PC Vs. Console: Which has better value?

The age old of debate of PC vs. Consoles isn’t going to end any time soon. There are fanatical fanboys on both sides of the fence. The problem is that many of these fans are unwilling to take an objective, analytical look at the conflict. There are many facets to this argument, but for this particular article we will be focusing on the importance of “Value”. It’s important to keep in mind the difference between “Value” and “Price” when reading this article. Price is the number written on a sticker. Value is the culmination of many variables regarding enjoyment. So, without further ado, please enjoy the Armless Octopus match up of PC vs. Console “Value”.

Round 1: Games

Steam Hording: It’s a serious disorder

 

PC ArgumentA gaming platform is only as good as the games that grace it. There’s no question that PC games offer greater variety and numbers in their selection. With these numbers comes the problem of “bloatware” but if you know where to look, the number of quality games FAR outweighs the bad ones. Let’s not forget exclusivity either. PC is the only place to enjoy stellar titles like League of Legends, Civilization and World of Warcraft. There are also certain genres that play best on a PC such as the RTS genre or MMOs. When it comes to games, variety is king.

 

 

 

Regardless of platform, it’s awesome to have a big collection

 

Console Argument: Games play smoother on Consoles. This is likely due to the developers having a single, quantifiable resource to work with. They know that every PS3 or Xbox 360 will have the same amount of RAM, CPU, ETC. While some would view this as a slight against consoles, it’s quite the opposite. Developers can build a game to maximize the console’s infrastructure to get the most out of the hardware. Let’s not forget that consoles are most often the “lead platform” when it comes to game development. Like it or not, this usually means the game will run better on consoles then on PCs.

 

 

◊ Round 1 Winner: PC!!! ◊

The PC’s variety is simply all it needs to emerge victorious in this category. Games, games and more games. What else is there to say?

 

Round 2: Price

Console Argument: Consoles cost a fairly sizable chunk of money at launch and tend to decline a few years later. Even at launch, they are usually considerably cheaper than a beefy PC setup. The added benefit is that the console is still relevant for (usually) about five years. This means there’s no worrying about upgrading or having to replace parts. The machine you buy at launch is the same machine games will be made for years to come.

Via GameStop and other retailers, you’re able to snag all three major home consoles for about $400

 

Getting a beefy starter kit CAN be rather costly. Although you can usually build an impressive machine for about half this.

PC Argument: It’s true that a good PC is going to cost you quite a bit of money. There are added benefits of being able to do more than just play games with your PC, but that’s not part of this argument. This is about the PC as a gaming platform. It’s no secret that after buying the top of the line equipment for your machine, it will be considered obsolete within a year. The PC makes up for this barrier to entry with a very simple premise; cheaper games. While console games have climbed to a whopping $60 at launch, many of the same games are available for $50 or cheaper on PC. Sales also offer considerable value on top of the already cheaper games.

 

 

◊ Round 2 Winner:  PC!!! ◊

This round was a little closer to call then the others, but PC manages to edge out the consoles by a fairly thin margin. While it may seem like a cop out to mention a service by name, it’s difficult to make an argument for PC gaming without at least mentioning Steam. Steam Sales are undeniable proof that PC gaming can be done for mere dollars. Couple this with the advent of Free-To-Play games and PC gaming is quickly becoming the cheapest option for core gamers (in the long run). It’s worth mentioning that sometimes you can find a good deal on a used game at GameStop, Amazon, ETC. Sadly these deals are few and far between and have a difficult time rivaling the prices found during a Steam Sale. Some would cite GameFly as a money saving prospect (and it’s a service I recommend to console gamers) but with slow shipping times and unpredictable game queue selection, the service has it’s fair share of frustrations.

 

Round 3: Ease of Use

 

It may not be confusing to some of you, but most users don’t know what CPU they have in their machine

PC Argument: The PC has great services that take some of the guess work out of gaming on the platform. Services like “Can You Run it?” ensure your machine is up to snuff, Steam is an aggregate  service that acts as a one-stop-shop for all things PC gaming, and other services like Good Old Games also provide a fantastic alternative to tracking games down classic games. Steam’s Library also acts as a platform to launch all of your purchased games. You won’t have to fumble around with discs or find a game’s shortcuts that could be buried deep in the system files.

