Today, we have asked five of our favourite PC and gaming bloggers to ask their opinions on whether or not the games console will ever compete with the gaming pc, particularly since Sony announced the PS4 being “more like” a gaming pc with its new architecture. This is a varied and hot topic right now and will be the first in a series of articles looking at the evolution of gaming in 2013.
First, as chairman of the PC platform welcoming committee, I would like to welcome PlayStation gamers to the PC platform later this year when the PS4 is released, Never say never, but I will say traditional “fat” consoles will never compete with high-end PCs from a performance perspective. It’s a simple physics problem. You can’t get a console the size of an old VCR sitting in a media centre to ever compete with a traditional high-end gaming PC. The gaming PC could have multiple graphics cards, it could be liquid cooled – you can’t get that class of hardware jammed into a tiny box under TV.
I will take this opportunity to highlight some changes in the PC space though. Console-sized gaming PCs are now capable of multi-GPU class power using Nvidia’s new Titan card. This card is very close in performance to a GeForce GTX 690 but runs cool and quiet and offers full 1080P gaming on any game out there and even full 4K native-resolution gaming capability on older engines with the proper visual quality adjustments. Doesn’t this contradict what I just said? Well no. Yes, you can get a console-sized box with multi-GPU performance, but a full-sized gaming PC can run from two to four of those same GPUs and CPUs that are far faster too thanks to their greater thermal and power footprint. So from a performance aspect, no absolutely not. A console will never again touch the PC in graphics or compute performance.
Gordon Ung, Maximum PC
It’s a very loaded question. On the surface, the answer would have to be no. Even if a new console came out with components unavailable for purchase, that’s only going to give it an edge for a year at best. Add to this the myriad options available for control, from custom gamepads to keyboard and mouse setups: there’s something for everyone. The fact that there is no ceiling or restrictions on how much you can spend to improve your gaming PC will always give the platform a huge advantage. As far as I can see, that is a pretty insurmountable obstacle for console gaming. Unless someone like Steam enter the marketplace and bring out regular component upgrades, consoles are never going to have the same power or potential. However, does “good” mean most powerful? The uniform nature of the console and the lower price point allow you to have otherwise unavailable gaming experiences. This is especially true when you consider a group of gaming friends. It may be the case that a person in the group has an outdated PC and can’t afford an upgrade to play the latest games. That’s surely a case that a console has its own place in the gaming landscape, and is therefore as good as PC gaming for the alternative it offers. The exclusive games that don’t come out on PC, and vice versa, add weight to this argument. Both offer experiences the other can’t, and therefore neither can really be deemed better.
Chris Furness, Futurenet
Since the announcement of the PS4 with its new sleek pc-eque infrastructure, one of the core questions in the next generation race is – will the console ever be as powerful as the PC? We asked several experts their opinions:
I think consoles could very well compete with high end gaming PCs. I say that because it is easy to imagine a near future where some of the heavy processing in game play happens in the cloud or even a future where the PC and the TV essentially merge into the same device.
In my experience, when people express a preference to either console or PC they tend to be talking about form factor. Some gamers, for example, like to play their FPS with a keyboard and others like to explore giant RPG worlds from their sofa with a console controller. There’s a difference in accessories but also a difference in “lean back” or “lean forward”. That difference seems transitory to me. It’s already pretty easy to set up a console controller to play on your PC or to give your console a mouse and keyboard. When lots of people do this; what’s the difference between the two types of games platform?
Andrew Girdwood, geeknative.com
Looking at just potential performance, no I don’t think they’ll ever compete with high end gaming PCs, especially since console makers generally try to keep the costs down low. That being said… I do feel consoles will continue to pose a threat to the PC gaming market in general. I think the majority of PC gamers simply want a high quality gaming experience with a keyboard and mouse. What’s to stop future consoles from attempting to take over this market by introducing other gaming peripherals like a keyboard and mouse? Mobile devices and tablets are already taking a step in this direction. As a PC and console gamer, I have to ask myself… If the PS5 or Xbox 1080 could deliver a gaming experience that I can customize to my liking, then is a £1500 PC worth the price tag instead of a £300 console?
It’s easy to answer that question at this point in time, but who knows what glorious gaming features may come out that require performance too great for a console to handle. The only thing I can say with certainty, is that I’m anxious to see what the future holds!
Greg Morton, thatvideogameblog.com
Consoles are built to be available to a mainstream audience and are advantageous in the nature of being on a single subset of hardware. Game developers are able to optimize for that hardware and accomplish great feats that would never be possible on similar PC hardware. The reason for this is because on a PC, developers have a massive amount of hardware configurations to test for, while on consoles they’re limited to one set of cards/chips that they can test and optimize for over a period of years.
With that said, PCs often excel in raw compute performance. High-end gaming PC’s can brute-force their way through just about anything, even a sub-optimized game. There is a place in the market for both consoles and PCs, it really just comes down to what the end-user wants; with that said, I personally think you should highlight the PC’s ability to be more modular and tweak-able (games have large mod libraries, you can overhaul graphics and make a game completely new, you can tweak the PC to have a cool aesthetic, etc). That’s where PCs really excel — their ability to be overhauled and upgraded, and subsequently their ability to overhaul games and revitalize them.
Stephen Burke, GamersNexus.net
The answer is yes, consoles already compete with PCs. As a PC gamer myself, I prefer many titles on my gaming rig, whether they simply be graphically intensive games or games that require a mouse and keyboard. PC games not only offer the most power, but they also offer the most customization and control over the experience, from visual/audio settings to community generated content and modding. Consoles however, offer accessibility and consistency where the entire player base is equal and its easier for developers to craft around. That being said, as we’re beginning to see already with next-gen consoles like the PS4 and upcoming new entries in the market (Steam Box, Ouya), PC gaming and console gaming are beginning to merge. Just look at Steam’s Big Picture mode on a computer plugged into an HD TV. All we need now is true cross-platform online play.
Rob Keyes, gamerant.com