink on and your snack on, rather than sitting in a corner upstairs on a shitty office chair.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 8:10 AM on June 18


> Sorry, PCs and laptops. You're dying.

I have seen the future and it's Colecovision.
posted by jfuller at 8:11 AM on June 18 [7 favorites]


Sorry, PCs and laptops. You're dying.

"No outdated hardware. More space than a console. Lame."
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:52 AM on June 18 [1 favorite]


PC gaming: now in the third decade of its death throes!
posted by straight at 9:00 AM on June 18 [15 favorites]


They are also good at letting you flake out on the sofa to do some gaming with friends on the big TV and with your drink on and your snack on, rather than sitting in a corner upstairs on a shitty office chair.

Ah, so similar to the way I played Bioshock Infinite on my PC connected to the TV when my buddy was over.
posted by Fleebnork at 9:33 AM on June 18 [1 favorite]


They are also good at letting you flake out on the sofa to do some gaming with friends on the big TV and with your drink on and your snack on

The funny thing is, my group of friends are all hardcore gamers. Some on console, some on PC, and some both. But, starting about two years ago, we started playing board games everytime we get together.

I never really wondered why, and it happened so gradually that I didn't really notice. I think it's partly because there's so many games out now that we're all playing different games, so there's no common game where most of us all like or are all evenly skilled at. With board games we only play when most of us are there, so skill levels are a lot more equal.

And there's also the reason that you can play a board game, eat, converse, and have a dumb movie playing in the background all at the same time.
posted by FJT at 9:44 AM on June 18 [2 favorites]


I really don't think the kind of hardcore gamers who give a shit about this graphics change are the target demographic for the XBox One. I think it's aimed at guys like me, who do a lot of casual gaming and don't want to bugger about making it work. I picked one up a few months ago and have been really impressed with how well implemented and full featured it is. Under the TV it replaced a 360, a Blu-Ray player, and a Raspberry Pi that ran XBMC and had a hard drive stuffed with movies attached. We now stream movies from the PC to the XBone, which is a simple right click - Play To. If and when they get around to releasing the HBO Go app for the XBone, it will also replace my Roku. We also do Skype on it now, which is nicely integrated with the Kinect. It follows the kids around the room, so I don't have to chase them with the iPad. My wife doesn't like the OneGuide thing, so I'm not allowed to run the TV through it, but she's coming around. I'll probably need to buy the remote to seal the deal. It's simplified my setup so much that my 5 year old can make everything work.

I still do some PC gaming, but the beauty of a console for me is how easy and protected everything is. I don't mind letting my kids play Lego Marvel Heroes on it, because I can leave them for 5 minutes without coming back to find them deleting my tax returns. I'm about 5% of the way through Watchdogs on it, and like that it just launches me straight in to pick up where I left off. It's pretty enough for my purposes, but how about a mod that gives me some fucking Checkpoints in these long ass missions?
posted by IanMorr at 9:59 AM on June 18 [1 favorite]


If anyone is upgrading to a bleeding edge rig and has parts to sell/burn, please feel free to memail me or hit me up on MFC. I'm firmly in the camp that says hardware needs have geared down, doubly so if you don't want to flip all the toggles to ULTRA (I don't, never do), and that many people's handmedowns would likely constitute an upgrade.

Just a thought anyway.

posted by RolandOfEld at 11:01 AM on June 18 [1 favorite]


They are also good at letting you flake out on the sofa to do some gaming with friends on the big TV and with your drink on and your snack on, rather than sitting in a corner upstairs on a shitty office chair.

Steam lets you stream games now, so you can play anything in your Steam Library on a laptop, properly configured htpc or even a tablet. The PC does the processing.
posted by Kevin Street at 11:12 AM on June 18 [1 favorite]


You're not a hardcore gamer if you don't have to fudge around with your autoexec.bat and config.ini files to get a game to run!
posted by Justinian at 11:18 AM on June 18 [1 favorite]


You're not a hardcore gamer if you don't have to fudge around with your autoexec.bat and config.ini files to get a game to run!

LucasArts Boot Disk creator is king.
posted by hellphish at 11:37 AM on June 18


I'll just leave this here.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 12:41 PM on June 18 [1 favorite]


Industry analyst DFC Intelligence owner David Cole says that the PC's foothold in the industry is even bigger than that, claiming that revenues for PC games have surpassed that of all the consoles combined.

