I admit it: the case against console gaming grows every hardware generation. The previous generation saw mandatory installs, online passes, nickel-and-diming, hardware instability, and more expensive games becoming a disturbingly regular occurrence.
I’ve complained in the past about console gaming becoming worse than PC gaming, and when I read that article again today, it still makes sense to me. And yet, I’m still here; I’m still a console gamer.
Make no mistake, I detest what console gaming has become. The games today may be prettier, longer, and more engaging, but many of the industry’s practices has made it more difficult for me to stay.
I do, however, have five compelling reasons why I stick around. Compelling for me, at least. Here they are:
Big-budget console games
There are just too many top-shelf, big-budget games being released exclusively for console systems that I don’t ever want to miss out on. Yes, the PC also has a vast library of exclusive games that can keep me occupied for possibly even longer periods since its quantity rivals all the console exclusives combined.
All the same, the triple-A console-only titles are simply too good to ignore. This is the main reason why I remain a console gamer. Games like The Last of Us, Red Dead Redemption, Metal Gear Solid 4, and Uncharted 2 are what keep me from playing solely on the PC. If it weren’t for these types of games, I wouldn’t bother with console gaming at all.
An emulator may eventually run these games on your PC, but I don’t want to wait that long.
(Most) Console games work out of the box
I say most because today, many console games require installation and/or updates before you can play them, as if they were PC games. There’s also this thing called region lock, which prevents you from running games bought from another region.
But aside from these minor hiccups, consoles require no setup or tweaking to have the games running smoothly. You don’t have to edit .ini files to fine-tune configurations or worry over recommended hardware requirements.
Unless the disc or your console hardware is actually damaged, you know that the game you purchased will work and won’t constantly crash. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for all PC games. I’m looking at you, Fallout: New Vegas.
I do know how to tweak games on my PC, but don’t relish the task. With console gaming, the steps to have a game up and running are so much simpler.
Console hardware is cheaper and easier to buy
If you know your way around PC hardware, then you probably know that you can actually assemble a good gaming computer in the neighborhood of $600 (plus $99.99 for Windows 8.1), which is way cheaper than those branded, pre-built PCs that cost upwards of $1,100.
However, $600 to $700 is still a fairly substantial leap from the PlayStation 4’s $399 and Xbox One’s $499 price tags, which would inevitably be cheaper as the hardware generation progresses.
Buying a console is generally easier too. Each of the past two console generations provide three options: Microsoft, Nintendo, or Sony. While hardware cost is always a consideration, your choice would probably boil down to which games you prefer for each platform.
A PC, on the other hand, is a chore even for the technically inclined. Before you can decide which component to buy, you’ll have to do a substantial amount of research on each. Graphics cards, for instance, have their own set of jargon, which you need to learn so that you’ll understand the specifications.
Each model may also vary in performance, even among those with the same brand and price range. This means you have to look at each graphics card’s benchmarks to see which provides better value for your money. Remember, that’s just for the video card.
There’s also the matter of assembling all the parts into a functional rig, which is easier said than done. Doing this takes a little bit of technical know-how, patience, and some cord management savvy.
So as much as I love PC gaming, the convenience and affordability of console gaming is just too significant to overlook.
Used games and rentals
PC games are pretty cheap, thanks to regular sales and massive discounts offered by content distribution services like Steam, GOG.com, and the Humble Store.
Console game retailers may not provide the same frequent mark-downs, but rental services and buying used games help ease my expenses. By signing up for rental services like GameFly, for example, I can borrow games as frequently as I want for a monthly fee.
The used games are quite affordable too, if you know where to look. Depending on the game’s age, you can get one for as low as $5–as far as I know, in any case.
Without these low-cost options, I probably would’ve abandoned console gaming long ago.
I can easily borrow games from friends
Nefarious Microsoft DRM plans aside, lending console games to friends has always been straightforward: you simply hand over the disc. Because of this, I’ve always been able to borrow games from friends who own the same system, and my only expense is transportation money.
Despite the existence of the Steam Family Sharing feature, PC games don’t really have this flexibility. Physical game discs are tied to the user’s corresponding online account so lending isn’t really an option.
At its current state, Steam’s Family Sharing is limited; for it to work, I need to log into my Steam account on my friend’s computer to enable sharing. But unless I’m physically at my friend’s place, I won’t be able to do this, lest I trust my chum with my password, which I’m not willing to do by default.
The difference in lending/sharing games between the two platforms is like night and day.
No clear winner
Despite the pros and cons of either platform, there is no clear winner to me. PC gaming gives me more customization, affordable games, flexibility, and precise controls in certain genres, while console gaming has cheaper hardware and offers a more streamlined experience.
Since the two are very different, I play both so that I can experience everything that the hobby has to offer.
And while console gaming has forced me at one point to temporarily give it up, I grudgingly return to it because of the reasons I’ve outlined above. For now, at least.
What about you? Barring financial limitations, do you prefer a specific gaming platform or would you rather try both? Heck, if I had deep pockets, I’d get all gaming consoles available.
If you’re a console gamer, what are your reasons for sticking with it? Would you be open to experience PC gaming? What’s keeping you from getting into either?
Have you ever gotten to a point where you had to give either up? I would really love to hear what you think. Share it in the comments section below!