Do We Really Need Game Consoles Anymore?

Following a disappointing console showing at E3 2012, commenter DocSeuss believes now is the best time to throw off our proprietary shackles and make the PC plunge. Who's with him?

Do we really need consoles anymore? After seeing E3, I'm not really that sure. I mean, we all know that PC games dominated E3 because developers are tired of being held back by console limitations.

Sunday night, I played Arkham City on my television through my laptop (and no, it wasn't an ultra-expensive Alienware). Recently, I've helped two siblings build computers for both every day use and gaming (both were needing to replace their current computers), and we came up with machines that perform well and cost below a thousand dollars. Most of the console games I have, I only have because they're exclusive to consoles.

As someone with a small income, I can't tell you how much money I've saved by gaming on the PC. Why spend $US25 on a game I can pick up for $US5 or $US10 on the PC, you know?

So, I mean, I can play on my comfy couch and I can do it cheap — sure, the initial cost is higher than the initial cost of a console (unless lol launch PS3), but through the life of the platform (where the real money is spent), I've saved a lot more on PC. I get the additional benefits of things like better visuals, better sound, in-game web browsing, and... dare I say it?

Better games.

Look at all the Day Z coverage Kotaku's had! It's amazing stuff. Day Z sounds like an incredible game experience, and, as a mod, it's simply not possible on other platforms. It's not just mods, though. My recent purchases have been games like Swedish Post-Apocalyptic RPG Krater and 4X strategy game Endless Space (which I've sunk like 20 hours into with no sign of stopping).

At E3, we saw countless bloody, ultraviolent sequels. The most-applauded game at the show was, what, the only AAA game reveal that we didn't have any idea about? That doesn't really bode well.

Consoles are platforms that, because of their simplicity, appeal to the lowest common denominator. All these unimaginative sequels are the fault of the people who buy and sell console games, to be honest. It's those little whiny thirteen year-old kids on PSN who buy nothing but Call of Duty and those grognards who refuse to play anything that isn't a first-person Nintendo game that are holding the industry back. Their support for the unimaginative and ultraviolent is at odds with the evolution of the industry.

In a market where publishers need to maximise profits, there's no room for the challenging, the unique, or the inventive, so, well... we get an E3 that doesn't really set anyone on fire.

People lament the lack of the new and original. I'm glad to say that I don't share their pain (because who would want to partake in an industry without anything new or original?), because, well, I game on my PC. I can play anything, from the familiar to the new, from the pretentious to the innovative, from the bad to the good.

And that's awesome.

I have two consoles, but I'm kind of wondering why.

I've got a PC. What more do I need?

About Speak Up on Kotaku: Our readers have a lot to say, and sometimes what they have to say has nothing to do with the stories we run.


    The ONLY reason I still have consoles are for their respective exclusives...

    an Xbox 360,

    Hopefully we will swing back towards PC at some point in the future, but it's not going to happen anytime soon and possibly not at all. I have no real problem with consoles, I own all three of the current gen but as a long time gamer I really do think PC gamers lost something in the last transition from PC to console oriented game development. I want to be able to play everything on my PC, but shoddy ports, complete lack of support, bad drm, no tweaking options etc. will keep me buying whatever the "best" version of the game happens to be at the time. Thankfully indie games are by and large the exact opposite and it's great that they seem to be tearing it up on Steam etc. and leaving the console marketplaces in their dust.

    I'm probably going to get abused for this but I really want to keep consoles going. Don't get me wrong, I love my computer and probably spend more time on it than all of my consoles put together however I love having the ability to just lay down on my couch and play games on the TV. For me it's a more relaxing atmosphere. On another point I think the end of consoles would be the end of quite a large portion of gamers. I know plenty of people that play Xbox and PlayStation that would never play games on a PC. These people matter to gaming, maybe more so the mainstream games like COD and EA sports titles but still, in my opinion they're still an important part of the gaming community (When they're not abusing people on COD). Another point for me is that I like playing games with friends, I have some hardcore gaming friends that play PC religiously, however I also have friends that pretty much just play COD and will only play on consoles. Now I know that the vast majority of the gaming community have a strong dislike for these people but for me they're my friends and I enjoy playing with them. I'm also going to shoot myself in the foot once more and say I enjoy playing COD on console *begs for forgiveness* . Now I'm really starting to rant so I'm going to cut to my point which I possibly should have done earlier but here goes - I want consoles to survive for the fact they open up gaming to a wider audience and that I can lay on my couch and play games I love. I don't see streaming games becoming viable in Australia any time in the near future as we're still paying a lot more for our internet than most countries and the fact our plans generally have a download/upload limit restricts us severely.

