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
PC Argument: A 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
◊ 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
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.