I read this article on pcworld.com by Matt Peckham on “15 Reasons PC Gaming Beats All” and felt I needed to respond to it. Some of the items were downright wrong especially items 7 and 11 on his list. If you haven’t already check out Matt’s arguments then come back and compare my responses.
Now I was a long time Hardcore PC gamer and in the past couple of years I started to sour on it when I realized how badly components, constant upgrades and time spent tweaking, troubleshooting and repairing was hitting my pocketbook and gaming time.
I’ve since dumped my gaming PC switched to a MacBook Pro for my primary computer and all my gaming is restricted to the 3 current generation consoles (Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii)
Read on for the full list
- 1. Consoles are buy and forget. Sure you might buy a few extra controllers but when was the last time you needed to upgrade the ram in your 360 or swap out the video card in your PS3. When you buy your gaming console you’re buying something that should be relatively static for the lifetime of the machine which for a console is usually about 5 years if you buy it around when it’s releasaed. Nvidia has had a video card generation a year for the past 5 years (6000’s 7000’s 8000’s 9000’s 260’s) Full list of Nvidia revisions
- 2. Consistency The same game won’t perform the same on any 2 PC’s. Due to differences in background processes. OS Versions and Patch levels, Malware, Viruses, hardware differences, etc. The only external factor that may come into play with a console is heat. (Make sure your entertainment center is well ventilated people)
- 3. Cost The Xbox 360 Elite is $397.63, PS3 80 GB is $399.83 at my local Wal-Mart both will play every game made for them at the highest resolution and the highest detail levels smoothly. By comparison A current high end video card alone ( an EVGA E-Geforce GTX 280 ) is $579.46 at my local Computer place now you still need hard drives a Motherboard and CPU, Memory, power supply, DVD drive, Windows License etc. And keep in mind if you want your games to run smoothly at the highest detail levels you’ll need to upgrade this in a year or two. Sure games are $10-$20 cheaper but is it worth the hardware costs and constant need to upgrade.
- 4. Relax from the couch Sure a lot of geeks like me have a computer in the living room. But most people don’t nor do they want to. Lets face it gaming from the couch is far more comfortable than sitting down at the computer desk. You could wire your computer up to the TV and switch back and forth from your monitor to the TV but why add the extra step I mean I just turn on my console and I’m ready to go. As for media there’s not much now that I can’t stream from the computer in my office to my 360 or my PS3. See my post on how to setup an Xbox 360 media server in Linux
- 5. The keyboard and mouse were never designed with gaming in mind I know there’s a lot of diehard FPS guys saying the keyboard and mouse are the only way to play FPS’s and a few years ago I would have agreed with you but truly modern gamepads (XB360, PS3 and even the Wiimote) are vastly superior they put way more intuitive functionality at your fingertips and buttons remain fairly consistent accross most games unlike some of the archaic keyboard button mappings I’ve seen on some PC games. My expierience is that the Keyboard/Mouse preference is more of a “This is what I learned first” type of preference once I gave up on PC gaming and moved to consoles almost exclusively I grew far more proficient with the gamepad even in FPS titles. “You must unlearn what you have learned”
- 6. Consoles aren’t over encumbered with secondary functions (Yet) Consoles exist primarily for one purpose and that’s to play games. I know I know the current generation have media playback and some internet stuff built in but honestly that’s all secondary (Trust me no ones buying an Xbox 360 just to get on MSN) PC’s are a jack of all trades and a master of none gaming certainly isn’t the focus of the Windows OS dev team it’s making a (hopefully) stable OS that can browse the web get email, write documents, edit spreadsheets and edit home videos, etc, etc, etc. Consoles aren’t encumbered by “Legacy Support” in the same way that PC’s are, meaning they don’t have to support thousands of hardware peripherals, old standards or even architectures The Xbox 360 uses a triple Core PowerPC (Yes similar to the old G5 Apple computers) CPU whereas the original Xbox used a 733Mhz P3 processor which used a completely different instruction set (The CPU’s speak different languages so to speak) PC’s still haven’t been able to complete the transition to 64 bit from 32 bit yet and it’s been almost 7 years since the introduction of AMD’s 64 bit Opteron and According to the Vista Team blog only about 20% of Vista users (ignoring all the XP users) are using the 64 bit version of the OS. Being able to wipe the slate clean as consoles do with the next revision affords huge advantages.
