Stop bashing us console lovers. We get it. You have a $1500 machine and we don't!
Dear PC elitists: please stop. You're making yourself look like jerks.
Every time I read an article on a major game site that relates to graphics--and often, even if that article doesn't relate to graphics--I know that if I scroll down a short way through the reader comments, I will find a post from someone who owns a PC (like most people using the Internet). That person will share some astonishing news: if you own a PC, your games will look better than console games.
Various adjectives may be used, as well. "Games on PC grind their console versions to dust," someone will post. Or "I don't know why you even bother with console games when the PC games are always ten times better!"
It's time for vocal PC elitists who frequent gaming forums to shut up and look around. The only people who give a crap are--wait for it--other PC elitists. Guess what? There's more to games than graphics! Astonishing, I know... but true!
So here's the part where I admit--since it costs me absolutely nothing--that PC games can look better than console games. I'll take that a step further: if I buy a $1500 machine and a nice monitor, and if I buy a game that was designed specifically to cater to PC gamers with powerful machines who want to show off amazing texture work and draw distance to envious friends, the result is going to look astonishingly good compared to PS3 or Xbox 360. The difference will be like night and... the 5 minutes just before night. You know, when it's still really dark but technically it's not night.
Yes, PC games look better. This is true for a variety of reasons, but mostly it's true because current console hardware is 6 years old at this point (with PS3 and Xbox 360 successors only a year or so away, and with Wii U set to only outperform current-gen models by a slight margin). Consoles are running on older tech, and that was true from the day they launched... because consoles are for mainstream people.
PC gamers seem to recognize that "mainstream people" is synonymous with "the people who don't have $1500 to spend on a new machine every 6 months," but they forget that it's perfectly okay to not be prepared to make that investment. Many of the PC gamers who praise PC gaming as the one true path are still living with their parents, or they lack a social life. The PC gamers who actually have anything to be proud about (more than five feet away from their computer) aren't the sort that usually post on forums about how console gaming is for posers. They're quietly enjoying great games and showers.
So as a reminder to those PC gamers who can't shut up about how amazing their expensive PC is, here's an important reminder: there is a large percentage of the population that is still running machines that shed tears at the sight of Windows 7. There are plenty of kids at home who have to game on a machine that launched with Windows XP... or worse. And yes, maybe even an $800 machine could stomp all over the Xbox 360, but: 1) some families can barely put food on the table every month, let alone consider investing even $500 on a new computer; 2) most of the worthwhile PC games were developed to run on consoles, perhaps even as a primary consideration. So what do PC gamers get for their investment? Higher resolution textures showcasing design mechanics suited to an Xbox 360 controller. The experience of PC gaming nirvana is largely a myth.
Recently, someone I know online posted a thread on a forum because he just built a powerful new machine with a fantastic processor and lots of RAM and a spectacular graphics card. "Recommend me some games," he said, "but not anything that's cross-platform because I've already played that on consoles." There was a delay, and then the responses started rolling in from PC gamers who, by their own admission, don't really bother keeping up with console gaming. Almost every title mentioned was cross-platform and came to console first. Also, almost every title could have run just fine on Wii. Yes, on Wii, which even other console owners know is well behind the technical curve.
So let's say I spend $1500 right now and I build a great machine like my friend has. Determined to finally reap the rewards of PC gaming, I go out and play... what? What do I play that I can't already play on console? Or, failing that, what game looks like an unplayable, hideous mess on 1080P consoles and suddenly becomes a thing of beauty when I spend an extra $1200 on a gaming rig that can play it appropriately?
At present, PC offers incremental improvement over consoles, if you spend enough money to invest in a high-end PC. That's a nice little bonus, but is it really the sort of advantage that justifies derailing nearly every comment thread on every video game forum ever?
I'm not saying to stop enjoying PC gaming. If you are fortunate enough to have the money to invest, build your new tower and then spend a few hundred dollars every year maintaining it. That's awesome. But some of us are console gamers because we can't afford a PC, and some of us are console gamers because the games we most want to play won't ever even come out on PC. Don't waste your time trying (unsuccessfully, in most cases) to rain on our parade. Surely, you have something better to do with that powerful PC of yours than argue on message boards? Because if you don't, wow... what a waste of money that was!