This article’s featured image is from Gamespot’s pretty great Batman: Arkham Knight PlayStation 4 & PC comparison article. It’s become one of the more iconic images when it comes to the fairly outrageous mishandling of the PC port of Arkham Knight. There’s a lot of in-depth information about it, most of it an interesting read. The initial comparisons such as Gamespot’s are a good look, and others about the latest PC patches still being poor, and the statements from Warner Bros. that they won’t fix it too. Digital Foundry’s recent article about the back on sale Steam version is another good read. But this article isn’t about Batman: Arkham Knight.
Which isn’t to say Batman: Arkham Knight isn’t a part of this article. It really is. I’ve been in a fairly comfortable space for a while now of playing most major releases on PC. While there’s been one or two hiccups with some major releases it’s never been to the scale of Arkham Knight. It got me thinking about my own personal preferences. And that’s what these are — personal preferences. These debate points might not apply to you. And it will come down to how much weight you put on them yourself too.
I should also say that my PC is pretty good, but by no means a super expensive powerhouse. I have an i5 3350p / 8Gb RAM, and a GTX 970 graphics card, which I upgraded from a GTX 660 in December 2014. With that in mind, here are the main points that come to my mind when considering whether to buy a game for console or for PC. The first part, of course, is cost:
We’ve all got to make ends meet somehow. I have a job with decent pay for where I’m at in my life. But I also have rent, bills, food, and high performance pro gaming gear to buy. I’ve got to be frugal where possible, and when it’s not getting the store brand cheese, it’s making sure I get my video games for a good price when I can. In general it has to be said that PC games tend to have the advantage on price.
I could grab a uPlay key for Assassin’s Creed Syndicate for just over £20 somewhere online. A game that released two days ago on PC (a fair while after its console release of Oct 23, though). It’d cost me about £42 from Amazon on-disc for PS4 or XBO, or £54.99 on the PS4 digital storefront. Wait, £54.99 digitally? Way more than physical in-store. Yeah, the console digital stores are still having to pull this shit. It’s not all on them, it’s undoubtedly due to pressure from brick and mortar stores to maintain MSRP parity for some kind of reasonable time frame, something PC stores don’t need to worry about, primarily being digital.
Compare this too to Batman: Arkham Knight, the Season Pass DLC for which caused quite a stir at the time for its high price tag. The game itself retailed for £54.99 (the same as Syndicate), with the Season Pass being priced at £32.99, something IGN’s Dan Stapleton quite rightly called “absurd”. Guess what I got the game and season pass for as a Steam key? £22.98 on the nose. That’s almost too low. And rightly so, it turned out, as not only was the PC port terrible, but the DLC in the Season Pass has so far been met with extreme criticism for its low quality. This GameTrailers video is one of my favourite discussions about the content up to the Nightwing DLC, and it’s only about half as long as the aforementioned DLC, so a pretty quick watch (about 10 minutes). I can’t imagine how I’d feel if I’d put down for £32.99 for that.
I have to throw consoles a bone, though. Firstly, there are some truly great sales on console digital store fronts these days, and even some great ones on key seller websites, who now more frequently stock a good selection of instant keys. In some cases I have put down for console versions over PC versions when they come up for a good price. I got Assassin’s Creed Rogue recently for PlayStation 3 for £9, including DLC stuff, in a recent sale.
So too have they been offering some great value on “free games” as part of being a PlayStation Plus or Xbox Live Gold member. Some games offered through these services have been great, and some not so great. But what matters is it’s there and it’s free. Maybe it will be a game I wanted to get and play and just hadn’t gotten round to. My choice of PC or console has now been decided for me, and the answer was “free” (well, the cost of my subscription to their online service). Maybe it was a game I hadn’t gotten round to that is just easy to select from the console menu and whim and jump into. I already played Super Meat Boy a fair bit on PC ages ago, but diving into it on PlayStation 4 is just so slick and easy. Or maybe more importantly it’s something I’d vaguely been interested in trying and hadn’t yet. Grow Home for instance. It’s really, really good. Doubt I would have gotten around to playing it if it weren’t on PlayStation Plus recently.
“Where can I get it cheapest right now” can be a big factor when choosing where to buy a game for new releases. “Where has it cheap enough for me to consider buying it” is also very important. Both PC and console can come up strong here depending on what sales are going on. Free is a great answer too, and one that’s not really been explored much on PC (though some bundle websites are so cheap they may as well be), though Humble Bundle’s monthly subscription service is kind of exploring the same area as PlayStation Plus and Xbox Gold, it’s kind of not the same thing when being a subscriber doesn’t get you another service too. It’s distinctly more “LootBox”-y.
Of course, for some people this will be a bigger factor than others. It’s kind of important for me because I’m not the guy on the Monopoly box. For a lot of people I think it will be. But, there are other factors in play too, and I’m going to be taking a look at another one in my next blog post, which I’ll link at the bottom of here when I’m done.