Game On or Game Over: Consoles vs PCs

Game On or Game Over: Consoles vs PCs


Microsoft versus Sony, Battlefield versus Call of Duty and Forza versus Gran Turismo. These are some of the rivalries that can get people talking about console wars. “Game On or Game Over” is your place to get inside the minds of Nicholas and Andy as they seek to find the true meaning of gaming and tackle some of gaming’s most controversial subjects. Both are award winning authors – although the awards haven’t been mailed or created yet — but trust them. Would they lie to you?

Nicholas: If there’s one thing that gamers like to do more than, well game, it’s argue. Such as when we discussed fanboys a few weeks ago, gamers always like to tell each other why their favourite console or franchise is better than the other person’s. Hell, even the introduction for our articles each week mentions Battlefield versus Call of Duty and Forza versus Gran Turismo. Usually I just pay it no attention, but there’s one comparison that gamers like to make that ALWAYS ruffles my feathers. That is of course, consoles versus PC.

It doesn’t matter whether the graphics of Battlefield 4 look better on a PlayStation than a Xbox, PC gamers always like to step in and tell you that they can’t match the capabilities of their multi-thousand dollar gaming rig. It annoys me right off! Now, we’re both console gamers, so I won’t start by asking you which of the two you prefer. Instead, I wanted to kick off this week’s article by asking – why? Why do you choose to play games on your home console rather than a PC?

IMG 023 Game On or Game Over: Consoles vs PCs

Andy: Actually, I’m going to answer this in a way you may not be expecting. There’s one big reason I’ve been a console gamer versus a PC gamer, and it’s due to the keyboard/mouse combination versus a controller. For whatever reason, my mind just doesn’t work like that. Put a controller in my hands and I’m reasonably good at pretty much any game, conversely, put a mouse and keyboard in my hands and I turn into an idiot and can’t even move in a straight line. So, it’s a pretty easy for me to answer that.

However, a friend of mine just helped me build a new computer from scratch – I know one of his hopes for helping was to try and draw me into PC gaming. Heck, he even bought me the Game of the Year edition of Fallout 3 on Steam, and anyone who has read these articles before knows that Fallout 3 would be the game to bring me to the dark side. I’ll admit, I have dabbled in some PC gaming since then. Even being a longtime console gamer I can see the allure and benefits of PC gaming. With a console there is only one version you see, there’s nothing to make it better or any possibility to enhance it. With a PC however, you can tweak things so that you get the best experience possible.

The one thing that does frustrate me is the whole ‘PC master race’ mindset that some (most) PC gamers have. When I talk about games and the amazing experiences I have had – it rarely, if ever comes up what system I play the games on. To be honest, I’m not really sure that it matters what we play a game on, but more that we are all enjoying that experience. So, before we get to the nitty gritty of the console vs PC war, you’ve been primarily a console gamer I believe - what makes you make that choice?

IMG 043 Game On or Game Over: Consoles vs PCs

Nicholas:  When I think about it, there are three main reasons why I favour home consoles over computers when it comes to gaming. The first is that I was simply late to the computer scene. While a lot of my friends owned PCs going through primary school, for our household, it wasn’t until I was in Year 8 at high school that we bought our first computer. By that time I’d been an established console gamer and because buying games was (and really still is) expensive, I choose simply to stick with my Nintendo Gamecube and my Mario games, than FPS and RTS titles on a computer.

The next reason, as you also mentioned, is because I’m a lot more comfortable playing games using a controller than a keyboard and mouse. I remember attending a preview event for Medal of Honor Warfighter and all the set-ups were on PCs. Now I’m average at shooters at best, but I’m even worse when using a computer, and boy did I suck when I was thrown into the match. I remember dying, and dying, and dying, and dying. In addition, since I’m mostly into racers, I find I can be a lot more precise using a control stick than using the directional pad (or the WSAD keys), so the controller is always going to be a better fit. I know you can buy third-party controllers for your computer, but as I said, when I’m already established as a console-gamer, I’d prefer to keep it that way.

