Gaming on PC vs. Gaming on consoles . . . a thoughtful and measured discussion.

Gaming on PC vs. Gaming on consoles. Let us discuss. Because I’m bewildered. And I don’t want to derail any game threads.

I’m not talking about the games here. Some games are console exclusive, some are PC exclusive. Buying into one or the other based on that seems obvious to me. As are points about mods, and small/big text, etc.

But I have to ask a leading question. If there is a big release that is on both, why do people choose PC?

For me, the PC is where I can type, and click, and mostly do work stuff. Way back in the days when computers were first on the scene, we had no choice but to use computers that were ostensibly for work and use them to play games. Thus SpaceWar, and games for the IBM PC, and a golden age of computer games.

But then consoles started appearing with graphic fidelity to give gaming another front. The Nintendo, the Playstation, the XBox. And now you have your choice to game on the PC or console for many titles.

To me, this is a no brainer. No installation issues. No startup issues. No hardware issues. A vastly, vastly improved control scheme that moved away from the archaic KB+M. Much tighter game design and UI. Analog controls. Vibration feedback. Very few bugs. Very few crashes. No tweaking. A tight and simple and reliable and consistent system. And much, much, much cheaper than PC gaming, maybe by as much as a third to a quarter as expensive.

So diehard PC gamers that choose the PC version. Can you give me an insight as to why? Because I’ve been a PC gamer since the 80s and am still a PC gamer, but never when it’s available to both. Consoles to me are prima facie better because they were designed around gaming. What gives?

I expect this thread to be a bit controversial, but please keep it civil. :)

Hehe, these discussions.

My reasons are usually pretty simple. I still control aspects of my PC to a greater extent than my consoles. Often when I can’t play a game on my PC, it’s because some tech changed and it doesn’t work anymore, not because some suit yanked the plug. The industry might be walking away from that, but for now, I can play that old ass game I still have from the 90s if I so choose, and there are plenty of tools to make that experience good to great.

Price. The computer costs more but the games often cost less, like a lot less.

I like the Keyboard and Mouse. Sometimes I just want to chuck my controller through a window because someone came up with a weird scheme I can’t stand, and I am kind of stuck with it.

Variety. Ease of entry onto the PC to be pretty darn low because some great niche games show up here, and they just don’t translate to console, nor are they always even picked up later for them.

My friends have PCs. We can play almost anything together with just a purchase… no real negotiations about what console we should all have.

And console vs pc even feels a little dated now because the number of people I know with 1k+ phones that play on those… huge compared to the rest.

I prefer PC for the most part, but there are some games I like better on console. Stardew Valley is great on PS4… if only it wasn’t like 2-3 versions behind the PC version. But hey I have that one on PC, PS4 and Mobile.

I guess when the I need more money schemes take control away from me in the PC market, I’ll probably just exit the market or dwindle it down to almost nothing like I did with TV.

I tend to go through phases. Right now i’m in a “don’t play many games, but tend to play iOS or PC games.” But there were years where most of my gaming was on a console, and years where most wasn’t.

By far game selection is the most important - games i enjoy like Age of Empires 2 or Total War just aren’t available on console.

Console gaming tends to be about the experience, and the best experience is on a TV. So games with crossover content like Witcher 3 seem superficially better on a console. HDR is also easier to manage using a console vs a PC, and HDR gaming without a TV using a PC monitor is very substandard. Experiential games like Uncharted or Horizon Zero Dawn still have appeal on consoles. But at this point in the console cycle the gap between PC and Console performance is high.

Indie game are by no means stuck on PC OR Console - even the Apple TV now has some decent indie games to choose from. And often times low res indie games might well fee more at home on a smaller screen.

I don’t really play shooters and the biggest differentiation on other than exclusives seems to be shooters - i don’t care about high refresh rate FPS, so that aspect of PC gaming doesn’t influence my preferences.

