The Death of PC Gaming

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Have I got a deal for you!

DirectX 10 is coming, and to enjoy the fruits of Microsoft’s pixel-bullying labors, you’ll need a few minor hardware upgrades.

You need to throw out that entry-level, mid-grade, or pinnacle video card you’re currently using and buy one that requires probably four times as much power and outputs who knows how much more heat. That’s going to necessitate some augmented cooling in your case and possibly your computer room, so be prepared to either play with your fan setup if you have a good case, or buy a new case if you don’t.

I did mention the power requirements, right? Yeah… you’re going to need a new power supply for this monster video card as well. That crusty old obsolete 500 watt dinosaur you bought two whole months ago has got to go as well.

So… about that DirectX 10 part: You’re going to need to upgrade to Vista as well if you ever want to use DX10, because Microsoft doesn’t plan on allowing DX10 upgrades for any of their other operating systems. Since you’re upgrading to Vista, you’re probably going to need more memory in your box, since all indications point to Vista using ~750 MB of physical memory, just to stand there and do nothing other than presenting a desktop. Are you excited yet? I sure am!

Now wait wait, wait… I want to make sure of something here. Are you what people might refer to as a ‘PC enthusiast’ or a ‘dirty overclocker’? Do you build your own machines? Tsk tsk tsk… That could be a problem.

Microsoft also plans on limiting Vista activations to a mere two ‘machines’, where ‘machine’ is defined as ‘significant hardware change.’ You know, the sort of change experienced when you, say, upgrade your motherboard and processor. If you plan on doing that, you may run into problems. This isn’t set in stone, mind you, but it’s possible that this ‘two machine limit’ is exactly that, a hard two machine limit.

The days of calling Microsoft and explaining that the old system you last activated your key on doesn’t exist any more just might be over. Personally I can’t see this happening, but that’s more of a dumbfounded “I can’t believe they’d do this” reaction than any hard logical-thought-process-arrived-at knowledge.

So where were we… oh yes! To enjoy the new eye-candy offered by Microsoft’s proprietary third API, you’ll need to buy completely new hardware (normal) with completely ludicrous power and thermal requirements (crazy), a completely new operating system (crazy), more memory (mixed reaction), and you may be stuck with the hardware you get for a long time, unless you plan on buying another license for that new OS (completely unacceptable, if true.)

So seriously, what the hell happened here? How did we let this happen?

I really lament the decline of the game industry’s support for OpenGL. The fact is – if more game developers supported OpenGL in their products, this sort of monopoly on your gaming rig wouldn’t exist. A game written in C++ and supporting OpenGL could be compiled to run on a variety of platforms – and in the PC market, variety drives prices down and freedoms up.

And as far as DX10 and DX10 cards… when isn’t too much too much? I mean sure, I love games getting progressively prettier and prettier, but every single one of us had the option of buying some insane SGI workstation that people like Industrial Light and Magic used 5 or 10 years ago to add realistic-looking special effects to movies.

We didn’t though, because that was too much cost for a living room solution. So what changed since then to make a $250 OS (guess), a $300 video card (guess), a $200 memory upgrade, and an undefined serious impact on monthly electric bills OK?

Is anyone else here disgusted, or is it just me?

If you can’t deliver the technology using processes that yield hardware reasonable for home use, don’t. And for God’s sake don’t make it mandatory.

If this whole situation is as bad as it seems to be, it spells the death of PC gaming for me. I’m sure the Dells and HPs of the world will be selling Vista DX10 machines so that Joe Sixpack can buy Yukon Hunting Simulation VII and Microsoft Eighteen Wheeler 2007, but I’m not going to.

I’m also not going to be buying Half Life 3 or Unreal Tournament 2009 or SimCity 5, etc… because I’m not going to buy a video card that requires fuel rods or an operating system that requires more hardware just to sit there and drool prettiness compared to the games I play today.

Peter Ramins aka InThrees @ OCForums

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