PCs Vs Consoles: Why I'm A Console Gamer

With the release of every new console, I always have to ask myself: is this the year I return to PC gaming and stop buying consoles? The answer, every time, is a resounding no. Here's why.

This is one of our point/counterpoint articles, where two Lifehacker writers duke it out in two articles over a specific topic. If you want to see the counterpoint to this post, check out Why I'm a PC Gamer.

I used to be a PC gamer. Back in the '90s, I spent the bulk of my time talking with my friend Andy about PC builds and LucasArts games and not talking to girls. We'd get into heated, long debates about different Warcraft build orders, but I'd barely be able to finish my maths homework. But at some point, that changed, and I switched over to consoles exclusively midway through university. There are a lot of myths out there about console games — whether it's our absurd fanboyism or that we're all a little dumber than our PC master race counterparts — so I'd like to lay down why I prefer a console, even when I know why PC gaming is so often better.

Console games work out of the box, every time

Why I'm a Console Gamer

Let's start with some honesty: I'm too lazy these days to be a PC gamer. I realise that things have likely improved since the '90s, but that doesn't mean I want to spend any time whatsoever setting up a game to play it. What I like about console gaming is that you don't need to worry about resolution, colours, vsync or — if we were time-travelling back to the '90s — which Sound Blaster driver to use.

I realise this comes at the sacrifice of customisation, but I'm not the type to really customise anyway. I'd prefer my entertainment to come out of the box ready to go so I don't have to spend time worrying about how I can make it work. I'd also rather upgrade my system once every six or seven years with a single bulk purchase than worry about and waste time shopping for individual parts every two years.

Consoles aren't computers, and that's a good thing

I spend 40-50 hours a week in front of a computer for work, and I'm sure most of you do too. The last thing I want to do is spend my leisure hours there as well. Console gaming gets me away from my PC, out of my computer chair (or in the case of mobile gaming, out of my house completely) and away from work. Plus you get to kick back on the couch, which is a great way to take a load off at the end of a long day.

Console games are made for controllers

Why I'm a Console Gamer

Here's the thing about the controller versus keyboard-and-mouse debate: I'm not huge into twitchy first person shooters, so I couldn't care less about precision. I'll play (and enjoy) the occasional slow shooter like the upcoming Fallout 4, but you typically won't find me playing Battlefield or Call of Duty. So, that whole "mouse and keyboard is the best and most precise control scheme" just doesn't do it for me.

For as many keyboard-centric games there are on PC, there are just as many games that are best played with a controller because they're made that way. Dark Souls sounds horrible with a keyboard and mouse, as does Batman, Dead Space or Hotline Miami. I actually like the loose analogue controls of the twin sticks and pressure-sensitive buttons more than the precision of a keyboard-and-mouse. Hell, I've dumped 100 hours into XCOM on a console and you'd think that game wouldn't even work on anything but a PC.

Consoles get more exclusives

Why I'm a Console Gamer

It's pretty rare that a big-name PC game is released exclusively for PC. At some point, many of them come to consoles (strategy games are usually an exception, as are many indie games). But console exclusives stay exclusive, and when it boils down to it, the games are the only thing that matter. That's why we're even having this discussion, right?

Nintendo is still one of the best developers out there, and they make games exclusively for their own systems. Naughty Dog has released some of the best action-adventure games of the last 10 years, and they're exclusive to PlayStation. You can't play Demon's Souls, Mario Galaxy, Last of Us, Trials HD, Valkyria Chronicles or Journey on a PC. Some of those are my favourite games, and they keep me coming back. Unless you're huge into strategy games, PC games don't even come close with quality exclusives.

They're different beasts

Let's face it: PC gaming and console game are two different things. Both have their strengths and weaknesses. Honestly, I'd argue they're so different that they're almost impossible to compare. Both attract a different kind of person entirely, but that doesn't make one better than the other. Sure, maybe us console gamers are a bit lazy, but that doesn't make us stupid. We crave intelligent, hard, and complicated gaming experiences. You just have to trust us more.

Images by snorks (Shutterstock), odolphie, docpi, Michel Ngilen, The World According to Marty.

This story has been revised and updated since its original publication.


