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The Five Stages of Griefing: Death of the Consoles

Manufacturer: PC Perspective

Bargaining: But I’m getting great value

When a purchasing decision is made, it is most common to relate up-front cost with perceived value derived from that investment. While that intuition works for most situations, there are times where smaller but recurring charges sum to be substantial. The consoles are designed to bury as many recurring costs as possible to profit from their valued customers. Ponder this: The $499 PS3 was created for $805 according to CNET. Sony continued to take a loss on all units sold between their late 2006 launch until mid 2010. The true cost of the console is therefore quite safely said to be not what is paid upfront, as Sony always intends to make a profit; they clearly could not expect to recover all that loss directly from the petty profits during last few years of sales. If someone spends hundreds of millions to billions of dollars marketing a device that they sell you for less than they paid to develop it... how much money are they really getting from you in the nickels and dimes?

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(Want to see how we came up with the figure? Check out the calculations.)

The green blocks represent inherent costs, while the yellow blocks represent the sum of unnecessary small charges. Obviously there is a lot of variance in both situations. The point is more-so that arguments made about PC Gaming being more expensive are completely wrong... and as shown is often quite the opposite.

 

There are several methods that console manufacturers use to monetize their consoles. The following are just some of the examples:

  • Charge ten dollars per video game sale from a third-party publisher
  • Online services fees
  • Break compatibility with accessories to force repurchase (occasionally within the same generation, see: PS2)
  • Direct sale of first party games
  • A cut of micro-transactions such as DLC and download-only games.
  • Late-life unit sales

Over the life of console the concept that you are getting a bargain erodes; the cost only gets worse as you purchase more games, extra content, and redundant systems with accessories. If you wish to experience many specific games that are spread across multiple platforms your troubles compound further. Developers have been projecting and occasionally outright crying for a single-platform future. The problem is, as described through the anger stage, you cannot have a single proprietary platform without having either a monopoly or competing platform(s). A single open platform is more desirable for developers than both outcomes, profitable for everyone, and much easier on the wallets of consumers.

Your PC is only as expensive as you desire it to be.

You choose your experience; you are not paying someone to give you any different.

If you have ever balked at the price of a “gaming PC” then I can understand why you would assume that consoles are cheaper than PC gaming as a whole. While there are definite advantages of those systems, they also are well above the experience provided by consoles. Purchasing four years of Xbox Live Gold, at $60 per year, costs you $240; had you spent $200 four years ago for an 8800GT you would play all games on the market for those four years including Battlefield 3 albeit at heavily reduced settings. Xbox Live fees, without considering any other expense including the price of the box itself, cost more than what is likely required to upgrade your existing PC to a gaming system for four years.

There are three tiers of gaming PCs that are capable of running just about every product on the market. This is just a general rule, but has been valid for quite some time now.

The Console-like tier

If your desire is to have a similar experience as you would have with a console:

  • Upgrade all the main components (CPU, RAM, Mobo, GPU) of your system at once
  • Purchase the third best component, give or take, of each product line
  • Repeat every 4-5 years

It will almost definitely be cheaper than the console over its lifespan. This typically corresponds to buying the Mid-Range System on our hardware leader board every 4 years.

The Always-Highest tier

If your desire is to play every game, apart from outliers like Crysis, max at 1080p from launch:

  • Upgrade all the main components (CPU, RAM, Mobo, GPU) of your system at once
  • Purchase the third best component, give or take, of each product line
  • Purchase the third best, give or take, GPU of the time about 2 years later
  • Repeat every 4-5 years

It will probably be cheaper than the console over its lifespan, and a much better experience. This typically corresponds to buying the Mid-Range System on our hardware leader board every 4 years and replacing the video card after 2 years with the Mid-Range System’s video card at that time.

The Enthusiast tier

If your desire is to play all games beyond 1080p, on multiple monitors, at a solid 60 or 120 FPS, with stereoscopic 3D, or any other special requirements: get the computer that will suit those needs. Your Cadillac is not required to drive to work, but you just want to drive a freakin’ Cadillac! No one will tell you that you cannot, except your spouse or major credit card vendor.

It will be more expensive than the console over its lifespan, but for reasons that simply are not possible with the console. Get whatever you want -- no one is artificially limiting what you can.

When you carefully look at the cost of a gaming PC: you are typically spending less over the long run for a better experience, or you purposely spoiled yourself for an immensely better experience. Either direction leads to the same conclusion: you are not paying more to receive less with the PC.

Do you feel depressed about your bargain not panning out?

