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Gaming Consoles

Adam Tingle Posted:
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So e3 has come and gone, leaving behind in its wake a myriad of mewling announcements concerning those, self important, other console products. You know the ones, with their shiny black chassis and luminous green winking eyes. There is just something so brutal about a thumbstick don't you think?

While MMORPG.com is so undoubtedly pro-PC that it has a bumper sticker to that effect on the company station wagon (editor, Billy Murphy, reportedly has several tattoos declaring love to Windows 8) there is a lure and attraction to talk about console online games. With the exception of oodles of CoDs, BFs, GoWs, and the odd DC Universe Online, there aren't many fantastical realms to explore with you and your level 72 buddy.

While the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 has undoubtedly kicked on with the craze of 99' and brought consoles into the Internet age, the propensity to only dabble with headshot simulators has been tiresome and also disappointing.

Defiance and DC Universe notwithstanding, there has been much talk of console ports of favourite MMOs, but little movement in the way of releasing these products. Once upon a time we heard that Age of Conan would eventually stumble onto Microsoft's bright green platform, while Final Fantasy 14 would be shuffling quietly into the realm of joypads and its spiritual design home. Neither of these ports have seen a release yet.

It's odd then, that out of the hundreds of MMOs that are commercially available on your favourite desktop PC, hardly any have made the leap. Even stranger is publishers' desires to chase a buck and turn massive subscriber bases into profits, but only exclusively on Windows and Mac OS'.

So is it that hard to take an MMORPG from the land of keyboards and replaceable components to those self containing console boxes? Apparently so, and now we look just beyond the horizon to the next generation of gadgets readying themselves for the Holiday Season.

One of the big announcements is the fact that Final Fantasy 14 will make its console debut on the next generation. With Realm Reborn about to launch, it is an interesting development that Square Enix are still planning on converting their, somewhat controversial, MMORPG sequel for the future consoles.

But then again, Sony and Microsoft (we will pretend Nintendo don’t exist for this particular race) have announced some hefty tech upgrades and are throwing out the word "Share" and "Social" at every opportunity. So if the last generation was heavily skewed to online gameplay, the PS4 and XboxOne are kicking the can of connectivity so much so that it'll only be a matter of time before SkyNet eventually rises and destroys us all.

So it would seem only logical for the software giants to start opening up their systems to online experiences, and expand the virtual horizons of every MMO player. And with PC stalwarts such as the Diablo series making its way onto consoles, it seems like a signifier for things to come.

So far, Final Fantasy XIV, Elder Scrolls Online, DC Universe Online, and Warhammer 40,000 Eternal Crusade have been announced for respective consoles - which is an impressive line-up.

But do MMO players really want to shift from their dungeons/command centres and into living rooms and well lit places? Is there something sacred and sacrosanct about a mouse and keyboard? It is undoubted that for terms of sheer playability, the keyboard is the better choice for communication and control, and how will consoles deal with that particular issue?

Of course, headsets and other gadgets make up the large portion of online play on consoles, but call me old fashioned but hearing a distorted voice dripping out of a level 56 elf just doesn't do it for me.

And will porting hotbars and other controls to a joypad always result in a degree of dumbing down? Do we really need the many keys of a keyboard or is it essential to the experience? I know from previous Final Fantasy 11 experience, the joypad works well but always feels restricted when it comes to socializing - almost like trying to talk with your tongue glued to the back of your mouth whilst gargling with marbles.

I do have my reservations about console online games, but can only be attracted by one thing: regardless of restrictions and simplicity, consoles are easy. While these new systems might err on the side PC with their installations and so on, one thing you will never have to deal with is upgrading parts and pieces, and struggling with troubleshooters as your GPU just isn't supported.

Consoles will always have the lazy people on their side. While I cherish my PC, I bemoan the amount of maintenance it requires, and the roulette I play whenever I want it to handle a new game. Will this piece of hardware work? Will I have to wait for a patch? Will I have to mess around with a .TXT file? All of these are negated with a console.

So it is with that sentiment that I have been waiting for console MMORPGs since the days of the PlayStation 2. I want, nay demand satisfaction, and this new generation, with their bells and whistles, seems to the be the tech I was waiting for. Fingers crossed.

What do you think about console MMORPGs? Are they over simplistic? Do online games belong to PC? Let us know in the comment box below.

Adam Tingle / Adam Tingle is a columnist and general man-about-town for MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and FPSGuru.com. He enjoys toilet humour, EverQuest-themed nostalgia, and pointing out he's British: bother him at @adamtingle

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Adam Tingle