      I used to have the couch hangup too, but it is bloody easy to connect a PC to a TV, and Microsoft make decent, mostly supported pads.

      You make other points too. I think a huge market will move to phones and smart TV's. The core market will move to PC's or very PC like consoles (we're already there really).

        So true... the Xbox controller works wonders with the vast majority of PC games. My main issue is the vast majority of games I play on PC require a mouse and keyboard. Games like Diablo, LoL and SC2. On another note I've got my computer hooked up to my TV via HDMI but I seem to have a ridiculous amount of issues with it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't... This was a while ago though and I haven't tried it with the latest firmware so hopefully it's a bit more reliable now. Playing SC2 on a 42' was one of the best gaming moments of my life. Thinking of which, I really should play a game of the Witcher 2 though the TV. That would be amazing. Also your point in gaming on phones is spot on, it's definitely the direction that devs are taking when aiming at the general population . Still there's some top quality mobile games out there. Sword and Sworcery is one of my favorite games of all time. The combination of beautiful art, amazing music and a solid gameplay mechanic made it the most amazing game IMO.

      Yeah i completely agree there is a market for gaming on the couch, and rightfully so, gaming should always be about choice, about playing the way you want to play. The main problem at the moment is that the outdated console hardware is hindering the development of PC gaming.

      I don't think it would be too much of a stretch to essentially create a console that is a standardised PC, that still operates as a PC, but just always has standard specs, like consoles. And then those consoles can still be upgradable as PC's if you choose too, although the majority of couch gamers won't. This way developers only have to develop for a single platform and can create upscale/ downscale options depending on peoples hardware, again just like PC's. Consoles are essentially specialized computers so this isn't a huge stretch, and could even contain tiers for more powerful standardized systems. At the same time it would semi eliminate the "console generation" since you could have say, three tiers at any one time at different price points, then just release a new one each year, similar to what apple do with their product lines. Anyway I too have gone on too long and have probably not explained this the best way possible, but you get the gist.

    I'm not getting my jrpg's on pc any time soon so nothankyou.jpg. Also i love my portable consoles too much to ever give them up. Also nintendo has my soul still.

      Standardised PC??? You're talking about the xbox. I love PC gaming and its where I started out but more and more recently I prefer my xbox; because it is pretty much a standardised pc, I have the old xbox360, not the slim, and it has travelled with across 3 continents. I would never have dragged a pc rig around the world. I love my xbox for that.

      PC gaming can be better because its open and anyone can develop games which provides more creative opportunities. Also, the developers push the limits of what can be done and hardware evolves quicker but that's also the problem. You end up having to upgrade to the latest graphics card or get more ram frequently to keep up with top games. Whereas with the xbox you're locked into a powerful machine for a few years, admittedly this generation of consoles has outlived any previous generation but that's a testament to hardware that was created. But knowing that investment in one piece of kit is going to get you a few years of great gaming is fantastic. That standardisation is great for gamers because it gives everyone a level playing field.

      Also the co-op play is something that is really important too, and other than online it's not possible on PC. I love sitting on the couch and playing co-op with my girlfriend or a mate. So much so that I have a weekly day of relaxation referred to as xbox sunday. Online is fine but I want to play side by side and have beer and enjoy games with friends and family.

      I know pricing for PC is more competitive, but you pretty have to be online for deals. PC games in shops are near non-existent these days (better in Aus than anywhere else I have been though) . Also ISPs in Aus are terrible, capped plans and contracts, that are ridiculously expensive , the savings made on things like steam are lost on the fees for bandwidth. I am hoping with the announcement of a browser on xbox that services like steam will soon follow suit and that more of the great indie dev community will add games to xbox live, but again ISP service still needs to improve.

      I for one, am an pc to xbox convert and am really looking forward to the next xbox and will be in line when its released. I'm choosing consoles for 3 reasons: portability, standard format and local co-op.

    I personally love my PS3. Sure ive spent heaps on games compared to what a pc gamer does, but for me it works. When Shogun 2 Total War came out and i went back to PC gaming after a few years i was reminded why i left it in the first place. For someone like me who isnt computer savvy it was a chore. I bought the game on disc but it needed steam to work, and often i couldnt play it at all. I like just putting something in a disc tray and it just working. No error messages, no fucking around with DRM, no latest drivers this and unsupported that- all problems i had with Shogun.

      To be fair that isn't a fault of playing on a PC, its certain companies that choose to be like that.

      They are trying to reach the same point of DRM etc on consoles so its only a matter of time.

