System Shocks

CVG brings us a new article titled "System Shocks" in which they suggest that high system requirements for PC games could be contributing to the platform's downfall. World of Warcraft, BioShock, Hellgate: London, and Age of Conan are all referenced:
People have complained about game specs since the days of the Intel 486, but there are good business reasons for making hardware-hungry games. Developers exploit advanced technology available for PCs because it gives games a long shelf life, allowing them to license their engines to other developers. And PC game developers set the bar for graphical wizardry.

But, in recent times, show-offs like Microsoft's Flight Sim X, Hellgate: London and BioShock, have irritated the hardcore gamers. When a new game reveals visible lag and stodgy graphics, and its low settings on an average PC are frankly arse, there's reason enough to be peeved. This is a huge dilemma for developers, says Jørgen Tharaldsen, Funcom's Product Director.

"Getting the system requirements right is something we've spent a lot of time on for Age of Conan. On the one hand we have to develop a game that pushes the boundaries of the MMO genre; on the other we need to make sure that the largest amount of people can play it. I think we have found a nice middle ground. Most PC gamers get to play it (Shader Model 2.0 or higher is required). The older machine you have, the less of the goodies you can run, but in general we have tried to develop our tech so it runs on old machines too."

While I agree with the article to some extent, I'd like to point out that a vast majority of "next-gen" console games only support 720p (1280x720) and rarely allow the player to turn on any advanced graphical options. If PC gamers were satisfied with setting all of their games to use low and medium graphical options (comparable to a console game's settings), this really wouldn't be an issue. The beauty of the PC is that you're not stuck with average visuals if you have the hardware to support high resolutions, anti-aliasing, and any other bell or whistle you want to throw into the mix.