As the gap between gaming PCs and consoles widens, I've heard several people argue that console gaming is dead.
The Playstation 4 has sold over 50 million units since launch. Nobody's quite sure about the Xbox One, but the estimate is about 20 million. Not to mention the Nintendo Switch sold like hot cakes once pre-ordering was made available. (That's a lot of people voting with their hard-earned dollars.)
No, console gaming isn't dead and it isn't dying anytime soon. Here are 6 reasons why.
Reason #1: Cost
Can you build a gaming PC for $400? Yes -- but it's nothing special. For a build that gets the most out of new games, you'll need to drop closer to $1,000. Plus you still have to factor in things like the mouse, keyboard, and gamepad (if you use one).
Again, gaming accessories for the PC aren't cheap either. You'll probably drop another $50-$100.
But a console comes with everything you need for $500 or less. Not even a contest.
"Oh YEAH?! Well, Steam sales let me get games for pennies on the dollar!"
I can't argue with that. I've bought dozens of games during Steam sales for next to nothing. Unfortunately, most of them sucked. But that's besides the point.
Microsoft and Sony have caught on. They realized they had to do something to compete, so they always have some kind of sale going on. During the holidays I picked up several great games for less than $10, and just last week I got some more good ones for less than $5.
Besides, if you buy a physical copy of a console game, you can always resell it to recoup some of that investment. So no, it isn't cheaper to game on PC. But you can keep telling yourself that if it makes you feel better.
Reason #2: Consoles Allow Borrowing Games
Remember when the Xbox One was first announced? Games were going to be Licensed, meaning you couldn't let your buddy borrow it.
When Sony announced that borrowing would be easy (and allowed) on the PS4, the crowd went crazy. Microsoft had to admit their mistake and change that feature.
Borrowing makes sense. If my brother buys an RPG that I can beat in 5-10 hours, there's no reason for me to buy it myself. I can borrow it, beat it over the weekend, and move on.
The same goes with Redbox games. I can rent a game for a few days, for a maximum investment of less than $10 -- sure beats dropping $60 for a digital PC copy that I only play through once. Services like Gamefly are even better since a relatively small monthly fee lets you rent games for as long as you want. If you put a lot of hours in front of your console, you can play a ton of games without much of a financial investment.
Reason #3: Less is More
...yeah, I dunno what's going on with that picture. But this is what PC modding is like.
I was so excited when I got my first gaming PC. Friends had always bragged about how superior they were to consoles for this and that.
Personally, I was mainly excited because my favorite game of all time is Skyrim. PC has a ridiculous number of mods, whereas (at the time) I'd only played on Xbox 360 with zero mods.
But it didn't take long before I got overwhelmed. I spent more time modding than I did playing the game!
Something else happened too. I started spending a lot of time researching hardware. I'd compare different GPUs, cooling systems, etc. I knew my computer could be better, so I was always on the lookout to upgrade it.
All of that was essentially lost gaming lost. Researching GPUs isn't nearly as fun as shooting ice spikes through Bandit's heads, or hiding behind a riot shield in Call of Duty while I throw C4 everywhere like a pyromaniac.
Yes, playing on a PC gives you a lot of modding and hardware options. But the simple life of a console gamer -- where those things aren't even options -- is nice. Ignorance is bliss.
Reason #4: Consoles are Easy
Websites like Can You Run It exist for a reason. I can't tell you how many times I've logged on there, only to be told that my PC didn't have the requirements needed for a hot new AAA game.
Luckily, I've never had to worry about that with my Playstation 4. I know it can play the game well. I know it won't overheat because the cooling system isn't sufficient for all of the power being generated. I know the power supply can provide all the juice necessary. I know my Dualshock 4 will work perfectly, whereas using it on the PC required software that would be finicky sometimes.
My console is easy, and I like that. I've always liked that -- ever since I had my original Nintendo Entertainment System.
Reason #5: Portability
Okay, okay. I know there are some things like the Alienware Steam Machine that are more portable than a full-sized desktop that most PC users use. But for the most part, consoles are much more portable than PCs.
And if you're a hardcore PC gamer, I doubt you'll be investing in a Steam Machine. They just don't have the upgrade-ability or power you can put into a much larger machine.
I like to play Call of Duty with my brother. Like, actually sit with him. It's just a lot more fun to talk about funny/intense/frustrating moments when he's in the same room than through a microphone.
Am I going to unhook my desktop and carry it, my keyboard and mouse, and all of the cables up to his house? Maybe- some people do. But I'd much rather take my console which is smaller, lighter and requires less hardware.
Reason #6: Exclusives
My wife and I will probably buy the Switch just to play Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I love open world games and she loves the Zelda series. It's a no-brainer.
Sonys is killing it with exclusives. Bloodborne was a huge hit and still remains exclusive to PS4. Nioh is only PS4, and was another big success. And this year there are a lot more exclusives coming to my favorite console.
To be honest, this is probably the strongest reason why PC gaming won't kill consoles. As long as these types of contracts exist, there will be a reason for consoles to be around. “Because Nintendo has always been exclusive with some of the most popular games in the industry, I can't see how PC gaming will overtake this pocket of the universe,” says John Smith who works at Game Period.
Will video game consoles ever die? Maybe. Things are always changing.
For example, the Steam Machines I referenced earlier now can now be had for just $449 brand new with a Steam Controller. It wasn't too long ago that the same machine was going for much, much higher. As technology gets smaller and less expensive, it may not be long before PCs overtake consoles.
But at the same time- Microsoft and Sony aren't just twiddling their thumbs. They're also innovating and designing new, more powerful systems all the time. And as the costs of technology go down and they leverage the power of buying in bulk, they may be able to compete.
Consoles may die one day. So might gaming PCs as mobile technology continues to explode. But one thing is for sure- consoles are here to stay for the time being.
This post is written by Gabriel Price, he works at Game Period.