The Reason You're (Not) A Console Gamer

Shamus Young

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The Reason You're (Not) A Console Gamer

Before you click, let me point out that we're not having THAT discussion again. We're actually having a discussion about why THAT discussion is so often a dead end.

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Dec 10, 2012
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Tis true, a good point well made. As a kid in the '90s I had both a pc and a console, but I ended up going with consoles because more of my friends played games on the Genesis than the computer. Most of the games I heard of and played with friends were Sega and Sony, so it was an easy choice to get those systems myself.

Fanboys will be fanboys, but it is a stupid argument all around, and misses the point of the issue anyway.
 

Covarr

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Growing up, I was mostly a console kid, but I had PC games too. I went back and forth between them pretty interchangably, playing Super Mario World on one system and Jazz Jackrabbit 2 on another. It didn't really make much of a difference to me either way, back then, and either one had experiences that couldn't be replicated on the other. It didn't really matter to me, as long as I could play games. It wasn't until about 2009 that I started to gravitate toward PC. I'd just gotten all my financial aid money for college, and I needed a new computer anyway because my old cheapo laptop was falling apart, so I decided to go all-in and get the best equipment I could for under $700.

It wasn't a beast, by any means, but it was pretty decent. 4GB RAM, a GeForce 9800 GT (I was lucky with my timing, got it on a really good sale), and a Core 2 Duo E7300. Enough to actually play all the free games I'd been playing before (Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, mostly), but at framerates above 20 and graphics settings above minimum. I was ecstatic. But I needed more games, so I bought The Orange Box, having heard it was much better on PC than the PS3 version I already owned. When I saw the difference, when I discovered the free, regular updates... that's when I knew that PC would be my main platform. It was specifically VALV[sup]E[/sup] and TF2 that converted me, and they've had a good deal of loyalty from me ever since, even when they're being complete asshats.

Even though I'm primarily a PC gamer, I still do a fair bit of console gaming. Metal Gear has, until recently, been a primarily console experience, and that alone is enough to get me to buy a system. The barrage of semi-free games with PS Plus that I might not have otherwise bought keeps me coming back to my PS3 and PS4, and Nintendo's exclusives have yet to disappoint me. I don't see myself giving up console gaming anytime soon. Still, when a game is available on both PC and console, I'm probably gonna get the PC version[footnote]Unless it's Arkham Knight or Need for Speed: Rivals. Seriously, I have a standing policy against buying shoddy PC ports, and generally if this happens I will not buy the game at all on any system.[/footnote]. I do love my high framerates, my gaming mouse, and the convenience of having games at a computer I spend so much time at anyway. I'll never be an aggressive "master race" PC gamer, but I'll always be a PC gamer.

P.S. Thanks
 

schmulki

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I feel like it used to not even be a fight. There were a few PC games which everyone played and were well worth having a PC capable of running them (most of the Blizzard stuff during their heyday, CS, etc.), and other than that, it just wasn't worth the cost and trouble to play on a PC. It was extremely costly, games didn't work right, you had a ton of drivers and patches to deal with, etc.

And then consoles spent a decade squandering away all the advantages they had over a PC while things on the PC side of things became more stable in terms of hardware and drivers, Steam helped manage everything very well, etc.

So what do we have now? An article like this which is completely true: it's no longer a matter of, "it's obvjectively better to do X or Y," but a situation where it's really personal preference and more changed by the way you would like to game than anything else.

It's kinda sad, really. I hoped that by now, we would be much further along than we are. Take the completeness we used to have from console games, the modding scene from PC games, the ability to relatively easily be able to add new features/content to existing games instead of selling rehashed annual sequels of games which are barely changing. Instead, we have money-grubbing companies trying their damnedest to hold onto legacy models of doing business and trying to such every penny they have out of consumers to keep things going like they're used to with the least interruption possible.
 

erbkaiser

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I am a console AND PC gamer.

