Over the past two decades, the gaming industry has undergone numerous changes as rapid technological advancements brought us ever closer to photo-realistic graphics and genuinely immersive virtual worlds. Over the years, various debates have been sparked on PC vs. console gaming.
Of course, the choice depends on who you are as a gamer and what you’re looking for in your gaming experiences. Your budget can also play a big part in the decision-making process. We’ll break down some of the main pros and cons of PC and console gaming, such as pricing, backward compatibility, and online gaming. After that, it’s up to you to determine which gaming style suits you best.
Advantages of PC Gaming
PCs allow for a much higher degree of hardware and software customization, allowing the user to tailor a device to their specific needs and in accordance with their allotted budget. Computers can range from entry-level, low-budget machines, only suitable for the most basic games, to expensive enthusiast builds for running any game imaginable on the highest settings.
The components most people in the PC gaming market invest in are solid-state storage drives (SSD), graphics cards (GPU), and computer memory (also known as Random Access Memory, or RAM).
Gaming Peripherals and Graphics
Considering the modularity of PC components, it is little wonder that PCs, in general, can provide a far more impressive visual experience to their users. While this usually comes with a downside in the form of a higher price, the importance of the visual component as a part of the general gameplay experience is difficult to overstate. At the end of the day, while having the option for smooth 4K gaming may not appeal to every gamer, it’s undoubtedly an advantage some find essential.
Other benefits of gaming computers include having access to a wide range of peripherals, such as mice, joysticks, and racing wheels. Such versatility can definitely enhance one’s gaming experience. It’s also much easier to replace internal components on a PC.
If you’re a fan of VR, PC has more options, but they are also more expensive compared to VR gaming solutions on consoles.
A staple of PC gaming is modifying various game files, whether to improve visuals or gameplay or simply for the amusement value. Some game developers have even gone as far as providing separate developer tools bundled with their games. These are used for modding game files, which many avid gamers consider one of the main benefits of PC gaming.
While mods are readily available and free of charge for PC users, only recently have a select few of them been made available for console games. As their inclusion requires input from the game’s developers, the process is not as fast and easy to implement for console-based games.
Advantages of Console Gaming
Easy To Use
Gaming systems are easy to use: you just need to plug them in, turn them on and load the game. There’s no complicated setup process involved, nor does it require special technical skills to start playing. Wireless joysticks allow you to play from the comfort of your couch or even standing up if that’s what you prefer.
Light and Portable
Consoles don’t take up too much space and can easily be moved from one place to another. This is especially true for handheld systems like the Nintendo Switch. It’s pretty convenient for casual gamers or when you want to organize a game night with your friends. Many people consider it one of the most important benefits of console gaming.
No Hardware Upgrades Required
One of the perks of buying a console is that you don’t need to worry about hardware upgrades, as is the case every few months or years with a gaming PC. Of course, you can add new hardware updates to your system, such as a larger external hard drive, but it’s not required, and your only real upgrade will be moving to a newer, more powerful console.
You’ll still need to keep up with the system and game updates. No worries, though: the console will always ensure that you get notified when it’s time for an upgrade.
Newer video game consoles are not used strictly for gaming, either. They offer more features than ever, such as live streaming of TV content and music, movies, and games. You can also use chat apps like Skype, watch DVDs on your console, and use various handy fitness apps to stay in shape while gaming.
Consoles offer some amazing exclusive titles that won’t or are unlikely to get released on the PC. Different systems usually have a slight bias towards certain types of games; before opting for a console, make sure to choose the one that fits your gaming style and preferences best.
For instance, if you’re a console gamer, it would be a shame to miss out on The Last of Us, which is a PlayStation exclusive and one of the most popular games for PS4 despite being a game from the PS3 era. Nintendo is even more notorious for exclusivity than Sony, but you can’t go wrong with their phenomenal Legend of Zelda series.
Gaming PC vs. Console Pricing
Here’s a question that often pops up in gaming discussions: do PC or gaming console players pay more for their hobby? While we’ve already mentioned that high-end gaming PCs are far more expensive than consoles (and the cost of a PC for gaming in 4K is far above the price of an average console), that’s not the only thing to consider.
A console generation may last for the better part of a decade, while enthusiasts change their PC components every few years at most. This also affects how comparable these systems are in gaming performance, of course, but that’s another story.
While the arguments about console vs. PC pricing make a compelling case, they fail to consider the actual cost of playing games on these consoles. Console games usually boast a higher price than their PC counterparts, which is why they also generate more revenue, according to statistics. Furthermore, while PC platform games tend to drop in price over time steadily, console titles lose value much slower.
There may also be additional costs for console gamers who enjoy multiplayer games. Some game developers, such as Sony and Microsoft, require a paid subscription to play their games online. While the costs of base subscriptions are relatively modest, they can add up over time. On the other hand, PC gamers have a wider variety of options to choose from and will only have to pay for multiplayer in the select few subscription-based MMOs on the market, such as World of Warcraft.
While the gaming market moves at a startling pace, with new titles constantly being planned and released, many gamers enjoy revisiting older games. With this in mind, backward compatibility remains a vital buying consideration for many gamers.
This represents no problem for PC gamers, who can easily run even the most ancient games through apps like DOSBox or use numerous free emulators to try out older PC and console games. While various assorted problems and bugs are common, they can usually be solved without too much issue.
Compatibility with earlier titles is not as ubiquitous with console platforms. While Xbox Series X/S gives its players access to most Xbox One and 360 titles, this is not the case with PlayStation. Sony’s console has, up until recently, offered almost no backward compatibility; currently, it only provides such functionality through the PS Now service and for select PS3 and PS4 games on PS5.
Console vs. PC gaming has been a debate ever since the first gaming PCs started being comparable to console performance in the mid-1990s.
While the PC definitely has the upper hand as far as the hardware potential goes, the consoles can provide comparable performance at a significantly lower price. They are also better for casual gamers and people who enjoy gaming from their couches.
That said, there are many ongoing costs related to consoles, and their usage outside gaming is fairly limited. Ultimately, the decision is up to each gamer individually, and we cannot say that one is necessarily better than the other.
Is a PC better than a console?
Like we said earlier, it all depends on your preferences as a gamer. Do you like upgrading your hardware and modding your games, or are you an avid fan of complex real-time strategy games? In that case, the PC is definitely a better option for you.
If you’re a more casual player who prefers a more straightforward approach to gaming and doesn’t like spending money on hardware updates every few years, then a console is probably a better fit for you.
Why do consoles last longer than PCs?
When a new console appears on the market, you know that you won’t have to worry about a newer model with better specs coming out and replacing that one for several years. Hardware upgrades for consoles are uncommon, and you know that all the latest games will work reasonably well on your new console, which is more than PC users with aging GPUs can say.
Why are games on PC cheaper?
Most PC game titles are digital today and are made by various developers and companies, ranging from small indie studios to triple-A companies like Bethesda. You can find them on platforms such as Steam, GOG, and Epic Games, and due to the vast number of competing titles, prices tend to drop rather quickly.
This is where PC and console gamers differ: when you buy a console game, you buy it solely from the company that made the console, which allows companies like Nintendo to keep game prices high even years after their initial release.
Is console or PC gaming more popular?
We could say that the battle of PC vs. console gaming currently favors the consoles, but the reason is primarily the ridiculous pricing of graphics cards these days due to chip shortages and GPU mining.
Console games also make more money overall than PC titles, but that’s mostly down to PC gaming piracy and the higher cost of console titles.