June 9th, 2010
Video games have played a large part in my relatively short life. As I've said before, "If it's fun, I'll play it -- no matter the platform."
But there are pros and cons to every system. And when it comes to playing video games, PCs are great for the following reasons, especially when compared to consoles:
1. PC has the largest library of games (and all of them are backwards compatible). The problem with consoles is that you need to keep them handy if you plan on replaying your favorite games from years past. Either that or repurchase them in digital form, as Nintendo hopes you'll do.
Not so on PC. When you buy a game for your computer, it's yours to replay no matter how many times you upgrade or change your box.* And you don't have to raid the closet for hardware before you do.
That being the case, PC has the largest, most continuous active game library of any system. And that's a big deal.
2. PC games are more affordable (usually). Before I move on, let me excuse the $14 per month World of Warcraft habit. Gone? Good.
In case you didn't know, consoles have a $10 surcharge (a console tariff if you will) on all new games. This is because console makers get a cut of every release, whereas PC developers don't have to pay such a license fee. So multiplatform games that cost $60 on HD consoles will set you back $50 on PC. In other words, buy five, get one free. Or buy 10, get two free. You get the idea.
As if that weren't enough, you can often find additional discounts, making select high-profile games a mere $40. Steam will even mark games down to $20 bucks for a limited time. And don't even get me started on free games like these.
Regarding hardware, yes, PC machines are more expensive... if you only use them to play video games. But who does that? With this $800 laptop (or any comparative one for that matter), I can play games like Modern Warfare 2 and surf the internet, work from home, edit a video, and 100 other things—all of which drives the cost of actual gaming hardware nearer to $0.
3. PCs get you in and out of the action faster. If you don't leave your computer powered on indefinitely, then this won't apply, as I can grab a drink and a snack in the time it takes a desktop to load. But who doesn't leave their computer on at all hours? Furthermore, who isn't sitting in front of a monitor for most of the day, whether at work or at home?
With that in mind, PCs let me play (and quit) my games faster than modern home consoles, which are rarely left on and typically reside in single-use living rooms. As for PCs, if I want some quick platforming action, I click my Steam shortcut for some Trine action, then exit as quickly as I started. Or I click my Splinter Cell: Conviction or Batman icons, then hit the Escape button (still one of my favorite keyboard buttons) when I'm done. Or I open my browser and play this crazy addictive game called Rotate & Roll.
Granted, this hasn't always been the case, as playing games on my IBM PC Jr. required three separate floppy disc loads. And it's not consoles fault they're not as persistent in everyday life as computers are. But that's the reality. And at least for me, that translates into measurable time savings.
4. PCs have a better online experience. By better I mean more people playing online, free multiplayer, more demos, more downloads, more add-on content, greater access to user mods (including unofficial ones, which you won't find elsewhere), better voice chat, better multitasking, and limitless amounts of additional gaming content in general.
Where do console players go for tips and reviews? Their PC. Same goes for PC players, only their system is already integrated with the playing space. Again, many of the above benefits aren't directly the fault of consoles themselves. But PCs retain all of the aforementioned advantages in any case. And that unequivocally enhances the overall experience of playing games on PC.
5. PCs give players more control and more options. As extensively covered here, the real allure of PC as a gaming device is all about choice. You decide how much money to allocate on hardware. You decide whether to control your games with a keyboard, mouse, joypad, wheel, flight stick, whatever. You decide how to install your games, whether by disc, download, or via the a web browser. It's up to you.
Obviously, with added choice comes added complexity. And for someone that requires a lot of hand-holding, the limitless potential of PC can seem daunting. But in terms of gaming self-expression, nothing comes close to PCs.
* FINE PRINT: Some digital rights games may require proof of purchase.
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