If there’s one debate in the world that’s very passionate and has no signs of stopping anytime soon, it’s the one about what the best platform to play video games on is. The PC vs console debate has been ongoing since the 80s when people realised video games were the future and developers started working their hearts out on creating some of the best classic video games in history (Super Mario Bros. comes to mind…).
Nowadays, the internet is the best place for people to voice their opinions on this debate, and one simple Google search on what the better way to play video games on is will bring up pages and pages of heated debates and verbal fights. But, which platform is the clear winner, and IS there a clear winner to all of this?
I know, I know… You’ve seen the name of this website and you have nothing but the words “biased” plastered all over your mind… Allow me to do some explaining…
The Short Answer (in my opinion)
In my honest opinion, the PC is the better platform to play video games on. When it comes to the number of the games, the performance of the games, the crystal-clear graphics of the games, and the price of the games, the PC platform trumps the console platform.
Now, before you join your fellow console gaming brethren and grab your pitchforks and rage war against me, I have absolutely nothing against consoles or console gamers in general, and I think the console platform is still a great way to play video games. In fact, us die hard PC gamers need to give consoles some credit really for making video games popular and a very trending form of entertainment around the world.
That’s the short answer to this debate. The long answer will consist of a bunch of factors which will compare the PC platform to consoles and to finally find out what the best platform to play video games on is, and here they are…
This is a factor which consoles absolutely trump the PC at… almost. There’s no ignoring the fact that top of the range gaming PCs with super powerful graphics cards like the GTX 1080ti and the Titan cost just shy of a few thousand pounds, a price point the majority of gamers simply cannot afford to spend.
However, if you want a gaming PC with an equal amount of graphical capabilities as the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X, you can find the right components and build a PC yourself for the same price of these consoles. While it takes a lot more time and effort to build a computer from the ground up compared to buying a pre-built computer, you will be able to build a computer with the same amount of processing power as the most powerful consoles on the planet with the same amount of money you would need to buy one of the consoles.
This is a huge benefit when you look at some of the other factors which greatly separate the platforms from each other…
The Amount of Games
So, you’ve brought every single PlayStation 4 or Xbox One game that has been developed and published since the day of their announcements and reveals at vast and popular gaming conferences, and have them all neatly lined up on a shelf somewhere in your house or apartment. There sure are a lot, aren’t there? Of course, the PC won’t have as many games, right… right?
Well, that’s where you’re wrong, kiddo… (okay, I’m 22 years old so you may be older than me, in which case pay no attention to the phrase I just said… 😉 )
Believe it or not, the PC platform has millions and millions of games which were developed and published to that platform, most of them exclusively. At the time of this writing, Steam, a very popular PC digital distribution platform has reached a player milestone, with over 125 million registered PC users, and over 781 million games all ready to be played on your PC.
Of course, some of those games are also on consoles, but the vast majority of them are exclusively available for the PC only. Games such as DOTA 2 and Quake Champions aren’t available on consoles, and possibly won’t be, like… ever.
The Setup of Games (this one will be a bit long…)
I’m going to be very honest here, and I’m sure you’re thinking the same thing after reading the title of this factor… consoles are far more easier and simpler to set up games with than PCs. You buy the console, or fish it out of your closet or cupboard after months of it being untouched, plug the power cable and tv cable into the correct places and turn on the machine; open the disk tray, place the game disk in the tray; close the tray, wait for any patches or updates to download and voila!
With a PC, things aren’t quite as simple. If you don’t have a PC already (which would be a surprise as they are practically everywhere nowadays), you will either need to buy one pre-built, or build one yourself. If you want to make the most value to your money, you would be better off building the machine yourself, but this can throw off a lot of people
from doing it and prevents them from giving PC gaming a try.
So, you’ve made the riskier decision to buy a pre-built with components too under powered to warrant the overall price tag – which is usually how pre-built PCs go and why I don’t recommend it if you want the best value for your money – now what? Well, now comes the time to choose if you’re going to play games via disk or digital download; I personally prefer downloading digitally as I just don’t have the room in my bedroom to house hundreds of game cases.
If you’re going to play disk games on your PC, you’ve got nothing to worry about. All you need is to make sure your computer has a CD drive, and if not you can buy an external one to save you the time and hassle of setting up an internal one. Once you have a disk drive, you’ll realise that it’s exactly the same as installing a disk game on a console – you follow the exact same actions and again, volia, you now have a game you can play.
