Thanks to high-profile services and sales like Steam and the Humble Bundle, PC gaming is as big as it has ever been since console gaming hit the scene. As the PS3 and Xbox 360 died down to make way for the next-gen, and the PS4 and Xbox One don't exactly have a library filled to the brim with must-have titles yet, you might feel it's finally time to join the glorious "PC Gaming Master Race" – something we argued in favour of last week.
But this weekend, we thought we'd put the argument for the other console side of the coin forward. While the PC gaming fraternity is certainly a rewarding race to be a part of – and the early lifespan of the PS4 and Xbox One haven't brought many must-have console-exclusive games just yet – now might be the best time to either finally make the switch to console gaming, or to get off the PC-versus-console fence and recommit.
It's no secret that the PC gaming space is a wild west of minimum requirements, a mishmash of very different hardware and software, and just about anything can (and often does) go wrong.
Game consoles aren't impervious to bugs or hardware failure, but they traditionally happen much, much less.
What has changed this generation, though, is that both the PS4 and Xbox One have switched to an x86 architecture. This means that the consoles are now standardised – no more wacky PS3 Cell architecture, for instance – except they still remain in the controlled, polished, single-platform environment of the console world, where there isn't as much to go wrong.
VR might hit consoles first
The Oculus Rift is, without question, the first step toward the kind of virtual reality machines you see in movies. This is so obviously the case that the big boys – Sony and Microsoft – have made strides towards releasing their own headsets. Microsoft has purchased a bunch of headset patents, but Sony has announced and already demoed its headset, Project Morpheus.
At first, it could've been argued that Sony, and thus game consoles, were playing VR catch-up. Now, though, Facebook purchased the Oculus Rift, and while that isn't a death knell for the device, it puts the Kickstarter-funded headset's future in a murky light. Meanwhile, nothing is standing in the way of Project Morpheus, and it now appears to be the gaming scene's best hope for VR – and it'll release for the PS4, not a gaming PC.
The biggest games are bigger on consoles
PC gaming is full of phenomenal – or at least entertaining – games. The indie scene and online multiplayer scene grew up here, and – thanks to the keyboard and mouse combo – certain game genres only work well on PC, such as the traditional MOBA or MMO. While the PC will occasionally spawn console-possible gems like Portal, the biggest games are bigger on consoles.
Nintendo games are only available on consoles. Naughty Dog properties – the very peak of games being like a playable movie – are only available on Sony consoles. While online gaming is more experienced and grew up on the PC, Microsoft consoles provide the most cohesive online gaming platform in Xbox Live. Furthermore, as you have doubtless witnessed from complaining on various Internet social communities, big PC games are often clearly designed with a console version in mind, such as Skyrim, rather than the PC platform.
Graphics get better with age
The PC counterpart of a console game can always look better than its console brethren if enough money is thrown at hardware. However, PC hardware (as related to its graphical capabilities) ages faster than console hardware. The PS3 only had 500MB of RAM – the same amount as a Raspberry Pi – but games like The Last of Us looked as good as, if not better than, any PC game at the time. Even God of War 2, which released exclusively on the PS2 after the PS3 was available, looked phenomenal on what was then an outdated console.
This doesn't apply to the Xbox One (Microsoft doesn't have a handheld platform), but Sony allows cross-platform purchases. If you purchase a game on your PS4 and there is also a PS Vita version, there is often an option to just cross-purchase the game, and you'll now own it on both platforms, allowing you to leave the house but continue playing where you left off.
It's cheaper for the best, and you won't waste money
As we noted last week, satisfactory gaming PCs are – no question – cheaper than they used to be. However, the height of PC gaming is still extraordinarily expensive compared to the visible returns. Meanwhile, a £350 PS4 or Xbox One – the price of a nice (though not even close to the best – a Titan Black, pictured above, will run you £900 or so) graphics card alone – will get you the height of graphical power for your money because it's a dedicated machine.
The openness of the PC as a gaming platform not only means that you'll often find hidden gems, but will unknowingly pay for utter crap. This is exacerbated with the famed Steam sales and indie gaming bundles. Thanks to Steam sales, it has become so prevalent to pay for games that you literally never play, that doing so is basically a meme.
Like the PC, consoles have constant game sales, it's extremely easy to purchase and obtain the games, and there are always more than enough games to play, but you will rarely – if ever – fall prey to the infamous act of spending hundreds of pounds on games you never even install. It might sound crazy that your purchasing habits change based on platform regardless of price and availability of games, but for whatever deep-rooted psychological reason, it's true.
In the end, it's really a great time to be platform polygamous. The PC gaming and console scenes have both exploded in popularity over the years, and neither are dying down anytime soon. However, consoles tend to get the majority of the biggest games, or those games were made with consoles in mind to begin with – and being a console gamer is cheaper in the long-run, and consoles make it much easier to play with your buddies. Whatever your choice, though, it's a great time to be a gamer.