 

Simplicity is a beautiful thing.

 

Console Argument: Console games just work. Most users don’t have the tech savvy required to know if a game will run on their PC, but consoles are much simpler. If you pick up a game and it says “Playstation 3”, then you can be sure that it will run in your PS3. Let’s not forget the controller either. There’s something great about holding a controller, sitting back on the couch and relaxing. It’s simply a better extension of the player’s hands,  more ergonomic and easier to use.

 

 

◊ROUND 3 WINNER: Console!!!◊

Ease of use may not seem like it goes hand in hand when quantifying Value but the “feel” of a platform is often a strong contributing factor of your feelings of enjoyment towards the machine. The PC is too confusing and convoluted to the average user. The keyboard and mouse may allow for greater control and precision, but they don’t feel natural to those who have grown accustomed to ergonomic design. While there are some PC games that feature robust controller support, they are in the minority, and are usually a port of a console game.

 

Round 4: DLC, Mods and Addon. Oh my.

 

DLC Quest is a great satire piece about DLC. If you haven’t played it yet, you should.

Console Argument: Consoles feature a worry free and simple interface to purchase additional content. Often it’s visible when viewing the details of the game, or in some cases, on the title screen of the game itself. Finding additional content for a console game is rarely an imposition, but that convenience is very much “as designed”.  The publishers want to get every penny they can from gamers, so they stop just short of beating customers over the head with their DLC.

 

 

PC Argument: There is no arguing that PC games usually get better after-launch support than console games. That aside, the PC has an unstoppable source of creativity, power and passion behind it: the customers. Many PC games release the SDK and tools used to create the game, to the end user. The end user, being passionate about the game, is then able to channel that passion into mods. The best part about this system is that it’s usually free of charge (for now)! You’re able to add hundreds of hours of enjoyment to your games simply by downloading and installing a mod that a passionate fan created. If that’s not value, I don’t know what is.

There’s not much to see now, but in a few years the Steam Workshop will be one of the greatest learning tools for budding video game developers.

◊ Round 4 Winner: PC!!! ◊

This category isn’t even a contest. DLC on consoles is expensive, painful for developers and doesn’t feature the robust support of the users. If you disagree, just poke your head into the Steam Workshop for a few moments, then come back and try and make your argument.

Final Round: Negative Arguments

Time to sling some mud

Against PC: If you like to admit it or not, piracy is a real problem on PCs. Someone who knows very little about dll files or coding can easily pirate a PC game within a few minutes with a little legwork. As mentioned before, PC games simply aren’t that easy to understand. One of the biggest problems with this is marketing. If you advertise a game to millions of users, they are still unsure if they can run the game. Some will purchase it, and then realize that it doesn’t run on their system, souring them on the platform for gaming altogether. Let’s not forget the upfront cost either. A good gaming PC is likely going to cost you about $800. That’s not exactly pocket change.

Against Consoles: Console makers are pushing their limits of what is acceptable. They are angering more developers every day. While the majority of money that comes out of the games industry is still generated by consoles, hardware companies seem to be doing everything in their power to change that. Consoles are also somewhat painful to play near the end of their life cycle. Once the platform starts getting long in the tooth, the games tend to stagnate while PC games tend to look and play better every year. It’s also a pain when a console has a software or hardware issue. To a person who knows a bit about software, PCs rarely have serious issues that brick the system. Consoles however can have a plethora of defects that force the user to either send in their console, or simply buy a new one. Neither of which is an ideal situation.

 

◊ FINAL WINNER: PC!!!! ◊

Versatility, more games, mods, cheaper games, better support…do I need to keep going? Those people online who claim PC gaming is cheaper may be mistaken in a lot of cases. Those who say that PC gaming offers a better value are spot on. In the current game market, PC can’t be rivaled. Free to Play, MMOs and Indies are just a small fraction of the reasons PC gaming soars above the standards set by consoles. While consoles still have their place in this industry (I personally still love mine), PCs are easily the platform with the greatest potential.

