Five advantages of console gaming that have disappeared

Playing on a console has always been synonymous with enjoying a series of advantages that, with the passage of time, have been evolving in a very clear way, and not always for the better. Let�s face it, console gaming today doesn�t offer the same experience as it did in the 1990s, and I�m not referring to the details that have marked the various technological advances, but to the base experience in general.

This is an indisputable reality. In many aspects the evolution that the world of video game consoles has undergone has been positive, there is no denying that, but in many other things it has been quite the opposite. I know very well what I’m talking about, after all my first console was an Atari 2600, and since then I have had many consoles until I got to the PS4. I haven’t bought a PS5 yet because of the market situation, and because I’m in no hurry, to be honest.

My experience in the world of consoles accumulates already more than 30 yearsand it does not stop growing. As you know, time well spent is knowledge, and this eventually becomes wisdom if it is used properly, and if it is contextualized in an appropriate and impartial manner.

Playing on console in the eighties or in the nineties has nothing to do with doing it today, it is as simple as that, and this has good things and bad things. It is clear that console gaming still has some advantages, but a part of the original advantages offered by those platforms have “fallen by the wayside” as a consequence of the evolution they have undergone, and no longer make any sense no matter how much some people insist on repeating them ad nauseam.

In this article, I am going to share with you five advantages of playing on consoles that today, due to this evolution, have completely disappeared, and that are therefore you should forget no matter how much some still insist on trying to bring them up by using shoehorns, or totally wrong interpretations.

1.-When playing on console you don’t care about the hardware

Five advantages of console gaming that have disappeared 32

This is a lie. A few years ago this was true because, in the end, consoles used specialized components that were not available in the PC world, games did not require hard drive installation, and there were no intergenerational refreshes to make us feel that our console was obsolete.

Specialized hardware allowed these consoles to to age much betterand gave developers a base to work on at a deeper level. Yes, in certain cases this was counterproductive at the beginning, think for example how complicated it was to develop games initially for PS2 and PS3, but think also about the gameplay that both consoles gave throughout their lifetimes. In fact, the most advanced games, technically speaking, of PS3 came in the final stage of its life cycle (The Last of Us was released in 2013).

But this is not all, in many cases play on console also meant having very powerful hardwaresimilar to the high end within each equivalent PC generation, and in some cases its performance was truly impressive in its first years of life. PS3, for example, arrived in 2006 and had a GPU similar to the GeForce 7900 GT (it was trimmed in ROPs and memory bus). This graphics card was high-end in 2006.

Think also of Xbox 360, which had such an advanced GPU that used a unified shader architecture in 2005. Not surprised? Well, think that the unified shader architecture did not make its debut in the world of general consumer graphics cards until 2007when the GeForce 8000 series was launched. Now, consoles use adapted hardware that starts from the same base that can be found in PCs, and the use of APUs that integrate CPU and GPU in one package has also introduced important limitations.

On the other hand, the leap to installing games on internal storage units with limited capacity and the intergenerational renovations, PS4 Pro and Xbox One X, have made the user who decides to play on console feel the same as the one who plays on PC, that their system has become  “stale,” or that you need a hard drive upgrade to be able to continue installing games, or an SSD to make them load faster.

2.-Games will always run fine on console

Playing games on console is not a guarantee

Control at 17 FPS on PS4. Image courtesy of Digital Foundry.

Not true The truth is that, strictly speaking, it never has beenin the 32-bit and 64-bit era, many 3D games had FPS drops so large that they became slideshows, others had major bugs, and some had to be completely adapted to specific graphics engines because they were not up to the level of their PC counterparts.

I think the correct thing would be to say that when playing on console you have the advantage that their games will always work, but it doesn’t have to work well. I can give many recent examples, such as the well-known Cyberpunk 2077, which does not end up going fine on PS4 and Xbox One; Days Gone, which in its PS4 version has very large FPS drops and  “scratches”, in addition to insufferable loading times; and also Bloodborne, which also has significant performance drops and a dizzying  “stuttering”, and that is one of my favorite games.

To keep saying, or believing, that console gaming is a guarantee that games will always run smoothly is a chimera that makes no sense at all. In fact, as time goes by, the exact opposite will happengames will tend to do worse because the hardware will be older and will fall short in power.

Developers will continue to build on it as a minimum basis, and this will work “the miracle” of making it work on older hardware, but the experience you will enjoy can be terribly bad. Yes, games that on an equivalent PC might not run on your console will run on your console, but with a low graphic quality and a fluidity that will not always be acceptable.

