I was one of the last people I’d ever expect to consider PC gaming. It’s not that I have any problem with games on such a platform, but when you’ve been playing games almost solely on consoles for the last 16 years and watching your parents do the same for even longer, it’s hard to change. Events in life have taught me that change is often a negative thing, and when I get so much enjoyment from console gaming, why change now?
Well, Hatm0nster recently wrote a post discussing how certain video game publishers, including Square Enix, believe that the market for console gaming is going downhill, and it got me thinking. About a lot of things. And it made me wonder, if this is true, and I honestly don’t know, is it because we as gamers have changed or is it the companies that have changed? If Square Enix is right now pondering over why their games aren’t as well-received as they used to be, is it the gamers or them? In that one, single example, I believe it is the company because it is a widely held opinion that the Final Fantasy series specifically has gone downhill after the release of Final Fantasy X, which many believe is the last good game of the series. In that line of thought, it seems Square is blaming the wrong people for the changes they are seeing. We have not changed; their games have, and it is for that reason that we are less willing to spend money on games that aren’t up to par with what we expect.
I can also cite companies like Rareware, who have since passed their glory days. Gamers continue to yearn for a new Banjo-Kazooie game, but are continuously denied it. Fans ask for the return of many series they used to love, but are repeatedly turned down. And these companies wonder why we have lost interest.
Maybe I’m wrong, but it seems to me that console gaming is only declining due to the games being made and not because gamers have changed. Sure, there are still a lot of good games out there, and there are many more on the way that we’re all excited about. It’s just that, even for a hardcore console supporter such as myself, I am seeing less and less reason to keep up with the new consoles. Each new generation of consoles used to be a big jump up in terms of technology, and we paid far smaller prices for them. My Nintendo 64, if I recall correctly, was about $100, and it easily surpassed the Super Nintendo in terms of gaming power. 64-bit graphics rather than 16-bit, an analog stick, and a whole array of new games I was excited to buy. For $50 each.
Fast forward 15 years later. I pay several hundred dollars for a Wii U, and I feel, well, like a fool. My Wii U ended up being no better than a glorified Wii, with the same graphics and a controller that is awkward like the Wiimote, just in a different way. Games cost $60 now. And after all this time, I still have five games on it, three of which I didn’t get very far in and have lost the will to play again. Not to mention the fact that my house is filled with consoles. I can’t fit them all on my TV stand, and if I want to play a console currently stored in my closet, I need to swap it out with one already plugged in beside or below my TV, and then I get to have fun trying to arrange the mess of wires just so. My house is losing the ability to fit any more consoles at this point! I’m being invaded by the things!
And to top it all off, most of my favorite series are gone. And if they are still having sequels made, I get to wait years in between, sometimes as long as a decade. What fun! I can just skip entire generations of consoles, in that case. That’ll at least save on space. I love what consoles and games I already have, on the most part, and I intend to play them all many more times throughout the upcoming years. The problem is, I’m just putting so much money and effort into new consoles with very little reward. It seems ironic that a company can stop making their most popular series and then wonder why sales have dropped. I don’t need an expert’s grasp on business and economics to understand that this makes no sense. If an Italian restaurant makes the best pizza in the country, why would they remove pizza from the menu and then wonder where all the customers went? Is it because people no longer enjoy Italian food? I think not. Once again, this would be a case where the company has changed and then wonders why their customers’ response to them has also changed.
This is where PC gaming comes in. You see, I was working my way here the entire time. I don’t think the gamers have changed. I certainly haven’t, but I have likely contributed to this declining sales of console games myself. Gamers that started out as children have grown into adults who no longer wish to spend an increasing percentage of their hard-earned money on a machine that has very little use. That is why I have begun to turn to PC gaming, even when I never thought I would. Almost everyone has a computer. Why buy a console to play your games when you can play games on a machine you already own? Why pay $60 for a game when you can download one for $10? Plus, there are a lot of interesting games being made for the PC, which I never knew about until I started watching Markiplier play Five Nights at Freddy’s on Youtube. Now I’m hooked on PC horror games.
I resist change. Probably more than most. That is why I still have a great resistance to becoming…a PC gamer. I have played consoles for so long, it feels as if I would be leaving a large piece of myself behind if I were to make the switch. It’s…almost painful. For whatever reason. But, you know, I’ll do it, if I have to.
…Okay, maybe I’m overreacting. I don’t have to give up console gaming. Certainly not. If anything, I’ll keep checking out older classic games like I’ve been doing with the Sly Cooper series. I just wanted to illustrate the personal reasons behind one individual’s choice to contribute to the possible downward trend in console gaming. It’s an involuntary contribution, but I do see why I would be a part of this trend if people are correct in saying it’s there. I’ve said it before, and I’m saying it again now, we have not changed. I have not changed. The companies have changed. Square Enix and Nintendo and Rareware and countless others are not what they used to be. Some of them are. Insomniac and Ubisoft still make games I love. But, will they forever? Probably not. Someday, Ratchet and Clank and Rayman will end, then where will I be?
You’ve probably already guessed it, but if that happens, I might just have to look to the PC for all my new games and continue playing my old ones on the consoles like I always have. I’m just one person, so I could be wrong, but if I hold these views, I’m sure there must be a percentage of the population, no matter how small, that does, too. The economy is too big a thing for my mind to really wrap around, but when you break it down, it’s just made up of people like you and me, and our choices matter.
What do you think? What kind of gamer are you? And if you’re a console gamer like myself, are you losing interest in the console market? Let me know in the comments below!
A Duck With a Growing Identity Crisis