The final reason, and arguably the most important reason as to why I’m a console gamer and not a PC gamer is cost. For me, it just seems absurd that I need to spend thousands of dollars to build a high-end gaming rig, only for it to become essentially out-dated a few months later by a new part which has just been released. I like to be a no-fuss kind of guy – I’d like to buy the hardware I need to play the game on, purchase the game, pop it in, and play it. Having to fiddle with graphics settings because my graphics card isn’t good enough and needing to worry about which parts I need to make sure my game can play Crysis is just far too much effort and money than I’m prepared to spend. I like that I can purchase an Xbox 360 and know that for eight years it will handle any game that’s released for it. There’s no settings to tinker with, it’s just pop-in and away I go.

After gaming for over fifteen years, you also just get used to doing things as you have been for most your life. I’ve been a console gamer from the very beginning, so really why would I change that now? For slightly better graphics? I’ve seen videos of people modding games like Grand Theft Auto IV and Need For Speed Most Wanted (2005) and I won’t lie, I’ve wanted to do that too, but it’s nothing major and nothing I can’t live without. There’s really just no significant incentive for me to ever switch to PC gaming as far as I’m concerned.

All that said though, let’s move on. While we saw it with the last generation consoles, there’s no denying that the new generation units are more than just gaming consoles, but serious multimedia devices too. Gone are the days where your console would just play your favourite shooter or racing title, but now they can stream movies from your computer, work as cable TV-boxes, and even be used to have Skype conversations with your mates from around the world. Do you think this has all come about because companies like Microsoft and Sony recognise that PC gamers have so much more functionality available to them, and to keep their share in the gaming market they had to step-up and provide those features and functions too?

IMG 033 Game On or Game Over: Consoles vs PCs

Andy: I want to address your third point before I jump any further. Prior to my friend helping me build a PC I would have agreed with you about the whole expensive/ being outdated out-of-the-box idea. However, my perception on that has changed. It’s really a give and take if you think about it. Yes, the initial cost of a good quality PC is a little spendy – all told I spent just under a grand on mine – but if you take your time and look, there are deals are out there. So, if you do look for deals and get a good quality build you can future-proof your PC for several years. Much like a console it will have a life span, but the thing is once that life span is over you can upgrade that PC for cheaper than it would cost than buying a brand new console. Lastly on this point, it’s hard to argue against the game sales that Steam has as well. I can’t lie, I have been jealous of some of the games/prices they get from time to time.

Your last point is actually one I have spent some time talking about to various people and my answer will surprise you. I don’t think the new consoles, and all the options they have is a direct result of the companies actively thinking about PCs. Rather, I think all those options, functions, apps and what- have-you that are included (available) now are a direct result of Microsoft and Sony wanting to make their hardware the bottleneck of your living room and media experience. It makes sense too - they just want a larger piece of that home entertainment pie. Before, if I wanted to play a game I turned on my Xbox and played – then if I wanted to watch TV I turned the Xbox off and turn another box on, changed inputs on the TV, and then found a channel. Now, it’s as simple as saying “Xbox watch TV”. It frees up space, cards and energy in your entertainment center. But, it also has to be a nice chunk of revenue for Microsoft and Sony as well. Both in terms of hardware sales and royalties/usage fees from the different apps and services.

To bring this conversation back towards the realm of PCs though, there has long been a love triangle between console gamers and PC gamers, then mixing in the whole Playstation versus Xbox and it just seems that every gamer hates every other gamer for some reason. If you have told me four months ago that I’d be writing a somewhat ‘pro’ PC piece for this article I’d have called you crazy, but I think that would have been more of me talking about something I didn’t fully understand. Sure, it’s very easy to spend stupid amounts of money on a PC (thankfully I had good guidance on what I really ‘needed). Look at it like this though - I spent a grand on a PC and then spent a grand on an Xbox One with accessories/games. If you look at strictly in terms of strictly cash spent they are dead-even. This makes me wonder, do you think some of the arguments against PC gamers or just PC game machines in general are from people, like me, who are basing their arguments on misperceptions and stuff they heard, rather than fact-based arguments?

IMG 061 Game On or Game Over: Consoles vs PCs

Nicholas: I think that’s a fairly safe assumption to make to be honest. I won’t lie, I haven’t actively researched how much it would cost to build a high-end gaming computer, so everything I’ve ever gone off is what friends have said or what I’ve read in conversations online.  That said though, you mentioned that it only cost you under $1K to build your computer – now I’m not sure if prices are just incredibly cheaper in the US than they are here in Australia, but I have a colleague who is going to spend almost $2.5K on a gaming computer for his son. Does that mean the computer has parts it doesn’t need? Not sure. But it’s these instances that I come across that completely turn me off ever building a gaming PC. I can spend $600 on an Xbox One or $1-2.5K for a PC, and for me, with games and peripherals aside (since I only need one controller), I know which of the two the cheaper alternative is. So yeah, while I don’t doubt that a lot of people’s opinions are based on misperceptions, I do think there is some truth in them.

