After a lengthy discussion with @stungravy last night on mumble, I’ve come around to the idea that it’s not as awful an idea as it sounds from the company’s point of view – which is, of course, why they do things. He pointed out that while consoles can have a pricey entrance point of 300-500 dollars, they don’t always remain that high and that, unlike gaming PCs, the console is all the investment you need to play the next however many years of games that generation puts out. With a PC, SG said, you are constantly upgrading pieces – or even your whole rig – to keep up with new graphics and game demands on your hardware.
It also reminded me that only yesterday I was reading a very similar argument in T.L Taylor’s Raising The Stakes which examines the socio-cultural boundaries shaped within the e-sport genre. I was most especially interested in the chapters dealing with e-sports players aping athletic masculinities, and how that effects female e-sport players (and women who game in general), but also tackles race and gaming. The findings she cites indicates that Hispanic-American and African American youth are more likely than Caucausian youth to play digital games, but also that their primary choice of gaming method was console over PC (Taylor 2012: 129) @stungravy’s observation that a gaming console is a much sounder investment over time plays into this, but also the talk I had with Gloria at Corgi Island over AIM – console games are more communal, especially now that LAN parties have more or less died out in favour of gaming over Vent or Mumble. All you need to do for a game of NHL 13 is some extra controllers. While we can all remember a few console e-sports tournaments, it’s hard to deny the bulk of them focus on PC only titles like Starcraft, Warcraft Arenas, League of Legends, etc.
It would be interesting to collect data on other games that have both PC and console ports – Mass Effect, Assassin’s Creed come to mind – and see the demographics on those, compared to games that traditionally are only available in one format or the other, and if Taylor’s observations from earlier studies hold true in those cases.
I can’t deny the fact that Diablo 3 on consoles will probably draw more players into what was, despite its dubious staying power – an enjoyable game. Whether or not this will draw old players back remains to be seen: the promised death match system has yet to be released, if ever; there hasn’t been any word to date on whether the auction house systems will remain within their respective spheres or if it will be possible to trade and sell items from console to PC and vice versa. But I will begrudgingly admit Blizzard got one of the biggest rises out of the fanbase during an otherwise lackluster performance by Sony, and retract my initial knee jerk reaction.
(Though not my plea to bring Leah back. Never that.)