I'll try to keep this as objective as possible because I know there are a lot of PlayStation and Xbox fans here in System Wars. I used to be one of you, then I discovered just how incredible and superior gaming on a PC can be! I decided to fully skip this console generation and play games exclusively on my PC and sometimes 3DS, and so far the decision has been one of the best I've ever made in regards to gaming.
Here are just some of the reasons why the PC is objectively superior to any console:
- Works with any TV or monitor (even 2, 3, or more monitors - consoles cannot do this)
- Works with any controller ever, even multiple different controllers at once. Want to use a DS4 and an Xbox One controller at the same time? No problem!
- Free online services (Steam, Galaxy, Desura, Mumble, etc)
- Better featured online services
- Localized multiplayer, up to 16 players
- Using a modern GPU 120+ fps. Consoles can barely handle 30, rarely 60.
- Usable for work, education, content production, and entertainment
- Faster than a PS4 or XBox One, even if you built one for $400
- PC Games are less expensive - PC's have Steam, GOG, Humble Bundle, Green Man Gaming, and more.
- Better-rated games (by metascore)
- Far more exclusive games
- Independent developer friendly - there is no barrier to entry, anyone can create a game and self-publish on PC without going through a platform holder.
- A huge amount of completely free and a TON of Free-To-Play games that are actually good
- Larger game library by hundreds of times
- Can emulate all of your old 8-bit and 16-bit console games
- Steam Big Picture mode for couch gaming
- You can repair them yourself without voiding your warranty
- PC's Modular and upgradeable
- The best backwards compatibility - play any and all previous PC games, usually doing nothing more than pressing "Install"
- Higher graphical details (lighting, textures, foliage, particles, shading, weather)
- You're probably going to own some sort of PC anyways, why not pay a bit more on top to make it a gaming machine? That alone makes it cheaper than a console.
The PC is an ever-evolving platform. It grows in power, capability, and value every single year. It's also free of the control of any single entity, which are why many of these advantages now exist. Rather than being regulated by a single company, control and improvement influence over the PC belongs to everyone equally. Even you, the consumers, have the full freedom to create or sell software and hardware for it. It's being constantly improved by competing companies and individuals all over the hardware spectrum, and all of them are trying to offer you (and game developers) the best experience possible.
Isn't PC gaming more expensive than console gaming?
No, absolutely not. Especially if you only plan to target console performance! There are already graphics cards available on the market for $150 that surpass the PS4 and XBox One in terms of framerate, resolution, detail, value, and power draw. A lot of people incorrectly believe that you have to spend upwards of $750-$1000 to get a PC fully capable of handling games. This simply isn't true! These inaccuracies can be attributed partially to the highly vocal and misinformed masses, and to the availability (and mainstream hype) of the expensive PC hardware we see advertised a lot. You see it more because it's advertised more. Why is it advertised more? Because the companies make more money from selling it as opposed to their mainstream and value offerings. The mainstream/budget parts are the ones you should be looking at; not the $2000+ enthusiast gear.We're not living the 90's any more. PC hardware is cheaper today than it has ever been! When taking a look at the measly selection of replaceable and upgradable hardware that some consoles offer,you'll always find a cheaper and better alternative for your PC. In fact, you can build a PC right now that will outperform "next-gen" consoles for pretty much the exact same price. After all, the "next-gen" consoles are really just watered-down PCs with crippled operating systems. Plus, if you only want to target 30 frames-per-second and only 720p, you're going to save a lot of money. In fact, it's actually hard to find a minimum-range graphics card that can even perform that badly these days. If you only want to match console performance, you essentially cut your GPU budget in half. See TekSyndicate's own explanation and build and this rough explanation for more information. If you're looking to get parts even cheaper than in the example videos, PCPartPicker is a great place to find discount hardware for your PC. The next time someone reminds you that 'It's not all about graphics', remind them that they're in luck, because that means they'll be spending almost nothing on their graphics card to achieve the performance they deemed adequate.
