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  1. #1

    The price of PC gaming - crushing a urban legend

    Warning: the currency used in my argument is euro. The price are just indicative from my country (france), all can be argue but I don’t think I’m that far off.

    The lifetime of a console generation typically is about 5-6 years. I will use a 5 years’ timeline as for my comparative study.

    Price of a decent Gaming PC + monitor: 1 000€
    Typically a PC gamer will upgrade its computer regularly. So I consider in that timeline
    1 video card change : 200€ changed to 300€ taking comment into account
    1 processor + motherboard : 200€ 300€
    Total 1 400€ in hardware in 5 years. 1600€ now

    Price of a console: 400 € 300€
    Price of TV (to have a fair comparison, PC does come with a dedicated monitor): 200€

    Difference is 800 € for a 5 years’ timeline, so about 160€ per year. difference of 1100€ so about 220€ a year

    However most PC new game cost 50€ while console game are about 70€. There is a 20€ difference between PC and console games, the difference get as small as 10€ as the game get older but PC game is always cheaper. So say that the gamer buy both new and old game, so we’ll use an average of 15€ difference.
    How many game can do you buy per years. Let’s take a number of 10 games a years (some will buy less, some will buy more), that give us a difference of 150€ per years.

    So PC gaming and console gaming cost about the same if you buy 10 (at least 14 games with new prices) games a years. For more games, it’s more advantageous to be a PC gamer.


    But I haven’t talked about steam. PC gamers knows very well steam and especially the famous steam sales. 75% off a title that could be only 6 to 12 month old. If the PC gamer mostly buy games on steam sales, during this 5 years, being patient, he will save between 30 and 40€ per games which for a mere 10 games a year amount to 300 to 400€ saving or up to 2000€ saving in the course of 5 years (which he may invest to buy a console or upgrade for its PC, or more game)
    No change in that conclusion with the new price

    So in reality, PC gaming is far cheaper than console gaming, but the upfront money needed is much higher (a thousand euro for a complete system).

    They are many advantages to PC gaming as well, such as mouse aiming, modding community for certain game, access to full internet, easy screen or video capture of game. You can work, study, learn from PC.

    Not everything is perfect of course. There are game that we never see in PC (red dead redemption, metal gear solid, halo 3/4, …) and some are delayed on PC (GTA 4 was 8 month late compare to console release).

    But I wanted to address the legend that PC gaming is far more expensive than console gaming. It simply is not true, or at least not as bad as most console gamers tend to believe.

    I, for one, proudly say that I play more games and spend less money since I switch completely from console to PC gaming. Obviously, you can do both, but the object of the post was to compare both.


    Edit: Upgrade Price have been update, i edited in red to make it readble
    Last edited by Vankrys; 2012-11-20 at 02:51 PM.

  2. #2
    Just an extra info, main reason why PC games are cheaper is because console developers have to pay licensing fees to the platform they are developing for, while making PC games do not have that cost.
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  3. #3
    1 video card change : 200€
    1 processor + motherboard : 200€
    The only way to buy a video card, a motherboard and a processor in order to upgrade all 3 with just 400 euros is only if they are like 2-3 generations old components and they will be mid or low-end either, certainly not high-end which is more like a downgrade not an upgrade, well that's according to my standards at least, others might disagree.

  4. #4
    I haven't had a "console" since my old Amiga500 (and that was hardly a console as we know it today) - pure PC-gamer all the way - but your numbers seem pretty random.
    First thing that struck me was the upgrade of mobo+cpu. If you upgrade those two, you would most likely upgrade Memory as well. Add another 50-100€. Most "serious" gamers will also add at least one gaming-mouse, a headset and maybe a proper keyboard. That's another 100€ or more.

    On the other hand if you are a "hardcore" console-gamer, I doubt that a TV priced at 200€ is enough - I certainly wouldn't go for that.

    I've personally never looked at the "Console vs PC" as a matter of economy, but much rather a question about flexibility. Most console-gamers will still have a PC for various things. Internet, mail, homebanking etc. All of which you get "for free" with your gaming PC. Your TV on the other hand can be used for more than just console gaming, so that has added value as well.

