“Space, the final frontier.” Or, in the case of PC gamers, space is the very, very finite frontier that is completely limited by not only your budget but your socioeconomic standing. In the past, PC games could fit on a single CD ROM.
Over time, this grew into a DVD and eventually multiple DVDs. As gaming inched its way out of a small niche populated primarily by teenagers into a true juggernaut of an entertainment industry, it was only natural that with the increase in interest would come an increase in demand and space.
Yet the question always remained. Why are P.C. games smaller than console games? The answer isn’t nearly as simple as any one reason. Game development is a taxing, arduous process that can take years and still result in a flop, but why does a download on a console feel different than a download on P.C?
To begin with, developing for a console is wildly different from developing for P.C. It is true to some extent that all games are developed on PC, but that is a gross generalization of an issue that requires far more nuance. When developing for console, developers are primarily presented with development kits.
Development kits are a set of tools that publishers present to developers to make a game function as intended on their desired platform. Without developer’s kits, games would not run even eighty percent as well as they currently do. When developing for consoles, developers are working with a set timeframe a set knowledgebase and a set framework.
Developers don’t normally have to worry about the hardware of the console changing. They don’t have to worry about parts of their framework being inadequate because the hardware and, most times, the software remain static. This is not the same as on P.C.
On P.C. things change all the time. Hardware, software, operating systems. There are a plethora of factors that constantly and without warning change. For example, the time between the Geforce 2000 series and the Geforce 3000 series was two years. Most video games these days take at least five years to be developed. To say nothing of the environments and art design that would need to be revised.
With changes such as this, it’s no wonder that P.C. games can alter in size over time. Yet, why do P.C. games still not feel as large as console games? The answer is compression. P.C. games require a wealth of processing and speed in order to handle files in all of their glorious detail. This is not so on consoles. Consoles operate within their own niche and because of that require far less compression to run their games.
These days games fall into numerous categories. When it comes to gaming on P.C. on consoles though, gamers tend to only focus on two types. Triple-A games and independent games. These two types of games have vastly different development times. An indie game can be developed within months, while Triple-a console games take years.
Another factor is the change from one console generation to another. When the PlayStation 5 launched in 2020, developers had already gotten development kits two years earlier. This meant that games and at least six months of their future content were already planned by the time consoles launched. For most of these games, such as Miles Morales Spiderman or Scarlet Nexus, it would be at least two years before the game saw a P.C. version being developed.
Yet this isn’t only for current generation consoles. These days, many developers are making the decision to develop previous iterations of their already launched intellectual property. There are many reasons for this, both monetary and otherwise, but it cannot be short-changed that size, space, and development time make a difference when porting a game to P.C.
Pros and Cons
P.C. games usually being smaller means that you can always get your games quicker and without much trouble to your hard drive space. In the era of post-pandemic pricing, where computer parts are almost equal to gold in terms of pricing, being able to conserve space and still play your favorite games.
On the downside, where savings and convenience for space are an advantage, the constant upgrading of hardware is an issue. Things like Ram, graphics cards, and operating systems often change between a game’s announcement and launch. To say nothing of extenuating circumstances that can affect the prices of things like that. Unlike buying a console, you know you’ll have a large library of games to supply you, when buying a P.C., you’re trading a massive game library for the convenience of space.
P.C. games are not necessarily smaller than console games. In the era of 4k gaming and live streaming, it can be hard to keep the size of the game down to a reasonable size. The way P.C. games are developed these days, there are constant patches and updates that in the end, result in all versions of the game being the same size. These days most people use their P.C. for more than just video games, space is a precious commodity. If you’re buying a game for P.C. because of space difficulties, you need to consider whether the saving of space, is worth the sacrifice of quality or if maybe a console would be a better option for you.