Why your PC gaming experience is being throttled by aging consoles

Why your PC gaming experience is being throttled by aging consoles

Summary: Doesn't matter how powerful your PC is, doesn't matter how many CPU cores you have, doesn't matter how many GPUs you have.

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TOPICS: Hardware, Mobility
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Hands up how many of you have grabbed a copy of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3? Quite a few of you I see. How many of you bought the PC version? Again, quite a few of you.

Well, if you bought Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 on the PC then I've got some bad news for you. Your gaming experience on the PC is being throttled thanks to aging console technology. Doesn't matter how powerful your PC is, doesn't matter how many CPU cores you have, doesn't matter how many GPUs you have, your gaming experience has been degraded thanks to last-generation consoles.

Allow me to explain how ...

Let me introduce a concept called Field of View (FOV). FOV is the angular extend of what your eyes see in front of you. Normally humans have a FOV of around 180-degrees, give or take. When you look ahead, you can still see stuff happening to your left and right thanks to peripheral vision. FOV also applies to games, especially games like first-person shooters (FPS), but rather than referring to what you see with your eyes, in-game FOV is the limit of the in-game world being shown to you at any one time. In an ideal situation, you'd sit in front of a monitor or set of monitors that filled your field of view, and the game would than fill that field of view entirely.

That's the ideal, but most of the time things don't work out that way because the monitor doesn't fill your field of view. Depending on your setup, your screen probably occupies about 80- to 90-degree FOV. Because of this, the ideal in-game FOV for an FPS PC game is 80- to 90-degrees. This is because, ideally, the FOV of the screen should closely match the in-game FOV.

When you play a game on a games console, because the TV is further away from you, it usually occupies a smaller portion of your FOV, usually around 60- to 70-degrees. Now, this works to the advantage of the consoles. Think about it. The Xbox 360 is based on technology that's now more than six years old, and the PS3 on technology that's five years old. It's pretty amazing really that you can take a title like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 or Battlefield 3 and run them on technology that's so old. But in order to get these new games running on old hardware the developers have had to cut corners. One trick is to narrow the FOV down. Narrowing the FOV means the console has to pump out fewer pixels to the screen, which means less of a workload. Another trick is to keep the quality of the textures applied to in-game objects. Another trick is to cap the frame rates. These tricks are necessary for consoles, which are old and decrepit, but unnecessary if you have a powerful gaming PC.

Which brings us to the problem. I've taken a quick look at the PC version Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and guess what I saw? The in-game FOV seems to be to be around 65-degrees. Fine for a console, very bad for a PC game. And the FOV is locked. There's no way to change it. It's locked. The frame rate is also locked. This isn't too bad, but it's still annoying. Also, I can't help but notice that the texture quality is pretty poor, and there are claims that objects have been reused from previous games.

These limitations don't need to be present on the PC version of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 but, for whatever reason the developers decided to bake them into the game. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the 'consolification' of PC gaming.

Better get used to it.

Now, you might think that I'm being pedantic here about the FOV, but I'm not. Not only is the developer preventing PC users from getting a better gaming experience, a narrow FOV can cause other real problems. For example, anything below about 70-degrees for a PC FPS gives me motion sickness and eye strain. Increasing the FOV makes it go away. When a PC game prevents me from doing that, I'm unlikely to play it much. It's that simple really.

It's a sad state of affairs when PC gaming plays second fiddle to consoles.

Topics: Hardware, Mobility

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  • RE: Why your PC gaming experience is being throttled by aging consoles

    What the hell is wrong with ZDNet comments? It keeps on deleting my comments. Anyways, reposting.

    The beauty of PC games though is that it's pretty easy to hack them. Modern Warfare 2 had the same problem that was fixed with a pretty simple config edit. I give it a week before someone figures out how to fix this "problem".