Comments

    PC gaming used to be much less social, since your multiplayer games were limited to LANs,

    Consoles were always about getting friends over to play.

    What the hell do you think LANs were about? Sure, it was bulky as hell but it was nearly the exact same thing wasn't it?

    Console games work out of the box, every time

    Maybe 2 generations ago but now many games require you to download and install updates, add on the limited space my consoles have and now you see why this argument is moot. on Steam/PC i can update a game while playing another, last time I checked I couldn't do that with a Console. Most PC games will work on a fresh install, it will detect your specs and adjust accordingly. Sure you can go beyond that but 99% of the time it's fine.

    I would not say I'm one or the other, I'm both. I prefer different types of games on PC vs Console. PC I prefer first person shooters for example, consoles I prefer more arcade type games, platformers, racing games etc.

    On a PC, I could build a brand new one tomorrow and play a game on it that's 20yrs old, not something you can do on a console (excluding virtual console titles). That said, there's a fantastic sense of nostalgia pulling the old nes or snes out of the cupboard and firing up some old games on it every once in a while.

    I find myself these days buying everything digitally for PC (e.g. steam) yet consoles, I still prefer to buy a physical copy of the game.

    You realize PC has had more exclusive titles then every console in history put together right?

    I dont know about the other games, but i know for sure that valkyria chronicles is available on steam. Its my favorite game to date.

    "Console games work out of the box, every time"

    Bethesda games on PS3, Halo MCC, Just Cause 3...

    Ok so everyone has crushed every reason offered but what is the real reason I wonder? Heaps of people do it so there must be one. I can think of three reasons for going console over PC.

    1. More accessible/Less intimidating - ie its easier to drop into JB HiFi and pick up a console than to troll through hardware requirements and set aside a dedicated space for a rig capable of running the latest AAA games.

    2. Cheaper Entry Price - How many PC's can you get for $400 that are guaranteed to play AAA games for the next 3-5 years?

    3. Marketing Rubbish - Console gaming has waaaaaay more marketing budget than PC. All that price gouging and control over the market leaves plenty of money to throw at TV adds, posters ect ect.

    "Consoles get more exclusives" last time I checked not a good thing for anyone and pc had thousands of exclusives that you console presents don't even know about. Pluss a little thing called back words comparability, something the presents got all butt hurt over when the console race tried to change

    Console graphics are pretty good in today’s 1080p world. However, graphics on PCs just keep improving. The consoles of today are practically PCs based on their parts list.

    Consoles will allways be superior to pcs untill developers start making games for pc then porting them to console. This may be the case for some rare occurances but the majority of games are console first pc second. This is bwacues consoles are made for entertainment and gaming. Pcs are not primaraly gaming machines. You may think that spending 4k on a "gaming pc" mean that you are buying something made for gaming but you are not you are just buying a powerful pc that can play games that were made for console and ported to pc somtimes with a higher resolution or graphics setting. If you get a pc that can no longer do all the things a normal pc can do like productive functions and you make it so it can only play games then you have made a gaming pc. However you could have spent 400 dollars and bought a ps4 or xbone.

      what do you think came first the PC or the console? the software on your console was developed on a pc

      games made for consoles are developed on pc's, bad ports are the result of bad decisions, bad developers and rush jobs. the last time i had to manually configure a controller was beyond good and evil, a comparitively old game.

      new games work almost seemlesly with a 360 controller even showing the xbox buttons on screen.

      with the advent of amd's APU's, cheap laptop gaming is wthin everyones reach. a 1gb ddr3 GPU will still render a game better than whatevers in a console, loading times are always faster without doubt... i mean look, with all the power the ps4 has why has destiny got around 5 minutes + of loading scrreen before every level? my quad core 1.9ghz cpu loads console ports faster every time but a ps4 even being a dedicated gaming machine cant cut down loading times? on a pc we would ask for our money back

    Um, Controllers work for the pc, you can run a pc to your tv and game on the couch (hell.. you can even stream games from your pc upstairs to your couch downstairs and use your controller) and PC gets waaaaaaay more exclusives than consoles. The library is insanely huge compared to the handful of console exclusives. You sound like you actually don't know much about pc gaming.

