The performance mode has destroyed the interest of video game consoles

Are there too many choices?

A reader is annoyed with performance mode options in games and says using them undermines the main benefits of having a console.

Choice is not always a good thing. Not when it comes to technology. A big part of modern marketing and social media is about pretending you can have things your way; you’re encouraged to think the world revolves around you, even when companies know it’s just a sham. As a general concept, choice is, of course, what everyone wants, but sometimes the lack of choice is what is actually most convenient.

Lack of choice is what video game consoles are all about and always has been. At least until the last generation, every console is the same all over the world. It plays the same games exactly the same way, and you always know you’re getting the best possible performance the console, or at least the developer, can deliver.

You don’t have to worry about graphics card settings, controller compatibility or resolutions – the game is what it is. If you want to spend two hours running a game before playing, then fine, you have a choice of buying a PC. But to me the beauty of consoles is that you start the game and that’s it, you’re right in the game and you never have to spare a second to think about hardware. Or at least that’s how it worked.

PS4 Pro and Xbox Series X are what started it all. Suddenly, halfway through the build, two new consoles appeared that promised more power but were very vague about what that actually meant. Much has been made of 4K resolution, however, as if it was the one technical standard that all gamers had ever wanted – even though it had hardly ever been mentioned before that time.

As a result, choices had to be made before launching a game, between resolution and performance. You couldn’t have both. The game wasn’t designed with just one mode in mind, to work as well as possible with the hardware at hand. Instead, the developers had abandoned all attempts at optimization and moved the issue to the drive. If the resolution is not high enough, it’s your fault. If the game doesn’t go well, you’ve made the wrong choice.

This situation has been further compounded in next-gen, where games are suddenly filled with four or more different modes, prioritizing a range of conflicting choices, primarily 30fps or 60fps frame rates, but also things like ray tracing and 120 fps. Unlike the 4K resolution decision, these differences actually matter, and you’re forced to make a decision between a game that looks great or plays well. You can’t have both.

There’s rarely an in-between choice, it has to be one extreme or the other, and I’m sick of it. I don’t want to have to make any choices before I even start playing. I want the game to have been designed to take full advantage of the console, not to have the hard choices of optimism forced upon me.

When I play a game these days, especially a multiplayer game, I’m no longer safe knowing that everyone else is playing with the same limitations as me. Heck, with multiplayer games, they might as well now be a PC gamer with a much more powerful machine, mouse and keyboard, and cheats installed.

I’m sick of choice. Especially since it’s never the one I want. I want to have the choice not to play with PC owners or people using a keyboard, but no… it’s not allowed. If so, I wish they would take the choice of performance mode away from everyone. If you want to fiddle with settings all day, buy a PC, if you want to play a game instantly and without constantly worrying about having chosen the wrong performance mode, you should be able to do that. But this choice is no longer available.

Imagine how much worse next-gen will be or even just PS5 Pro. More and more decisions are diluting the whole point of having a console, until there is no difference between it and a PC. The worst part is I’m not even sure Sony and Microsoft realize this is the future they’re heading towards but they destroy the whole point and purpose of consoles and I really wish I could do a choice to stop them.

By the reader Hypo

Player functionality does not necessarily represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.

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