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Lazy PC Ports are Coming Back

There was a time when you felt lucky as a PC gamer if you had any degree of control over a console-to-PC port. If it released the same year as the console version, it was practically Christmas.

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Then the money started coming in. Steam sales allowed every title to have a tail that lasted months or even years after release. Simply porting your title and giving it some customisability eventually meant you made money. It should have stayed that way, but somehow we are slipping away from that ideal.

Publishers want more money, and they want to do less work. The end result? Games that play the same on PC as on console. Games that cost as much from the Epic store as on PlayStation 5.

This isn’t how it’s done on PC. And you can argue the toss over that if you want. Maybe it’s not right that PC games are cheaper, or that they end up looking better than on their console equivalent.

But good look convincing anybody with a decent PC that they need to buy your game if you charge too much or put in too little effort. Because that’s an idea that just isn’t going to fly.

Best of the Best on PC

You can play any game better on PC. That’s the basic presumption of being a PC gamer Either you can have a higher resolution, better textures, higher framerate or – let’s face it – all of the above.

That hasn’t always been the case. I downloaded Metal Gear Rising for the first time the other day and found both a 30fps lock and a maximum of 1080p resolution. Granted, there are work around for these problems, as there always are when fans are blocked off by developers. But the basic product isn’t as good as on Series X, where it is in 4k.

That was standard for the Xbox 360/PS3 era. Games might have certain things that were better, but the overall product wasn’t as huge a jump as it deserved to be. And that’s just on a features side. Include the technical stuff – crashes and content, and optimisation of course – and it was even more abysmal. Look up any major game of the time and you’ll find people complaining about something. Usually more than one thing.

Those days disappeared for a while. There are games that are stunning on console that take on another life on PC. I’m currently playing Arkham Origins – which has its own set of problems, believe me. But it’s 4k and usually at about 100fps, which is better than it’d ever be on PC.

Now it looks like we’ve got to the point where this is starting to change back again.

Plays Best (on Console)

Forza Horizon 5 plays just about as well on Series X as on PC. Square Enix is trying to charge “full price” for Final Fantasy VII, despite the fact that it is only as good as it was on PlayStation 5.

As a primarily console gamer, I can already hear the cries of “so what?!”

Forza Horizon and Final Fantasy VII are both awesome on console. I feel lucky to have played them at any level, let alone at a decent resolution and frame rate. They are incredible games.

Final Fantasy VII has a host of optimisation issues as well. It doesn’t seem like the framerate is holding up.

Again, minor issues. It shouldn’t exist, and especially not after the time people have had to wait for it to come to anything other than PlayStation, but minor issues. Play it at 30fps if you have to, it’d still be worth it.

But that’s a poor argument, and isn’t a defence that should be necessary. If my PC is more powerful than my PS5, it’s not an unreasonable request that it run as well as it can. I’ve paid for it, I have the tech to back it up – why should it be exactly the same as on console? Or worse.

If we’re entering into a new “good enough” age of PC gaming, developers should at least have the good grace not to try and up the price at the same time.

And while there isn’t much evidence to have us in a panic so far, this much is true: some publishers are beginning to try their luck. You only have to look at the PC situation with the Grand Theft Auto Trilogy to see that.

And when they’re successful, others will follow suit.

 

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blank Mat Growcott has been a long-time member of the gaming press. He's written two books and a web series, and doesn't have nearly enough time to play the games he writes about.

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