Five Reasons PC Gaming is the Future

PCs are the future of video games, and you might need shades

With all the talk about the new consoles on the horizon from Microsoft and Sony, what’s been a little lost in the shuffle is that from all indications, PCs built last year were already more powerful than either console will be when they finally reach us this holiday season. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg; personal computers are the future of gaming, and here’s a look at a few of the reasons why.

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5. Upgradeability

Unlike consoles, which are locked pieces of technology from the moment you buy them until the moment they’re retired, PCs are modular and upgradeable. A PC you bought in 2005 when the Xbox 360 launched would likely be a completely different animal today, while that 360 is, hardware-wise, exactly the same device.

PCs offer the ability to swap in parts and keep current with advances in technology, which means that PC gamers can stay on the cutting edge while consoles slip further and further into obsolescence. PCs are ever poised to take advantage of new technology, or devices with functionality that didn’t even exist when the consoles launched, making them flexible, future-proof platforms. Which leads us to our next point:

4. Adaptability

Not only are PCs ready on the hardware level to accept upgrades or new pieces of technology that perhaps hadn’t even been envisioned at the launch of a console, they’re also open platforms that put the choice of services and software squarely in the hands of the user. Compared to the selection of third party apps and services available on either console, the selection on the PC looks practically infinite.

Anyone with a home computer and an internet connection has about a billion options for streaming movies, social media, browser-based or free downloadable games, or communicating across the web. It’s not just that these services are available, it’s that there are countless options for each, making the PC truly:

3. An All-in-one Platform

The way Microsoft is positioning the Xbox One as an all-in-one media device just serves to remind us (as Alienware was quick to point out) that we already have a device like that: our computer. We’ve been able to watch TV, play games, and Skype with friends on the same machine for years now, so Microsoft’s attempts to make it seem novel come off as a bit silly.

The PC already lets you tab through applications without interrupting them, or resize apps so that you can view multiple streams of data at once. While it’s cute that the consoles might finally be catching up with some of this functionality, it’s something that PC owners have taken for granted for years. PCs are our all-in-one multimedia engines, they’ve long been capable of attaching to our televisions or accepting input from game controllers, so the likelihood of a console supplanting them as all-in-one devices is extremely slim.

2. MMOs

PCs are now and will almost certainly continue to be the number one home for massive online games in persistent worlds. Much though Sony and Microsoft might be eager to muscle their way into this space, there are already hundreds, if not thousands, of MMOs available on the PC, many of them completely free of charge and extremely high quality.

Alongside a growing number of triple-A games that launch on the PC day and date with their console counterparts, the vast array of online games on PC is truly staggering, and to even begin to reach those numbers consoles would have to be much more open platforms, something Sony and Microsoft would never let happen. MMOs will never be available in that quantity on consoles, and PCs also deliver multiple possible control schemes that make online games of different types more viable: strategy MMOs playable with keyboard and mouse alongside action MMOs best played with a gamepad.

1. Steam

The hands down, number one reason that PC gaming is the future, however, is right in front of our eyes. The future is already here, and it’s called Steam. For years now Steam has been casting aside the old physical media, brick-and-mortar conventions of gaming’s past and ushering PC gamers into a digital future where we don’t have to leave the comfort of our couches to purchase new games, where scratched and broken disks are a thing of the past.

Steam has opened the door to new business models and instant sales by eliminating the cost of manufacturing and transporting physical copies of games; it has broadened the marketplace and encouraged new voices through its Greenlight initiative; and it has accelerated our rush towards the future with programs like Big Picture Mode and the Steam Marketplace. Steam is yet another reason, maybe THE reason, that the future of gaming is on PCs, and it’s looking very bright.


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Author
Alan Bradley
Getting played by video games since the '80s. Host of the Pictures Changing Podcast (pictureschanging.blogspot.com) and notorious raconteur.