This year’s E3 saw plenty of games on display, from the humble indie to the triple-A blockbuster, and the gamut of everything in between. One thing you won’t have read of much: the PC versions of many of these titles.
Perhaps one of the most appealing reveals for me personally was Double Fine’s announcement of a remastered version of Grim Fandango. Originally released for the PC only in 1998, Grim Fandango was one of LucasArts’ banner titles, and alongside the Monkey Island games is perhaps the game they are most known for even today. Yet at E3, all we found out about the remastered Grim Fandango was that it would be a Sony exclusive and would be releasing on the PS4 and Vita. Surely it would be coming to the PC as well though, right? I mean, that was the sole platform originally, so it would make sense that it would also be released for the most popular and ubiquitous gaming platform in the world.
E3 came and went with no word on a version for the PC, and speculation has continued for the past month as to whether this new version of a PC classic would be be hitting the PC this time around. Fortunately, the PC version of the new Grim Fandango was finally confirmed by Double Fine just a few days ago, as well as Linux and Mac versions (like those matter – joke! Only a little one though). So why did it take so long for Double Fine to come out and say this? Perhaps Sony wanted some “console exclusive” limelight for a few weeks, maybe Double Fine were really unsure as to whether they wanted to include the PC, or maybe Disney (now the owner of LucasArts, including the rights to all of their old IP) were playing hardball and didn’t want to give up the rights without a sizable hunk of greenbacks being thrown their way.
Grim Fandango is hardly an isolated example though. Another game that attracted a lot of attention at E3 – and has received significant attention these past few months – is No Man’s Sky. Again though, the microscopic development team at Hello Games does not have much to say about a PC release, despite this looking like a game that would completely be in the PC’s wheelhouse. The most definitive word on a possible PC version has come from an interview with RockPaperShotgun where Hello Games’ Sean Murray was quoted as saying that they are “open to a PC version”, which they “really want to do”. The ambiguity is what’s annoying here, not that they either are or are not to make a PC version. I would have more respect for them if they came out and stated plainly “Nope, no PC version until after release, but hopefully within a year after that”, or “Yes, at release, but we’re not talking about it right now”. I don’t need to be strung along with maybes and possiblys, such as Bungie are trying to do right now with Destiny.
An alternative approach is how Ubisoft went about things with The Division. Originally announced at 2013’s E3, Ubisoft stated the game was envisaged to be a PS4 and Xbone exclusive, but following a protracted media campaign by a vocal band of PC enthusiasts, Ubisoft reversed course and announced in August 2013 that a PC release was now planned. Ubisoft at least listened to people opining for a PC release, and I guess ran the numbers and decided it was something that would pay off for them in the long run. That, or they knew from the start they were going to bring it to the PC as well, they just wanted to rile up the PC crowd and get some “console exclusive” press first. My tinfoil hat isn’t quite strong enough to believe the latter though, or at least not yet.
Here’s the truth: consoles are watered-down PCs, and every generation of consoles that emerge just look more and more like a PC under the hood. CPUs, GPUs, shared memory pipelines, USB peripherals, hard drives… they’re PCs that run proprietary operating systems and have less “tweakability” than a normal PC. Yet these days it seems that the young teenage upstarts can’t wait to leave home, departing the rolling meadows and sunflowers of PC-ville for the harsh inner-city streets of console-town. Certainly when it comes to Microsoft’s Xbox platform, given that there is a shared codebase in DirectX, it’s usually a simple process to port a game from PC to Xbox or vice-versa. With regards to Sony’s PlayStation ecosystem, things are a little more tricky. The PS3 was, by accounts, a difficult platform to work with, but many programming obstacles seem to have been removed in the step up to the PS4.
With PC sales figures as strong as they are, it should really be no decision at all for a company to want to have their game on as many platforms as possible, including the PC. If someone like Bungie wants to defy that and keep Destiny to the consoles only, that’s their business. I’m disappointed, but I simply won’t buy it. If Bungie want to change their tune and come out with a PC version a year or so down the line (*cough*theoriginalmasseffect*cough*) then fine and dandy, but they won’t be getting my money until at least then.
Won’t someone please think of
the children the PC? There’s room for everyone in the gaming industry, honest!
This article is an opinion editorial, it does not represent the overall view of OnlySP.