Denial: But the PC cannot

For many, the console gaming experience leads to fond memories. You may see yourself in front of your HDTV nested on your cozy couch. You may smell the pizza shared between your friends as each waits for their turn. You may hear the cheering and jeering as the competition ramps up. You may feel the controller fit into your hand comfortably. The experience likely looks nearly identical to the following photograph.

The Nunchuk was bound to taunt. If this were Xbox Live, taunt would probably be the Wiimote.

Source: engadget

In a not-so-subtle foreshadow: the above picture depicts Ryan Tani and three friends holding Wiimotes to play Unreal Tournament 3 with four-player split-screen through a PC. The ice is broken, you are acquainted with PC gaming; these are the reasons why it is no lesser than your console.
But the PC cannot play games on a couch.
PCs bear the stigma of being tethered to a desk by a 6-foot cobweb of wires unless it is completely unsuitable for gaming and folds into its own screen. Once you break past the stigma, and the stigma alone, there is no reason why you cannot attach a PC to your TV; how do you think consoles do it?
The console appears to have the advantage over the PC because you have no default option with a console except to output to a TV. The interface for consoles live upon the assumption that the user will be several feet away from their display; the PC can and has been fitted with similar interfaces. Since consoles were around for so long and televisions were so low resolution until just recently, they grew into the role. The consoles received a head start to your living room, but they are by no means better suited for the task.


But I hate the mouse and keyboard!

You may wish to phrase this statement as, “… but the gamepad is an input method designed for gaming and is thus clearly better!” The gamepad is not designed for gaming: for many games, the gamepad is the best compromise that we have between the needs of the dominant games and the environment the players are most typically in, a couch. The mouse and keyboard are better for games such as shooters and real-time strategies, but worse for others such as flight games. The Wii is an example of Nintendo’s attempt to break the assumption and push gaming into a new environment: standing up; a new input method makes sense. The Wii Remote was unsuccessful at unseating (pun whole-heartedly intended) either of the gamepad or the mouse and keyboard for the core audience, but how successful are recent touch interfaces? The console is not superior because you do not have the choice in input methods; with the PC, you do.

If you prefer one method of input rather than another it should be your choice to use it. That is the benefit of the PC: if you wish to play with the gamepad, demand developer support. If you prefer a flightstick, motion controller, touch screen, or steering wheel — demand support. For situations where input methods create an unfair multiplayer experience, demand that the developer allows users to create servers for specific input methods along with mixed servers. Unlike the consoles, the developer/publisher does not need permission to serve their customers in the way(s) they desire. The mouse and keyboard is associated with PC gaming because almost every PC has them and often outperforms a gamepad; if your desire is to play Dirt 3, then you can by all means choose your input method to be a controller.


But games on the consoles have frequent support!

You may consider the flood of downloadable content (DLC) to be a great value-add to your initial purchases, and they are. However, prior to the micro-transaction era content updates still occurred for games on the PC. Developers had the choice whether to sell expansion packs to their users or release content for free to extend the long-term sales; their users would also create their own content in the form of mods to take the game in often totally new directions.

The usual point made against DLC would be that the console manufacturers and publishers are attempting to condition users to paying for content in lots of small chunks, which is true, but not the train of thought I am on. I am not against those business models especially with the whole world of other business models that open up, including the non-greasy free-to-play games; the problem I have is why there is a lack of free content. Apart from the obvious answer of Microsoft’s ‘restrictive policies’ on the Xbox, the why boils down to games on the PC often having a much longer shelf-life to warrant long-term support.


But the PC is too difficult, and I hate updating drivers! Just let me play!

I would like you to think about your most recent console situation: how many times have you purchased the same console? From experience outside of my work at PC Perspective, I know what concentration of new console purchases are to replace existing bricked devices. I also know how many people have multiple same-generation consoles to play all the games they desire, but rest assured that point will come up later. Let us assume that you did not outright purchase a new console and performed a warranty repair: you called up technical support and they sent you a cardboard coffin in the mail. It will be about 1-4 weeks before you are back in the game. Would it have been nice to be able to repair it yourself? If you feel as though you cannot, would it have been nice to send it to a small business computer store and have someone repair your system in person? How compelling is the latter compared to dropping your console in a post-office box and waiting up to a month? If local service is not compelling, then I am sure Dell and similar vendors will have no problems providing console-like service if you purchase from them instead.

When you go to purchase or upgrade your computer, those same principles still apply. You, your friends, or family are allowed to design and build your PC to suit your gaming needs and any number of small business computer stores can assist you. As for warranties: if you purchase from a small business computer store that honors manufacturer replacements with their own stock, there is no wait for the manufacturer to get back to you with a replacement. That is almost as pain-free as automatically updating drivers, Steam, and media center interfaces are attempting to get.

In all cases, the PC is not behind their console counterparts; this argument has waged on too long. It is time to move past the focus on the PC and spend a little time criticising the console.

Are you experiencing anger?

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