PC owners have often looked upon the console wars with disdain. While Nintendo, PlayStation, and Xbox fans argue about who has the most powerful system, those on PC can take solace as the latest graphics cards wipe the floor with them all. Console owners have also welcomed online features over the past couple of decades, while PC gamers have been enjoying those perks since the ’90s. It’s not even like console gamers can brag about control systems, as pro gamers will always favor a mouse and keyboard. And anyway, you can easily use a PlayStation DualShock, Xbox Controller, or Switch Pro Controller with a PC these days.
The one legitimate thing those console gamers had was that there were some classic console games that never came to PC. Well, even that is now changing. So, is the PC now the ultimate solution to the console war?
The consoles wage war while PC owners look on
Over the years there have been many console wars. While younger gamers automatically think of PlayStation vs. Xbox, older gamers remember the battles between Nintendo and Sega. The first I encountered of the console wars was when some friends were trying to prove that their Sony PlayStation was better than my Nintendo 64. All the time that these school yard arguments were going on, PC players saw more and more games coming to their ecosystem. My friends with PlayStations gloated that they could play Tomb Raider, but so could those on PC. Other games that are seen as platform exclusive, such as FIFA, Metal Gear Solid, Oddworld, and Final Fantasy VII, were all available on PC within some weeks or months of release.
In recent years, the console wars have become more tribal than ever. The PlayStation and Xbox fan camps have become so entrenched that they will pick at any deficit in their opponents’ performance. When Xbox One launched, suddenly some PlayStation owners became the most observant people ever. The idea that they could spot the differences between a 900p and 1080p game on their TVs while sitting far away was silly. Meanwhile, some PC gamers were playing 1440p games at higher refresh rates. Maybe rather than just watching these squabbles, we PC fans should be evangelizing the benefits of our ecosystem and the performance advantages available.
Let’s not get involved in any sort of silly tribalism, however, but kindly and respectfully showcase what makes PC gaming the place to be.
PC is the first home of all games
The core DNA of both PlayStation and Xbox is that of a PC. Every single Xbox system has basically been a modded PC in a custom case. The same can be said of the last couple of PlayStation systems, too. One thing that the most belligerent Sony or Xbox fans should learn is that all of their games were developed on PC in the first place. When the developers at Naughty Dog are crafting The Last of Us or Uncharted, they aren’t doing the work on PlayStations. As creative as you can be in the game creation software Dreams, that’s not what these professional developers are doing. 343 Industries aren’t honing Halo Infinite on arrays of Xboxes. These developers are all creating their games on development kits which are basically PCs with the same limitations and quirks of the console they are developing for.
Nintendo is something of the black sheep when it comes to being compared to other console creators. After the lackluster public response to the GameCube (an underrated system in the eyes of many Nintendo fans), the manufacturer moved away from trying to produce the most powerful system around. As Microsoft and Sony have battled over teraflops, resolutions, and framerates, Nintendo has tried to offer its fans different experiences. The Wii introduced motion controls to the masses. And the Switch has also taken a different route by introducing a hybrid system that is usable as both a home console and a handheld. Despite the Japanese gaming giant treading its own path, its games are also crafted on the PC. It would take more work to release Switch-exclusive titles on PC (particularly in terms of controls), but it is possible.
The rise of the living room PC
One of the trends in PC hardware over recent years has been the introduction of the living room PC. Of course, anyone is able to put their full-size PC tower in their living room and connect it to their TV. However, most would admit that these don’t always fit in with the rest of the surroundings. Most full-size towers won’t fit in an entertainment cabinet. This leaves your gaming tower of power sticking out like a sore thumb. One option for the PC enthusiast is to get a case that is similar in design to a console. This was attempted with the Steambox, but now there are many more options.
Mini-ITX cases have been around for a long time now, but they have become the go-to setup for people who want a PC that looks like a console. As always with PC construction, if you don’t feel confident building one yourself, there are numerous off-the-shelf options from an array of manufacturers. Most console owners who delve into PC gaming for the first time find this convenience particularly comforting. While you do have to pay more to pick up a pre-built model, these provide a good point of entry into PC gaming and are normally already set up so that there’s less messing around with drivers and other updates. Alternatively, you could check out the NVIDIA Shield. This allows you to stream from your PC to your TV, removing the need to have your tower in the living room.
Games used to go from PC to console, but now it’s reversed
Back in the day when I was an Xbox 360 owner, one of my favorite games was The Orange Box. For those that don’t know or remember, it consisted of Half-Life 2 (including Episodes 1 & 2), Team Fortress 2, and Portal. It was an incredible package featuring some truly amazing games. It allowed console owners to check out what PC gamers were playing. It’s something that used to happen a lot in the earlier days of gaming. Because games are often developed on PC, they used to release on that platform first and then come to consoles. In more recent times, that hasn’t happened so much. Indie games do it all the time, but the big-budget games tend not to. There are games that do make the move (Diablo III being one of my favorites), but they tend to either launch on PC alongside other systems or remain just on consoles.
Things on this front are definitely changing. For a start, Microsoft has made a big push to bring the Xbox ecosystem to PC. All first-party Xbox titles now launch on PC alongside the console versions. Microsoft has even brought the Xbox Game Pass subscription service to PC. Sony is even starting to support PC releases as well. The Japanese manufacturer may not support PC with the same level of commitment as Xbox, but there are some PlayStation exclusives making the move to PC. Games such as Horizon Zero Dawn, Death Stranding, Days Gone, and Detroit: Become Human are now playable on PC — and it may expand further with Uncharted. Sony also has its PlayStation Now service that allows subscribers to stream a select list of PlayStation titles on your PC. Now, if only Nintendo could bring some of its goodies to the PC ecosystem. The idea of playing Zelda: Breath of the Wild at high refresh rates, 4K, and/or with ray tracing has us salivating.
Come to PC, all are welcome
As development costs rise, publishers are going to want to get their wares to the largest possible audience. By including the PC as a platform that a game is available on, it still allows for “console exclusivity,” but can increase profits by adding more sales. As more publishers learn to accept this, the PC will become an essential purchase for any console gamer who wants to play all of the games they want. This really could lead to the end of console wars and a larger, more inclusive PC ecosystem.
At the end of the day, all gamers want to play the best games possible. So, how about we all stop this petty squabbling? Pick up a PC or upgrade the system you have. Let’s move past the tribalism of console preference and share our love of gaming on one, big ecosystem. There’s room for all, whether your budget is large or small. If you’re a DIY PC owner or a prebuilt buyer, all are welcome. Now, if we could just make PC hardware a little more plug and play.
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