The world is full of idiots, and someone needs to point it out to them or they will never know.

Monday, March 14, 2011

So Over PC Gaming

It probably won't come as a shock to regular readers of this blog that I play video games. I try not to discuss my gripes about gaming here because, well, there's plenty of other places that bitch about how the PS3 has no games (which is just plain wrong), the 360 is prone to failure (which it's not - not anymore, at least) and how the Wii is for girls (no argument from me). What's been bugging me lately, though, is PC gaming. What's been bugging me? This:

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Remind me exactly when it became acceptable for us to have to sit through hours upon hours of installations, updates and so on, just to play PC games? I decided to boot up Portal the other day, play it for a bit, just to kill some time. Boy was that a mistake. For about five minutes I was stuck with this image:


It took forever to load. Why? Well, because I'd been foolish enough to not play any Steam games for a few months, so it had about sixty gigabytes of friggin' updates to download. Of what, I don't know, considering Portal has worked perfectly the day I installed it. I realise that Valve (the developer) has its heart is in the right place, but how about just giving me the option of downloading it?

Well, after another ten minutes (including multiple restarts of Steam) I finally got into the game, which was exactly the same. So glad for that update, Valve.

Still, updates aren't nearly as bad as installations. You better pray that when you buy a PC game you have an entire evening free to spend installing the damn thing. Not only are the installations upwards of 45 minutes, but some of them force you to register with their stupid communities (I'm looking at you, StarCraft II, Bioshock 2 and Mass Effect 2) before you can play. And hey, remember when installations used to mean little/no loading time? Not anymore! Yeah, I know games now are considerably more complex than they used to be, but considering StarCraft II takes up a whopping 12GB of space on my hard drive, I'd like the game to load my saves in BEFORE I pass out from starvation.

Is it any wonder why PC gaming is becoming less and less popular? It's because people finally have the option of (quickly!) playing the best-looking games on their home consoles. There are some people out there who lament casual games (like Bejeweled, Peggle, Plants Vs. Zombies and, heck, even Farmville) taking such a chunk out of the PC gaming market, but I say good on them! You know how long it takes me to open Peggle? Less than a minute. I haven't played StarCraft II in a while, but I bet if I launched it right now it would require another damn update. Let's see, shall we?

Oh my God. I was half-kidding.
Then I get this. What.

Even after the update is done, I'll have to type my password, sift through the menus, then spend two minutes waiting for my save to load. This is why I play Peggle, and not any of my triple-A PC games when I'm bored. Because they're ready to play in less time than it would take to go to Neptune and back.

Some of you may be inclined to tell me that they're fixing the game, making it better, which is commendable, really. My issue is that the updates take so damn long and are so damn frequent! Sure, I have to put up with updates on my PS3, but at least they're quick and rare. Is there a solution? Yes! Release a finished product! Do NOT use me as an unpaid beta tester. A wise man once wrote, "The first time we hear the word 'patch' in relation to a PS3 or XBox 360 game, we're taking the console back to the store. Filled with our shit." Amen.

A friend of mine asked me the other day why I bought Call of Duty: Black Ops for my PS3 and not my PC. My answer was simple: it was easier to play it on the PS3. Just pop in the disc, and I was away. No sitting around, just fun straight away. Honestly, apart from perhaps Portal 2 and Half Life 2: Episode Three, I'm pretty much done with PC gaming. I just don't have the patience anymore - and let's face it, it's not like it's getting better.

Fun fact: Half way through this rant, I opened StarCraft II to get a screen capture of the update screen, and you know what? Fifteen minutes later, it's still updating!

© 2011 by The Free Man