PC or console gaming? The debate continues as to which one offers the best value and experience for the consumer. So, how can we objectively say that one is better than the other? It is a matter of personal preference and taste. Do you like the simplicity and streamlined gaming experience of the latest consoles or prefer to hack out deep strategy games on a beautiful gaming PC?
Both console and PC gaming have their respective advantages. As explored in previous articles, PC gaming gives the gamer the opportunity to mod games and enjoy endless backward compatibility. Console gaming, on the other hand, is accessible and easy. In the end, it’s your money, free time and choice. So, whether you like Texas Hold ‘em or Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, this article explores more of the positives of PC gaming to help you to make your decision.
The Cost of PC Gaming Decreasing
The costs associated with PC gaming are decreasing. Still, it is much more expensive for the initial hardware purchases than it is to buy a new console. Meaning, you can’t build a decent gaming PC for $300. However, the hardware is now more affordable than ever, and you can expect to build a powerful and capable machine for $600 – $900.
To illustrate this, you can now obtain an 8-core CPU for around $350. A Ryzen-3 quad-core chip will set you back around $110. Graphics cards are now available for around $120, though $200 will give you graphics processing that outperforms the PS4 Pro. You can also find an AM4 motherboard for around $110. And while there are a few other bits to consider, such as extra cooling fans, keyboards and screens, you can see that the price is not too much more than a brand-new console — perhaps around double.
Though the hardware is more affordable and available than it used to be, a gaming PC will set you back much more when it comes to upfront costs. It is also harder to build a gaming PC than it is to buy a console. However, the real value starts to show itself when you consider the relative costs of upgrades!
Upgrading Your PC
Once your gaming PC is up and running, you can replace individual parts as needed. That’s good because your processor and graphics cards will probably last around five or more years anyway, and they are the most expensive to replace. RAM, cooling fans, hard drives, power supply and other minor parts all come cheap and don’t require replacing often.
Compare this to consoles, which are, technically, impossible to physically upgrade. You don’t pull apart your PS4 and replace the GPU, you sell it and move on when you are ready to buy an updated version or a newer model. It’s a kind of false economy. You pay less for the initial hardware, but you must pay multiple times to stay up-to-date. When the “pro” version comes out, and you either fall behind or fork over another $400.
Then there are box upgrades, which offer less value than upgrading parts as needed. However, if you upgrade your PC with tact, you will save over the course of the years, even if you are on a budget. As a bonus, your gaming PC offers additional functionality as a desktop computer if needed for tasks like video and audio editing or as a work machine. So, it’s not just for your Fortnite or online poker pursuits!
Let’s get down to business. Aside from costs, which are a critical factor for most gamers, it’s all about the gaming. What can a PC offer that a console cannot? The answer might surprise you: PC gaming offers more exclusivity and cheaper, more readily available games.
It’s not an argument that everyone will agree with, but it turns out to be true, both in observation and in research. A study by Statista showed that:
- 60 percent of 4,000 developers were working on PC games
- 30 percent were working on PS4 games
- 26 percent were working on Xbox One games
The PC has exclusive games across all genres, including shoot ‘em ups like Quake Champions, RPGs like Tyranny and unusual games like Endless Space 2 as well as online gems like Texas Hold ‘em, which can be played against other poker players around the world.
Surprisingly, the PC comes into its own when it comes to strategy games, both turn-based and in real time. Think Civilization, Medieval: Total War and Command & Conquer. If a strategy is your focus, there’s nothing better than the PC.
At the same time, many console games now come to PC via Steam and other platforms. Legendary “console exclusives” like Gears of War, SOMA, Tekken 7 and the upcoming FFXV run fluently on the PC while remaining exclusive to either the Xbox One or PS4. The PC is often neutral territory for Microsoft and Sony, though Sony does withhold some of their titles.
Cheaper and Backward-Compatible Gaming
So, the PC wins on game exclusivity, and generally, it also wins on game costs. You can also build up a neat library of PC games on a tiny budget by grabbing deals and discounts on Steam and Amazon sales. Games often drop to $15 — $20 six months after release, a price that most console games will never see.
Free games are also rife on the PC, with poker sites offering free poker tournaments with real prizes. And many free-to-play games, such as DOTA 2 and League of Legends, have become massive thanks to this feature. Poker players can choose to buy-in for real money while League of Legends players can purchase add-ons, but the free options are there for the taking. Indie games are also often released for free or at discount prices as low as a few dollars.
PC gaming is also fully backward compatible, so once you have paid for the games, they are yours, and upgrading your gaming PC won’t make them inaccessible. Owners of a PS4 can only play PS3 games by purchasing a pass and can’t play old PS2 games on their new console unless they pay the full price for the “remastered” version.
There are about 40 years of PC gaming history, and all of that is available to play on any new machine. You can enjoy text adventure games and interactive fiction, run DOS games or go back in time with 90s games like Caesar III. Mods are usually plentiful, too, so old games and new ones can be updated for added enjoyment.
PC gaming is not for everyone, as it’s complicated compared to owning and running a console. It takes time and commitment to build your PC, update graphics cards and install mods. But if you are enthusiastic about the complexities, then PC gaming is highly rewarding and represents significant value in the long run. It offers an unmatched range of games, the chance for upgrades and backward compatibility spanning decades. What’s not to love?