PC and console homogenization, are we headed towards a unified gaming world?
PC gamers and console gamers have been divided since the dawn of time -- okay, that may be slightly dramatic. The two sides have been formed ever since the option presented itself, between those who primarily game on PCs and those who prefer the console. With Microsoft embracing cross-platform gaming, that divide may be on the mend. The dream of true cross-platform gaming is not a current reality, but soon the Console Crusaders and PC Master Race may merge into a mighty group forever known as “Gamers”.
There are multiple factors that may be foretelling a time when everyone can throw down regardless of platform. The announcement of cross-platform support by Microsoft, as previously mentioned, is one sign, and the announcement/confirmation of new consoles already in development is further proof (Project Scorpio, Nintendo NX, and PlayStation Neo). These new consoles may not be a replacement for their brethren, but could be offered as a more powerful, more expensive option for those wanting a higher graphical quality. Similar in the way that PCs can currently be customized for quality and performance.
Development of cross-platform peripherals and systems is already underway. Items such as the Steam Link, Razer Turret, and rumored official PC adapters for PlayStation 4 controllers show that the separate platforms are beginning to realize that both side’s grass may in fact be the same shade of green.
If the merger were to actually happen, there are a couple of obstacles to overcome. Proof lies within the control scheme difference between both parties. Keyboard and mouse has been proven to provide a higher amount of accuracy in shooters as is shown with Blizzard’s decision to apply separate balance patches for PC and console. Likewise, Driving games, Third-Person Action games, and Platformers tend to play more smoothly with a controller -- driving games on PC also have a large pool for racing wheels to choose from. Devices such as the aforementioned Razer Turret allow for keyboard and mouse controls from the comfort of your couch, and similarly, existing controller support on PCs allows for customizable controls for that platform.
Another obstacle manifests itself in a major way with cost. Many players choose consoles for their gaming platform due to the lower entry cost barrier. While that initial cost may be lower than that of a PC, some, if not more, money is eaten up through software costs. Bear with me as I present a word problem involving math that will give you flashbacks to the dreaded standardized tests. Let’s say that the average player purchases between 5-10 games a year for their console, and that the average lifespan of a console is 6 years. Over those 6 years, players will spend between $1,800 and $3,600 on games alone. PCs have the higher cost upon entry, as a decent system can run in the ballpark of $1500. However, PC users have a plethora of online game sales that allow for cheap purchases of current games. This common price reduction makes both platforms cost roughly the same amount over that time period leaving that initial purchase price the only real difference.
A marriage between PCs and consoles can only benefit the players because developers will no longer have to compromise quality for performance. This will be due to the fact that if everyone has access to multiple tiers of hardware performance, the graphical ceiling that currently exists will no longer be in place. The bittersweet realization that the gameplay shown at conferences such as E3 will be downgraded for release will be a thing of the past. Graphical settings will be tweaked, client side, based upon your purchased system’s hardware be it console or PC.
There may be a time when there is no longer a divide between console and PC, and that time may be rapidly approaching. Only good things can come from bringing gamers together, so let’s keep our fingers crossed for that day to come sooner rather than later.