The biggest issue for me with PC is how ugly and wire-y the PC setup tend to be. Other than a laptop my PC is hooked up to my TV and using it is more cumbersome than a console. I’ll probably never have a traditional ATX+ monitor again, and if i have to PC game it will be on the TV or a laptop. And therefore i need a laptop, as TV playing RTS games like Age 2 is a suboptimal experience. You just need to sit closer to the screen with like that.

Also right now the PS4 feels very old - the UI is slow, if clean.

Because it’s better?

Seriously, on the PC I can choose which control scheme I want. I can use mods. I can play in a window. The PC offers me choice I’d never have on a console. Why limit myself?

Yeah, I prefer PC for two reasons. First is price. I need a computer anyway, so having my gaming on it just makes sense. And specially in Brazil, where consoles are outrageously expensive (and the games too), it’s a LOT cheaper than consoles.

Second reason is backward compatibility. I can play games released 30 years ago without any need for specific hardware, and no console - no matter how good - allows something like that.

Good lord, how much is an XBox One in Brazil? $2000 USD?

Thanks for the thoughtful replies so far, everyone.

I hate playing games on a TV in the living room, and for the vast majority of games I care about the PC experience is vastly better. I’m primarily an RPG and strategy gamer, I have no interest in trying to play those games with a controller. For that matter, many of the most interesting games in those spaces never even show up on console.

I haven’t bought a console since the PS2. I have a PS3 but it’s never even been hooked up. There’s never been a pressing reason to do so.

  1. Games are cheaper on the PC (generally speaking)

  2. Consoles are expensive. I’ve been using the same PC forever. Sure I can’t play Red Dead 2 because it’s too old but I can play somethign like Noita or other new Indie games. If I had a 360 I would need to get an xbox one to play those.

  3. Gaming location. To play my console I have to play on my TV in my living room where the rest of my family is hanging out. This means I can’t play games that are graphic, or have language or whatever unless my kids are not around. My PC is in my office, I can play these whenever I want if I close the door.

  4. I don’t have to pay extra to play my games online.

  5. Keyboard and mouse is better for some type of games.

  6. If I do want to upgrade my system, I can do it piece by piece. Say, spend $150 on a new video card. Console I have to dish out $500 for new console, controllers, etc.

  7. Portability. Console I have to play the games at my house or carry my console around. PC I can play the games at home, on the road on my laptop, etc.

Because I own a PC. I may be able to afford the game. I can not afford a console.

Well first of all, if I’m already going to have a computer, why would I buy a mediocre one and then also buy a completely different system to play games on, when I could just buy a nice computer and play games on that as well? Beyond that, I like being able to listen to music, browse the web, chat, and then load up a game all in the same spot.

I would much rather install a game to one of my super fast SSDs than play it off a slow disc anyway?

These are few and far between at this point. The only real compatibility issues I run into are trying to play old games on Windows 10. But that’s a small price to pay for such ridiculous backwards compatibility.

The keyboard and mouse is vastly superior to gamepads for several kinds of games that I enjoy (FPS, RTS, RPG). This is reason enough to stick with PC for me. You know what’s cool about the PC though? You can use a gamepad if you prefer. Or a racing wheel. Or a HOTAS controller.

I’m not really sure what you’re referring to here.

I rarely have issues with crashing and bugs on PC. The only game in recent memory that I had issues with was Forza Horizon 4, which was resolved.

I love tweaking. You get a game and want better anti-aliasing or texture filtering? Not a problem. You want a higher framerate? Lower the settings. You want a nicer looking game and don’t mind a lower framerate? Bump the settings up. You want better textures? Maybe there’s a mod.

You get a console game and want any of that? Tough.

Not even remotely. I buy most games for $5-$10, and often for even less than that. Unless you’re obsessed with getting a game at launch price, then a little patience will be rewarded with deep discounts in relatively little time. The hardware may be more expensive, but when you factor in that I would already own a PC regardless, and the software is substantially cheaper, then I really don’t think it’s any more expensive in the long run; especially if you’re not interested in high end hardware. But it’s nice that the option is there if you want to play in high resolutions and settings that consoles aren’t capable of.

