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The Truths and Myths of PC Gaming

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I’ve been gaming on PC for some time now and I’ve come across plenty of arguments both for and against PC gaming. These have ranged from reasonable issues to downright lies so I thought I’d take a somewhat objective look at some of the reasons.

Before I continue, I must say that this is not about the age old debate of PCs versus consoles. This is purely about shedding light on the truths and myths of gaming on PC. This is something which the co-creator of the Warzone, Torrence Davis, has been trying to do for sometime now.

PC Gaming is Expensive – Both

The first one I want to tackle is the one which I hear most: “PC gaming is expensive.” This one is actually both a truth and a myth. To understand why, you need to break it down into buying a PC and gaming on a PC.

Buying a PC can be expensive. Most pre-built PCs can cost anywhere north of £450 ($725). These can be pretty decent but they do cost far more than what they should. That’s why most people would recommend that you build one yourself or even get someone who can do it for you. It is possible to build a PC for less than the cost of an 8th generation console. However, you cannot expect to have games run at a similar quality. Then again, you can spend much more, it’s all down to what your budget allows. I’ve seen people throw hundreds at building a PC with multiple monitors, multiple graphics cards and liquid cooled everything.

Months ago, Gamespot conducted an experiment to find out if you could build a PC for the price of consoles and the results surprised people. They did both a Team Red (AMD) Build and a Team Green (Intel & Nvidia) Build. In both cases they overspent slightly but they did get an overall better performance.

Getting into PC gaming can be expensive, it’s all down to how much you want to spend. However gaming on PC is not all that expensive. Actually, one of the reasons why I went to the PC platform was how much further my wallet could go. The reasons are very simple. To put it bluntly, it’s competition. There are so many outlets where you can buy PC titles from places like Steam, Origin, UPlay, Greenman Gaming, Humble Bundle and GOG. With all of them competing for our attention, they like to stand out by having cheaper prices than the completion. I’m even willing to wager that there’s not a month that goes by where there isn’t an outlet without a sale on PC games at any given time.


Building a PC is Hard/Too Fiddly to Build – Myth

This one is often controversial but I’ve come to the conclusion that it is a myth. Building a PC is not difficult at all. I’ll admit that it is daunting, but it is not difficult.

If you can answer yes to the following questions then you are capable of building a PC.

  • Do you understand the concept of compatibility?
  • Can you put together a large 10 piece jigsaw?
  • Do you know how to Google things?

Yes, putting together a PC is that simple. I’m not going to lie and tell you that I wasn’t afraid the first time I put together my PC. Though, has anyone ever done something for the first time and not been afraid?

These days there are so many people who are ready and willing to help you out in your endeavor. Even if you don’t know anyone who can help you, there are plenty of tutorials on the internet. Given how most people use it, you’d be forgiven if you forgot that the internet contains the collective knowledge of mankind throughout the ages. Getting clued up on what works with what and what goes where is almost too easy these days.


Games Don’t Work – Partial Myth

Now, I’d be lying if I said that all the games I played on PC worked the first time I started them. Most of the corporates have been betas which aren’t guaranteed to work flawlessly to begin with. Plus, I have to admit that the fixes were pretty simple; mainly updating drivers and running administration mode (nothing more than an extra click). Yes, it’s not ideal to go through these types of processes to play games but who said anything worth having was easy? Also, the amount of games which have given me problems can be counted on one hand. Considering how quick and easy you can purchase games, I see these issues as nothing more than minor annoyances.

Games Take a Year to Come to PC – Partial Myth

This is another case where I cannot fully say no. There are some publishers who release the PC versions of games later than their console counterparts. However, the large majority of them come out day and date with the console edition. Plus, there are other things which are a lot worse than not coming out at the same time as the console version.

The major one which concerns most people are the terrible ports. These range from minor things like no FOV slider, always on motion blur and mouse acceleration to the rage inducing locked frame rate and locked resolution (see Gary’s rant on the PC version of Final Fantasy XIII). PC games coming out later than consoles is a clear sign of the developers not even trying. Now, I’m always willing to give developers a “first try” but after that they don’t really have an excuse.

