Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Mini Cast: DUmbing Down

Hey I'm Baby Tea. Whenever a new part of a multi-platform series comes out, I often hear gamers complaining about how the game is being 'dumbed down' for new audiences or other platforms. That's retarded, and we're going to find out why on this Gamer's corner.

This idea of 'dumbing down' usually comes from a certain group of people: PC gamer elitists. Now, I grew up PC gaming, I still play games on my PC, and I'm hoping to get back into it in the near future (After all Civilization 5 just came out!). I say that to make sure it's known that I don't hate or look down on PC gaming. The PC is a huge, popular, great platform for games.

But just like the Xbox 360, Playstation, and Nintendo fanboys, the PC has it's own brand of dumb-ass elite who doesn't just prefer their platform of choice, but has to be a dick about it. Because heaven forbid that someone have fun with and enjoy something that you don't, right? So let's take a look at this idea of 'dumbing down'.

Originally the notion came from strategy games where the sequels would remove features in order to be more accessible. This is bad, or good, depending on who you are. If you're a veteran of the series, then it might be bad because you enjoy the complexity. If you're new the series, then you might enjoy it because it makes the game easier to grasp. This is neither inherently bad or good, just bad or good depending on taste.

Lately, though, 'dumbing down' has been a popular turn-of-phrase among the PC-Gaming elite douchebags when referring to games that are released on both the consoles and the PC. That gameplay or graphics take a dive when consoles are involved, and so the game suffers because of it.


A recent forum conversation I had on this very subject had someone who used the 'dumbing down' complaint on the game F.E.A.R. 2. Here are the reasons he had for using the 'dumbing down' complaint:

1) The game was frame-rate capped at 30 frames per second.

Well what can I say about that? If the game is capped at 30 frames per second, it's capped. Except it isn't. A simple Google search revealed that it was only a bug, and it was easily fixed. Whoops! Not only that, but there are console games that run at a smooth 60 frames per second. The Call of Duty series being a prime example.

Point failed.

2) Less advanced controls.

What the heck does this even mean? If you look as W-A-S-D as your left thumbstick, and the mouse as your right thumbstick, what other buttons are you missing? I can run, jump, crouch, shoot, change guns, throw grenades, melee attack, use bullet-time, and pick up objects easily. How complex do you want controls?

Point failed.

3) Lessened visual effects due to lack of power on a console.

First of all: games like Call of Duty, Halo Reach, Heavy Rain, God of War 3, Gears of War 2, Forza 3, Gran Turismo 5, Uncharted 2, and more would like to have a word with you on quality of console visuals. PC Games do run at higher resolutions, yeah. And they can look spectacular, sure. But don't tell me that consoles lack power. That's a load.

As for lessened visuals: If you feel you're being gipped on visuals because of a poor port, then it's not 'dumbed down for consoles', it's 'lazy development'. The difference there is that you're blaming the developer for being lazy in their port, and not blaming the consoles for dumbing down a game. Look at Dragon Age! The game was extremely different visually on the PC then it was on consoles. The PC crowd got to enjoy the higher-resolution textures, and the console crowd still got to enjoy a fantastic RPG. That was a good port. Blame the developer, don't bitch about consoles.

Point failed.

4) Less AI and physics calculations, making for less realistic physics and slow AI.

Again, let's point at who is really at fault here: Developers. Take a game like Halo: Reach. I play fire-fight mode with my friends online, and the AI is smart. Especially the Elites! They run, hide, flank, move, dodge, all of it. This is running on consoles. Bungie made great AI with that game. If you've got a game that has ass-retarded AI who is slow to respond, then the problem is with the developers. Streamline that shit! Untangle your spaghetti code and get it right! Again: Saying 'dumbed down for consoles' puts the blame on the consoles. That's cheap, and it's BS. Try pointing the finger at the guys making the game. We know we can get fantastic AI on consoles, so quit trying to use that excuse as a crutch for poor developer porting. Same goes with physics!

Point Failed.

Let's be serious here: Consoles are a very different platform then the PC. I'll be the first in line to say that. I'll also be the first to say that some games just won't work on consoles. I would put money on a Total War game really being poorer if it was on the PS3 or 360. But the nature of a game being unsuited to a platform, and saying 'it's dumbed down for consoles' is very different. Can you find the difference?

So what do you think? You think games are 'dumbed down' for consoles?
Or do you think that's just elitist PC gamer nonsense?
Let me know!


