In the mid-2000’s, you had a simple choice if you wanted to play video games: you either purchased an Xbox 360, a Playstation 3 or a Nintendo Wii and that was an end of the matter. The three market dominating consoles couldn’t be competed with until the very end of the noughties when the significant advances in processors and graphics chips made PC gaming more accessible, affordable and appealing.
The social and mobile revolution that is sweeping the video game sector is pushing gamers more towards the flexible computer and away from the more restrictive consoles. A key example as to why this shift is occurring is the inflexible nature of Sony and Microsoft’s online gaming systems that only allow users to play with gamers on the same platform (PSN or Xbox Live). This means whole groups of gamers must agree on which expensive console to purchase in order to play together.
Instead of debating this matter; more and more gamers are investing in high powered laptops and desktops for their gaming fixes. PC’s are something virtually everyone has access to and this ease of access is making PC gaming a more appealing prospect.
Factually speaking, Desktop gamers account for approximately 125 million active users while Playstation has 110 million. Xbox is lagging behind a long way with just 48 million active users – the single streaming system is clearly superior according to the numbers.
There is an amount of clarification required for these numbers, however, as the consoles generally rely on gamers purchasing discs from retailers and immersing themselves in the huge worlds the developers have worked on creating. PC games can also be immersive experiences but a large portion of the 125 million will be those playing games such as video slots with no download, rather than the more traditional video games.
Equally, the arrival of the Xbox One and Playstation 4 has seen the consoles move closer towards the PC style of gaming. They now offer digital sales and full online support but they are still lagging behind the PC which has been offering these services since before the consoles were even designed.
Modern video games are actually being developed with PC gamers in mind, it would seem. Games such as the most recent entry to the Hitman series are being released in an episodic format that suits the desktop player far more than the console user – updates will be made available throughout the year and gamers can decide for themselves if and when they will invest.
Even the divisive Grand Theft Auto series has moved online and features an online casino element in the latest update meaning gamers can stake their own money at the in-game casino – another facet of gaming that’s been borrowed from the desktop systems.
As far as the future of consoles is concerned; they are moving closer and closer to the desktop style of gaming. The Playstation 4 is basically an all-round entertainment system with a powerful computer orchestrating everything but it’s still not quite versatile enough to compete with the PC gaming.
Some more work on the user interfaces and the flexibility of the online services will go a long way to closing the gap on PC gaming but work is also needed on the ease and variety of payments that can be made – currently it’s extortionate and difficult to process payments unlike the PC alternative.
Time will tell if the console developers will move to a full pastiche of PC gaming and, frankly, it