The age old debate that won’t go away and, on paper, shouldn’t even be a debate. A PC built for gaming can easily outpace the latest consoles. But is raw power all that matters? Do huge FPS numbers always mean a better experience? Here is my take on this topic.
Well lets dig in and talk about that in as open of a mind as we can muster. Both platforms have their strengths and weaknesses and I know that I will be in the minority with what I feel is one of PC’s biggest weaknesses, but more on that later. To me, gaming is all about the experience you have with the game and the platform really shouldn’t matter. I also don’t game in tournaments where frame counting and refresh rates and such can come into play. However platform does matter to me, kind of. I grew up with a PC in the house where I could play basic games on it. If I wanted to play a more in depth game I would turn to the NES I had. The NES was my introduction to console gaming and at the time I thought it was the best thing in the world. I was also a kid.
But as I grew up I graduated to the SNES, Genesis, N64, Playstation and so on. You name it I had it as far as consoles went and they saw well over 90% of my gaming. I only played games on the PC occasionally and if it weren’t for Lucasarts and their adventure games I probably would have used my PC even less. Of course Duke Nukem 3D kept me at my PC a lot as well. I spent hundreds of hours with the level editor making my own expansions. Later on I got The Sims and Diablo but the PC still never took over as my gaming machine of choice.
Looking back the reason I think I never latched on to the PC as a real gaming alternative was that as games became more complicated I found that I preferred to use a gamepad. At the time I could not find a PC gamepad that I liked, even the Microsoft Sidewinder didn’t feel right to me at the time. I even went as far as getting Diablo again when it came out for the PlayStation because a keyboard and mouse just don’t feel like gaming controls to me. I immediately realized my mistake though as that was an awful port. So I always just gravitated to the consoles. Plus, here were these magical boxes where the sole purpose was playing games so that had to be better right? That was my thinking anyway. So for years I ignored the PC.
Flash forward and one of my big problems was solved. You could use a Xbox 360 controller with a PC. My interest was sparked but I didn’t yet embrace it. I was intimidated by video cards. I had no idea which one to go with! I finally just sat down and did the research, built myself a PC geared towards gaming and fired up Steam. I bought a few games and played them on my PC and had fun. But part of the magic was lost. I couldn’t put my finger on it but something didn’t feel the same. Sure it was on a smaller screen since I didn’t want to lug my PC over to my tv when I wanted to play a game but once I’m immersed in the experience that no longer matters.
Then it hit me. Downloads. I don’t know why, but I tend to not play games when I download them as opposed to buying a physical copy. I still spend the money, but when I look at what I want to play it’s in a list as opposed to me looking at all my cases lined up on display. I didn’t realize it, but apparently that matters to me.
My PC is also a multifunctional tool. I use it for a lot of stuff. My PS4, for example, can also do a lot of other things but it’s mainly a gaming machine. I can pick up a game, literally, pop it in and play it. Easy. No drivers or other issues that may pop up. It just plays the game. And that makes a difference. I’m in my 30s and have been a gamer nearly all my life and there is still something magical about cracking open a new game, inserting it into the console and parking yourself in front of the TV.
You can buy PC games on disc as well. In fact I do that. If I buy a game on steam and really like it, I will order a physical copy online. The reason I do it that way is because finding physical copies of PC games near me is hard to do. And I honestly don’t mind the added cost as in the end, I’m happy…and physical copies are usually dirt cheap to order after the game has been out for a bit. So that solves one issue but it’s still my PC, a tool.
So maybe it’s a mental block but I prefer the console experience. Yes, the PC is faster. Yes, MANY people will argue that the keyboard and mouse is superior. Yes, physical copies of games, though not as plentiful, are still available for major title releases. But I prefer the console experience. It’s how I grew up and it feels much more intimate than the PC. New console releases instantly release my inner child. That said I recently upgraded my PC and have a large library of games on Steam I intend to play through. But my consoles will usually get first dibs on games. If I miss a game on console and Steam has a big sale, then the PC will get it’s turn…as long as it has controller support of course.
So there you have it. That’s my take on the topic. I use both platforms, I have my preference and personal reasons why, even while recognizing certain advantages. Sometimes the experience, even if it’s made up due to memories, trumps technical superiority every time for me. But at the end of the day, as long as someone is engaged in this wonderful hobby and happy with their platform of choice, regardless of why, then that’s good enough.