December 8, 2011 | 05:44 PM - Posted by castlefox (not verified)

I almost never buy games at full price of 60 bucks unless its a game I am really looking forward to. I have never re bought old accessories from when I had my ps2. My ps3 is online service is free. I also have been renting 3 ps3 games from my local library for the last year for free. I would have liked to see other cost comparisons. That did not assume what was assumed in that cost break down.

I personally think the REAL reason why people have been buying a console over a gaming PC in the latest generation is that a console is 400 bucks and a gaming PC you assumed is 1000. Many more people have 400 bucks to splurge on VS. a 1000.

That all being said. I'm greatly looking forward to building a gaming pc and installing linux.

December 8, 2011 | 07:27 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

Kind-of. I'd say more generally: marketing and giftability.

As for the cost comparison, the point was to show "Hey, this is a much better experience with the PC... and it's cheaper. Thus, arguments that the PC is more expensive are simply wrong."

The PC *can* be more expensive than the console... but only in special cases otherwise it wouldn't be worth it for the company to MAKE the console. Example -- if you borrowed all your games from the library, the console manufacturer would make no money... thus they would not sell the console under cost. Obviously on average they're expecting to make profits... which means on average they expect people to throw their money away.

December 8, 2011 | 07:22 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I agree, Over a consoles life span they are much more expensive,

STEAM on PC is king...

GTA4 + DLC = £4
Bioshock 2 + Bioshock 1 for FREE = £7
Oblivion = £4
Crysis + Crysis Warhead = £7

The list goes on, You're talking well over £200 worth of console games for £22. I bought Dead Space 1 &2 in the recent STEAM sale for £8, Again about £60-80's worth if bought on console.

Factor in greatly improved image quality, Higher frame rates, Higher graphic quality, Games that are actually rendered at HD resolutions and not fake up-scaled HD like the consoles.

The last console I owned was a PS2 but never again will I go back to them..

December 9, 2011 | 04:36 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I see this article doesn't factor in actually having friends on the platforms, considering a large amount of people get consoles for their friends do. They'd probably call you bitter, for they're happy and you're not.

December 10, 2011 | 03:37 AM - Posted by Scott Michaud

This article summarizes really well -- which gaming platform to purchase based on your friends.

http://www.theseize.com/?p=81

December 10, 2011 | 12:37 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

good opinions, but i would like to point out a couple issues. First of all, you seem to ignore the way lots of people get games which is borrowing them from their friends. When im done with a game, i can loan it to all my friends who can play for themselves. 10 years ago we could do this with pc games as well, but now with constant connections required to fight piracy, our glorious publishers have decided we dont need that option anymore. It seems the position of the industry is that the physical game is irrelevant, you are purchasing the right to play the game on only one account and can never transfer that when u r done. this is of course utter nonsense similar to the crap the record companies were pushing to kill used cd sales right before napster ate their lunch. Sharing with your friends is good right, not according to steam.
Which brings me to my second point, the constant connection requirement. I can play my console games anywhere in the world where i have power and have the full single player experience i crave. When i got into steam, i thought that offline mode offered the same option, Then my dsl went out for a couple weeks. Try it sometime. Unhook your computer from the series of tubes known as the internet. Try to boot steam, the first thing it does is try to go online for offline mode, then shut itself down when it can't connect. so therefore the only way offline mode is worth anything is if you know before you lose your connection that you are going to lose your connection. How many of the connection problems youve had came with a warning. Therefore you lost your whole steam library. Also, lately all of the ea games on steam wont even play in offline mode without being able to connect to server. So what do i do when i lose connection and threfore every steam (well over 100) ive bought. Play my consoles which work just fine offline. So i guess my point is that each has strengths n weaknesses, but i think you missed a couple huge weaknesses for pc gaming that i have been experiencing lately.

December 10, 2011 | 02:16 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

Consoles are turning into that. Again, it's a problem with nature of the industry turning into consumable entertainment rather than intrinsically valuable art. Consoles are designed for the former nature where PCs are better suited (although not best suited until we get past proprietary platforms altogether) for the latter.

Just don't let publishers use DRM... or at least not after an initial launch window (though that extra control hurts them, publishers are addicted to it, and it's not too damaging if it gets removed very quickly)

December 24, 2011 | 12:41 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

This is already the case on consoles. To play any EA game online (like battlefield 3) you have to have a pass which comes with the game. If you buy used or let someone borrow it, they have to pay $15 for the pass. Soon all games will have this which means that used 3o dollar game just became 45, more than many games cost on steam.

December 11, 2011 | 03:09 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

This be bull. Everyone says the PC is dieing and everyone says console gaming is dead, yet both keep breeking there sales records. So long as theres money in it both arn't going anywhere any time soon.