      I put most of my PC games in the disc drive and have them running in ten minutes. I've never been forced to download drivers either, my games work just fine without them. Shogun 2 included.

    The major problem with removing consoles? Inconsistency. Sure, the days where EVERY game needs their own video card, essentially, are long dead. But it doesn't change the fact that in order to play on PC you need to understand those specifications. The average consumer has no idea on what half of these things mean. Recommended specs: Radeon AM3560 + Quad Core processor is gibberish to the average gamer, overall not just PC or console. I know what some of it means, but then I go to load up a game like Arma 2, to get to the point where I can play DayZ and I get informed that Shading Core 2 is no longer supported. No reference on how to fix this, what to do, just nope, sorry, you can't play this game. As a semi-tech savvy person I can quite easily google this, but as a consumer I don't feel I should have to. I buy a product, I expect it to work with little to no effort on my behalf. For example, when I buy LEGO, I expect the pieces to fit without me having to get out a knife and cut the pieces. In the same vein, I expect to put a disc in the tray of my 360, push it in and it just plays, maybe an update (for which I just have to push OK) then it works. In my past experience with even the most high end PC I could afford that exceeded Recommended Specs, I've experienced nothing but issues. Most consumers, not just gamers since there are those who are buying a game for the first time, don't have the patience to deal with that. Factoring in multiplayer problems, my barely running just meeting minimum specs vs your top of the range monster, the experience is just destroyed. Compare this to 360vs360 the only reason to lose are skill. (Removing the issue of internet connectivity which can be a problem on both)

    PCs not consistent, consoles are consistent. Average consumer doesn't want to work to play their game

    I only have consoles for exclusives, and I don't play them at my couch, I have my 360 hooked up at the same desk my PC is at. They ARE inferior to PCs, not in every way but a lot of ways. Even so I don't hate them and they should still be part of the market but there needs to stop being so many games that have the potential for amazing graphical fidelity that come out on Xbox and PS3 and not PC, where these games would fill the potential. Take RDR for example. Beautiful game, but it looks like shit on 360 and PS3 due to the fact that you can only play it in upscaled 720p and not full 1080p.

    Consoles are okay but the market needs to stop catering to them or PC will die, which will undoubtedly be bad for gaming in the long run.

    Both consoles and PCs are merging together anyway.

    The 'simplicity' advantage of the console is gone, no longer do you just buy a new game, put it in the machine and play it. You now have to install it to the hard drive, update the game, update the firmware, enter an online code, work your way through multiple prompts on game saves and dlc then maybe 45 minutes later you might get to start playing. The only advantage consoles have now is that you know your hardware will play the game without compatibility issues (eventually) but with all the other rubbish you now have to go through you might as well be playing a PC...

    ...which I do, mine is hooked up to the TV and I can use a 360 controller when necessary. Steam has made PC gaming simpler than it was so you can essentially custom build your own 'console' if you want to.

    I'll probably be buying consoles still next gen but it will only be for exclusives.

    Heard this old arguement before. These articles all stem from David Jaffes' latest rant, over on Industry Gamers I think. Either way its a load of rubbish. Consoles and PCs' offer two different gaming experiences and I couldn't live without either. All Im waiting for is next-gen consoles to release so they are on par with PC (i.e. DX11), and can run games at full 1080P + 60FPS solid and at maximum detail. Coz GTX690, or 2 X GTX680 really looks amazing and makes PS3/360 look as old and crusty as they are!

    The ONLY reason I have two consoles is for the exclusives.

    PC gaming better in almost every way (bar silly DRM measures, technical issues, and expense).

    I'll definitely be passing on the next gen for everything but exclusives. I have my laptop hooked up to my TV with a 360 pad and it works great, but I want to buy a proper gaming rig in the future.

    A lot of games don't properly support the 360 pad, but there are 2 programs anyone using a pad on their PC should have anyway: either Pinnacle Game Profiler or Xpadder, both offer full customisation so you can tweak the thumbsticks with all sorts of acceleration and sensitivity adjustments. You can even replicate the DPI buttons on pro gaming mice by assigning a button to change sens on the fly.

    If the innaccuracy of thumbsticks is an issue, you can buy 360 pads for about $100 with trackballs in place of the right stick and apparently the aiming is as accurate as a mouse.

      You sure mate? I have a 360 game pad, don't use it much, but literally no game I have tried does not support it. Windows 7 has built in drivers for it.

        Reeeeeeeeally? How interesting, when most of the games I am playing these days have setting to set up a Xbox 360 controller & support it.

      Loving the sound of that mouse, btw

    This comment has been deemed inappropriate and has been deleted.

