If you are an avid PC gamer, you probably have seen many debates about the superiority of PC vs consoles. While each platform has its own advantages and limitations, what remains outside of this debate is mostly the cost of video games.
Comparing PC hardware and console performance with respect to their prices is the easiest way to conclude a winner but this excludes various other factors including the actual price of games.
In this post, we will discuss if PC games are cheaper than games available on the consoles and what exactly are the reasons behind it.
Are Video Games Cheaper on PC than Consoles?
The simple answer is YES. There are many such examples of premium AAA titles that are currently far cheaper on the PC than they are on consoles. If you are considering a previous-gen console like the PlayStation 4 or even the latest-gen PlayStation 5, the cost of video games on PC is still considerably cheaper.
These are just a few examples where the games are available on both platforms. However, there are many games that are exclusive to each console as well as PC with the latter having a great advantage due to the availability of many sellers and distributors.
But let’s talk about why games are cheaper on PC.
Consoles compete with each other, however, on the PC, it’s distributor vs distributor. There are several game distributors like Steam, Epic, Origin, Ubisoft, etc. that compete with each other directly. On consoles, you have exclusive games that reduce the competition greatly. So, unless a game is common between two consoles, the prices will be higher due to monopoly.
On PC, not only the distributors but dozens of resellers are also competing with each other to provide the cheapest games. This forces them to reduce the game prices significantly.
PC video game distributors and resellers are known to run hot deals on a variety of video games several times a year. For example, Steam runs sales more than 5 times every year which includes seasonal sales as well as special event sales such as Halloween and Lunar New Year sales.
The discounts can be pretty heavy even on the most expensive popular titles that allow gamers to buy a lot of games for the price of a few. On the other hand, consoles do have some sales but they aren’t that frequent and don’t provide big discounts.
While we are against piracy, many users opt for free games through piracy websites. There are multiple websites that provide cracked games for absolutely free. As soon as the latest title goes live, its cracked version is almost guaranteed to be found on such sites in a few days.
So, not only do gamers have the option to pay less on deals but they also have the option to play the games for free. However, it should be kept in mind that your PC can become a victim of malware through pirated games and hence, you should always go with the official distributors and resellers.
Lastly, the biggest factor contributing to the costlier games on consoles is the publishing fee the developers have to pay. Unlike PC, console game developers have to pay a big cut to console manufacturers like Sony or Microsoft.
Sony charges a 30% fee on subsequent sales while Microsoft can charge several thousand dollars for publishing a single game. For instance, if a developer wants to publish an indie game, Microsoft will charge at least $3000. Furthermore, as reported by Screenrant, Sony can charge up to $25,000 to feature a game for promotion which is separate from the 30% revenue cut.
That said, game developers have a hard time publishing games on consoles compared to the PC, particularly the smaller developers.
On the other hand, publishing a game on a PC is far cheaper as there are various platforms to sell a game on. We have Epic which allows publishers to release their games and then we have the giant platform called Steam which is perhaps the easiest route for major as well as smaller developers to show off their newly developed games.
The publishing fee? it’s just $100 one-time on Steam and the rest of the revenue is yours. So, it kinda makes sense why Steam holds the highest number of games.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it better to buy a game on PC or console?
The answer goes in favor of the current platform you own. However, if you own both and want to decide to buy a game on either one, we would personally recommend going for the PC one if your PC is superior in performance.
Why console games are more expensive than PC?
It’s mainly due to low competition and higher publishing fees.
Is it cheaper to play on PC?
Once you buy a game on a PC, you no longer have to pay a dime if you are playing online. However, consoles like Xbox and PS require you to buy their monthly or yearly subscription to play online.
Do more people play on PC or console?
The number of players on PC is far higher than on all consoles combined. According to Newzoo, there are almost 1.1 billion players on the PC and 611 million players on consoles as of 2022.
The reasons for video games being cheaper on PC are many. We have explained the most important ones above but this does not negate the fact that there are fewer bugs and issues with the games on consoles than on the PC. Also, the hardware performance for the same price gives consoles a big advantage that attracts budget gamers.