With all this rumbling going on regarding Sony and Microsoft’s next-generation consoles, (some) in the PC gaming community feels the need to play defensive. The PC gaming versus console gaming debate is an age-old one, but what’s sillier than debating video cards versus Xbox Live Arcade is the fact that some people honestly believe they’re mutually exclusive things. Holding a Dual Shock 3 automatically disqualifies you from playing World of Warcraft with authority. Murdering dudes in Hotline Miami means you have a super-gaudy, massive gaming PC with annoying LED light leaking everywhere. With new hardware, the battle continues!
I know how this debate works and it’s particularly divisive issue during the launch of new consoles for whatever stupid reason. PC gamers need to justify spending a grand-plus on their gaming rig to get Crysis 3 to run at sixty frames per second while console gamers need to justify spending a grand-plus on a console and a small army of games and accessories.
In 2005, I built my first PC. I’d been a PC gamer long before that, but I really felt the need to control my destiny and Newegg my way through the creation of my new machine component by component. It was chilling to play Half-Life 2 at 1280×1024 with everything cranked and seeing textured windows distort the reality beyond them while a mouse gave me precision aim. I put hundreds of hours into World of Warcraft when their server woes subsided, but my gaming event of the year came at the end of the year when the Xbox 360 released. In a bizarre pre-launch tradition dating back a full four years to the launch of the original Xbox, I abstained from gaming in its entirety (minus Minesweeper) as if I were saving myself for a grand adventure that I needed to starve for first. Just a little bit. I waited thirteen and a half hours for that console outside a Best Buy, but rushing home and plugging that puppy in, I felt complete. Guess what? The PC gamers were out in force then too, somehow offended that I’d just bought this new piece of gaming technology. What?
Preferences aside – console gaming is becoming more like PC gaming and vice-versa all the time – one particular barb springs up around the launch of these new consoles that’s fundamentally off. People will tout the power of their gaming rigs, running tons of RAM and the fastest video cards, but they fail to realize that few games are actually designed for all the horsepower that goes into your computer. Even when you crank all the dials in that graphics panel, you’re not really taking advantage of your hardware in most instances, you’re just making more general-use components work harder. A few games will take advantage of it from time to time, but these are the exception, rather than the rule.
Console games, on the other hand, are all designed to take full advantage of the system’s hardware all the time, because it never changes and it’s reliable across however many tens of millions of units they sell. You make one version and you’re done. Launch PlayStation 4 and Next-gen Xbox games are going to look undeniably better than virtually ever PC game on the market by leagues. This advantage will slip over the years, but while the average PC will stay the same price, consoles will go down.
There’s absolutely no reason to ditch out on a console experience to defend your pride. You can – and it may be difficult to believe – integrate both styles of gaming into your life successfully. You can set that console up in your living room and plug in the surround sound easily. You can use that desktop to browse the web and then, on the side, you can load up some Dead Space and use an Xbox 360 controller if you’re more comfortable with that.
No one has to lose when new consoles come out.