With All These New Consoles Coming Out, Why Not Just Get a PC?

Image by Flickr user Handles
Image by Flickr user Handles

With the bulk of the big E3 announcements behind us, and as the excitement wanes just a tad, what are we left with? A slew of great looking games for either a new $500 console or a new $400 console. The Wii U is still hovering around the $300-$350. Maybe its price will drop by the time those other new consoles hit the market. Or maybe not. Either way, if someone was looking to buy all-new this holiday season, s/he could easily drop $1200. And that’s not even counting all the games, accessories, online access fees, etc.

So why not just get a PC?

That’s the question my little household has been considering for awhile.  Seriously, have you seen the prices of a decent gaming computer lately? CHEAP! The classic Alienware computers start well under 1K. Those with the knowledge and skills could easily put together a custom gaming rig at or under the price of all the next gen consoles combined. Shoot, even the high-end PCs/equipment are relatively inexpensive when you look at what you get. Add to that hardware that can be modified and upgraded, along with cheap, downloadable games, and well…it’s hard to argue with the equation.

However, the equation is not perfect. PCs are certainly not without their problems. Even if you get one that seems “fully loaded,” it probably needs something else to make it run just right. PCs don’t generally get the lion’s share of games. Internet connection and network issues might abound (as with any computer.) It can be difficult getting used to playing with a keyboard and a mouse (though you can plug in most any gaming controller via USB). And sometimes, things crash, get viruses, etc. A gaming PC is still a PC after all.

Think I don’t know what I’m talking about, Mrs. Consoles-For-Life over here? Well, as rooted as my gaming history is in consoles, I once regularly played games on a PC. While my younger siblings and I progressed from the Atari to the NES to the SNES within a decade, we actually had far more games for our PC. I learned BASIC on our TRS-80; and I moved into more complicated fare once my parents adopted a large, lovely, beige IBM PC, complete with a dot-matrix printer and a swanky 5.25″ floppy disk drive. (It was eventually upgraded to a 3.5″ disk drive. The printer though, man, that thing survived for...way too long.) So in between my Nintendo time with Princess Peach and Ryu, I sunk hours of play into our PC with old favorites such as Frogger and Q*Bert, and new titles such as Commander Keen. And then…somehow, in some way, along came DOOM.

id Software’s DOOM was not the first FPS I had ever played, but it was the first that I truly enjoyed — enjoyed enough to play over and over and over again. It played smooth as silk on even our large, lovely, beige PC. DOOM helped me learn how to think strategically. It showed me the difference between ranged  vs. melee weapons. And it made me into a more patient gamer (though it was not without its rage-quitting moments).

But more than just improving my gaming abilities, DOOM altered the way I interacted with console games. One of the things I really liked about DOOM on the PC was using keyboard controls. Being able to look up, down, left, and right, and having fine-tune control over my movements was so…refreshing is the word that comes to mind, but it was more than that. So…right. After playing DOOM, I had a really hard time going back to the Nintendo controllers. Those buttons and stiff d-pad felt so clunky. I wanted to be able to stop Mario and Mega Man on dimes and instead had them slipping and sliding all over the place.

DOOM also taught me (hindsight being 20/20) that one needed a good computer to play PC games. It might sound ridiculous, but I hardly ever thought about the actual nuts and bolts of our PC. My folks and other relatives were pretty good with computer electronics, so if a new keyboard appeared, or the tower suddenly looked different, or a game started loading faster, sadly, I didn’t really take notice. I never knew of everything my parents did to keep our computer as bleeding edge as possible. That large, lovely, beige PC also handled DOOM 2 with ease. But later in life, when I tried to load it onto my very first, rinky-dink laptop, oh my…the choppiness of the high seas was nothing compared to what I saw on that screen.

My computer gaming days ended in the late 1990s. I went back full-time to consoles with the N64, and I haven’t looked back.

Until now.

It hard to not ignore all the good things PC gaming has to offer right now: price, quality, flexibility, getting exactly what you want. We might head down that path, but I’m no seer. For now we plan to keep an eye on what comes of the E3 announcements over the next few months. And maybe, at some point, perhaps amid jingle bells and candy canes, we’ll make a decision.

So where do you stand? PCs forever, consoles for life, or the best of both worlds?

9 Comments Add yours

  1. duckofindeed says:

    I’m a console person. Many of the games I love are only on consoles. Also, I once was in the middle of a move, so everything was in storage but my computer, so I decided to get some PC games. Not only could I not find any good ones (strange, because there are a decent number of console games I love that are available on the PC), but my computer hated me. I played this one game, and it would freeze for a minute every few seconds, and then one day, it resized the whole screen so the toolbar was off the screen, and I had to “feel” around for the start button. It made me so upset, that I never played a PC game again. Even though, it wasn’t the game’s fault. My computer was just possessed. Still. Bad memories. I had to get some IT guy named “Shaggy” of all things to email me the directions for fixing the screen but it freaked me out for some time, nonetheless.

