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Master Race Reality Check: PC Gaming is becoming increasingly overrated

Guys, I hate to break it to you, but PC gaming isn't what it's cracked up to be anymore.
Nowhere to go but down

When Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw first coined the phrase "PC Master Race," I doubt he anticipated how much of a cultural impact it would have on the gaming community as a whole. What began as a satirical remark criticizing elitist PC fanaticism became a rallying cry for PC gaming enthusiasts in general, re-appropriating the term as a compliment rather than an insult. Since then, the PC Master Race subreddit has accumulated nearly 430,000 subscribers, joined together in appreciation of the PC's objective superiority as a gaming platform.

In theory, this is a great thing. Take a look at /r/pcmasterrace's top posts and you'll find threads raising Net Neutrality awareness, exposing bad business practices, and celebrating one another's individual efforts. In practice, however, the PCMR subculture isn't always as sophisticated and classy as its avatar art suggests. I've never heard the phrase "PC Master Race" spoken aloud except by arrogant fanatics and obnoxious children, who mis-appropriate the phrase "console peasant" with the same disgusted malice that I used to hear accompany the slur "filthy casual." In many cases, the members of the PC Master Race have become the very elitist snobs that Yahtzee intended to lampoon.

I've never heard the phrase "PC Master Race" spoken aloud except by arrogant fanatics and obnoxious children.

Before I continue, you should understand a few things about me. First, I am not what the PCMR defines as a "peasant." I own a PlayStation 4, but game primarily on my PC, Kerberos (GTX 680, Intel i5-3570K, 8GB DDR3). It's not top-of-the-line, but it's what I have, and I love it. But from the moment I "ascended" (as PCMR puts it), I've had nothing but trouble, from inexplicable errors in games well within my system requirements, to playing customer service phone tag with both Steam and Ubisoft trying to get a refund. My experience with PC gaming has not been 100% satisfying, but I recognize the merits of the platform.

That said, I know from experience that PC gaming can sometimes be unreasonably frustrating when compared to the accessibility of a console--a possibility that the PCMR denies with religious fervor, even in the face of recent launch disasters. With more and more PC games being locked at 30 frames-per-second, modders being intentionally sabotaged, and the quality of graphics being compromised, PC gamers have less and less to brag about with each lackluster release. It's said that people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones, and the PCMR is hurling bricks from atop a crumbling castle of hubris. 

The Sins of the Father

My list of grievances against the PC as a gaming platform is about a mile long, and to be honest, most of my grievances are directly related to my own technological incompetence. I can't stand having to google some obscure error code right out of the gate, only to find that (for whatever reason) I'm the only person experiencing my specific game-breaking issue. I understand that the QA for the cookie-cutter hardware of the consoles must be significantly simpler than error-proofing a game for PC's hundreds of unique hardware combinations, but that doesn't excuse the issue: my game should work out of the digital box, or my money back, plain and simple.

I understand that error-proofing a game for PC's hundreds of unique hardware combinations is hard, but that doesn't excuse the issue.

It wasn't until recently that Steam began issuing refundsfor unsatisfactory products, and yet the PCMR has been singing Valve's praises for years. Worse than this, however, is Steam's complete absence of satisfactory customer support, a grievance that is generally drowned out by the PCMR's unconditional worship of Gabe Newell. Their faith in Gaben faltered only once, when Steam dared to allow modders to charge money for their hard work. In retaliation, the PCMR subreddit drafted a new banner image--one that didn't feature Gabe Newell as some infallible god king. When the paid mods were removed, the banner stayed. Steam still has lousy support, and PC gamers still gobble it up.

The Peasantification of the PC

Frame rate has become a controversial issue in next-gen gaming recently, which is weird, considering that 60 frames-per-second was already the PC standard well before the launch of the XBox One and PlayStation 4. But, that's what happens when you make your next generation consoles out of obsolete hardware.

This wouldn't be a problem if the console market didn't drive innovation for the games industry as a whole. Because the XBox One can't render the game's "next gen" visuals at anything higher than 30 fps, the developer doesn't bother to try. To make matters worse, the game's logic is often tied to the frame rate, making it impossible to play the PC port at a higher frame rate without breaking it. As long as developers keep catering to the restrictions of the weaker platform, the PC will never be truly superior.

The Red-headed Stepchild

I might be reading to much into this, but I've always felt like triple-A developers and their publishers bear at least a little bit of resentment towards the PC gaming community.

I say this because it shows. When I have to get online, to launch Steam, to launch uPlay, to try and play my game, only to encounter some asinine error, all because PC gamers are dirty thieves and pirates, I get a little offended. Why should I have to launch uPlay? Why should I have to make a Rockstar Social Club account? If my platform is so damn superior, why am I being forced to jump through all these extra hoops and take steps that console gamers don't have to take, just to get to my game?

