Ever since the Internet (and possibly before) graced the Earth, there has always been a large, opinionated and often heated debate over what is better. PC or consoles.
Now, as a youth, I was heavily invested into games consoles, such as the Nintendo 64 and the PS2. I then found my feet with PC gaming, but it was nothing serious. Usually consisting of large stints on strategy games. However, after getting rid of my Xbox 360 around 2 years ago, I made a foray into PC gaming. This was largely an experiment, as I was deeply interested in what the “PC master race” offered over the consoles.
In the 2 years of time that I have been a PC gamer, I have found that my gaming time has greatly decreased (on the Xbox 360 I spent most of my day playing COD, every single day). I just put it to getting older and growing out of gaming. How wrong could I be?
Well, last week I got an RROD Xbox 360 off of a friend, repaired it and decided ‘what the hell’, I may as well pick up some games and give it a shot. I purchased Red Dead Redemption GOTY, Assassins Creed: Brotherhood, Assassins Creed: Revelations and Call of Duty: Black Ops. I have once again found myself gaming a large majority of the time. Its like I have found a new thirst for gaming, it just does not make any sense.
But recently, I have come to the conclusion that I just prefer console gaming, as I feel that it has a certain something that PC gaming does not offer. So in this article, I want to look at a few things that I feel consoles do better and a few things that PC does better.
I feel that the 3 things that make console gaming better are the social side of things, the gaming ‘experience’ and the ease of use. All of which we will go into more detail about. (ease of use will be intertwined into the other 2 subjects of discussion)
On the flip-side, PC gaming allows for: customization, a larger library and a cheaper library over consoles.
Lets start with the console pluses.
This is probably one of the more important features of console gaming that isn’t quite captured properly on PC. It is partly because of the interface of the console’s OS, but also partly because of the large audience of console gamers. All of my friends have an Xbox, I can simply turn on the console, quickly send them either a text or voice message or join them in what is essentially a chat room. This allows for quick interaction without the hassles of ensuring your friends all have the same program, and due to all Xbox’s coming with a microphone, everyone will chat via speech with no connectivity issues (like Skype often does have).
In addition to this, I can very quickly view a friend or anyone on Xbox’s profile system, get a little information about themselves from their bio, view all of the games they have ever played and interact with them in a large variety of ways. I can with one click, invite them to play with me or join into their game. No hassle.
Another big aspect of console gaming’s social side that I enjoy is the ability to talk with all the public players you are playing with. More often than not, they all have a microphone (sometimes they are annoying, but the mute button is easily accessible in games like Call of Duty) and you do not need to push to talk, which a lot of PC games seem to force onto you. Perhaps my favourite part is the fact that there is no way to chat via text in game, with it constantly on your screen, who wants to read some text message whilst trying to concentrate on your game?
In addition to the social side of things, I feel that consoles provide a better overall experience whilst gaming. Firstly, everyone is playing with the exact same hardware, this means everyone is running the same FPS. They are also all connecting through the same service, so connections are usually a lot more stable as the Xbox forwards all bandwidth towards the game at hand, with a PC it gets spread across many programs.
Then we have the controller. This is definitely more of a personal preference, but I think that the controller provides a much more versatile control form. The only thing that a controller is bad at is strategy games, but games like Halo Wars and Civilization Revolution have started to change that.
Many PC gamers say that the controller is inferior to mouse and keyboard for FPS games, yet if I play BF3 on PC, I come top of the leader-board 8/10 using an Xbox 360 controller. It is all about what the individual prefers. I can say with 100% confidence that for adventure, plat-forming and third person perspective games, controllers are a lot better. In a game like Fallout, I don’t want to be in an uncomfortable position, I want to lean back and enjoy the game on my sofa. Consoles allow me to have that experience.
Lastly, the service that is provided by Microsoft on the 360 is overwhelming. All in one place you have apps, such as netflix, youtube and BBC iPlayer. Indie games that can be had for $1 as well as information and demos on a massive variety of games. The dashboard really is a massive selling point of the Xbox. Steam is a big jump towards it, but it still doesn’t capture the presentation that Microsoft has achieved.
Now for the PC pluses
Possibly the biggest difference between PC and consoles, is the amount of restriction on the consumer. On the PC, you can install a wide variety of mods that can give a game a large amount of longevity and re-playability. This feature is not present on consoles, unless your purchase downloadable content (with some games not having any at all). Games like Skyrim on the PC can keep players playing for 1000’s of hours due to the wide variety of mission, character and weapon mods. This feature is not available on consoles.
Secondly, on the PC you in-game customization. This mainly applies to graphics. Where a PC version of a game can stand higher graphics settings than a console due to more technical power. But also applies to controls. With a console you are forced into 1 control type, on the pc, you can literally use any peripheral.
In recent years, with the uprising of steam, we have seen a large increase upon what you would call “the usual PC game library”. Many a year ago, you would think it is constrained to FPS and strategy games, like CS and Starcraft. But now we are starting to see a much larger library of games hitting the PC and people are playing them in mass quantities.
Indie games such as Minecraft, Limbo and The Binding of Isaac have pulled many people into PC gaming. Mainly because some of these titles are not available on consoles, but also because they came to PC first, before being launched into the console world.
The PC has also seen a resurgence in games that we would only expect console players to play, such as plat-formers and adventure games. The Batman Arkham series has really hit that notion home, with a massive amount of sales on steam.
Although I make the good point of a larger library on PC, it is also important to note, in the consoles favour, that various games are not available on PC that are available on console. A great example of this would be Red Dead Redemption, which is probably my favourite game since Star Wars: Knights of The Old Republic.
In conjunction with the above statements, PC gaming is a hilarious amount cheaper than console gaming. For new releases on a console, you are looking at £30 -£35 if you shop around. On PC, a steam key can be bought for £20 – £25, with price drops coming fast.
The amount of digital distribution sales by Steam and Green Man Gaming also allow for newer and older games to be bought at amazing prices. Indie games and older games can be caught for under £5, whilst new releases can even reach sub £20 price.
On Xbox Live, there are simply not enough decent sales to bring items down in price. Dungeon Defenders for example is around £10 on consoles. During the steam sale, you could get it for £3.
PC gaming can provide longevity to certain titles (even though these titles are usually very long ones anyway), a larger amount of games and cheaper games. But consoles seem to capture the experience of gaming oh so much better.
PC gaming can often feel like a chore to me, whereas with the Xbox I can have more relaxing fun with my friends.
If you have any input onto this article, feel free to comment below.