PC Gaming vs Console – What is Better, Pros&Cons
2017 was a year to remember for gamers, largely due to the impressive success of Nintendo’s new console – the Nintendo Switch. Its launch title – The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – has been widely acclaimed as one of the best video games ever. Another Switch exclusive – Super Mario Odyssey – is regarded as the best Super Mario game ever by many critics and players.
Such a success has predictably intensified the everlasting PC vs. console debate. Console users have got a new argument in their favor, while pc gaming fans are never short of their own reasons. To try and find out who’s right and what to choose in 2018, let’s check it out step by step.
Step 1: Comparing by Recent Games
One person can do without a large screen or great sound. Someone else plays on medium graphics settings and is fine with that. But good gaming is definitely impossible without good games. You may miss out on many of them if you are a PC gamer, and that’s the trump card played by console gaming enthusiasts during any argument of this kind. That’s true – some wonderful games are console exclusives, and you just can’t play them on PC. However, there are actually many more PC-only games than console exclusives; they’re just not marketed as something exclusive to the PC. For instance, the strategy genre, with such classics as Civilization or the Total War series, is almost entirely PC-oriented. It’s something of a double-edged sword: last year, PS4 gaming delighted us with great titles like Horizon Zero Dawn or Persona 5, but we couldn’t try the record-breaking PUBG without a PC or, later, an Xbox One.
To get some kind of statistical data on this topic, let’s look at the best games of 2017 and find out what platforms they are played on. Then, we can do the same with the most anticipated games of 2018.
To consider different points of view, we’re going to check out five Game of the Year 2017 nominees by The Game Awards and top 10 lists by IGN, GamesRadar+, Polygon, and GameSpot. There are 12 games with at least two mentions across these five rankings. Check the full list below:
Nintendo gaming enables you to play just two of them, though many critics say Super Mario Odyssey alone is a good enough reason to buy a Nintendo Switch, not to mention the incredible Legend of Zelda. Six of the games are playable on the Xbox One, and the winners are the PC and PS4 with seven titles each.
Among all the titles, three are exclusive to the PS4, two are Nintendo Switch exclusives, and one is playable on the PC only. Due to Microsoft’s strategy, the Xbox One has exclusives compared to other consoles, but not vs. the PC.
Check the list of exclusive titles:
Step 2: Comparing by Upcoming Games
As for the most anticipated games of 2018, 17 titles are mentioned by at least three media sources out of the five considered (GamesRadar+, USgamer, Destructoid, BGR, and Polygon). Here are the results.
Here are the exclusive titles:
So, mathematically, the PlayStation 4 is a winner as it has the 22 probably best games of 2017 and 2018 playable with five exclusive titles among them. However, things are not so simple given that one of the Switch exclusives is widely acclaimed as a masterpiece of historical significance. Maybe for someone, quality can beat quantity in this case. And when it comes to quantity, PC gamers have their own ace in the hole…
Step 3: Comparing by Backward Compatibility
Gaming devices are not usually bought to play nothing but the most recent games. That’s why backward compatibility matters.
To play PS3 games on a PS4, you have to pay for the PlayStation Now cloud gaming service. Actually, PC gamers from certain countries are also able to use the service, and the list of countries will be expanded gradually. Moreover, thanks to the enthusiasm of the community and to platforms like GOG.com, PC gamers have almost unlimited access to the virtually countless older PC games. That’s the field where PC gaming can’t be beaten for now by multiple console generations.
Step 4: Comparing by Graphics Quality
Gameplay isn’t the only matter to affect your gaming experience. There are many other factors to consider, and graphics quality is the first among them.
The PS4 Pro and the Xbox One X do offer 4K resolutions, but the same goes for the high-end gaming PC, together with higher frame rate and more adjustable control over the textures and other settings. Furthermore, a PC can be upgraded if one of its parts becomes outdated.
However, that advantage comes at a price, and not only in terms of money. With plenty of hardware parts and software programs, you should be ready to spend some time on different unpleasant activities, from upgrading a driver to replacing a failing power supply. The consoles, with their plug-and-play approach, are definitely more stable as well as easier to use and maintain.
Step 5: Comparing by Price
Just as in the graphics quality case, this point seems easy to estimate.
- Gaming PC price range – $750 – $3000 and more
- Nintendo Switch Price – $300
- PS4 Price Range – $270 – $550
- Xbox One Price Range – $230 – $550
With a $230-550 price range, game consoles are far more affordable than high-end desktops. But again, there are two sides to every coin.
PC games are generally cheaper than console ones, especially when it comes to Steam sales and the best deals from other digital distribution services. Furthermore, some of the most popular multiplayer PC games, like Team Fortress 2 or Dota 2, are free to play.
So, you can save some money on PC gaming in the long term if you have such a goal.
The Final Step: Putting It All Together
It’s been quite a long read, but we still don’t have a clear answer to the main question: what gaming system to choose in 2018. And, you know, that’s fine. First, let’s recognize that – with a handheld option and a limited but wonderful range of games – the Nintendo Switch isn’t adequately comparable to the PS4 and Xbox One consoles and desktops. It’s better to consider it as an additional gaming option. As for PC, PS4, and Xbox Gaming, they can be compared, but it’s all about pros and cons. The PS4 offers more first-tier options among recent and upcoming titles, but the PC has a much wider range of older games due to unparalleled backward compatibility. High-end gaming PCs provide better graphics than consoles, but that superiority has a high price. However, if a budget gaming PC is affordable for you, it can be upgraded later, while cheaper or free-to-play PC games will save you some money.
|Network||Active Users per Month|
|Playstation||80 million (1)|
|Xbox Live||59 Million (2)|
|Nintendo||20+ Million (3)|
|PC||120+ Million (4)|
(1) – according to statista.com
(2) – according to windowscentral.com
(3) – according to nintendoeverything.com
(4) – according to wepc.com
But going with the majority isn’t the best approach for everyone. It all depends on your preferences. If you enjoy strategy games, the console is not your choice, but it probably is if you are into fighting or sports simulation games. If you prefer a plug-and-play solution, the console is ideal for you, but you can get better graphics quality after spending some time and money to build your gaming desktop. So, read our tips, make your choice, and enjoy your gaming time in 2018.
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