A new generation of video game consoles are upon us. The PS4, Xbox One, and to some degree the Wii U, all represent the next leap in video game technology. Millions of people flocked to retailers to pick up on of these consoles as soon as they were released. The Xbox One sold just over a million units worldwide in less than 24 hours and the PS4 is currently sitting at a whopping 7 million since its launch in November.
There’s no contention that the new consoles are selling gangbusters, but the real question is this: are consumers willing to go through another console generation 10 years from now?
The PS4 and Xbox One are both incredibly similar in terms of technical power and features. Now that Microsoft has dropped the necessity for Kinect as part of the Xbox One package, the two consoles share even more similarities. Some might even argue that Microsoft’s decision to drop the motion-sensing camera reduces the Xbox One to nothing more than an under-powered PS4.
Sure, exclusives like Halo and Gears of War are on the horizon for the Xbox One, but if we’ve learned anything from past generations it’s that console exclusives are a fickle friend – we’re looking at you Sega! But it’s not just Sonic and friends that ended up on competing consoles, Metal Gear Solid and Final Fantasy both made the jump to Xbox after contacts of exclusivity ran their course. As a result, the PS4 and Xbox One now share a very similar catalogue of games with fewer exclusives than ever before.
With little differentiation between the two consoles, a more appealing value proposition presents itself: why don’t we just play all these games on the PC? The majority of multiplatform games that are released for the two next-gen consoles are also available on the PC. Not only that, the PC versions often receive a boost in visual fidelity, resolution and frame rate. Add in the ability to play these games with an Xbox or PS4 controller and it seems crazy not to pick the PC as your platform of choice.
Of course, your ability to play these games at the highest setting depends on you to have a PC powerful enough to do the job. This where the concept of PC gaming loses a lot of people. The constant upkeep with individual components and having to replace them yourself is something a lot of people don’t have the time or money for. For these people, a pre-packaged console of moderate power is a lot more appealing. Once you’ve bought an Xbox One or PS4, you don’t have worry about it until the next console generation rolls around. That is, unless it red rings in that time…
PC gaming also gets a bad rap for being incompatible with living room entertainment. The size, noise and amount of cables generated by a PC tower are something gamers don’t want in their living rooms. However, huge strides have been taken to make this process as easy as possible. Steam ‘Big Picture’ mode was released to the public in 2012; it changed the PC interface to one that more closely replicated a console dashboard. Complex menus and lists of games could now be selected, sorted and played with simple controller commands; meaning that the necessity for a mouse and keyboard was significantly reduced.
A lot of gamers have also taken to connecting their PC directly to their TV. By shopping online and ordering the necessary cables from retailers like Rapid Online, gamers cut out the need for a monitor and even PC speakers. If you wire you PC and TV together using a HDMI cable, audio will be output from the TV.
While PC gaming certainly has its own set of hurdles to overcome, there’s no denying that it’s an incredibly powerful and customisable platform. The future of next generation consoles remains uncertain, but it’s a safe assumption that the PC isn’t going away any time soon.