Number four on my list is the PC you already have, which just might be the gaming system you’ve always wanted. Most modern PCs, sold in the last two or three years, have all the power needed to play sophisticated games. What many of them lack is a powerful enough video card and sufficient RAM (Random Access Memory). In most cases, video cards can be easily replaced and upgraded, and in all cases adding more RAM is a simple task. While it is true that state of the art, top of the line gaming computers cost thousands of dollars and feature quad core processors and dual linked video cards, it is also true that the vast majority of computer games don’t require that level of hardware. Spending $5,000 on a gaming PC might make you king or queen of the benchmarks, but it is not required for an enjoyable gaming experience.
Computer games, as a segment of the video game industry, offer a depth of play and replay that is unique to the PC. Online games in particular are well suited to the PC platform. The world’s most popular online game, Blizzard’s World of Warcraft, has over nine million subscribers and has become a cultural phenomenon that extends beyond video games into mainstream culture. Also, most professional gamers train and compete on PCs.
One huge drawback, however, to using your PC as a gaming system is the work involved in staying up to date. Video game consoles are fixed units; their hardware and software capabilities are etched in stone (well, burned in silicon anyway). Video game developers know exactly what they will find, and it is up to them to make certain their games will play on your console. With PCs, new generations of video games might demand even faster video cards, or more memory. Because PCs also differ from one to the next, computer game developers publish minimum and recommended specs for their titles, and it is up to you to assure that your PC meets these. Keeping your software current is also a burden, with video card manufacturers releasing new drivers on a regular and frequent basis. If you do not enjoy tinkering under the hood on your PC, you might find it safer to stick with consoles.