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What if Game Consoles were like PCs?

Written by Gordon Fecyk, 4/20/2005

Console games require a lengthy quality assurance process.

If only we had a lengthy quality assurance process for personal computer games.

[Listen to MP3 Audio] GAMES FOR CONSOLES are somewhat more expensive than their counterparts for personal computers. In most cases, console software requires licenses from the console's manufacturer, which accounts for much of the cost.

Developing crappy PC games requires a few workstations. Console games require license agreements, expensive SDKs, and a lengthy QA Process.

Ahh, if only we had a lengthy quality assurance process for personal computer games.

Here's my problem: Too many modern PC games don't work with Windows XP or Windows 2000 if you turn their safeguards on. They either write your saved games to the installation folder, or they require ports opened on the Windows XP firewall, or they require some obscure operating system feature only available to administrators, or whatever.

To make matters worse, far too many PC games require updates from the game's manufacturer to correct stupid problems that prevent you from finishing the game. Or even getting past the game's first levels, in the case of that last link.


DO CONSOLE GAMES HAVE PROBLEMS where you can't get past the first levels because of a programming error? Ever worry about getting a virus on your PlayStation 2? Or your Xbox? They can connect to the Internet, you know! Don't you know that you can get viruses from the Internet?

Well with Xbox hacks pretty common now, who is stopping anyone from cheating? Now that the Xbox live is out, what is stopping people from downloading content too? I am just waiting to hear the big news about a virus being downloaded to the Xbox. I mean, who makes anti-virus software for the Xbox? No one that I know of.

Can you imagine having to start up your Xbox every day so you can download the latest anti-virus updates?

You'd throw a fit if your game console needed the same after-the-fact attention as your PC.

Can you imagine having to start up your Xbox every day so you can download the latest anti-virus updates? Just so you can play your Xbox Live games comforted by a security blanket? The thought of anti-virus software on a game console is absurd! You, the game console user, would be outraged!

Yet, you, the personal computer user, will gladly submit to this absurdity on your personal computer!

What's wrong with this picture?


IF YOU'RE WORRIED ABOUT CONSOLE VIRUSES, or people hacking your saved games, or people hacking your on-line sessions on Xbox Live, then don't be. Game console manufacturers have expensive, uh, extensive quality assurance programs, because they design their consoles to prevent this nonsense before the fact. They require their third-party developers -- LucasArts, Square, Electronic Arts, Sega, and so on -- to follow these assurance programs for the same reason.

The average non-computer-geek can sit in front of a console and play a game without needing to know cryptic commands, or special instructions, or the latest drivers for whatever, or knowing what OpenGL is, or having to install anti-virus software. We can't say that for PC games.

At least, not yet. You, the personal computer user, have alternatives to this absurdity. You can choose PC games with the Designed for Windows certification... Hey! Isn't that a lengthy quality assurance process? You can ask the sales person trying to sell you that latest game. You can play your games on a console and avoid the lack of quality assurance of PC games entirely. I'm sure there are other choices, too, all of them able to prevent problems before the fact.

Because, man. You'd throw a fit if your game console needed the same after-the-fact attention as your PC.

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