A PC Perspective on Xbox One vs PS4

Yesterday, the twin powers of Microsoft and Sony made their best efforts to woo players to their new consoles. It’s actually the second attempt, as both companies held separate ‘reveal’ events for their respective consoles earlier in the year. Sony used their first event as a corporate buzzword showcase and tried to rekindle our stunted powers of imagination by making us picture the PS4 in our minds, while Microsoft accidentally held a press conference about televisions.

After that, E3 2013 could only be an improvement.

Typical offerings left at an Xbox One shrine.

Typical offerings left at an Xbox One shrine.

As a PC user, writing for a PC-centric site, watching each company fall over themselves to make a good impression without having any particular ties to either is an interesting experience. I’m not an impartial observer, of course. It’s in the interests of the PC for Sony and Microsoft to push the technology of their consoles (god knows it’s been eight years) because that should, in turn, improve the scope of any multiplatform ports which come our way.

Seeing so many references to “and it runs at 60 frames per second!” is a weird experience for a seasoned PC owner. It’s really, really hard to avoid being smug about a platform being lined up for sale in 2013 with a gaming ‘feature’ that’s been standard on the PC for quite some time. So I am going to be smug about it. Sony, Microsoft: nice to see you’re trying to catch up a bit.

Imagine a parallel universe where one of the conferences tried to make a big deal about a game using “all three dimensions, for the very first time!” They’d be laughed off the stage. But that’s kind of how it feels for PC gamers to watch references to half-decent framerates.

Experience headshots at a scintillating 60fps! In 1999.

Experience headshots at a scintillating 60fps! In 1999.

It’s intriguing, actually, to see console conferences adopting the linguistic flourishes of the PC in the first place. We’re used to these events being a parade of dead-eyed corporate shills glumly allowing stock phrases like “visceral depth of combat” and “unprecedented next-gen experience” to tumble from their mouths. Any technical details tend to be framed in simplistic ‘bigger is better’ terminology or attributed to ethereal wizardry. 5 billion transistors. Magical cloud power. As if any of that has meaningful value.

But now, maybe as a result of both the Xbox One and PS4 being constructed around x86 architecture (a PC staple), the presenters think their audience is ready for a new page of lingo. After tentatively getting people acquainted with frames-per-second this year, maybe E3 2014 will introduce the concept of anti-aliasing, or field of view.

Likewise, it’s difficult for a PC user to get too excited about additional features like “you can now browse the internet,” or “it’s possible to stream a TV show while doing something else!” Multitasking in different windows was already pretty familiar to PC folks by the mid 1990s. Almost as if the major operating system was named after this, or something.

The clue to its main function is in the name.

The clue to its main function is in the name.

The fanfares surrounding the announcement of Elder Scrolls Online as an Xbox One and PS4 game are also pretty funny to witness. It’s hard to boot up my PC every day without accidentally downloading another fantasy MMO, but on console it may actually be a bit of a novelty. Given how much cynicism Bethesda has attracted from the PC crowd over the title, sending it out to the fresh pastures of the consoles might be a very smart move.

This all sounds like typical PC elitist arrogance, I know. I’m (mostly) sorry.

In truth, a lot of the above should actually be a positive for the platform. If major console releases settle on 60fps as standard, that means an end to ropey porting embarrassments like Dark Souls (saved in traditional PC style with some elegant modding). Great technological power on familiar x86 architecture could lead to games with greater scope, ambition and graphical fidelity that are also more straightforward to port.

Of course, if all of that is pissed away on quick-time events, unskippable cut-scenes and social network integration then we may as well not bother. But let’s think positive for now, eh? If it all goes wrong we can always go back to playing indie games.

Not like this, Microsoft. Not like this.

Not like this, Microsoft. Not like this.

