"PC Gamer FTW" : A Valid Statement?
In a few months, I will turn 23 years old. I am on the cusp of bidding farewell to my super-youth, and am now bordering into the territories of becoming a “not-as-young-as-you-think-you-are” adult. I cannot escape the unforgivable force of time. Nor can I hold back the tide. So I must learn to maintain an acceptable level of maturity, and approach a sensible attitude. But debates like this make me feel like the only one who's trying..
PC vs. Console
In the world of gaming, it is seemingly impossible to avoid the immature “PC mazt0r race l3375” debate (that’s “PC Master Race elites” for the online gaming illiterate), which undeniably sees torrents of “holier than thou” purists creep from out of the woodwork at any utterance of “next-gen,” “Xbox,” or “Playstation ‘X/Y/Z’”. Be it on forums, Facebook, Twitter, or in the apparent safety of your own home, these folk have a global network devoted to rallying a call to arms at any time that such words are fired into cyberspace. They work in packs, but with a herd mentality. They cannot appreciate the concept of console gaming, because it is not what they do – they cannot relate.
I myself am predominantly a PC gamer. And I vouch for it over console gaming, I really do. Games are cheaper, generally more readily available (although we suffer at the hands of ‘exclusive’ titles that stubbornly refuse to be put out onto the PC format), and there is an archive of over 20 years’ worth of titles to choose from. That is, however, when Windows 7/8 is willing to cooperate; and isn’t feeling more non-complicit than a group of Tea Party associates being invited to a musical rendition of Brokeback Mountain.
But if you are little more than a casual gamer, there aren’t many more perks to a flashy PC versus a current-gen console. Yes, consoles are seemingly overpriced, and yes, the greedy folk at Xbox demand that you pay for your online gaming experience. But if you want to play games relatively infrequently and recreationally - whilst lounging on your comfy sofa - maybe PC gaming is not for you. And that’s certainly not a bad thing.
I sometimes envy the couch-cosy consolers, as I coldly peer into their friend-filled houses on lonely walks in the dark, with a firing rage of animosity in my eyes. For I, too, used to be a console gamer. But now it seems, I cannot be happy amongst my Xbox 360 companions. For when I count less than 2,073,600 pixels on the screen, or my brain informs me that the game is running below 50 frames per second, I storm out of the room in disgust; flipping over tables and “rage quitting” my social life. This is obviously crudely hyperbolic and facetious. But in all honesty, I have to somehow keep you enticed when discussing frames per second and screen resolutions.
"Let that guy leave.. he's a dick anyway"
“The Next Generation”: Some Key Points
The term “next-generation,” at least in my view, is beginning to lose significance. When you compare games such as Battlefield 3 and 4 on the PC, the graphical difference is certainly noticeable, but not as significant as “next-gen” would imply semantically. Now I appreciate that the “generation” itself is related to the console generation. But as PC titles, the difference in the two games is not the jump that you’d expect for such a grandiose term. And even still, the jump from PS3/360 to PS4/One has probably been the least significant generational transition to date in videogaming history. In all honesty, I was surprisingly underwhelmed by the difference in graphics for certain identical titles from the last generation on my PC.
Since the launch of the PS4 and Xbox one, the console/PC gap has been narrowed down – at least for the time being. Consoles are now on par with mid-range PC rigs (for an admittedly higher price). In regards to appearance and frame rates, they're certainly impressive. Disparities in graphical quality between consoles and PCs has been vastly diminished, and will remain similar for at least a couple of years. Although computer elitists secretly loathe this reality, it is an absolute positive for any PC gamer. Why? Because of my next point.
New games are now going to head into the (cue a booming “Unreal Tournament” voice-over and a flamboyant flashing laser show) “NEXT-GENERATIONNNNN” with full force. Now developers that are focusing on console gaming can graphically deliver to PC gamers alike. To make a face-palm worthy “cliché cop movie” analogy, the console is like the PC's awkward partner. The bumbling incompetent detective that the PC is reluctantly paired up with because it’s on treacherous ground (“you’re on your last warning lieutenant!” etc. *sigh*). The console is always messing up one thing or another – the cause for demand of minorly-tweaked, annually released video games that are repeatedly sold like cheap nude lady calendars. Or being the culprit for a slew of monotonous modern war first-person shooters (in fairness both examples aren't necessarily mutually exclusive). But when it comes to delivering on what’s important, it somehow saves the day. I mean, how many visually fantastic games do you really think would be developed for PC gamers, were it not for the console gaming demographic that paves the way for such huge investments?
Now I am not saying that consoles are the sole reason for a thriving gaming community, or even that graphics are a number one priority in any game. But the latter is essentially the argument submitted by PC ‘elitists’ — so I’m throwing a curve ball right back.
There are approximately 65 million Steam users to date (as of October 2013), which is a fairly accurate representation of the PC gaming community. If you spend any time playing standard titles, you probably use a Steam account. However, with Xbox live (48 million) and PlayStation Network (110 million) combined, there are nearly 100 million more ‘usernames’ to sell to. I say ‘usernames’ intentionally, as of course, there will be crossovers of the same people across all three gaming networks (I for one have made at least three accounts on Xbox Live, in order to claim free gold subscription months). If we were to assume that all the combined users were potential customers, and that there was in fact a total of 223 million, then the 65 million Steam users would only accommodate for little more than a quarter of the mainstream gaming market.
But despite the inaccurate user figures, even in terms of sales both the 360 and PS3 have sold around 80 million consoles each. The Xbox figures are admittedly confusing, given that the member numbers are half of that of console purchases. Presumably it does not accommodate for offline users, or those re-purchasing the same console. And although it does not directly link to PC gaming, the fact that Nintendo Wii has sold nearly 101 million consoles puts into perspective the scale of console consumerism.
Money (that’s what they want)
I appreciate that it is not nice to acknowledge the truth, which is that money drives this industry. And it has admittedly become more this way in the past 7 years or so. But like any thriving artistic industry, it must have its villains in order to exist. Be it music or film alike, the show is run by profit margins and cold calculated business. Someone will always gladly take the position of being ruthless where money is to be made. And as games get more complex, they become more expensive to create.
Considering that the price of video games has maintained at a steady level of around £40 for at least 15 years (at least in the UK), it is a genuine wonder to me how modern console titles haven’t hiked up in price to £60. Perhaps a growing international gaming market, and new features such as downloadable content, have inadvertently helped us dodge a bullet. I appreciate that all this makes me sound like a corporate whore - but I’m just trying to make light out of a somewhat upsetting reality.
So, as a final note, let’s put our differences aside. Both console and PC gamers need to learn to live and let live. If you want that extra bit of glitz n’ glamour in your visual experience, go with 1080p maxed out settings, and fork out that extra cash for a computer. But don’t be bitter towards those who happily enjoy the gaming experience on an “inferior” console. It is not your enemy, but your ally — your awkward partner.
Membership and console figures acquired from these websites:
"Battlefield 4" header from the Kitguru Facebook page
Tea party banner : http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-BjaNVdwyoV4/TkA1XM997oI/AAAAAAAADyM/1cPGO58H8bY/s1600/Tea+party+better+than+angry+mob.jpg
Happy gamers : https://www.bigquestionsonline.com/sites/default/files/styles/discussion-main/public/essays/gamers.jpg?itok=njzf3v0a
Crysis 2 comparison : http://www.masterofgames.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/PC-vs-COnsoles.jpg
"Man With Money": http://thumbs.dreamstime.com/z/cheerful-man-money-14924479.jpg