Also, due to the openness of the PC platform, it makes it the ideal place for indie developers. When combined with crowd-sourcing and Steam’s Greenlight program, you’re hard pressed to find games which begin elsewhere.


You Have to Use a Keyboard and Mouse – Myth

Like the Sasquatch, Loch Ness Monster and La Chupacabra, this one is a complete myth. You aren’t forced to use a mouse and keyboard to play games. In fact, one of the appealing factors of PC gaming is that you have the option to play how you want to play. You want to use a DualShock 1, 2, 3 or 4 controller? Then go ahead. You want to use any on the Xbox controllers? Why not. You can even go as far as using a Dreamcast controller if you are inclined to do so.

I don’t even use the trusted keyboard and mouse all the time. In fact, there are some games where I prefer to use my DualShock 3 like; Grand Theft Auto IV, Spec Ops: The Line and Saints Row. Even if the game is only available on PC, there’s still a good chance it’ll have some sort of controller support, purely because people like having the options.

Online is Full of Hackers/Cheaters/Glitchers – Myth

I cannot fully say this is a myth as I have not played in every online game ever. However, through my hundreds of hours of experience, I have yet to come across a nefarious gamer. I have had my fair of share of people who enjoyed exploiting aspects of a game to maximize their score though. However, they were quickly reported and removed from the game by the other players. There are also checks and balances in place to prevent people from hacking and cheating. These include ye old PunkBuster and Valve’s Anti-Cheat System.


Constant/Yearly Upgrades – Situational

This depends on multiple factors. The baseline truth is that you are not required to constantly upgrade to play the latest games. In my current build, I’m rocking hardware released in early 2011 and I’m able play the latest titles comfortably.

However, it is situational because it depends on the upgrade path you choose. If you start off with a low-end machine then it cannot be expected to last too long. You’ll need to upgrade eventually. If you also upgrade to parts which are just slightly better than your current parts then they’ll stop being relevant in about the same amount of time.

With that being said, most of the people I know go from strength to strength when upgrading and generally choose to upgrade every two to four years. The option to upgrade yearly (or in extreme cases, every six months) will always be there and enthusiasts will chose to go down that path. However, doing so is not required to keep your gaming PC relevant.


Exclusively Play on A Monitor – Myth

For such a widely believed myth, it’s ridiculously easy to debunk. There is absolutely no reason why you cannot use a PC on a conventional TV. Every new TV comes with at least 1 HDMI port and since the end of 2006, PC graphic cards have had HDMI ports. This is why this myth in particular continues to bamboozle myself and others. With that being said, there are plenty of people out there who have their PCs connected to TVs with no issues.

Going back to previous points, you can hook up a wireless keyboard and mouse or even connect any of the multiple controllers out there via Bluetooth.

PC Has No (Exclusive) Games – Myth

To wrap things up, I bring you one of the biggest myths of them all.

This one could not be further from the truth. There are plenty of exclusive games available on PC. As mentioned before, the PC is a good market for indie developers due to a low barrier of entry. This also leads to a lack of quality as any Tom, Dick and Harry can develop a game without much effort. Another side effect of this low entry barrier is that you get people who are passionate about gaming developing the games they really wanted. This results in great and imaginative titles like Divinity: Original Sin, Wasteland 2, Star Citizen, Screencheat, The Sims 4 and Lichdom: Battlemage.


Final Thoughts

Now you’d probably expect me to tell you to get a PC because of the reasons presented. I would if that was the purpose of this editorial but it’s not. The idea was to shed a light on the truths and myths that people have about PC gaming. Whether you go out and start gaming on a PC is, and will always be, up to you.

All that PC gamers (like myself) ask is that the pros and cons of PC gaming be understood before being disregarded. PC gaming will not be for everyone and some people just are not going to benefit from it but that’s no excuse to remain ignorant on the subject.

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