You mentioned before the ‘PC master race’ mindset and this is something I’d like to discuss a little further now. We discussed fanboys at length in a recent article, and I mentioned how much I found them frustrating. That all said, Xbox and PS fanboys aside, I don’t think there’s any group I find more irritating than PC fanboys. I can recall getting comments from PC players saying “the next-gen consoles are finally catching up to computers” when the Xbox One and PS4 were originally announced, and it made my blood boil. With the new generation consoles having all this new multimedia functionality, with both running blu-ray technology, and with both boasting amazing visuals, do you think the gap between consoles and PC is now smaller than ever? In your opinion, do you think the PC master race will slowly become a thing of the past?

IMG 052 Game On or Game Over: Consoles vs PCs

Andy: To be honest, I’m not sure what your PC part prices are down there, but when I was building mine we used a website that tracked the price of parts so I could get the best deal possible on each one, and that alone saved me several hundred dollars. I do think there’s some truth to how expensive a gaming PC ‘can’ be, but at the same time it doesn’t ‘have’ to be as expensive either. If you go based on what you need, rather than on what you want, it that can lower the price considerably too.

In terms of a gap between console and PC gamers, I think some of that is a perceived difference and not really reality. What I mean is, for the most part each plays the same games, or at the very least, the same type of games. The one area where consoles do fall behind is MMO’s, but with Elder Scrolls Online coming out next year that seems to be something that will be shrinking as well. I do know if you really want to get a PC gamer riled up though when having the whole master race discussion, ask they how well Red Dead Redemption played on their computer. I honestly can’t think of any game on PC that I can’t play on a console. Shooters, racing, RPG, etc., I can all get on my console.

One main advantage PC gamers have is four simple letters – mods. They can do things with games that are amazing. Yet, if you don’t have the right PC parts, you can also get that wonderful message, “we’re sorry you’re PC does not meet the minimum requirements to run this game.” That’s something console gamers will never have to worry about – and like you mentioned before – console gaming really is a no fuss style of gaming. Of course, we wouldn’t do this article justice if we didn’t talk about the Steam Machine that started to be rolled out last week. In an interesting turn of events, for the most part, it’s a PC trying to emulate the benefits of a console. So, that begs the question then, what does it mean when a console is trying to be more like a PC in terms of power, but the PC (Steam Machine in this case) is trying to be more like a console in terms of functionality? Is the gap really as large as some would lead you to believe?

IMG 07 Game On or Game Over: Consoles vs PCs

Nicholas: I think that’s a really good question, and just in writing this article, I’m starting to think that the answer is now ‘no’. Like you said, there’s no doubt that there are certainly some advantages to being a PC gamer rather than a console gamer, but I think those advantages are starting to dwindle and the differences are becoming smaller and smaller. I mean sure, PC players might have that edge when it comes to graphics purely because they can upgrade the hardware in their gaming rigs where consoles remain with the same parts for essentially its entire lifecycle, but like I said before, I think we’re getting to a stage where increases in graphics are only going to be extremely minor and we just won’t be able to tell them apart that easy anymore.

I would love to have access to platforms like Steam on my Xbox One, but I think it’s just something that’s going to take time – and given Microsoft’s plans for the future (which unfortunately have been put on the backburner for now), I don’t think it’s going to be too long until we see a digital distribution system like Steam on our home consoles.

At the beginning of this article we both mentioned why we’re console gamers, but I’d be interested to know, to close off this week’s discussion, do you ever see yourself eventually moving to the dark side and becoming a PC gamer? Take the Steam Machine as an example. If they come packed with decent enough hardware, a controller which is easy enough to use and get used to, do you think that perhaps one day you’ll be going for your PC rather than your Xbox?

 Game On or Game Over: Consoles vs PCs

Andy: I think I’m going to sidestep your question and say no. There’s a certain draw and comfort that will probably keep me grabbing my console controller first. With that said I will also say in the future I see the platform of your choice not mattering anymore. It’s truly my belief that we will start to see games that the player base is spread out (Xbox and PC) but the interaction will take place in one central place. Then, the hardware won’t matter and we can all just get along and you know… play games and have fun.

