This Is What's Killing Console Gaming

Your PlayStation is a monster, and its only purpose is to make you unhappy. Your Xbox? Well, that thing is just a vampire that comes to life at night and sucks your wallet dry. Console gaming has become increasingly tricky and difficult to justify as technologies shift and gamers' attitudes change, and after decades of superiority, your consoles are now showing signs of fading into whatever comes next. So, when all is said and done, what's really killing the lovable old console?

Season passes

If there's one great evil in the world of modern gaming, it's the season pass. While paid downloadable content, or DLC, often adds opportunities to make your games a little more interesting, these little bits of extra fun can add up to a pretty large price. In order to mitigate these cumulative costs, publishers began to release season passes, which discount the cost of all related content into one huge package—which is usually the cost equivalent of buying the game twice. Worse, lots of publishers started selling season passes without fully disclosing what's actually coming out. Is that extra costume for Sub-Zero really worth it?

Incomplete games

Because modern titles rely on day-one updates, shipping buggy or incomplete games has become normalized. Because fixing bugs and adding content post-release is so normal now, many companies ship out products that just aren't done yet, with the expectation that they can finish the game later on and every connected console (or PC) will automatically download the required updates. Unfortunately, downloadable corrections for games has created a culture of laziness for some developers. You can't correct your term paper once you've turned it in, so why is this an exception?

High costs

Gaming is not a cheap hobby, no matter how you slice it. Even if you score all of your games on the cheap six months after their release, you'll usually still need an Internet connection in order to enjoy the full scope of any game, as well as an HD television. If you break your controller in a fit of excitement or noob rage, that's another fifty bucks tacked onto the experience, and if you want to really experience the full breadth of a game, you should have picked up the limited edition box set months ago, as well as pay another fifty bucks for DLC now. It adds up quickly, but as many gamers say, "At least it's not crack."

No backward compatibility

Did we mention that gaming consoles are expensive too? When you're dropping a few hundred on a new system to play the newest Call of Duty, you'd reasonably expect that your PlayStation 4 would play older PlayStation games—but you'd be wrong. While some consoles support the games of their ancestors, it's becoming even more rare that you can enjoy your classic games without keeping your older systems around, and then you just have an unholy firetrap of wires and power strips. If you're gaming on a PC, this is rarely an issue, because some ultra-nerd somewhere has already made a patch between your OS and whatever your old game needs. Loading up a Windows 3.1 game on a Yosemite Macbook? Not even hard.

PC gaming specs

Invariably, people playing on PCs are operating at the peak of human accomplishment when it comes to video games. Your Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are sweet, but compared to the PC, you might as well be chilling on your Colecovision. Everyone has seen game mods on YouTube that look like a high-def video of an actual alien planet, or like someone brought a GoPro to World War I, but none of that is possible on your lowly console. Even though it's exclusively dedicated to gaming, that still doesn't mean that it's the best at what it does.

Lack of customization

The other problem with your console is that it's pretty much stuck with whatever it's been given at birth. Unless you're a daring modder, you're probably not going to be cracking open your PlayStation unless you're surgically implanting a new hard drive to handle all of your Assassin's Creed wallpapers. Consoles are not devices that are meant to be easily customized, but if you're gaming on a PC, your only limit is available technology. When you can swap out hard drives, RAM, and graphics cards that easily, you'll always be at the top of your game.


Back in 2002, fans of Namco's Soulcalibur had to choose between exclusive characters like Link, available only on GameCube, or Todd McFarlane's Spawn, available only on the original Xbox. Exclusive characters are just one element in a line of console-specific games, game modes, weaponry, maps, or any manner of game elements that sometimes lead gamers to just choose not to pick up the game at all. Is anyone really going to buy a Wii U just so they can play Bayonetta 2?


As consoles become more powerful, games are becoming larger. We've gone from open-continent to open-cosmos in the span of a few years, and that scale of gaming requires some real dedication. Unfortunately, adults with jobs and bills and stuff don't always have the time and energy to set aside for explore a game the size of Mars, and often opt for casual match-3 games that can be played on the train or toilet. They're enough to get a cheap, DLC-free fix, and still get enough sleep at night without the obligation of competitively leveling up or saving the world.


Gamers are a vocal bunch. Hop into the comments of any YouTube trailer or Facebook content announcement and you'll be facing some of the most violent, angry, vitriolic comments available this side of a presidential campaign. For every step forward that a game makes, there will be a few thousand Internet-savvy geeks there to tell the publisher why're wrong and deserve painful deaths. Salient points are few and far between, with a select few nerds calling for order and sanity, but the culture surrounding gaming is increasingly toxic for hundreds of psychological reasons that are too troubling to explore in one paragraph. If you want to enjoy console gaming, stay out of the comments section.


Finally, disappointment is a huge factor in the slow death of console gaming. Console games cost upwards of 50 to 60 bucks and come with the baggage of years of promises given during prolonged and transparent development phases, and it's only one in a hundred games that truly ends up being great. If you're a casual gamer, you download a game for free, play it until you're sick of it, and delete it. Because expectations are inextricably tied to how much you've paid for something, it's nearly impossible to escape a console game without some sense of disappointment.