PC Gaming vs. Console Gaming: A Battle for the Ages
Updated: October 03,2022
The PC gaming vs. console gaming tug of war has been going on for decades, with both sides arguing for the superiority of their chosen platform. New console launches are few and far between, so the PC had a fair few years in the past decade to boast superior graphics, framerates, and overall gaming experience.
That said, the new PS5 and Xbox Series S/X consoles have made huge strides compared to the previous-gen PS4 and Xbox One models. The graphics have become much more realistic, the UX is far smoother, and - best of all, unlike certain PC parts, the new consoles haven’t jacked up the prices, so they are far more affordable than a gaming PC.
Even so, certain PC advantages over a console can not and must not be overlooked. So, let’s dive a little deeper and analyze what each option brings to the table.
A Gaming PC vs. a Next-Gen Console
In the following sections, we’ll examine the advantages and disadvantages of PC and console gaming. Aside from the price difference, which is currently firmly in favor of consoles, what else is there to consider?
Why PC Gaming is Better Than Consoles
Let’s start with the pros and cons of a PC rig. If you’re not very enthusiastic about building your rig, there are plenty of premade gaming PCs that you can choose from, although they usually do cost a bit more.
However, if you’re willing to experiment a little, you’ll see that you don’t need to be a tech wiz to build your own setup. It’s basically like putting together a very expensive and delicate puzzle but one with very clear instructions.
Building a PC of your own gives you vast freedom to choose everything you’ll need, including the monitor’s field of view, refresh rate and resolution, graphics card, storage memory, RAM, processor speed, cooling, and more.
In the early stages of PC gaming vs. console gaming, and during the long breaks between console generations, PC users would enjoy higher framerates and resolutions and better game performance.
Although newer consoles have some measure of mouse and keyboard support, you are mostly stuck with a controller. On a PC, you have many more options - If a keyboard and a mouse are not your cup of tea, there are some pretty good controllers out there, and you can also use a joystick or a steering wheel.
With all this said, you could be thinking, “So, the PC is better than a console, right?” Well, it’s not that simple. We’ve already mentioned the price issue, but now let’s look at some advantages consoles have over PCs.
Why Is a Console Better Than a PC?
Like we said earlier - back in the days, consoles really couldn’t compare to PCs performance-wise. Today, however, it’s a very different story. The latest generation of consoles has cutting-edge hardware that can match some of the PC builds at a fraction of the price.
The PS5 and Xbox Series X are leading the pack, and console gaming is outperforming PC gaming for the first time in years, at least when it comes to rigs that the average PC gamer can afford these days.
Let us show you the specs:
|Xbox Series X|
|CPU||Custom AMD Zen 2, 8-core at 3.5GHz||Custom AMD Zen 2, 8-core at 3.8GHz|
|GPU||10.3 teraflop RDNA 2 GPU||12.1 teraflop RDNA 2 GPU|
|RAM||16 GB GDDR6||16 GB GDDR6|
|Storage||825GB SSD||1 TB SSD|
Both of these consoles support 8K resolution. Both cost less than an RTX 3080’s original MSRP price, let alone the current one, and that is only one PC component. There is no need for hardware updates, many games get developed and optimized for consoles first, and PS5 users, in particular, have a lot of exclusive games not available on the other platforms.
So, how about a PC vs. a console, graphics-wise? As we said, these new machines support up to 8k, but realistically both the Xbox X and the PS5 will struggle to keep a solid framerate even at 4k. There are graphics cards such as the Nvidia 3080/90Ti and AMD’s 6900XT out there, which will perform better than these consoles.
The problem is, their price will get you both of these consoles and some cash to spare, plus you’ll still need the rest of your system.
If we compare more realistic setups that the average gamer could get, we can argue that consoles currently offer much higher visual fidelity in roughly the same price range.
So, a console is better than a PC, then? If you’re on a budget and like gaming on a controller, without a doubt, but that’s only one scenario to consider.
VR in PC and Console Gaming
VR is the future of not just gaming but medicine, architecture, engineering, and many other fields of human endeavor. It is a tool that is supposed to help with almost every aspect of our society.
Speaking of gaming, PC and consoles both have their advantages. The way VR gaming works doesn’t much differ on whether you have a gaming PC or a console - it’s the headsets themselves that are different. Xbox and Nintendo systems don’t have their own VR, so we’ll only be talking about the PS4 and PS5 here.
To compare, we’ll take the Oculus Quest 2 and the PSVR. The Quest 2 uses infrared cameras to scan your room and keep track of the controllers. This system can map the space you are in so that you wouldn’t bump into anything, fall, or hurt yourself while playing.
It can also act as a standalone headset, has a prolonged battery life, and there are plenty of additional accessories like motion trackers, treadmills, haptic gloves, masks, and more. These are all technically PC advantages over console VR, but remember that the Quest 2 doesn’t need a PC to run, and a dedicated GPU on your PC only makes the gaming experience smoother.
On the other hand, there is the PSVR. This is now an older headset, released in 2016 (Oculus Quest 2 came out in 2020), so it’s not as impressive tech-wise. It uses one camera to track nine different light points on the headset and the controllers (Move or DualShock), hence tracking your position in the room.
However, one camera alone is not enough to track you across a whole room; more often than not, you will get the information that you are stepping too far from the scan area.