Typically, any game coming out on both I'll prefer to play on the PS4 for the following reasons:
1) Easier: I just slap the disk in and play
2) No incompatibility with drivers, controllers, DRM, phase of the moon... it just works
3) A controller is the superior interface for anything not requiring mouse precision.
4) My PC is getting on in age and I can't get a constant framerate in all cases... and I've upgraded it enough to make me have to buy completely new instead. And if faced with spending 2000 on a new PC or potentially buying 400-500 games, guess what I prefer.

HOWEVER, a lot of games simply will never work on a console so I play those on PC. Games like Crusader Kings 2, Civilization; Indie titles; retro classics; moddable games.

By owning a PC and a console I have the best of both worlds. The only things I "miss" out on are Nintendo exclusives, and Nintendo is getting increasingly more removed from what I consider relevant to my gaming tastes each generation, and whatever games Microsoft traps behinds wads of cash to keep it away from PS4 for a limited time.
Worth it.
 

Phrozenflame500

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So many console arguments are so foreign to me though. Like, I own a console (a Wii U, I don't know if a PS4 is much easier), but accessing that console requires me to get, walk over to the living room, bend down, find the disk I want to play, enter the disk, turn on the console, wait for it to boot up, input my password using the awkward controller interface, navigate and press that "game" icon, then wait for that to load.

Compared to PC where it's two clicks and waiting for it to load.

I guess that's mostly because my PC is always on and Steam is always open, but even if it wasn't the case my PC boots up much faster then my console (again maybe the PS4 is different) and inputting passwords and menu navigation is infinitely easier with KB+M. Plus digital > physical IMO and dealing with console networks like PSN and *shutters* Nintendo eShop retroactively make me like Steam much much more.

I do agree that if you're into exclusives or if your friends pick one or if your furniture situation is bad a console might be the better option though. And it isn't *really* as big a deal as the fanboys would like you to believe.
 

EeviStev

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Cheers for this, Shamus. A while ago I got into a Mouse and Keyboard vs. Gamepad "debate" and after a while I realised we were just talking past each other by stating our personal preferences over and over. If I were about seventeen thousand times more intelligent and insightful, this article is what I would have said to point out the futile nature of our discussion.

Go Team Gamepad.
 

Sniper Team 4

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I am an example of that last point. We had a computer growing up, my brother and I, and we had games on it. X-Wing, Lords of Magic, The Lord of the Rings, and a few others that I don't remember. However, getting approval from our dad--who worked with computers and therefore knew all the bad things that could happen to them if we clicked on the wrong thing or installed something wrong--and then getting him to actually install the games was a nightmare. He always had this disapproving scowl on his face, and whenever something did go wrong--failed to launch or who knows what else--he would never show us how to fix it, or walk us through it. He'd just say, "I'll handle it," and did it on his own.

All of this was very stressful for my brother and I, being eight and ten. So when we finally got a Super Nintendo, we were off. No more asking for help, no more worrying that we might break the computer, no more stress. The console was just easier, so we grew up with the consoles and that's why I'm a console gamer. What Shamus said about all that technical stuff being too much is completely true for me. To this day, twenty years later, I'm still terrible with computers and don't know what most of the jargon means because my dad told us such horror stories, and refused to let us learn about them growing up, that I just never picked up the skills. Many of my friends give me weird looks likes I'm crazy.
 

Luminous_Umbra

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I guess this is explains why I'm a bizarre mix of console, handheld, and PC gamer. My family has an old Dreamcast (which was the first console I played), my father has an old laptop which I first used for PC games, and I received a GBA when I was younger for my birthday. I've ended up splitting my games where convenient. (shooters on PC, etc.)
 

kasperbbs

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The main reason why i don't own a PS4 right now is the prices of games. I can preorder Fallout 4(PC) for 36 euros right now and the best thing that i could get for a console at this price is AssCreed 4 and if i added a few euros i could get rayman legends, minecraft and stuff like that. It's ridiculous. I got a wireless 360 controller and a long ass hdmi cable instead.
 

infohippie

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Interesting article. I had not thought of it in those terms before, but it makes a lot of sense. Though I always thought one of the main furniture considerations was whether you felt more comfortable sitting up at a desk or on a couch.

