The gap between consoles and PCs, once a yawning chasm, is now but a tiny crack. This has made dedicated PC owners wail and gnash their teeth and use phrases like "dumbing down" more often than they really should. For all their protests, many of the things that were once lynchpins of the PC scene are now just as common on the consoles. Online play is taken for granted, and people grumble if it's not there. Sadly, so is the habit of patching games after release. And now it seems that even the sacred ritual of the public beta test has become a console event. Thousands piled online to give Halo 3's multiplayer offering a trial run before release, and now EA has created another big ruckus by dishing out keys for Battlefield: Bad Company, the console-exclusive shooter based on the popular PC online title.