Tim Sweeny, founder of Epic Games (the studio behind Gears of War 3, Fortnite, and Paragon) in an interview with Glixel stated that “all of the retail console sales data this holiday season indicated that the console market is going through a really significant downturn.” His reasoning is that “what we're really facing is that young new gamers aren't going into consoles… Young people are growing up in mobile. They're playing games in different ways, usually shorter play sessions spread throughout the day. It's not the kind of experience where you sit down for four hours and play a game. And the gamers who are getting into that are moving more and more into PC.” I understand where he's coming from, especially when he talks about the cost of making games and how hard it is to get a profit margin. However at the same time, the lack of sales is because the games are so expensive and at that point, it doesn't matter if you have a console or PC because both versions are equally steep in price.
In addition, consoles are not going down in sales, as the PS4 is at 50 million since 2013. But any reason someone might not buy a console is a far more personal choice than anything to do with popularity. These kids with their PC gaming computers and smartphones are just not into consoles, as Sweeny says, but let me stop him right there. First of all, most “young people” can't afford a PC on their own, much less a console. Either their parents are buying it or they're saving up for the next decade to get one. If it's parents, than the decision for a gaming PC versus a console lies in how much the parents are willing to spend. My parents, had I insisted on one, probably would have went the whole nine yards for a PC. My wife's parents, however, would have gone for the console because it's half the price or less.
And saving up for a PC on your own takes a lot of time. However, the reason I am doing that now and didn't bother when I was younger is because of the accessibility of a PC. Sweeny is correct in this case. The PC is far more compatible with almost all of the most popular games than any one console can be. Steam has a vast library that measures equally with a console, or above and beyond in the case of indie games.
And you know what else is expensive? Making and buying games for the console. That Final Fantasy XV has to sell 10 million to break even is scary. Increasingly high-quality graphics, rendering, and engines make it expensive to make a game and in turn, to buy one. The problem comes when too many games are released at once, like last holiday season. To name a few, there was The Last Guardian, Dead Rising 4, and Titanfall 2, Battlefield One, and Final Fantasy XV. Most people can only afford one and likely have to wait awhile before they can buy the second one. It makes for a very hard decision, to choose only one when you love so many.
As most of you already know, being a hardcore gamer is probably the most expensive hobby out there. If consoles were on a decline, it would be because of the cost of making and buying games. But they're not on the decline and anyone's preference for a PC over a console has nothing to do with any kind of trend in the younger population. It's entirely to do with personal preference, affordability, and accessibility. I'm a games journalist; I need one. My sister lives in the middle of some dense forest, she doesn't. Personal preference, not a trend.