3.-Gaming on console is much more comfortable than on PC


Consoles have moved a lot closer to the PC, for better and for worse.

This is a half-truth, but such a half-truth that has lost much of the value it originally had, and that’s why it deserves to be on this list. Before, playing with a console was really easy and comfortable, and it had nothing to do with playing on PC. I remember perfectly well that, to play certain titles on my first PC, I had to install and run them using MS-DOS, in others I had to fiddle with different configurations because the sound could give problems, especially in the older ones, and the drivers could be an ordeal.

That reality has been maintained in the PC world, even though the truth is that it has been greatly simplified. Nowadays keeping a computer up to date is something that any user with a little experience can do, since drivers and updates can be done in an automated way and do not usually give serious errors, and also the installation and execution of games has been reduced to a few clicks.

It is very curious, because while the PC gaming experience has been simplified and made easier, on consoles the opposite has happened. It used to be that when I got home after a hard day at school, I would open the lid of my Master System II, pop in Streets of Rage, turn on the TV and console, and play. Today, if I want to spend some time playing a PS4 game I have to install and update it, and I may encounter a mandatory console system update that wastes my time. On top of that, if I don’t have hard drive space, I’ll have to rack my brain to choose what to delete and what not to delete.

It is true that, in the end, a console is a machine specialized in video gamesbut its evolution has led it to become a multimedia center capable of doing more and more things, which in the end has introduced it fully into a process of  “partial transformation into a PC” which has obviously affected the user experience. This experience is becoming more and more PC-like, with all that that entails.

4.-Optimization works wonders for console gaming

Cyberpunk 2077 PS4

Yes, console gaming gives you that advantage that games will work for you, but this does not mean that they will work well, and you should not be blinded by the miracle of optimization either, since in many cases it is a simple adjustment or reduction of graphic quality to speed up some fluidity, something that simply does not transfer to the PC.

Developers start from the base of consoles to try to tune performance as much as possible, this is true, but the hardware is what it is, and in the end miracles do not exist. When a demanding game runs on a PS4 or an Xbox One, it usually does so by pulling dynamic or rescaled resolutionand of a graphic configuration with settings lower than PC low mode. It is also normal to encounter performance that can drop below 25 FPS.

That’s not optimization, that’s shoehorned a game into a platform that’s not really capable of running it in a truly acceptable way. Think again of Days Gone or Cyberpunk 2077, but we can also go to the recent Elden Ringwhich runs at 900p on Xbox One, is set to low quality and still drops at 20 FPS. On PS4 it gets better, but the experience can only be considered “passable”, in the words of Digital Foundry’s Thomas Morgan.

Playing on console has in its favor that it will always be, as long as it is within its useful life cycle, the base platform from which developments will start, and that developers will always try to adjust to the hardware of the less powerful platform, but this does not mean that optimization will be a permanent miracle. Cyberpunk 2077 was the biggest dose of reality in recent historybut we have seen many other examples of hardware being what it is in the end, such as the terrible PS2 version of Resident Evil 4 or Splinter Cell on PS2.

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5.-Exclusive games make console gaming more appealing

This is no longer the case. Three years ago I myself considered it a major advantage, but with the changes in strategy that Sony and Microsoft have executed, more and more console exclusives are coming to the PC, a reality that will become more and more true. On the other hand, it should also be noted that there are PS5 exclusives that will come to PC but not to Xbox Series X-S, and Xbox Series X-S exclusives that will come to PC but not to PS5. This means that, in the end, the PC will be the big beneficiary.

As those of you who read us daily will remember, at the time i bought a PS4 in order to play Bloodborne, but that wasn’t the first time an exclusive led me to buy a particular console. At the time I also chose the NES because I fell in love with Double Dragon II and Ninja Gaiden, and the same happened with Master System II because of Sonic and its Ninja Gaiden adaptation.

Days gone PC

Days Gone on PC with maximum quality

Exclusives sell consoles have always been there but their importance is being drastically reduced, and eventually we will reach a point where they will end up being mere temporary exclusives. In this sense, we have to understand that both Sony and Microsoft have to face high development costsand that releasing games on multiple platforms is the best way to to recoup those investments.

If we limit ourselves to a console vs. console approach, exclusives will still play an important role, because Sony is not going to release its exclusive franchises on Xbox nor Microsoft theirs on PlayStation, but both are bringing them to PCand this is the key to it all, that the strength of those exclusives is diluted when CP enters the equation.

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