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    1. cary says:

      That sounds like a bad time indeed. Computers certainly have a mind of their own sometimes, much to the detriment of games. And no amount of help from “Shaggy” or “Scooby” ever seems to be enough. For a very short time I had DOOM 3 running on my computer; and then, one day, something in the computer ate my saved game. I presume the chips and transistors were hungry or something. Anyway, I was so upset that I uninstalled the game. I still have it though, original box and everything — it’s the only remnant of my final attempt at PC gaming, and I can’t bear to part with it yet.

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  2. Hatm0nster says:

    I’m not exactly opposed to PC. As a kid I played a lot of PC games; not real games like Doom, but mostly learning games like Yukon Trail and DK Pinball Science (good times….). Since then I’ve enjoyed KotOR II, and several Valve games on PC (especially the fan made levels for Portal). PC has a lot going for it and I could potentially see myself moving to it eventually.

    However, I love what consoles offer: convenience, disc-based games that I can easily share with my friends, and games optimized for controllers. Really, they’re just easier and that’s why I’ll always choose them first. I love the simplicity of a controller over a keyboard, being able to just turn the console on and get started rather than booting up the computer and getting distracted, and I especially love being able to play on my TV (which is larger than my monitor) from my chair or bed.

    Above all else, convenience is what makes dedicated consoles worth the cost.

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    1. gimmgp says:

      I definitely agree with you on the convenience issue. I think that many of the consumers who currently prefer consoles to PC do so because a console is dedicated and optimized to playing games. After a childhood balanced between classic PC adventure games and Nintendo, I fell completely into the console camp around high school and never looked back… until now. Thanks to channels like Steam and independent publishing, there are so many interesting games that are only available on the PC market. Additionally, certain consoles *cough, cough, Xbox, cough cough* have been pushing games further and further back in priority to where it takes four clicks to get to a games menu, and that’s just on current consoles.

      Long story short, unless the next generation of consoles provides enough fresh and exclusive video games to the market, it looks like history will repeat itself, and I will be playing older consoles and PC games once more.

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      1. cary says:

        I’m also in the convenience camp; and I’d much rather game while sitting on my comfortable sofa rather than at my desk. Also, I really don’t think I could go back to keyboard controls. There’s nothing quite like the ease of using a game controller, especially when you find one that perfectly fits you.

        And though I’m not on Steam, more than one (like dozens) of interesting PC games have caught my eye. I certainly like the idea of getting a gaming PC in order to snap up an occasional Humble Bundle or two. But then again, I’m on a computer so much at work I’m not sure I could stand looking at one any more often than I already do during my free time!

        I will certainly be interesting to see if/how next gen consoles affect the PC market.

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    1. cary says:

      Well said. 🙂

      Like

  3. simpleek says:

    I would say consoles, but I’m starting to get swayed into also dabbling in PC gaming. Plenty of people keep saying I need to get into Steam, and I use a Mac computer at home. I have seen a good number of games on Steam have become Mac compatible and my current computer has the right support to operate them.

    The thing is, as much as I see the benefits of becoming a PC gamer, I kind of don’t want to get sucked into that either. I spend so much time on my computer already with blogging, watching streaming videos, Facebook, etc. I kind of don’t want another reason to be glued to my computer.

    I rarely watch TV these days, but at least when I do fire up my TV set, it’s because I’m playing my console games or watching DVDs. Another reason why I’m reluctant to get into PC gaming is I know I’ll end up seeing tons of games I’ll want to buy and my backlog will just continue to grow uncontrollably. Seriously, how does any serious gamer keep up anymore?

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    1. cary says:

      That’s the ultimate question (and paradox)! Whether you prefer consoles or PCs, how does one keep up with games these days? I don’t know of any good answer to that. And you’re right about the backlog issue. Having easy access to cheap, downloadable games through Steam and other services is a surefire way to end up with waaaaaay more games than one has time to play. Though, a nice thing about a lot of, say, Indie games, is that they tend to be much shorter than your standard RPG. Still, having a dozen short games waiting in queue might be more stressful than having one RPG waiting!

      And I’m with you on the PC use thing. Since I spend practically all day on a computer at work, it’s hard for me to want to be back in front of one at home. I’d much rather lounge on my sofa then, controller in hand.

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