There were plenty of multiplatform titles announced or detailed over the past day or so that are worth looking out for. Mad Max is coming from Avalanche, who’ve already demonstrated their skill at channeling absurd, open world fun with Just Cause 2. We’ve also had confirmation of a new Mirror’s Edge, a DICE-developed Star Wars: Battlefront and Respawn’s first foray into gaming with Titanfall. Plus The Crew, a driving game from a combination of developers responsible for Test Drive Unlimited and Driver: San Francisco.

Then there are the interesting holdovers from the former set of consoles, like Watch Dogs, Dark Souls II and Batman: Arkham Origins.

Not everything went our way though. Destiny and Metal Gear Solid V (both of which looked promising) are still hiding their faces behind fluttering fans and giggling whenever anyone asks about a PC version. Meanwhile, The Division is currently set on being Xbox One and PS4 only, despite looking perfectly suited to the PC platform. Though that could all change in the blink of a PR man’s eye.

Ok, yes, can we have this one on PC please?

Ok, yes, can we have this one on PC please?

Of course the major event of the day was the ding-dong battle over console DRM, with Microsoft already having doubled-down a closed digital platform (similar to, but not at all the same as, Steam). Thanks to this misguided, complacent decision, all Sony had to do was reveal it intended to maintain the status quo for used, traded and disc-based games and lap up the applause. The company generated so much goodwill from this that it was even able to sneak in an Xbox Live style paywall for multiplayer with barely a hint of backlash.

Amidst the hype and the glamour, the pomp and the ceremony, both console conferences unveiled a world where 60fps is ‘next gen,’ fantasy MMO announcements are a welcome novelty and everybody is expected to pay for the privilege of multiplayer gaming. The technological gap may be closing for the first time in almost a decade, but to the PC user looking in through the console window, some parts of the landscape look just as strange as ever.


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  • Blosudasd

    So true.

  • deano421

    fifa 14 new engine ps4 and xbox one only same graphics as pc at 60fps at 350 bargain considering I just spent 550 just on a gpu

    • alec

      think about how much console games const though. it wont be long before youve spent more on the console than the pc.

      • OddFacade

        It’s not actually the same graphics that a PC -can- have though. They’re watered down for the consoles, but $550 GPUs can certainly push much more detail with perhaps double those framerates.

  • vickseek



    • gargamosch

      And Imagine how much more money you spend on Games on a Console. If ya play only few its ok. If ya play 5 or 6 Games a year it’s different. In 4 years wyou have spend the same amount of money a PC Player has. Look PC games average 50 Euro, Console games average 80 Euro for PS4 (as sony stated the got to cover thier losses on PS3). In 4 games you paid 1600 Euros for games on Console and 1000 Euro console xosts 400 Euro PC 1000 Euro. Exactly the same amount of Money spent. Now think again why cosnoles are so cheap. Right smarthead, because the games are so expensive.

  • Jorge

    Oh, you’re right. I’m from Somalia, and i’m going to buy the PS4 :)! It’s cheap, so i can afford it 🙂
    I don’t eat very often, but consoles are less expensive than that, YEAH SURE.

  • sorudo

    the PC is still the best, for one it’s universal and doesn’t have any pal limit.
    asian games, no problem for the pc.
    asian games for the console, not a chance.

    oh and btw, a pc is cheaper then a console in so many ways, it’s even cheaper to buy a custom one because you have control over the costs.

  • Nasarius

    Of course, if all of that is pissed away on quick-time events, unskippable cut-scenes and social network integration then we may as well not bother.

    That’s the real problem. With the announced console hardware or a modern PC, you could theoretically have a complete world sim like Dwarf Fortress rendered in full 3D. In reality, we’re going to get a bunch of story-driven shooters and action games with fancier graphics, because that’s just the easiest thing to make and sell.

    Watch Dogs looks kinda good, though. I reread “Burning Chrome” a couple weeks ago and I’ve been filled with an insatiable lust for anything cyberpunk-ish ever since.

  • Dareka

    I’m a loyal PC gamer but I’m equally interested in the next gen consoles’ development. Not that I’m interested in buying them (nothing beats the KBM, imo) but for the fact their existence will have an affect for our beloved PC.

