PC Gaming – Alive and Well!

PC Gaming

If the old saying “If I had a nickel for every time that I heard” was something you could actually cash in on, then being paid for each utterance of “PC Gaming is dead/dying” would pay dividends. I don’t know when it really became trendy to say such a thing, but it has been mentioned on countless forums and in discussions regarding gaming formats for years. First it was Windows that would end it, then the original Playstation, then the release of the current gen of consoles, now the next gen is the doomsday harbinger. Well suffice it to say that a platform that has seen over 10 million+ sales for Diablo III is certainly not dead.

Still any discussion of the future of PC gaming brings up an interesting question that many of us as gamers have to take into consideration. That was the subject of the cost of PC hardware and your return on that investment in entertainment value versus the console systems. With most people keeping a closer eye than ever on their disposable income, cost more than ever can be a deciding factor. What is it about the PC segment of the gaming industry that compels many to spend their dollar here?

In the past, these two hobbies were not in such direct competition, as the games available on the two mediums and the gamers they tried to attract were distinctively different. As the consoles have matured, they have gone from just playing games to offering previously PC specific features such as internet browsing, movie playback, online gaming, social networking and more. The PC still offers the ability to multi-task, tab between game and browsing, and the control of a keyboard and mouse. Even that is debatable as a plus, since there is something to be said for sitting on the couch with a wireless controller in front of the home theater while gaming.

The blurring of the lines between the two leads to more direct comparisons. With many games releasing on multiple platforms, the “which is the best for me” question is always out there. The PS3, Xbox 360 and to a lesser extent Wii are all generally capable of delivering the graphical presentation that you would find on a mid to high range PC. This is part as most releases don’t take advantage of the PC’s continually improving specs but are developed for the larger console market and ported. The consoles start out with advanced hardware and over their production run, the software is optimized more and developers find ways to get the maximum out of the devices, delivering some impressive titles for years. You are also guaranteed that the game will work with your system, as the standardized hardware makes bug fixes much easier. This luxury is available to anyone with a television for three to five hundred dollars at launch and much less later on.

With all that said why would anyone choose to game on a PC? The cost of a decent machine, even self built, can range from five hundred to thousands of dollars. Sure if you have an existing system you can often carry pieces from one build to the next, but the initial investment for a new user is still there. Buying a decent monitor for gaming often is an increased expense where people often already have a TV in their home that is a good match for their console. There is also the “fun” of finding out that a conflict with your chipset, a driver or your operating system is causing you to either not be able to install or you receive a crash every time to try to save a game that you just played for an hour.

Now before you say that sounds all bad, you have to realize things which may appear negative can actually be a positive for many who game primarily on the PC. In a word, choice, is what separates the platforms. The ability to configure a machine that fits your individual needs, from the hardware itself to the customization that is available in cases, peripherals and accessories, the PC’s ability to fit the individual dwarfs the cookie cutter consoles. The constant upgrading that is so often described as a hassle, is also something that many people consider a hobby. It certainly can have frustrating moments, but the rewarding times are that much more so.

When you sit down to game in front of your PC setup, everything from the desktop layout to the custom keyboard config in your favorite game is for you. You are not having to adapt to preset button layouts or limitations on save points – at least when a game is developed for PC as a primary focus. Cost is also somewhat subjective, since many times you can build a PC gradually, upgrading as you are able. Also, many talk about the low cost of the console, but fail to factor in the thousands spent on the TV and entertainment center in many instances.

Though either are viable means of providing gaming entertainment, there are still distinctive differences that make the decision and the investment a bit easier for those of us who prefer to game from our PC.

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