What’s not to love? Pop any game in and you know it’ll work. I can relax on the couch and enjoy a console game for hours on end without any problems.
I like PC gaming too. I started playing PC games during the 1990s during the heyday of Diablo II and Counter-Strike, but I noticed that PC gaming is quite bothersome. I had to deal with driver updates, hardware configurations, overall compatibility, and the cost of the PC itself.
Unlike a good gaming PC, which cost an arm and a leg, the video game console itself is more affordable. Console games may not be as pretty as PC games, but I can easily start playing without any hassle.
And then the current generation happened.
Justifying the problems
With my PS3, I had to install most of its games just like a PC game. I reasoned: “Hey, that’s okay. Games today are bigger and more sophisticated so I guess it should warrant an installation. It would take longer if the game were to access data from the disc, right?”
Sometimes, however, it was a bit hard to overlook the wait as some games take upwards of 20 minutes. Metal Gear Solid 4 had to install between levels; Medal of Honor: Frontline took hours to install.
I also noticed that console games have become more expensive than their PC counterparts. I had to cough up $59 for each new game and more for downloadable (or on-disc) content. “No problem”, I told myself. “Anyway, it’s cheaper to own a console system than a gaming PC.”
Online passes? Meh, some PC games have them too. What about nickel and diming even after paying full price for a game? Again, the issue isn’t exclusive to console games since PC games have them as well.
Yellow Light of Death
Finally, my four-year-old PS3 conked out, thanks to the dreaded Yellow Light of Death. I learned that this current generation of consoles had design, cooling, and manufacturing imperfections. It’s the main reason why their failure rate was much higher than any of the previous generation.
Apparently, the lead-free solder balls that connect my console’s GPU and CPU chips to the circuit board lost their elasticity over time and eventually cracked, leading to a disconnection in the circuit.
To compound the problem, the cooling system for today’s consoles isn’t very efficient, especially since the current generation is much more powerful and sophisticated. I can only wonder how it would be different in the next generation.
The death of my PS3 was the last straw. I finally decided to switch over to PC gaming.
Console gaming has gotten worse
Since the switch, I realised that PC gaming isn’t necessarily better than console gaming. I still had to deal with driver updates, compatibility, and hardware configurations. However, I did notice that console gaming has become noticeably worse than PC gaming.
Console gaming is no longer simpler than PC gaming. As I mentioned earlier, I also had to install and download excruciatingly slow updates before I can play my PS3 games. Ditto for the Xbox 360.
Yes, I also had to download games for Steam, but the same goes whenever I buy a new game in PSN or Xbox Live Marketplace. My PC, however, doesn’t make me wait hours when I install or uninstall. In fact, Steam games install more quickly than regular PC games in discs.
Online gaming has also become more annoying on console games. Multiplayer isn’t free in Xbox Live, which is fine since it’s a great service. However, PC multiplayer is free and almost every game has a burgeoning community. Console multiplayer games, on the other hand, usually turn into virtual ghost towns whenever there’s a new Call of Duty or Gears of War released.
And then there’s the hardware. No, I’m not going to talk about the supposed “superiority” of PC hardware over console gaming systems since obviously, console hardware is several years older.
My main beef with console hardware is that when an electronic part breaks (which is very likely considering this generation’s design and manufacturing flaws), you have to replace the entire console. You can have it repaired at Sony or Microsoft, but that’s not an assurance that your beloved console would work again.
If a PC component breaks down, you won’t have to replace the entire computer—just the ailing part. When the GPU conks out, you spend only for the GPU replacement, not the entire PC. I found this cheaper and less of a hassle.
As for the cost of a new console system versus a gaming PC, I think the difference is no longer that huge. In fact, I was able to put together a mid-range gaming PC that totalled a little over $600, which I can also use for work, video editing, and a variety of other applications. As you recall, the PS3 had a similar price tag.
I still love console gaming, mind you, but I’m currently a PC gamer. I think PC gaming isn’t particularly better than console gaming.
Right now, I think console gaming has become less convenient and now comes with hassles similar to PC gaming but without the superior visuals, cheaper prices, mods, and satisfactory digital distribution. The consoles themselves have become quite unreliable.
With the next generation looming over the horizon, I can’t help but wonder what the PlayStation 4 or the Xbox Next will offer. Will it have the same inconveniences or would it be worse? One thing’s for sure: if the next generation of video game consoles will be as inconvenient and unreliable as it is now, I’ll have to stick to PC gaming.