There's always been this kind of ongoing conflict between PC and consoles. With the right time, budget, and skillset, a PC will always be more powerful than the latest and greatest console. There's no getting around that, but power isn't everything. Consoles have a lot going for them, otherwise they would have died out a long time ago.
We like to talk a lot here about how powerful the PS5 will be, but when you look at the current PC builds out there, it's easy to think that the PS5 will be yet another console that pales in comparison to its PC brethren. While it's highly likely a high-end PC will best the PS5 in terms of raw power, I wouldn't say that the PS5 has necessarily been surpassed. Let's find out how Sony plans to woo the PC crowd!
The Five Factors We Must Consider
The first thing we have to remember is that power isn't everything. PC has the consoles beat in terms of raw power, but there's a lot more that goes into a quality PC experience versus a console one. Let's not forget that Sony also created the PS4 Pro with to woo the PC gamers.
It promised 4K for a fraction of the cost and with a much lower barrier of entry. To run 4K on PC, you would need a ton of power and a strong understanding of how to optimize such experiences with proper adjustments and tweaks. The PS4 Pro offers the resolution you want, with the price tag and the usability that most gamers would prefer in their chaotic lives.
While power is one major factor, in my opinion, there are five factors we need to consider when looking at how the PS5 and the PC will compete:
PC gaming is expensive. You can't deny the results, but you'll easily spend as much or much more on a PC build than a console. For example, I built a PC several years ago that could run everything I threw at it with max settings. It also costed me just over $1,000. Granted, I used it for a long time, but that's not chump change.
That was also just me making a PC that could do 1080p/60fps for modern games at the time. In today's world, you'll need something with more horsepower to hit 4K resolutions and utilize HDR like the PS4 Pro. Even if you wanted something that had similar specs to the PS4 Pro, according to PCGamesN, you'd still be spending about a $100 more on that build than the PS4 Pro, and you wouldn't be able to do 4K on that kind of PC.
If you want to go all out and build a PC that runs 4K games and VR like it's nothing, you're going to be spending a lot of cash. The entry-level graphics cards will run you $199 on their own. If you want the best of the best, you're going to spend over $1,500 on just the video card? The whole PC would easily cost $2,500.
Suddenly a price tag for the PS4 that hovers around $499 or $599 sounds pretty attractive, doesn't it?
If you break down the hardware in any given console, you’d be surprised at how much horsepower developers can squeeze out of relatively outdated hardware. After six months or so, a console’s guts become obsolete compared to PC options. And yet, graphics continue to improve as a console generation goes on.
Don’t believe me? Try comparing a launch title on PS4, to a modern game like Horizon: Zero Dawn. You’ll see what I mean. From a purely hardware standpoint, a top of the line PC will have better specs than the PS5. That can’t be denied, but what should be considered, is how developers have managed to squeeze more and more out of the PS4 and the Pro.
A discussion on the StackExchange Game Development board delved deeper into this phenomenon, citing the following reasons for games improving over a generation despite hardware staying the same:
- Optimization plays a role. As developers get used to console hardware, they can squeeze more graphical quality out of it.
- Launch titles are developed on evolving SDKs (Software Development Kits). These don’t offer the ideal platform for development as it’s not the final console design.
- Programmers, in addition to artists, need to adapt to the constraints of a new platform. As engines become more mature, quality improves. Having previous assets to iterate on also helps.
- As time goes on, people gain more experience, teams grow, and AAA budgets become more prevalent. Having the right team can make all the difference.
Because the console offers a consistent specification, developers can learn to adapt and optimize to that standard. PC, while more powerful, comes in a lot of different variations. This means that developers have to optimize for a wide variety of builds. That’s why you have certain console exclusives, like Naughty Dog’s titles, that blow away anything on the PC at the time.
While the Windows platform has evolved a lot over the years, it’s still far from a smooth plug-and-play experience. Other PC platforms like Steam have even gone as far as providing a living room mode that makes the PC interface mimic a console.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and in this case, gamers want a clean and simple interface to interact with their friends and play their games. Console’s have a main interface that you use for everything, while PCs are incredibly complicated unless you’re running them in this living room mode that even works with a controller.
Tweaking settings on PC can also be a chore, especially when you’re trying to make a game run properly. Console games are already optimized, so at the most you’ll tweak the brightness or the gamma and be ready to go.
Of course, if a game doesn’t run well, there’s not much you can do about it on a console. PC does offer the opportunity to tweak the settings and try to prioritize frame rate over effects, for example.
Even so, the PS5 will continue the trend of seamless usability that PlayStation is known for. It’s never going to be easier to jump into a game with friends than it is on a console.
4. Developer Support
The video game industry is absolutely massive. While the PC field has long been the breeding ground of smaller titles and unique developers, consoles have made a huge push to welcome indie development teams and their own takes on modern gaming. Major publishers rarely release a game only on PC.
Even PC giants like Blizzard have brought their franchises to the console. Diablo and Overwatch come to mind. Not only do consoles enjoy a strong support from the industry, but they also have the highest number of exclusive titles.
PlayStation is especially well-known for the teams that created titles exclusively for PS4, and eventually PS5. Developers like Guerilla, Naughty Dog, Sucker Punch, and plenty of others produce titles that define a generation.
To lose out on the opportunity to play these games is not something I would allow for myself. PC may have most of the titles that consoles do, but these exclusives alone show that the PS5 will have the chops to stand tall against the modern PC.
5. Long-Term Returns
Our final point takes a look at the long-term returns on your investment. A PC with the right hardware can last a while without needing parts changed. That being said, if you want to continuously play the newest games on the highest settings, you’re going to need better parts pretty quickly.
Consoles, on the other hand, offer several years of content and continued improvements through firmware updates and better games without requiring you to spend another dime past the initial investment.
Depending on your gaming budget, the idea of upgrading your hardware may not sound very appealing. A console like the PS5 will offer you a longer return on your investment. Every game that comes out on the console will play on your system.
Why The PS5 and PC Can and Will Co-Exist
At the end of the day, the PS4 caters to a different audience than the PC. Hardcore gamers can be found on both, but the majority of casual gamers will be found on console. The ease of use and simplicity of the console is too much to turn down.
While many would assume the PC has the PS5 beat, that’s not entirely true. Consoles and PC have their own ups and downs, making it difficult to declare one or the other a winner. Instead, the two co-exist peacefully as options for two different types of gamers.
The PS5 will have its heyday, and it will probably sell like crazy, if the PS4 is any indication. The PC will have the edge in power and customization, but the two will exist alongside each other as they always have.
Do you think the PC has the PS5 beat? Is it even fair to compare them? Let us know what you think in the comments!