If money is no object and you want ultimate flexibility and you don't mind tinkering around in software settings and are not afraid to even open up the system and add-move-remove some hardware then the PC is the most versatile machine out there. By adding a SLI nvidia or similar two-card Ati/AMD graphicscard setup in your quadcore system you'll be able to play the latest games in a superhigh resolution on a big bright 30" screen. Surround sound and the works. Easy to configure controls. Higher def display than most consoles - even the HD capable - will be able to offer. And you can play tons of emulators on PCs, something you can not do on an unmodified console. Although it is possible to play emulators on an unmodified nintendo DS with help of a backup cartridge.
The PC IS a superior gaming machine, but at a cost. It will not offer the most pain-free plug and play gaming solution.
Like I said in other threads I am not pro-console or con-pc persé but I always seem to end up with a mid range PC or Mac that is not quite games fähig (capable (German)) but suits my other needs perfectly - even emulation. It is just not worth it for me to pay hundreds of euros /dollars for a graphics card that will only last me a short time to keep up with current games. The hardware turn over is just to quick for me to (want to) keep up with it.
And I usually end up upgrading the graphics-card (PC) and adding or replacing the hard-drive (Mac/PC) within a couple of years of getting the machine because I do want to play some games on it or I run out of storage space. I recently upgraded my Acer Aspire 3610 with a new graphics card only to be greeted with an overtaxed power supply a few weeks later. Just because I want to play Spore on the machine - my original graphics card was capable of playing the game in theory but in practice it turned out to be far from an enjoyable experience.
Now with the new card I need to get a new power supply - which probably isn't as quiet as the one the unit came with - so that the new graphics card (a measly Nvidia 8600 GT) wil be able to function. The 8600 was one of the last Nvidia cards that didn't require an extra power connector on the graphics card. But the graphics performance is only marginally better then the 8400.
So when I get the new power supply, I might as wel get one that supports the graphics card that need additional power and get a better card but actually I am very much thinking about stuffing the new card into its box and returning it and re-inserting the Nvidia 8400 GS graphics-card the machine came with and just enjoy the machine as an emulation / work system and forget about playing Spore altogether. Mind you it is possible to play Spore on the 8400 but it is not as enjoyable as on the 8600 as most fancy graphic options need to be turned off and the resolution needs to be quite low.
I may have been better off getting Spore for a console not having to bother with upgrading my computer. But the game isn't out for consoles right?
Now playing games on my 9700 Ati Radeon Mobility 1.5Ghz PentiumM based laptop has been quite fun and I actually have steam installed on it with quite a few games - Half life amongst them - that run quite adequately.
PCs are the best open configurable gaming platform - but because of hardware and software turnover moving so incredibly fast it is hard to keep up with it without spending a huge amount of money one could otherwise have spent on games. I enjoy playing games on the pc though. Like the mouse/keyboard control scheme and have a Good old games account (http://www.gog.com) that delivers me some older games my machine is able to play.
Consoles are a good alternative with hardware/software life cycles sometimes lasting more than 5 years on end - PS2 is doing extremely well in this case - it is just a matter of getting the games you want and playing them. Only paying for the games and not for all sorts of hardware/software upgrades. And at the same time being exposed to increasingly innovative programming to get the most out of the aging closed hardware-platform.
The option you choose has very much to do with the type of games you play and the amount of money you want to spend on playing games. Some will never get used to the controllers consoles come with and others will refuse to leave the mouse/keyboard control schemes. Then there's the folk who drive super fast powerful big cars and folk who drive little Japanese cars - some want the most powerful machines and don't want to be limited in any way and they are willing to pay for it. They have all sorts of arguments why they want to drive such cars and there are others who have all sorts of arguments why they drive smaller European or Japanese cars.
But this whole console vs pc thing is an argument one cannot win. This debacle cannot be solved (pun intended), it is a matter of personal choice and preference. Both variants have their merits.
I like big and fast cars but I drive a more economic European Opel Astra 1.6 (Vauxhall UK). I can drive 600Km on 1 tank of gas (benzine). ;-)
I play the most recent video games on a gaming console because my pc just cannot keep up. Its cheaper for me to do so and more enjoyable for me to do so.
I keep playing older videogames or less demanding videogames on my pc(macs) and can't live without emulating older machines and consoles.
