Last week, my PC died. Well, a part of it died. A quite essential part, namely the motherboard. What should have been a routine RAM replacement turned into a spontaneous shopping spree for a new board and processor, causing some gaming and blog-posting downtime. Fortunately, my gaming rig is back with a vengeance, sporting a way faster six-core processor and eight gig of RAM. My games never looked so pretty!
Anyway, last week’s computer resurrection adventure reminded me of the problems PC gamers have to deal with. Next to terrible console ports, one of the most frustrating parts of PC gaming is the need to upgrade hardware. Where a console gamer just buys his console and plays on it for six or more years until the next generation arrives, PC gamers have to replace parts at least once every other year to keep up with the times. Many gamers choose to buy pre-configured rigs, put together by an expert who installs graphic cards while being blindfolded and chased by taunkas. However, a majority of the gamers I know decide to do the upgrading without the help of any professional, which can lead to many problems. You wouldn’t be the first gamer who throws out his computer after it just won’t boot because of a new GPU!
I don’t want to dramatize this, but I believe this is one of the reasons more and more gamers transfer over to a console. Call it laziness, but I can understand any casual gamer who doesn’t want to bore himself with the specs of the newest Nvidia card, or who just doesn’t dare to touch the inside of a machine. As my RAM replacement of last week has shown, just a tiny push or wrong touch can kill your entire system, which means that you have to fork over a respectable amount of money. I won’t name any exact prices, but let’s say that from the money I used to get myself a new mainboard and processor, I could have easily bought a PS3 (without any games or additional controllers). I’m quite sure that PS3 never needs a RAM upgrade.
Maybe the permanent need for upgrades is not the “bane” of PC gaming, but it is surely something that puts people off. Though I’m still a loyal PC gamer because my favorite genre (MMORPG’s) is still primarily accessible on a desktop PC, the easy “plug and play” use of consoles is attractive. After this traumatic death of my loyal piece of hardware, it only takes a few good console MMO’s to see me switch sides and join the console kids. Odds are low that I will kill my console with the need to upgrade its hardware…