December 13, 2011 | 09:50 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I wish this was true. I really do. Truth is, at 1080p with giant pixels on flat screens. Most consumers can't tell the difference in quality nor do they care to uses a mouse and keyboard as a means of interface. A nice wireless game controller and DX9 is frankly good enough. Almost all new blockbuster PC games are console ports and this trend has increased and not decreased. And honestly, until we are all able to run games like Crysis 2 and Metro 2033 on sub 500 dollar boxes there will be no change in the trends that show a decline in PC gaming. I am PC enthusiast and I have to admit that its way too much money to build a system that has awesome gaming performance, especially when both AMD and NV are lagging so far behind in giving people enough VRAM on even their most expensive cards. Discreet graphics cards are awesome, I have two in SLI and love them, but they are incredibly over priced compared to every other part of my system.
8G of DDR3 ram @ 1600 cas8 = 80 bucks
i7 2600k @ 5GHz+ = 300 bucks
z68 UD7 mobo = 300 bucks
120g SSD = 150 bucks
A pair of GTX 580s = 1100 dollars?

This is why console gaming has eclipsed PC gaming and will continue to do so until GPU makers can find a way to lower prices drastically.

BTW- a 2600k for 300 bucks with 8g's of nice DDR3 is far more powerful (and better at math) than a couple 580s.

December 13, 2011 | 09:55 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

one last thought- I will be excited when I can buy a motherboard from Gigabyte or EVGA with a socket for my CPU and my GPU. Let me install both chips and decide how to cool them. That is the future of discreet graphics.

December 27, 2011 | 03:14 AM - Posted by Makaiookami (not verified)

really at the end of the day if you swap the 360 out for a PS3, and include decent gaming mice and keyboards for your gaming PC your PC is totally more expensive. The current decline of the 50 dollar PC game and the rise of the 60 dollar PC game offsets the 10 dollars a game savings, and then there are other factors like amazon, trading in old games you'll never play again, etcetera that will further denounce your arguments for the PC.

At the end of the game quit trolling and get a PC and a PS3. There's no reason why both can't subsist and look at console sales during black friday. There's no way you're going to convince all of those parents that they'll save more money for their kids or that it'll be a better use of their time energy and effort to get them a PC instead of a 360.

What REALLY needs to happen is that companies need to give you a steam version with your console version. If they do that, then every argument you've made becomes m00t and pointless. You buy the console version because you get the PC version with it and you make your judgement on which is better without any additional increase in price based on changing your mind.

This article is just a waste of time really. You only make your point in a very narrow circumstance. I doubt you've convinced a single person and worst of all, it's a 1 size fits all solution that is written in a way to demean and demoralize people who have more varied preferences than you do in this realm.

December 28, 2011 | 09:53 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

Actually the largest points I made against the consoles were how they damage art due to their disposable nature. The rest was to disprove that the PC is any worse in any way.

And the consoles will continue to be disposable ad-infinitum. That's their goal. Be a vessel for consumable and disposable entertainment... not timeless art. Because consumables have churn... and make big 2-week sales.

But hey, if you have a PS3 that can play the majority of old games -- great. Better hope it doesn't get serviced otherwise say goodbye to your old collection. Chances are the one you're getting back cannot.

December 31, 2011 | 09:48 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

u mAd?

"At the end of the game quit trolling and get a PC and a PS3. There's no reason why both can't subsist and look at console sales during black friday. There's no way you're going to convince all of those parents that they'll save more money for their kids or that it'll be a better use of their time energy and effort to get them a PC instead of a 360."

since im a parent.. when my 4yr old grows and has gaming needs. he'll always have the family gaming pc. after demonstrating responsible behavior, he'll get my hand me downs! if he wants a console.. well, im sure there's a chore for that.

"This article is just a waste of time really. You only make your point in a very narrow circumstance. I doubt you've convinced a single person and worst of all, it's a 1 size fits all solution that is written in a way to demean and demoralize people who have more varied preferences than you do in this realm."

pc gaming: a difficult thing to explain to people. ive tried. If OP convinced 1 person, then i say thank you to him.

"What REALLY needs to happen is that companies need to give you a steam version with your console version. If they do that, then every argument you've made becomes m00t and pointless. You buy the console version because you get the PC version with it and you make your judgement on which is better without any additional increase in price based on changing your mind."

btw, you are not very persuasive either.

December 31, 2011 | 09:53 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

ps. how do you backup movies and music on a console?.. i know its possible but it seems like it would have to involve an x-86 computer. or maybe you can use the competitors box

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