View RSS Feed


Next Gen Consoles, Corporations and Consumerism

Rate this Entry
by , 11th June 2013 at 08:53 PM (9604 Views)
Firstly, I should make it clear that this isn't a "pro PC" "anti Console" or other sort of platform bias. I've been doing a fair bit of investigation and prodding around with information from before and during E3 whilst I help look after someone's PR for it.

What does someone want in a console?
Get home from school/work/the pub and you want to relax.
Feet up on the sofa.
Controller in hand.
Unwind with game of choice.
That game "only" cost £30. The console was a max of £200.
Everyone's happy.

So what has changed?
Time, to start with. At no point did anyone intelligent sit and think "in 2013, we'll still be playing on antiquated platforms designed for a single purpose with any other functionality added on as an afterthought". The companies punting us this hardware have been saying something like "Let's keep punting something they don't need because it's making us a shedload of cash".
Why is that? Why don't we need consoles?
The Xbox One is the nearest thing we've had to what we "should" have. An all in one, unified entertainment system handling most of what we need for our large screen TVs. If the already debunked rumours of Sky handing XB1's out instead of HD boxes I'd be even happier, but there's no reason for anyone to have optical media players, streaming boxes, tivos/sky+ hardware and gaming consoles. So why don't we? Because it won't make them as much money. If Microsoft had brought out the Xbox One with 360's base specs and getting rid of the preowned/internet connection issues, I would be confident in saying Sony would have long pulled out of the console race and concentrated on handhelds, or perhaps unified TVs instead.

We're being held back because of money. That's only natural, they're corporations and they exist only to profit. Fair enough, but *we* collectively are making it happen. It would be naive of anyone to think for a moment that anyone actually wants things to improve.

So is that all?
No, of course not. Cost. The cost of modern consoles are ridiculous.
Let's use the Playstation 4 as a base example because it's the cheaper of the two next gen consoles.
The unit on it's own costs £350. Controllers have been cited to cost upwards of £90 but I don't believe that - let's say £50 is a more realistic figure (but still expensive for what they are). Game prices are the most expensive at £55 a shot. It would be fair to say from industry experience that £400-420 would see people walk away with a bundle of console, game and extra controller. I'll therefore use £420 as the total starting cost.

That's a high cost, and not even including the £5 monthly for the online gubbins. "But you get a free game every month!" I hear you cry. Oh, woopy doo.

Back to my first point, in an ideal world we'd have a unified system for home entertainment and the vast majority of people (excluding the tinkerers and enthusiasts like many of us) would need nothing more than a laptop or really basic PC for "office" duties. A chromebook or cloud based system would more than suffice in this day and age.
But as we're being forced to keep on down the console route, it's right I continue to make this point.


£350 will get you a decent off the shelf system. A core i5. Maybe not the dog's nads, but good enough. Memory costs nothing. That system on it's own will be enough for casual gaming and quite a lot of other more powerful 3D games besides, especially if you're talking the AMD FX range. That includes OS and everything else you'd need.
Obviously that's not quite equal stakes - add some zombies, guns and full "HD" graphics. You'd need a beefier graphics card. £130 is more than sufficient to run anything on a core i5 at 1920x1080 (eww, horrible TV resolution!)

So that's £470 for something that'll be equal, at least in terms of the quality and playability of the games, to the next gen consoles. That's £50 more than a console.
But it's not just about the consoles though. One thing we do know, is the cost of the games.
The confirmed pricing for several AAA titles so far has been cited as:
PS4 - £55
XBOne - £54
PC - £30

So that extra cost would be saved buying the same AAA title just over twice on PC compared to console.
Oh, you might want a controller for your PC. So that's £20 for the Xbox controller (don't fix what isn't broke!). That's the difference in price for 1 game. Maybe you want 2, but let's face it, a PC isn't a console and you probably won't be hooking it up to your TV for after-pub COD with your mates.

