PC Gaming IS NOT for Everyone!
So very often on The Verge and Polygon, I see a common refrain from PC gamers. In response to "I think I'm going to go with a PS4", you might hear "Why don't you just save your $400 and get a PC?" Well, I have a PC. Truth be told, I have a gaming PC, with a decent graphics card, processor, HDMI-out to my 46" TV, and an Xbox 360 controller dongle. I've had a gaming PC since I was 14 (now 31), and primarily gamed on PC for most of my life before I got an Xbox 360. Here's the rub, I've grown to hate gaming on my PC.
So here are the reasons PC gaming is not for me (your mileage may vary):
- Controller support is not a given. It has gotten much better and I think it is only going to get better, but it's not there yet (many of the featured games on Steam right now have no controller support or partial controller support). Not to mention, that if you're playing multiplayer games, you basically need to play with a mouse and keyboard (unless getting capped every three seconds is your MO).
- Updates, updates, updates.... Driver updates, Windows updates, Java updates, Steam updates, game updates, etc. There were twenty Steam updates over the past 12 months alone. I want to be in a game quickly, and on an Xbox, I can generally start it up, put in a disc, and be playing a game within a minute.
- Power consumption is drastically higher on a PC. This in some ways relates to the updates issue. I can't afford to leave my PC on all the time so that it's always up to date when I need it. I've noted a $10 to $20 difference each month when I leave my PC running all day.
- It's expensive. Most sites place a home built low-to-mid-range gaming PC at between $500 and $800. Not to mention, while these will probably work for current games, next-gen consoles are going to push things forward a bit. It would take a ton of $7 Steam sale games to make up the difference compared to a $400 PS4. Also, if you play a ton of new games, you're still paying full price for most games.
- It's unpredictable. I bought and downloaded Metro 2033 on a Humble Bundle a couple of months back, and it was utterly busted. I still haven't gotten it to work.
- But, but, the GRAPHICS! Don't care, never really have. Yes, PC games look better, but the difference is not so much that I'm taken out of the experience. Lately, that gap has widened, but next-gen is coming and from what I can see so far, PS4 games look like PC games again. People forget that we've been on current-gen hardware for EIGHT YEARS! Perhaps we should be comparing current consoles to eight-year-old PCs if we want to make a reasonable comparison. For reference, I looked up a Tom's Hardware article detailing a $500 gaming PC in October 2005. It had an Athlon 3000+ CPU, a GeForce 6600 (256MB) graphics card, and a whopping 512MB or RAM.
So the bottom line is, I don't have the time, patience or money to be a PC gamer anymore. When PCs streamline the process so that updates can be taken care of in the background, power consumption is lower, controller support is a given, and the price comes down, I'll probably move back to being a PC gamer. Perhaps Valve's Steambox will be that platform that makes things work in the PC space like they do in the console space. I'm hopeful, but I'm not holding my breath.
I should also say that this is not meant to be a condemnation of PC-gaming generally, only my experiences with it. You likely have differences in the way you game, the amount of time you have to dedicate to gaming, disposable income, and gaming interests. I also do play some games on PC, particularly indie games that often don't make it to consoles. There are also many benefits to PC gaming (graphics, game sales, variety of input devices, etc.) that I think are compelling reasons someone might want to primarily game on a PC. Please leave your point-by-point rebuttals of all of my bullets below. :)