Up For Debate - Is It Fair If Consoles Hold Back Full Potential Of PC Ports

Written by Jon Sutton on Sun, Feb 14, 2016 5:00 PM
System Requirements Optimum 1080p PC Build Low vs Ultra Screenshots GPU Performance Chart CPU List That Meet System Requirements GPU List That Meet System Requirements

If you’re a big name publisher looking to make a boatload of cash, it’s an inescapable fact you want to hit as many platforms as possible. Bringing a game just to PC, or just to PlayStation 4, effectively carves the majority of your potential audience right out of the picture. It’s why you’ll probably never see an Xbox exclusive Call of Duty - there’s just too much money to be made for Activision by sharing the love.

The upshot in terms of PC gaming is that the formerly ‘console’ experiences have now become the norm on PC. Whereas before there were very few games that straddled the divide, nowadays practically everything bar strategy games and MOBAs makes the leap both ways. If the games market was still how it was in 2000, the list of PC games we wouldn’t have had over the last few months would probably include Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Rise of the Tomb Raider (in its reboot incarnation), Assassin’s Creed Syndicate and Just Cause 3.

Now not only do we get these games, but we expect them. And that’s a big win for PC gaming. When EA announced Mirror’s Edge Catalyst, we barely needed to check it was coming to PC. Such games are practically a given. It’s meant millions of normally console-only gamers moving to PC, and PC gaming has swelled as a result.

Every silver lining has a thunderous rain-cloud lurking within it though. Where previously PC gaming was at the undisputed forefront of graphical horsepower and ambitious ideas, graphics pushing PC exclusives are hard to come by these days. Instead it’s the console ports and cross-platform games which set the visual benchmarks. Hopefully they look nicer and perform better on PC, but it’s not always a given. I’m looking at you, Batman: Arkham Knight.

What can happen then is that the bottom-tier console version, usually Xbox One at this point, is taken as the benchmark through which all others perform. Whatever crazy ideas are in a development studio’s minds, what they create has to be possible on an Xbox One. Not necessarily just visually, but also gameplay mechanics. If the Xbox One can’t handle crowds of 1000+ people, or advanced physics based destruction, then it’s not going to happen on other platforms. You might have spent $2000 on a gaming PC, while someone else is using a $300 Xbox One, but the experiences you have will been scaled down to accommodate the lowest denominator.

We saw it recently with Ubisoft, who vehemently denied console versions had held back the PC edition of The Division, despite word from an anonymous Ubisoft developer. We don't know the truth of this situation, although it certainly raises a few questions. Is it fair that you can spend thousands of dollars on a PC, and a developer could intentionally make a game look worse in order to not upset an audience which spent a fraction of the cost on hardware? Do you even care if it looks no better?

There is a flipside to this of course. Games on console are typically more expensive. If you’re a PC gamer you’re usually getting a cheaper game, that looks better, and probably wouldn’t have existed were it not for the console audience buying it in its millions.

To that end, I guess, how would you feel about paying more for games that were designed to take advantage of high-end PCs? Essentially handing over extra cash for more premium experience?

Is it fair of console performance holds back PC ports?

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05:28 Feb-17-2016

When I heard this I was pissed ofc. But its something I already knew. Next gen experience eh?

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12:20 Feb-17-2016

you have the mentality as if the ps4 and xbox one were, new, they are old, they are 2 and a half years old now... out of a 4-5 year life span, they have passed half of it.

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21:40 Feb-15-2016

i do not think it is fair, thats the equivalent to dude 1 buys a prius, dude 2 buys a lambo, dude 2 is only then allowed to go as fast as the prius on the track.... that is how i see it anyway. extreme example and i am in now way shape or form calling consoles a prius.

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12:31 Feb-17-2016

there is NO technical reason for consoles to hold back the PC version of the game.

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15:19 Feb-17-2016

Is it correct that PC is held back because:
-game is developed for consoles then ported to PC; and/or
-PC version downgraded so console players dont complain
I dont have a problem with the former (assuming it is cheaper to do it this way). The latter is utter crap of a reason.
Just askng, want to understand this be

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15:27 Feb-17-2016

depends how to define technical reason, incredibly weak cpu, little ram capacity, integrated gpu are reasons which force devs make crippled games, from both visual but also level-design point of view

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17:01 Feb-15-2016

I don't believe that consoles are holding down the PC for three reasons.