That’s always been one of my biggest pet peeves about the gaming industry, as it’s built right now it automatically segregates gamers the second they decide ‘what’ they are going to play games on, as we’ve both talked about in this article. As the technology increases and the gaps between hardware shrinks, it only makes sense that the segregation will start to dwindle as well. If you think about it the more people playing a game, the better for that game. If I could play with friends that have PCs or even PS3/4 (heck Xbox 360) it would be that much more fun and would keep people playing. In my opinion that’s just one of the natural evolution steps that gaming needs to start considering. I think the hardware is there, or should be there soon, it’s only matter of time, and then it just won’t matter what you play your games on. At the end of the day that’s how it should be. As Dan Amrich says “Play what makes you happy.” It shouldn’t matter what we play our games on really, if you’re happy then that’s all that matters.

Tune in next time for the next instalment of Game On or Game Over. If you have any ideas for our next article, feel free to contact Andy or Nicholas on Twitter.

About the Author
Nicholas Simonovski

Events & Racing editor for Stevivor.com. I'm a fan of all things cars, gaming, and Pokémon. I used to be an angrier person, but I'm a lot calmer now. Oh, and I own a Mazda RX8 too!

  • HamishL

    So, this article frustrates me a bit.
    Firstly, it’s quite biased, which is understandable given the strong pedigree of console gaming you undoubtedly both have, but I feel like you haven’t really tackled the issue too much.
    Now, I’ve been a console gamer since I was….young. Too young probably. Only this year did I do away with my barely functional laptop and buy a decent gaming PC. I too spent about $1k on my rig, and am pretty damn pleased with it. IT makes all my games look shiny. I’d played PC games (just) on my laptop for years, and been to LANS and such for just as long, and so I’ve had quite a bit of experience in both areas. #humblebrag
    My point is, they are pretty different playing fields. I’ve had so much fun on my PC that I could never have had on a console. Games like League of Legends, Dota 2, Heroes of Newerth, WoW (all of which you CAN’T get on a console) have provided a continuous flow of “good times”, not to mention Counter Strike: Source which has consumed ~500 hours of my life to date.
    Then there is the flip side. Games like Halo, CoD and various others which I prefer on console for the “playing-with-friends” atmosphere.

    Point is, they’re both VERY different areas of play, both equally fantastic in their way. You’ve missed a pretty good opportunity here to be a positive step in the PC vs Console argument, and instead seemed to have gone with the Console is better track. Which is fine. That’s your opinion.
    Mine is that this could have been slightly less biased.

    tl;dr – I think you missed an opportunity here.

    • Andy Gray

      Hamish,

      I don’t think I ever said which one is better. Instead I said they both have their positives and both have their areas where they may not be as accessible and could do better. I even said at the very end of my response ‘Play what makes you happy’.

      I’d love to see all gamers come together instead of, like I said, being automatically segregated based on hardware. The point of these Game On Or Game Over articles is for Nicholas and I to have a conversation about gaming related topics and – hopefully – have discussions with readers (just like this) :-)

      There is no right or wrong answer, we all have opinions thankfully Nicholas and I have a venue to share ours and hopefully be able to interact with others about them.

      • HamishL

        I agree man, they both definitely have a place. I guess I just felt PC gaming was a little under represented here.

        There are games which I would never get on PC, these tend to be story games or games which I want more social multiplayer in (AC4, Halo, any RPG). That’s not saying I don’t like social PC gaming in games like LoL, but it’s not my preference.

        I really didn’t mean to come off as a dick in my last post, so I hope you’ll forgive me if I did.

        I’d like to see companies like EA give gamers the option of purchasing a game across multiple systems. For instance, my PC is pretty good, and could run BF4 very, very well. I got it and Premium on my Xbone, though.
        I’d would LOVE Ea if they gave me an Origin version as well, sadly that seems unlikely. To see companies do stuff like that would be a huge step forward for gaming. I mean, they’ve already got $140 out of me, they’re not getting any more.
        Surely they could realise that and give us the option to have a “multi-platform account”. Heck, if it cost $10 I’d get it, an they’d have more money out of me than they would otherwise.