I had no idea. I guess Steam is where most of the distribution is now, right? My gaming tower is ... five years old? It holds its own pretty well today except for bleeding edge games. But Steam has definitely spoiled me with all the old titles for cheap, so keeping up with hardware hasn't been a priority. It sure puts off a lot of heat, though. My next rig will be faster but hopefully more efficient, too, but not for at least another year or two...
posted by krinklyfig at 12:49 PM on June 18


Minecraft, The Sims, League of Legends, DOTA2, World of Warcraft, World of Tanks - each one of these games has a PC player base that dwarfs everything on consoles that doesn't have "Call of Duty" or "Mario" in the name. (And that's ignoring the whole "casual game" market.)
posted by straight at 1:14 PM on June 18 [2 favorites]


And as long as a PC is the best tool for making games, some of the most innovative video games will start life as PC-exclusives. Because it's always going to be cheaper and easier for a lone genius to get the next Minecraft running on the same platform it was made than to develop it on PC and port it to PS4 or iPhone.
posted by straight at 1:18 PM on June 18


Anybody got a good recommendation for a 27" 1440 monitor? Looking for <2ms response time and probably a variable refresh rate up to 144hz.
posted by Justinian at 2:12 PM on June 18 [1 favorite]


Minecraft, The Sims, League of Legends, DOTA2, World of Warcraft, World of Tanks - each one of these games has a PC player base that dwarfs everything on consoles that doesn't have "Call of Duty" or "Mario" in the name.

Oh, hai.
posted by The Bellman at 3:07 PM on June 18


Anybody got a good recommendation for a 27" 1440 monitor? Looking for 2ms response time and probably a variable refresh rate up to 144hz.

Is there even such a thing? i mean i've seen this, but that's $800 and possibly vaporware.
posted by emptythought at 3:27 PM on June 18


Hmmmm. If I'm primarily interested in gaming where should I compromise then? Stick with one of the 1080 gaming monitors with the 1-2ms response times?
posted by Justinian at 4:00 PM on June 18


"Oh, hai." - cried a sad, muffled voice from underneath the crap in 82.4 million closets.
posted by straight at 4:07 PM on June 18


(I assume you were alluding to the massive sales of Wii Sports Club on the Wii-U as further "evidence" that consoles are burying PCs.)
posted by straight at 4:11 PM on June 18


That's a pretty cool monitor, emptythought. But this is the peripheral I want most.
posted by Kevin Street at 4:14 PM on June 18 [1 favorite]


Hmmmm. If I'm primarily interested in gaming where should I compromise then? Stick with one of the 1080 gaming monitors with the 1-2ms response times?

Are you totally married to 144hz? Personally i think all the fun and action right now is in buying the really cheap korean monitors and overclocking them to 120hz. Get one that doesn't do it? Now you have a good second screen, or resell it, or whatever(returning them is sort of a nightmare and usually involves paying overpriced shipping or getting ebay involved). They're sub $300 now.

A few months ago when i was really in to the idea of actually building another gaming system before reality slapped me in the face, that seemed like the obvious path to go.
posted by emptythought at 4:52 PM on June 18 [1 favorite]


Hmmmm. If I'm primarily interested in gaming where should I compromise then? Stick with one of the 1080 gaming monitors with the 1-2ms response times?

When I built my new box a year or two back, I splurged on one of the 120Hz Samsung monitors (1080p, 23inch because I couldn't splurge that much), and I'm extremely happy with it. I don't use the 3D stuff much (there's a lot of proprietary shenanigans going on with that these days, which annoys), and I went from an ancient CRT, so I didn't have much to compare it with. Prices have come down, as they do, so if I were building it today, I'd probably go with the latest 27inch 1080p Samsung 120Hz.

People who are accustomed to 60Hz panels rave about the 120Hz, for gaming at least, and there are quite a few good choices out there these days. I don't honestly know if I'd notice the difference, but, like I said, I'm very satisfied coming from CRT-land.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:02 PM on June 18 [1 favorite]


Oh, yeah, the new Gsync modules that nVidia is coming out with (hardware components for monitors) are apparently a major step forward. Not sure if there are many choices on the market yet (or any) that incorporate it, and what the cost bump might be.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:04 PM on June 18


First giving up on my idiotic fanciful dream of SLId 780ti and now abandoning 144hz? What's next, you guys suggesting I don't have the case electroplated with 24k gold?
posted by Justinian at 5:04 PM on June 18 [3 favorites]


I'm curious if the work is really done. Sure it may be 99% there but if that one percent contains game freezing bugs with no ready solution I could see turning the feature off for initial release.


