Forget the gaming PC, buy a console

Forget the gaming PC, buy a console

Summary: The PC offers the best gaming experience possible ... as long as your PC is powerful enough and the game actually runs.

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TOPICS: Hardware, Mobility
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I'm a huge fan of gaming on the PC. Massive. There's nothing that I like better than to run a game on a big, powerful PC and turn all the settings and dials up to 11. The PC offers the best gaming experience possible ... as long as your PC is powerful enough and the game actually runs.

And there's the problem.

Games are expensive. Big AAA titles such as Battlefield 3, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 or the upcoming Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim will set you back around $60 for the PC game. That's a lot of money for a game. It's an awful lot of money to put down for a game that might not run on your current PC. Think games are expensive. They're cheap compared to the business of upgrading PCs in order to run the latest games! The only way you can be guaranteed that your PC will run a new title is to make sure that it's packed with a high-end multi-core CPU, one (or preferably more) powerful GPUs, and lots of fast storage space. Even then, there's no guarantee that the game will run (over the years I've had shocking problems with newly-released games), but if it runs, it should run really, really well.

Want to know how you can be guaranteed that your game will run without any problems? Buy a games console! Seriously.

The latest generation games consoles (I'm speaking here about the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3) have offered gamers incredible value for money. At launch back in November of 2005 the Xbox 360 cost $399. A year later the the PS3 hit the shelves, and the cheapest model was $499. Might seems like a lot of money at the time, but consider that this initial investment in the console would (assuming that the console's not blown up in that time) still play all the games being released today. You can play Battlefield 3 on it. You will be able to play Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 on it. You will be able to play Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

If you'd spent bought a PC for a few hundred bucks back in 2005/2006, I can assure you that by now it would be junk when it came to gaming today. There will undoubtedly be a refresh of the consoles in the next couple of years, so someone buying one now is not getting as good a deal as someone who bought one back in 2005 or 2006. But when you think that you can pick up an Xbox 360 starting at $200 or a PS3 for $250, I challenge you to find a PC for that price that will give you as good a gaming experience.

Note: Yes, I'm well aware that the PC's input devices are far superior to the gamepads on the consoles. For example, a mouse is far more efficient in a first-person shooter than the best handheld pad. No arguments from me there. Consoles are a compromise.

Now, you can argue that the current lineup of consoles have hit their upper limit with respect to graphics power, and I won't disagree with you. This year's titles don't look any better than last year's did. But I tend to feel that story and gameplay are more important than graphics. Sure, graphics play a part, but look at the reviews of Battlefield 3. Beautiful game, but utterly boring. It's almost as if the developers forgot they were making a game and started making a film.

Convenience, price and longevity trumps power and graphics for many users, which is why game developers focus more on consoles than they do on the PC experience. It's the reason why PC games feel more and more 'consolified' with save points and menus that can't be driven with a mouse. PC gamers (and by extension, Mac gamers) are now second-class citizens. Sure, publishers like your money just as much if you buy the PC version, but they're wary that rather than pay for the game, you'll grab a bootleg copy. PC and graphics card makers also still love PC gamers, because it's a way of selling high-end (and by extension, high-priced) hardware. But the overalls stagnation in both the CPU and GPU sectors should give you a clue as to how little forward momentum there is in these markets as of late.

Just as digital downloads will over the next decade or so (Why? Because you can't resell a digital download!), I expect consoles to become the default games platform and for PCs to just be the place where people fill their time with FarmVille and 'games' like that.

This makes me sad.

[poll id="706"]

Topics: Hardware, Mobility

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62 comments
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  • Cheap PCs can be used for gaming too!

    Just turn all the settings to low and resolution to 1280*720, then you get the same picture quality as on consoles and (likely) a higer FPS.
    cym104
    • RE: Forget the gaming PC, buy a console

      @cym104 Not only that, pick up games from just a few years ago in the bargain bin. You save a lot of money, plus your standard-level graphics card of today runs games from 2-3 years ago at their highest settings. Keep doing that, and you'll only need standard/entry level hardware yet have a great, cheap game experience.
      jgm@...
      • RE: Forget the gaming PC, buy a console

        @jgm@... True, and thats what I do, but there is always the risk that a previously great game won't run on Windows 7. Despite the price, PC games generally don't get great post-sales support for more than a year or so, and patches can become hard to find after a while.

