Are consoles dead? Is it time to return to PC gaming?

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As the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 approach, I suddenly feel less compelled than I have to join the fray. Recently, my time has been taken up by other things, but it’s not just a lack of time. I could be the most busy person you know, but if I really wanted to, I would make time for the next chapter in the Halo universe! But that’s not it. I already got in to why I’m not buying the Xbox One at Launch, but it continues to nag at me.

In that article I mention the lack of support for Xbox Live Arcade games. Some people have not believed me on this topic, so to them I point out my source of the information: Microsoft’s official Xbox Support Elite Tweet Fleet.

And with that said, I’m discouraged. I want my games to belong to me. I paid for them, I want permanent access to them. When my Xbox 360 dies in another few years, and Xbox Live no longer supports downloads of Xbox 360 content, and I go to Gamestop and picked up a used Xbox 360 but CANNOT download all of the content I paid for… then why the hell did I buy it all?

This is a risk you run whenever you move to a new generation. I have addressed the potential for virtualization of older consoles within newer, but until something happens to allow me to play my entire Xbox Live Arcade catalog the way I want to, I’m going to hold on to this grudge. I fully understand that tomorrow Steam could go under and I would lose access to my entire catalog of games. It’s possible. But not likely, at this time, as something that I have to worry about. And that’s the big issue. I’m tired of worrying. I want to go back to owning things.

There is just something nice about PC games. They might require some fiddling and fighting from time to time. Even the older applications may refuse to work without the assistance of something like DOSBox – but there is a community out there willing to help you make it work. Heck, now days there are companies like GoG who want to make it work for you and just charge you a couple of bucks! Which makes me want to get back in to PC gaming. There is something comforting in knowing that I could grab my original Half Life or Homeworld CD-ROM out of my attic and relive junior high! But PC gaming isn’t all fond memories. Sometimes it can be a wallet draining, troubleshooting hell.

I had a thank you for proving my point moment just a few months ago, when I explained to someone how my computer was playing the new Hitman game at a wimpy 14FPS. Immediately, without hesitation, I was met with “dude, upgrade ur rig.” No, thank you. I kind of like that I could buy one Xbox and (save for the potential Red Ring of Death or something) it would last six years. And I didn’t have to worry about whether or not my Xbox was powerful enough to play the game, or if the person I was playing against was going to “pwn” me because their Xbox had a faster graphics card. None of this enters my mind. I just pop in a game and play.

I’m quite conflicted, and think I’m going to need to do much more thinking. Maybe I’ll end up where I’ve always belonged. A gamer. Platform agnostic. Whatever is in front of me, that’s what I will game on. But I have to admit the allure of platforms like GoG and Steam and the likelihood that they will be there for me in the future, while longing for the uncomplicated, far-less-expensive simplicity of console gaming.

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