    The big differences I've usually seen people talk about is mouse+keyboard vs console controllers. I definetly prefer the former - that is probably also due to the games I favor. Wow, RTS and games with lots of info just works better on a PC with a smaller screen (plus ofc the different form of control, however that might not be as obvious now, since you can get mouse+keyboard for consoles and controllers for PC).

    You could maybe compare it to "car vs motorcycle". Both have different things working in their favor. Freedom and control with the mc - flexibility, roof and space for the car. It's basically boiling down to personal preferences.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Isheria View Post
    The only way to buy a video card, a motherboard and a processor in order to upgrade all 3 with just 400 euros is only if they are like 2-3 generations old components and they will be mid or low-end either, certainly not high-end which is more like a downgrade not an upgrade, well that's according to my standards at least, others might disagree.
    i agree, but even a 200€ video card of, let say 2010, is more powerful than current console hardware.
    I didn't argue about the absolute best of hardware, but a decent yet good gaming hardware.

    One might say, that a console will outperform a medium range PC when it just launched, but the PC will quickly fill the gap and outperform a console, for a reasonable price about half way down the timeline

    This is exactly why i made room for a video car change. Console could use the upgadability (is that a word ) of the PC


    Quote Originally Posted by Whitetroll View Post
    First thing that struck me was the upgrade of mobo+cpu. If you upgrade those two, you would most likely upgrade Memory as well. Add another 50-100€. Most "serious" gamers will also add at least one gaming-mouse, a headset and maybe a proper keyboard. That's another 100€ or more.

    On the other hand if you are a "hardcore" console-gamer, I doubt that a TV priced at 200€ is enough - I certainly wouldn't go for that.
    I recently upgrade mobo+CPU+memory, for about that price, i don't go for the most expensive, i try to get good deal and good quality/price ratio. Price may vary from country to country i guess and how handy you are with your research

    I use a 70€ G700 logitech mouse and G110 keyboard, i included it in the original 1000€ for a full system

    200€ is for a TV about the size of a PC monitor, for a fair comparison. obviously, there is a large choice of possible TV, including the free parent's living room TV ^^


    I understand the argument, different game on PC and on Console, but there is also a fait number of game that are both release on PC and console. Recently for exemple assassin creed 3, hitman absolution, or black ops 2
    Last edited by Vankrys; 2012-11-20 at 02:16 PM.

  6. #6
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    surely if your comparing old PC hardware you gotta take in the price of the 360 now which is what 99 euroes rather then 400.
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  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Larath View Post
    surely if your comparing old PC hardware you gotta take in the price of the 360 now which is what 99 euroes rather then 400.
    i think a ps3 is 250 on amazon. When it came out it was like 600.
    I try to get an average price depending on when during the life span of a console you buy.
    I also consider only price for new material, it's more reliable than price for used material.


    Aside from that. What is your opinion on the matter? Would you agree that, when put in perspective, PC gaming is not much more expensive than console gaming or you believe console gaming is still much cheaper than PC gaming?
    Last edited by Vankrys; 2012-11-20 at 02:28 PM.

  8. #8
    Considering the possible uses of a PC the cash you put in hardware isn't that much after all. Seriously, who doesn't have a PC? Why not invest the cash you'd put in you console to get a better PC to run games smooth instead?
    Last edited by Thes; 2012-11-20 at 02:26 PM.

  9. #9
    Moderator Shamanic's Avatar
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    Woah, I think most serious PC gamers will upgrade their computer more than every 5 years. I personally upgrade mine every single year, I know not everyone does it every year but the majority of my PC gaming friends would not go 2 years without an upgrade of some sort, even if it is just the GPU. I think this is where most people find PC gaming more expensive than console; a lot of people would upgrade way more often than you're suggesting and that does up the cost considerably.