Posted on by Daniel Campbell in Features
  • Axe99

    Some decent points, but I’m not sure you’re on the money with your # of games argument – there are at least as many console exclusives that I’ve been interested in playing, and particularly console exclusives that provide unique, different experiences (sure, there are lots of PC-exclusive FPS games, but most of them are gameplay clones of each other in different skins/maps). My favourite semi-realistic tactical shooter is a console exclusive (SOCOM – has ArmA beat hands down), platformers on PC are a dying art, third-person shooter and adventure games are far stronger on console, as are big-budget FPS games.

    Sure, PC has MMOs, MOBAs, strategy and flight sims wrapped up (strategy is why I play PC, although I’ll dabble in other games that aren’t on console, if they appeal), but game-wise outside of these four genres, two of which are pretty niche, I get a better range and more consistent quality on PS3. Oh, and they work out of the box – they don’t take four hours of forum-searching and downloading bits and bobs (Mass Effect) or needing to emulate an older OS (Master of Orion, SimCity 4).

    Another thing you forget to mention is that those cheap PC games are often many years old, and many of those older games are _cheaper_ on console. Not to mention if you’re a PS+er you’ll be getting some pretty damn good value there as well. Steam still has an edge over PS3 (I can’t talk for 360) in some titles, depending on the publisher, but it doesn’t in many, and the PSN store is having regular sales that are approaching Steam’s for value (if you take into account the age of the game).

    Modding, of course, is a big plus for PC, but you left out a big negative – games launch buggier on PC – Skyrim may have been a mess on console, but it was even less functional on PC and pretty much required mods to work half-decently. Not to mention had an interface designed for a gamepad!

    And finally, the mouse/kb only allows for greater control and precision if the game involves pointing and clicking. If you’re steering a plane or car, for example, and want multiple analog axes, then you’re out of luck. FPS and platformers on PC – digital eight-way movement here we come! Console moved on from that over a decade ago… And then there’s the whole mouse pointing making what should feel like a shooter into a point-and-click adventure on speed. If even ArmA 2 won’t incorporate proper aiming physics (instead assuming that aiming a rifle or LMG is magically the corollary as pointing and clicking with a mouse), then the PC is lost to realistic shooters. There’s nothing I’ve found on PC that matches Killzone 2′s or even KZ3′s movement and aiming physics – because PC shooters can’t survive if they don’t pander to PC gamers having no idea of what aiming a weapon actually involves (sure, not all shooters should be realistic, and having TF2 with arcade controls makes a lot of sense, but I laugh every time I see someone who suggests Counter-strike or ArmA is realistic – year, realistic except for say the shooting – and how important is that in a shooter anyway?! lol). Note that this is only a black mark for PC because of implementation – devs _can_ implement a physics model for aiming in PC shooters that is half-realistic, they just don’t – and Enemy Front looks like it might, even on PC -we’ll see how well the PC casuals cope with proper aiming in shooters when that happens ;).

  • http://www.facebook.com/daniel.robert.campbell Daniel Robert Campbell

    Some very valid points to be sure.

    I would just point out that this is filed under “opinion piece”. I game on all “core” platforms and love them all. I just feel PC has a better overall value and figured I’d point out a few of the reasons why I feel that way. :-)

    PS: Until the PC gets Valkeria Chronicles, I can’t take it as seriously as I could. :-D

  • Axe99

    Aye, I’d put my reply as an opinion piece as well :). No shame in having that value argument – it’s definitely a good value proposition, but sometimes that value is based on comparisons that aren’t particularly strict – for example, Steam has Jade Empire at 75% off for $3.74 – but you can get the Xbox (comparable console game) version for less than that on Ebay, and the full price of a (granted, excellent) five-year old game is $15. Hell, Counter-Strike Source, an eight-year old game, goes for $20 – I’d have to work pretty hard to find a 2004 console shooter that still cost $20 (and the PS2 classics on the PSN are $15 max). So while at face value it looks a lot cheaper, it’s partly because Steam’s back-catalogue is much older, and if equally old back-catalogues on console are taken into the equation, it’s a much more similar story, and often swings in favour of the consoles.

  • theshape031

    TV/Home theater functionality..
    Winner: Consoles!

    Price of admission…
    Winner: Consoles!

