The PC’s gaming heritage stretches back something like forty years at this point. Thanks to the enthusiasm of the PC community, most of that forty years is immediately accessible to you. Text adventures? The Interactive Fiction Database has you covered. DOS? Thanks, DOSBox. The more complicated environments of fifteen or twenty years ago? Again, there’s GOG.com, plus (if the game you’re looking for is popular) probably dozens of mods to improve the experience.
And I won’t even mention the PC’s more legally-gray console emulators. Not in this article, at least.
Buy a PC, and all that history is open to you. Just last week Steam added a bunch of classic Sierra games—everything from Gabriel Knight to Phantasmagoria to Caesar III. Some of the best the ‘90s had to offer, still accessible to today’s players.
Sure, it can be finicky. Installing mods can be a hassle, or intimidating if you have no idea what you’re doing. But I’ll put in the work if it means having the ability to replay Planescape: Torment on my current hardware instead of scrounging up a PC from 1999 or relying on some publisher to fund a remaster. Heck, PlayStation 4 owners can only play PlayStation 3 games if they pony up $20 per month for PlayStation Now.
Okay, but I don’t like classic games and/or I played all those games before.” Well good news! It’s also cheaper to be a PC gamer when it comes to new titles. Our prices fall faster, go lower, and stay that way.
The vaunted Steam Sales comes to mind first, but it’s far from the only sale in town. GOG.com, Amazon, Green Man Gaming, Gamersgate, Humble—all of them run sales on the regular. You can easily amass a huge library of games on the cheap, more than making up for the cost of your hardware.
Get motion-sick? Gaming on the PC allows you to change your field of view, or FOV, potentially mitigating that issue. Personally I run all my PC games at an FOV around 100 degrees. Consoles, being played on a screen farther away, are usually around 60 degrees. That’s not an issue in itself. The bigger problem is that console games are typically locked to a certain FOV, meaning if it’s making you sick you can’t change it. (Disabling motion blur also falls in this category.)
Played a game and hated it? Steam, Origin, GOG.com, and many other retailers now allow you to refund any game you purchase, as long as you meet certain parameters. Not only does it let you get your money back when developers don’t deliver on a game, but it also lets you test whether it runs on your machine—thereby removing much of the guesswork from PC gaming.
And don’t get me started about the idea of paying for online multiplayer. Ugh. Still none of that here.
It’s easy to discuss the price of a gaming PC in a vacuum. There are good reasons to do so: Maybe you prefer laptops for your day-to-day computing. Maybe you get all your work done on a tablet.
But for many people, a desktop computer is still a necessity (or at least a preference). People doing photo or film or audio work, or working on games of their own, or typing for long hours every day need a PC. Others simply like sitting at a desk and having a large screen and a meaty keyboard.
PC gaming still has issues it needs to overcome. Streaming to Twitch is overly convoluted for the layperson. Prepare to spend a bit of time on Google or Steam forums if a game breaks. Updating graphics drivers? A hassle for sure. Even the sheer act of building a PC can be stressful, at first.
But PC gaming is miles more accessible than it was in the past. There are practically infinite resources on the Internet for any question you might encounter, for any error code a game might spit back at you. Driver updates are done with the push of a button now and take far less time than any console firmware update.