When it comes to digital downloads, on the other hand, this is where things get a little complicated. You may have heard of the digital distribution platform Steam before, but if you haven’t well they’re basically the largest and most popular digital distribution platform for PC gaming… they’re a big deal, and every avid PC gamer shouldn’t go on without this great piece of software.
Unfortunately, out of the 740+ million registered games Steam has, there are some games which aren’t available on there. Bummer, right? Games such as Battlefield 1, Overwatch; Fortnite and The Sims 4 are nowhere to be seen on Steam, which is odd… when you forget that Steam isn’t the only digital distribution platform out there for PC gaming…
EA has Origin, which is where you can find all the Sims games and Battlefield games; Blizzard has Battle.net, which is where Overwatch is; and Fortnite, the game which everyone and their mothers are going crazy about, is on Epic Game’s Launcher.
Having to use multiple software to play different video games is very confusing, especially if you’re a newcomer to PC gaming as console digital games are all in the same place. But it’s not just the simplicity of games that divide the PC platform from consoles…
The Sales of Games
Buying a console may seem like the better alternative as the most top of the range gaming PCs can cost around a few thousand pounds, however, you may need to rethink that after this factor. Console games can start at a price point of £40 to £60 depending on their publisher, genre and release date. PC games are the very same, except for one very important thing… discounts.
Steam has many random sales of their millions of registered games, and is a very good example of PC games going at a discount, but it’s not just Steam that does this. Origin, Humble Bundle and many other PC digital distribution platforms hold their own discounts from time to time, something which console games don’t seem to do as frequently.
Some of these discounts can go from 50% off the original price tag, to a whopping 90% off, and some games even have free weekends if you’re lucky enough to catch them.
This is something which unfortunately consoles don’t seem to do with their games, and with how expensive it can be to buy or built a PC upfront, the constant discounts of games will more than make up the upfront costs. Console games stay at such high prices, and it won’t be long before the price of the console and the games together surpass the price of your gaming PC and its games.
If you want better value for your money, and don’t mind too much about spending a lot of money upfront, then PC gaming might be more suited for you.
If you haven’t seen the level of graphics that PC games can unleash, then hoo boy, are you missing out on something special. One channel on YouTube who I think does an excellent job at comparing the graphics of the most recent video games against both consoles and PCs is Candyland. If you want to see just how much clearer and detailed the graphics of video games are on PCs compared to their console counterparts, then don’t miss checking out their channel as actions speak far louder than words… well, my words anyway… 😉
While the PS4 Pro and the Xbox One X boast about how they can play games at 4k resolution, the PC can do this and much more. While the hardware required to play PC games in 4k resolution will be more expensive than a brand new console, the graphic detail of the game will be far more vibrant and clearer than on console.
Furthermore, the performance of the video game at a 4k resolution will be much better on a PC than on a console. Speaking of performance…
What I mean when I say performance are the frames rates in which the games are able to run at with PCs and consoles. Many consoles are able to play games at 30fps or 60fps depending on the game, but with the PC, you will be able to play games at whatever frame rate you wish, should you have the hardware powerful enough to do so.
Thanks to the amount of customizability the PC platform will allow you, you will be able to tone down your graphical settings a little to make the game run smoother for yourself, at the cost of making it look slightly worse than it once was. This is something that you simply cannot do with a console, and if a game is too jittery or laggy for you, there is nothing you can do besides hope and pray that the developer brings out a game patch or update which will fix the issue.
Of course, if you have a monitor or a television running at 60Hz only, you won’t be able to make much use of the higher frame rates with PC games… right?
There are monitors on the market that can run games at 144Hz or even 240Hz. What this ultimately means is you can have games run at a very high frame rate such as 144fps or more, and your monitor will be able to pick up every single frame, creating a silky smooth and very responsive picture. Consoles are only limited to 60Hz and 60fps, or lower due to their limited hardware.
If you want to have a much more responsive and smoother-looking experience with your games, consider switching to a 144Hz monitor or above to make use of those higher frames, but remember that not only are these monitors pretty costly, but you will also need hardware capable of running games at such high frames, otherwise it will be all for nought.
A controller is the only way to play games on a console, not including the motion sensing controllers like the Xbox had with Kinect or the PlayStation with the EyeToy or Move. With a PC on the other hand, you can have a wide range of peripherals to play video games with.