    Local Multiplayer…
    Winner: Consoles!

    I could go on, but there are some key points that seemed to be [accidentally?] left out of the discussion. Also, I completely disagree on the ‘Games’ and ‘Price’ categories. 1st party Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft Studios’ games, along with 2nd and 3rd party exclusives, trump anything available on PC on my opinion. As well, the idea that it’s cheaper in ANY way to play PC over consoles is asinine.

    Now certainly there are more arguments in PC’s favor, such as modding and hackability, that could extend this discussion even further. Also peripherals should have been discussed as well, with motion gaming vs keyboarding at the forefront.

    This just seems like a lazily thrown together argument from someone who obviously shows favor to one side.

    There is no clear winner, and each offer just as much as the other in their own way. Reading this ‘article’ was a waste of a few minutes this morning.

  • Gerben Bol

    Lol you’re a joke.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Curtis-Isabell/1036013363 Curtis Isabell

    games? console wins the only game worth going crazy about on PC are RTS’s and MMOs.
    price? console. though games are cheaper on PC, the good games ( like starcraft 2) hold their value up so long that the only games worth getting on PC don’t justify the cost of the pc itself.
    comfort? sitting in front of a computer screen using a mouse and keyboard to play battlefield? or sitting back relaxing chatting to friends on your nice comfy couch or bed with a perfectly fit xbox controller… yea console wins again
    48 in HDTV> 3 22inch 1080p monitors in eyefinity. console wins again

    PC’s only strengths
    modding ( which is dieing in many games that are online)
    mmos ( console might have a decent mmo next gen we will see)
    RTS’s ( PC will probably retain rts crown, but such a small market, other then starcraft and command and conquer you won’t see many more players in other games)
    it can be used as a pc

    of course pcfags will disagree, but PCfags are dieing breed.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Curtis-Isabell/1036013363 Curtis Isabell

    I can honestly say the only games I play or even want to play on PC are
    Starcraft 2
    Anno 2070
    Eve online
    ARMA2, but only for the Dayz mod and lord knows that will get boring after a few days.
    Finally someone else gets that pointing and clicking, though easier, does not make it better in a shooter, this is why when a PC player picks up a controller they are terrible on almost all occasions. I couldn’t imagine playing a game like rainbow 6 vegas with a mouse and keyboard.
    heck, when i had BF1942 I remember the funniest thing was sniping, lay down in a random hill and click on every enemy that moves.
    I am glad console have taken the FPS crown because they just feel so much better.

  • DanielNHarber

    IGNORANCE!
    “games? console wins the only game worth going crazy about on PC are RTS’s and MMOs.” I really don’t get you, if you play Xbox. The only game that is exclusive that is worth playing on Xbox is Gears and Halo. People play a lot of FPS’ on PC, like TF2(which is free), COD, BF3, CSS/1.6 and Portal.

    “price? console. though games are cheaper on PC, the good games ( like starcraft 2) hold their value up so long that the only games worth getting on PC don’t justify the cost of the pc itself.” WTF?!?!? I can get a 600$ PC(price of PS3 when it first launched) buy games that you bought for 60$ for 30$ or less(Steam sales) and I wont have to buy new hardware when i want to play new games.

    “comfort? sitting in front of a computer screen using a mouse and keyboard to play battlefield? or sitting back relaxing chatting to friends on your nice comfy couch or bed with a perfectly fit xbox controller… yea console wins again
    48 in HDTV> 3 22inch 1080p monitors in eyefinity. console wins again”

    I can hook my PC onto a 40+ inch screen but I prefer using a 27” monitor.
    Plus your argument is invalid because I can also sit on a couch and use a Xbox controller to play my games on PC.

    “PC’s only strengths
    modding ( which is dieing in many games that are online)
    mmos ( console might have a decent mmo next gen we will see)
    RTS’s ( PC will probably retain rts crown, but such a small market, other then starcraft and command and conquer you won’t see many more players in other games)
    it can be used as a pc”

    Only strengths? WTF are you on about? PC has all everything except for exclusives. And Starcraft and C&C are not the only RTS’ that you see people play, ever heard of Civilization or Total War or maybe LOL?