    Take some time to learn a bit, and you'll see that a console is really nothing than a watered down pc (using pc parts that are years behind too). PC gaming can do everything a console can do better, larger and faster.

    logically pc gaming wins eery time.

    there are too many pluses to play on pc;
    1. pc games are cheeeeaaaap, humble bundle and steam sales means I'e spent as little as $6 on 8 or 9 EA AAA titles through humble bundle and 50 percent of steam games that I have are £3.74 which console gamers can only dream of.
    2. hardware to performance ratio pc wins hands down, I use an AMD quad core 1.4ghz OC'd (another thing you cant do with consoles) to 1.9ghz with asymetric crossfire (1gb DDR3 GPU) along with the integrated card. this can play 1080p crysis 2 on ultra settings and most other games on high settings with shadows on low and no tesselation which still looks unbelievable compared to even a PS4 which still has sawed edges. an xbox 360 ran at 3.2ghz, looked horrendous and its a dedicated gaming machine!
    3. my laptop cost £319 refurbished from ebay, enough said on this point.
    4. 98% of games these days run out of the box, if its buggy chances are its buggy on consoles as well
    5. with a slither of a form factor my laptop reaches 73C MAX the xbox city block with all the fans and airflow space melted at oer 100C
    6. on release developers use developer kits, which being a translation layer between the hardware and game, this means all the power cant be eeked out until the end of the consoles life. on pc directx is the translation layer but is far more familiar to developers as the biggest changes come with updates between 9, 10 and 11 versions currently.
    7. driver updates on pc in my case have increased performance by up to 40% over the life of my current laptop(measured by framerates), again, unheard of even with direct to steel programming on consoles.
    8. console 'updates' are compulsory and very often detrimental to what the consumer wants. ps3 removed PS2 and PS1 compatibility with updates. I control any updates to my laptop, a huge plus considering what happens to consoles.
    9. choice between 60+FPS or eye candy, I can choose my gaming experience or a balance of both.
    10. i can switch between games that i would need 2 or more consoles to play otherwise, 1st iteration of a game comes out on xbox 360, sequel comes out on xbox one for example
    11. no proprietary components, if i run out of HDD space i can buy an off the shelf HDD to replace it.
    12. if my laptop breaks i can fix it without putting it in an oven, mst console repairs consist of replacing the console.
    13. back catalogue of the pc is unparalleled
    14. laptop specific but i can move it from room to room easily or connect to a projector or 1080 screen.

    and these points are mostly laptop specific, towers have even more benefits, plus consoles are dying a death with more and more laughable concepts such as AAA episodic releases (final fantasy VII) which leech into pc gaming (thats right DLC was free before xbox 360 came along)

    also, pc gaming is on a high curve right now while console gaming in quality and content is floundering.

    in black and white, there is no arguement.

    You should give another shot to PC gaming, things have change a lot since the 90's.

    1. "Console games work out of the box, every time"
    PC games do too. Usually, if a game needs some additional software to work, like a specific version of Visual C++ Redistributable or .NET, it will all be included in the package and will be installed automatically. Also, the games will just use the default video and audio drivers. And you don't have do worry about those either, as the operating system will automatically detect your hardware and install the drivers right after the initial setup. As for the graphics settings, if you're too lazy to mess around with them, both AMD and nVidia have got solutions for you: Gaming Evolved and GeForce Experience, respectively. About the upgrading: just because you can upgrade your hardware every couple of years, it doesn't mean you have to.

    2. "Consoles aren’t computers, and that’s a good thing"
    Actually, they are just low speced PCs. Damn, both PS4 and Xbox One use an x86 APU (a low-end CPU with integrated graphics) from AMD. Xbox One even uses DirectX, the same graphics API as Windows PCs. And if you like gaming on the couch, you can do just that, all you need is a wireless controller.

    3. "Console games are made for controllers"
    All major titles support controllers on the PC. On Windows, the Xbox controller works right out of the box. There's also a few brands making controllers specifically for PC, such as Logitech, Razer, Steelseries and even Valve with it's Steam Controller.