I began gaming a very long time ago, with a Z-80 based 8-bit computer that I would program myself in BASIC. Towards the end of the eighties I upgraded to an Amiga, then the next generation of Amiga. Once that was no long a viable platform I moved on to PCs in the early nineties and have remained a PC gamer ever since. I have never owned a console in my life so PC gaming is just what's natural to me. When I was younger a friend of mine had a Super Nintendo that we would play a few things on, and for a while I lived in a household that had a PS2 and I enjoyed quirky Japanese games like Ico, but a desktop computer of one kind or another has always been "what I game on".

schmulki said:
I feel like it used to not even be a fight. There were a few PC games which everyone played and were well worth having a PC capable of running them (most of the Blizzard stuff during their heyday, CS, etc.), and other than that, it just wasn't worth the cost and trouble to play on a PC. It was extremely costly, games didn't work right, you had a ton of drivers and patches to deal with, etc.
I find statements like this odd, because that has literally never been my experience. I've been PC gaming almost since PC gaming existed and even at its most complex in DOS days it was "Run the installer, run the audio config tool, play the game." On some rare occasions you might have needed to write a boot sequence (config.sys, autoexec.bat) designed to push everything possible into high memory to free up enough lower memory for a game. Since Windows 95 and the games that started being designed for that, even this had been greatly simplified.
It was a bit more expensive than console gaming for a while, when the early 3D cards came out, but the hardware price differential has been steadily dropping ever since and the games themselves have always been cheaper on a PC. "Extremely costly", however, not at all.
 

Dalisclock

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I'm kind of on both sides of this. I started out with a console and stuck with it through the SNES. Around that time, I really got into PC gaming and more or less stayed there(though discovering Emulation allowed me to play some of the console games I never got around to or never beat or weren't released in the US). Recently, I bought myself an older PS3 so I could play all of those PS games that I'd heard were awesome and figured they'd NEVER get a PC Port. Granted, it took a decade for the Playstation to have enough exclusives(ICO, SotC, GoW, Silent Hill) for me to justify the cost of getting one.

So while most of my gaming is still PC, for the last year or so I've been playing some of the PS games that I'd missed over the past decade.
 

Holythirteen

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And yet, we still are talking about the people who are going into forums and chats in order to justify their preferences. ;)

I suppose the argument of: "I can't make this work with my living situation" is boring, and somewhat invalidates what you find cool about your console.
 

Zakarath

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Heh. I know I'm a bit of an outlier, but I have my fancy expensive gaming PC hooked up to a pair of monitors resting on a card table, while I sit in a folding chair.
 

Rad Party God

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Pretty good article, especially towards the end.

The first point of "Who you live with" kinda rings true with me, I never liked playing games on the living room, where everyone is watching, I grew up with nitpicky sisters and I pretty much suttered my self on my bedroom to play games during elementary school and early high school.

"What did I grew up with" not so much, I grew up with both the N64 and the PS1 and yet, I always prefer to game on my PC, but I think the turning point of ever deciding to go for a PC might have been emulation. I know I'm on a slippery slope talking about it, so I'll make it brief.

Emulation was a huge factor that pretty much converted me to PC gaming by the late 90's, the prospect of playing Chrono Trigger on my Pentium 1 laptop was astounding, to say the least. As always, I don't condone such practices, but back then, it was huge for me.

It also showed me that I could use a controller on a PC, so nowadays I play tons of "console like" games with a 360 controller on my PC.

On a more realistic note, console gaming is expensive as fuck in this country, that's pretty much why I have 500+ games on PC and less than 20 on my Wii U (and I'm counting my regular Wii games in there too). I sold my Xbox 360 that lasted an entire year, because the games that I was interested in were available on PC for far less money, also I was already used to multitask on my PC, so it was jarring as fuck to chat with the controller and to pay for basic multiplayer functionality, only to get yelled at by fucking 10 year olds in Halo 3.
 

