Despite their indisputable popularity, consoles have routinely had negative impacts on the quality of gaming.
In the 1980s, monopolistic tactics employed by Nintendo prevented technologically superior versions of third-party games from seeing the light of day on more power platforms, such as the Sega Master System. This is something that would have been infeasible on a more open platform, such as the PC, or in a more openly competitive market, such as arcades.
In the 1990s, it became en vogue to base arcade hardware on its console relative, almost certainly stunting the growth of arcade technology. This started out well enough, as SNK’s Neo Geo had the opposite effect. It drove arcade-tuned horsepower into the home market. But it soon turned south. Capcom (ZN-2) and Namco (System 11), for example, used PlayStation-based platforms for their arcade games. Sega did the same with their Saturn and ST-V pairing.
This strategy continued into the next console generation and new millennium with Sega’s Dreamcast-based Naomi platform and Namco’s Systems 246 and 256, based on the PlayStation 2. The two arcade behemoths even cooperated with Nintendo to release the Triforce, an arcade incarnation of the GameCube. Not to be left out, Microsoft, fresh off their entry into the console industry, partnered with Sega on the Xbox-based Chihiro.
While there were exceptions along the way, perhaps most notably Sega’s progression from Model 1 to 2 to 3 and its multiple incarnations, consoles became the anchor that largely sunk the arcade industry globally. Not coincidentally, arcades have enjoyed a minor renaissance in the form of deluxe cabinets powered by relatively high end PC hardware, combining two things with which consoles just cannot directly compete from an experiential perspective. Star Wars: Battle Pod, powered by Namco’s N2 platform, is arguably the prime example:
While consistently bringing the incremental horsepower traditionally found in arcades, home PC gaming has become the new hitch for the console boat anchor. After a console generation of proprietary PowerPC architectures, both Sony and Microsoft adopted the X64 PC architecture for their PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, respectively.
The effects of this hardware uniformity on PC gaming have not been all bad by any stretch. The PC has enjoyed an unprecedented amount of support, especially from Japanese developers and publishers. One would logically assume that in this sort of scenario developers would treat the PC as the lead development platform and then scale their games down to the two consoles, but this has far too often not been the case.
Instead, PC versions have shipped significantly later, been shoddily ported, or released without key features. That last one is especially troubling, because, aside from raw power, it is this flexibility that sets the PC apart. Well made PC games support essentially any resolution/aspect ratio, any input device, and any modification.
Four decades of varying sizes and types of frustration have led to consolescence, a fauxnoun meaning the state, process, or condition of gaming sub-optimally, and a humble blog that aims to promote better alternatives to console gaming, be they arcade, PC, or even mobile.