Ditch PC gaming for now and buy an Xbox
The global semiconductor crisis has put PC gaming in a tough spot. Components, especially graphics cards, have seen exponential price increases and shortages for entire years at this point. While analysts predict the worst of these shortages will end for consumer tech by the end of 2022, there’s no guarantee that will happen. And every day you wait for is another day when great games pass you by, unplayed. In short, it’s time to cut your losses, buy a cheap (compared to other technologies) console like the Xbox Series S and start playing.
That’s not to say you should give up PC gaming entirely. It’s just not worth missing modern games in an effort to survive an unpredictable and ongoing situation.
NVIDIA’s Phantom of the Opera
The original impetus for this article was the news that, supposedly, the launch of the RTX 3090 Ti is near. Here’s the thing: virtually every GPU launch in recent memory has been a case of “if a graphics card launches but no unit exists anywhere on planet Earth, has it really been released?” For examples of this, look no further than the RTX 3080 12GB, RTX 2060 12GB, or if you’re feeling really masochistic, just go to any major retailer (Newegg, Best Buy, etc.) and try to buy a GPU. Either you’ll be faced with “out of stock” or you’ll see MSRPs so inflated they could fuel an armada of blimps.
And that’s not even the worst for PC gamers. While all facets of the tech industry are affected by the chip shortage, DIY PC builders are struggling the most because they don’t get component priority (unlike, say, a big company like Microsoft ), and they have to compete with PC-specific issues, such as cryptocurrency miners, which exacerbate supply issues. These factors have combined to produce an environment where older GPUs barely able to outclass the processing power of an Xbox 360 still manage to command substantial sums on sites like eBay. The market is out of control.
Meanwhile, more user-friendly options like the Xbox Series S are hitting shelves with increasing regularity. Sure, getting a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X is always a tall order, but Series S? It’s a temporary $300 fix to keep you playing modern games while you wait for the PC market to stabilize. Time is money, and waiting months or even years for the best graphics cards, processors, and memories to come back to normal on the market will likely cost you over $300 in long-term enjoyment.
Alternatives to consoles
If you absolutely can’t support consoles under any circumstances, there are still options – sort of. One goes the pre-built PC route. It used to cost more than buying your own parts and doing the hard work firsthand, but now what was the “premium expense” option is usually much cheaper than trying to source parts à la carte. Not to mention that sites like Newegg have decided to prioritize components for those who go the predefined route.
In other words, even if you don’t want a complete spare parts system and a pre-assembled machine in the mail, it may actually be as (or cheaper) than buying the one part you care about. . Even then, the pre-builts don’t avoid the realities of chip shortages, which means PC gaming as a whole is just a bit more expensive than usual right now. Consoles might still be the cheapest route for those with an outdated platform and desperate to get back into gaming.
But wait, there’s another option available to you: Steam Deck. Sure, this product is suffering from massive demand and limited supply, but at least it has the power of Valve behind it, much like how Xbox are able to cope with shortages thanks to the weight of the game. Microsoft industry. If you’re fine with a Switch-like setup for your PC gaming endeavors, this is a wallet-friendly option that may even be your ticket to a portable Windows experience.
You can also opt for less orthodox solutions like GeForce Now if you don’t mind harnessing the power of the cloud to fuel your PC gaming goals. Just note that any non-local solution has potential networking drawbacks that many would say make for an unacceptable substitute for owning the proper hardware.
PC gaming will rise again, hopefully one day
It’s time to stop the suffering. Ignore those “NVIDIA is releasing a new GPU that no one can actually get” messages. Ignore the bad news that crypto miners are grabbing all the best parts for themselves and scalping online markets dry.
Even I, as a hardcore PC fan who will probably never buy an Xbox again, have to admit that for those who missed the threshold to get into PC gaming at a decent price, maybe it’s time to consider alternatives. Especially considering a chilling hypothesis: what if NVIDIA, AMD, Intel and co. decide to keep prices permanently high since consumers have proven that they are ready to pay dearly? There is no guarantee that sky-high prices will come down in the near future, even if shortages ease by the end of 2022.
Don’t wait for a better future that may never come, make the most of today. The waiting game on PC has proven to be one of diminishing returns, and you deserve better than that.