        My absolute faves are the Total War games which you will probably never see on a console. But for anything where there is a console version, I tend to go for it. And of course, the consoles have far less cheaters in the online games, if you care about fair play.
        A.Sinic
      • RE: Forget the gaming PC, buy a console

        @A.Sinic

        Well, I've gone back to install all of my "old" games on my new Windows 7 machine. So far, the only games that haven't made the cut were the old 16-bit games from the Win3.1/95 era. I even spent most of last night playing a few campaign missions of Age of Empires: The Rise of Rome... that's right, not AoE Online, not AoE III, not even AoE II, but the *original* AoE. I didn't even have to tell it run in "Compatibility Mode". Same thing with Halo: CE & MechWarrior 4.
        spdragoo@...
  • Pick the platform for the game

    Want a fragfest, use a console.
    Want an MMORPG, us a PC.
    The case for the console as the primary gaming platform is strong. However there is still a compelling case for PC gaming for the right kind of game.
    keebaud@...
    • RE: Forget the gaming PC, buy a console

      @keebaud@...
      +1. You said it better. Use the right tool to keep you entertain and busy.
      Ram U
    • PCs are the original -- & sill the best -- for fragfests.

      @keebaud@...

      Let's not forget that without the original Wolfenstein, Doom & Quake, you wouldn't have the console fragfests. If anything, a fragfest game is even better on a PC: keyboard gives you a lot more control options than you can fit onto a controller pad.

      As for "simpler" fragging games, I still find it a lot easier to "shoot-and-scoot" with the WASD/mouse combo than with a controller pad.
      spdragoo@...
    • RE: Forget the gaming PC, buy a console

      @keebaud@... Want a fagfast, use a console.

      Fixed it for you.
      cobs
  • Same thoughts here

    I've given up on playing on the PC... it's just not as enjoyable anymore. Much easier to just turn on my xbox and know that the game is going to perform the same way it did to the people that developed and tested it.
    Now, if only they could find a way to control strategy games on consoles as well as with a keyboard and mouse...
    raul.vejar@...
    • RE: Forget the gaming PC, buy a console

      @raul.vejar@... That's easy!! Ps3 Move and Xbox Kinect. It is just that developers still have'em forgotten or just for stupid casual games
      Y2j-Hotaru
      • RE: Forget the gaming PC, buy a console

        @Y2j-Hotaru I love the kinect, but my feeling is that it doesn't lend itself well to precise manipulations like what you get with a mouse... still, I would love to play a game like that and see how developers try to solve the problem. Maybe all it needs is some really creative guys that figure out a good way to use it combining voice commands and gestures...
        raul.vejar@...
  • Patently absurd

    This "article" just recycles the same tired myths PC gamers have refuted and disproven for almost two decades now. There may have been some truth to them fifteen years ago, when a good gaming system would set you back over $1000 and designers had to deal with a variety of GPU chips from various manufacturers with no support. <br><br>Now a frugal builder can update his rig for well under $500 (that's CPU/MB/RAM and a new GPU) and only if the system is really old. And with only two GPU manufacturers providing top-tier support to the big developer studios, getting a specific game to run on -your- rig isn't a tenth of the hassle it used to be. Say what you want about Micro$oft, Win7 is a smooth as butter OS for PC gaming. Are there occasionally patches and bugs? Sure, but as consoles have started to approach the power and capabilities of low end PCs we've seen these same issues crop up there as well, and often patches are available faster for PC Gamers because those fixes don't have to go through the byzantine approval system of PSN and Xbox Live. <br><br>You've chosen a particularly bad example to try and make your case. Skyrim will run under specs just slightly better than Oblivion did in 2006, so most PC gamers won't even need an update (Heck, even my retired parents have updated their computer since 2006!). So for no additional investment we get access to all the mods and improvements that will surely spring up within a few weeks of Skyrim's release. Once the HD texture packs are released, we'll get to play a much more beautiful, and more playable game and we'll spend less on the game than the console kids. <br><br>Why would we willingly spend more to limit our experience when consoles aren't predicted to last more than another cycle or two? Madness. You're playing on your big screen TV? Big whoop. Me too and I have a better control system to do it. Thanks for the suggestion but no thanks. I'll stick with my PC.
    jsoftcheck
    • I agree with you about the cost of a gaming PC

      @jsoftcheck
      PC games have not kept up with hardware advances. I believe that is because most PC games (no, not all) are ports of console games. Since the major consoles have not had any hardware upgrades in a few years, it makes sense that games ported from those consoles would also run just fine on PCs that haven't been upgraded in a few years.
      toddybottom
      • Not just porting, though.

