At E3 2016, Microsoft revealed that they were working on Project Scorpio, a new console meant to bring 4K gaming into the home. Around the time these rumors surfaced, a second set of rumors began circulating as well. These new rumors were of a PlayStation 4 Pro to be released later this year by Sony. These rumors were true.
When asked by the Guardian about the PlayStation Pro, Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Andrew House cited the PC gaming comunity as the reason for the PlayStation 4 Pro.
"There's a dip mid-console lifecycle where the players who want the very best graphical experience will start to migrate to PC, because that's obviously where it's to be had... We wanted to keep those people within our eco-system by giving them the very best and very highest [performance quality]."
While Sony and Microsoft clearly didn't set out to egg each other on to create a new mid-cycle revenue stream, they both managed to succeed. In the process, however, they managed to irk a good portion of the gaming community.
I, myself, just made the jump to the current generation of consoles last year with my purchase of the Xbox One Master Chief Collection Bundle. While I love my Xbox One dearly and don't plan to get rid of it anytime soon, I've now made the PC my primary gaming platform.
More Upgrading Options
To some, the prospect of purchasing a new console every few years that offers complete compatiblity with all the other games released for that generation of console doesn't seem like a horrible idea. Some people like the simplicity of being able to unbox their new device, hook it up, log into an account, download their games and get back to their rounds of Call of Duty.
This is less appealing to some of us. A new console will often set you back $400-$600 depending on pricing and peripherals. It's possible to build a console-killer PC that falls right into that price range, only with better upgrading options. Instead of needing to upgrade the entire system every couple of years, you can just upgrade the processor or the graphics card. You can look at your system, find the bottleneck, and fix it. Thanks to cards like the RX480 it's possible to get performance out of a graphics card that manages to beat consoles in every aspect while coming in at a fraction of the cost.
PC Gaming Offers an Open Platform
Long before mid-cycle console upgrades were even an idea PC gamers were doing so much with what they had been given. On consoles, backwards compatibility is not a given and is often viewed as a luxury when it's offered. On the current generation of consoles I'd have to say Microsoft has hit it out of the park with their expansive Xbox 360 backwards compatibility. On PC, this is less of an issue.
While updates to operating systems often kill compatibility with games (unintentionally, more often than not), the PC gaming community is there to save the day. Thanks to a talented network of dedicated gamers you can find any number of patches online for older games that fix compatibility issues where the games developers may not have.
It doesn't stop there though. From creating high resolution textures to adding new characters or maps into games, the PC gaming scene has an enormous mod community. The best place to find PC game mods is usually ModDB and just seeing the amount of content they have is staggering to say the least.
For years mods were considered a perk of PC gaming but Bethesda has made moves to change that in the last two years. It started with them announcing that Fallout 4 on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 would be receiving mod support. After that, the mods came to the Xbox One version of the game with PlayStation mods "coming soon". Then it was announced that Skyrim would be getting a remastered release and that the console versions would once again contain mod support, yet still mods hadn't been released on the PlayStation 4. Finally, last week, Bethesda had this to say:
After months of discussion with Sony, we regret to say that while we have long been ready to offer mod support on PlayStation 4, Sony has informed us they will not approve user mods the way they should work: where users can do anything they want for either Fallout 4 or Skyrim Special Edition.
After all of that waiting (and a surprising amount of cooperation from Microsoft) Sony managed to kill console mods for their users. While it's true that some users may not care about installing mods, just take a look at how expansive and fantastic mods have become in games like Fallout 4 and Skyrim. If that doesn't do it for you just image Doom without its thousands of user-created levels. Then stop an think about everything in between.
PC's Offer an Infinite Variety of Games
The final point that helped me make the jump to PC gaming as my primary platform is the sheer amount of games available for the platform. While the volume of games you can play on the PC is definitely inflated by the amount of games that maintain compatibility from Windows release to Windows release, there's so much more at play.
One factor that often gets overlooked is that pretty much everything (save for console exclusives) gets released on PC. Want a puzzle game? Play Bejeweled. A shooter? Doom has you covered. A flight simulator? There's plenty of them to choose from (and the best part is you can even play them with a flightstick). A PC offers endless possibilities when it comes to input and for that reason you can play any type of game you want with an input method that just feels right.
It doesn't take a lot to release a PC game either. Unlike the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One where getting a game published to the digital storefront can be a bit of a nightmare, PC gaming is simple. Anyone who knows how to do it can make a game and there's an endless amount of ways to release your game. You can get your game out there for free or you can put it up for sale. If you feel like it you can even download the tools you need to make your own game.
PC gaming offers a platform where independent game developers can try radical new ideas or make games that pay homage to the titles they enjoyed playing growing up. While the tagline for console gaming has shown itself to be "It's All About the Money", the tagline for PC gaming is "It's All About Community".
That's why the new console development cycle pushed me to make the PC my primary platform for playing games but I'll still keep consoles around in my life. The only difference now is that instead of making them a priority, they'll become a commodity for me. Consoles will become something I buy when the price is right and there's enough exclusives to match.