There are some new boxes of electronics coming that sit under your TV and claim to play games. They’re also television cable boxes and will watch you sleep/kiss your partner/touch yourself.
Instead of buying one of those, you should buy a PC. Here’s why.
It’s not a monoculture
The gradual erosion of consumer rights that’s taken place since the advent of broadband has not been pleasant. Gamers are worse off than they were ten years ago. This is true on PC and console.
What’s taking place with the XBox One and PS4 is that the console manufacturers are catching up to the digital rights licensing that PC gamers have been coming to terms with since Steam debuted. The details of what Microsoft have proposed (and I believe Sony will have a similar schemes) is different - better in some ways, worse in others - but it’s broadly the same. You have permission to play your game if you buy a copy of it. That permission is granted unless we decide it isn’t. We’ll grant you access on our terms. And while we’ll try and give you a fair stab at reselling your games, it’s not entirely aligned with our business, so it’s probably best you just accept that it’s not going to happen because we’ll be able to withdraw that feature when we feel like it.
But there’s a difference between Steam and the consoles: Steam is a closed system on an open platform. Steam’s platform dominance isn’t complete. Steam has to compete with other services for your custom. Steam isn’t the only game shop in town.
Game prices are driven downwards as retailers compete. And alternatives spring up: Good Old Games offers DRM free games for sale. Humble delivers astonishing deals on a weekly basis. There are very, very big games that won’t touch Valve’s platform, like League of Legends, Minecraft, World of Warcraft and World of Tanks.
What’s clear is that many of the consumer rights we as gamers take for granted will fall away as publishers, manufacturers and developers dream up new ways to control access to their product. Government and enforcement cannot keep pace, and has shown zero interest in reinforcing those rights. The only mechanism to have an effect is through consumer choice.
There is no choice on an Xbox One or a PS4. There is choice on PC.
Backwards compatibility comes as standard
If you’d have bought your third party games on PC, not only would you be able to play them on your new PC, they’d be better. It’s not just backwards compatibility: think of the side compatibility benefits. Your game library can exist over multiple machines and form factors. You can have a PC in an office, bedroom or den, or under a television, and a laptop, and in a few years time, an affordable Haswell powered tablet with broadly the same specifications as an Xbox One. Your game library is guaranteed to work across all these machines. And any future machines you buy.
Imagine that: being able to buy a game, and then play it forever.