Why PC Gaming, and Mobile Games can't Dethrone the Video Game Console
Every few months or so I see another article about how console gaming is at death’s door. I don’t buy it. Most of my gaming happens on consoles, and I expect to keep it that way for the foreseeable future. Here’s why.
1. I don’t have to keep up with the newest tech to play. I just need to know the name of my console(s) and I’m good to go. I suppose there are games that need Kinect or Move or things like that, but they’re the exceptions rather than the rule. Once I buy a console, I know that there’s a whole library of games that will not only play on it, but play on it well. My console doesn’t barely meet the minimum requirements for play, it is the machine the game was designed for. “But,” I hear you argue in my head,” a lot of console games are ports from PC, so they’re actually not the machine the game was designed for.” Well, yes. Ports are a thing. For the most part, though, console ports are pretty good, with obvious, lamented examples of sluggish performance and/or watered down graphics like Crysis 3 or Risen. But the port argument cuts both ways – there are just as many bad console-to-PC ports. (One thing I’ll grant the PC scene is modding—we console gamers are stuck with Skyrim Vanilla unless we want to tinker much deeper in our machines’ software innards than I am comfortable with and risk penalties of various kinds from the console manufacturers). So on balance, when I buy a game for my console, I’m confident it’ll play well without me having to upgrade my system.
2. Used games. Consoles have them. Sure, PC gamers have decent alternatives for budget gaming too, like Steam sales and GOG.com, which I use and generally like (though I do have frustrating experiences from time to time with games that don’t play well on my computer). But as a previous post explains in more detail, buying used is the foundation of my entire gaming budget strategy, and it lets me play all the games I want for a very reasonable price. Then I can sell video games when I’m done with them, get some of my money back, and buy more used games. It’s a great system that has survived the leap into the current console generation and that has no true parallel in PC gaming.
3. This may seem like a small thing, but I like being able to pop a disc in a console and play a new game without worrying about how much space it’s going to take up on my hard drive. Granted, hard drive space can be an issue on consoles, and most games these days require (usually) quick software patches before you can play, but consoles, unlike computers, have the benefit of not being the machines I use for most of my work. If I fill up my console hard drive, I have to get rid of a couple games before I can add new games. If I fill up my computer’s hard drive with games, it slows down everything I do on the computer, which is a lot of non-gaming things. This isn’t the biggest issue on this list, but it’s something that I noticed when I finally maxed out my computer’s hard drive last year and had to clear a lot of things off before my work applications got less sluggish.
4. My computer is a Mac, which I like for a number of reasons related to my work (including that, like consoles, I can buy a Mac and not have to upgrade or replace it for several years). It will be news to no one, however, that Macs pretty much sucks for computer gaming. There are many games that do play alright on my aging MacBook Pro, but there are a depressing amount of games that either aren’t ported to Mac at all (and are a glitchy hassle to port yourself) or have unplayable ports…I’m looking at you, The Witcher. So for someone who has a Mac for work and lacks the expendable income to buy a PC mainly for gaming, consoles are king.
5. I like local multiplayer, which I find tends to work better on consoles. There are a fair number of games out there supporting local multiplayer on PC for controllers or even just the regular keyboard-and-mouse setup, but the field is not as deep as on consoles as far as I can tell. PC gaming doesn’t seem built for local multiplayer in the same way. As my post on board games explains, I like the social aspect of local gaming, and console gaming tends to do this better for me than PC gaming.
There are, of course, a lot of advantages to PC gaming, but this isn’t a blog about those, so write your own post. This post is about why I’m a happy console gamer and don’t see consoles getting killed off by PCs, mobile games, and the like anytime soon. What do you think – am I wrong about consoles’ prospects for survival? Have I left out any strong advantages to console gaming (like exclusive games, for instance)? Are the reasons I give above stupid and wrong?