The internet gave us a lot of wonderful gifts. It allowed us to communicate with people faster, share more experiences, and even play games without the need to leave the house. Before there was dial-up, we would rush to our neighbor’s house after school to play a few games on a game console (Family Computer, SNES, or Mega Drive, take your pick) before we needed to go back home for dinner. The older millennials would remember spending many a youthful summer vacation at a cousin’s house playing the days away, mastering games with no save files, and finally feeling like a king after beating a game like Super Mario Bros.
But the connectivity advancements the internet afforded gamers started to change the landscape of console and living room gaming. The more powerful personal computers got, the faster internet speeds became. By the late ’90s, we started bringing computers and monitors to a friend’s place for a “LAN party.” It came to a point where games started to have “multiplayer” options, or the ability of people to play with other people online.
Now we have 3G, 4G, and even 5G internet. For games to survive the punishing competition, they have to have an online multiplayer option. Mobile games thrive on being able to play with people online.
But are consoles really dead? Should we just pack it all up and submit to the belief that PC gaming will rule all?
The king of consoles, Nintendo, gave a massive jolt to all gamers with the release of the Nintendo Switch. Part portable console and part living room console, the Switch was an instant hit. It featured a lot of games that cater to the young and the young at heart, but also promised a few ports to satisfy more hardcore gamers. It’s not going to be a great house party without playing a few rounds of Mario Party from now on, that’s for sure.
Then there’s the giant of the console world, the PlayStation. Sony’s fourth generation console is still racking up the market share numbers thanks to remastered versions of old games (we want our Final Fantasy VII remaster already!), very impressive fresh releases, virtual reality compatibility, and, of course, great games you can’t play anywhere else but on the PlayStation.
And the console has evolved beyond just accepting discs or cartridges. Now, you can consume other non-gaming content on your console. In fact, with a PlayStation Eye (their camera) and a fast internet connection, you can actually stream your gameplay for your friends to enjoy.
The best part of consoles is their duality. A lot of games need internet connections of course, but there are still (very popular) games that don’t really need you to be online all the time to play the game. Capcom’s Monster Hunter World allows you to play offline, and then bring your offline character to meet your friends online for hunts. When you really want to take a break for everything connected to the internet, the console is always there for you.
There’s also the appeal of price. In order to build a PC powerful enough to play the latest games whether they’re esport games of just the latest releases, one would need to put down at least P40,000 just for the CPU. If you move around a lot or need to bring your computer with you, be prepared to shell out around twenty to thirty thousand more for a gaming laptop. The price of a console doesn’t go above P25,000 and that’s with an extra controller calculated in already. Plus, a console can last you even beyond a new generation release; most people are still on PlayStation 3s! When it comes to PCs, you’ll need to refresh your hardware in fewer years. Most people still play with their Gameboy Color.
Earlier, we touched upon the concept of offline entertainment for family and friends, or a house party. This is also a big reason why consoles still thrive and rule over a decent chunk of the gaming market. It turns non-gamers into gamers. Your dad may not have grown up with video games but showing him how easy console games are to learn, and you may have found your Player 2. And for those belonging to the older generation who claim to not understand the flashy and complicated mechanics today’s games have I say to thee: Tetris Effect is coming soon.
Consoles have a purpose in the gaming ecosystem. They satisfy many varied demands from gamers all over the world, and they do this without much effort in learning extra things about computer hardware and troubleshooting. They can be carried almost anywhere and enjoyed online or offline. The traditional console—a piece of machinery capable of projecting a game on a monitor or TV—may be very well be the thing doing the dying here, because the console is evolving with technology, evolving to meet demands, and evolving to give you as much entertainment as possible.