Sat. Jun 22nd, 2024

PC gamers may often express a disdain for gaming consoles, but the truth is that PC gaming benefits significantly from the existence of consoles in numerous ways. So next time you’re dismissive of consoles, here’s a reminder of what they’ve done for us.

Console Games Drive Development

Like it or not, when it comes to mainstream hardcore gaming, consoles are by far the most popular hardware platform. For a studio to put millions or even hundreds of millions into developing the next amazing video game, there needs to be a large-enough market to pay for it. If the only gaming platform out there was PC, then that market would be significantly smaller, which in turn would have an effect on the variety and quality of games that are created.

Consoles Create Reasonable Game Requirements

CyberPowerPC Grvty High Airflow Series gaming PC case.
Justin Duino / How-To Geek

The current console generation effectively sets the minimum requirements for all new games. As I write this, that minimum requirement is the Xbox Series S, which all games released for Xbox must work on with playable performance. If there were no consoles, developers might not be incentivized to make their games scalable. If you look at what sort of computer the average PC gamer has, this might lead to a situation where most people can’t get a good experience. Thanks to consoles, developers have to create games that will run on less than a thousand dollars’ worth of hardware.

Consoles Encourage Game Optimization and Innovation

If a game developed solely for PC doesn’t make great use of the hardware, you always have the option of upgrading the hardware and overcoming those inefficiencies using brute force. Consoles, on the other hand, are a fixed hardware platform. This forces developers to optimize their games until they reach at least a minimum playable state on that hardware platform.

Sometimes to make this work, entire new techniques are invented. Think about methods such as Variable Rate Shading, dynamic resolution, asset streaming due to limited unified memory, upscaling methods such as TAA or checkerboarding, technologies like DirectStorage, and the list goes on. Now that consoles like the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series systems are essentially specialized PCs, any optimization methods developed to get more out of them will benefit PC games more directly. Working within limitations breeds innovation, and I really believe there would be much less of it on PC if consoles did not exist.

Controller Gaming Is Better on PC Thanks to Consoles

While I love playing games with a mouse and keyboard, some types of game simply aren’t suited to it. In my case, if it’s a third-person action game, a 2D sidescroller, a racing game, or really anything that’s not an RTS or FPS title, I’m reaching for a controller on PC. Many of you might not remember the bad old days of controller support in games and on Windows, but thanks to modern consoles and multiplatform releases, controller support is excellent on PC. It’s become a plug-and-play experience as you get exactly the same configuration as the console version in most cases, with all the same interface elements as well. It’s extremely rare for a modern PC game to mess up controller support, and I think consoles and multiplatform releases have a significant role in that.

Console Crossplay Keeps Multiplayer Games Alive

It’s becoming more common for multiplayer games to allow PC and console gamers to play together on the same servers. Multiplayer games live and die by the number of players, and by letting the millions of console gamers join in your favorite multiplayer game on PC will be viable for longer. Heck, even if there’s no crossplay, money and support from console gamers help keep those games alive for everyone.

It’s easy to look at your million-fps, multi-thousand dollar gaming PC and feel like console gaming isn’t that great, but never forget that those humble (and rather fantastic) consoles play a significant role in making PC gaming great.

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By John P.

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