        @toddybottom <br><br>There have been extremely few games in the past 3 years that have even faintly appealed to me. In fact, I can honestly say that, of the games I've seen in the past year, the only 2 that come to mind in the "I want that!" category are Starcraft II and Diablo III... & the latter isn't even out yet.

        I think part of that is that the games just start blending together a bit. Or worse, the non-sports games start feeling like they're on a Madden NFL release schedule...which means they go for graphics vs. storyline, & storyline is what draws me in.
        spdragoo@...
    • @jsoftcheck .. you are dead right

      This is more posturing from someone who obviously knows little about the motivations for PC gamers or someone with a vested interest in pushing a tired, novelty-value platform the likes of consoles.<br><br>When all platform novelties are dead and gone, there will be PC gaming. <br><br>... don't you forget it AKH!
      thx-1138_
  • RE: Forget the gaming PC, buy a console

    I do most of my gaming on an HTC Flyer Android tablet. With a wife and two kids, I hardly have time to sit down to a dedicated gaming console or a computer for gaming purposes. Most of my gaming happens a few minutes at a time, on the couch, on the john, or while waiting for the kids to complete their after school activities.
    dsf3g
  • PC games are expensive?

    "will set you back around $60 for the PC game. That???s a lot of money for a game."

    If anything, PC games have gotten cheaper over the last 20 years and that isn't even accounting for inflation. I remember paying more than $60 for games in 1990 dollars. Meanwhile, movies have doubled or tripled in prices.

    However, I agree with the rest of your article. Every time we have difficulty starting a multi-player PC game, we try to think back in vain about the last time we had difficulty starting a multi-player Xbox game.
    toddybottom
  • Seriously...?

    Okay you are pretty ignorant in your opinion. <br><br>First of all...<br>1. A PC has better specs than a console. It always does and always will<br>2.Secondly if you purchase high quality components(such as case,PSU,fans etc) they are ALL a once off expense that can last you many,many builds. You would be making substantial savings.<br>3.You are comparing a 6 year old hardware to a brand new PC;Offcourse there will be a price difference.In the 6 years PC hardware has exceeded anything you've ever seen. In terms of performance. <br>4. I build a PC for 700AUD but I can sell my old components for around 300 and that's a 400 dollar net upgrade.I'll get more than what your consoles will be worth when the next PS4/xbox comes out<br>5. I can buy 5 dollars games off steam(you can't). Metro which was released last year was now 5 bucks on steam...<br>6. A PC can do more than a console, it's not just meant for gaming...<br>7. PCs has community support with mod capability.Consoles don't get that added luxury. We make good game into great and fix up all the crap that the developers put into it. I guess you haven't seen the GTA 4 realism mod.Or the crysis realism mod.BF3(consoles) had the texture pack but you had to pay for it...<br><br>8. Games maybe about fun but we are in 2011, the visuals need to go up a notch and get with the times. <br><br>9. fact about the number of PC Driven initiatives when it comes to gaming's outward personas.<br><br>10.There are number of Free2play games on the PC.<br><br>11.As well as the continuing demise of resale value on Console games due to big arm publishers like EA either down right gimping the game or taking away all perks to actually buying a game used. (E.G. half the content available to used palyers.)<br><br>12. PC hardware has come a LONG way in the 6 years so don't even start that crap.<br><br>Sorry but you are very ignorant and you are a blogger for a PC software site...*rolleyes*
    hardstylez
    • RE: Forget the gaming PC, buy a console

      @hardstylez

      Adrian, very well put... hardstylez has proven who the ignorant one is here. It is obvious that he has not played a AAA title in the last six years.

      I have been a PC gamer since the 386 days, where I wrote scripts to allocate needed resources for each individual game that I played. Developers have given up on the PC, and removed all of the features that PC gamers used to enjoy.

      And yes, I am currently trying to get my copy of BF3 to work as it should... but, no way to start a server and practice. No way to clear bound keys, etc. Looks awesome though, and the only reason I bought it is for multi-player. Waiting for first patch before starting seriously, and renting a server for control and practice. Ouch.
      yodatech
      • huh?

        @yodatech Excuse me? I've been gaming for 20 years...I am not as ignorant as you say I am....All of my points are factual.Yours aren't.
        hardstylez