As I have written before here, I would like to think of myself as a not-quite-as-of-yet member of the PC Master Race. A Master Racer, if you will. I have the will and ambition to become a full member of this proud and cocksure clan, just not the cash. As of this writing I do not own a rig. I also do not have any blueprints for one, nor will I until some more money magically appears underneath my feet (that’s how it works for you guys, right?). The reasons for wanting to become a Master Racer are numerous: better graphics, cheaper games, and high levels of personal hardware customization just to name a few. I mean, it’s not called PC Master Race for nothing. PC gaming undoubtedly delivers a more thorough and engaging gaming experience because so much more effort (read: cash) must be put into receiving that experience by the consumer. There are, however, a few aspects of PC gaming that might not be so superior to the Peasant (console) market as one might think.
My lack of proper PC gaming hardware has made it impossible for me to enjoy the more recent games that can be purchased for a song on Steam such as Far Cry 3, Assassin’s Creed IV, or Injustice: Gods Among Us. I do possess quite a decent laptop however that manages to handle pre 2011 games fairly well though, so although I lack the proper tools to really enjoy the bigger games PCs are built to handle, I do have access to older, less graphically demanding games and the smaller indie market games as well. This brings me to my first point: simple functionality. I recently purchased SuperGiant Games new(ish) title Transistor. I loved Bastion when it was released and I am currently replaying though it. Wanna know why I’m replaying Bastion, and not Transistor? Because Transistor does not work. I have tried everything to get this game to run, but it crashes immediately. This is one area where Peasants have the edge. Whereas my copy of Transistor is my responsibility to fix even though the game is broken upon purchasing, console gamers will almost never ever have this problem. It’s almost a guarantee that when a Peasant puts an Xbox game into his or her Xbox that that game will work. And on the truly microscopic chance it doesn’t? Simply take it back to the store where you bought it for either a refund or for a new copy. End of hassle. Want to get a refund from Valve, a company who was recently sued for refusing refunds to gamers, a company who according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission thought that they were “not under any obligation to repair, replace or provide a refund for a game where the consumer had not contacted and attempted to resolve the problem with the computer game developer”? Good luck. Valve’s customer service has time and again been criticized for being uncooperative and downright asshole-ish. You want a game that you know for a hundred percent will work? Buy a console game. It’s broken? Go get your money back. Simple as that.
The lack of hard copies of games is also a cause for concern. It was reported recently that ninety-two percent of all PC games are bought as digital downloads. This could potentially problematic for Master Racers. Let’s say you get tired of your rig and you decide to build a new one from the ground up. Once it’s built all your games need to be installed. But what if there’s been a mishap with your account and a game you’ve paid for no longer shows up as owned by you? You’ll have to repurchase the game. You know what you could’ve done to prevent that? You could have bought a hard copy. You can install that bad boy on any number of computers as you want. But because you don’t have a physical copy, it’s left to the powers that be to decide whether you had actually bought that game or not. But let’s assume that there’s been no problem with your account and all your previously owned games still show up under your account. Now it’s time to download all your favorites. But to do this Master Racer’s need three things: an internet connection (which not everyone has), a lot of time (not looking at you people with Google Fiber), and enough storage space on which to put them (SSDs be expensive, yo!). Guess what Peasants don’t need to enjoy their favorite games. Any of that stuff. Why? Because, odds are, they bought the hard copy.
I was initially against my conversion from a Peasant to a Master Racer. I was a console gamer through and through. “Why?”, I thought. “Why pour that much money into a gaming machine and then have to play it with a keyboard and mouse?” I still stand by the keyboard comment. To this day, I will only under the most begrudging of circumstances accept playing a game with a keyboard and mouse (KoToR being the obvious exception). But soon it became clear to me that there were too many reasons as to why becoming a Master Racer was the obvious thing to do (not the least of which was that I could use a controller for almost everything). I still, however, hold console gaming near and dear to my heart. Though I may have converted, consoles are still in my blood. I will own my Xbox 360 until the day it dies just so I can keep playing Red Dead. PC gaming is a superior experience. But it’s far from a perfect one. And maybe one day Master Racers will stop circlejerking long enough to realize that there’s really no reason to dump on Peasants the way they so often do, especially when there are significant areas where Peasants have the gaming edge.