PC against console: a “struggle” that often and willingly returns, almost with recurrence, as a theme capable of inflaming the web and its users. People who, for their part, do not fail to present numerous arguments in support of one side or the other, with the end result that in most cases ends up missing completely the main point of the discussion. The continuous announcements of the last few months regarding the consoles that will be the protagonists of the next generation – PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X – have only fueled many discussions in this regard, with those who play on consoles opposed in a way that is sometimes excessively rooted compared to those who prefer the gaming on PC.
In recent years, thanks to an increasingly accentuated development of the internet and platforms such as social media, the video game has become an increasingly popular topic of discussion in the various lounges of the network. As a result, different communities have been created within that of gamers, almost like subcultures, which in too many situations, however, led to a sort of tightening between the parties: the PC versus console confrontation, in short, has become a real war without a real reason to exist anymore. What we want to do today is to try to contextualize everything, analyzing the arguments on one side and the other to understand if today, actually, it still makes sense to talk about PC versus console.
PC vs console: historical courses and appeals
Although we can ideally go even further back in time, we will begin to analyze everything starting from the mid-eighties: a period in which, clearly, we could not already speak of “battle”In relation to the PC versus console theme. The market was in fact completely different from how we know it today, as was the culture of the video game in a more general sense: a culture that would become more and more important only in the following years, with the growth of an industry that is to date one of the important in the world economy.
1985 saw the arrival on the western market of two very different but conceptually close devices from some points of view. On the one hand we find a home console like the Nintendo Entertainment System, a product capable of clearing the concept of videogame in a very important way in the world: the numbers speak of 62 million units sold, something really impressive considering also what all this happened more than thirty years ago. The other side of the coin is represented here by Commodore A1000, also known by the code name “Lorraine” or more commonly as Amiga 1000. First of a long series of products as more and more refined, this home computer appeared as a product not designed exclusively for gaming but which, among the various options, was also an excellent alternative in this regard.
Could we already talk about PC versus console? Still not, as the market was not yet as segmented as it is today. The Amiga 1000, as well as its successors, was designed for a whole series of functions that went beyond the reproduction of video games: for its part, the NES was the best choice for a whole series of reasons to approach the gaming media, proposing a series of titles that still manage to tickle the collective imagination. Products like Super Mario Bros, The Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy for example, which were not in any case available for those who had a PC.
A further point must also be specified: the extremely disproportionate cost of these devices, especially when compared in proportion with the current one, meant that users were practically forced to decide which product to prefer. In short, those who opted for the Nintendo console would hardly have invested more money to buy hardware as expensive as that of the Amiga 1000. In this case, yes, it was starting to outline the beginning of a “fight”As PC against console.
With the passing of the years the market began to enrich itself with an ever-increasing quantity of products, which were going to offer similar experiences but gradually more refined than what was seen until a few years earlier. Let’s think for example of the introduction of first video card in a Personal Computer: it was 1987, and the IBM PS / 2 was the first device to be equipped with it. At the same time, the console front launched non-NES products on the market such as the Sega Mega Drive in 1988 and the first Game Boy model, released on the market the following year. Many small revolutions, which differentiated and segmented more and more what were now two different industries: that of PC gaming that of console gaming.
The battle between PC and console became an increasingly recurring theme, also supported by the now evident differences between the two types of experience. First of all, we find a confirmation at a conceptual level, where it appeared that the two devices were designed to play in different times and modes. Some magazines of the time, in which the video game was beginning to slowly carve out an important cultural role, consoles were even considered to be a pastime more oriented towards an audience of children, while computers were more frequently associated with children or mostly to young adults. A segmentation that today, in retrospect, can only tear a smile thinking about how things have changed.
PC vs console: a matter of … Games?
As mentioned above, the emergence of the video game in global pop culture meant that its market became an increasingly important entity in terms of quantity and quality. The nineties, considered by many still today the true golden age of gaming, brought many innovations in this sense. Always following the topic “PC against console”, let’s see how there were several changes that could shake the industry.
In 1991, for example, the Super Nintendo arrived on the market, followed four years later by the first PlayStation and, towards the end of the millennium, by the Sega Dreamcast. On the opposite side, in all probability, the news was even more exciting: from the advent of memory cards in 1992 – by Intel and Sharp – to the establishment of a common standard for DVDs, passing through the launch of new systems operational as Windows 95 and devices like the iMac. In addition, we find the birth of the World Wide Web, of which only today we are starting (perhaps) to understand the incredible impact on a cultural level.
It is in this scenario so broad and multifaceted that the need to differentiate itself from the competition began to increase, even more significantly than in the past. PC against console was also a battle with exclusives, with both sides able to offer very high quality products, often leaving the end user doubtful about how to use their resources. On the sidelines, it should be said that computers, while remaining expensive, became more and more present within the majority of western families over time: from an almost mysterious object and for a few, PCs were now widespread in a quantity hitherto unthinkable.
Returning to the games offered, the offer offered in those years is made up of titles whose names today evoke a strong nostalgic feeling, both on one side and the other. Speaking of PC gaming we find some products that have marked the history of the gaming medium such as Half-Life, Quake, Planetscape: Torment and the graphic adventures LucasArts. Some titles then, such as Doom, are born on PC and then spread and reach an increasingly important success also on other platforms. As for the consoles, we also find here a series of unforgettable products: Nintendo continued to invest with enormous success on intellectual properties such as Mario and Zelda, PlayStation offered prominent exclusives such as Metal Gear Solid, Gran Turismo and Tekken, while Sega launched on the market an innovative masterpiece like Shenmue by Yu Suzuki.
With the migration of different titles from one side to the other, as in the aforementioned example of Doom, a still different scenario was outlined: from a certain point of view PC against console was becoming a comparison between genres, with gaming on computers to offer a more important choice in terms of strategic in real time – Homeworld, Total Annihilation, Command & Conquer – while on consoles it was possible to opt for a choice, in terms of exclusives, much more varied. Over the years, this has led to further segmentation, which we still see too often today. A “PC against console” has in fact been added another clash, the one between console and console: the so-called “console war”.
This phenomenon is strongly linked to the development of the internet and social media, which made it possible for everyone to express their ideas even if they are too deeply rooted. This often leads to interesting debates but also, in most cases, to far too marked positions. The situation today however shows us how talking about PC against console is a topic that has not been overcome, but deeply evolved compared to twenty or thirty years ago: at the level of titles, exclusives are now a question mostly related to the console market, as we have also been able to also observe from the announcements of the last few months.
Despite the fact that users remain highly loyal both on one side and the other, however, today it is an increasingly widespread practice to have both a PC and a console to play: the experiences as in the past remain in the same way different, but not altogether. The last few years have in fact brought a series of increasingly marked additions, which make the border between the different platforms increasingly thin. Technologies such as cross-play and cross-save, or even cross-platform streaming services, have made the scenario an entity to be conceived as something more and more unitary.
Any position taken, correct or exaggerated, must however take into account one factor: after all, we are always talking about video games, both from one side to the other. Does it still make sense to talk about PC versus console? Maybe not, certainly much less than in past decades. The fact that today’s market offers even more the possibility to choose between different experiences at a different price, is an indication of how the times are suitable for a definitive maturation as gamers. Moreover, in the term “video game” the suffix indicates precisely this: the playful and entertainment aspect that must never fail, being the most important characteristic of each product of the genre. Whether you decide to live it on PC, or in case you prefer to play on consoles.
For PC gaming we can only recommend a masterpiece like Age of Empires: Definitive Edition, while on console do not miss the latest masterpiece by Naughty Dog: The Last of Us Part II!