Last night I played The Witcher 2 for several hours by accident.
I’d just re-installed the game on my Mac Mini’s Bootcamp partition after realizing that I could free up space by reformatting a spare external drive. I sat down at the computer to make sure everything was up to date and running properly and ended up getting sucked into the game.
Freeing up disk space was actually kind of a huge deal because until recently I could either have The Witcher 2 installed (it takes up most of the partition with its 21gb install) or I could install a handful of games in Steam. When your hard drive is always about to run out of storage space it definitely puts a damper on things.
Now, however, I have more than a dozen games installed – most of them purchased during the 2012 Steam Winter Sale – and I’m starting to get excited about the possibilities of PC gaming. The best part is that a significant number of the games I’ve bought recently are compatible with Macs and actually play quite well on my Macbook Air (even if it does tend to run hot and loud the entire time I’m playing).
A number of factors have combined to pique my interest in PC (and Mac) gaming. Right now we’re in a lull between AAA console game releases, so I’m already on the lookout for something new to play. However, I’m not really that excited about the inevitable next generation consoles. The Wii U landed with a thud, and I’m having a hard time believing that Sony and Microsoft are going to come up with anything particularly impressive, especially considering the fact that they’re probably betting on Kinect and Move more than I’d like.
Additionally, it seems clear that digital distribution will become more and more prominent in future console generations. I find myself buying more and more digital content, and I could definitely foresee a future where I buy all of my games digitally.
That said, what I really want to see on consoles is a business model similar to what Steam already delivers today – deep discounts and regular sales. Steam’s pricing makes it more than competitive with both used games and piracy.
Unfortunately, I have a feeling that Microsoft and Sony will never quite catch on to the Steam model, so why wait? Instead, why not hitch my wagon to Steam wholeheartedly and invest in a full-fledged gaming PC instead of a next-generation console? The initial investment will probably be slightly higher, but a well-built system should hopefully have more flexibility and longevity.
I’m already impressed with the results I get running games on my current systems. I’ve played several hours of both Dragon Age: Origins and The Witcher on the Air, and when I want to play a Windows-only game, I switch over to Bootcamp on the Mini (there is a Mac version of The Witcher 2, but it claims the Mini’s specs aren’t good enough). It only stands to reason that a dedicated gaming box would improve my results.
I will admit that I am hesitant to pay full retail price ($59.99) for a digital game, but that might change over time, especially with a dedicated system. Until then, I can always just wait around for the next crazy sale on Steam.