The Xbox 360 was a machine that made a console gamer out of me. Sure, I had a Super Nintendo and a Playstation but I bought most of my games on the PC. With that came a bunch of issues: driver incompatibilities, slow frame rate, disc speed. The 360 solved all those for me. I took a disc, put it in and the game just worked.

For a few years, my friends and I would regularly game on our 360’s. Multiplayer and Co-op were part of our regular social calendar. I spent a ridiculous amount on games until it got to the stage where I felt I was buying game of the week, playing it for 20 minutes before moving onto the next. Game rentals made things a little easier but still I wanted to play more games than I had time for.
Time is the enemy of all writers and in order to focus on my writing I needed to cut back on my gaming. Unlike my friends, who had given up MMO gaming after Star Wars Galaxies and a bit of World of Warcraft, I’d kept my WoW subscription, although I mostly dabbled. So I decided that it made sense to play one BIG game rather than 20 minutes of lots of different games.
For a lonely few months, I levelled characters (this was back in the days when levelling actually took time). I found a guild and started to raid, only touching the Xbox for a few big releases a year. And between it all, stuff got written.
Even so, I had been looking forward to the next generation Xbox. Whilst I might not have the time to game on it as much, I was still fiercely loyal to the brand. After all, I’d not forgiven Sony for what they’d done to Star Wars Galaxies.
And so, this year’s E3 presentations were something of interest. If nothing else, they have made emails between my friends about something other than Geocaching and watching wrestling. I think at the heart of it all is an issue of trust. Buying a new console is more than just a new piece of tech, it’s an investment in the future of gaming. We want the vision of the manufacturer to either match our own, or be so mind-blowingly awesome we change ours to match. Unfortunately voice control of television and kinnect are not in mine. Microsoft is really pushing for the future and for me, a future where the consumer can do less (as in lend and rent games – something I did do on the 360) doesn’t seem like that great a future to me. OK, so maybe their family license feature will be great, but the fact that the Xbone presentation was all carefully worded double-talk has made me lose my confidence in Xbox.
Sony by contrast is being hailed as a hero for being inactive. I may not agree with Microsoft’s suit-lead vision of the future where everyone has a living room large enough for a family of four to dance energetically whilst telling their Xbox to change channel, but at least it is a future. Sony, on the other hand, deliver a safer status quo, where graphics and frame rate are improved but where everything is slightly more conservative.
All trolling aside, I have friends with widely different opinions on this and I think it’s been difficult for groups of friends who want to game together but have widely different opinions on what their particular future is.
For me, I decided it was PC. Yeah, Steam went through the same thing Microsoft is currently going through with DRM, but at least there is enough diversity in supply that you can hunt down good prices for PC games. And yes, some games will not come to PC, but the AAA titles can’t afford not to. And besides, I think PC indie gaming is doing some incredible and exciting things right now. Plus, I can upgrade my hardware and keep my games.
It was probably an obvious choice given that I MMO game but there’s a world of difference between an MMO PC and a proper gaming rig. End of year bonus plus some other monies meant that I could actually afford something really decent and so on Friday I took delivery of my new gaming rig.
It’ll take anything you throw at it. Seriously, this thing will outperform a PS4 or Xbone and will probably beat the generation after as well. Everything is running at the maximum setting and the thing isn’t even squeaking. I managed 200fps (frames per second) on WoW, 100fps on Guild Wars 2, and Bioshock Infinite was so gorgeous I forgot I was playing a game and started taking screenshots instead. Seriously, frame rate makes such a difference to a game, it’s like the difference between DVD and Bluray.
I’m still sad to turn my back on the Xbox though. It’s been a lot of fun and the greatest sadness out of all of this is that my group of friends are going to be scattered across various different gaming platforms. But who’s to say that when Microsoft realise that gamers drive product adoption and swap out some of the suits for someone who could take you out in Halo, maybe I’ll return (albeit briefly) one day.
In the meantime, emails with friends will have to return to discussions of geocaching and wrestling with maybe the occasional bit of trolling over frame rate.