Mainstream is still Mainstream
Accessibility, both monetarily and physically, is a keyword for mainstream. While acquiring the knowledge to build a competent gaming machine is fairly simple and the benefits are quite rewarding. Getting a parent to drop cash on an assortment of unknown boxes with a promise of super fun, or the difficulty in convincing someone who does not want to fuss with computer components is still ever present. Go to the store, buy the fun machine and profit. A perfect day for the average consumer. As an example, Microsoft had some serious missteps when they released Windows 8 this past year. People were coming in after the commercials and hype from dancing hipsters sporting Windows tablets only to poke at every laptop and monitor and be told that that is not how it works. Not everyone has the patience or time to learn the nuances of these kinds of changes or investments. So buying a $500-600 machine that will play all the games while being accessible and easy enough to understand will always be valuable.
Gaming PC’s aren’t necessarily cheap. The owners of the high end video card products will not shy away in admitting that their one component costs just about as much, if not more, than the rumored price tags of the next generation consoles. Proponents of the “cheap gaming build” computer can list a vast array of budget friendly builds. But at the end of the day, the completed product is more than likely to cost more or equal to the traditional gaming system of $500 or so. Add in peripherals, wireless devices, monitor(s) (sitting inches away in front of the television is a no no) and that price continues to climb. Console box, requisite T.V., included control pad, game. The system is good to go.
The push for the box to rule them all.
Amazon wants to provide everything. Apple wants to do everything. Microsoft wants to give T.V. to gamers (North America only?). Sony wants it all as well. Meanwhile Nintendo is doing its best to establish a solid footing. With a multitude of services going around vying for each persons money and patronage. The decision to choose the one that can do it all is a very attractive option. This is where consoles are particularly appealing. While Valve and Steam remain a fixture in the PC gaming community, the ballooning number of service providers from the game companies is growing very rapidly. Blizzard’s Battle.net, Electronic Arts’ Origin service, Ubisoft’s Uplay Launcher and the myriad of other login information associated with MMO’s and such. The list of passwords and dedicated service applications can easily become overwhelming. The frustrating ballet of resetting forgotten passwords and login names certainly can get pretty irksome after the first couple of times. Especially after hopping back into a game that has been on the backburner for quite some time because of the hottest new releases. While there will probably be some form of registration involved for console games, the delivery of the content will be more simplified and streamlined. Which, once again, can be a strong selling point for those that just want to play games and not deal with the hassle of website redirecting installations.
Drivers? What are Drivers?
Another distinct advantage that consoles have going for them is that it is a single architecture and it is a machine bred with games in mind. On the PC side of gaming, developers have to contend with the likes of outdated computer chips and graphics solutions in addition to the various operating systems that need to harmonize together with a new game. The net needs to be thrown just wide enough to wrangle up the most amount of gamers that will purchase their hard work. Driver optimization for the hardware configurations can also be a bit of a bummer for PC gamers since sometimes there may be issues that can bring a game to its knees. For example, the Tress FX feature in Tomb Raider (pretty hair effects!) not being properly utilized for owners of Nvidia graphics cards when it first came out. While console gamers are not exempt from such issues, the likelihood of problems arising are less pronounced because of what they are.
PlayStation 3 owners can attest to the being victims of a shoddy port. No need to look further than the The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim fiasco on the system. Rife with bugs and issues, as well as the debilitating performance issues once a save file had progressed far into the game. However, consoles have a distinct advantage in that developers only have to code to work on one system with the same hardware and software. Having less variables to contend with will definitely allow a painless operation to launch and maintain a game for the PS4 and Xbox One. Software and Driver updates? No problem. There will be only one system that needs to be worked on. Games really are a joy when it literally is just “plug and play”(requisite downloads notwithstanding).
Console gaming or PC gaming
PC gaming enjoys all the luxury and graphical wonderment that developers put into their games. That distinct advantage will remain and widen as it always does when technology progresses. With x86 processing and similar hardware foundations, the console and PC really are not different at all. Will it be compelling to purchase a console if there are no exclusive titles or an intuitive interface? Probably not. And that is where consoles can truly shine. Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft are geared towards providing the best content delivery system for gamers both hardcore and mainstream. Turning on a system and booting straight into the game is a simple and rewarding affair. No fuss. Just game. Consoles still have their place, even in the face of a changing world.