PC Gaming Offers What The Consoles Never Can

PC Gaming Offers What The Consoles Never Can

PC Gaming Offers What The Consoles Never Can

Brendan Frye

Brendan works as the full time editor-in-chief of Comics and Gaming Magazine, and part time as a developer, filmmaker, and laser disc collector.
PC Gaming Offers What The Consoles Never Can

This week I was lucky enough to sit in and listen to a round table focused on PC gaming and Alienware. The panelists included such industry veterans as Steve Tilly, Victor Lucas, Raju Mudhar, and Bambi Blue. The main focus of the panel was the state of PC gaming and where it is headed now. Despite the specter of the next gen, the PC landscape seems secure, with more games than ever coming out for the platform.

Despite the plethora of games for the platform, PC’s are not selling as well as consoles. They are still viewed as complex machines that are tedious to get up and running. Gaming computers are also seen as overly expensive for the average consumer. Although these factors have gotten better in recent years, this point remains true. You cannot just buy a $400 machine, bring it home and throw in a disc expecting to play. There are many steps involved to gaming on a PC. Drivers, windows updates, installing the game, ensuring the PC you have will meet the specs needed to get the most out of the game are just a few of the many precautions consumers must take.

PC Gaming Offers What The Consoles Never Can

With the advent of Steam, this has been addressed to some degree. Updates for games are now processed in the background. As well, Steam will notify you of new drivers and suggest when it is time to update, also showing the specs required to play each program. If the concept of SteamOS is to be believed, Valve are taking this further. They are doing this by taking any PC and giving it an OS that streamlines the process of setting up and playing games. This could be a huge leap for gaming on the PC and if all goes as well, could give the console makers a run for their money.

But it does not end there, as Shaun Hatton stated at the panel “every PC is basically a development unit” and that fact has never been more true than today. With the tools easily accessible and at a low cost, any game enthusiast can be inspired to not only play, but also make their own games. Many indie game designers out there are building games on the PC platform, with new games hitting Steam every week that bring unique and interesting mechanics not seen before in major releases. With programs such as Gamemaker or Construct, designing has never been easier, allowing new and experienced people to make games in small development teams.

The PC’s main problems as a platform are its price and availability. Because many gaming computers are only available at certain stores like Best Buy and Alienware.ca, it limits availability. When people go looking for their next gaming machine and the PC is not sitting next to the Xbox or PlayStation it is hard to compare them on an equal playing field. They need to have the same presence and people need to see the game that is only running at 720P on a console running at 4K on a gaming rig.

PC Gaming Offers What The Consoles Never Can

With the power the PC platform brings it also comes hand-in-hand with a price tag that is not subsidized by licensing fees.  Microsoft and Sony sell their consoles at either a loss or bare minimum profit to ensure they have market penetration. They make their money from the fees publishers pay to be on the platform. Sadly the PC cannot afford this luxury. When a PC is sold (especially one built for gaming), the company needs to recoup the cost to make it. The end product is a computer that does everything consoles do, but at a higher price.

The PC is far from dead, but if it wants to step out of the shadow of  home consoles, there needs to be some changes to the landscape. Companies like Valve and Alienware need to push the PC as a brand. Make it so the average consumer can pick up something that works for them and know what they are buying. The barriers to entry are getting lower but work still needs to be done. People don’t want to worry about specs, drivers, or the version of windows they are running. They just want to click on a game and have it work. With companies pushing to make this a reality and new technologies getting cheaper, we may be at a point where people consider gaming on the PC as the pinnacle of gaming. Until then it still sits in a niche that few of the mainstream will step into.

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4 comments

  1. Axe99

    “They are still viewed as complex machines that are tedious to get up and running.”

    Haha, and they are viewed this way because they _are_ complex machines that are tedious to get up and running. Setting up a new Windows box is far, far more painful than getting a console running for the first time, and pretty much every game on console runs out of the box, whereas a quick comparative analysis of PC and console support forums for multiplat games highlights that PC gamers face, on average, far more technical issues and hiccups. I game on both, I love Firaxis’ and Paradox Interactive’s strategy titles and spend a lot of time gaming on PC, but if they announced Hearts of Iron for PS4 with mouse/kb support, that’s where I’d play it, because I know it would be more reliable and would run first time, something that Victoria 2, Mass Effect, Jade Empire, The Witcher and a number of other titles all failed to do for me on PC.

  2. Tim

    I game on both PC and Console, both have their pros and cons. Consoles have great platform exclusives (Uncharted, The Last of Us, Halo, Journey, etc…), they are “plug & play” and sell hardware at a loss to meet a mass market consumer price, games are better optimised, whereas PC is much more upgradeable, games are cheaper and moddable, but the initial PC hardware and upgrade options are much more expensive than console.

    But what is undeniable is that right now the PS4 is incredible good value for money. Consider this for example, the PS4 version of Battlefield 4 is very comparable with the PC version, in fact a major German PC magazine PCGH (hardly a Sony fanboy) recommends the PS4 version over PC! Essentially, they praise the PS4 version as it is pretty much locked at 60FPS and you would have to spend 1000€ on a new PC to get the same quality and performance available on the 399€ PlayStation 4. Also many PC gamers who have been hands on games like Killzone SF or other games on PS4 which were very impressed with the visuals of the games.

    So right now, PS4 is best next gen gaming deal all round as you would have to spend more than double on a new PC to match optimised PS4 games, and we all know the PS4 is more powerful than the Xbox1, but I believe in the longer term both PC gaming and console gaming can quite happily co-exist. Peace.

  3. Escopablobar

    We are quickly approaching a juncture where features once exclusive to each respective platform are ubiquitous across all platforms. Skype on consoles, browsers on phones and Steam’s console like OS…we are moving towards a single convergence of all divergent features. Until that time arrives there is no “one to rule them all”.

    The title statement can just as easily be flipped on its head and we can profess that console gaming can offer what the PC can’t. There is much to be said about simplicity, uniformity, affordability and accessibility. These are aspects of gaming that PCs cannot do very well. Mass consumption has sided with consoles for these very reasons. Until PCs become consoles they shall be relegated to niche and obscurity. No one cares about GTX Titans or Intel CPUs or 2560 x 1440 or SLI or Drivers or Mods…no one cares except the very few.

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