Please, for the love of any deity that you may believe in, ignore the title of this Pop-Off. It is, admittedly, more than a little clickbaity, but the SEO team says it’s the type of hot content that a large swath of gamers Google on a regular basis. So, in a way, this article’s existence is partially your fault. Looking into the mirror ain’t always pretty, is it?
Though the title may not be something I can get behind (I know, I know, my name is attached to it, but hey, I gotta pay bills and this is only minor-league soul-selling), there is some truth in it. I recently penned a piece detailing how ditching consoles for a gaming PC improved my life, a far more nuanced approach to the same topic. Now, with a corporate gun to my head, I’m going to smash the metaphorical big, red button and launch this savage take.
So, here are six ways PC gaming is better than console gaming.
You Don’t Need to Pay to Play (With Others)
Imagine living in a nightmare age in which console gatekeepers demand that you pay an access fee on top of your already existing internet connection so you can play online games with friends. Unfortunately, you don’t need to sleep to experience the awfulness.
Microsoft (with its $9.99-per-month Xbox Live Gold) and Sony (with its $9.99-per-month PlayStation Plus) are very happy to squeeze a few extra dollars out of their fan bases with paid multiplayer services. And Nintendo, with its “I learned it by watching you” online outlook, plans to follow suit in September 2018 with a somewhat-mysterious paid multiplayer service that eliminates the company’s current free offering.
Sure, these companies toss a variety of bonuses your way to mask the e-mugging, but the games vanish into the ether should you stop subscribing.
PC gaming, on the other hand, has no such shenanigans. When my homies and I want to mix it up in Dragon Ball FighterZ or Rocket League, we needn’t worry about whether or not we paid the multiplayer tax.
You Don’t Need to Wait to Upgrade
Cryptocurrency-related graphics card shortages aside, there’s nothing stopping PC gamers from updating their gaming desktops right now. With a screwdriver, a steady hand, and a little gumption, PC gamers can replace their computers’ GPUs, CPUs, RAM, and storage at their conveniences.
This ability to be on the curve, or far ahead of it, is an attractive PC gaming element, as it directly impacts your gameplay experience in terms of resolution and frame rates.
For example, my Nvidia Geforce GTX 970 GPU lets my PC run Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain at 60 frames per second and 1080p resolution, with all the visual settings jacked to maximum. But if I wanted to experience Big Boss’ final adventure in 4K and without major performance shortcomings, I’d need to swap in a beefier card, such as the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Founder’s Edition. And I could.
Unfortunately, console gamers cannot upgrade their systems’ guts save for their boxes’ hard drives. But Microsoft and Sony would happily sell you new systems—the Xbox One X and PlayStation Pro, respectively—that offer debatable improvements.
You Don’t Need to Spend a Lot on Games
One of the biggest knocks against PC gaming is its upfront cost, but people who strive to be honest in their PC/console comparisons must factor in the aforementioned free online multiplayer play AND super-cheap games.
Steam, GOG, Humble Bundle, and Amazon run gaming sales on a regular basis; sales that see even deeper price cuts during, say, the holiday season. Gamestop, Walmart, PlayStation Network, Xbox Live, and Nintendo eShop have their sales, sure, but they don’t often match the ridiculous price slashes. In fact, I make the bulk of my game purchases during Steam sales, times when select titles hit the 66 percent or 80 percent discount mark.
You Get Excellent Backward Compatibility
This was one of the best things about the firing up my Steam account on a then-new Windows 10 PC gaming rig—all the games that I purchased on my old Windows 7 laptop worked without a hitch. In fact, I only have one game, a disc-based version of Outrun 2006: Coast 2 Coast, that simply refuses to play. And thanks to emulation, the PC is pretty damn good in regards to games preservation.
Microsoft, I must admit, is making good strides in the console space. Thanks to the Xbox Backward Compatibility plan, you can play select Xbox and Xbox 360 games on the Xbox One, Xbox One S, or Xbox One X. In fact, if you own a Xbox One X machine, the old games that you have in either physical or digital form receive performance boosts. Microsoft also offers the $9.99-per-month Game Pass, an all-you-can-eat, Netflix-style service that includes Xbox 360 and original Xbox games.
Sony has made some rather interesting moves to enable backward compatibility, such as letting you stream PlayStation 3 to your PlayStation 4 (or, shockingly, to a PC!) via PlayStation Now for $19.99 per month. I signed up to stream PlayStation 3 games to my gaming PC, and found the entire experience unworthy, with lag and artificating being the major issues.
As for Nintendo, you can expect retro games on the Nintendo Switch, but don’t hold your breath for the return of the Wii’s wonderful Virtual Console, a platform that emulated popular and somewhat obscure video game consoles.
It’s the Home to Big-Ticket Esport Games
If you have dreams of netting big bucks by playing video games, you better get a gaming PC. Esports-worthy games also exist on consoles, of course, but the real money is on the personal computer.
Last year, Dota 2 and League of Legends, two of the most popular video games on the planet, dominated esports earnings. If you want hard numbers, here you go: The Dota 2 International’s prize pool topped $24 million, while the League of Legends World Championship fell just shy of $5 million. So, get those mice and keyboards ready, and prepare to grind.
You Can Live the Mod Life
A gaming PC is a full-fledged personal computer, unlike consoles that are kinda-sorta computer-like devices. As a result, you can modify games to give them features that aren’t a part of the intended experience.
Have you seen the late, great Macho Man in Skyrim? Or, the television-like camera angles in Fire Pro Wrestling World? Those additions come via the wonderful modding community, a wizard-like collective that makes the magic happen.
It’s PC Gaming or Bust…Right?
And that’s why PC gaming is superior to console gaming, friends. That wasn’t so bad, was it? I like to think that I took the inherently ghastly take and gave it a decent argument. Although I mostly agree with the sentiment (the Switch is the first console I’ve purchased since the Xbox 360), I would never trash consoles; some of my favorite games of all time haven’t (legally) made their ways to PC.
Besides, maybe one day I’ll be called upon to list the ways in which console gaming is superior to PC gaming.