The law of diminishing returns is well understood by videogames. Characters, stories, aesthetics, business models, brands, mechanics, marketing ploys: all have a tendency to outstay their welcome. Such are the economics of creation. But there’s one area that players – PC players, in particular – have long considered exempt: graphics. Historically, the only thing tiring about those has been keeping up with them.
Consider this, though. In 2006, leading PC games included The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Call Of Duty 3, Half-Life 2: Episode One, Hitman: Blood Money, Lost Planet: Extreme Condition and Splinter Cell: Double Agent. Now, four years later, the publishers of those games have given us Fallout: New Vegas, Call Of Duty: Black Ops, Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days, Lost Planet 2 and Splinter Cell: Conviction. In comparison, it took just three years for Doom to become Quake, Quake to become Quake III, and Far Cry to become Crysis.