These aren’t even true on consoles anymore. It’s lesser than on PC, but “no issues” is false.

For me there are a couple reasons:

  1. The PC is in my office, and I don’t have to share with anyone. The TV is in the living area where contention for usage is high.
  2. Controllers give me tingly hands after extended use. I still use them (and even for some PC games) but can play mouse/keyboard much longer.
  3. PC performs better and looks better (assuming you stay semi-current on a gaming PC)
  4. Cheaper games.

An XBox One S costs R$ 1500 to R$ 2500, which is around US$ 400 - US$ 600 . Games at launch cost tipically in the R$ 180 - R$ 300 range, while similar prices for PC are in the R$ 80 - R$ 240 range.

PS4 Pro is around R$ 2800, which amounts to around US$ 700. Games are in roughly the same range as above.

Of course, consider that purchasing power in Brazil is much lower compared to the US and you should have the full picture. ;)

I have been pc gaming since i got a 486dx100. I have also had pretty much all the consoles.

Why limit yourself if you don’t have to, pc as listed above is my first choice but lots to enjoy on consoles too.

Better resolution, better image quality, better framerate, faster load times, same control scheme, cheaper games. Mods.

I think people have already hit on most of the points I’d make, but I’ll concur with:

  • Having my own dedicated space rather than having to wait for the TV to be available.
  • Performance is better on a good gaming PC than on consoles. When the games load faster, look prettier, and run smoother, it all adds up to a nicer experience.
  • Related to the above, options like ultrawide aspect ratio and 100+Hz refresh rates are true qualitative differences that make playing the same game more pleasurable.
  • After the initial hardware cost, individual games tend to be cheaper on PC, especially after bundling. And not having to pay for online service adds up too.
  • Lots of games I like are exclusive to PC or control better with mouse and keyboard, so I’m already investing in a solid gaming PC for those. Having done that, might as well take advantage of it for the multiplatform stuff too.

That said, I like consoles too. They get some good exclusives, and being hooked up to the TV makes them ideal for couch party games. And the Switch in particular has a great unique feature with its portability, so I’ll prefer to play certain games (mostly the non-demanding variety) on it.

This is also my main reason for switching more and more to the PC for multiplatform games that I can play on any platform. I started off as an exclusively PC gamer until the Nintendo 64, and then PC and console games were really different from one another, but as they were brought closer together and we got a lot of multiplatform games in the era of the 360 onwards, I did migrate mostly to the consoles for my multiplatform games. I just like sitting on the couch better. It’s infinitely more comfortable than the horrible computer chairs I’ve always used.

But now the TV is becoming more and more the domain of my son and my wife. And my PC is become my space that I don’t share. And since the 360 era, PC games have also become really good about supporting the controllers that I now prefer over keyboard/mouse. So that’s not an issue on the PC anymore. So yeah, mostly I’ve been migrating to the PC more and more since my son was born especially.

My reasons for preferring PC gaming are:

  • I already have and maintain a PC for gaming and non-gaming purposes. This is 80% of the reason for me.
  • PC games tend to have a very long lifespan, meaning I have a large potential library, and games generally become discounted as they age.
  • The sorts of games I enjoy tend to benefit from PC controls. In the old days, this would have been a lot of point-and-click adventures. And these days, lots of turn-based strategy games.

Can you give me some insight as to how these points apply to you personally choosing to buy and play a game on console vs. PC when you already own the hardware for both? I get how buying the hardware is “much, much cheaper”, but you’ve already done that, right? And barring a few rare exceptions (Diablo III is the only one that comes to mind), if a game is designed around gamepad controls and UI for consoles, it’ll work identically with a gamepad plugged into your PC.

This too for me.