Debate Club: Consoles vs PC (The Console Side)

One of the things that makes Steve and I great friends and website co-owners is that for as many things as we completely align on, we’re also complete opposites on. To capitalize on that dynamic, we’re launching a new feature: a weekly point/counterpoint where one of us throws out an opinion about a game-related topic on Tuesday, and the other gives a rebuttal the following Thursday. To kick things off, I’m going to state my feelings on why I’m primarily a console gamer and why I feel that, if forced to choose one OR the other, that consoles are the better choice over PCs for gaming. That’s the angle we’re taking for this debate: Not a simple “Which is better?”, but which one is better if you had to play ONLY console games or ONLY PC games.

Whether talking PC vs console, console vs console, iPhone vs Android, phones vs 3DS and Vita, and so on, at the end of the day, it’s all about the games. Period. I’ve always maintained, and I still do, that I can list a significantly larger number of must-play, killer app console games that aren’t on PC than the other way around. Now, it’s obviously not cut and dry. When you get into something like, say, Minecraft, there’s obviously a WORLD of difference between PC Minecraft and console Minecraft. I would never dispute that. Or that the Team Fortress 2 I play on 360 looks and feels like PC Team Fortress 2 looked and felt 8 years ago, and the PC version has continued to evolve (and for free) since then. All of that is true, and there’s no disputing that some games offer a superior experience on PC. Also, on PC you can have mouse and keyboard when it’s fitting, and a controller when it’s fitting. So you get the best of both control options.

All that said, I CAN play those games on console. Even if I can only play a version of Minecraft that I can’t mod, I can still play it. Maybe my Team Fortress 2 is way out of date, but I can still play it. Playing Diablo III with my Dual Shock is always going to be clunky compared to a mouse and keyboard, but I can still play it. Of course Crysis 2 or 3 on 360 doesn’t look as mind-blowing as it did on a top tier PC, but I can still play a very great-looking version of it. And on and on. We all know which games are better on PC for various reasons. And I’ll admit, very seldom is a game unarguably “better” on console, be it graphically, or because of modding, or whatever. But at the end of the day, I CAN play Minecraft and TF2 and Skyrim and Diablo III and Portal et al. PC-only players can’t play The Last of Us or Uncharted or God of War or Metal Gear Solid 4 or Halo 4 or Gran Turismo or most of the Gears of War games or Mario or Zelda or the non-MMO Final Fantasies 9-13 and so on. At all. Not even stripped-down, graphically-inferior versions. Those are all games that, if you are exclusively a PC gamer, you just don’t get to play, at all, ever. And that’s just the last 4 or 5 years (the early FF‘s I lumped in notwithstanding). It’s hard for me to see how it’s worth the trade off to get the “best version” of X number of games, with the trade off being a ton of games you can’t get at all.

Of course, I don’t mean to gloss over the fact that there ARE true PC exclusives. World of Warcraft, Starcraft 2, DOTA, the newest Civ and Sim City (well MOST Civs and Sim Cities though consoles still get some), and so on. I’m not going to sit here all smug and say I don’t miss anything. I do. But I honestly feel like PCs miss a lot more. And for awhile, indie games were the wild card, but that’s changing, too. Indies are becoming a bigger presence on Xbox Live and PSN, and on mobile too. If I can play Organ Trail on my phone, sure it’s not on console, but it’s also not exclusive to PC. I don’t need a PC to play it. Again, there’s a ton of stuff on Steam that isn’t on consoles. But there’s also a ton of smaller games on Xbox and Playstation and Wii and phones, too. That might be a little harder to parse out though and properly argue. We might have to take a wash on that. Especially since, let’s be honest: I love a good quirky indie game as much as anyone, but at the end of the day, we all know it’s the big games that matter. Plus, if you look at some of the biggest indie darlings of the past few years, most came to console: Braid, Fez, Limbo, anything that Tim Shafer has put out, and so on. And unless you’re willing to make a 100% PC exclusive list that you think I can’t pretty handily beat with a console list, I remain convinced that the PC only gamer misses more must-play games than the console-only gamer.

That said, I’d love to have a proper gaming PC in addition to my consoles, so I’d get “all the games” too. I at least can admit that. But that’s the issue I have with so many PC diehards. They swear up and down that they aren’t missing anything worthwhile by never touching a console. Which unless you are strictly a strategy game and MMO fanatic, is complete blind fanboy nonsense.