    So I guess it depends on your attitude to upgrades - also on what games you're playing which affect your upgrades, if you are playing every brand new game that's ever released, especially in the FPS region, then you're going to need to upgrade a lot more often than if you're playing MMOs. It's really hard to generalise, but for me, running a console would be a LOT cheaper than the upgrades I put into my machine. The reason I play exclusively on PC is definitely not because it's financially the best for me.
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  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Shamanic View Post
    Woah, I think most serious PC gamers will upgrade their computer more than every 5 years. I personally upgrade mine every single year, I know not everyone does it every year but the majority of my PC gaming friends would not go 2 years without an upgrade of some sort, even if it is just the GPU. I think this is where most people find PC gaming more expensive than console; a lot of people would upgrade way more often than you're suggesting and that does up the cost considerably.

    So I guess it depends on your attitude to upgrades - also on what games you're playing which affect your upgrades, if you are playing every brand new game that's ever released, especially in the FPS region, then you're going to need to upgrade a lot more often than if you're playing MMOs. It's really hard to generalise, but for me, running a console would be a LOT cheaper than the upgrades I put into my machine. The reason I play exclusively on PC is definitely not because it's financially the best for me.
    Fair point

    You misunderstood though. I was planning something in the line a complete new system every 5 years + a change of video card motherboard and CPU within that 5 years. Which basically mean an upgrade every 20 month give or take.

    But taking into consideration the comment i receive, i will change the original study for a 400€ to a 600€ upgrade, juste make sure to have a powerful machine, it will not change by much the conclusion.

  11. #11
    You don't NEED to. But you can. It's not like the crossplatformers suddenly take considerably heavier amount of processing power throughout the years compared to their console counterparts. Yes they will look graphically better, but so have PC games always done.

    And yes, I upgrade my rig far more often than a console generation lasts. But that's not the point.

    Take BF3 for example, the console versions don't even support 64 players. Now take a decent machine 4 years back, it will run the game quite smooth. It probably will not look like the most beautiful thing ever, but it works. In fact if you only bought a videocard for like 200€ 2 years back, you'd still have a decent rig with those q6600/e8400 cpu's.
    Last edited by Thes; 2012-11-20 at 02:55 PM.

  12. #12
    Shamelessly stolen from wikipedia "The PS3 was released in the UK & Ireland, the rest of Europe, and Australia & New Zealand on March 23, 2007 with a retail price of £425 €599" so the console price you mention is for an aging console (addmitedly way back in the 16 bit days consoles were a lot cheaper around 150 EUR)

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Denpepe View Post
    Shamelessly stolen from wikipedia "The PS3 was released in the UK & Ireland, the rest of Europe, and Australia & New Zealand on March 23, 2007 with a retail price of £425 €599" so the console price you mention is for an aging console (addmitedly way back in the 16 bit days consoles were a lot cheaper around 150 EUR)
    Not exactly true though, you need to take inflation in to account. Money value isn't the same as in 80s/90s.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Denpepe View Post
    Shamelessly stolen from wikipedia "The PS3 was released in the UK & Ireland, the rest of Europe, and Australia & New Zealand on March 23, 2007 with a retail price of £425 €599" so the console price you mention is for an aging console (addmitedly way back in the 16 bit days consoles were a lot cheaper around 150 EUR)
    exactly, which further prove my point though, that console gaming is not cheaper than PC gaming.
    But, as people mention, i did reduce the purchase price of console to 300€, so that it would be sort of relevant still for an aging system.

    If you use steam sales as a major source for your gaming need (but not the only source, nothing stopping you buying a full price CoD if you wish), you will still save money with PC gaming.

    ---------- Post added 2012-11-20 at 04:04 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Thes View Post
    Not exactly true though, you need to take inflation in to account. Money value isn't the same as in 80s/90s.
    i am no specialist at all but here.

    Back in the day a Sega genesis in france cost 2000 francs, knowing that the minimum wage was in france about 5000 francs (full time 40 hours a week), so consoles cost about 40% the minimun wage.

    The PS3 cost 600€ when it launch while the minimu wage was about 900€, so about 67% the minimum wage.

    Thus console are getting relatively more expensive generation after generation.
    Last edited by Vankrys; 2012-11-20 at 03:07 PM.

