I know, I know… this is something of a loaded question, and a controversial topic to be sure! That said, with opinion so often fiercely divided into several different camps, it is seemingly a question worthy of further enquiry. One of the implications of the very prevalence of this question is that regardless of where one stands on the matter, there is ostensibly no clear-cut winner, and no one console or device that stands head and shoulders above the rest, jubilant and assured of its gaming supremacy.
Indeed, the ‘world’s most powerful console’ rhetoric notwithstanding, it is fair to say that the technological gap between devices is closer than it has ever been; most of them can render the same games, albeit at varying levels of graphical quality. The Xbox One X reigns supreme in terms of raw power, although without commensurate input from individual developers, this all to often counts for very little.
So then, why is it that so many of us subscribe to the notion that there must be one flagship console? One need only visit any one of the countless online blogs and opinion articles on the topic to see that the debate goes far beyond the realm of personal preference, with many people asserting that any one console is objectively superior to the others.
Armchair pundits have great entertainment value, but all said and done, there are simply too many variables and too great a pace of change for one to reliably determine any one platform as being better than the rest. For a well rounded look at the various statistics and characteristics, articles such as this from pcmag.com and this from wepg.com serve some purpose, though this is limited, as we shall explore below.
When comparing devices, the waters are muddied by one of very few things more complicated and intricate than the current-gen consoles and gaming devices. Us… Ultimately, it really does come down to personal preference, and such preferences do not constitute objective determinations.
There are those of us that favour Sony’s PS Pro for its dominance in terms of exclusivity; some relish the versatility of Nintendo’s Switch; many are drawn to the raw power and online multiplayer offering of Microsoft’s Xbox One X, and some hardcore gamers swear by the PC for the hardware autonomy on offer, and the resulting graphical edge. Equally, even the more subtle traits can serve to influence opinion, the likes of joystick positioning, RRP, portability, game passes, free online access, or even the inclusion of hardware and / or games in bundle sets.
We all give different weightings to the innumerable characteristics common across and exclusive to devices. I don’t propose to bombard you with stats and rosters of device exclusivity. This has been done to death, and if we’re entirely honest, to no avail. For those fortunate enough to have amassed a multi-platform device collection, the decision on any given day likely boils down to a combination of mood, latest releases, availability of friends for online play, and of course, pure chance.
Even for those lacking such a comprehensive collection, and who are perhaps contemplating their next purchase, the price difference between the two most like-for-like consoles – the PS Pro and the Xbox One X – are close to immaterial, and the prices of other devices – such as the Switch and the PC – serve to inform only in the context of what a consumer wishes to get out of a device.
For example, as a busy financier with a wife and young daughter at home, I love the fact that I can grab my Switch and fire it up as and when an opportunity arises. Whether on the bus during my commute to and from work, in the staff kitchen during my lunch break (when I’m not shopping for nappies and wet wipes), or whilst lying in bed before sleep takes me, the size and portability of the Switch make it ideal for my purposes and lifestyle.
The above notwithstanding, it would be ludicrous to conclude from my subjective experience that the Switch is a better gaming device than is, for example, the high powered PC, simply because of its high price and lack of portability making it unsuitable for me and my prevailing circumstances.
Conversely, I know (and shockingly, get on well with) fellow gamers that live for the well polished online multiplayer offering of the Xbox One X, and without dependants to care for or demanding 9 – 5 jobs, there is no real need for them to ration their gaming timeslots, nor take advantage of the obligatory daily commute. Once again, this does not prove the Xbox One X as being the superior device, it is just better suited to the less busy gamer!
Further, for those most serious and hardcore of gamers, such as certain of my more aged fellow TGA writers – who shall remain anonymous – the question as to device superiority is somewhat arbitrary – perhaps even obtuse! Of those fortunate enough to have amassed multi-platform device collections, there are many who would scoff at the notion of choosing a favourite device.
They instead take each game on its merits, largely ignoring the device on which it is rendered, albeit of course acknowledging that a great game on the Switch won’t have the graphical quality of the games released for the more powerful devices; and the most sought after online multiplayer is unlikely to be playable on-the-go!
Ultimately, as you will likely have deduced by now, the crux of this article is that among the global gamer demographic, there is a plethora of individual circumstances, personal preferences, budgets, commitments and time constraints, intricate proclivities, and much, much more.
Fortunately, however, the existence of numerous gaming devices means that there is a setup for everyone, and we would all likely do well to avoid debates surrounding which device is best. This abundance of choice and the resulting competition also serves to drive up standards and price competitiveness, which I am sure you will agree, is no bad thing!
We as a widely dispersed community are defined not by our choice of device, but by our love of gaming, in all its forms. We are of course welcome to our own personal preferences, and for those of us that are destined to acquire anything less than the full roster of available gaming devices, let us focus on enjoying not only our own gaming pastimes and endeavours, but also relish that same joy experienced by our fellow gamers on their own devices of choice.
Let us put to rest the noise and the nonsense of “my platform/console/device is better than yours”, and come to the inevitable realisation that we are all individuals trying to enjoy the exquisite immersive experiences on offer from all platforms, which combine together to provide us with the best gaming that technology can offer!
Happy gaming, my friends, whatever form that may take for each of you!