Sony has taken a significant step forward by offering 4K gaming at a reasonable price. Could this be the beginning of the end for the PC Master Race?
Before I go any further, I need to share a disclaimer: I’m a PC gamer – not because I’m an elitist who loves to talk computer components, but because I needed a PC to produce music and thought “heck, might as well stick a graphics card in it.”
I’ve owned a ton of consoles over the years, my last being the Xbox 360 and the PS3. I totally understand the values of owning consoles, and I contemplate leaving the PC party whenever I look at the prices of graphics card upgrades.
What I’m trying to say is, I’m neutral. Sort of.
I’ve already given four reasons NOT to buy a PS4 Pro, but all I concluded is you should buy a normal base PS4 if you don’t own a 4K HDR TV. What about another option? What about a gaming PC?
Let’s look at a few factors worth considering:
Let’s not beat around the bush: PC gaming is expensive. The current entry level decent graphics card is the NVIDIA’s GTX 1060 which costs $199. Add to that the cost of components if you’re self-building (case, CPU, memory, motherboard, mouse, keyboard…) or the increased price of buying a pre-built PC and you could easily spend $500 on an entry level gaming PC.
The PS4 Pro, on the other hand, costs $349. That’s the console and your controller – basically everything you need, aside from games.
It depends on where you sit on the pricing fence. On the one hand, the PS4 Pro is very tempting due to its lower price, especially as you don’t need to upgrade in 3 years to enjoy the games being released. But that’s the thing: you don’t need to upgrade your PC in 3 years – you can continue to play the games at lower settings, which is exactly what the PS4 Pro will be doing in 2020.
Having a PC means at least you have the option to upgrade. Games will continue to get more and more demanding, especially as VR continues to mature, and consoles will need to cut back on features and performance to continue to deliver. As a PC gamer, you’d have the option to accept the same limitations or invest in better.
It depends whether you want to sleep soundly knowing you have a console doing all it can, or endlessly looking enviously at the latest graphics card then at your bank account.
Games do tie into the price, so I’ll round that off first; games on the PC generally cost less. Using legitimate services like CDKeys you can pick up a game on release day for $5-15 less than their console counterparts. Add to that the regular sales seen on Steam, GOG, and Humble Bundle, and you can very quickly begin recouping the money spent on your gaming PC with savings.
But then come the exclusives.
As a PC gamer, I am envious of PS4 owners. Knowing I am missing out on exclusives like The Last of Us, Uncharted, and The Last Guardian makes me deeply sad.
PC gamers do have much more indie games to play, along with games like World of Warcraft, but when it comes to AAA titles, we rarely have anything exclusive to feel smug about.
GRAPHICS AND PERFORMANCE
Performance is a gray area. If you have a beefy gaming PC, you’ll get incredible performance – but that goes without saying, and not everyone can afford a beast machine (myself included).
Looking at an entry level gaming PC vs. a PS4 Pro, you’d get a similar gaming experience. If anything, I dare say the experience may be slightly worse on the entry level PC, as the PS4 Pro has one configuration which games can be optimized for. PC games are thrown into the mix hoping the individual set-ups of millions of gamers just about work with their creation.
Add to this the fact that Sony maintains a software-certification process that guarantees the quality of each game before they can be released. Sure, the occasional stinker slips through the net, but 99.9% of the time the games you are buying will work out of the box. The PC game market is more of a wilderness, with only a Steam refund policy to hold it all together.
SHOULD YOU GET A PS4 PRO OR A GAMING PC?
Well, that comes down to you, your budget, and what you look for in games.
If you want to have the opportunity to upgrade your gaming experience as and when your budget allows, you need a PC. Your budget will be your only limitation.
If you want a machine that is capable of 4K HDR performance that will not require upgrading (because it isn’t capable of it), that will still play brand new games out of the box in 5 years, get a PS4 Pro.
If you want access to a wider variety of games, including indie titles, for a lower price than ever before, get a gaming PC (and hide your wallet during those Steam sales – they’ll get ya!)
If you want to play PS4 exclusives, knowing that Xbox and PC owners are collectively sighing and pretending not to be jealous, get a PS4 Pro.
BUT…THERE MAY BE ANOTHER OPTION…
Next year, Microsoft will be releasing their iterative upgrade to the Xbox One, called Project Scorpio. By all accounts, this machine is going to be a bit of a monster.
Microsoft has hinted that regular updates and cloud storage will allow graphical upgrades with increased regularity than the previous six to ten-year console-cycles of the past.
Microsoft has gone on record to state that Scorpio will blow the PS4 Pro out of the water performance-wise, which could not only send shivers down the spine of Sony fans but also PC gamers. It all depends on the pricing and the true performance on offer.
SO…WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?
If you don’t own a gaming machine and have a decent budget, get a gaming PC. If your budget is more restricted and is likely to be for the next five years, get a PS4 (or, y’know, an Xbox One).
If you own a PS4 or Xbox One, don’t bother upgrading – wait for Project Scorpio to be released before making a decision. Your console will still be capable of playing incredible games, and you’ll still have a ton of games to play.
If you own a PC that is desperate for a graphics card upgrade, you have the trickiest decision of all on your hands. And you’re on your own – it’s too tough!