TehAardvark

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I think you missed one point, what happened with me(though I admit my case might be rare):

I had a mixture of PC and consoles when I grew up in the 90s. Though I mostly played consoles, being able to communicate and play with people not in the room drew me into PC gaming as well so though my childhood and teenage years were spent console gaming the first chance I had to buy myself a system I went for a gaming PC for the reasons listed above. I built(for the time) a surprisingly powerful pc that could run any game for the next 2 years at maximum.... on paper.

The first time I popped in anything that would truly start tapping that powerful Gfx card(Arkham Asylum) I got horrendous slow-down to the point where by the time I was through the first cutscene I was getting 5 FPS! Naturally I assumed it was a glitch. Tried to fix it, failed. Tried to return it, learned that at the time that was basically impossible. Put it on the side and booted into another game I had bought for the PC(Star Wars: The Force Unleashed) and immediately encountered the same problem. This made me realize it was my SYSTEM that was likely the culprit so I did some digging and found out that the GFX card I had, while very powerful in theory, would over-heat in seconds and start chugging because it lacked proper ventilation. So I popped my case, grabbed a $10 fan and cranked it which allowed me to play my games at around 20 FPS, far from good, but manageable. I admit this was partly my fault for not researching the card enough(though I'd argue that as $hitty as the card was it shouldn't have been sold), so even though this was a horrible experience for me it wasn't the thing that turned me away.

What DID cause me to give up was admittedly not quite as bad as the first but it was the straw that broke my back. I, being a huge Star Wars nerd, was looking forward to the release of The Old Republic eagerly, got the game when it came out(didn't look as intensive as my other game so I thought the system would handle it alright). Got it home, popped in the disc, installed the game as soon as I could and hit launch.... error message, the game hadn't installed properly. Alright, had that happen before, reinstalled, same error. Had that happen too, completely wiped the game from the HDD, updated my drivers manually, ran anti-virus and anti-malware, and updated Windows manually. Install again, exact same message. Went online to get answers, got a support ticket and after all the standard advice they tell you got told they'd look into it.... still to this day haven't gotten an answer. After a couple weeks of trying to get to the bottom of this(only moderately proficient with computers) the only possible solution I could find was another problem with my system. Specifically I had a 4-core AMD and an nVidia GFX card, something I had no idea could cause a conflict as when I bought the system I didn't even know there was such competition between them. Now I still don't KNOW this is the problem, as I said I'm only moderately proficient, but it was the only problem that fit.

Now I know what you might be thinking, why didn't I just get a different card, an AMD? Two reasons: 1. I lacked the money. 2. I found out around the same time that my power supply was NOT uninterruptable and my system had a huge power draw so I would have to save up to replace both. On the other hand I had a perfectly serviceable 360(gift from my grandmother) and if I had a problem with a game not working on it they HAD to refund it.

So I turned into a console gamer and when it came time to replace my PC or upgrade to an Xbone/PS4 I went with the console, and I'd do it again. Not because I like consoles that much but because every time I would even LOOK INTO a gaming PC I'd remember the hassle and think to myself, "Can I really afford to drop a grand with no guarantees?"

I'm not saying PCs are bad, but the association is so negative when it comes to gaming that I don't know as I'll ever feel comfortable going back. I don't think I'm alone in this kind of illogical negative association and I fully believe there are people who have had the exact opposite situation. All I'm saying is a couple bad experiences can seriously influence your choice.
 

Souplex

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Me and my roommates all have TVs in our rooms, but don't have a shared living room.
More people have tvs in their rooms than they used to. Living room status is moot.
 

JUMBO PALACE

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I can see how all of these points could affect people but for me none of them were really an influence. I started with the N64 and PS1 then moved onto the Gamecube and Xbox then picked up a 360. Once this generation rolled around though I just figured I'd switch. didn't really have anything to do with friends or family, I just like the flexibility and utility PCs provide and the more open nature of the platfrom. The few exclusives consoles still have don't interest me to a large degree. Plus, call me a masochist, but I get a certain thrill out of the challenges and niche issues that can arise in PC gaming. Fiddling with software settings and trawling through forums to figure out a fix for a game or getting to watch fiascoes like the Arkham Knight disaster unfold can be pretty entertaining if you have a level head about it the whole thing.
 

