I can’t imagine not being a console gamer. I have been all my life. Recently though I’ve spent a lot more time on my “gaming” PC. The quotes represent the fact that my rig was built a few years back and is definitely starting to show its age. I don’t dare even try to demo the latest and greatest shooter or open world game for fear my computer will spontaneously combust, or at least start panting heavily before falling on its side. That’s why, especially in the ’90s, I never gave much credence to the PC gaming experience. Too much upkeep.
The reverse is what’s great about consoles. You put the damn disc in and the game plays. There’s something to be said for that. Rest assured PC gamers have a lot of rebuttals to that last statement, but that’s because they’ve broken the barrier of entry. It’s no big deal for them to max out performance, keep up with the latest and greatest hardware, and take to the internet when a small problem arises. In fact many of them enjoy it I’m sure.
Many console gamers were never tinkerers though. That’s how they became console gamers. You spend a few hundred bucks and you play your games. That’s it. As many of us grew older, the tired concept of “console wars” became a non-factor too. We no longer had to pick sides and hem ourselves in to one list of games to play. Gamers from the ’80s and ’90s now have jobs and disposable income, so a PS4, Xbox One, and Switch in the same household is 100% reasonable for anyone that’s more than casually interested in the hobby.
The thing I’ve finally come to realize though is just how many games I would still be missing out on even with the set up above. For starters, I wouldn’t have played the two games I just reviewed, Bot Vice and Dead Cells, without a PC. Others such as Subnautica, Hollow Knight, and Invisible Inc I’d be missing out on too had I been missing just one of the current three consoles. Many titles take longer to port from PC to console, or need to see a return on the developer’s efforts before a port can be made (Rocket League, The Witness, and Axiom Verge spring to mind).
When a game first intrigues you, it’s often a crap shoot when that game will come to your favorite console, if ever. Now believe me when I tell you I haven’t forgotten that these things work in the reverse as well. A strict PC gamer is never, ever playing Mario Odyssey or Uncharted on their platform of choice, at least as far as the current landscape dictates. It’s still a pretty short list though when compared to how many games you’ll be waiting for or just plain never get on a particular console.
That’s partly why I’ve spent a ton of time on Steam in the past year and neglected my console game room. I didn’t worry about if Dead Cells was coming out for the PS4 or Xbox One and when exactly that would be. I just bought the game and played it. Also, I spend far less money on Steam, GOG, BundleStars, and the like than I would on the Xbox Live Marketplace or PlayStation Store. The kicker is I also get way, way, way more games. Deep discounts are more or less not a thing on console marketplaces. The most recent Xbox One sale, touted as their best ever, was a lot of 10-30% off kind of stuff. Not terrible but nothing to write home about. Also, consoles never seem to discount old games. On PC it’s unusual to find a game that’s a couple of years old that’s not 30-50% off somewhere, if you’re patient at least. If you want to go to the extreme, I spent $30 on the Humble Freedom Bundle which gave me more games than I could play in a year. That’s a rare case, but it’s something that just doesn’t happen on consoles.
I’m still torn though. I love the simplicity of consoles. I’ve seen Just Cause 3 for sale recently. Would love to give it a shot at a discount, but I really don’t think my PC would run it. “Oh I could just buy it for console,” I then remembered. That’s why I don’t think I could ever be completely done with them.
At this point some might be tempted to say “Dude, just hook up your PC to your TV. Problem solved.” Not problem solved. I don’t know how to do that. I could certainly learn, however I monkeyed around with it once and couldn’t get the resolution right. Plus now I’m in a place where there’s no room for my PC to be in the same room as my consoles. Lastly, I won’t be in this house forever. More like 1-2 more years. Will my next place make sense for such a set up? What if I want a second computer for work? Now I’m using an additional room for a computer anyways. The point is that there are things that prohibit a seamless couch PC experience.
The same goes for buying or building your own PC. The mantra of “Just build your own” is solid advice……if you are knowledgeable and confident enough to do so, or know someone that is. That’s not everyone though. PC enthusiasts are constantly baffled why anyone would ever buy an Alienware rig or some other expensive retail build. It’s very simple though: Either they have the money and don’t care, or they’re hesitant to build one themselves. Yes, individual parts are cheaper. Yes, you can use PCPartPicker, but what if you’re simply not aware of either of those, or you can’t make heads or tails out of one component or another anyways? You’re still at square one. Then you realize you could spend $300-400 and be done with the whole thing. That’s why consoles exist.
On the other hand if at some point you become a little older, a little wiser, and maybe a little more financially stable, you should try to get ahold of a nice PC build. While consoles are becoming more and more advanced, there’s a reason they’re drastically less expensive, even if you build your own computer. The horsepower will always be limited compared to what’s possible with a PC build. Now granted you’ll probably spend at least twice what you would pay for console on your PC, and that’s if you just buy parts and assemble it yourself or with help, and that’s not including a sweet new monitor or fancy keyboard and mouse setup. You’ll spend about the equivalent cost of a console in a few years on a new graphics card if you really want to keep up with the Joneses.
I’m not saying that’s cheap, but there are still many reasons to give a gaming PC a try even if you’re a console loyalist. You’ll get a lot of use out of a desktop beyond just gaming. This is especially handy if you are curious about video editing, photo editing, animation, etc. You may have work-from-home uses as well. Even if those don’t describe you, the point is that a powerful desktop PC can come in handy in many ways.
In terms of games, there is just so much to explore and so many deals to be had. I’ve said for a long time now that the best thing to do if you’re a gamer is to get behind about a year on new releases if you can help it. That’s never been more true than with PC gaming deals. As mentioned above, 30-50% off deals are common, and you’re not locked in to one service selling you everything. Tons of sites sell Steam keys, and sites like IsThereAnyDeal or the Gaming Deals subreddit are easy ways to make sure you always pay the least you can and are aware of all the deals out there.
Sure, you’ll miss out on Bloodborne, and Halo, and the latest Mario, but you’ll also be at the epicenter of gaming development big and small. You’ll never feel anything but fully versed in any and all games that might pique your interest. You also don’t have to worry about your favorite game or genre being short-changed. If you want to play a dozen visual novels, then a dozen more, you can. If you want to mod the hell out of Fallout 4, go crazy. The options are just about limitless on the PC, and I’ve never felt that way as a console owner.
If you read this article and stick with your console, I don’t blame you. Consoles are fun. They’re easy. They largely work exactly as you’d expect them to. I bought Resident Evil 7 on my Xbox One and it’s fine. It’s great in fact. Looks very good graphically. I don’t think it would have run on my PC in its current state (plus I’m still pretty big on physical game copies). Red Dead Redemption 2 probably won’t be on PC, and even if it was I think I want to be on the couch for that one. Consoles will be significant for a long time I think, though if you’re interested in expanding your horizons a little bit and feeling a little more free in your choice of games, I highly suggest trying a PC build. You might just find something you’ve been missing, and if you can get the damn thing to work with your TV, you may never go back!