First off, let me just preface this that it's my belief that no one is saying that if you're unfortunately stuck with only one platform that the PC is not the way to go - it is because it does everything - the argument is is it better to have your console as a primary gaming machine over a PC. For many of us, that answer is a resounding "yes".
1) Types of games: To date, consoles have not offered the types of games I enjoy. Whether it be Military simulations (hardcore and tactical/strategic), old school roleplaying, independant gaming, and even FPSers (lack of mouse control makes for fiddly combat).
Well, FPS games on console are optimized for console controls these days and in fact many such games are designed for consoles FIRST, so that's less of an issue. It's just getting used to a different control scheme. I never got used to mouse/keyboard, so I often don't even use that on the PC side. As for getting used to a different control scheme, it's worth it. I can pretty much use any keyboard type, any controller, etc., simply because I've been forced to. My favorite method of control these days is the Xbox 360 control pad, and it works on both the 360 and the PC. And this from a guy who took a long time to get used to a control pad in the late 80's/early 90's after being used to a joystick for so long.
As for the other game types you talked about, niche games are present in droves on console, but you're right, if you want turn-based strategy games, old-school RPGs, etc., you generally have to go the indie PC route.
2)Lack of upgradeability: Everyone moans about upgrading, however it really isn't that hard any more with a PC. When starting out, get the best Motherboard, CPU and power supply you can afford. Everything else is easily and quite cheaply upgraded. The core of the system, the Mobo, CPU and PSU can last a good 5-7 years (my processor is 6 years old and still trucking. Multicore cpus have cut it back and I only have another year probably) with RAM and graphics card updates, and these don't need to be the best of the moment. Upgrading my 6600GT to a 8600GT cost me 120 bucks. And another gig of ram, 40 bucks. This has tided me over easily for another year and a half, and still going.
It's not difficulty, it's cost and benefit. Most of us who are console gamers first and PC gamers second have backgrounds in building our own PCs and are very comfortable with upgrading, and certainly continue to do so. I know I am. The argument I'm making is is that if my computer is PERFECTLY FINE for everything that I'm doing - writing, Internet, digital video editing and the occasional game - WHY should I upgrade it just to play the latest and greatest games when I can play them just as well, if not better, on my console - that I don't have to upgrade - on my giant screen TV with separate full surround sound system? It just makes more sense to do latest and greatest gaming on console over PC, and leave the PC to the older stuff and all the other things that it's better at (productivity). Win-win. I don't have to spend that $150 or $200 or whatever. I can leave my PC as-is and get the best of everything.
4)The console to PC creep: PC gaming does have its lows compared to console gaming, at the moment....well, that moment is going fast, allow me to elaborate. Sometime in the mid to late 90's, came the dreaded customer beta testing....yes, games shipped in a non finished state, and the internet became the way in which you eventually, bit by bit, got the "complete edition". Patches of course. This has been a curse that is still rearing its ugly head today, possibly more so if that is possible....
Consoles, however, are catching up with this idiotic system. The day consoles came on line was the last day for happy, trouble free console gaming. Now there are patches for console games too! Welcome brothers! We hope you enjoy the ride! Seriously, this ended one of the only advantages console gaming had in my mind and standards are slipping faster with each year. Check out Fable 2 for the latest outbreak of lunacy in this area.
I don't mind seamless patching on the console side, particularly when it gives me more features or fixes bugs that crop up after masses of players play online versus limited production testing. This is not a console or PC thing, just the reality of the complexity of modern games with their myriad of features.
Anyway, that is my argument as to why I always choose a PC. Many will refute this no doubt, and I am sure your points will be quite salient, however with PC's becoming easier to work with, easier to upgrade and cheaper by the day the next rise of PC gaming is just starting. Couple this with the advent of Consoles slowly turning into unwieldy PC's along with the brilliant "pay to be a beta tester" business models, and you have an eventual mass of pissed off gamers asking themselves why they bother shelling out on a slab that only does one thing when you can get a powerful, easy to use beast that does it all in one! :)
I believe the opposite. The PC will continue to become a second-tier gaming system, an after thought for ports from primary console development. There is little the PC can do to stop this for a myriad of reasons, including the fact that it's easier to pirate on the PC side and you don't have the same types of sales volume for multi-platform releases. The last great bastion of PC gaming, the MMORPG, will certainly fall in the near future with the first breakout console MMORPG. Once that happens, the PC will be relegated to ports and indie niche stuff. Nothing wrong with that and certainly the PC will always be in the mix in terms of viable platforms.