Or should you? Why not in this day and age?
My PC starts up faster than your current gen console. It's not stupidly powerful.
Once installed, so do the games.

"PC's can go wrong!"
So can your Mac Pros, your Xboxes, your Playstation 3s and your Toaster.
"You wouldn't have to wait for your mate who knows computers down the pub to fix your console!"
No, you'd have to wait to deal with some warranty muppet or the same support centre in Delhi. And they won't just swap out that one faulty part, or the one bit you spilled coffee on/jammed pizza in.

This isn't the dark ages. It's more than possible, with no tinkering or difficulty involved, to get a PC up and running easily. It's rarely any less "plug and go" than that console when you first got it and spent more time setting up your bloody Wee-Mee's, avatars, xbox online profiles, inside leg measurements and selling your soul to EA sports in that licence agreement you didn't read.

But we don't. Other than the Xbox One, the PC is the nearest thing to a unified entertainment system we have. But it shouldn't need to be; the PC should need be little more than a typewriter that blogs. We all do that on phones anyway, so typewriter is probably about as advanced as it need get for the majority. The PC (or indeed Mac) knows it's place and isn't holding the world's entertainment industry back. Consoles are.

As usual, this is of course opinion and I've tried to keep unbiased on it. My interest is always value for money and actual betterment of our experience, digitally, financially, personally. When we're being artificially held back, it doesn't sit right with me and I like to vent about it. So if you're on my facebook friends, you've already had half this rant anyway


  1. X-13's Avatar
    rabble! rabble! rabble! [I agree.]
  2. sonofsanta's Avatar
    Hear hear. I've been arguing much the same in the PS4 thread

    Steam has made my PC life simpler than my PS3 life. New game to install? Click download and Steam sets it up. Updates? Steam downloads it in the background. Even in Windows - I can't remember the last time my whole system was brought to its knees by a crash. At worst, the game itself crashes to desktop, which is rare. My 360 and PS3 have frozen in the past as well.

    When the PS3 wants to update, all of a sudden my system is completely useless until I agree to the update. Games and services that worked fine yesterday suddenly absolutely require the new update to work. Not even Windows Updates whinges so much! And should I forgot the PS3's incredibly sensitive nature and - shock horror - just click it off at the socket, I get whinged at next time I turn it on and asked to do a disk check.

    The one advantage of console gaming is meant to be ease of use. That's been completely eroded, from both directions.
  3. CAM's Avatar
    Sadly they stripped DVD codecs from Win 8 without paying a ransom so that hurts using it for DVD playback.

    You could use VLC but your average consumer won't bother with that.
  4. flyinghaggis's Avatar
    It'll be interesting to see how this latest generation of consoles match up as this is literally the closest they've ever been, architecture-wise, to x86 PCs. Historically though games consoles on launch have been massively more powerful and had much better graphics for the money than any equivalent PC of the time. I've owned a PC though every console generation from PSX though to the last gen and it's always amazed me how superior the console was next to PC's of the day. Even recently I recall playing games like PGR and Oblivion on my Xbox360 and there literally wasn't a PC you could buy (regardless of cost) that came close to it's 3D capabilities.

    I'd also disagree on the cost of consoles being more expensive. The PlayStation 3 was £425 on launch and even the xbox360 was £280. Going back further most Sony/MS/Nintendo consoles have been launched at around £300. When you take inflation into account modern consoles are actually cheaper! I'd agree that the games are starting to get worryingly expensive though I remember PlayStation 1 games retailing for £40 and that was 15 years ago so £50 RRP now isn't as bad as it could be. I still remember paying £65 for Streetfighter2 when it was released in 1993.

    Granted Steam sales make everything else look ridiculously expensive but honestly gaming has never been cheaper if you ask me!

    <grumpy old man voice>Kids today don't realise how good they've got it </grumpy old man voice>


Total Trackbacks 0
Trackback URL: