Following an outburst from Deus Ex: Mankind Divided's director earlier this week about console ports on PC being disrespectful, it got me thinking about the state of the situation and what it means for PC gamers. Make no bones about it - PC's are on the receiving end of more console ports than ever before. Plenty of them may not be directly ported per se, they could be made from the ground up for PC, but in recent years they would have never existed on PC at all.
Plenty of franchises which up until now have never seen the light of day on PC are now cropping up, aided by what looks to be a bit of a PC gaming boom in Japan. Like it or not, console ports are a big part of gaming now. Some of these ports are a heck of a sight better than others. It might have taken its sweet time getting here, sipping on a cocktail for a few years on Vespucci beach, but Grand Theft Auto 5 was one of finest console ‘ports’ in many a year. There’s stacks more like it. The list of terrible ports is actually far smaller, but when a game like Batman: Arkham Knight comes along it tends to kick up enough anger to drown out a dozen quality PC ports.
The definition of a bad port however is up for debate. Batman: Arkham Knight, by pretty much any definition, is a bad port. I’d argue though that a port such as Tales of Zestiria, that’s locked at 30fps, isn’t. As long as it at least matches the performance of its console counterpart, without being overly demanding, I don’t have any particular issue. Sure, I’d like it to have greater resolutions, higher frame rates and additional visual options, but provided it doesn’t perform worse than its console counterpart then that’s a fair deal to me.
There’s plenty of people up in arms about games with locked frame rates. In fact, there’s even a Steam curator that goes by the name of The Framerate Police which tars games with a locked FPS badge. There’s sense in this in some places, but targeting stop-motion point ‘n’ click adventures or turn-based strategy games seems patently absurd.
I’d rather get a port with a locked frame rate than no port at all, basically. There is merit in arguing that perhaps we shouldn’t buy these ports which have perhaps had less effort put in. It certainly sends a message that we won’t put up with PC games not designed to take advantage of our extra hardware power. But it might also tell devs not to bother bringing them over at all.
Clearly there’s more than one of looking at this situation but that’s just my two cents. What’s your opinion of console ports? Would you rather buy a poor quality port than none at all, or is withholding your purchase the best way to send a message to publishers and game devs?