Becky "PC for Life" Cunningham:
Don't get me wrong, consoles are great. They're fun for get-togethers, for relaxing in front of the big screen, and they're certainly the best choice for motion gaming. When it comes to great single-player or MMORPG gaming experiences, however, the old reliable PC is king. Sure, the big publishers abandoned PC for a while, but they're crawling back now that the scene has been revived by digital distribution and quality indie gaming. For consumers, PC gaming offers great advantages in terms of choice, creativity, online interaction, and even price.
The PC is, above all, the platform of choice. No one company, not even Microsoft or Apple, fully controls the PC platform like the console makers control their consoles. This makes the PC the home of the widest variety of games available anywhere, from blockbuster AAA titles to crazy experimental indie games. Consoles are limited by having a single marketplace from which buyers can access games, which makes it difficult for smaller titles to compete, while there are tons of ways to create and publish games on the PC. It's also far faster to deliver updates and patches on the PC, giving developers more flexibility and room for continuing innovation in PC games.
Love everything about Deus Ex: Human Revolution except the boss fights? There's a mod for that. Want to play Oblivion with far prettier graphics and a system that doesn't level the monsters along with the player? There are mods for that, too. This is Cheat Code Central, after all, and no platform allows gamers the freedom to cheat or to modify their games like the PC. This freedom expands to entire games that are based upon users creating and sharing content with others. It also gives great old games a new lease on life, as fan communities create graphical patches and add new levels or other new features.
As my worthy opponent graciously conceded, PC gamers have the best of all worlds in terms of interaction with games. The keyboard and mouse setup is the best choice for many games, but Xbox-style gamepads are also available for PCs and are supported by many games. Most PC games allow gamers to remap their controls as well, which is nice both for power gamers and for gamers with disabilities.
While the console world is currently hung up on motion gaming, there are more interesting innovations happening on the PC. Games like Spore (despite its many problems) and Minecraft have been experimenting with ways for gamers to use their own creativity in their games. In the meantime, MMORPG companies are finally moving beyond the EverQuest and World of Warcraft formula, offering everything from massively multiplayer strategy to action-adventure games. For people who prefer to game in small doses with the help of real-life friends, so-called "social" gaming is coming out of its infancy and beginning to offer worthwhile gaming experiences on social networks. In general, the Wild West atmosphere of PC gaming gives companies room to innovate and still make a profit, which is good for the health of gaming as a whole.
There's a price advantage to PC gaming, as well. While consoles are less expensive than PCs, the PC has a major price advantage in terms of buying actual games. Most big games cost $10 less on PCs from the outset, since developers don't have to pay licensing fees to a console maker to publish on PC. On top of that, the major marketplace competition on the PC leads to great sales that allow patient gamers to scoop up amazing deals. This is especially true for gamers outside the United States, for whom console games take a very long time to go on sale.
Need more storage space? That's another price advantage to the PC. While Sony and Microsoft charge outrageous rates for undersized hard drives and Nintendo asks people to rely on SD cards, PC owners can buy high-quality terabyte drives for well under $100. There's a lot to be said for avoiding the dance of deleting and re-downloading games because of limited storage space.
These days, many of the old complaints about PC gaming are no longer valid. There hasn't been a need for rapid and expensive hardware upgrades for at least eight years. Major technical issues are less common with better hardware standardization and more solid operating systems – and at least if a PC has a problem, it can be taken to the nearest store instead of sent off to a distant console maker and possibly replaced with an inferior, refurbished console. Most importantly, the tide of gaming is turning back to PC. If you've abandoned the PC or have never really tried PC gaming, come on over and check it out. You just might like what you find on this side of the gaming fence.
By Sean Engemann / Becky Cunningham
CCC Contributing Writer
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*