Console > PC

Fans of PC gaming chide me from time to time about why I game on a console (or hand held) rather than a PC…

Recently I saw that Rocksmith 2014 was on sale at newegg.com as a download. Since Jolene gave me the 360 version which came with a cable (and a new guitar!) I thought it would be neat to have the ability to move around the house with a laptop and play.

Some sales are more trouble than they’re worth but it’s good to have a modern reminder why consoles are simply better at all the things.

Depending on how far back I go, I’ve gamed on a number of different technologies. Arcade to computer to console to computer to console to hand held to console… but for context, lets go back to a time when I was focused on PC gaming, around the time Tribes 2 was around. I remember playing the shit outta Tribes. Loved playing against live humans… loved that going back to Heretic and Subspace. At the time I was playing on a 15″ monitor and then upgraded to a 20″ monitor. That was a fun purchase too: ordered it online and had to unbox it and put it in the front seat of my VW because it wouldn’t fit any other way. When Tribes 2 hit, I was excited. Really excited. Until I tried to run the game. Blue screens all over the joint. After spending 4 hours of a Saturday on the phone with Sierra Online, I finally got the game running by tweaking the size of my AGP Graphics Aperture from 64 to 8. How do I remember the setting – something that I have no idea what it does – after years? Because it was that painful.

Shortly after getting bored with Tribes 2, I picked up Halo for the PC and played the shit outta that, a reoccurring theme for titles I like. After hours of playing it on a 20″ monitor, I noticed that there was a 36″ TV right next to me… bought a Halo special edition Xbox the next night. Of course, Halo on Xbox didn’t have multiplayer like the PC did until Halo 2, but even so, I really took a liking to having a controller and console. Something about just dropping a disc in a tray and calling it done was really, really nice.

With Halo 2’s launch came my awareness of Xbox LIVE. Back when I was playing Tribes and Halo, I remember saying to several friends “I’m never going to pay anyone just to play multiplayer. Pft! I do that for free!” True, I had a few of initial hiccups getting online with Halo for PC, I didn’t have many issues. Sure, I had a challenge finding a game from time to time and I had absolutely no concept of who I’d be playing with or how to find other friends online, but it wasn’t that bad. Even so, I wanted to play Halo 2 multiplayer and I didn’t know when or if there would be a PC version, so I signed up for the free trial of LIVE.

Less than a week later, I plunked down for a year’s subscription because every thing on the system Just Worked(TM). I went on see that the cost of the subscription was much smaller that not having to keep on top of PC with hardware upgrades. I wouldn’t have to upgrade the whole rig every 6-8 months, just to play a new game at maximum resolution. Over time, I realized that I could stretch upgrades of the core box for five to seven years. My current machine was built in 2007. Sure it’s had a couple of hard drive or RAM upgrades over the seven year span but the piece of shit graphics card is 7 years old… most recent “upgrade” was for the two case fans that finally died.

And yet, once a PC gamer always a PC gamer: I’m never really done with it. Not done done. It’s like a siren’s song: you occasionally hear it when everything else is quiet and it somehow has the power to pull you in again.

I’ve had a Steam account for years. I signed up to get my hands on a modernized version of Heretic… was fun to reminisce with it on screen but it was barely playable. Sort of like trying to play Doom on Xbox LIVE Arcade: I so very much wanted to look up or down and well that wasn’t something supported in those original FPS titles. I liked the concept of Steam, though: having an app and service try to shepherd the PC gaming experience is a good thing. A very good thing. In fact, it’s one of the biggest things that I like about console gaming: less overhead to worry about and more time to spend gaming. So when I saw that Rocksmith 2014 was available on Windows (and Mac!) and was handled by Steam, I decided to dip a toe back into the PC gaming pool.

I bought the code from newegg.com – that was painless. Took the code to Steam and popped it in: it gave me rights to Rocksmith 2014 immediately – also painless. I poked around and saw that I had locked achievements and badges – interesting yet slightly confusing since those both seem to be the same thing, but no pain caused by the landing page. Found the download link and pulled down the bits.

After that, a familiar pain returned to my head.

The download completed and I launched the title; Steam tells me that I have a CD code that I need to have. Um, OK… at least it had a copy to clipboard button. The game starts up. After 6 welcome screens that I can’t skip through, Ubisoft presents me with a Uplay sign in screen. Not knowing if I have an account, I try to create a new one with the screen name RandyNoArms. Uplay tells me that’s taken. That means I have an account… how do I sign in? Email and password. Sure, why not? I try some combinations: doesn’t recognize me. I head over to the forgot my password page – it asks me for an email address. I reset with three different accounts; I get no response from ubi.com in email but the web page tells me it’s successful… impressive security mitigation in that they don’t tell me that the email address is used or not: that’s good news as a user. Hey, I know: I’ll look for the page that says “I have a screen name but forgot my email” – that’s not a security risk for anyone because they can blindly fire me a password reset email… countless services do this and they’ve already told me the screen name exists on the service. Nintendo even goes on to tell me when someone tries to reset the password for my Club Ninty account because 90% of the time it isn’t me making the request: life goes on without worry.

Except that Ubisoft doesn’t offer such an option.

OK, fine – there are other support options… there’s Twitter. Oops – I can’t DM them on Twitter because they don’t follow me. There’s chat, messages and forums. …but you need to be signed in to get to them. Hmpf. So I create a new account to get into the forums and I tweet them a note. I boot up Rocksmith again and this time I use my new “temp” account which is accepted and I go off to create a Rocksmith profile. Ubi tweets back at me that they are following me now and they can help me via DM’s – they send a reset email sent to me. Yay! I boot Rocksmith with my original Uplay account and wait for the Uplay sign in. Doesn’t show up. OK – account is cached? Maybe. Uninstall/reinstall Rocksmith. Boot the game: no sign in. Tweet back to Uplay support: we don’t support moving games between accounts.

They don’t support moving games between accounts.

Know what? Neither does a number of services. I get that – DRM, blah blah blah. But at what point did any of my software tell me that signing into Uplay would lock the game to a single account? In fact, when did Uplay ever tell me that this was a one way street? And why is Uplay even involved if this game is distributed by Steam? Uplay sounds like “come meet your friends on Ubi.com” and not “WE OWNERZ YOUR DRM LICENSE!” service. I mean at this point, if Uplay says “that’s policy” who do I talk to? Steam? Newegg? Why are there so many layers of bullshit in the effort of playing one game?

I think I’ll see if anyone has Rockband 2014 for sale for the 360 and wait for new versions to show up on Xbox One.

Some sales are more trouble than they’re worth.

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