General Question

ragingloli's avatar

How feasible would a "console card" be?

Asked by ragingloli (35286 points ) September 28th, 2012

By “console card” I mean an add-on card that can be installed in a PC, that handles all the data translation of Console games between the disk and the PC, while utilising the PC’s CPU and GPU.
Basically a hardware based console emulator, with the added functionality over the console to output higher resolutions than the console. It would be cheaper than a full console, since it does not need its own disc drive, hard drive, cpu or graphics unit, because it would use those already present in the PC.
With this, console manufacturers could fill the demand of people who would like to play console games, but that either do not have the money, or do not want to spend that much money, to buy a full console and the necessary LCD television set.

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13 Answers

lightsourcetrickster's avatar

I don’t know how you could ask that without thinking that maybe piracy would be an issue.
I know for a fact that there are lots of outlets (e.g. illegal download websites) that either provide links to or host files for download. I don’t see it being a feasible idea in terms of games manufacturing. EA would definitely go up in arms about it, as they lose a staggering wad of dosh over game piracy per year, City Interactive wouldn’t be able to complain too much but 2K and various other major games manufacturers would so hate the idea of such a card because where would the games come from? The internet. Loads of people would just rush off to some torrent website to just download the game of their choice, which would be fine it were from a nasty platform like Steam (I say nasty cause I hate it), but no, it would come from somewhere totally illegal. Slam the contents on a CD/DVD, and stuff that bad boy into a DVD/CDRW drive and bob’s yer uncle, free game. I don’t see it working to be honest. Good idea but the implications on the gaming industry would probably be more negative than positive.

XOIIO's avatar

Why not just play the game on the computer, PC gaming is far superior, and its not expensive to get a usb game controller that has more features than a standard one.

phaedryx's avatar

I think it is an interesting idea, but I don’t think that console makers would go for it. I think it would undercut their console business.

@lightsourcetrickster why do you hate Steam?

DeanV's avatar

@XOIIO Because there is still tons of console exclusive games out there.

Symbeline's avatar

All the PC’s components would have to be able to handle what the console can do, otherwise you’d get an extremely shoddy emulator. Or perhaps not? That said, it’s probably more than possible, as in, to create and use such a card. Except for people with really old PC’s or old/unreliable parts in it. PC’s are more powerful than consoles so there probably wouldn’t be much of a problem.

One thing you have to remember is that like, for example, the PS3 has 754893257490412 updates monthly, so when the cards would be manufactured, it would have to be able to accept those…or dish out constant programs and updates for its emulation to keep itself up to date unless you wanted something really bad. I don’t think it’s like passed gen systems where all games use the exact same basis for existing. Then again if the card just emulates there’s probably a way around there, as you don’t need to get the update to play any new game, anyway. (mostly I think it’s just for patches and DLC and shit, which the PC, by all rights, should be more than able to handle) Probably all that might apply to the Xbox 360. The Wii might be different though, since most of the games use sensors for controlling the action. You could probably easily transition that to normal key pressing/PC controller formatting though? Same note for the Kinect (who the hell uses that for gaming anyway) or the PS3’s Sixaxis which is basically nonexistent in any game, anyway. Also for the PS3, if your card isn’t purely emulation, you need a BluRay player, if your card intends to make actual use of the PC’s disc player…but if it is all emulation, I’m thinking it would be possible. Denno how accurate the copies would be.

But is it feasible as in, is it ever going to happen? I’m afraid if I answer that in any way whatsoever, some guy from Sony is going to come in here and pull an Omnislash on me. plus he told me that you should probably watch your back from now on :p

phaedryx's avatar

I think most people would prefer to have an adapter so that they could easily copy the game onto their PC so they could play it with an emulator.

Symbeline's avatar

Why aren’t there PS3/Xbox360/Wii emulators though? I’m thinking it should probably be pretty simple to at least emulate the games?

jerv's avatar

From a hardware perspective, quite easy.

The problems are commercial viability, and the console makers getting territorial. Many gamers are pretty loyal to one platform, and those who are not tend to be console gamers; many PC gamers (at least the ones I know) consider console gaming to be too limited, so the appeal of a console card is rather limited. The fact that it’s pretty easy to hack a PC to play a game that wasn’t physically purchased from an approved vendor also makes it less attractive from a business point of view. Remember, these are the same people that want to require games to be registered such that the used game market evaporates!

@Symbeline Not quite that simple, for a few reasons.
1) Translation requires overhead – Emulation is always slower than “running native”, so having an emulator tell Windows/Linux will be slower than telling the hardware what to do directly the way a console does.

2) Consoles are actually pretty hefty hardware – The PS3 has a 3.2 GHz multi-core CPU that is totally different from any x86-compatible CPU. See above and that means that your average PC would be lucky to run a current-gen console game at half-speed. They are fast enough to run PS1 games, and have issues with PS2.

3) Consoles are proprietary “black boxes”; the details of their programming required to make an emulator are closely guarded secrets that must be reverse-engineered, and even that feat often runs afoul of all sorts of intellectual property laws whether the claims are legitimate or not.

3a) Making a successful emulator may get you dragged to court by a company with deep pockets; if you are innocent, they will drag the case out until you are bankrupt or plead guilty. It’s a no-win situation.

dabbler's avatar

By the time you put the hardware together for a console card you might as well buy a console.

@jerv is right about the consoles. They are pretty powerful and peculiar. They have specialized graphics hardware that would be a challenge for a typical PC to emulate.
The Sony Playstation 3 has the custom Cell processor, one of the most powerful PowerPC CPUs in existence. It’s got a lot of super-computer attributes under the hood for speed and parallel processing of game play activity.
Getting the typical desktop computer to act like one of those is like getting your pickup truck to act like one of these.

XOIIO's avatar

@DeanV Well hopefully emulator technology advances a bit more quickly than it’s going right now.

ragingloli's avatar

@XOIIO
Well, I recently upgraded my PC to an i7 quadcore, 12gb ram and a gtx580, and only now are ps2 games running smoothly on the pcsx2 emulator. Mind, I do run them at 1920×1200 with anti aliasing and texture filtering.

XOIIO's avatar

@ragingloli Ahh, so there are emulators that actually run games well now. I havent been looking for any lately.

jerv's avatar

PCSX2 doesn’t run well on an i3–530/6gb/GT240 :(

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