There’s a plague, an evil, pernicious virus spreading through the blag-u-spore, and one by one people are succumbing, with another victim claimed this month. All these people have contracted… an XBox 360. There is hope, but we need your help. Please, please, send whatever you can spare to help these poor unfortunates return to the promised land of PC gaming; £2000 will buy a reasonably specced PC that has a fighting chance of getting over 20fps in Grand Theft Auto IV. £300 buys a graphics card that can play the latest games for at least a month or two before it’s out of date. Just £100 would get a 5600DPI 1000Hz ultrapolling hyperresponse mouse. Even a mere £5 would buy some shark repellant to help out when the simple matter of installing the latest video drivers because some game demanded it results in a corrupted Windows installation, loss of six months of data, and aquatic peril.
Really, though I’ve no plans to succumb to the 360 pandemic myself just yet, it’s not too hard to see the appeal of console gaming, which results in a bit of a problem. Just as Champions Online looked like it might be striking another blow against the annoyance of finding yourself on a different continent or server to your friends in an MMO, there’s now a platform schism for games like Left 4 Dead or Borderlands where I can’t play with my comrades if they’re on their 360s, all the more irritating when a couple of games have shown cross-platform play is possible. Shadowrun, for example; I’m not sure whether Microsoft are trying to use that as proof that there isn’t demand for cross-platform play, as the Vista-only PC version of Shadowrun was saddled with trying to push not just Vista but also Games For Windows Live (back in the day when it was not only entirely awful, you had to pay for it), possibly the greatest handicap any product has faced since Conquistador Coffee was packaged with cholera and a free dead dog with every jar. I believe total sales were three, although two were later returned as the purchaser thought, through a drunken haze, it was “shadow rum”.
It’ll be interesting to see, once MMOs start appearing on consoles (if any ever do), if there’ll be continued segregation, or one, happy, cross-platform family. Fingers crossed for the latter!