Why Your Next Game Console Should Be a PC
CREDIT: Shutterstock: Edw
The next generation of video-game consoles doesn't look so exciting for core gamers: more sequels, less emphasis on original games and an endless cavalcade of television features. If you long to immerse yourself in virtual worlds without locking yourself down to a console, there is one other option: a gaming PC.
Old-timers who were alive and cognizant of their surroundings during the late '80s and '90s may remember that gaming PCs used to be labyrinthine behemoths, fit only for educational software and hopelessly complex dungeon simulators. Times have changed, though, and now PCs offer one of the well-rounded gaming experiences on the market.
Most bestselling titles (like the "Call of Duty," "BioShock" and "Tomb Raider" series) are available on PCs in addition to consoles. PCs also have access to a veritable treasure trove of indie titles, because they are easier to develop, market and sell than console games.
Price is also not necessarily as big of an issue as you may think. While it's true that a state-of-the-art gaming rig can run you over $2,000 (compared to $500 or so for a new console at the beginning of its life cycle), even cutting-edge games can run comfortably on a system that costs around $800.
Here's one of the console industry's juiciest secrets: The average video-game console, upon release, is comparable to a low-end gaming PC. Take, for example, the Xbox 360, which was released in 2005. If someone tried to sell you a computer with its specs (512MB of RAM, 8-year-old graphics card, 20GB hard drive), you wouldn't deem the machine fit to browse the Web, much less run a state-of-the-art game.
The extra $300 up front for a gaming PC over a console will balance out in the long run, too. A brand-new console game usually costs about $60, and this price may increase during the next generation. Many publishers price PC digital downloads at $50, which cuts retailers out of the loop and helps more money go directly to the publisher.
There’s more than just the initial $10 savings. The rise of digital downloads through services like Steam, GOG, Green Man Gaming, Amazon and Origin has fostered a lot of competition, which means that PC games go on sale earlier and more frequently than their console brethren. Scoring a brand-new game for $30 a month after release is not unheard of. [See also: 5 Hit Games Made on a Shoestring]
The most potent objection to PC gaming, of course, is that many people would rather zone out on the couch than hunch over a desk. The solution here is simple: Many graphics cards have HDMI outputs. Just build your computer with one of these, and plug it into your TV just as you would an Xbox or PlayStation.
A wireless controller will allow you to park yourself in your favorite chair or sofa while enjoying the latest and greatest in PC content. Better still, a wireless keyboard and mouse will let you play real-time strategy and simulation games — genres that are almost impossible to play on consoles because of their complex controls.
If you're ready to join the next generation of gaming and aren't afraid of getting your hands dirty, the Internet is teeming with guides on how to build cheap gaming rigs. Give it a try; when you’re done, you can sit safely on the sidelines during the next bloody iteration of the console wars.