  1. Thank you. I'm going to start linking to this article any time this argument comes up, as it so often does.

  2. I have difficulty agreeing with your arguments heavily laden with straw-man examples.

    Point one is restricted to a particular game and a particular instance, thus escaping asserting a general point which I believe nullifies it for the purpose of the article. Points three and four refer to the processing power (whether graphical or otherwise) of consoles, which is determined by the life-cycles of the products themselves. Compared to PC's evolving hardware specifications we see a constantly shifting processing standard, consoles moving to the fore as new models are released and the PC gaining ground as they age. Appropriately inexperienced gamers of either side of the fence lament the other side for whatever the current technological difference may be at the time.

    As for your valid point, number two, consider the following:
    Games directed at a multi-platform release often design it primarily for consoles, intending a PC port to follow shortly afterwards. Certainly this is justified corporately, as consoles generate more sales. Unfortunately this sacrifices any imagination on the part of input devices, as the common denominator is that of a casual console gamer requiring a simple, easy to learn input device. Thus PC gamers are, and I emphasize, forced to use nothing but the WASD controls and a mouse for most games.

    On a personal level, I could not respect consoles intellectually on the very basis that they gave birth to Quick Time Events.

  3. I think you've defeated yourself by using a FPS game as the example there. Post those same complaints and apply them to a RTS game on the console and you'll find them to be pretty on the mark, especially complaint 2.

    "Dumbing down" simply means a simplification for a machine which can't handle a more advanced control set. It's not dumbing down to meet the audience, it's not even dumbing down to meet the power of the new platform; it's dumbing down to fit upon the simpler, more intuitive control scheme used by these.

    Fanboys will always exist, but using the arguments of an obvious idiot as the basis for your blog post makes it seem that you take his point of view seriously - thereby "dumbing down" yourself, to the same level.

    By the by, before I get tarred with a "PC elitist" or "console elitist" brush, I play both equally - and mostly guitar hero; a game suited to all platforms because it uses its own proprietary controller; Q.E.D.

  4. There are alot of stong games on both platforms.
    But there have been alot fo series of games that flop as soon as they are released as a console game.

    I think its mainly the developers that see the console market as more $$$ so they build the game for a console, the make a bad cheap port to PC, destroying the PC experiance.

    Games built for PC then ported to console, make good PC games and often bug or don't work on console.

    By your quite childish brush I am a "pc Elitist jerk asshole?" but... I also own 3 consoles and play alot of console games? I love alot of Console games, and pc games.
    But more often than not I see console game developers, cutting corners, reducing gameplay, features, ai, on console games.

    Perhaps its mainly because on PC large content patches can be released later on to fix issues.
    But on console games where bullet holes vanish when you fire your 4th shot?

  5. God I love your voice so much, you should make packs of Bitter Tea etc. and then release it as a download, because you've got lots of good points, your voice is SWEET and your humour is awesome too!
    Keep it up, Baby Tea! :D

  6. No I don't fully agree with your argument. Some games are dumbed down for consoles and made simpler due to lack of input options.

    This is one point in that I heavily disagree with is less advanced controls. For starters on CoD you are missing lean which is a massive deal for a series that has had it since its inception. Sure games run fine without it but to take something out that has been there is bullshit. Less advanced controls is more to do with the controls having less options like for example on PC I can bind a number of sayings so that they come up without having to type speeding up information exchange for those with headphones and mics.

    This spreading out of commands can add for more precise commands and lack of crap deaths. I can't tell you how many semi competitive scrims and the like I have lost due to shooting someone on the bomb and not being able to disable it due to the weapon being in the way or going to reload in Halo but picking up a completely different weapon. Sure it can be helped by changing to various held down times like Halo but the problem still persists.

    One thing I have to say on the FPS thing is sometimes it is capped. Even when it isn't I have experience lag in console games offline. That is completely disgraceful. If something is going to be capped at any FPS it better damn well run at that FPS on its set hardware with no problems for the whole game offline. I do not expect this offline but on console I expect complete and utter 0% lag in every single possible instance of normal play. Although I did manage to creat a pocket of lag by dropping nearly 500+ weapons in a house in Oblivion on consoles which was fun for a laugh.

    Also there is no reason to complain about PC elitists they are far and few inbetween but are very vocal same as console tards. Anyone else could make the same thing for console people.