    I have noticed, around various forums on the internet etc, there is definetly a shift back towards PC gaming. It has become significantly cheaper than it was 4-5 years ago and many people are seeing a huge benefit in going to PC. Take BF3 for example, the experience on consolves vs PC is like night and day, same can be said for plenty of other games as well. Generally PC games are MUCH cheaper as well, Green Man Gaming is currently selling Hitman Absolution/Darksiders 2/Far Cry 3/ Assassins Creed 3 for all under $45.

      Not to over simplify the matter, but that would be that, in general, console gamers don't hang out in forums. It's like saying "we questioned 50,000 Xbox gamers and only 1% said they would buy a PS3" kind of a bias that the forums, accessed via PC, would be shifting toward PC. Not to belittle your other points, this just really stuck out

        OK, but this is a trend I am noticing recently, if you read what I actually wrote, you would note I was insinuating this is people who use to game primarily on consoles, shifting to PC's. Some because they are tired of waiting for next gen and others because of the variety of games on the platform. That is also a ridiculous assumption to make that "console gamers" dont hang out on forums...

      I Think the OP is getting his two points mixed up. The article is titled "Do WE really need game consoles anymore", however he ends his article with the statement" I’ve got a PC. What more do I need?"
      We and I are not interchangeable in this instance.
      When discussing the I. Yes for sure only game on the PC because it's all about the choice, no one is forcing anyone to play a certain type of system. If the OP thinks gaming is more original on the PC then be all means game one and enjoy democracy.
      However when looking at the OP's use of WE, when inferring is console gaming good or necessary for anyone, I will raise three points.
      Firstly the console market brings in a considerable amount of money that is good for the industry as a whole. The competition between the consoles themselves and PC is also good for creativity in driving each to be the best. It is assumed that much of the driving mechanism behind iterations is market demand AND the high cost of production. I don't see how the OP can claim that making blockbuster games for 'next gen' PCs would be any cheaper or more risk adverse than the current status quo.

      Secondly if there was no console market what would happen to the consumers? I assume the market would fragment between PC, Mobile and Tablet. PC would take the majority of hardcore gamers, which would in turn give PC a much bigger who, shock horror when end up demanding the same games that OP apparently dislikes on the consoles.

      Thirdly I believe a number of the games the OP enjoys on the PC are smaller indy titles which able to get a large following/funding due to the lack of the big console players owning the space. With the demise of consoles does the OP really want to see the PC space get saturated with the advertising and marketing power of the big console corporations.
      A guess the point i'm trying to make in this bloated post is that the article seems to be more a reflection piece on the OP's evolving tastes in games and gaming rather than a critique of console gaming and it's future.
      There is of course nothing wrong with a that, but please just call it what it is.

    consoles are going nowhere they will be around for a long time.

    i have a ps3 and 360 and a gaming laptop. for me like others have said here is the fact that sometimes i want to sit in front of my big arse tv and relax in my lounge chair.

    and i don't want to go to the trouble of hooking up a pc to my tv.

    tl;dr pc gamers are upset because they get ported games now instead of being the lead platform, has nothing to do with consoles reaching there usefulness

      Well wouldn't you complain as well if the games you were playing were sub standard quality for your choice of platform, yet you're demanded to pay full price..

      the current console technology is approaching 7 years old, and they are still developing for it, including the AI, calculation, feature and graphical limitations that aged technology imposes. We won't see a giant leap forward in gaming design like we have in the past until we move away from the ancient framework that the mass-appealing business model of the games producers has forced the developers to adhere to for the last half a decade.

        Gamers need the mass appeal of consoles, not everyone can afford the constant upgrading required to stay on the cutting edge of PC gaming, which requires far more investment than console gaming both in time researching kit and money investing in it. The new gen has been a long time coming but its because they a gearing towards putting together hardware that will last another 7 or so years before being replaced. I much prefer that than yearly investment in graphics cards and ram to play the latest and greatest games. Why is there so much focus on graphics of late? Yeah its great that they are constantly improving but personally I go gameplay and story over graphically experience every time. So a good game on outdated hardware will always make me happier than beautiful crap on the latest and greatest hardware. This is why indie gaming is so big now and why people always revert back to there original console games like nes and sega.

          I'm sorry but this is the biggest lie ever!
          You dont need to be buying Ram and graphics cards every year!
          you only need to upgrade once you no longer have enough. 4gbs is the recommended amount for most high end games. that costs about $26. most people have about 8 and many laptops come with 4 min these days. as for graphics card only idiots upgrade every year. upgrading is only important if you want 200fps at max resolution every year for the rest of time. Most people can deal with 60 fps at 1920x1080 and dont need to upgrade for a number of years and even then you only upgrade if you are sick of medium graphics which are still better than console graphics. the lowest graphics are about the same as consoles atm so think of it that way.

