PC vs. Consoles: The Upgrade Wars

My first console was a Atari 2600, my second an Xbox.

Yeah, you read that right, from 2-bit to 32-bit.

So what did I use in the intervening 20+ years?

Computers.

First there was the C-64 which lasted about 8 years, then a Compag 486 that lasted all of 3 years or so, then a HP Pentium one which lasted about as long, a Pentium II which lasted about 3 and now my current machine which lasted about 3, and really only used it for a year’s worth of gaming.

Seeing a pattern here?

No.

One word.

Upgrades.

Constant, expensive and infuriating upgrades. That’s the real advantage of a console over a PC. Yes, you can spend about $2000.00 (U.S.)  for the fastest Alienware, which will be completely obsolete a day and an hour and a half after booting it up for the first time.

Why is that? It’s the nature of the beast.

Software makes for PCs know that the next piece of graphic hardware or memory expansion is just around the corner and so they program their PC exclusive software to match. That’s what  Origin started in the 90s and everybody else jumped in. But consoles don’t work based on an accelerated upgrade curve. They are projected to be on the market for about 4 years. Which means that if you buy an Xbox or PS early enough, you will be hitting it’s prime 2 years into its prime. In order to catch up in a PC you probably have to change graphic cards every six months.

Now you do the math. Factor software costs, base hardware costs, oh and OS compatibility.

And now most of the games that once were the exclusive domain of PCs are just as good if not better in consoles; RPGs, FPS, sandbox games, air/space combat sims, you name it. And the controls are better over all. Yes, I know that nothing beats sniping with a mouse and keyboard, but I can run, strafe, lob grenades and stab you with a bayonet using my Xbox dual triggers before you can pull the trigger on that rifle.

And with online services like Xbox live, consoles are now crowding the last PC frontier, the online RPG (MMORPG).  Now the biggest hits come on the console first and later for the PC. Gone are the days of weak Arcade or PC to home ports.  In fact one of the reasons MMORPGs stay in business is that they keep their system requirements as low as possible for as long as possible so as to no alienate dedicated players who don’t have the time, money or inclination to run to the Best Buy(tm) every time the company decides to launch an upgrade. Of course they do take the risk that their graphics become outdated, but that’s a risk that the folks at Blizzard (for example) are willing to take in order to keep their 11 million subscribers.

Besides, many games these days are more about pretty shade effects, object dynamics and cinematic sequences than actual long play. Might as well buy that game and stick it into your console than to tear out the guts of your machine just to play 10-15 hours of pretty graphics. Your best friend already played the game, finished it and is already downloading the next expansion while your sitting in your bedroom floor tearing bloody clumps of hair wondering why the latest piece of Plug-and-Pray(tm) shit you bought only gives you a blank screen.

I’ll give you this much, some PC games still look pretty, but as you see the trailer below, ask yourself, why is this game PC-exclusive, when you and I both know a Xbox 360 or PS3 could do it without breaking a sweat?

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