The most well-known of these peripherals is the keyboard and mouse, of course, as they are the most vital devices used to control and navigate around a computer. When it comes to video games, the mouse and keyboard are highly beneficial, and in some genres are the superiour controls for playing a game than a controller.
Because PC games allow you to map keys and buttons to whatever you like, you will be able to play a PC game however it suits you. Are you left-handed and want to use the mouse with your left hand? No worries. You will be able to customly map the controls so that you are comfortable using your right hand with the keyboard rather than your left.
Alternatively, if you’re playing a driving game or a 3D platformer on your computer, and find the keyboard and mouse controls a little too difficult for you, no matter how much time you spent mapping and experimenting with them? No bother. Thanks to the customisability of the PC platform, you will be able to plug in a controller and use that instead.
While an Xbox 360/One controller is a simple “plug in and play”, a PS3/4 controller on the other hand will require additional software for it to work on your computer; DS4 is a great piece of software you can use to allow your PS4 controller to be used on your computer.
Has a new game come out which you really want to play but your pathetic, under powered computer just can’t handle the graphics or sheer scale of the game no matter how much you tone down the graphics? It may be time for an upgrade. With a PC, you will easily be able to open up the case where all the components are snuggly enclosed in, and swap out that outdated graphics card with a more modern one.
One thing which catches people out a lot, and makes upgrading something that I myself am quite nervous of, is whether or not all the components are compatible with each other. You will get things like GPU (graphics processing unit) or CPU (central processing unit) bottlenecking, which is basically when the limited power of the graphics card or CPU holds back the other components and prevents their full power from being utilized.
Nevertheless, upgrading the hardware inside the machine is something which you cannot do with a console, and the simple act of opening the case of one will immediately void the warranty on it.
When something goes wrong with a console, you will easily be able to troubleshoot it and fix the problem, either by looking up the solution online, or sending the console to the manufacturer to fix for free, as long as the warranty is still intact. With a PC, on the other hand, everything comes down to you, especially if you built it yourself and didn’t buy a pre-built.
With a pre-built, you will have some sort of warranty depending on where you got it from, so if something goes wrong you will be able to easily get it repaired or replaced.
If you built the machine yourself, everything all comes down to you; you will be the one who has to fix the faulty wiring or the loose component inside the machine, or if the case suddenly has a large dent in the side of it after being kicked from a frustrating game session.
While both PCs and consoles are prone to having something go wrong within them, consoles are more easier to deal with than a PC; it will be easier to find a fix for a console online than a PC as computers are more custom and unique than consoles.
If you want simplicity with your gaming machine, and don’t like the idea of opening up the case and messing around with its contents, console will be your more preferred platform as the only people who will be opening up the machine are the manufacturers themselves or the technicians from your local hardware store down the street.
Both platforms have a lot of players gaming online even as we speak, but there are a few differences between the two that separates them even with their multiplayer. For starters, games on PC can allow more players fighting each other on servers than consoles can. Games like Battlefield 3 can have a maximum of 128 players playing on a server at a single time on PC, while the console versions are limited to just 64 players.
Of course, marks go against PC multiplayer as it has a higher chance than the console variant to have hackers and bots who will either cheat at the game, or grieve other players. It’s much harder to encounter these on console as they are much more harder to hack.
When it comes to paying for multiplayer services, however, the PC absolutely shines and thwarts the console platform, and do you want to know why? Well, let me tell you some magic words… free multiplayer. That’s right, if you want to have a Steam account, an Origin account, or even an Epic Games account, you won’t have to worry about money as they are all entirely free. Can you imagine if a PSN account or an Xbox Live account was free…?
The Ultimate Conclusion
In the end however, even looking into all the factors I’ve just listed down, there is only one ultimate answer to all of this… personal preference.
Do you prefer having a limited, but easy to set up machine with little to no hassle required if something goes wrong with it? Or, maybe you would prefer having to pay more money for an advanced machine with free multiplayer and constant discounted games, but having to face a lot of hassle fixing it if something goes wrong?
The bottom line is, only you have the answers to this fiery debate. You can use this post, or some of the thousands of other posts of this type, scattered all over the internet, to help you decide which platform is better to play video games on, but the final decision will all come down to what you prefer.
I hope this has helped you in some way to decide what the better system to play video games on is, and even if it hasn’t, I still wish you all the best and happy gaming! 😉
Jamie – the PC Gaming Nerd