- 7. Consoles don’t go kaplooey like PC’s go kaplooey When was the last time your PS3 got infected with malware? Do you remember that time you had all that trouble installing those Video drivers that kept crashing your Xbox 360? Of course you don’t. This is for a few reasons. the first being that unless you do some hacking of your own only approved software runs on your console this closes a lot of vectors that malware or viruses “could” get in. And secondly debugging software issues is a hell of a lot easier when you have a limited number of hardware configurations. Everyone that writes software for an Xbox 360 or a PS3 knows exactly what hardware and system software are going to be running on that console. How many millions of hardware/driver/OS/softwre combinations can you have on a PC? It make testing and eliminating conflicts between specific drivers/hardware/software a lot harder when you have no idea what people are going to have on their computer.
- 8. You still have a PC just a cheaper one Just because you do your gaming on a console doesn’t mean you’re going to toss you computer in the bin. But it means you’ll be able to spend a lot less on your next PC, or maybe if you have the money to burn be able to drop that excuse for not buying an Apple Computer instead of a Windows Computer. Again keeping your PC upgraded for top notch gaming is EXPENSIVE so instead of upgrading your CPU and Video Card every year or two just buy a computer that does all the other stuff you need it to and use that Gaming PC premium cash to buy yourself an Xbox 360 or a PS3. Go buy an ultra moblie like an Acer Aspire One or an Asus EeePC so you can keep it next to you on the couch while your playing games on your console.
- 9. Console Games are completely unbound Where else are you going to find innovations like the WiiMote, The best Party games on the planet like Rock Band or Guitar Hero, Xbox Live’s ubiquitous in-game Voice communication and party system and consoles are one of the places where split screen gaming is still alive.
- 10. Consoles are the New heart of creativity in games With incredible titles from independent or small developers like Braid, PixelJunk Eden. And with the Xbox LIVE community Games having just launched this creative community is going to grow exponentially over the coming months.
- 11. The Total cost of ownership of a console is lower Keep with me while I do the math. A capable gaming computer would cost around $1000 (off the shelf, more if you start customizing) now if we estimate one game a month at $50 that’s $600 for a year of games so we arrive at a total of $1600 and keep in mind that you’ll be upgrading this computer before the console if you want to keep new games running at full detail settings but that aside well assume a total of $1600. Here’s the math on the console. Xbox 360 Elite $397.63 plus a year of 1 game per month at $60 per game so we arrive at a year of games for $720. Woa that seems like a lot doesn’t it? now $720 + $397.63 is $1117.63 .. wait that’s $482.37 less than the PC with it’s cheaper games. Hmm.. you could even throw in a year of Xbox LIVE at $49.99 and you’re still only at $1167.62 total which is still $432.38 less than the PC with it’s “Cheaper Games”. Remember most consoles are sold at a loss and the money is made with the software licenses no one’s going to subsidize the cost of a gaming PC for you.
- 12. The online experience with consoles is smooth as silk If online multiplayer is your thing I’m always going to recommend an Xbox 360 and Xbox LIVE. It just cannot be beat. The process is made completely idiot proof and the Party System in the most recent Xbox 360 update is indispensable allowing you to keep a party of friends together even while moving between different games. The $49.99 a year is trivial given the lower cost of ownership of the 360.
- 13. Piracy will never be as big of a problem on consoles Not to say that piracy isn’t a problem at all. But due to the fact that the tradeoffs are so high most users aren’t willing to void their warranty, get banned from online play and possibly turn their console into a $300 doorstop just to save on a couple games. The tradeoffs are much lower for piracy on the PC.
- 14. Consoles have brought Group play to the mainstream The moment I knew this was one of the hot points of the consoles was almost a year ago when my father (in his 50’s) came over and spend most of the day playing Wii sports and later Rock band with my sister, my mother and me for hours. And now he’s planning on buying a PS3. This is a guy who swore off Video games back in the 80’s after one particularly long session of Q-Bert and hadn’t played more than 5 minutes since then despite having a son who’s owned pretty much every major console and a lot of gaming computers.
- 15. Current Gen consoles look beautiful on big screen HDTV’s Nothing beats the feeling you get playing games on the big screen. Remember back in the 80’s wishing you could have played Super Mario Bros 3 on a huge screen like the kid in the Wizard It just makes the games seem so much more lifelike and epic in scale to see it on a big screen HDTV or Projector than on a possibly higher resolution LCD computer monitor.