Given all the hoopla over the Xbox One news I reported on yesterday I wanted to touch base on an important fact, one that many people don’t seem to realize. If all of these restrictions do indeed make their way to the PlayStation 4, then I’ve got to ask, where the heck do we go from here? In essence our shiny new consoles will be nothing more than simplified PCs.
That’s something people tend to forget. Virtually all of these restrictions have been on computers for years and years. If I buy a game on Steam, it’s almost exactly the same. I can’t sell it off to anyone else. I can still play said game on another computer though, via logging into my account and re-downloading the game. That’s exactly what the Xbox One will be like, which begs the question. If the new Xbox is just a Steam-like system, what’s the point of having consoles anymore?
Ever since this news broke I’ve been thinking about this. If the home console market becomes too PC-like, then ultimately why will we even need consoles anymore. They’re inferior to PCs in almost every way possible, except they’re connected to our glorious HDTVs. That can easily be fixed with modern day PCs though. Almost all new computers come with HDMI-out ports, so just buy a super long cable from a cheap cable company for $20 and presto, problem solved. I know it’s a little more complicated than that for some people given the way they have their home setup, but seriously, if consoles blur the line between console and PC too much I don’t see how they’ll be able to survive.
PCs may seem like scary boxes, but they’re actually the most convenient way to play games. I can log-in to Steam and download a game in no time, I can even pre-install said game so at mid-night I can start playing right away without any need to download it like you have to do on consoles right now. Don’t even get me started on the Steam sales either, where brand new games can go on sale for 40% off in no time. Couple that with the fact that PCs can be easily upgraded so games actually look better over time, and you have yourself a very odd situation. The whole point of consoles was to offer something PCs couldn’t, a unified platform that was easily connected to your TV. In recent years that device has also become our hub for our entertainment, but the power and flexibility offered by PCs far outweigh those perks. Those perks may not even exist in a few more months if consoles become exactly like PCs, except that they easily connect to the TV.
In the end it’s all about exclusive games, and that’s always been consoles’ strongest asset. Where else can you play Zelda, Uncharted, Halo, etc. The thing is that if these machines become too PC-like in design, the first party content will have to be absolutely killer in order to convince the masses this is the right direction to take. It’s funny but the Wii U might just be the most accessible of all the next-gen platforms. Who saw that coming?
So where do we go from here? Do these console manufacturers believe this new strategy will work, and won’t cause many gamers to move to the PC? Will people just sit down and take it in because they have no other choice? How exactly will this play out moving forward? Is this the future of the home console business and if it is, why do we really need consoles if they’re just simplified PCs?