When I have to get online, to launch Steam, to launch uPlay, to try and play my game, only to encounter some asinine error, all because PC gamers are dirty thieves and pirates, I get a little offended.

The answer: developers will go to any lengths necessary to prevent pirates and hackers from modifying their game, even if it means alienating their target audience. Case in point: In their efforts to eradicate cheating from GTA Online, Rockstar effectively sabotaged the code of their own game, crippling its performance for modded and unmodded copies of the game, alike. I know they're doing their best to preserve a cheater-free experience for fair players, but at what cost? When is customer satisfaction worth less than loss prevention?

Open your eyes and break your chains

Guys, I hate to break it to you, but PC gaming ain't what it's cracked up to be, and the more we excuse it with empty praise, the worse it gets. We pay 3 to four times as much money for our systems as console owners, but our ports are getting maybe half the attention during development. Developing a triple-A title for PC has become an afterthought, when it should be a priority.

If you're reading this article and I've made you angry, good. That just means you care enough about your platform to defend it. But don't bother defending it from me; I'm not the one tearing it down. Defend it from developers like Ubisoft, who think they can sell us console graphics without us noticing the downgrade. Defend it from companies like Valve, who still refuses to offer the customer support we deserve. Defend it from the members of the PC Master Race itself, who are sometimes too righteous to recognize just how far the brotherhood has fallen.

With the power of contemporary PC hardware, new releases should be surpassing their console counterparts in quality. In most cases, however, they're barely keeping up, if not lagging behind entirely. Show developers that this is NOT ok. If you want 60 frames-per-second, demand it. If you want mod support, demand it. Don't cheapen the PC Master Race by boasting about the features you don't have.

May your framerates be higher, and your temperatures be lower. Don't settle for less.

Published Jul. 19th 2015
  • Yo Momma_4748
    Fuck all of you
    You are a peasant and just jealous.
  • pokingyou_7315
    gonna block this stupid website from google tnx
  • Jeff_5152
    There's only one downfall and that's the price. But it's fun to build your own rig. Don't like the fans? Bam! Change them. Change everything if that floats your boat. It can get pricey but guess what. It's a one out of a million build. It's yours and you did it. That is what separates the men from the boys.
  • Bill_5099
    This is just wrong.
    You got SOME good points butt most of your arguments are 100% bullshit and you know it.

    You did it. You got the attention you wanted. Now go fu.k yourself.
  • Jooj_2057
    You are wrong, you are what we describe as a peasant, no matter if you own a dual 980ti rig, if you don't recognize PC as the superior gaming platform, then you're a peasant.

    It isn't the hardware in your desk, it's the software in your heart.
  • Sweg_2058
    Dude, you seem to have no idea of what you are writing about. You should'nt have posted this article because your career as a journalist in the eyes of PC gamer is shot down so hard you are probably halfway to China.

    PCMR DETESTS developers that do not prioritize to fully include the capabilities of the PC (silky smooth 60+ fps, modding, ultra HD textures etc.), and that is one of the reasons many games get pirated. In EVERY pirate torrent of a game, it is written "If you like this game, buy it to support the developer", and most people do buy it if they like it. Maybe not on release date because 60 $ for an incomplete game (e.g. Assassins creed, BF4) is not a reasonable sum, but instead they wait and see patches coming to fix the issues and then price drops. Then it might be reasonable to pay 30-40 $ for a complete game with possible DLC's or season pass ( which is bullshit of some developers to launch a game with separated complete content that you only can obtain by paying extra, this hurts the gaming industry more than what you are trying to bullshit about).

    This is also the reason why GabeN is in high regards in PCMR community, he offers a simple library for games, he offers sales of up to 80% on AAA-titles, Valve's games are optimized for PC only and they make ports to consoles AFTER, and they are COMPLETE games. It is the way Valve has done what developers should be doing, CD projekt red did it with The Witcher 3, hopefully DICE does it with Star Wars Battlefront, make a COMPLETE Game, not bundle some code together and give it to the public overpriced in some pre-order stupid fashion (pre-orders are also hurting the industry more than your bullshit, ask any major gaming profile that knows what he is doing, Total Biscuit for example since you seem to know nothing of this industry).

    In PCMR everybody wants developers to prioritize PC games of course, but Microsoft and Sony pays BILLIONS to market their peasantry consoles, they pay developers to make titles exclusive to their consoles so as to bring hype and sell their systems. THAT is hurting the industry. Buying a console and supporting segregation of games, system exclusive titles, games that aren't as good as they could be, limiting the progress of developing both new hardware and software technology due to making generation shifts once every 5 years instead of constantly, non-reusability of hardware, no backwards compatibility forcing you to rebuy all of your games every time you upgrade hardware, THAT is hurting the gaming industry.