  1. Most of the games that have been released across all platforms, developers, in most cases, have added a little bit of extra 'wow factor' for the pc version (I am talking about the nvidia gameworks and other exclusive features for the pc), not to mention that the current ultra graphics options that most games have now-a-days can drive a high-end rig to its kness (I am talking about witcher 3). So it is pointless to want an improvement of graphics which a pc cannot handle

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17:05 Feb-15-2016

  1. Most percentage of gamers does not have a very high end rig and the never reaches the current full graphics potential of the game as they play the games in med-high or high and only a few on ultra. So most gamers couldn't care less if the developers increased the graphics capabilities which can only be accessed in ultra.

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17:11 Feb-15-2016

  1. I believe that gamers care more about the gameplay experience and storyline more than the graphics of the game, at least thats what I think. As long as the game is optimized properly by the developers and has a good storyline I am ok with it.

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07:24 Feb-17-2016

I have to agree but when worlds collide between optimization and story that's when a game is best. Ex. Crysis in my opinion. But optimization is what is lacking in games these days.

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03:57 Feb-19-2016

optimization has been bad for some games, but people still complain about bad optimization if a game has high requirements; even though optimization and requirements arent the same thing. check out some of the comments for quantum break. the developer isnt letting the xbone hold back its vision of the pc game. people are complaining saying it unoptimized because the requirements are high, saying since it runs on the xbone, its crap that it has such requirements.

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09:55 Feb-19-2016

Wise words here from darknatexs

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16:31 Feb-15-2016

Of course it's not fair. What kind of question is that?

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15:26 Feb-15-2016

wouldn't be surprised if the next console generation will be a modular design, that way they could squeeze even more money out of people like when they release there slim versions of consoles after a while, just a thought :@

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14:17 Feb-15-2016

we can live with degraded graphics on some games but unoptmisation is unacaptible on any game

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14:03 Feb-15-2016

Are they really being held back? with the games mentioned like AC:S, JC3, Tomb Raider & The Division being extremely demanding and hard to run at max even for extremely powerful rigs I fail to see how they're being 'held back' also, maybe it's just because I still regularly go back and play old games and the fact that I was stuck on the PS3 & 360 till January last year that I think these modern PC games look AMAZING and am happy with how they look whether they're being 'held back' or not.

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15:08 Feb-15-2016

I'll tell you right now, people are going to bring up the "these games are unoptimized" reason.

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22:21 Feb-15-2016

Yeah, I did think that would be coming. :p

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15:45 Feb-15-2016

but neither of them are poorly optmized for our current standard(technically all games for PC and in the early life of consoles are terribly optimized, but for PC some are less optimized than others), they are just really demanding. A game with poor optimization would be crysis 3.

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12:11 Feb-15-2016

Praise the lord console! :p

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15:20 Feb-15-2016

Whoa -76 rep dafuq lol

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21:41 Feb-15-2016

-79 now....

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23:02 Feb-15-2016

-80 ....I would love to thank to everybody that made this moment happen....I would never be able to do this without you...thank you all ...God bless consoles.

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11:01 Feb-17-2016

You are welcome.

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11:34 Feb-15-2016

The only reason why Pc games are 10eu (50eu instead of 60eu and even that is not often anymore) cheaper is because the license is cheaper for the pc. So hell no, I won't pay more. I pay more than enough considering so much games are cutting content to sell a season pass!!

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11:06 Feb-15-2016

Why so much fragmentation?
We should have only one game store. Instead EA created Origin...
We should buy the game only once to play everywhere. Instead, if we are a pc gamer and have a console gamer friend, we cannot share games...
And forget Linux and McOS. DirectX is still a Micro$oft monopoly...
Frak this!

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11:30 Feb-15-2016

Oh, and BTW, we, non rich pc gamers with non high-end GPU, thank the consoles for delaying the game development and so not forcing us to blow our bank accounts just to be able to have the $1000 «GTX 999 Ultra 32GB OC 500W-TDP» as a recomended requirement for new games in 2016.

