PC gaming was bad. ‘Always online’ gaming is worse.

This should tell EA and BioWare that they have a problem: I am a huge fan of the KotOR games, and yet the news that the MMO sequel The Old Republic is soon going to be free-to-play still does not make me a slam-dunk to get the thing.  I might, admittedly; which is far better than my “no way” stance before this news, but I’m still not guaranteed to.

Even without the awful problem of a subscription to deal with, there’s still the problem of having to get online to play the game, not to mention the hassle of making PC games work in the first place.

I am a console gamer, because you only need two things to play console games:

  1. console
  2. game

It is really just that simple.  If both the disk/cartridge and the console work, you can play your game. Contrast this with a PC game, where you need:

  1. game
  2. compatible sound card
  3. compatible graphics card
  4. compatible processor
  5. compatible monitor

And with online games you need all that, plus:

  1. stable internet connection
  2. reliable internet service provider
  3. reliable servers at the game company

The fewer single points of failure you have in a system, the better.  Online gaming introduces more single points of failure into the system.  If any one of these things breaks, no game for you.  (Christopher Knight documented the pain that “always-online” caused Diablo III players.)

This doesn’t even take into account the nightmarish trials inflicted upon PC gamers by Digital Rights Management (DRM) tools.  I’m all for protecting the rights of the artist, but for Pete’s sake, the movie industry manages to get along okay without punishing their customers every time they watch a movie.  Why can’t the PC gaming industry do likewise?  And if they can’t, then all gaming should move to consoles, since apparently they don’t have the piracy issues.

PC gamers tell me “but having the PC game makes it easier to fix bugs in the game!”  While this is not technically a lie, it conceals a key fact in order to mislead the listener.  The unspoken component is that bugs are far more common in the PC games than console versions. You don’t need to fix bugs on the console because there are less of them.

The other thing I get is “but I can download mods that aren’t on consoles if I have a PC game”.  Well, yeah, if you do somehow manage to make your PC game work and then feel like taking the chance of crippling it by installing stuff that third-parties designed, then yes, I suppose consoles cannot compete with you there.  Personally, I’d prefer to just buy a game that already had the features I wanted in it, but to each his own.

Diablo III and The Old Republic together demonstrate pretty much everything that makes me try to avoid PC gaming.  Alas, I fear that console gaming is already slouching in the same direction, and that soon the truly “single-player” game will be a thing of the past.

What's your stake in this, cowboy?