The PC is a window into the future of gaming, says the Epic VP.
Epic's Mark Rein wants console manufactures to add a lot more power to the next generation of consoles. He thinks that gaming PCs have "shot past" consoles, and hopes to see the gap close a little when the next wave of hardware arrives.
Rein hoped that the "Samaritan" demo, which appeared at GDC this year running - supposedly in real time - on a very high-powered PC, would give console manufacturers something to aim for. If they aimed to get that level of detail on a console, they did, he said, they would be competitive with what a reasonably priced PC would be capable of in around 18 months. Of course, implicit in that is the idea that high-end PC gaming will have moved on again, but Rein doesn't seem to think that that's necessarily a bad thing.
"Don't forget every game that's ultimately built is built on a PC. PCs are always going to be the tools through which all games get made," he said. "With the PC you can simulate the future; you can put enough hardware in a PC to show you what a future console will look like."
In terms of raw power, PCs are always going to have to the edge over consoles; a console is a fixed platform with a lifespan of several years, while the PC is constantly changing, with new hardware coming out all the time. Some new hardware in consoles would be nice; as Ubisoft said last week, developers are starting to bang their heads on the ceiling. But whether Sony and Microsoft will go all out and cram as much power as possible into the next PlayStation and Xbox models remains to be seen. I wouldn't be all that surprised if they showed a little restraint, not only to keep manufacturing costs down, but to keep game development relatively affordable too.