PC Gaming vs Consoles. Yeah, that old debate...
This is an opinion piece (it is my blog after all) that will start with a cliche anecdotal testimony of mine that nobody cares about. Here goes:
I have been a gamer since I was probably around three years old. It all started when my brother gave my sister and I his Atari 2600 and a variety of fun games like Pitfall, Dandy (my personal favorite) and Tennis. That's how it began, pixels and rudimentary controls. But I loved it.
Then came the world of Nintendo, Sega, PlayStation and Xbox. All of these I dabbled in over time, but none truly grasped me like that of the PC.
My family's first computer was this janky eMachine that we got in, I believe it was 1998 or 99. This thing would open doors to a world of entertainment awesomeness that I never knew possible. My earliest memories on PC were of Age of Empires and Diablo, two phenomenal games that spawned absolutely fantastic and iconic successors that are still to this day considered the epitome of their genres.
As I fell into the world of PC gaming, I found my consoles simply idling by, collecting dust. I had bought an Xbox for Halo and Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, but other than that, I wasn't really playing many other games. My PlayStation was used more, mainly for GTA, Metal Gear, Oddworld and Medievil, among others. But at the end of the day, I would always end up back at that computer desk, smashing keys and clicking mice. Why is that?
Well, there's a variety of reasons I suppose, some more prominent than others. So I'm going to give a few reasons that I personally transitioned and now almost solely play on PC. Many who are gamers no doubt are familiar with these concepts, but I like to be as accessible as possible, so hopefully someone may get some info they may have yet to hear. That said, here's my thoughts on the PC vs console debate:
Power McFly! PCs are highly upgradable when it comes to both hardware and software. Consoles offer constant software updates usually on a fairly regular basis, but there are few exceptions to being able to upgrade your console's hardware, and even then, it generally comes down to just more hard drive space. But with PC, you can upgrade your ram, hard drive, graphics card, cpu, motherboard, the works. Hell, you can even upgrade the case with all these fancy RGB lighting units for that club scene effect blinding everyone in the room. The skies the limit! I tend to upgrade my PC roughly every 5-6 years depending. Right now I have a rig that can run the sun, and it shows baby!
More games! With distribution gaming market platforms such as Steam, Epic Games or GOG, PC gaming is at an all-time high. The main reason for this is that it is simply far easier to build games as an indie developer to be used on PC (all games are developed on computers, no need for exclusivity rights because no one owns 'PC', etc.), and boy are there a bunch. Take a gander into Steam's browsing section to discover a plethora of indie games from developers across the world. Some are shit, naturally, but for every bad one there's usually a good one and as technology advances, it's becoming easier and easier for every Joe or Jane Schmo to create a game from scratch right out of their little crappy studio apartment. But don't let that deceive you, there are also major well-established studios that have embraced the realm of PC gaming and acted accordingly. One can say that console games for the big AAA titles tend to sell more (still dwarfed by the mobile market despite it having far inferior games imo), but that doesn't change the fact that PC still has more games overall by a huge margin.
This ties in with upgradability, but still needs to be mentioned. Since PCs tend to have stronger hardware and whatnot, they are able to run games better and allow for superior graphical fidelity. This entails resolution, frame rate, texture quality, lighting and much more. Consoles simply can't keep up with PC performance in this regard.
With keyboard and mouse, PC allows for a far more intuitive and accessible use bracket. There is a reason you can have a thousand options on the screen at once when using a PC, it's because you can actually access all those options with ease, à la a click of the mouse or a press of a hotkey. With consoles you're stuck with using a very limited handheld controller. Not horrible, depending on the game, but if you're playing, say, Divinity Original Sin 2, then you will find the multiple options available to you are severely hindered by having to struggle with the controller. It's doable, but not ideal. Whereas the same game on PC is a breeze with mouse and keyboard.
Also, with PC you can still use a controller if you wish. For instance, when I play third person rpgs like Witcher or Elder Scrolls, I tend to use a controller so I can just sit back and relax, get real immersed in the world and just chill. But when it comes to more competitive games like first-person shooters or MOBAs, then mouse and keyboard all the way baby!