There is also the matter of the resolution, which is lower on the PSVR. That said, Sony recently announced its successor, the PSVR2, which should put some real pressure on the Quest 2 and other high-end PC gaming controllers. For the moment, the PC is better than a console for VR gaming, but that may soon change.
PC vs. Console - Gaming Statistics
This article doesn’t represent merely our opinion.
Everything we’ve said here is based on video gaming statistics gathered and accumulated from researchers worldwide in the past two decades, especially since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Let’s take a look at some key stats regarding console and PC gaming.
1. With over 159 million models sold, the PS2 is the best-selling console of all time.
Following the success of the original PlayStation, its descendant crushed all competition and to this day remains the best-selling gaming console on the market.
2. 41% of gamers in the US prefer a console when gaming, while 37% use a gaming PC.
Despite the (seemingly neverending) lack of consoles, 41% of gamers still game on whatever current-or-last-gen model console they have. When it comes to computers vs. consoles, the latter still have a slight edge as far as gamers in the US are concerned.
3. Console gamers are 6% more likely to spend the big bucks on games.
50% of console gamers and 44% of those on PC admitted to spending more than $100 on games alone, while roughly a third of both PC and console gamers admit to spending over 100 bucks on in-game purchases and DLCs. If they had to choose, 42% of gamers would rather buy a digital game version, while only 27% prefer a hard copy.
4. 60% of console gamers prefer action games, while 71% of PC gamers enjoy casual titles.
(Entertainment Software Association)
Console gamers like to play action games above all else, while those on smartphones and PCs prefer casual games. Interestingly enough, both PC and console gamers put shooters in second place, with 57% of console and 42% of PC votes.
5. With over 238 million copies sold, Minecraft is the best-selling game on both consoles and PC.
(BusinessofApps and Statista)
The game managed to pass 238 million units sold across PC, Xbox, and PS4 back in April of 2021. It currently has over 141 million users worldwide and has generated a sales revenue of $160,7 million in 2021 alone.
6. Two-thirds of game developers in 2022 find the PC the most interesting gaming platform.
According to an early 2022 survey at a Game Developers Conference, 62% of
developers were interested in creating games for PC, 43% for the Playstation, 39% for
the Nintendo Switch, and only 30% for Xbox Series S/X consoles.
7. High-end graphics cards doubled or even tripled in price during the COVID-19 period.
If we compare the cost of pc gaming vs. console gaming, some things have significantly changed in the last few years.
Graphics cards, in particular, took a spectacular price hike due to silicone shortages and a boom in mining, with miners buying up already limited stocks in large quantities. For example, when it came out, the Nvidia RTX 3080 was $699.
At the peak of the mining madness and chip shortage, you could find used models for well over $2,000. It’s clear that with those prices, consoles represent a much better value, but thankfully things seem to be normalizing in the recent months.
8. At under 2% growth, the PC gaming market will grow less than the console market in 2022.
If we look at PC gaming vs. console gaming from a revenue growth perspective, there’s only one clear winner in the future. The PC gaming market will experience a +1.9% growth in 2022, reaching around $41 billion by the year’s end.
Meanwhile, the console market is expected to experience a +8.4% increase to $58 billion this year. The gaming market share of PC vs. console gaming has never been more closely contested, but consoles are looking to surpass PC by a significant amount in the near future.
9. The market value of computer graphics in game consoles was $12b in 2020.
(WePC and Statista)
It was, at the time, expected to reach a staggering $17b by the end of 2022, but we’ll see how things pan out. Due to a lack of components and higher for the new consoles, the manufacturers cannot match the current demand, so the prices will only go up.
10. The console gaming market is expected to reach $67.1 billion in 2023.
The considerable projected growth will continue from 2022 at a CAGR of 13.47% throughout 2023. As things stand, the PC platform will soon be overshadowed by the mobile and console markets, at least regarding the global revenue generated.
There is no stopping the gaming industry, meaning the war of console gamers vs. PC gamers won’t slow down anytime soon either. With new technology innovations, entertainment systems, and different features on different platforms, the battle is very much still alive and will be in the years to come.
At the end of the day, there will always be console diehards and PC enthusiasts, and those people will never be convinced to give other platforms a chance. For the rest of us, we’re just happy that there are so many good gaming options these days.
Entertainment Software Association
Business of Apps
Frequently Asked Questions
Overall, console gaming is outperforming PC gaming for several reasons - they are more affordable, don’t require any hardware updates, and many games are better optimized for consoles. Looking at the numbers in the US, 41% of people prefer consoles, and 37% game primarily on their PCs.
This depends on what factors you take into consideration. Console gaming is on the way to making significantly higher revenues in the future, but the PC platform is still king for high-end enthusiast gaming. There are, globally speaking, far more games for PC, but there are more console than PC gamers in the US.
When comparing PC gaming vs. console gaming, the newest generations of Sony and Microsoft consoles feature powerful hardware comparable only to high-end enthusiast desktops. Not all consoles run better than all PCs, but within the same price range, that is definitely the case.
Roughly 50%-70% of PC gamers purchase and download their games from the Steam platform.
According to Steam statistics, 95% of its clients use Windows OS.
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With a degree in humanities and a knack for the history of tech, Jovan was always interested in how technology shapes both us as human beings and our social landscapes. When he isn't binging on news and trying to predict the latest tech fads, you may find him trapped within the covers of a generic 80s cyberpunk thriller.