I imagine anyone who plays PC games and owns a Windows tablet already has a clue. It’s pretty straightforward: we now have tablets and other portable devices that run the same Windows you get on a laptop or desktop, which means games built for Windows should boot up on them.
I haven’t tried out one of these things for myself but I’ve started to look at the fruits of Microsoft’s attempt to combine tablets and laptops. What I’ve seen suggests the beginning of what could eventually become real handheld PC gaming. I’m starting to wonder if that’s a possible future of handheld gaming for hardcore consumers depending on how developers and hardware play out.
My fascination began when I heard about people able to run Civilization V and the PC version of FTL on a Surface Pro. More recently however I’ve seen footage of Crysis and Skyrim running on a $99 tablet. Now that footage still shows the games running at their lowest graphical settings at 30 frames per second, but it’s progress. On the more expensive tablets we could already be getting performance similar to the PS3 and Xbox 360.
Imagine what could happen as these devices get more powerful in the future. They won’t run the latest PC games of the time but they could at the very least run the thousands of older PC games out there as well as lower-end games. Then you have the possibility of PC developers optimizing games for mobile Windows devices. We already have games like Diablo III and League of Legends that have low system requirements so people can install them on laptops. Optimizing such games for tablets and adding touch screen controls is just one more step. Right now I don’t think this is very different from running games on a laptop since you still have to break out a keyboard or a controller to do it, but it’s a slightly more portable solution that could become more portable in the future. I’ll really start to get interested if they get this kind of stuff working on a device that fits in my pocket. Streaming is a thing too, but I personally haven’t had any need for it, and I still want to reach a future where I can just take a device out and start playing anywhere.
To me, the promised land is being able to take out a Windows device the size of a phone or at least a PlayStation Vita, install Steam on it, and play a Windows copy game like Spelunky or Shovel Knight without having to re-buy it.
Overall I really haven’t liked Microsoft’s attempt to combine tablets and laptops. I don’t think touch screens and keyboards go together, and Microsoft’s tablet software ecosystem is seriously lacking compared to iOS and Android. Gaming however might turn into one good unintended consequence of the endeavor. What’s funny is this could turn into a counter to Microsoft’s attempt to get people buying Windows 8 mobile-style games. Really, in the semi-far future, PC gaming on these devices could turn into a good alternative for people not interested in mobile games.
The big conundrum with portable gaming right now is the 3DS is a bad piece of hardware with great software, but iOS and Android devices are good pieces of hardware with lower-quality software. Most people are fine with mobile games, but that ecosystem has very little to offer for people who prefer the games you see on consoles, the 3DS, or the Vita. Just straight-up playing PC games on the go could be an answer. Other media like music and movies aren’t bifurcated by the split between the living room and the handheld screen. Only video games are, and I keep wondering if that could end one day.
- I really don’t want to talk about the Ghost in the Shell movie news. There’s just no way Hollywood could do it justice.
- The better movie news of today is the inclusion of all three main actors from the Raid movies in Star Wars Episode VII. http://t.co/4X0SHm1E5B Two of those guys choreographed the films so that’s another tantalizing aspect. We just need to accept that Hollywood cameramen and editors probably won’t shoot their action scenes nearly as well as in their Indonesian films.
- Drift Stage has an alpha demo out now. http://t.co/viuqFprtlC
- Nice brief explanation of Tolkien lore. http://t.co/iz5D7yUqPW Cover some important things the movies don’t, like what Gandalf actually is for instance.