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Console Gaming vs. PC Gaming: Is There Really Still a Difference?

Does it make sense to buy a $4,000 PC to play Fortnite?

Arthur Collins

May 31, 2023

I have a lot of opinions about PC and console gaming in 2023. Let me start by saying that things have changed a lot over the past several decades when it comes to gaming. As someone that plays games on both PC and consoles, it feels like a tired conversion to even bring this up. But, there’s a lot that needs to be said here.

I come from the renaissance of gaming: The 1990s. Born in ‘88, I watched the console wars, first-hand. I played games on HyperDOS. I’ve lived and breathed both PC gaming and console gaming from infancy.

The debate between PC and console has been a source of contention for as long as gaming has been digital. Gamers, as we know, have always been very tribal. Sega or Nintendo? Xbox or PlayStation?

The line in the sand for PC and consoles, however, is a little blurrier nowadays. The hardcore elite likely already knows everything I’m about to say. But for the casual players out there, it’s hard to traverse this terrain. I wanted to break it down for them.

Do the games available dictate what you play? Obviously.

Let’s talk about the landscape of games in 2023 for a moment. We’re in a great era of choice at this point. With games coming out for PC and on consoles, often concurrently, it’s not a matter of “if” you can play a game, it’s now “where” and “when” you can play it.

The problem that we run into is that not all versions of a particular game are identical. Sometimes a game comes out and runs magnificently on PC but has subpar console ports.

Image: CDProjekt RED

A good modern example is the release of Cyberpunk 2077. The PC version came out in 2020 and, to say the least, had problems. But it was a manageable number of problems. The Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions, on the other hand? Absolute dumpster fire at launch. It got so bad that Sony pulling Cyberpunk 2077 off of the digital PlayStation Store was a big deal. The game has since been mostly fixed. Still the scar remains.

Sometimes, the opposite happens. In even more recent news, Star Wars: Jedi Survivor had a fine showing on the two console versions. But, the PC version was ridden with bugs and issues at release.

But I digress. Honestly, the reason to buy specific consoles tends to be on if you’re a big fan of a franchise or not. You’ll never see a mainline Pokémon game on a PC or any other console aside from the Nintendo Switch. But it’s becoming increasingly common for major, exclusive console exclusive games, such as Spider-Man or Halo, to get PC ports either simultaneously or eventually thereafter.

Hardware doesn’t have to be so hard

Are we honestly at a point now that buying the super mega PC can better your gaming experience in comparison to the same game on a console? The answers are a lot easier than most people think.

I worked retail, selling computers and consoles, years ago. It was a joke, even then, that people would buy the highest-grade computer to just play games like Fortnite and Minecraft. Sure, it can give players a seamless experience for any game they could ever hope to play.

Image: Microsoft

But parts and components eventually degrade. And some people buy graphics cards the same way they buy their iPhones: yearly with only a single step up in terms of power and performance. I’m not knocking it. But is it necessary to play your favorite games and enjoy them? Probably not.

Consoles, generally, come equipped to play anything designed to be played on the console. It’s a pretty plug-and-play experience at that point. But you run into the problem that if one thing goes wrong in the system, the entire system is shot.

PC hardware isn’t as complicated as people think it is

No, you don’t need a top-of-the-line PC to play most PC games. If you’re smart about it, you can generally build a dependable gaming computer for a reasonable amount of money.

The obvious answer is to build a customized computer yourself or have someone else do it. Generally, you get a great bang for your buck when you build your own rig. You can use parts compatibility tools like the Newegg PC Builder or utilize sites like PC Part Picker, which will find the cheapest parts.

With the on-the-go mentality of 2023, laptops are also a great option. Gaming capable laptops are priced pretty well nowadays and can be a great dual-use machine. The only downside is that it’s harder to modularly replace parts in a laptop. When your 16GB of RAM finally isn’t enough, it really depends on your hardware if you can add more.