Bang for your Buck:
Although consoles tend to be cheaper from a one-time purchase point of view (usually $400-700 depending), a good solid PC of the same price, or more expensive, will tend to last you a great deal longer. This is particularly true if you build a high-end rig. A good PC build can last you a decade if maintained properly; whereas, a console will usually start struggling after five years or so, and they will sometimes not even be able to properly play new releases because the hardware demand is too high. Also, you can upgrade your PC in parts rather than just having to buy an entirely brand new one like you would have to do with a console. Need more ram? Just buy a couple sticks. Graphics card getting outdated? Get a new one. Simple.
Most games, if properly developed for PC anyways, will have a settings menu that is almost a game in and of itself. A good settings menu looks like this:
And this is just the basic video options of DOOM 2016; once you get into the 'Advanced' settings, your mind will be opened up to the pure awesomeness of what PCs are truly capable of. You can add film grain, adjust saturation, shrink weapon size for fps, dim the UI, tweak shadows, and much, much more. This is the true beauty behind PC gaming: player options and choice. Great developers, like id Software in the screenshot above, will do everything in their power to give the players as many tools to adjust the game to their liking, and I applaud them when they do. Not everyone does, but when they do, it should be praised.
Now with console, you don't really see these advanced options; not for want of trying, but simply because consoles don't have the hardware to handle a lot of these settings. Usually the options will be very scant based on what the console can take performance wise. They often have to be defaulted to the bare minimum. It's unfortunate, but understandable given their limitations.
Okay, now that we went over some of the advantages PC has over console, let's be fair and give some props to the consoles.
Not sure if this is really a positive aspect, but there are console exclusive games that are great and that you can only get on their given platform (Xbox, PlayStation, Switch, etc.). That said, there are more PC games not yet found on console, as mentioned above. And the thing is, more and more supposed console exclusives are actually being ported to PC on a regular basis, but not many PC exclusives are being ported to console, although some are.
As also mentioned above, consoles tend to be on the cheaper side for that one-time purchase. This can be good if all you want is one platform for specific games and are not planning on building a huge gaming library over the years. So, for the more casual gamer, this may be a great option for you; it all depends on your preferences really, don't it?
Quite simply really, consoles are great for packing up and taking to a friends house to jam at that LAN party. Whenever I travel I always bring my PS4 instead of my laptop so I have something to do in downtime at the hotel.
Consoles are really great for playing locally. You can set up your wireless controllers, jump on the couch with all your buddies and just have a blast. Although this is possible with PC, it is far more clunky and you have to most likely tinker with a lot of settings to get proper aspect ratio and whatnot. And wireless controllers on PC tends to be finicky depending on your Bluetooth dongle.
Plug and Play:
Consoles are very simple to set up. You pretty much just have to plug em in, run the initial updates (which can take a few hours depending) and then go-go-go! The setup is always guided and self-explanatory.
PC, however, can be a nightmare of technical catastrophe for any who aren't willing to invest some time into learning the software and equipment. There may be times when updates require some finagling on your part or much 'DuckDuckgoing.' I have spent hours trying to get a single game to work due to poor developer tools or bugs. It's just something that can happen; not always, but it can. Majority of the time, however, game's on PC are easily installed and set up, especially when done through a distribution platform. But when the bug bears hit, they hit HARD.
Okay, so that covers my main opinions on the PC vs console debate. Which should you go with? Well, it all comes down to personal preference and what you're looking for in a platform. Personally, I'm a PC guy and probably always will be. But, I still have consoles, and probably always will. They just don't see as much action as my PC.
So, if you're more casual and just want something simple to jump on every once in a while and play, then consoles might be for you. If you're looking to take gaming seriously and really get involved in the community and industry, then PC all the way. But don't get me wrong, there are very hardcore console gamers as well as casual PC gamers out there; I'm just generalizing here. If money is a factor, you can do either to be honest. You can hire someone or a company to do a nice PC budget build that will get the job done, or you can just buy a console, or even a used/refurbished one (not recommended in my opinion). But if money isn't an issue for you, then buy both! Either way, PC or console, gaming is a great hobby to get involved in and I recommend it to everyone.