The first port of call for the average gamer tends to be a gaming console and the two hugely successful machines PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
As a result, smash hits on these consoles tend to be the biggest selling games year after year. You only need to take a closer look at the sales figures for the FIFA series of football games or Call of Duty to understand that these games, and their yearly new incarnations, are massive successes.
Yet when it comes to prize money and the sheer number of esports tournaments available to play in, PC games reign supreme. The likes of Dota 2, League of Legends, Counter Strike: Global Offensive, Hearthstone, StarCraft II, and Heroes of the Storm all tend to have far more tournaments and far greater amounts of prize money available than their console counterparts.
Why do PC games dominate in esports?
On the face of it, it is illogical that games developed initially on the PC should be the main titles in the esports world, especially when console games were designed specifically for online play.
Several years ago, many felt the development of specific gaming consoles, the original PlayStation and Xbox, would inevitably lead to the death of PC gaming.
Yet as any PC owner will know, one PC is very different to the next in terms of performance. In contrast, consoles are all generally very similar. Add to that the complexity of playing with a keyboard, joystick, or pad, and the issue of technical diversity is further clouded.
Ultimately, there are two key factors that make the PC-based games preferable to console games.
PC games’ longevity
At the moment, FIFA 18 and the latest Call of Duty are attracting plenty of interest for console gamers both in esports tournaments and in general online play. However, later this year, new versions of both these games will hit the shelves and players will move on.
The problem with this for esports gamers is that while one version of the game may require a certain set of skills, the next generation version may not be quite so suited to that player. Sure, the majority of skills learned on FIFA 18 or the current Call of Duty game may well be transferable to the newer version, but there will be mandatory development for the player.
In PC gaming though, games such as Dota 2, League of Legends, Counter Strike: Global Offensive, and StarCraft II have been around for many years now. Rather than release new versions of the game each year, their parent companies can receive investment from players completing micro-transactions in the game, allowing them access to certain skills or artifacts.
As a result, the company doesn’t have to release a new game every year to generate a new source of income. Instead, they release a series of updates and upgrades that tweak and enhance the game without rendering a player’s skills ineffectual.
This has been happening on the PC scene for many years now. It’s a much-preferred way to update a game for esports gamers. Players’ skills stay relevant for longer, and the game itself is constantly updated and improved over many years to provide a more challenging and satisfying experience.
PC Games accessibility
There is also no doubt PC gaming can be much cheaper than console gaming. You can pick up a decent PC nowadays for the same price as a console, but buying yourself a copy, say of CS:GO (which is available for around £15 now) will be cheaper than paying for a new version of Call of Duty or FIFA each year. Those can set players back between £50 and £80 depending on the version.
This makes PC games more accessible to more players, especially in those formative years when you start gaming. A young player is more likely to be able to afford a copy of Dota 2 than FIFA 19.
While console games may sell in the millions, they remain very much second best to PC games in the esports community.