When groups of people gather to chatter about video games, a lot of untrue statements get thrown back and forth. It’s nothing new: in the days of the 16-bit console wars, there was always that person who would swear by everything holy that Nintendo and Sega were working on a console together (his uncle, who worked at Nintendo, told him so).
One of the most popular modern misconceptions is, “PC gaming is dead.” That statement isn’t simply untrue: it’s enough to make anyone who knows otherwise grab their hair and grit their teeth. Here are five reasons why:
PCs are a pioneer in digital game distribution — “Of course PC gaming is dead,” scoffs Joe Average. “Walk into a GameStop and tell me how many PC games you see on the shelves.”
A game’s availability at retail has always been a spotty way of determining its popularity (“Want a copy of Deadly Towers? Plenty to go around!”). Nowadays, it’s useless. Though consumers still favor retail as their means of acquiring console games, the digital market is growing rapidly. Meanwhile, PC gamers turned to the online marketplace a long time ago.
Valve launched Steam in 2003, and the service has since grown to became the premier distributor of PC games. Though you can still find PC games sold at retail, it’s simply more convenient to download them if you can spare the bandwidth. Console fans are only beginning to fall thoroughly in love with digital distribution, but PC users were married to the online market years ago.
PC’s have thrived in times when consoles were unpopular, or outright dead — The Video Game Industry Crash of 1983 (or 1984, depending on whom you ask) is a well-known event. What fewer people seem to remember, however, is that computer games remained popular while console games declined. In fact, the rise of the affordable PC was one of the major factors that contributed to the crash: clever advertisers asked parents why they were wasting money on “toys” for their kids when computers could play games and prepare them for college?
In other words, PC gaming has retained steady popularity since its conception, whereas public interest in console gaming has gone through dips and over peaks.
Many PC gamers love having the power to customize their rig — In that vein, it’s important to remember that PC gaming holds a special lure to gamers who enjoy customizing their experience on some level. The PC boom during the industry crash allowed amateur programmers to build their own games. Similarly, modern-day PC’s allow interested parties to essentially build their own computer to suit their performance tastes. Not everyone has the skill to build their own computer, and not everyone enjoys the task, but those who do find it a rewarding, enjoyable project that makes playing games on that PC all the more satisfying.
By contrast, console manufacturers discourage any sort of customization or tampering, and even tend to frown on homebrew games and apps. If you buy a console to play your games, what you take out of the box is essentially what you get. It’s uncomplicated and hassle-free, but that kind of straightforwardness isn’t enjoyed by every gamer.
PC’s are where MMOs live — Massive multiplayer online games–MMOGs–are huge. And the rise of the free-to-play market means they’re only only getting bigger. MMOs are no longer simply limited to medieval multi-player games like World of Warcraft, Ultima Online, and EverQuest. Now there are MMO games to suit every taste and genre, and the vast majority of them are exclusive to the PC. In fact, given the popularity of the free-to-play and social markets, the PC might be considered the most popular game console that’s currently in use.
PC’s are getting cheaper, which makes them serious competition for consoles — Computers, particularly desktop computers, are becoming more affordable with every passing year. Competition from sleek laptops as well as tablets, keeps PC pricing on a downward trend.
There was once a time when consoles were considered the cheap, easy alternative for people who just want to play some cool games, but with console tech becoming more complex and therefore expensive, will game systems continue to look like the more affordable choice when stacked up against a typical gaming PC? We’ll certainly find out in this coming console generation!