Baresark

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It's always a dead end because you have people who argue the merits of their opinion. There are advantages to both and if you are a true gamer you probably go back and forth and are too busy enjoying games to give a shit about a bunch of idiots arguing about their chosen platform versus playing on it. I have a gaming PC but also PS4. For a while my PS4 was little more than a Bloodborne machine, and it's collecting dust... that is up until some of those awesome looking PS4 games I saw on the E3 coverage.

It's like being in the mood for a racing game or spectacle fighter. One is not better than the other, they are different and offer different experiences. And fights would work like this in that situation:

Racer: Man, racing games are the best thing around. They offer nearly infinite replayability.
Spectacle fighter: No, racing games are boring and stupid. If I wanted to drive I would just get into my car and do it rather than by a game that I do it in.
Racer: But I get to drive in cars that I would never get to in real life, so it's awesome. "oh look at me, I can button mash and things flash and sparkle, dur dur".
Spectacle Fighter: Only noobs would button mash, and the games I play button mashing would get you nowhere. You would die super easy, but I wouldn't expect a person who plays games where you drive around in circles to understand.

Just look at that.. isn't that silly looking. It's exactly how I feel when people champion a certain platform in debates. A reasonable human being recognizes that not everything is made with your specific desires in mind and it's OK that other people like different things.
 

Phoenixmgs_v1legacy

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Still, in every single one of these console vs PC things, it is said that PC games are cheaper, but that's not true because you lose out on resale value with PC games since it's pretty much all digital now. I can buy a game on release day and play it for 2-3 months and it only costs me around $20 (sometimes less). I have a friend that does his "tricks" (nothing illegal) and pays about half as much as I do (and sometimes even makes money on a game). I can choose to buy a game anytime I want on a console and I don't come close to paying $60 per game, I don't have to wait for sales or price drops.

In the end, choosing the console or PC as your main platform has more to do with your own preferences than one actually being superior to the other. I've said quite a few times in threads here that consoles are more popular due to the fact the console is located next to the TV and sound system whereas the PC isn't (for most people) only to have PC gamers say you can hook up a PC quite easily to a TV, which I'm fully aware of (in fact, my PC is connected to my TV) and missing the point entirely that most people don't have their PCs next to their TVs in the first place nor do they want them there either.

Phrozenflame500 said:
So many console arguments are so foreign to me though. Like, I own a console (a Wii U, I don't know if a PS4 is much easier), but accessing that console requires me to get, walk over to the living room, bend down, find the disk I want to play, enter the disk, turn on the console, wait for it to boot up, input my password using the awkward controller interface, navigate and press that "game" icon, then wait for that to load.

Compared to PC where it's two clicks and waiting for it to load.

I guess that's mostly because my PC is always on and Steam is always open, but even if it wasn't the case my PC boots up much faster then my console (again maybe the PS4 is different) and inputting passwords and menu navigation is infinitely easier with KB+M. Plus digital > physical IMO and dealing with console networks like PSN and *shutters* Nintendo eShop retroactively make me like Steam much much more.

I do agree that if you're into exclusives or if your friends pick one or if your furniture situation is bad a console might be the better option though. And it isn't *really* as big a deal as the fanboys would like you to believe.
I don't have a WiiU (but I will at some point for Bayonetta 2) but it seems really weird that you'd have to input your password every time, I do remember reading the WiiU's OS is pretty sluggish though. The PS4 is really so much better than the PS3. The PS4 (and PS3) boot up as fast or faster as a PC with a SSD because I believe both systems have the OS stored on flash memory. Since the PS4 does everything in the background from installing to updating games; once you put in the disc for the 1st time, you're playing the game within 2 minutes (as the vast majority of the game install happens as you're playing the game). Whereas the PS3 you had to wait for the game to install (like 10-15 minutes) and you couldn't download game patches in the background either.