In addition to increased value, the PC also has a higher performance & quality ceiling
If you're the kind of person that wants to go all-out and buy a multi-thousand dollar setup with multiple monitors and graphics cards, you have the freedom to do so. Game developers know that a small fraction of the PC gaming market does this, so they add more demanding graphics options for you to make sure that extra hardware doesn't go to waste. A lot of people think that simply because these settings exist, they absolutely need to buy the latest and greatest 'RadForce MegaGigaJiggaFlexx 95-billion Elite Zombie Slayer Edition' graphics card to meet these settings with an acceptable framerate, or 'FPS'. The highest/ultra settings generally aren't created with the majority in mind. Even at low and medium settings, you'll be getting higher resolutions, smoother framerates, better lighting, higher resolution textures, and more detailed scenes than a comparably priced console. The fact of the matter is, both the hardware and software companies know exactly what graphics hardware the average consumer is going to buy and use, and they build their games and hardware accordingly. They're not here to build a game so demanding that you can't play it, and anyone who says so isn't telling you the whole truth. Game developers want sales, and if their game only run on the aforementioned minority enthusiast sector of PCs, they're going to get minority sales to go along with it. It's almost exclusively the graphical mods that push the game's minimum GPU cost to $1,000 or more.
|Battlefield 3 rendered across multiple displays using EyeFinity. Here's a video of it in action(2012).|
PC games are so much cheaper that they alone can make a PC undercut a console within a year
All year round, PC games are being sold at extreme discounts thanks to Good Old Games, Humble Bundles and Steam sales. Even brand new titles that have yet to be released can occasionally get a pre-order discount or otherwise drop below the traditional console release price of $59.99. There's also the occasional franchise or "studio" bundles that can save you around 25-50%. Summer and winter Steam sales offer the largest discounts, with single titles going as much as 75% off with entire franchises and bundle discounts stacking onto the discount Valve already added to it. Yes, it's true that you may sometimes get games that you don't want from a bundle, but you have to be trying pretty hard when you try to label that as a disadvantage. The games are yours forever, and there's a pretty good chance that someone may want to "borrow" it from you and try it out even if you don't. Over the course of 3-4 years, some people have saved over $3000 by using Steam. All those discounts, and developers still earn more on the PC.
The Virtual Reality revolution is being led by the PC
If you want to enjoy virtual reality gaming (and other forms of entertainment, the PC is an open development platform so the sky's the limit) in its most immersive form, you'll need a PC. High resolution and framerates are absolutely essential for Virtual Reality headsets (like the Oculus Rift) to properly immerse you and fool your brain. The industry's leading VR company said so themselves: even the next-gen consoles are far too weak to handle what they plan on doing. Some people don't want to use VR to control their gameworld, and some don't want to use it to even view the gameworld, which is fine. Virtual reality headwear isn't meant to be a replacement for desktop or livingroom gaming, it's just meant to be an immersive and creative alternative for the games and genres that best support it. Just because you don't want VR doesn't mean you shouldn't get a PC; it just means that your PC budget will probably be a lot lower!
The ESports revolution is being led by the PC
This has caused somewhat of an unexpected explosion in PC popularity in recent years. Consoles don't even compete with PCs in this regard, as this video sort of demonstrates.
I was told that PC gaming has compatibility problems
Game developers adhere to popular standards when they make their games. Hardware developers adhere to popular standards when they make hardware. Not doing so would gain them a terrible reputation and most likely bankruptcy. Because of this, games on PC don't have the compatibility issues they used to in the DOS days. In the DOS days, there were no standards to adhere to, and there were thousands of different possible hardware configurations. Almost no games worked with every piece of sound, video, and input hardware. The next time you hear someone complain about PC gaming being a pain because they hate 'checking to see if they have enough video RAM' or 'making sure they have a fast enough processor' or 'whether or not their sound drivers are up-to-date', just punch them and link them here. PC game developers make their game compatible with an enormous possible performance spectrum! Of all people that understand this, you'd expect it to partially be console gamers seeing as consoles are among the weak end of the spectrum. Apparently not, though, because many spew misinformation like this to scare people away from upgrading.
