There have never been more possibilities for playing video games in this day and age. You can play in no time if you have a smartphone or subscribe to a game streaming service. Most people who play video games as a primary source of enjoyment, on the other hand, have two options: PC or console.
Consoles are pre-built gaming machines that allow you to play right away without fiddling with game settings. They’re also rather inexpensive, at least at first glance.
On the other hand, PCs provide complete hardware flexibility and gaming horsepower that no console can match if you invest enough money. Except, perhaps, when a new console generation debuts.
Even though the PC platform is the home of premium video game performance in general, gamers are often put off by the perceived cost of being a PC gamer. The question is whether or not that impression is correct. As we’ll see, the answer is dependent on how you look at things.
Costs of Hardware
There’s no getting around it. Bringing a console home is less than the cost of bringing home an identical or better gaming PC. That fact alters as a console’s lifecycle progresses. New PC hardware becomes more powerful at a lower price because console hardware does not change. As a result, a similar asking price for the console will eventually get you a PC with superior specs.
Why are consoles so much less expensive than computers? This is due to several factors. Because they produce millions of consoles, console producers receive preferential hardware pricing. Additionally, console manufacturers are not required to earn a profit on their products, and on most units, they either break even or lose money.
Because of something called the “attach rate,” this is acceptable. This refers to the games, services, and accessories that users must purchase to get any actual usage out of their system. So, even if the console hardware isn’t profitable, the sale of the first game, accessory, or subscription generates an immediate profit.
Every component in a computer has a profit margin, and individual producers must profit from the hardware; otherwise, there is no sense. As a result, PCs are more expensive than consoles when measured in performance per dollar. But that isn’t the whole tale. It’s more realistic to argue that PCs are more expensive upfront. However, when we consider the cost of a typical console over its lifetime, the picture changes.
The Price of Software
Because consoles are a closed platform, game creators must pay a fee to get their games released on them. This is accomplished by charging a fee for each copy sold. Rather than damaging their revenues, the console player bears the cost. As a result, console games will cost more at launch than the same title on PC.
Not only that but there’s more! You’ll rarely pay retail for a PC game because multiple distributors compete for sales. There are often incredible deals on PC games, whether it’s a pre-order discount or price drops months or even weeks after release. On the other hand, console games tend to keep their full pricing for a much longer period. When they go on sale, they don’t get nearly as big of a discount as those on PC.
The biggest price equalizer between PC and console gaming comes into play. This, however, is dependent on how many games you purchase.
Let’s pretend that a console game is $10 more expensive on average than the PC version. If you buy one game per month for five years, the total cost will be $10 divided by 12 months and multiplied by five years, amounting to $600.
Your total cost would have been the same if you had added that $600 to your first console purchase and instead purchased a $1000 PC. A quality gaming laptop or desktop can now be bought for under $1000. However, there is only one example of a hidden expense that console players must deal with.
Costs of Online Services
Because the PC is an open platform, players do not have to pay for third-party services such as multiplayer. Online multiplayer on consoles is normally reserved for a membership service, which is in addition to any game subscriptions you may have.
Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft have added discounts and “free” digital games to the mix to sweeten the sale. Individuals will have to decide whether the expenditure is justified. The simple line is that if you want to play online, you must pay a charge.
As a result, the value-added aspects aren’t as important. When the average difference in in-game costs is added to the difference in monthly online multiplayer subscriptions, the price differential between PC and console hardware is further equalized during the console life cycle.
Costs of Upgrades
Next, we must consider the expense of upgrading a computer. To begin with, upgrading to a PC during its console equivalent generation is optional. In the case of cross-platform games, at least.
The mid-generation upgrade is a relatively new trend in consoles. As a result, the PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X were born. Neither of these improvements was necessary, but they did provide a reasonably priced boost in graphics power.
These mid-generation machines’ CPUs were mostly unchanged. So, if you did the same thing with a mid-generation PC and only upgraded the GPU, you’d spend approximately the same amount (or less) on a new, updated console. When comparing PC vs. console, upgrading has a negligible impact.
Do You Require A Computer For Anything Else?
The second factor to consider when comparing prices is if you need a computer for anything other than gaming. If you need a computer for something other than gaming, the console will cost you more than a non-gaming PC.
In that scenario, you might as well total up the costs and purchase the gaming computer. If you don’t require a computer, we can exclude it from the pricing comparison.