    Also, if it pisses you off so much, quit playing console ports. Ported games in general are inferior. There are plenty of PC exclusive games out there.
    Aerowind
    • RE: Why your PC gaming experience is being throttled by aging consoles

      @Aerowind But it isn't that easy to just stop playing them. I love the Modern Warfare series, but I refuse to play any FPS game on a console or with a controller, that is just breaking a gaming commandment in my opinion. FPS's were made for computers and to be played with a mouse and keyboard combo. Plus I don't even own a console, why would I when I have a 2000$ gaming PC that just shames any console?
      Bates_
      • RE: Why your PC gaming experience is being throttled by aging consoles

        @Bates_ And yet, I (and a lot of people I know) can pull off ridiculous quick scoping headshots out of sprint with a controller no problem while I'd be lucky to hit center mass with a mouse+keyboard. It's all relative to what you're good at.
        Aerowind
      • RE: Why your PC gaming experience is being throttled by aging consoles

        @Aerowind

        Oh I agree... it's way too easy to get kills on a console. Takes very little "gaming skill" at all.
        Badgered
      • RE: Why your PC gaming experience is being throttled by aging consoles

        @Badgered Actually, I'm talking about playing PC shooters with Xbox controllers. Most PC games provide native support for them nowadays.
        Aerowind
      • RE: Why your PC gaming experience is being throttled by aging consoles

        @Aerowind

        The exact same controllers work just well... No, actually they work much better with PCs than they do the Xbox. Assassin's Creed was MUCH more enjoyable on the PC than the 360.
        tkejlboom
      • RE: Why your PC gaming experience is being throttled by aging consoles

        @Bates_

        I like COD and PC-Gaming but throttling the games is complete foolishness. Clearly the game studios are targeting their meat and potatoes because there's more console users then PC-gamers these days. It's sort of sad because I always looked at the PC side as the leader and consoles as 2nd rate but a lot of users like the comfort of playing from a couch...not an office desk and chair!
        Rob.sharp
  • No Surprise here.

    Say it isn't so!!! PC gamers getting shafted? That hasn't been happening for the past 10 years! Not in the least.

    As crappy as it may be, it is true, we PC players are always getting shafted and it blows, but on the upside we will obliterate any console gamer without much effort (well the good PC players will anyway).
    Bates_
    • RE: Why your PC gaming experience is being throttled by aging consoles

      @Bates_ More like the past 6 years.<br><br>At least we are not console scrubs.
      DickCheney777
      • RE: Why your PC gaming experience is being throttled by aging consoles

        @DickCheney777 <br>Whatever happened to adjustable FOV on ported titles to the PC anyways?<br>I can go back as far as 1998 to pinpoint a few titles that started to be ported from PC to console... either way, they sucked IMO. In recent years it's been more console FPS games being ported over with the execption of the poor DCO MMO release for both console and PC.<br><br>You ever notice that most game demos at shows are run on PCs in much higher quality than their released console counterparts? I recall a very nice EyeFinity setup with MW3 last year demonstrating a full 180deg FOV.<br><br>PC gaming is still the platform of choice for the majority of gamers. I can go without all the childish antics of console gamers, comparable to WoWHeads in all their whining and crying.<br><br>Wont be long before consoles are gaming PCs anyways, so I'm not too worried about these new crap titles having limitations.
        KnightProdigy
    • RE: Why your PC gaming experience is being throttled by aging consoles

      @Bates_ It is hardly surprising as there are so few gamers with only a turbo PC and snooty attitude, despite the huge response from them. Console-only owners couldnt care less, and wont be commenting much.

      This is actually a non-issue, its only one game (granted, it IS MW3 but still...) Many games can be tweaked, and in any case, any game worth its salt should be tweakable.

      That being said, when the producers of said game are lashing its programmers to get working code out the door yesterday, and the main code is still not ready, those kind of finishing touches tend to get left off. Its not needed by the general population and only a few snobs are going to complain by comparison, and the games are definitely NOT hand-polished for them anyway. Besides that, the industry has turned its back, havent you heard that PCs are dead? (Apparently...)

      I'm a first-gen gamer and remember the buggy tape games of the 80s, all the old 8-bit stuff the kids are getting back into again even now. Theres a reason its so popular. Its cheap or free, and every single game was written to be fun to play, not to make millions by looking flashy like modern ones.