    By simply buying a console, by paying for incomplete games through preorder or without knowledge of the gamestate at release, by paying for an internet service like XBL or PSN that could be free like it is on PC, you are supporting the downfall of gaming through directly sponsoring the companies that hurts the gaming industry.
  • Bogdan_4578
    You have a loot of good points but in the end this article is pointless .PCMR is sometimes a bad joke but in the end we help each other,fight for good ports and try to fix what devs won't.You agree or not ,gaming on a PC is more fun than ever.
  • Durinn McFurren
    Contributor
    ... I just don't care if I get more than 30 fps.

    And I like the keyboard and mouse, and I don't like game controllers, which have too few buttons, plus I can't aim with a controller's joystick to save my life. Plus, gaming on a PC means I don't have to buy a computer AND a console.

    I do agree about the DRM stuff, but that's hardly the fault of the PC.
  • Jay Ricciardi
    Contributor
    GBA Master Race
  • CallSignDriver
    Featured Correspondent
    240x160! 60fps! Exclusive titles! Link cable! DRM Free!
    Why are we on PC again?
  • Spyke_3447
    PC master race was just a joke... Consoles hold back games in terms of technological progression/graphics etc sometimes BUT there is a positive to that. As toasters can still play games like MGSV:TPP because it will be designed to run on everything from the 360 to the XBONE.

    Which makes more sense, making games that fit the largest demographic of customers over several console sets, OR making ones that will play properly only on the most cutting edge of hardware?

    I'd argue that as long as you strike a good balance in your min and max settings it's all gravy, sadly this is not the case in most recent games. Developers want to promise games with truly next gen graphics at E3 etc, but then realize that the consoles cannot match up to that demand and thus have to downgrade much to the chagrin of gamers. How many performance pathes is the witcher 3 on now? :^)
  • CallSignDriver
    Featured Correspondent
    Even Witcher 3 had a graphical downgrade from E3 to PC. It gets me riled up.
  • IntCel
    Contributor
    You must be new to PC gaming.
    Also, a lot of those failing games are console ports, what does THAT tell you?
    Just wait for dx12 when consoles will have become obsolete for good.
  • CallSignDriver
    Featured Correspondent
    It tells me that developers don't take PC gaming seriously, nor do they take the standards of PC gamers seriously. This is the kind of thing that drives quality downward.
    I've been PC gaming since before 2006, roughly.
  • Rothalack
    Master O' Bugs
    You hit the nail on the head then missed the point. "As long as developers keep catering to the restrictions of the weaker platform, the PC will never be truly superior."

    PC is factually superior. It is held back every day by consoles. End of story.
  • CallSignDriver
    Featured Correspondent
    I don't disagree. In fact I thought it was pretty clear that was the theme of my article. Maybe I should have been more blunt.
    When I say "the PC will never be truly superior," I'm referring to the PC platform as a whole--shitty ports, buggy releases, aborted launches and all--not the PC as a machine.
    To say PC is factually superior is a little too broad of a statement. Certain PC hardware is factually superior to consoles, but not all PC hardware. So if you're not talking about the hardware, you're talking about the other merits of PC gaming--the ones often bragged about, like 60fps graphics, Steam, mod support--all things that are currently under fire in different ways.
    THAT'S what I was talking about in the article. I'm sorry if that one line came off incorrectly.
  • OrganisedDinosaur
    Correspondent
    I have often wondered if people are oblivious to the fact that Yahtzee first used the phrase in a condescending way. Perhaps they choose to be oblivious.

    I have a brilliant gaming PC, but choose not to be part of the "master race". It is a bit like being straight but choosing not to be homophobic. I love my consoles and my PC and actually find myself using my consoles more even when I could get a graphically better experience on my PC.

    I agree that the main issue is that developers are essentially held back by consoles. But PC sales alone could not sustain game development so it is a question of having games of the current quality... or no more new games.
  • Si_W
    I'm a console free PC gamer but don't buy into the PCMR other than when taking the piss.

    Had an Xbox 360 for a while but barely touched it, much prefer to game on the PC for all the reasons shouted by those who truly live by the PCMR creed. I just prefer not to shout about it and wouldn't stop anyone from choosing a console, in fact all five of my children have one...
  • JoshCasts
    Most games promised in 60 FPS are in 60FPS. It's the individuals PC's that can't take the full graphics or FPS. Must remember that when you're trying to bash on developers not making games in 60FPS...
  • CallSignDriver
    Featured Correspondent
    I think that Way of the Samurai 4, Dead Rising 3, and Batman: Arkham Knight players might disagree with you. These games are locked at 30 frames-per-second by the developer (unnecessarily), and designed in such a way that unlocking the framerate breaks the game. There's no reason that power users with superior systems shouldn't be able to play the latest titles at high frame rates. They can and will when games are optimized correctly. PC gamers are being bottlenecked by lousy console content standards.

    Here's a list of other games locked at 30 frames-per-second. You might argue that a lot of these games are older, but that's just more reason that they should perform at higher framerates on modern machines without problems.
    http://store.steampowered.com/curator/9393382-The-Framerate-Police/

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