I think "initial release" here is maybe optimistic - in the sense that a free upgrade that would require a chunk of balancing to sort out the beautiful but gameplay-hostile bokeh effect is probably a bridge too far. But yeah - lots and lots of stuff gets cut out of games when the deadline has to be met - and just because Watch_Dogs had its deadline moved, that doesn't mean the deadline wouldn't lead to things being thrown out or unfinished, and the unfinished code being walled off and left there.

(As an example, Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines is legendary for having whole systems, plotlines and characters walled off in the code. An enthusiast community has been lovingly restoring if for ten years...)
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:31 AM on June 19


Ubisoft replies:


Watch Dogs PC Update

The dev team is completely dedicated to getting the most out of each platform, so the notion that we would actively downgrade quality is contrary to everything we’ve set out to achieve. We test and optimize our games for each platform on which they’re released, striving for the best possible quality. The PC version does indeed contain some old, unused render settings that were deactivated for a variety of reasons, including possible impacts on visual fidelity, stability, performance and overall gameplay quality. Modders are usually creative and passionate players, and while we appreciate their enthusiasm, the mod in question (which uses those old settings) subjectively enhances the game’s visual fidelity in certain situations but also can have various negative impacts. Those could range from performance issues, to difficulty in reading the environment in order to appreciate the gameplay, to potentially making the game less enjoyable or even unstable.

Thanks for playing Watch Dogs and stay safe on the mean streets of Chicago.

-The Watch Dogs Team

posted by inpHilltr8r at 7:02 PM on June 19 [2 favorites]


The Steam Summer Sale is upon us! Buy buy buy! But not Watch Underscore Dogs, because it is a crappy console port.
posted by Justinian at 10:48 PM on June 19


http://whatifgaming.com/the-division-developer-insider-we-already-downgraded-a-few-things

A developer for The Divsion confirms that they are downgrading PC performance so as to avoid the gap between PC and console editions being too big and "alienate people into thinking that next generation is not as powerful as PC". Which, of course, it isn't. My rather antique PC is more powerful than either the XBox 1 or the PS4.

That's a more than somewhat disturbing thing to me. Some companies have apparently decided to deliberately retard PC gaming in order to make consoles look better. That's something that I would have dismissed as pure conspiracy mongering before this.
posted by sotonohito at 1:39 PM on June 22 [1 favorite]


That's not so much a "conspiracy" as it is "shit you ought to have figured out yourself."
(with all due respect)
posted by ShutterBun at 4:35 AM on June 23


A developer for The Divsion confirms that they are downgrading PC performance so as to avoid the gap between PC and console editions being too big and "alienate people into thinking that next generation is not as powerful as PC".

Let me correct that. Some random blog has a poorly written leak that reads like it was written by the same guy that writes the blog.
posted by empath at 6:57 AM on June 23 [2 favorites]


It's also something that's not new to the PS4/XB1 generation. In the PS3/360 generation, just about every multiplatform game had its PC version crippled so it could fit into the PS3's 256MB of memory (or the 360's 512MB of unified RAM). You usually didn't notice it because it wasn't just eye candy being turned off, it was the core game itself being cut down. Borderlands 2's infamously small inventory? Console memory issue.

I'm not sure why "not as powerful as a PC" is a sticking point. Neither the PS3 nor the 360 were as powerful as a gaming PC. Nor were the PS2 or Xbox. We've known for a long time that the PS4 and XB1's hardware boiled down to a slow but many-cored CPU paired to a midrange GPU and lots of unified RAM. Even the marketing for the XB1/PS4 seems a lot more realistic this time -- less "OMG SUPPERCOMPUTOR!" and more "It should be easier to develop games for because the architecture isn't as weird."
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:10 AM on June 23


Borderlands 2's infamously small inventory? Console memory issue.

I don't see how that could possibly be the case -- seems like more of a UI issue, in that scrolling through a bunch of weapons with a controller sucks. Your inventory is a tiny, tiny amount of memory.
posted by empath at 7:40 AM on June 23


Neither the PS3 nor the 360 were as powerful as a gaming PC.

I don't know why anyone would think that a $400 xbox is as powerful as a $1000 pc. No shit the pc is better if your videocard costs more than the whole console.
posted by empath at 7:42 AM on June 23


I don't see how that could possibly be the case

Well, the devs said it was a memory issue flowing from their decision to have the inventory screen display the full model of each of the items instead of the cutdown 2-d graphics that B1 used.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:48 AM on June 23


I don't know why anyone would think that a $400 xbox is as powerful as a $1000 pc. No shit the pc is better if your videocard costs more than the whole console.