    I've always been a console gamer, but have dipped into PC gaming in the last 6 months.

    The graphics are better, games are cheaper and I'm enjoying the keyboard/mouse combo.

    However, I'm not computer savvy at all (putting the rig together was a cunt) and all the updating of drivers, patches and installations are a pain in the arse. Max Payne 3 for example: 4 discs to install, then several patches/updates, then updates to the graphics card drivers. It was a good 45 minutes before I could play the fuckin thing.

    Definitely a PC convert, but I'll always be partial to consoles.

      It was a 29gb download on Steam o.o

      Makes me wonder what GTA V is going to be like..

      You'll Learn with time, experience helps when you build/upgrade/update your PC, the more you do it the easier it gets. I actually enjoy building/upgrading/overclocking my PC, have been doing it for over a decade. Its quite satisfying once its put together and works (although there is a tonne of testing involved before it works smoothly). Sure the updates and installation time (especially for Max Payne 3, the 4 disk install argggh) but once you passed all that its usually smooth sailing. The game loads in seconds instead of minutes (im sure the console version would take that long to load if its not installed to the HDD) which for me is a good trade off. Actually on my PC rig i didnt even notice any load times now that i think about it. For the better visuals and controls (for certain games) consoles ATM just dont come close IMO.

      BTW watch the language or atleast cover it up with @#$ etc.

        Yeah, I'm sure I'll get used to it, even when I upgrade different parts.

        Not sure where it says it's inappropriate to swear, particularly when it's not directed anyone. I'm sure we're all mature enough to deal with the odd "nasty" word.

    I prefer consoles because I spend 9 hours a day working on a computer, 5 days a week.

    Console gaming means I get to sit on the couch/beanbag and be in a different environment away from the desktop; that makes all the difference. I'm sure I'm not alone here.

    PC is my preferred gaming platform although i play on consoles for gaming experiences i cant get on the PC. Why would i get a console version of a game when the PC version is usually better (FPS/RTS/RPG/Racing). Thats why i like the Wii U. In isnt trying to be a PC. Its trying to be different. Thats what i want in a console.I dont want a console thats trying to better a PC. Consoles cant. PC Graphical and Audio hardware is always evolving, unlike consoles (PC hardware improve in months, Consoles are now upgrading in decades like 360 and ps3).

    If i could get all the gaming experiences on PC then i wouldnt even consider a console.

    Pc is far superior, hands down. Consoles have the plug & play set & forget plus branding edge on pop culture. my parents bought me consoles as a loud, but I could never imagine them have buying a pc

    PC's are just a pain, I, and many others, just want to plug in and play.

      I never understood this argument, how are PC's a pain? The fact that they are such brilliant multitasking tools and are generally the most important technical aspect of anyones life, mean you should learn about them to some degree.

      To play my console on my TV.
      1. plug in power supply cable
      2. plug in hdmi cable
      3. plug in lan cable
      4. updates

      1. plug in power supply cable
      2. plug in hdmi cable
      3. plug in lan cable
      4. plug in USB wireless receiver for controller/ Key and mouse
      5. updates (from either Nvidia website or Ati website depending on the brand you have)
      seems pretty simple to me.

    i prefer consoles myself.. for the main reason of this: If i pick up a Console game and it says "Playstation 3"on it, i know it will work in my ps3.. with PC games i need to remember my pc specs and things like "is my Geforce 5500 uper mega video card better than the Geforce 9800 ultra card listed on the box?"

      rule of thumb the higher the number the better the graphics card.
      exception being Nvidia which has now reclocked over.
      so they had 200, 300, 400, 500, 600 series which are more powerful than the 9800.
      thats a general rule
      some cards from a 500 series may be better than 600 series.

    What we need is for consoles to have statistics of equal par to high end pc with updates every 3 year's. That way they will be able to lasts a while before becoming restricted.

      But making a new console is a gigantic leap for the console companies, and they are often sold at a loss for the first few years. They make the most of their money from game licences. It's not, and will never be, economically viable for them to push out a new console every three uyears

    I don't have the time or the inclination to think about wether or not a game is going to work or changing a bunch of technical settings or buying more bits of hardware to make it work and I certainly don't want game developers wasting their time making the game work across a spectrum of hardware. I like games, not computers.

    Sounds just like the android Vs Apple debates !
    The mere fact that a console is a limited use computer seems to escape people !

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