    4. "Consoles get more exclusives"
    You got a point here. Microsoft's OneCore is starting to blur the lines, though.

    5. "They’re different beasts"
    Not really. The difference is that a proper PC has a wide variety of hardware, from low-end to enthusiast grade, it all depends on your needs and available budget, while consoles are inherently bound to low-end hardware. Console nowadays is more like a form factor than an actual platform.

    Console are made form Computers with computer components, and they say PC is better. yet they were not intentionally made for gaming, but consoles were, so how are they the supreme race when they weren't built for gaming?

    I admit im not good with the computer smarts, i am only going by the logic of that people chose to game on objects that weren't even made for gaming. but not choose something that was made for gaming.

    i have asked multiple PC gamers "What were PC's made for?" obviously they answer gaming.

    so are consoles smarter then PC, PC do create gaming PC's now after the console. so PC are stealing ideas off the console.

    when PC's initially became commonplace there primary purpose was business use, word, spreadsheets, etc. but with cheaper and cheaper components PC gaming is very accessible.

    I have a very low end laptop and still manage to game on 1080p comfortably. EVERY port i've played my laptop can out perform a console on loading times and graphics. Your right in that a dedicated gaming machine SHOULD outperform consoles but IME it never has.

    the only reason i can think is that if you think of the PC as a console, it has had the longest lifespan many more times longer than any console. This means that developing games is easier and when it comes down to it being more efficient because of programmers familiarity with the PC's coding interface.

    Every new console means a good 2-3 years where the full power isnt being used efficiently and so lesser graphics and loading times.

    Also from a computing point of view packing in 8 cores is almost always a redundant issue as a game needs to be coded in 8 simultaneous threads which is very rarely the case as the programmer would need to think in 8 different areas of code at a time, a very difficult task.

    and as mentioned before the newest consoles are using APU's WITHOUT a dedicated GPU, even my low end laptop has the integrated card plus a 1gb dedicated GPU, which has proved a very successful concept when it comes to cheap, relatively high performance gaming, so even with a 1.9ghz Quad core cpu as a bottleneck the dedicated graphics card is more than enough to compensate on newer games and equal or better performance found in consoles with games including planetside 2 which as fr as i can tell has created some problems on better spec'd machines than my own.

    when it comes down to it logically the PC wins on efficency, loading times, price to power ratio, customisability, variety of games, flexibility, gaming experience and price of games, but if people are happy with the trade off of all of this buying a console, then go for it

    just for comparison theres a manufacturer rrefurbished (practically brand new) laptop with a 2gb dedicated card for £379 on ebay this will DESTROY any console out there today.

    considering this is a laptop thats mid range and at the lower end of the middle, that shows how weak - performance wise - a console is which also uses laptop parts, the only difference is that the laptop has a 2gb dedicated graphics card.

    in this example its the console which cant be described as a 'dedicated gaming machine' and something noones mentioned is that since the 360, consoles havent been dedicated gaming machines, you have iplayer, youtube, etc so in every way the PC/laptop is in fact more of a dedicated gaming machine than the current generation purely with the catalogue of games available.

    snes, mega drive, saturn, psx, ps2, xbox, dreamcast, basically everything before the 360 and ps3 was a DEDICATED console... post this era there hasen't been a dedicated gaming console since, only heavily restricted handicapped PC's with - as far as i can tell - 3-5 year old laptop components which they couldnt sell.

    If i'm right about this the birth of the last two generations of 'dedicated gaming machines' were the result of left over PC/laptop parts that PC gamers didnt buy and PC components manufacturers couldnt sell, the wii used the same card used in the gamecube so could be as old as 8-9 years at least maybe? the 360's gpu was 4 years old at release last time i checked so my theory would make sense in both these instances and the ps4 is using an AMD APU the same concept of the cpu in my laptop which is 5-7 years old at this point. the ps4 having a newer iteration maybe placing it between 3-5 years old.

    scary thought for console gamers...

