PC and console gaming have coexisted for decades, with the PC gaming community always being somewhat smaller than the console community. This is because for many years, especially throughout the 90s and early 00s, PC gaming was seen as expensive, with many hurdles to getting the latest games to run at a smooth framerate.
Consoles, on the other hand, offered a convenient “buy and play” simplicity, and while consoles may not have gorgeous graphics in comparison to what PCs are capable of, the gap between the two communities has been narrowing for some years.
PCs are no longer absurdly expensive to build, and entry-level graphics cards can typically run the latest games at acceptable frame rates. Consoles, on the other hand, have certainly caught up in terms of hardware, though they still lack the “upgradeability” factor of PCs.
While many gamers now enjoy gaming on both console and PC, there are still some dedicated fandoms, such as the “PC Master Race” subreddit that looks down on consoles, and the devoted Playstation / Xbox fans that can often taunt each other over which console is superior.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the benefits of PC vs console gaming.
Consoles have a generally set price in retail stores. A brand new Xbox One or PS4 currently costs around $350 USD, for the 1TB storage models of either console, give or take. A brand new pre-built entry-level gaming PC will cost around $400, whereas a pre-built gaming PC that has hardware better than what consoles offer will cost around $600.
Of course, these are “brand new” prices. For PCs, it’s a bit cheaper to buy the individual hardware (GPU, CPU, etc) and take advantage of discounts, rebates, and even refurbished parts, so you could build a mid-level gaming PC yourself for considerably less, perhaps around $500 or less.
PCs can also be upgraded with new hardware over time, which is something consoles do not enjoy – you have to buy a brand new console when a new model comes out.
A long time ago, consoles fought for title exclusivity, and they still do. But the landscape has slowly changed, and many titles are offered on multiple consoles. There are few truly ‘exclusive’ AAA titles on consoles these days, except for a handful of titles like Halo 5 (Xbox), God of War (PS4), and some others.
But generally speaking, many games are enjoying release on multiple consoles than there are ‘exclusive’ titles. One thing to be said in favor of PC is that many game titles ‘exclusive’ to Xbox also have PC versions as well.
Another advantage PC has is the sheer amount of indie developers out there who don’t develop games for console. The hurdle to becoming an indie developer for consoles can be quite high, and so many indie developers release for PC, until their games become popular enough to get some sort of distribution agreement with the console companies.
So overall, PC has a much larger library of indie developer titles, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of browser games, and perhaps something many overlook, online casinos like Casumo casino. Online casinos are a billion dollar industry, and there are literally no real-money casino games available for any console as of writing.
Cost of Games
Here’s where things get tricky. For a long time, the only place to really purchase new console games was physical retail stores, like GameStop, which is in fact shutting down hundreds of stores around the world. PC gamers, on the other hand, have long enjoyed digital retailers, like Steam, GOG, and others.
Brand new AAA titles on both PC and console typically retail for around $50 USD on launch. However, console games stay close to their launch price for a bit longer than PC games, as gamers are also paying for the physical disc, packaging, manual, etc.
The most popular digital store for PC, Steam, has long been known for offering amazing sales and discounts, especially during the annual “Steam Summer Sale”. PC gamers can find AAA titles for up to 50% off their original price.
However, Microsoft and Sony have significantly increased their focus on offering digital game downloads, and now most Xbox One and PS4 titles can be bought through those consoles’ digital stores. This is a huge convenience for console gamers who can now enjoy the same method of obtaining new games as PC gamers, but it remains to be seen whether the Xbox / Sony digital stores will offer sales and discounts on par with PC game retailers like Steam or GOG.
Cost of Online Play
Here is where the PC still wins, hands down, unfortunately for console gamers. Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft charge subscriptions for playing online (Nintendo at $20 per year, Xbox and PS4 at $60 per year).
Playing PC games online is entirely free, unless you’re playing a subscription-based MMO like World of Warcraft or similar.
We could write thousands of more words defining the little differences between PC and console gaming, but to be honest, the information would likely become outdated within the next few years. The gap between console and PC gaming has been closing for some time, and it’s quite possible to imagine a future where a majority of games are cross-platform compatible, meaning that you can play a game online with other players whether they’re using an Xbox, PS4, or PC.