Is There Still Value in the Console?

Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
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Is There Still Value in the Console?

While speaking at the Gamesbeat 2014 event, Wedbush Securities' Michael Pachter offered up an idea on one question that's likely dogged a lot of gamers in the wee small hours of the morning. That particular long dark night of the soul revolves around one point: do we even need consoles any more? This was a point that particularly interested me, and my response, both to the general question and to Pachter in general, is that yes, there's value in the console, though maybe only one console.

I believe I should start here by noting that I've been a gamer for a lot of years. I've played console games since the eight-bit Nintendo Entertainment System, and PC games since adjusting one's config.sys and autoexec.bat files was common practice. Essentially, I have played games on both sides of the fence, and it's consoles I keep coming back to.

Yes, there's a lot of value in PC gaming. A lot of great games are available only on this platform, including some that would have made excellent conversions to Xbox or PlayStation consoles regardless of breed. The “S.T.A.L.K.E.R” series alone would have been breathtaking, a beautiful imitation of the “Fallout” series, and that doesn't even factor in stuff like “DayZ” or “Rust.” Indeed, Pachter also has a point in that consoles really aren't so necessary in that PCs can do the job of getting microprocessors and controls to screens just as well as a console can. Moreover, there's the issue of modding to consider, a development that's given older games plenty of new life and one that most any console gamer would be tickled to see on that platform as well.

But why do we need consoles? What value is there in the platform any more? The immediate response is simplicity. Having played several console games and several PC games, I can make this statement quite clearly: those who have played console games over PC games for any length of time are very likely to have a hard time switching over to the keyboard and mouse concept. Convenience is another matter; a computer doesn't often fit well into a living room's setup. Most entertainment centers aren't configured to accept such devices, instead favoring lower height and wider bases, almost like a PC turned on its side yet specifically set up to accommodate this concept.

While, granted, the idea of a console war is a sad and unpleasant affair that just keeps us from enjoying all the best games without buying multiple platforms, that doesn't mean the console is outmoded. The form factor is still excellent, and the controls sufficiently familiar that, to replace the console with PCs would require a pretty substantial renovation on the part of PCs. Although, laptops would make excellent replacements, assuming the right control scheme it's possible that the PC could ultimately take over. But who would voluntarily exit the market to make room for PCs? There are still plenty of console gamers out there not eager to leave the console as it's known today.

Admittedly, with some minor retooling, the console could indeed quietly fade away, replaced by the PC. But it would require some rather specific, important changes to make it happen. We may well be to the point where such things could be done, but only time will tell if that proves to be the case.

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