A PC is much better at making your gaming experience sharable
Streaming, screen recording, video editing, in-game chats, voice chat(Mumble or TeamSpeak), video chat(Skype/Google Hangouts), game invites, and everything else... it's all built in. Specifically FRAPS, Movie Maker, Twitch.tv, and Sony Vegas are popular choices among gamers. No need for expensive custom hardware or a separate device for editing the video; just install the software, run it, and hit record. It does it all, and with much higher quality footage than that of a console. In fact, most demos and commercials use PCs for 'actual gameplay footage' to sell their consoles and games due to quality/ease.
A PC is better than a console for media consumption
The only reason Microsoft and Sony are advertising media consumption more than games this time around is because of how far behind PCs they were, and because consoles actually make better playback devices than they do gaming machines. They try to claim their consoles have access to everything, but they really don't. Half of all media streaming services on the internet use HTML5 or Flash. Even attempting to access them with the crippled web browsers on the PS4 and XBox One will require a subscription first. Not to mention, the PC has free online access and several much better alternatives to the long-obsolete and broken Internet Explorer (which the XBox One forces you to use!).
PC games support local multiplayer gaming
Although consoles have traditionally been the platform to offer the best local multiplayer support, that's changing. With the surge in PC power in recent years, there have been games released that fully support both split-screen and "hotseat" multiplayer (nearly all of which also support controller input). Some even support up to 6 simultaneous players. Of course, even games without local multiplayer support can still be played on the same PC... up to 16, in fact. As well as SoftXpand, there's this, which allows screens to be "split" to a second display! Borderlands 2 is one such game that supports local multiplayer... even from the same Steam account.
You get more online functionality for free than a paid console user
Steam is a very heavily integrated gaming suite. For example: you can trade coupons, games, items, and cards with another Steam user right from within Steam (no need to be in-game and meet them). You can see what games and servers your friends are currently playing and join the server with the click of a button (and vice versa, you can invite them to yours). You can trade on the Community Market without ever having to hunt someone down that has or wants certain goods. Steam also has an integrated software store, developer store, Workshop (for easier modding), Greenlight, and Big Picture mode for couch gamers. Steam will also automatically sync your saved games and settings to the Steam Cloud. Your in-game Steam panel is pretty awesome, too. It lets you chat, trade, browse the web for walkthroughs and whatnot, track achievements, and much more.
The PC is better equipped for online play than a console
Since PCs have more processing power and faster networking (as well as modular networking, you can add a faster 10-gigabit ethernet card if you want one). This means (you have the option of) more enemies, more players, more action, much quicker and clearer voice communication, lower game latency, and much more. Developers and hobbyist server hosts have made great leaps with the PC in recent years; some PC servers can support up to10,000 players in a single FPS match! Imagine the intensity of 10,000 players compared to a measly 64 player match(which even the latest and greatest consoles have trouble reaching at all).
PC games can be modded. Console games (legally and logically) cannot
Have you ever beat a game and felt that rush of depression when the last cut-scene finishes and you are sent back to the main menu and the music starts? Probably. Fortunately for PC gamers, there are a plethora of mods available for our games that can be easily installed. Mods can change gameplay logic, add maps or characters, greatly improve graphical quality, introduce new game modes, and even create entirely new games altogether. Consoles simply cannot do this. The easiest way you could play a modded console game would be to buy or burn a modded disc image of the game and modify your firmware to accept it, rendering it incapable of online play and possibly even facing legal trouble for tinkering with it. Luckily, the Wii is one such console that allows modding (not all consoles are evil when it comes to modding!). Not to mention, mod support is tremendously helpful to gamers, games, and developers. Plus, thanks to modding communities, PC games essentially age in reverse. Meaning, they get even better looking as time goes on. Take a look at GTA IV as of January 2014 if you don't believe it.
