This year, we reached the end of an era. After 8 years, the two largest games console manufacturers announced that they would be retiring their current hardware at the end of the year, and introducing so called next gen systems. And there was much rejoicing. Despite the fact that the Xbox one reveal was best, if hyperbolically, described as a fucktastrophe, there was a certain amount of hype surrounding both the Xbox One and PS4. Solid 60 frames per second! Unprecedented texture quality! All of the RAM! Truly, the future is here, we cried in our droves. Truly, we have reached the pinnacle of technology and found ourselves equal to the technological gods. And yet, as we all gloried in the light of the next gen revolution, there came a snigger of derision. From the darkest, most technologically obsessive corners of the internet came the voice of the PC gamer. “Only 8 gigabytes of ram?”, “8 core processors? Really?” and “how many teraflops? You’re adorable”. Because the unfortunate fact remains that ‘next gen’ has been here for quite a while. It’s always been here, in the form of the LED lit, Windows controlled, water cooled bastard known as the Personal Computer.
All this is a very roundabout way of saying that for all the hype surrounding Microsoft and Sony’s latest efforts, the not so humble computer is more powerful than any console. Eventually. Because the greatest Achilles heel for the PC is, and has always been, the heavy investment needed to get a gaming rig. An average of £400 will buy you a new console, and all the peripherals needed to make one go. Not including a TV of course. But if you don’t have a TV, you probably don’t have any desire to play video games. You hipster twat.
But digressions aside, the fact remains that PC gaming is an expensive bandwagon to get on. To have a computer, or ‘rig’ as the cool kids call them, capable or running current level games with any level of success requires a processor, motherboard, power supply, case, some RAM sticks, a hard drive and that all important graphics card. And that’s not including the operating system, a monitor, mouse or keyboard. All in all, a pretty sizeable investment. And it’s not as simple either. Consoles are, ultimately, streamlined and specialised PCs, and what they lose in power and versatility they make up for in ease and simplicity. But, as is the case is repeatedly made, the only way for serious gamers is PC. Now I don’t want to get embroiled in the PC Gaming Master Race debate, as much as I’d like the traffic, and potential subscriptions to my YouTube channel Overgamerisation and twitter @r_williamssmith (subtlety ho!). Suffice to say, anyone who seriously denigrates another person based on how they play their videogames is an asshat of the highest order.
I’ve been a console gamer for as long as I’ve been playing games. To me, computers were a work tool and nothing else. And that was fine, because I didn’t care. But now, the more invested and interested in video games I become I find myself shifting towards the PC side. All the indie titles, as well as all the mainstream console titles I know and love plus a whole crap ton of eclusive titles and loads more content for all of the above. And all this is given more urgency by the fact that my trusty laptop is slowly falling apart. It’s over 4 years old, which is ancient in technology terms and I need a replacement. If that wasn’t a factor, I suspect that PC gaming wouldn’t have ever cropped up on my radar. But it is, and it has, so let’s take a look at a few pros and cons, shall we?
As I said earlier, cost in the main obstacle to beginning pc gaming. But the argument held up by its exponents is that the overall long term savings make it worth it. And they sort of do. Aside from all of the games that are available for free, almost any games outside of the Call of Duty bubble will be cheaper than the console version by a margin of around 25% as a matter of course. This is of course thanks to services like Steam and websites like Good Old Games which have rendered the pc an almost entirely digital platform without any of the problems and cost associated with the console digital services. Then of course there’s the legendary Steam sale, when the dark lords of Valve use sorcery and dark arts to drop the prices of all the biggest titles by an unholy amount. So there’s plenty of savings over the console’s lifespan.
And speaking of lifespan, whilst the PS4 and Xbox One will, from the moment they are released, have a big ominous timer hanging over them, counting down the days until the PS5 and the Xbox Potatocakes. PC on the other hand, is immortal. Kind of. The components can be replaced as and when required to take advantage of the advances in technology for less than the new console will inevitably cost. In this way, PC is able to push the envelope as far as things like graphics and in game options, offering performance and customisability that far out ranks consoles.
However, the PC’s greatest strengths namely the power, versatility, overall cost saving and upgrade potential, are also potential weaknesses. Not everyone wants to pay over the odds for a gaming machine that’s fiddlier, less initially user friendly and hatefully expensive. And that’s perfectly fine. Not everyone wants to invest that heavily. And it could be argued that PC gamers are doing themselves a disservice by coughing up so much extra for the added complication. But none of this changes the fact that my laptop is failing, and the next generation is fast approaching. As I said, if I didn’t need a new computer it’d be an easy decision: PS4 all the way. But since the cost of a PS4 at launch combined with the cost of a new laptop equals a desktop more powerful than both of them combined I can’t help but feel my decision has been made for me.
So long consoles, it’s been real, but I’m joining the Master Race. Someone pass me the LEDs.
(Oh and also, since I’m totally student broke at the moment, I’ll have to wait a while to finalise my decision. However, once I finally have the cash to make a choice I’ll post another update and maybe make some kind of video of me failing to build a gaming machine. So stay tuned failure fans!)