        • Andy Gray

          Naw man I didn’t think you came across as a dick, more passionate than anything which is good!

          I think both Nicholas and myself would be the first to admit that we’re not PC gamers. Although, with this new rig I am trying to start. I’m not sure I’ll ever jump off that cliff though. That’s why I tried to bring the conversation around to perception and stigmas. Which I think we discussed fairly well. From our perspectives as console gamers.

          That’s one thing people jump to on a couple of these article. (just generalizing – not directed at you) “You should have brought in for this one.” But, that’s not what we’re trying to do. We’re just shooting for straight up conversation and I have never altered my view just to write something.

          Every one of these we’ve done has been my opinion unaltered. Which creates discussions like this. :-)

          With that said, the last part of your statement above… we may have to steal that from you and do a topic on it, if you don’t mind. ;-)

          • HamishL

            Yeah go nuts :-)
            It’d be great if it got demand for it going. Surely if we ask we shall receive.

            Nicholas says that the advantages of PC gaming are dwindling, and I don’t really think that’s true.
            Sure, graphically there is a coming together between consoles and PCs, but there are still a lot of other advantages, a big one being LARGELY free gaming.
            None of this Xbox Live or Plus nonsense. Some things do remain subscription based, of course, but majority isn’t especially games through Steam.

            I think, for me at least, the days of picking one side and sticking to it are long gone. I mean, I’ve been a console gamer since I was about 4, and had a Playstation of some description for about 14 years.
            My first foray into Next Gen however was the XBone. The days of vehement defence of one platform are gone, for me at least. Now I just want what’s best.

  • Barry

    While the initial price point for a computer may be higher than a console, games on PC are much cheaper… I can pre-order Watch Dogs for just $32.76. and depending on where you get it, that $32.76 price is around $15-$30 cheaper than the console versions.

    I paid about $2000 for my computer 6-7 years ago and over that period I’ve probably saved $3000-$4000 on games for the PC compared to their console counterparts. Don’t get me wrong, I own both a PS3 and Xbox 360 for their exclusives… but that’s really the only reason I own them.

  • Adam James

    I think my biggest reason for playing PC is that all my friends do. I like being able to sit on Steam while sailing around the world in Assassin’s Creed, and have a casual conversation with another friend who is playing Rogue Legacy. I love the prices of things on steam, especially with sales, as well as the convenience of being able to buy something on a whim, rather than driving down to the shops to pick up a game (and hope they have it in stock). I know the new consoles have got more options for online purchases, but being able to buy Steam codes from a huge range of sites that might be having sales is great for me.
    I play most of my games with an xbox controller as well, just plugged in to the front of my computer. I couldn’t imagine having to play everything with only a mouse and keyboard, so I understand where you are coming from with that, though, there is definitely the option of buying a controller, and I would say the vast majority of games have the option of using one now too.
    I only spent $1800 on my computer, in Australia, and I think it’s more on the high end of things, but I’m hoping it will last me 4 to 5 years before I need to replace anything (other than maybe adding a hard drive). I noticed that you said that you can buy one console and know it will get you through the entire generation, but honestly, I don’t know many people that would still have a functional launch console from the last gen. They have a failure rate as well, and a shelf life. Most people will have bought more than one console (judging from what I’ve heard, feel free to correct me) if they play exclusively on console. But the biggest reason I play PC is because all of my friends do. I like sitting at a desk and having a drink next to me and two screens (one for TV or movies or guides or tips or internet or anything, one for my game).
    That said, it’s so frustrating when companies neglect PC gamers. Things like NBA 2k14 (or any 2k really, but this one is so much more pronounced) being released in it’s previous gen form on PC, rushed out, even missing features, instead of porting the next gen version, which I feel like most computers could handle, or giving the option of getting the next gen version or previous gen version. So now if I want to play NBA 2k14, I have to buy a PS4, sit on my bed, and play without being able to chat with my friends. And that’s a little frustrating.
    That’s just my two cents as a PC gamer, and why I prefer PC over consoles.

  • http://attackongaming.com/ Gaming Admiral

    I know I’m late to this, but as mentioned in the piece, building a decent gaming rig can be done on the cheap. If you’re interested in only the gaming aspect of owning a PC, you could get away with a ~$800AUD build that would last 3-4 years. I’d recommend upgrading the GPU at 2, but it’s unnecessary.