Developing for the PC, cause and effect, and how I realized that I’m an entitled, petulant child.

Last year I read Outliers and ever since I’ve been obsessed with the idea of finding hidden connections between the causes and effects of stuff happening around us.  I’d like to cite an example with the understanding that, unlike Malcolm Gladwell, I haven’t done any actual research and am basing my claims purely on speculation.  Regardless, I feel like the logic is sound.

You don’t see many turn-based historical simulation games on consoles, but you see tons of them on PC.  My guess is that this has something to do with the interface of those games being simpler to navigate via keyboard and mouse.  This decision was probably made 20 years ago by some developer early in the dev cycle and when that game became popular, other developers followed suit.  Before you knew it, the PC became the platform for simulation games, and it was all based on a somewhat arbitrary decision made by one guy developing one game.  This decision shaped an entire genre, and pushed an entire subset of people (history fans) towards one platform as opposed to another.  Again, it’s speculation, but the logic makes sense right?  Because the mouse and keyboard made more sense in the case of one particular game, its success set in motion a chain of events leading to simulation games being almost PC exclusive.

PC GAMING! Come enjoy the fun console plebs.

Now, a short story about me…

When I was 8 years old my parents divorced.  I was an only child.  My parents fought over my affections a lot, and one of the most powerful weapons in their war were gifts.  They found that it wasn’t hard to manipulate a child with presents, so they did.  As one might imagine I became spoiled rotten.  When I was probably 12 I got a PC from my mother.  It was supposed to be for school work, but we all know what I did with it; porn and games (pretty much in that order).  I began playing lots of new and interesting PC games like Starcraft and Half-Life.  I had a Playstation and loved it, but I began to feel the PC tugging me away from consoles more and more.

His k/d ratio is way better than mine AND he’s had relations with my mother.

Let’s talk about the PC gaming community (this will all make sense, I promise)…

The PC gaming community has gotten increasingly vocal in the last few years, with the loudest voices being those most angry about the latest hot button PC issue.  Most recently we were mad when Valve charged for mods and when The WItcher 3 didn’t have graphics that were quite as good as we were “promised”.  We’re perceived as a community consumed with making sure that the rest of you know that the PC master race is better than you.  We wear our virus and driver hassles like badges of honor, as though games are somehow better when you have to struggle to run them.  Our graphics cards could run all of those puny console games without even breaking a sweat.  We are smarter, cooler, and above all, richer than you, and if you don’t agree we’ll kick and scream until you do.  That’s how we look.

Here’s the connection (finally).

In my story I shared some details that are incredibly relevant to understanding the mentality of the PC community as a whole.  You see, as an only child I didn’t have to share, at least not to the degree that my blog partner Chris did (he has siblings).  In addition, my parents had only me and my affections to worry about, so any little bit of disposable income went towards my happiness.  Again, not a luxury Chris had.  PC gaming is a far more solitary activity than console gaming, one typically enjoyed in the dank dark of some basement, all alone.  It’s no wonder why Chris and I grew up to have very different tastes in gaming.  Chris grew up in an environment where a console made more sense.  He and his siblings could share it and play together.  I, on the other hand, grew up in a bubble where my every desire was constantly being met.  While Chris was learning about sharing I was learning to be selfish.  This informed so much of what I became even after I grew up and (hopefully) became a bit less spoiled and a bit more generous.

The details of my story are not unique.  In fact, in the context of PC gaming, they make perfect sense.  Here’s that connection I was talking about.  Only children or overly wealthy children seem more likely to have PCs than those with siblings.  They’re also more likely to be catered to.  Consoles are geared towards families, PCs towards the individual.  This is, by no means, some hard and fast rule.  We’re speaking in very broad generalizations. That said I would bet dollars to doughnuts that if you polled those that identified as console gamers vs. those that identified as PC gamers, you’d find that there are far more PC gamers that are only children or come from higher-income homes than their console counterparts.

Take all of that and think about the mentality of the PC gaming community.  We act like one big spoiled, petulant child.  We whine and cry and pitch fits over virtually everything, while lording our self-proclaimed superiority over all those who, for whatever reason, never became PC gamers.  We act, as PC fans, just like we did (or still do) as children.  Sure, there are moderate voices among us; not every PC gamer is a big baby.  The vocal minority typically is though, and that’s true of virtually any group.  In PC gaming’s case, it’s extremely true.  It’s not a huge logic leap to think that more spoiled brats are PC fans than there are console fans.  It’s not a stretch to think that some of those brats are the ones claiming to speak for us now.

Oh, the irony.

How is this a dev blog?

As a developer, I look at the heat that CP Projekt Red has taken over the last couple of weeks and I just shake my head.  By all accounts, The WItcher 3 is an amazing game.  So the graphics are a bit less stellar than they appeared to be in some trailer 2 years ago, who cares?  It’s not the first time something like that has happened, and it certainly won’t be the last.  When it happens to the PC community though, everybody better back up!  Don’t get me wrong, it’s kind of lame that the graphics got toned down, but I don’t see console gamers flipping out over this kind of stuff all the time.  I love the PC, and if I can make my living as a developer, my preferred platform would be the PC.  Watching the community turn on CDPR like a pack of newly turned zombies is awful though, and it makes me a bit scared to be a PC developer.  God forbid I ever do anything that the giant sniveling, whining baby doesn’t like.  What is most concerning here is that if end-of-the-year awards happened today, and they were totally based on review scores, The Witcher 3 looks like a lock for game of the year.  That should have PC fans jumping up and down with joy.  When was the last time that a PC-centric developer was so highly thought of?  But instead of using this is as a stepping stone to help people see PC gaming as something really cool, we’ve instead turned on one of our biggest advocates during a time when we could be advocating for them.  If I were CDPR I’d make The Witcher 4 a console exclusive and give a big fat double middle finger to the whole PC community.

And another thing PC gaming community, despite what your upbringing has taught you, you’re not the center of the gaming universe.  Diablo 3, one of the most anticipated PC games of all time, has sold roughly 20 million copies.  That’s a lot, right?  Well Rockstar thinks you’re adorable.  Grand Theft Auto V has sold 45 million copies, and that’s pre-PC launch.  The gaming industry as a whole really doesn’t need you (us).  It’s quite content to sell millions and millions of games to console players while you sit in the corner and pout.  So how about we all collectively cut the crap and give great PC developers like CDPR a reason to keep developing games for us, instead of completely alienating them because we didn’t get 100% of what we wanted.  There is no mommy and daddy to coddle us anymore, and I think everyone is starting get sick and tired of our whining.