It's the Digital age-old debate: PC vs. Console gaming. On the one hand, you have technical horsepower and robust online services; on the other, you have dedicated gaming machines that you can play from the comfort of your couch. How do you declare a victor?
Let's break it down.
By the end of 2013, the next generation of gaming consoles will be underway. The PlayStation 4 has already been announced, with a rumored price tag of $450, and if Microsoft wants to stay competitive, you'll see something similar for the next Xbox. By contrast, a high-end gaming PC can run upwards of a thousand dollars: a clear deterrent for would-be PC gamers.
However, just looking at the hardware ignores a much more important factor - the cost of games - and it's here that we see PC as a clear victor. For example, the new Tomb Raider game costs $60 brand-new for the 360 and PS3. It's ten bucks cheaper on the PC. That might not sound like much, but it's just the beginning. The online gaming service Steam regularly discounts its products by 50% and more. If you wait until their next big sale, you might just get that new Tomb Raider game for $10. If you wait a bit longer, it'll cost only $2.
All three major gaming consoles - the 360, the PS3, and the Wii U - have their own dedicated online services. Some are free; some charge a monthly fee. The PS3 offers an incentive program called PlayStation Plus, which gives you discounted rates and even free games, if you pay for a subscription. However, these services are often plagued with infrastructure problems. Xbox Live experiences frequent outages, to the point where there's actually a website whose sole purpose is to tell you if the service is working or not. More damming, though, was 2011's attack on Sony's PS3 servers by a group of hackers, which resulted in thousands of people having their addresses and credit card numbers compromised.
With PC gaming, it's all dependent on your own Internet connection. You don't have to pay any extra fees; if you already have the best Internet provider, then you'll have the best online experience, period.
This is where consoles shine the most. If you want to play a brand-new console game, all you have to do is, buy it, turn it on.
That's it, you're done. You may have a bit of a wait depending on if the game has any software updates (another area where having the best Internet provider is a plus), but other than that, you have nothing to worry about.
With PC games, however, you have to think about hardware specifications. Is your PC good enough to run the game? If it is, then you still have to install it. And then update it. And then patch it. And then post on a message board to figure out why it isn't working. Console gaming is much simpler, which could itself justify the extra costs.
In the end, this debate will rage on until either one finally goes the way of the laserdisc; but if you're looking for affordable games and solid online playability, and don't mind getting your hands dirty, PC gaming is the way to go. Just make sure you have the best Internet provider first.