Optimization: As time goes on, consoles don't get stronger and PCs don't get weaker
Some people claim that consoles get better over time due to "optimization" and that PCs (on the opposite end) get slower and need to be upgraded to keep up with these "optimizations". Not true! Yes, there is an increase in developer hardware and SDK familiarity after a new console launch (especially with the XBox 360 and PS3), but not for very long. These "optimizations" are not exclusive to the consoles, either! The same optimizations are also taken advantage of on the PC when they receive large hardware revisions as well. The leading cause of this "console optimization" misconception (other than the YouTube comments section) is likely due to the state of hardware during the launch of the XBox 360 and PS3. When the XBox 360 and PS3 launched, they had entirely new types and mixtures of hardware that the industry was very unfamiliar with. The XBox One and PS4 simply will not have a similar developer learning curve that the 360 and PS3 had because both new consoles use x86-based processors (which is also used by PCs!). As for the second part of the argument, loss of value with PC hardware (in comparison to console hardware) doesn't happen at a faster rate. Let's break this down: First off, the 360 and PS3 were sold at a loss when they launched. Times have changed! The Xbox One and PS4 are both being sold at a profit after their first game/online purchases (even at $400/$500). Secondly, the performance-per-dollar of desktop GPUs now is noticeably better than it was at the time. Even while taking this into account, a GPU in 2006 (during the 360 and PS3 launch) priced similar to the build price of those consoles is still very much usable today. The best GPU for this demonstration is NVidia's 8800 series. Not only are they still getting driver updates today, but they're also getting support from game developers.
After your PC loses its luster 3-4 years down the road, overclocking can bring it back
Let's face the facts. PCs aren't consoles; they improve every year and game developers adjust their games accordingly. If you get sick of running your games on medium and low instead of your traditional high or ultra, overclocking may be the answer. Overclocking is free and it's not as dangerous as it sounds. Performance gains vary, but once your parts are out of their warranty period you no longer have to worry about voiding it. Normally, even a small increase would void it. Of course, you could always just buy faster hardware, but thanks to overclocking you may not need to... at least for another year or so.
You can share your Steam games with others
Contrary to popular belief, your Steam games are not stuck with your account. Steam Family Sharing allows you to instantly lend your digitally-distributed games to another Steam user's library. Even if they're across the country... or world. It's instantly in their library. Unlike physical media, they cannot steal, lose, or damage your game in any way. The only downfall is, you need to download the games with your account on their PC first.
The games you buy on Steam are yours forever.
Lost your PC? No problem. Just log into Steam or Desura and re-download them to your new machine. No need to insert a disc or buy an online key. There's no limit on downloads and the speeds are as fast as your download bandwidth. No subscription services such as PS+ or the new EA Access program.
PCs are capable of much more than gaming, such as content creation
Think of it in terms of 'how much am I saving?'. Not 'how much am I spending?'. A PC can do so many things in this day and age it's ridiculous. All things considered, you can still get a PC for the same price of a console if you really care about price equality that much. If you're already a content creator with a powerful machine, congratulations!
Both the PS4 and XBox One consoles are still behind mid-range gaming PCs of today
Modern consoles like the PS4 and XBox One use an enhanced AMD A10, which is a mid-range budget processor. Back when the XBox 360 and PS3 came out, things were different. The XBox 360 and PS3 were both very competitive with equivalent PCs, and they were sold at a tremendous loss, even with their $600 price tags. Consoles now are being sold for $400-$500 and making healthy profits on the hardware alone, (at least after their first single game and round of online access payments, if not immediately) ... and yet they continue to raise the prices for online access/special services and increase their cuts for per-game sales. The last-gen prices aren't even adjusted to inflation, either! It really says something about console innovation when you have to adjust for inflation to compare across generations, doesn't it?
All platforms have their own exclusives but PC has thousands more than any other.
Due to the healthy, open, and competitive PC market, independent developers tend to gravitate toward the PC. Console companies are generally hostile toward independent developers and not nearly as many can so easily make their game available to console markets. With things like GOG, Steam, torrent sites (No, really! Indie developers and artists have used ThePirateBay for distribution on many occasions), and Desura, developers have millions of PC gamers they can reach without spending a single dime. To play every console exclusive, you would have to buy both consoles anyways (yes, the largest argument is 'console' exclusives not 'PlayStation' or 'XBox', just 'console)... which puts your price point over that of a PC. Not to mention,consoles are what trudged in and created the exclusivity issue in the first place, hoping that you'd reward them for it and buy into their cancerous ecosystem. In a situation where you have a choice of many, pick the best of the group: PC.