Seems like you can’t go three clicks on a gaming site these days without reading about broken console experiences. Games like Assassin’s Creed: Unity and Halo: Master Chief Collection have been rife with bugs and major issues since launch. The recent hacks of both Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network meant many people who got a new console for Christmas couldn’t download or play games on them.
As I downloaded the 40GB update for Assassin’s Creed: Unity on XBox One this week (because a screw-up meant the “patch” was actually a re-download of the entire game), I couldn’t help but think:
Has console gaming lost the one true edge that it had on PC gaming for years?
I don’t think I’m alone in the reason I’ve preferred console gaming to PC gaming for years now–it’s been a much smoother experience. Not having to worry about different control schemes, driver updates and compatibility issues was a major reason that I have been primarily a console gamer for most of my adult life. If there was one thing you could count on when it came to console gaming, it was that things would just work. Buy a game, put it in your console, and play.
But not only has PC gaming gotten much easier over the past few years with things like Steam’s ‘Big Picture Mode’ and the fact that most games have controller support, but PC games offer a substantial edge to console games when it comes to pricing. As I type this, you can get the Tomb Raider: Game of the Year Edition for $6 on Steam. And through sites like Good Old Games, you can play classics like the original Deus Ex for $2.50.
The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One have come out of the gate with a lot of the same problems that used to make PC gaming such a pain in the butt–constant updating, lots of bugs and in some cases, games that are broken on arrival and require multiple patches to fix. Add into that their unstable online services, and it feels like console gaming has lost pretty much all of the advantages it used to offer over PC gaming.
Most of the conversation around broken games and constant updates has centered around publishers and developers. But Microsoft and Sony might want to take a larger role in quality control moving forward, because the easier PC gaming becomes, the more likely console gamers are to jump over to the land of better visuals, better prices and a more stable user experience.