The argument has been around almost as long as consoles themselves and to this day remains a divisive subject among gamers. Accusations of PC elitism and console peasantry get thrown around with reckless abandon. It turns out us gamers can be quite a competitive bunch. This eternal rivalry does raise an interesting question however: which is the better system for today’s gaming connoisseur?
On the one hand gaming PCs represent the bleeding edge of technology and thanks to their interchangeable and upgradable parts can remain on this precipice indefinitely. By comparison, consoles are outdated almost as soon as they pass the planning stage of development. Having said that, console gaming represents the pinnacle of accessibility and ease of use. By forsaking control of the components, the user benefits from (almost) airtight network gaming and software compatibility. In other words all you need to see is the correct branding on the box to know a game will work on your chosen console.
At this point then it would be simple to say the whole argument boils down to PC performance vs. console accessibility but as both systems have evolved the lines between the two have blurred somewhat. Valve’s Steam service has made downloading and playing the biggest and best releases as simple as popping into a shop, not to mention removing 99% of the hassle of checking computer compatibility.
As for consoles, rather than their older hardware being treated as a handicap it has driven developers to innovate and push the limits of the technology to eke every last drop of power from the machines.
It must be said though that despite these valiant efforts, the gap between the ageing current-gen consoles and gaming PCs is now too big to ignore, especially when PC gaming is only becoming more accessible through on-demand services like Steam and the ability to use console control pads via software patches.
The PCs ace in the hole however lies in the freedom it offers to mod games. The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim is possibly the best current example of this. Over a year after launch and the game still has a massive following on PC thanks in large part to the infinite possibilities that user-generated content brings to the table – ranging from useful additions like graphical and lighting overhauls, cosmetic and gameplay improvements, right down to gems like this.
There is however one, rather large, drawback to PC gaming – the cost. A gaming PC capable of running the newest titles on high settings will set you back anywhere in the region of £750 – £1500 for a pre-built machine. For those brave souls wanting to build a PC, this can be shaved down with a bit of luck, savvy and cheeky eBay bargaining to as low as £500. Even still, this is a lot of cash to drop especially for those only looking for an occasional twenty minutes of fun. With current consoles on sale for as low as £100 in some cases, it is very easy to see the appeal of consoles.
Moreover with next-gen consoles allegedly due to drop next Christmas the gap between PC and home system is surely going to narrow once more and bring this debate back into full flame. So with this said there can really be only one real choice for those looking to get into gaming: buy a console. They remain the best way to experience what gaming is all about without taking your wallet hostage. And of course if the gaming bug bites you then the allure of a PC becomes unavoidable. But hey, even if it doesn’t you’ve still got a handy DVD/Blu-ray player and media centre out of the deal.
As for which one to get? Well it’s not called a console war for nothing; guess it’s time to pick a side rookie.
Main Picture: SobControllers via Flickr