Some Caveats

Admittedly, there are a few issues around PC gaming that can never be played down. First of all, price. We all know you can go out and buy a PC now for £299, but to get one that can actually play the kind of games we're talking about, you're going to have to pay £500 and upwards just for the system unit or at least £400 for the case and the components to put it all together yourself. For the price of a single GeForce 8800GTX graphics card, you could buy yourself a whole PS3! That's a pretty heavyweight commitment, and if you end up upgrading your graphics card every two or three years, you would arguably save money if you just bought one new console in each successive generation. Make no mistake: PC gaming is an expensive habit to get into.
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Crysis could be the main reason for expensive PC upgrades over the coming months.

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To be frank, upgrading is also a bit of a chore. Most of us are willing to buy a new graphics card or stick an extra GB of RAM in our system every so often, but swapping motherboards and CPUs is a real hassle. Do you really want to spend £300 on a new motherboard, graphics card, memory and CPU, and then spend several hours fitting and troubleshooting just to be able to play Crysis? Or would you rather splash out £260 or so on an Xbox 360 and a copy of Halo 3? Again, there's a level of commitment involved.

Finally, we can't forget that playing console games is nearly always a pain-free experience. You stick the game in the drive and it works. Sadly, not so the PC. Even now, despite repeated promises from Microsoft that Windows gaming will one day be as hassle-free as console gaming, there are still hardware or software issues that can prevent a game running or, in some cases, even installing. Nothing tempers the excitement of getting a new game home more than the knowledge that you could face several hours of tweaking settings or installing and uninstalling drivers before you actually play a single level. What's worse, without the strict quality compliance settings laid in place by Sony and Microsoft, we still get a worrying proportion of PC games released in a buggy or unfinished state, leaving us waiting for a patch to fix a range of critical bugs or enable features promised on the box. Microsoft's Games for Windows program is designed to fix this yet wasn't able to prevent a bug creeping into Microsoft's own PC conversion of Gears of War.
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The Xbox 360 might have had Gears of War first, but PC gamers get a more complete and visually enhanced conversion.

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On the other hand, don't forget that while PCs are a lot more expensive than consoles, PC games are significantly cheaper than their console equivalents. If I go online and order a copy of Call of Duty 4 on the Xbox 360 now, I won't get much change from £40. If I buy it on the PC, it will be anywhere between £10 and £15 cheaper. And why should I pay £40 for a copy of The Orange Box on the 360 when I can pay Valve $50 (around £25) and download it direct from Steam? Cheaper digital download services may be the future on the console platforms too, but on the PC that future is here right now. In short, even if you spend more cash on hardware right now, don't worry: you'll end up saving it on software in the long-term.

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