Gaming culture is on the rise, with an influx of titles and profits from triple A title video games higher than ever. A large percentage of these profits come from the sale of gaming consoles, games for them, accessories, and other hardware. However, the manufacturers of game consoles have more than just each other for competition. One of the questions that continues to plague them is: why buy a console at all, when a PC can do the same and more?
A PC is a potentially more powerful platform that not only has the capability for games, but greater capacity for control with more buttons on the keyboard for more commands, and a variety of hardware that can be plugged in for alternate control schemes. PCs give you access to voice applications like Ventrillo and Mumble, commonly used by gamers when playing online multiplayer games like Word of Warcraft, EVE Online, or Guild Wars so that they can communicate better. These applications can also play a role in competitive tournament games, and offer greater privacy and communication than in-game chats featured on console titles.
PCs are more easily customized, and some games for the PC can be modded, including several incredibly popular titles like The Elder Scrolls and Half-Life 2. The PC has a thousand other uses and applications that can make it stiff competition for competitive gamers. Furthermore, many of the most popular titles in the world are PC exclusives like League of Legends, World of Warcraft, and World of Tanks.
What Are Consoles Doing to Keep Up?
Because of things like this, console manufacturers are trying to emulate PCs in some ways, giving their consoles more applications, more usability, and overall trying to provide more entertainment on one platform. This started with the previous generation of consoles: Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony’s Playstation 2 decided to include a DVD player with their products to enhance their overall entertainment value. Nintendo’s Gamecube did not, deciding instead to produce games on miniature discs. The fact that the Gamecube did not have a DVD player when the others did was one complaint lobbied against it.
This trend has continued in the current generation, with each of the consoles offering some kind of entertainment service beyond gaming. Netflix is available via any of the three major consoles, as well as things like an internet browser that can access Youtube, and a network that can be used to stay in touch with gaming news with new trailers, demos, and some exclusive looks at new titles. The Xbox 360 has perhaps pushed this the most with their Xbox Live subscription. The Playstation 3 included a blu-ray player as well, and for a time was one of the more cost-effective ways to get a blu-ray player.
Microsoft is making a large effort to push this still further with their next generation console. At the unveiling of the Xbox One, they revealed a number of new ways in which the console could bring entertainment to their consumers. Microsoft is marketing the Xbox One as an “all in one entertainment system.” Via an online cloud, the Xbox One can launch TV shows, movies, games, and music. It also incorporates other popular PC programs like Skype, enabling further chat features while you play games or watch TV or movies.
What Are The Console’s Advantages?
Consoles have a few advantages over PCs. When you buy a console, you get a machine that runs at a set power. For the price, a console can run games with more power than a PC of equivalent price. In order to play resource intensive games on PC, a specialty gaming PC is usually required, which includes a lot of expensive parts. Consoles deliver the ability to play the same games at high level, if not the absolute highest.
Consoles have also been experimenting with technologies not yet available on PC. One of the most notable recently has been motion controls, made popular by the Nintendo Wii. Using motion sensors, each new console has included ways to incorporate new motion controls that let players control what is on screen by moving their hands or bodies. It began with the Wiimote, the controller scheme for the Wii that let players do things like swing a sword on screen when swinging the Wiimote, or hit a baseball when making the appropriate motion. Sony and Microsoft followed suit with the Playstation Move and the Kinect, respectively. Microsoft has again pushed things further by including voice controls for the Xbox One, allowing you to turn on the console and give it commands by speaking to it.
However, such technologies have landed with mixed success. Not everyone appreciates or enjoys them, and they may turn out to be a fad that passes, returning control to the traditional controller.
What Else Are Console’s Trying?
The PC has served as a proving ground not only for applications, software and Ink Technologies, but for hardware as well. Increasingly console manufacturers are including PC hardware in their machines. This is certainly evident in the new consoles, which are using AMD CPUs, AMD graphics cards, and standard desktop hard drives.
Despite their efforts, PCs retain more advantages than disadvantages for both serious and casual gamers. PCs offer a wider variety of games, with a large variety of free games online. Consoles will continue to try and emulate PCs to close the gap, but it might take awhile.