    Their hardware for instance (low power APUs and GDDR5 ram)could spur a new revolution in PC gaming where medium end PCs are able to play multiplatform games at an equal or better graphical fidelity. There’s one thing that I see PC gaming seem to ignore is the importance of the non-high end hardware so I do hope the next gen’s hardware would great help with that. Before we have medium to high end PCs that can game smoothly. Hopefully, PC hardware emulated from next gen and the optimization across similar platforms (the X86 architecture) would mean more types of PCs are able to play games smoothly.

  • TheTeslaAdvent

    brilliant article, the Windows joke came as a surprise to me and it was damn good. consoles are a cheaper PC. is PC better? ya, but thats like saying a Cadillac is better than a dodge neon.

  • Jonny

    I would always choose console gaming. The end user difference in the better graphics and frame rate for pc gaming is in no way worth the extra cost, lack of a games library compared to consoles, difficulty of connecting a controller (I’m not a fan of the mouse and keyboard style), and difficulty of playing a four player game when you have mates over.

    Sure if i was a fat virgin nerd with no friends, lots of money, and who wanted to play alone in the dark, and brag to all the console owning ‘n00bs’ out their then sure id go pc.

    • Asteria

      Alert! Alert! Can we get some help over here, showing signs of touched nerve. Can I get a 10ml of Lidocaine please.

  • Paul Margettas

    Are you sure doctor? That might make the consolefag, I mean patient, more touchy than ever! You know, considering

    -No, it really isn’t difficult to add a controller to PC, we’re had USB longer than any console
    -If the next gen is using a x86 architecture, then PC gaming will be able to surpass 60 frames without needing high end software as long as it’s a good port
    -HAHA! OMG! LACK OF GAME LIBRARY! YEAH BUDDY! Cause you know, you can most definitely play your Xbox/PS1 and Xbox 360/PS3 games on your Xbox One/PS4 right? Because you know, Windows sucks with it’s backwards compatibility and indie games. Did I mention? Games from 2002 still get support.
    -Buy a console = $500 Buy a new computer = $600
    Pool all your money into one system, laptop or desktop.
    The face you make when you understand that PC doesn’t cost more than a “next gen” console.
    Even a pc that’s $500 will be as good as the next gen consoles, assuming you get an AMD processor or i3.
    -LOL, virgin nerd. I’ll put you into contact with a friend who has a gaming PC and a new Audi R8

  • Jason Miller

    With out reading any of the article before posting… I was half hoping for a giant +100 font of just: LOL as the only article contents…

    But now that I read it… good stuff.

  • dave

    i came across this on a google search. this author wrote an article about how much better pc computers are than console machines. yet gave NO evidence that the same pc game is better than the console version it most likely was ported from.

    i pay attention to the dynamics of game play, not hardware specs. i pay attention to how fun the game is. remember that? or are you to busy giving your water cooled pc a facial?

    • DavidTheSlayer

      RPGs were always home to PC, take d2 and d3 for example. D3 is much better on PC, it’s not stripped down and I can skype with my mates as I doubt PS and Xbox have party chat support.

  • Ron

    Why are you guys arguin PC vs Consoles…theres no such thing as modern consoles after Xbox One and PS4 come out, its PC vs PC then.

    they’re both becoming PC hardware with balls cut off in a shiny compact wrapper…like a mac

  • Pcgamer

    Well consoles could not beat us so they decided to join us. If you want a Xbox one or a PS4 right now, just go to your local computer shop and buy a 500 to 700 dollar desktop PC. Sony and Microsoft are trying to sell their suckers (sorry) I mean customers mid range non upgradeable PCs . lol PC gamers should be insulted at the idea that the PS4 and Xbox one are some how competition.. There are PC only developers that are getting ready to put out some games that are going to push the limits of your PCs. Titles like “Star Citizen” Has come out waving the PC only flag already and it is a BEAST of a game. So consoles maybe fine for now but in about a year or so they will be behind again.