  15. #15
    1. I would have the same computer whether I played pc games or console games, so the only cost of PC gaming is the cost of the games. That's one reason why I play Wow.

    Total yearly cost to play PC games is sub x12.

    2. Bought a PS3 last holiday season for super cheap and absolutely love it. My wife and I don't buy a ton of games, but we have spent more on games + console than I had spent on the past 5 years of wow subs.

    tldr: It all depends on your needs and what you do with the games/how many games you buy. For some it will be PC games, for others it will be console.

  16. #16
    Scarab Lord Kathandira's Avatar
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    A note on the game prices. You mentioned buying 6-12 month old games on Steam for 75% off. I can do the same going to Game Stop and buying used games for all but $10 piece that are no longer on the New Release rack. New game is $60 and if i can buy it for $10 it is 1/6 the price. More often though you see games being discounted to $20 (the legendary $20 bin) Which still kind of debunks your theory. Console games come down in price, and there is no mandatory need to buy a game the day it comes out unless you are just that hard of a fan boy. Trust me, there are plenty of games i've bought day 1 that i wish i had waited 6 months to buy for $20 rather than $60. Other games i waited on that ended up surprising the crap out of me such as Forza 4, i bought just a few months ago for $13. Haven't put in down in 3 months.

  17. #17
    This thread is fine so far, but I'm just going to toss an official warning in here just in case.

    Do not turn this into a PC vs. Console flame war.

  18. #18
    I am Murloc! SirRobin's Avatar
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    Ah the classic PC and Console debate... Meh...

    I'm not hardcore anymore, couldn't afford it even if I still wanted too, but I'm a PC gamer all the way. For me its always boiled down to flexibility. Now I still upgrade or just buy new every five or so years. Of course I also have an xbox and wii too. Finally got an xbox because of RDR. The kids have their games on them and I use them to do netflix on the big screen.

    Now I do think we will reach the point where some hybrid of the two rules the market and the XBox's, PS3's, basically become "apps" more than "consoles." Just as the hardware diversity of the PC will be mostly monopolized and homogenized away into more of a one size fits all sort of thing. Of course that is probably still a decade or two away. However, both PC's and consoles are looking more and more like dinosaurs which the world is slowly leaving further and further behind.
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  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Shamanic View Post
    Woah, I think most serious PC gamers will upgrade their computer more than every 5 years. I personally upgrade mine every single year, I know not everyone does it every year but the majority of my PC gaming friends would not go 2 years without an upgrade of some sort, even if it is just the GPU. I think this is where most people find PC gaming more expensive than console; a lot of people would upgrade way more often than you're suggesting and that does up the cost considerably.

    So I guess it depends on your attitude to upgrades - also on what games you're playing which affect your upgrades, if you are playing every brand new game that's ever released, especially in the FPS region, then you're going to need to upgrade a lot more often than if you're playing MMOs. It's really hard to generalise, but for me, running a console would be a LOT cheaper than the upgrades I put into my machine. The reason I play exclusively on PC is definitely not because it's financially the best for me.
    Completely false. If you buy a mid to high end pc today, you won't have to upgrade another 4 years and maintain a steady 100 to 60 fps. It will change when the new consoles are released, because the market adapts to console games in terms of system requirements, but Sys.Req's haven't been going up for almost 3 years now. Not at the speed they did when it was all about P4 and AMD Athlon.

    And to add, the prices haven't gone up either, they've been slowly decreasing.

    My second last PC cost me €2500. I had to go for new hardware after 2.5 years, if I wanted to maintain playable FPS. My current PC is roughly 4 years old, cost me €1500 and plays all current games at max settings 1680x1050 with 60+ FPS.
    Last edited by Vespian; 2012-11-20 at 07:43 PM.

  20. #20
    Stood in the Fire Kesolovac's Avatar
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    For me PC is a way to go since *snip*...what can I say, then it pays off even more

    Let's not go there in these forums please. -Edge

    woah..strict editing...
    Last edited by Kesolovac; 2012-11-20 at 07:55 PM.
    Mindless...

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