      Welcome to capitalism...
      SiO2
      • RE: Why your PC gaming experience is being throttled by aging consoles

        "It is hardly surprising as there are so few gamers with only" There are more PC gamers that you might think. Recently Nvidia released the results of a survey regarding the value of the consoles market vs pcs, this is only an inference of numbers that I am making but I think it holds true. As to being snooty well pc gamers come in all shapes and sizes with many different attitudes so YMMV, hopefully I am not one of them.

        http://www.tomshardware.com/news/nvidia-pc-console-sales-battlefield-3-bf3-pc-gaming,13499.html
        n.gurr
      • RE: Why your PC gaming experience is being throttled by aging consoles

        @N.Gurr Possibly in the US, that might be true, but not here in the UK. We seem to like our consoles better.

        And as for snooty, I think the comments here speak for themselves... 'Console Scrubs' was one delightful description I read, but I wasnt actually pointing the finger here.

        We buy so few PC games compared to the US market that those few gamers who do, tend to run the latest chipsets and brag about framerates. I have to agree with the precision and versatility of a keyboard and mouse, but that doesnt make it right to insult those who dont own them, and thats a big tendency. I have a clocked and stuffed Linux box for work and and both generations of XBox for otherwise, plus something called a Caanoo (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CAANOO) I picked up from Korea. Its a Linux based handheld a little like a DS that runs emulators for all the old systems including Amigas, Gameboys and the like, and it trumps every console and PC everywhere I take it.

        If you ask me, that is the future of gaming in general - mobility over quality. Lets just hope it scrapes off a few decades cheery paint and brings back the original quality workmanship it was all built on.
        SiO2
      • RE: Why your PC gaming experience is being throttled by aging consoles

        @SiO2 Do you think that it might just be that PC gamers buy most of their games online/ on steam (I know I do) that distorts the view of retailers?

        Have you seen an open Pandora? It is a sort of spiritual successor to the Gamepark stuff, just as well really as GP went under didn't they? I am really wanting a Pandora but cannot really justify buying one. It is like a console controller mated with a netbook!

        http://openpandora.org/
        n.gurr
  • RE: Why your PC gaming experience is being throttled by aging consoles

    Which is why I refuse to buy MW3. MW2 was the last straw. My money went towards BF3. To Hell with consoles. You can keep your circa 2004 DX9 technology.

    W+A+S+D+Mouse = *BOOM* Headshot!
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • RE: Why your PC gaming experience is being throttled by aging consoles

      @Cylon Centurion Id get MW3 if they allowed Cross-platform playing <img border="0" src="http://www.cnet.com/i/mb/emoticons/wink.gif" alt="wink"><br><br>Imagine the poor guy with a xbox controller playing against a member of the PC gaming master race.
      DickCheney777
      • You wouldn't even have to be that good

        @DickCheney777

        It's why they don't allow cross platform play unless it's co-op. A fair player with a KB/M is going to dominate even the best console FPS players. The mouse alone is far more accurate than an analogue stick. It's not even fair. Aim assist? No thanks.

        It's why I don't own a 360 or PS3. The games that I'd be interested in playing on those consoles have alternatives on the PC that are far superior. And for the games that work better with a controller, like Batman or SF4, I've got a 360 controller that works just fine with the computer. Could you imagine playing an RTS or Skyrim on a console? No thank you.

        Heck, Fallout 3 and New Vegas were far superior for no other reason than the mods. I've got so much additional content for both games that even the DLC doesn't hold a candle to it.
        LiquidLearner
      • Pc gamers are rumored

        To have owned so badly that there cannot be a comparison which is why on Xbox live there is no cross format gaming. Although this is just a rumour! Check out:

        http://kotaku.com/5593259/rumor-microsoft-killed-plans-for-pc-vs-xbox-360-online-play
        n.gurr
  • I was glad to see that at least...

    Deus Ex: Human Revolution had a setting to change the FOV. When I first booted up that game, I was PISSED. A little looking around in settings and, alas, I found it.

    Crysis 2 was also a fairly easy fix, just a few settings in a config file.
    rlorenz
    • Borderlands was annoying

      @rlorenz

      I bound the FoV setting change to the jump key since every time you entered dialogue with another character it switched back to 70. Very, very annoying. But it was still fixable. The fact they won't let you change it on the PC is stupid on MW3. Then again I wasn't going to buy it, since they killed dedicated servers and prone I've had very little interest in playing it. Plus, Skyrim comes out this week. I'll save my money for that which will be a far superior game.
      LiquidLearner