An odd thing has happened. It seems to feel like it requires more effort to play games consoles than it does for me to play games on my PC, and that is a major reason why my console usage has decreased massively in the past two years. What infuriates me is people dismissing this as simply not possible, because why would it be? That is one of the main advantages of a console, is it not?
Word of the post: Friction
It is supposed to be. Whenever this conversation comes up, I am quoted the steps required to get going on a console game, which typically goes something like this:
Put game disc in and start. SO MUCH EFFORT!They're missing much of the friction involved, and honestly? A lot of it revolves around distribution. Console gaming is pretty awful when it comes to distribution of games, and that is because of the complete lack of options for digital distribution. The first problem is general lack of availability, I can't get even close to all console releases digitally, it is a very small percentage that are actually available.
Then when they are available digitally, outside of perhaps Sony's first party games on the PS3, they are ludicrously expensive. £59.99 for Dead Space 3? Distribution is important to me, and when so many complain about downloading a new set of drivers once a month or so, spending 5 minutes doing that is apparently such a pain in the arse for so many gamers, but dealing with a huge library of physical games you have to filter through, open up, put the disc in, put the old disc away, just to start a playing a game is perfectly fine.
That is also a small thing, but I'm constantly being told it is that ability to just get in a game quickly that appeals to many people who only game on consoles, and to me that is a lot more hassle than I ever have to deal with on PC. I just click on the game I want to play out of a library of hundreds of games installed on my computer and I'm in the game in seconds.
All my games are kept completely updated, I don't have to manually boot up each game and wait for slow updates and installs, or pay for the privilege to have them automatically update (Ha!). This is friction, they're not barriers, they're speed humps, they slow me down, when I have the option not only to purchase and be playing that game within 3o minutes, but to be able to get that game at a reasonable price and just jump between any other game quickly and easily, on top of all the other benefits of PC gaming (more control options, mods, typically better online gaming experience, better graphics & performance), I don't know why I would even consider playing games on my consoles outside of exclusives?
For consoles to win me back, they're going to have to deal with this. I'm willing to accept more friction on the PC because that is the nature of the platform and it comes with its own benefits, but the reality is I'm dealing with less friction on my PC than the consoles (varies by console). There is a big problem, it wipes out a MASSIVE reason for me to even consider using them. Week by week, console gaming is more expensive - it has a lower entry cost but that is the least of my worries for something that is my main hobby, and is a machine I'll be using for a fair few years.
I still buy and maintain all the current generation of consoles, and still plan on doing so next generation because I am a gamer, and I just want to play games. I have platform preferences that are born out of a want for the best possible experience. I'm not one of those who insists they have no preferences, and "It is all about the games." because whilst yes, the games are most important, I can and do have a preference for platforms so I can get maximum enjoyment out of those games.
What we have seen of the PlayStation 4 indicates that some of the friction may be eliminated, but I'm afraid I can't be optimistic about much improvement in regards to digital distribution.