All my life I have played video games on consoles, from the NES days to the early to now on the Playstation 4. Over the last 3 years I have begun playing more on the PC, and have seen but a small glimpse of what PC gamers have been raving about for decades. Although I have had lots of great times playing on consoles and on PC, there are still positives and negatives to each platform’s experience.
Ease of Use
With a gaming console, I have grown use to the easy setup of a box, plug in cables, turn on and play. Setting up the Playstation 4 took me minutes to go through the initial account creation process, installation of stuff, and then to gaming. On the PC, this can be just as easy- but it depends on your computer hardware, and what game you are going purchase for it. For a console, you buy a game that is guaranteed to work for that specific platform, for a PC, one needs to make sure the basic requirements are met for that game to run.
I bring this up as my PC can play many games, but cannot run games requiring more CPU power, and higher graphics rendering capability. When I purchased Grand Theft Auto 5 for the PC, it took me a few days of fucked up graphics settings and resolutions to figure out what settings worked great on my PC. Someone not as experienced with computers and such settings may have a much harder time.
Another thing to note is how you play a game. On consoles you usually have a controller or gamepad of sorts, on a PC, you have a keyboard and mouse. Playing Batman: Arkham City on keyboard and mouse felt so alien to me, that I had to turn off the game, plug in a Playstation 4 controller, download the drivers, and then restart the game. The beatdowns Batman hands down to his foes just feels damned right on a controller. Yet, I have to admit playing any First Person Shooter on a controller may feel good, but on a keyboard and mouse, it just feels proper. Sure there is a bit of a learning curve for keyboard and mouse, but once you get it, its like riding a bike.
The PC will beat any console out there on graphic detail and make you believe that the 3D spaces rendered on your screen are real fucking things. The catch? Purchasing a PC that can run such graphics may cost up into the $1000+ range, not including the cost of a game. As time goes on, graphics cards can be upgraded on your PC to keep up with the new hotness, but again, for a premium price.
A console will play games that look great and in high definition. A PS4 can be purchased now with a game bundled in for about $300, and it will play all the latest and greatest games available. Unless you plan on buying a PC that will be used for things other than gaming, and will require the horsepower to render these sorts of graphics, it is hard to recommend anyone drop that amount of money in this fucked up economy on a PC just to play games. If you got the money to burn, why not? Oh and don’t bother with 4k consoles, unless you have a 4k television with HDR.
These days, it seems many console games also release for the PC, yet each platform does have its exclusives. Regardless of your preferred platform, there are a ton of great games out there, so no real issue here like there used to be.
Playing on the PC can be a god damned chore. Making sure your machine meets the requirements is important. Making sure you have the best graphics card drivers available for your hardware can be equally so. And even with something like the Nvidia GeForce Experience software to help you with this, there is a chance that if you update the drivers for your graphics card some of your game settings can get screwed up or even wiped, so then you need to go back and retune your games. There is none of that on a console, ever.
Console gaming these days require internet connections and constant updates (like a computer!) to keep up with all the new bits being added to a game or console’s firmware. Playstation Network has been hacked in the past a few times, and that sucked for a whole lot of people. There have also been outages in the past for console online features, but luckily these sorts of incidents are not a common thing. Also, Playstation Network and XBox Live both need paid subscriptions for online play, you do get free games with both every month (quality varies wildly) but it is still an extra (about $60 a year) expense.
Building a PC or buying a PC is not an easy task if you are not too familiar with computer hardware and software. For me, longevity and usefulness is key, then again, I work on these machines daily and have some knowledge. For most people looking to get into PC gaming, please consult as many people as possible and look up guides online about what makes a good gaming machine, from my experience, some of the workers at brick and mortar stores may not know much about the hardware you may be purchasing.
Consoles get redesigned every couple years. Look at all the iterations of Nintendo’s handhelds (Gameboy and DS systems), and both XBox and Playstation seem to get smaller and sleeker looking every 2-3 years. Sometimes features get added, while others get dropped with every hardware update, but it keeps it interesting.
Going from console to PC has been an adjustment and a pretty steep learning curb, in terms of learning how to build a good machine, making sure games run on it, selecting the proper settings and keeping up with updates of many sorts, but in the end it has paid off in hours of enjoyment and fun.
Consoles may be a less expensive and an easy alternative. On the other hand, my computer is not a dedicated gaming machine. It also serves use in other forms of entertainment (music and movies), and continues to be useful in my daily work.
I have not completely abandoned my Playstation 4, as many of the games I have for it are exclusive to the platform, but PC gaming is a damned good experience. I will definitely keep up with both from now on.