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10:09 Feb-15-2016

Why can't PC gamers get what they paid for? Seriously, I've had enough of crappy PC games thanks to lazy console manufacturers putting in laptop-grade hardware into consoles that "should" last at least half a decade...

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22:22 Feb-15-2016

PS4 doesn't have laptop grade hardware. It uses desktop chips.

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09:59 Feb-15-2016

If consoles didn't drag pc down, we would now have 64 gbs of ram and 10 terabites as game requirements lol....so....consoles should be prised...well done consoles.

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10:20 Feb-15-2016

Now i see why you have -70 rep :D

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12:02 Feb-15-2016

Ya, honesty can get you there :D ...btw can you guys help me get to 80? ...if not it's ok...I'll just wait for another assassins creed article :p

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12:04 Feb-15-2016

I can give an upvote if you want. But for downvote i need a serious reason. Try swearing at me :D

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12:18 Feb-15-2016

Ok that sounded more like an introduction to dirty roleplay than a downvote negotiation :D

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12:26 Feb-15-2016

Well, i meant giving a downvote without a valid reason would be evil. First you need to provoke me.

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12:40 Feb-15-2016

Haha ok ok :D

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13:46 Feb-15-2016

well if you really want to ill do it for you.will you upvote me instead btw?

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10:29 Feb-15-2016

actually not entirely wrong, consoles are kind of keeping PC requirements sane, sadly it's also limiting potential of PC performance gains...

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10:51 Feb-15-2016

True it helps in the fact that developers wont just keep upping the requirements and expecting PC gamers to just keep upgrading their machines. But in a perfect world games would scale so well. Low spec comps with the same power of consoles should be able to play the game as well as consoles but for some reason they cant even run it . how sad.

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11:22 Feb-15-2016

Well Let the consoles keep the minimum reuirements in check but maxing out Doesn't need to be limited

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12:29 Feb-15-2016

there are certain things you cannot simply make better, like for ex. you can make lower-poly model or lower-detail shadows, but you can't just waste time making street with 100 lamps and 50 lamps, or forrest with 256 trees and 128 trees version, nobody has time for that and there is no effective way to do this I'm afraid,
plus then you can for ex. make decent looking lighting and shaders, if you replace them with different less-demanding ones the game will look ugly, so makes no sense to bother with such thing either

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09:51 Feb-15-2016

Unfair..


980 ti would be useless if not used to full potential..

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09:53 Feb-15-2016

yea I played NFS:MW2012 and gpu is running at about 35% at max settings 2560x1440 60fps :D

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10:00 Feb-15-2016

It's a 2012 game running on the highest end card of 2015 xD

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10:07 Feb-15-2016

yea, but still, I'd expect more xD

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09:15 Feb-15-2016

what a shame PC bragged down by consoles. its time to make console more advance.

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14:06 Feb-15-2016

Not gonna happen for at least 4 years probably. :L

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07:44 Feb-15-2016

it's not fair,
also it's not fair consoles are ruining strategy games, because it's not possible to control strategy game with a few-button controller and so almost nobody makes strategy games anymore these days :P

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09:13 Feb-15-2016

I don't see how consoles are ruining strategy games, when there are none RTS and GS games for consoles, only Turn based. What consoles ruin is the RPGs, they oversimplify them so that they can be played on consoles.

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09:29 Feb-15-2016

true but that's another point.console sales are always much bigger than pc sales.there's just more money to be made from making something like rpgs and platformers that can be boosted by console sales and then port them to pc for a little extra.the fact that people prefer to game on consoles is what's killing the strategy genre.

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10:53 Feb-15-2016

Correct me if I'm wrong but i think PC sales in terms of VOLUME are higher? But since PC people can get crafty they search for the cheapest deal and shave off a few dollars whereas consoles usually just get it at fully price

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12:32 Feb-15-2016

not really, consoles sell more than PCs meant and bought for gaming, but in general the PC gaming comunity and gaming PCs are 2-3% of all PCs and systems in general and type of use, most hardware bought is for big companies, either servers with thousands of chips or office work, then there is the home PCs(the ones people use just to browse the net, watch a movie, listen to musik, do some text editing and light similar tasks), The gaming comunity as a whole is a really small part of the hardware market.

