View Full Version : Garry Kitchen (A Boy and His Blob): What Can be Done to Console Games That Could Help Distinguish Them from PC Games?

11-18-2018, 10:56 AM
What innovations can be made to video game consoles that could help distinguish them from their PC counterparts?
by Garry Kitchen
Posted 2018-11-17:

Ironically, there has been one clear differentiating factor that has distinguished video game consoles from PCs for many years, but it is quietly going away - and with very little justification.

In the old days, there was nothing more satisfying than buying a game, bringing it home, putting it into your game console, and immediately playing. How excited were you, or your kids, to play a game that was a Christmas or birthday gift? How many recipients of a video game gift put the game aside and waited to open it hours or days later; not too many, right? In fact, more than likely, a kid would rip off the shrink-wrap and be playing the game within minutes of receiving it.

With PC games, there was the install process, sometimes followed by a much-too-technical configuration process (set resolution, choose keyboard/mouse/joystick, choose rendering quality(?), etc.), ultimately ending with “why didn’t the game run” or “why does the game run so slow.” This was understood, as the PC was a device for geeks, techies and business people.

But a game console was a consumer device, like a TV or microwave oven. It worked exactly as you expected. You bought the game, turned on the console, and played. There were no surprises, and there was instant gratification.

Of course, the ability to load and play the game almost instantly on game consoles was a result of games being delivered on solid state memory devices (ROMs). Games delivered in ROM loaded in seconds (think Atari, Nintendo NES/SNES/Game Boy/DS/3DS, Sega Master System/Genesis), allowing the player to immediately enjoy their purchase.

When game consoles switched to optical media (i.e. CDs/DVDs/Blu-Rays), the loading time increased because it is far slower to read data off of a disc as compared to solid state memory, and of course, the game files were much larger. Completely understandable. And the slower speed of optical discs didn’t mean hours of loading wait time, it was still just minutes. In any event, smart programmers quickly devised ways to prioritize the loading of key sections of the code, allowing the game to start playing while additional game assets loaded in the background.

But, what’s going on now is just ludicrous. You go to the store and buy the newest game release for your Xbox or Sony game platform. Keep in mind, these games are delivered at retail on a high-capacity optical disc which can hold up to 50gb - about 12 million times the memory I used when I programmed the Atari 2600 Donkey Kong cartridge.

And, in some cases (not all), what happens next is just irresponsible. You excitedly put the disc in the console and get ready to play, and BAM, the console has to go out to the Internet to “download some files.” Ok, I can deal with a 5 or 10 minute download. But no, that’s not what I’m talking about here.

I have a very high speed Internet connection and I’ve seen it take anywhere from 2 to 16 hours to download the game I just purchased at retail EVEN THOUGH the game comes on a 50gb optical disc. Now, while the average, non-technical consumer may think that this is somehow necessary, and puts up with, I know better. There is no technical reason for this behavior to happen. There are ways to develop and deliver a console game on disc without resorting to the brute-force method of downloading the entire game from the Internet when the person gets home.

It seems like certain developers have just assumed that since the game is going to go out to the Internet anyway to download code updates, let’s just have it download the latest version of the game. These folks seem to be using the physical disc as a dongle, rather than a delivery mechanism for the game you bought (dongle - a physical device that plugs into a computer, serving no other purpose than to prove that you legally purchased the software).

For the naysayers, I will answer in advance the arguments I’m inevitably going to get:

“The games are bigger than 50gb, so data has to come from the Internet” - that’s fine, but the first 50gb of the data should come off of the disc, and the game should be able to start before even that is finished loading. The player can then be playing while the additional data is downloaded/streamed from the cloud.
“Code get’s updated/patched, so data has to come from the Internet” - same answer. In fact, what is usually downloaded to fix bugs and update the game is code, not graphics. Code is tiny compared to graphics. Please don’t tell me that bug fixes take 8 hours to download.
What game publishers are forgetting is the fact that a $60-$70 video game, bought at WalMart/Target/GameStop etc, is a consumer product. Imagine if you bought a car and they told you that after you brought it home you couldn’t drive it for a week. Or imagine how you’d react if it took 8 hours for that Blu-Ray copy of Avengers to start playing (“honey, you better make more popcorn…”)?

Retail video games are a consumer product, guys. Consumer experience matters. Other industries get that, it’s time for the video game industry to take it seriously.

Source: https://www.quora.com/What-innovations-can-be-made-to-video-game-consoles-that-could-help-distinguish-them-from-their-PC-counterparts/answer/Garry-Kitchen

11-18-2018, 05:49 PM
I've been saying this exact same thing for years now. To me console gaming stopped 13 years ago when the 360 released and games started requiring all the updates and bullshit. Oh well, people accepted it and have kept the industry afloat. Fine by me, keeps prices of older games lower.

11-21-2018, 02:56 PM
I agree with Mr. Kitchen. While I don't have current consoles, it is a pain when I would buy a game on 360 or PS3 and be confronted with a large "zero day" download. Or the blooming console needs an update...geez. I only have do much time for game play and if it's spent downloading, it lessens my interest greatly. It's a situation I deal with on Steam on my aging computer-the updates slurp up all my bandwidth so I can't do things easily online or my computer slows to a crawl.