And don’t get me started on graphics cards in laptops. But, a desktop graphics card, such as the recent GeForce RTX 4070, is super easy to replace.

Control your destiny, with accessibility and options!

Obviously, your own input options will make a huge difference in your gaming choices. While there’s a bit of a standard of how controllers work, there are tons of minute differences that change how someone interfaces with their game.

Nintendo infamously swaps the usual placement of A and B button controls compared to the functional setup of an Xbox or PlayStation. The Xbox has the left stick in a different spot than the PlayStation, and other variations abound between platforms. It goes beyond that when you opt for PC gaming.

PC gamers tend to like the “keyboard and mouse” setup, and the most games allow you to play with a controller as well. Yes, I’m a dirty, dirty controller user when I play most PC games. But it can also boil down to accessibility and what makes you comfortable enough to play.

Sure, you can get a flight stick or fight stick (yes, there is a difference) for various consoles over the years. But PC gaming can offer plenty more options than most people know.

For instance, organizations like the AbleGamers Foundation have worked to give accessibility options to gamers. The majority of companies they worked with over the years allowed PC gaming to be more inclusive. But, in recent years, we’ve seen plenty of great console options as well. This opens up options for those that need it to play any way they wish.

How much does it cost to be a gamer?

I think pricing is where a lot of the contention between PC and console gamers really honestly takes place. PC gaming, for years, has generally been a status symbol for those that can afford it. In the words of Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw of Zero Punctuation, you were a member of the “Glorious PC Gaming Master Race”. However, times have changed since 2008 when that joke was made.

Image: The Escapist / Zero Punctuation

Consoles were much cheaper to buy than building a PC, even on your own, back then. Fifteen years later, consoles have gone up slightly in price. PC parts have gone up too, but they fluctuate depending on various factors.

A comfortable gaming PC rig costs approximately $800 to $1000, not counting gaming accessories. If you watch for sales, the same can be said about gaming laptops sometimes. If you’re just playing Fortnite or Minecraft, you can go much cheaper on top of it.

You can pick up a Nintendo Switch for only $299 (or $199 for the Lite version). An Xbox Series X runs at $499 or a measly $299 for a Series S. The PlayStation 5 comes in at $499, to compete with the Series X. These come with everything you need to get going, aside from your television.

Your budget makes a huge difference in how you play games. But as long as you go in with knowledge, you can consider all of your options.

Choice is an illusion

Gaming, for what it’s worth, is a great experience no matter what system you play on.

If you’re looking for the highest quality, 4K gaming experience that makes you feel like you’re in the game itself, maybe you need to save your pennies up and grab a high-end gaming rig. I won’t judge you. It’s your money and you’re absolutely allowed to enjoy the experience however you want.

Many, if not most, Xbox games tend to hit PC pretty quickly—if not simultaneously—to the Xbox. PlayStation games, often nowadays, make their way to PC. They also work as a workstation as well, so they are multifunctional.

But, if you want to play a plug-and-play, ready to go option, consoles will always be king for that. Enjoy your gaming (among other things like streaming) and not have to worry about the minutiae beyond setup.

Now, where do we fit the emergence of hardcore mobile gaming into this equation? That's a topic for a later time.

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Arthur Collins

Arthur Collins likes collecting titles. Some call him Dungeon Master, some call him Pokemon Professor. He's been a journalist off and on for over a decade and a half, which means he's almost Level 2 in journalism. You can find him yelling at his screen while playing Halo or curled up playing games like Animal Crossing. Or on Twitter. He has one of those at @professorchime


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Avenir Light is a clean and stylish font favored by designers. It's easy on the eyes and a great go-to font for titles, paragraphs & more.

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Avenir Light is a clean and stylish font favored by designers. It's easy on the eyes and a great go-to font for titles, paragraphs & more.

Small Running Title

Small Running Title

Avenir Light is a clean and stylish font favored by designers. It's easy on the eyes and a great go-to font for titles, paragraphs & more.

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