This is a long-n-rambly post. This isn’t so much an article as a disjointed collection of observations, stream-of-consciousness style. Please lower your standards accordingly.
A couple of weeks ago I got a new graphics card, more or less to play Mass Effect. Now I’m not getting the game, and it sort of feels like my pixels are all dressed up with no place to go. Sulking, this weekend I headed to the game store to see if anyone else had their act together enough to get my money. Once again I was shocked at just how few PC titles there are.
It used to be that the bargain bin was a great place to pick up two and three year old games. Now titles linger on the main shelf, and only the most dreadful failures and low-budget movie spinoff games fall into The Bin. I had money to burn, but there just wasn’t that much to choose from. Most of the remaining titles were strategy games. Nothing wrong with that, but my strategy needs are well sated at this point. I wanted… something with characters? A story? Maybe a little leveling up?
There wasn’t much to choose from. In the end I picked up Knights of the Nine, an expansion for Oblivion. I also picked up another game that I’ll write more about later. Both were cheap – the two together were less than what I was willing to spend on Mass Effect.
It’s sort of strange to see this happening. PC Gaming isn’t dead. There are just too many PCs out there for the platform to be abandoned completely. But I think the days of getting a dozen spectacular big-budget games a year are gone for good. Who do we blame? Developers and their idiotic pursuit of graphics for its own sake? Pirates? Reviewers who overhype the crap? Publishers forcing bug-ridden releases and DRM? I’d say there’s plenty of blame to go around.
But now for the strange part: I’m thinking seriously about getting a real current-gen console – either an XBox 360 or a PS3. I’m not sure how likely that is. Those things are pricey. Still, I’m not even sure I can call myself a PC gamer at this point. The only thing that makes me a PC gamer is the fact that the games I’m boycotting are games for the PC. Maybe it’s time to jump ship and become a console gamer. Maybe.
At any rate, buying, playing, and griping about videogames is one of life’s great pleasures for me, and there aren’t enough viable titles on the PC to keep that going. We still have Stardock, id, and Valve putting out quality titles, but I don’t think their output alone can support the hobby.
There are also indie games, which I neglect too often. Indie developers are the best hope in the near future if I want to play more than three PC titles a year. I notice I usually avoid writing about indie games unless explicitly asked to do so by the author because indies are often a labor of love from a small group. Sometimes they are even the product of a single person. It’s one thing to heap scorn and shame on the output of a multi-million dollar company, it’s another to dump on the project some guy has devoted himself to for the last couple of years. It’s tough to review such a personal product without the critique sounding personal.
Having said that, Eschalon was fun. There are probably other worthy efforts out there. Jay has pointed out Depths of Peril, and it looks promising in a Diablo-esque sort of way. I’ll also be checking out his Frayed Knights once it ripens a little.
Something will probably change soon, one way or another. I can’t keep playing and reviewing old games forever.
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