Let the river of fanboy laced tirades begin to flow in 3…2…1…
There are some mysteries that will simply never die. Who really shot JFK? Did we actually walk on the moon? What magical vortex does my other sock get sucked into when drying my clothes? However, all these pale in comparison to the heated (and I might add passionate) arguments that are likely to abound when you pose one simple question…console or PC. It’s been known to break up friendships and to this day is still a hot button topic among gaming enthusiasts. Our advancements and emerging technologies have done nothing to settle the debate (in fact they’ve only fueled it further).
While it seems we have enjoyed a relatively calm period of cease fire since the next-gen’s console launch, one industry VIP decided to throw a bit of gas on the fire during a recent interview.
John Romero (whose credentials stretch back to the days of Doom and Wolfenstein) has an obvious bias towards his beloved PC. Rightfully so, as Doom can be credited for helping revolutionize the desktop gaming scene (and laying the foundation for what it is today). When speaking with one media outlet to promote his upcoming revamp of the classic franchise, Romero took a few jabs at our controller wielding brethren touting a variety of advantages of PC over console. "With PC you have free-to-play and Steam games for five bucks. The PC is decimating console, just through price…The problem with console is that it takes a long time for a full cycle. With PCs, it's a continually evolving platform, and one that supports backward compatibility, and you can use a controller if you want; if I want to play a game that's made in DOS from the '80s I can, it's not a problem. You can't do that on a console. Consoles aren't good at playing everything. With PCs if you want a faster system you can just plug in some new video cards, put faster memory in it, and you'll always have the best machine that blows away PS4 or Xbox One."
Obviously there are those who would argue the flip side of Romero’s coin, but in whose argument do the facts truly bare out? Let’s break it down quickly and see for ourselves shall we?
PC vs. Console – Pricing:
Point: There is no denying that PC titles cost less at the register. You’ll easily save anywhere between $10-20 per shot for many AAA titles, simply by picking up the desktop version. So why the bloated price tag when the same game is released on both platforms? The cost of porting is not cheap my friends (as the development originates on the PC to begin with anyway).
Counterpoint: Console users would scoff at the price difference between the two, touting the greater level of quality of first party titles vs. those found on the desktop. PC games tend to skew towards a specific kind of gamer, where console titles have more of a mass appeal. And the free-to-play element Romero refers to above is becoming just as prevalent on Xbox Live and PSN as its computer counterpart.
PC vs. Console – Technology:
Point: At its core, the PC is a chameleon in the hardware department. The middle of the home console’s life-cycle is usually the sweet spot where the PC’s technical advancements peak. Even though the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are pushing the envelope of high-fidelity visuals, we’re already seeing the PC starting to catch up (and will soon pull ahead). Also, they don’t have the glass-ceiling problem that consoles suffer from regarding new tech (IE: your Xbox or PlayStation will never change under the hood).
Counterpoint: Being able to swap out computer parts every other year is all well and good, if you can afford it. With both the Xbox and PlayStation providing extraordinary value at a reasonable price point, gamers are never going to run into a situation where their out-of-date video card is keeping them from playing the latest release. Plus, some computer components cost more than a brand new next-gen system!
PC vs. Console – Versatility:
Point: The PC offers such a wide variety of gaming options; they are almost too numerous to mention. Not only is keyboard and mouse gaming the preferred standard for many FPS fans, backwards compatibility is ALWAYS on the table. Having access to 30+ years of content right at your fingertips (all you need to do is pop in the disc and click install) is a huge advantage no home system can ever touch.
Counterpoint: While on-board backwards compatibility may have been just a passing fad of the last gen, new streaming services like PlayStation Now are making strides in completely revolutionizing how we access our digital content. Not only that, but I can throw a rock into a game store right now and knock an Xbox, PlayStation or even Wii game off the shelf that I’d likely have fun with. When it comes to the PC library, it’s 50/50 at best (and I’m being generous).
So there you have it. In one article I have single handedly solved the ultimate conundrum of which medium is better. Oh wait…you say I did none of those things? Yeah, you’re right. And that’s kind of the point. This is an unwinnable argument no matter which side you’re on. People have their favorites, which will never change. Each platform has its own unique advantages and disadvantages. Again, that will never change. All we can do is sit back and watch how our technology evolves to see where our paths truly lead us.
Who knows? Perhaps these estranged kin of home console and PC will one day cross paths in our never ending journey to achieve the ultimate in video gaming euphoria. As Optimus would say: “…until all are one.”