Thoughts on Consoles ‘Holding Back’ PC Games

This is a topic of discussion which I hear on a regular basis. As someone who thinks about developing games for both PCs and consoles I wanted to share my thoughts about the subject. Specifically, I want to focus on the common argument that consoles are “holding back” PC gaming.

Holding What Back, Exactly?

The overwhelming argument I hear to support the idea that consoles are holding back PC games comes down to graphics. A vocal amount of PC gamers feel that too many game studios focus on creating console games and then (maybe) porting them to PCs which have superior hardware. The result is that those games do not take full advantage of said hardware and thus are not as visually impressive as they could be. The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim is an oft-cited example; consoles do not allow arbitrary custom mods, robbing those gamers of the experience of texture mods that make the game look like this.

It is true that PCs will generally have better hardware than consoles, simply for the fact that manufacturers do not ship out new video cards every now and then to plug into our PlayStations. So the graphics of console games will be of a lower quality than what is possible of high-end PCs; near the end of a console’s life-cycle even mid-range PCs probably have better graphics.

But all of that makes me wonder this: are graphics that important to so many people? Ok, so Skyrim out of the box on the PlayStation 3 does not look as good as Skyrim on a PC with awesome, high-resolution texture mods. How do people take that and extrapolate the idea that consoles are ‘holding back’ PC games?

I keep stressing the phrase ‘holding back’ because I hear it so much. It is a poor phrase to use. The fact that one group of developers are working on consoles does not restrict other developers who would rather focus on PCs. I fail to see how anyone is ‘held back’.

If you seriously believe that consoles are negatively impacting and retarding the development of PC games then please leave a comment explaining why, because I am genuinely curious.

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