Value proposition - PC or consoles games?

There is so much talk about games these days. With the advent of tablets and smart phones, the platforms available to play games on are ever increasing. With the runaway success of social games like Farmville, the types of games available to play have also exploded and with it a new genre of game players who I call "social gamers". At CES a tablet won the best in show award, and the thought crossed my mind – I wonder what this means to the different gaming platforms? Is there a compelling proposition for PC or non console game developers? Before I start to give my thoughts, let me say this: I own most of the recent generations of consoles, Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64, GameCube, Wii, PS2, PS3, PSP, Nintendo DS. So, I am by no means a console or “portable” console hater, their ease of use is unquestionable.

However, as a tech user I do think that PCs offer so much more as a gaming platform than a console, its single purpose use being its first disadvantage in my mind. Sure, a good gaming PC is pricier than a console, but you also get so much more. A laptop lets me keep and carry my game with the rest of my digital life in one place; I don’t have to go from my laptop to a console hardwired in a room to play a game. Also I can play social games on my laptop which I can’t on my console. Prices of PCs have been going down so the price gap between a console and PC is not as wide anymore.

Now let’s talk about quality, with the rapid pace of changing technology on PCs, consoles just can’t keep up with the quality of graphics that can be rendered on a PC. And now with Sandy Bridge based PCs the quality paradigm shifts even more towards PCs.

Ease of use has been a factor in the success of consoles, but I find a mouse/keyboard a much better pointing and control device than a controller. And as I mentioned earlier I can carry a laptop and therefore my game with me where I go. This is a huge benefit in my mind. With widi based TVs, soon my laptop will be connected and controlled without wires and I can have a big screen experience on my home theater right from my laptop but also use it standalone when I am away. With online game distribution some of the challenges in PC installations have also become simpler.

Also, most games are available for PC platforms, not true for consoles. And PCs are still dominant in online gaming, consoles are catching up but there are often fees associated which make them less attractive.

Now let’s look at some statistics, enthusiast PCs are 62% of the total market, which means there are 4PCs out there for every Wii, 7 PCs for every Xbox360 and 8 PCs for every PS3. PC gaming generates 43% of the total gaming revenue. The next closest platform is the Wii, which generated 24% of the total gaming revenue in 2009. And the PC share is growing – by 2013, the forecast is that PC gaming will represent 56% of the total pie. (Source). This tells me that maybe the benefits I state above are shared by other gamers too. The value proposition is so much stronger for PCs as a gaming platform and therefore for PC game developers. PCs are for serious gamers, and consoles for…..maybe a bit less serious ones. What do you think?
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1 comment

anonymous's picture

"PCs are for serious gamers, and consoles for…..maybe a bit less serious ones."

Ding ding ding! That's really the bottom line. There are exceptions (social gamers for instance), but myself - and most other PC gamers I know - are serious about games. Also, I wasn't aware that Enthusiast PC's were 62% of the martet, that's a fun stat.

So looking forward to utilized WiDi too, what an exciting new technology! I was actually on the brink of purchasing an Enthusiast PC a week ago before I heard about the motherboard recall, what's the word on that? I'm also curious if WiDi will be available for Desktop i3,i5,i7 processors.

Anyway, good article! I'm a little surprised there was no mention of Steam and when the fine folks at Valve have been doing to help PC gaming thrive, but it's not a huge deal.

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