This economy sucks. Retail sales are down, the stock market’s trying (and mostly failing) to recover from the previous crash, restaurants can no longer afford to remain full-staffed, and, worst of all, the invincible videogame industry is currently experiencing a year to year sales decline! I’d contend a lack of tolerable content impacted the last one more than a stagnant economy, but the belief’s not popular (developers can do no wrong!), and pointing a finger better serves this article.
Whether money’s not coming in like it used to, or interactive entertainment never found a comfortable place to sit in the living room of your monthly budget, rest easy. You can still game. Together we’ll lift your financial exile from the land of videogames.
But before I start, please slam your face directly onto last month’s bank statement. Stay there. The ledger may be riddled with nasty little unnecessary expenses. Find them.
If you need help, consumer empowerment blog The Consumerist can assist. Crushed by massive credit card debt? The editors suggest going without cable television and to stop eating out, among others, in the article “5 Expenses You Can’t Afford If You Have Credit Card Debt.” Spending too much at the local grocery store? Stop buying pre-chopped food, suggests writer Meg Marco in “7 Ways To Save on Groceries Without Using Coupons.” Do you think you’re so smart you don’t need to read these tips? The Consumerist has an article for you. “10 Stupid Ways That Smart People Waste Money” suggests even those privileged with a larger frontal lobe can sometimes forget to pay bills, suffer excessive overdraft and ATM fees, and let food spoil in the fridge.
You may or may not have a bit more room to work with. Either way, there’s only one gaming platform option (if you only have one choice): PC.
No other offers greater return on investment. And the investment itself can be as low as $200 or stratospherically high in the tens of thousands. For this article, we’ll keep our budget under $400. But first, let’s take a look at why the PC’s so effin’ neat.
Somehow, after all these years, console gaming still remains a very closed and restricted way of experiencing the medium. Mods are all but absent, Sony and Microsoft have made it clear their interest is waining in backwards compatibility, and every publisher and/or developer wishing to create and distribute a title for a major console must first submit said software to the platform holders. On the PC, anything goes. This includes nudity and serious adult relationships- two aspects of storytelling wholly not represented in today’s heavily filtered console environment. If anything, think of the PC as a free society.
More more more
Go figure, the PC’s “free society” also allows for a greater number of playable titles and of larger variety. A multitude of sites and distribution channels cater to nearly every type of gamer imaginable. Into artsy games? Indiegames.com should satisfy. Feel like playing a violent old-school shmup infused with pop culture rerferences? There’s no better place to visit than Newgrounds.com.
The PC version of multiplatform titles almost always retails for $10 less. On top of that, digital distribution services such as Steam and Direct2drive offer weekly sales for a plethora of new and old titles and sometimes reward those who preorder with discounted prices and free content.
Not missing much
The PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii, and PC each offer their own set of “exclusive” titles. PS3 most notably offers God of War, Uncharted, and Flower. The 360 has the Halo franchise, Gears of War, and access to many PC titles. The Wii has Nintendo, or, rather, Nintendo has the Wii, for better and worse (Nintendo’s nearly incomparable presence at market with quality titles makes it hard for third-parties to compete). But the PC not only has stellar exclusives like the Witcher, World of Warcraft, and Dawn of War II, free-to-play MMOs, the world’s (arguably) fastest growing genre and distribution model, only currently appear on the platform. Title exclusivity? Psh, that’s nothing.
Don’t associate “free” with “crap.” Riot Games switched the business model of their upcoming RTS/RPG hybrid League of Legends from pay-per-title to free-to-play this past July. Earlier, Dungeons and Dragons Online made a similar move. Even the second largest publisher in the world, Electronic Arts, entered the f2p business this year with Battlefield: Heroes. According to the latest research, the title’s pulling in a lot of greenbacks. For more titles, check out MMOHub.org. The news/previews/reviews site specializes in free-to-play titles, and just so happens to be one of the sites for which I freelance (PLUG!).
If you’re interested in the f2p market, its rapid rise in popularity, and how it fits in the industry’s future, keep checking back. We’ll soon run a piece covering those topics and many more.
Now it’s time to get your own gaming rig.
Don’t buy a pre-built system. Build your own! It’s easier than you think. In fact, my girlfriend built hers last January with absolutely no prior knowledge of how computers work (before she didn’t know the difference between a hard drive and RAM). Try this piece-by-piece guide from PC mech, or google another. If you get stuck, or are unsure how something works, seek out YouTube videos for in-depth tutorials (I like the ones from How Stuff Works).
Now I turn it over to you. Would you add or subtract any components? Do you hate or love PC gaming? Let us know!