Paul's Technology Blog

July 26, 2006

Big Update - Pt. 1 Games for windows

Well there is a ton of stuff to talk about today. Hopefully I will be able to start doing this daily and then someone out there may actually look at it.

First I would like to talk about the new Microsoft Windows Game For Windows initiative.

Its no secret that PC games have been facing many predictions about its demise as consoles become faster and have more games. Go to your local EB/Walmart/Gamestop etc. Its easy to see why. More often then not our beloved PC games are relegated to smaller and smaller shelves now most times like a wheeled shelf with its spine being the only thing you see. Console games in the mean time have the front covers facing out and entire walls dedicated to PS2 and Xbox games (Sorry GC you don't have enough games for more then a segment of wall but its more then PC games)

Why is this? Well for one the general consumer wouldn't know a video card from a poker card. They know consoles you plug into your TV and play games. PC gaming is a little different.

1) You kinda need to make sure your specs all match and even then you need to make sure you PC exceeds those specs because most games the minimum specs are worth less.

2) Installation and Installation Media. If you go to the store and get GTA 4 you go home and throw it into your console and you are playing it in no time. With PC games you gotta sit through the install process. Installation of games is slow and boring. On top of that the PC Gaming industry is reluctant to give up on the CD-Rom format because there is still 3 people out there without a DVD Drive. So now you have to sit through the whole process because every game is practically a multidisc install and you need to swap in and out CDs. True some games are coming out on DVD but a lot are still on the venerable CD-Rom format.

3) Patch game delivery system. Because of the nature of the internet and how PC systems are not standardized there is no "PC Live!" platform. As such patches are delivered either a) as people visit the developers website and download updates and b) Through some games that may have a built in updater. Console gamers on the other hand need simply to be online and most of the time the game will update itself.

Of course the PC Gamers have been in need for a nice overhaul to their lives for a while and that help is coming from Microsoft. With the advent of Vista MS is planning on starting the Games for Windows overhaul.

This overhaul will include the following:
1) Games will come with a performance number. Simply a number between 1-5 if you are running Vista you can get a rating for your PC (through some benchmark it runs) So when you go to the store you can simply match or exceed that number on the box. So if I have Vista lets say my PC rates a 3. Well I goto the store to by Flight Simulator X, I simply look at the box Performance Requirements which lets say requires a PC score of a 2 or better to be able to play the game and enjoy it. Well since my PC is rated at a 3 and the game requires a PC rated at 2 I am good to go. See simple. A lot better then trying to figure out what a p4 at 3.2ghz is when I am running an Athlon 64 2.2ghz (I know what it compares too but I am using examples. Or any average Joe can go in an look at a PC game and know if he can run it or not without knowing what kind of Video Card he has.

2) MS is certainly pushing the DVD Format onto everyone. I have a feeling all future PC games from MS at least will be on DVD and with Vista requiring you to have a DVD drive anyone with Vista will have a DVD drive thus PC Game publishers can stop worrying about whether or not you have a DVD Drive. This also means we can now use standard DVD box's instead of those oversize DVD/CD cases that are double the thickness of the normal case. Also they are going to try and standardize a PC Game logo you know like the Xbox and the Gamecube and the PS2. How all their boxes have that system on the top. Well PC Gamers are getting that now.

3) MS wants to deliver PC Patches through its Updater system. So if you run Microsoft Update (Or maybe Live!) it will list all your games which need to be patched. Nice. Also they are trying to centralize the save game folders so that you can easily backup and move your saves.

4) MS has developed a PC Gaming Kiosk prototype. It looks very awesome and will allow people to test drive demos and the such. As such MS hopes to take back some shelf space. It looks very nice....

Overall there will be a few really nice changes by the time Vista comes out...Looks like MS really does care about us PC Gamers....

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