I don't know why we have to keep repeating over and over and over that a computer rivaling an XBox in power only costs about $500 (whether you're talking about an XBone now or the price of rivaling a 360 a few years ago). A $70 video card will play most current games at a higher resolution than the XBone can handle.
posted by straight at 11:45 AM on June 23 [2 favorites]


Rock, Paper, Shotgun did a piece last year on building a better-than-Xbone/PS4 PC for about £500, which is $850 now but was less then. Component prices will have dropped also...

Cyberpower are planning to sell a Steam PC for about $499, with a 2 gig Radeon R9270 graphics card and a 3.9GHz dual-core processor - so, well below the PC curve, but definitely next-gen console competitive. Alienware's steam box is based on an i3 Haswell, and is going to sell at $549.

I mean, if you're paring down that much you maybe aren't counting a decent human interface solution (i.e. a keyboard), and if you want Windows that's more money...
posted by running order squabble fest at 12:47 PM on June 23


A $70 video card will play most current games at a higher resolution than the XBone can handle.

The GPU in both is a 7870, in the XB1's case minus some compute units, more or less equivalent to a GTX660. Which run well over $70 on newegg.

Say you want to build a more or less equivalent rig, and that you're picking stuff from newegg that's cheap within the highly-rated selections. A10 for $160, $50 for a motherboard, $85 for RAM, $100 for a hard drive, $75 for a case with a decent-seeming power supply, and $100 for a Windows license. $570, and then you have a machine with specs equivalent to a $400 console that's going to probably perform somewhat worse when gaming because of Windows overhead and worse optimization, except for games that are cpu-bound.

...but that's not what people are talking about when they're talking about pcs that blow away a PS4 or XB1. They're talking about enthusiast rigs with a core i5 or core i7 that runs $200+, a GTX760/780 or R9 that runs $200+, an SSD big enough for the OS and a big Steam library for $150+... so we're already well over the price of a console and still have to buy 8 gigs of memory, an overclocking-friendly motherboard, a case a tinkerer wouldn't mind working in, a good-quality power supply, and a windows license. And, maybe, aftermarket cooling that can handle an overclocked chip. You're looking at $1000+.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:10 PM on June 23


Linux is an increasingly viable gaming option

What? No, I didn't say anything. Please don't Melvin me again.
posted by running order squabble fest at 1:39 PM on June 23


You're looking at $1000+.

You really don't need as much power as you think to beat the consoles. They have shared ram, limited ram available to the games, and other limitations. People are buying similar cheap hardware and getting decent performance at 1080p when the consoles just fail at doing that. Windows overhead isn't any worse than the console software overhead. Hell, on the xbox MS sets aside 2gb of ram and some number of threads just for the console OS. Also, you really don't need that good of a CPU anymore. As is mentioned in several of the links below, a pretty cheap AMD(way below the A10, without it's GPU you don't need and laptop-focused cpu cores) does perfectly fine. As do a lot of other pretty cheap parts.

And on the price point, For the last time, this just isn't true anymore. Look at the suggested builds from $412 and up here, or on logical increments, or some reading and hunting here.

The biggest boost you can give yourself also is checking slickdeals. Power supplies that are $80 on logical increments(or equivalent, and good brands like corsair) go on sale for $30 all the time. The gtx 660 and 660 ti(between which there is a LARGE difference in performance) suggested there has regularly hit <>performance target and price range, then give it a couple weeks of checking sales to see what you can net.

Even just buying one of those systems off any of those lists will net better than next gen console performance, despite the fact that they have less ram. And you can always add more ram later for ~$30.

These arguments about upfront cost also ignore the fact that you can buy a $4-500 system now, use it for a year, then ebay the GPU you bought and still get $50 or more and then buy a new GPU for $150 on sale and get a massive performance increase.

PC components are cheaper than ever, and they seem to go on sale way more than they ever used to. You don't need to spend $1000 to get good results anymore. I mean, you can, but you don't need to.
posted by emptythought at 2:24 PM on June 23


I've been using the same ~$1,000 gaming rig since 2006 with no upgrades (although I have replaced the GPU and a power supply). Personally the current graphics are good enough for me. I love console bottlenecking.
posted by codacorolla at 3:11 PM on June 23


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