    Why is everyone bringing up the past? This is 'Why I'm a console gamer', the word I'm means I am, not I was. The question / title isn't 'Why I was a console gamer', it's talking about the present, whatever features each of the 'competitors' had in the past is irrelevant. It's ignorant to say you own a PlayStation4 over an XBOX1 just because you had a PlayStation2. These two are just examples, I know this article is about PC and Console. Just because the PC used to be less social, is it more social now? With overwolf, teamspeak, skype, all of these communication tools, and people bring up the past?
    The same could be said for PlayStation2, it never used to be multiplayer, just very pixelated and poor graphics, does it mean the newest PlayStation has poor graphics? Of course not!, well, compared to the best PC? Yes :) haha.
    Let's compare the present versions of these competitors, the best PC currently, undoubtedly has the best graphics. Depending on what games you play, the following doesn't really matter too much, but for FPS games such as Counter-Strike and CoD, precision goes to the Keyboard and Mouse. Games such as Driving, Flying and third person games that don't require as much accuracy will go to the Consoles. Games like Minecraft should go to the PC, it's more popular, there are more choices of key binds and it is quite difficult to 'PvP' on the console; console is just not very practical for Minecraft. Consoles are most definitely the most comfortable to play with, the ergonomics of the controller fit the average hand quite satisfyingly, and you can relax on the couch without having to keep your position in the same position. The keyboard and mouse tend to stay on the point and don't tend to move (of course the mouse does). The mouse needs a good mouse 'mat'. By mat, I mean a decent surface, otherwise it won't move very smoothly which affects the game so much. Which can be customized more? Well, the hardware and software of a PC can be customized more to be suited and can be changed to upgrade. The console can only be customized on the outside, the skin, the exterior. But of course there are upgrades such as 'Scuffs' which allow increased possibilities for buttons and can too give advantages.

    This article does not respond what I want to know. Quality graphics, FPS and all those features related with graphics. Not to mention "~" key which not necessarily is for cheating. After all Pro gamers don't play games by using consoles. Indeed what I want to know what device give us a major satisfaction.

    This is Amazingly ignorant, no they don't work out of the box every time, in this day and age you have to download the games, destroying the purpose of disks entirely, but if you buy them online microsoft or sony can just take them away. sometimes hey the disc doesn't work, Consoles aren't computers? oh you know what uses computer part's? a computer, so yes they are. console games are made for controller's yes because they can't use anything else and are forced to use them. exclusives are cancer, but console's get exclusives..... the only way you will sell more consoles, exclusives. The biggest difference between pc and consoles are, with console's you are tied to that company, on pc no company owns you, Free, open platform.

    Last edited 20/07/16 8:23 am

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Xj1K8cz-P0

    Props to Rags for making this rather impactful video in response to this inprecise article.

    Umm, PC has and always will have more exclusives.

    All this article did was show how little you really know about PC gaming, The fact that you make points about the 90's gaming shows how outdated your facts are, congratulations, you have just shown that you do no research and base your article on nothing.
    ANYBODY with a fully functional brain who can understand logic and does research ( well that excludes all the console peasants ) will know that PC is much more superior when it comes to gaming.

    Consoles ARE computers though. Your calculator is a computer. Your digital watch is a computer. Your phone is a computer. Yes, even that old Nokia 3110 you still have lying around somewhere.

    Additionally, consoles definitely do not get more exclusives. There are more games available on PC only than anything. One only needs spend a few minutes on Steam to see the very long list of games just on Steam, and that's not even everything available.

    What are you console players? The dumbest people on earth? Yeah I guess so, I bet you kiddies think that your hard drive is your GPU. Consoles on average have about 10-15 exclusives while PC has over 100+... please comprehend. Steam sales.. the greatest thing on Earth, so im in love with the Borderlands franchise and wanted to buy BL2 for cheap, than it was on sale for $10 whereas on console you cant even get digital sales at all except for games with gold etc that are pretty damn old. We can upgrade when ever we want, this is the most vital point, unlike consoles we can upgrade at any point in time whereas yous can only upgrade your hard drives or SSDs.

    The price may be a bit more but GOD DAMN is it much more worth it.. I can play games at 4k 40-60 on High, what can you do? Play games at 1080p 30 or 60 with your crappy outdated at that time 1.8 tPlops of computing power even at that time (or what ever it is).
    Point proven, consoles are not worthy till truly optimised at a good state.

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