PC gaming vs. console gaming – further thoughts

Posted: 2014/12/14 in Indie Games

I’ve had some interesting feedback and additional thoughts from my previous article on how PCs being put into console form factors, with controller-friendly front-ends to mimic the console experience while still offering PC flexibility under the hood.

One bit of feedback is very fair comment. What if you find yourself playing a first-person shooter online with a controller, and everyone else is rocking the keyboard/mouse combination? Conventional wisdom is that will put you at a disadvantage. Whereas on a game console everyone is equally disadvantaged. I agree with that. However, that’s only true for competitive multiplayer. For singleplayer, and for online co-op, it doesn’t matter nearly as much, and it comes down to what you ergonomically prefer. Millions favour the gamepad over keyboard and mouse for the relaxed livingroom feel over sitting at a desk. But, nonetheless, people who are extremely fond of playing an FPS with a controller, probably are better off sticking with dedicated consoles for now. I say for now, because I can see a future where PC games start allowing controller-oriented people to matchmake together to get around this issue on livingroom PCs.

That’s the argument that made a lot of sense to me. The other resonated with me less so. And that was just have a bunch of consoles, and keep them all plugged in. Recapping what systems I own:

Intellivision (actual)
Intellivision Flashback
Atari 2600
Sega Genesis
Atari Jaguar
Sega Saturn
Nintendo 64
Xbox 360
Xbox One

And I’ve probably forgotten one or two. Needless to say, keeping them all plugged in at all times takes up a lot of space, and requires some funky cabling in behind the TV (including adaptors to switch between inputs). And dusting. So much dusting.

I was a big fan of Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee on the original Xbox. I’m interested to play all four games in the Oddworld series. Let’s look at what that requires if doing so on console. Firstly you’d need an original Playstation system, and need to track down the discs for Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee, and its sequel Abe’s Exoddus. Those titles seem to be pretty hard to find these days, and seem to sell for $30-45 each on eBay. The only console that Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee came out on was the OG Xbox, so I’d need one of those and the game ($15-20 on eBay when I checked just now). Then Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath also came out on the Xbox, and was one of the last and best looking games for the system, but an “HD” version later came out on the PS3. So you could get the whole collection for just two consoles, but for the best experience you’d do it on three consoles. Either way, the game’s going to cost you about $15 (an old disc for the Xbox, or a PSN purchase on the PS3).

Maybe you spend a bunch of time in used video game stores and flea markets and find some or all of the games a little cheaper, but you’re likely to pay a minimum of $5 each. Realistically, short of a tonne of patience and legwork, you’re likely to spend somewhere between $60-125 for all four games on console, and you’d need 2-3 consoles to play it.

Or you could just spend about $10 regular price on PC for the collection of all four, less if you find the collection on sale (and it seems pretty much every PC game goes on sale at some point or another). And you don’t need to worry about scratched discs and scouring swap-and-shops. As much as flea markets can be fun, it’s no fun getting your game home and finding that the disc doesn’t play.

And what if the disc doesn’t play because you have a hardware problem? Those old consoles will be harder and harder to keep running over time. Heck, new TVs don’t even have the proper hook-ups for some of my old consoles.

So I can see the advantage to console for competitive shooters. And I can see how some people enjoy the scouring, repairing, and collecting that is demanded of fans of classic consoles. But for those who want to spend more time playing and less time tinkering with old hardware and travelling back and forth between thrift shops, and those that want to avoid (in my case) a stack of a dozen consoles underneath the TV, PC gaming consoles increasingly offer a superior solution.

  1. Greg says:

    I think it’s also good to note that when choosing to go console or PC that you’re not just buying a games console but a blueray/dvd player as well, and with a PC you’re buying a home computer as well as a games player. Although PC is considered more expensive I think the extra cost is well made up with the amount of hours spent browsing or watching youtube, something you simply wouldn’t do on a console. (also building your own pc is soo much cheaper its 100% must do)

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