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12:38 Feb-15-2016

Also it's hard to compare PC sales sold to Console sales, because consoles have generations and PCs don't. If we have to compare hardware from the same time span as let's say the xbox one and ps4, there are 7-8 million r9 290/290x/390/390x and r9 285/380 plus gtx 960,970 and 980 sold in total(from what red tech gaming said in in a video, which was based on a statistic of the end of 2015), while the PS4 + Xbox One sales are 39 million + 18 million units sold, there is a big difference.
Otherwise there are much more PCs than consoles.

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13:49 Feb-15-2016

LoL actually earned more than all the console earnings combined but if you consider something cross platform like MGSV then console sales usually eclipse pc sales.that's why developers prefer to invest in consoles rather than pc.

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16:47 Feb-15-2016

Nice work Psychoman on the comment

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06:17 Feb-15-2016

I don't think PC should be held back at all. It is UNACCEPTABLE for consoles and their primitive hardware to make PC games be held back, no matter what reason a developer has. A PC game should have graphics set as high as it can be.

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06:06 Feb-15-2016

unfair for me

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07:27 Feb-15-2016

Awesome rig man, what do you use that Hexa-core for? :)

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07:41 Feb-15-2016

For gaming, in future!

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08:24 Feb-15-2016

Wow, you're set for life then lol

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12:29 Feb-15-2016

BTW he is using multiple monitors. It can be demanding.

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13:57 Feb-15-2016

not exactly set for life.im afraid it's not gonna last longer than 5 years on that res.

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04:53 Feb-15-2016

it just not right to hold back those who built their rig religiously and spending lots of hard earn money to play games at their highest possible graphics.it just kind of communist in nature to see all of them at the same level

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04:31 Feb-15-2016

I voted unfair, but now that i look back it was a really stupid decision, i have a rig thats much worse than an XBox One, so how the hell can i vote it to be unfair, now I just want equality and justice. Peace Out, Yo

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04:46 Feb-15-2016

Your rig has a GeForce GTX 750 Ti which is better than the Xbox One's GPU since it has a GPU equivalent to a GeForce GTX 750

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06:06 Feb-15-2016

bruh, your rig is slightly better than the Xbox One.

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07:45 Feb-15-2016

Don't underestimate your rig man :)You're using Intel's i3 (Two cores with HT making it 4 Threads in total) clocked at 3.5GHz. If I'm not mistaken, the consoles hardware are mobile, meaning they're weaker to the counterparts/Desktop. And you have a dedicated CPU & GPU, this is much better than an APU sharing memory and other resources. It has it's own property and functionality. Your rig without a doubt is better than the consoles. Actually if you had 8GB it would be better.

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08:12 Feb-15-2016

Whups didnt know that, and got downvoted... a lot, well i thought that the Xbox One had a GPU equal to GTX 960 or 970, i havent even touched a console in my life except for the PS2, so u really cant expect me to properly understand how much the consoles r holding back games, so i guess my vote went to the right place..

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08:15 Feb-15-2016

Case in point, the first Crysis game a PC exclusive and it redefined graphics detail. Also, if the Xbox one has a GPU equal to GTX 750 y do ppl buy it in the first place other than playing exclusives. And could anyone tell me what the PS4's GPU is, gotta get my gaming GK right!

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03:41 Feb-15-2016

the solution would be to produce first the pc game,then release both pc and console game simultaneously, with the console version just cranked down to ultra low

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06:59 Feb-15-2016

UltraLow. Lol

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12:28 Feb-15-2016

I don't agree about the " Ultra low" part, console are still better than that.
However I do agree for the part where you said that there should be different version of a game, one for each platform.

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Ryzen 5 3500U 4-Core 2.1 GHz Radeon RX Vega 8 10GB
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Core i3-8100 4-Core 3.6GHz GeForce GTX 1060 3GB 16GB
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Core i7-10700F 8-Core 2.9GHz GeForce GTX 970 Gigabyte G1 Gaming 4GB Edition 16GB
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