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The Future of PC Gaming

2010 April 7
by Dave

While talking to a friend of mine today, I came to a really interesting notion about the future of PC Gaming.  Specifically, I continue to see a decline in support from developers on the PC side … but why?

Many years ago, I visited the Indianapolis 500 racetrack and took a tour that really congealed my impressions about how PC gaming is important to the video game industry as a whole … While many think of the fun and sport of racing, what struck me as interesting was this:

Innovation and technological advancement has been a hallmark of the Speedway since it was built. In fact, when originally constructed in 1909, it was designed to be a test track and proving grounds for what at the time was a rapidly expanding auto industry in Indiana.

At the first Indy 500 in 1911, race winner Ray Harroun’s car used a device for the first time that has since become standard equipment on all cars – the rear-view mirror.

In the following years, dozens of innovations, many related to safety, were introduced at the Indy 500. They include the mandatory use of helmets by drivers and later by crew members (due to an incident at the Indy 500), magnetic inspection of key safety-related parts like steering wheel shafts, a dedicated emergency medical center, fire-retardant racing suits and roll – Survival, Innovation, and the Indy 500 (Yahoo Sports)


Ok let’s review … “innovation and technical advancement”.  In fact, the tour guide that led my experience with the racetrack went further to say that the Indy 500 (and competitive racing in general) literally drives the automotive industry by merit of safety, efficiency, and performance. 

I’m not going to make this a link-fest, so let’s suffice it to say that I have a few philosophies about why PC gaming is very important to the Video Game Industry as a whole:

  1. PCs push the envelope of “what’s possible” by introduction of new hardware
  2. The keyboard/mouse combination allows for finer control over the game interface
  3. Gamers are able to provide “user generated content” to existing works, which deepens the gaming experience and provides longevity to solid titles

What’s sad is that developers and gamers alike are moving more steadily to embrace consoles for obvious reasons … they’re cheaper to own and have standard equipment to develop against.   Also, PCs tend to be a “moving target” as one article states even from back in 2001.  I think, however, that the development platform used to create games should to a large degree shield developers from this, but there are always going to be issues by merit of complexity. 

The Future of PC Gaming

While some people thing it’s a dying industry, I really want to challenge both gamers and developers alike to think differently. 

PCs are changing … thanks to companies like Intel and NVIDIA, we have multi-core processors and graphic capabilities that continue to blow my mind.  For instance, playing Battlefield: Bad Company 2 in FULL 3D was a breathtaking experience at PAX.  It’s truly immersive and perhaps won’t be available to console gamers for many, many years.


What’s important to recognize is that Console and PC gaming should be different.  The difference between the same title running on the XBOX 360 using ca. 2005 technology vs. a brand new Alienware Aurora should be breathtakingly different (such as the experience I mentioned above with 3D gaming for Battlefield: Bad Company 2.  Unfortunately with many titles, PC performance is sub-par and worse than consoles!  This isn’t laziness either … it’s “bean counter” mentality driving development.  Shameful!

I personally believe that the future of gaming is at a “fork”.  PC gaming is more prone to complex RTS games, simulations, MMOs, and FPS games which target enthusiasts (3D gaming, etc.).  As such, games like this need more “oomph” and we are ok with paying for the experience.

To me, consoles are for quality gaming without hassle and should be inexpensive as to reach a broader market.  I want (nay, need!) to throw a disk in, grab a controller, and have a good time … those of you parent-gamers out there know what I’m talking about here!.  In this case, graphics and performance don’t have to be bleeding-edge and not breaking my budget is a bonus.


The technology that drives the market starts here and migrates to other systems:  The guts of your next console depend a lot on what AMD, ATI, Intel, or NVIDIA are researching today and release for the PC. Clearly, developers “follow the money”, but what’s tending to happen is that PC gamers get shafted by low-quality console ports (like Modern Warfare 2). 

Even with higher relative development costs (and higher costs to gamers), PCs will always be more powerful than consoles and offer more potential to the gamer.  Like a fine wine or 20-year scotch compared to a quality domestic beer, consumers do pay for perceived quality.  PC is vitally important to the video game industry and shouldn’t be kicked to the curb … that’s why I continue to make my wish-list for my next upgrade at the local MicroCenter!

2 Responses leave one →
  1. April 7, 2010

    Unfortunately the FPS industry is migrating away from user submitted modifications. Creating closed systems that do not allow for customization of any kind. Whit this – the removal of dedicated server support is really driving the nails into the coffin. It is my understanding that the reason for this is to minimize cheating, and to ensure that the player experience is the same no matter what server you are connecting to. This is why I was thrilled to see that Bad Company 2 supported 3rd party servers and allows for gaming communities to support the game. Mods allow for replay value – Something that is hard to find in most console games.

    From a competitive stand point, Wouldn’t you as a developer want your latest games to be even considered for league game play?

  2. Christopher Crossen permalink
    June 26, 2011

    As far as I’m concerned, consoles have always “leached” off of the innovation of other methods of video gaming. In the beginning, innovation was in the arcades. Consoles “mimicked” this experience in the home. Eventually when the arcades died off (and consoles were a big contributor to this), they then started stealing the innovation of games on the PC. Console gamers everywhere should hope and pray that PC gaming doesn’t die, because where will consoles get the good ideas from then? Think about this….

    First Person Shooters (FPS), were NOT first introduced on home consoles. (PC)
    Online multiplayer gaming was NOT first introduced on home consoles. (PC)
    Platformers were NOT first introduced on home consoles (Arcade)
    Overhead and side scrolling shooters were NOT first introduced on home consoles (arcade)
    Real Time Strategy (RTS) games were NOT first introduced on home consoles (PC)
    3D polygon technology in gaming was NOT first introduced on home consoles (arcade)
    Fighting games (think Street Fighter) were NOT first introduced on home consoles (arcade) MMORPGs were NOT first introduced on home consoles (PC)
    DLC and Digital Distribution was NOT first introduced on home consoles (PC)

    This list goes on…..

    Now I’m not saying that there hasn’t been “any” innovation on home consoles. They did spawn the “controller”. Which by the way, is LONG overdue for a serious redesign. After playing with a keyboard and mouse, I cringe at the thought of picking up a controller.
    And the side scrolling platformer did reach “perfection” on the home console (think Super Mario Bros 3 [arguably]). Battery assisted save was introduced on the home console (The legend of Zelda).

    So the home console hasn’t been a total leech, but it’s “borrowed” more ideas that it’s invented.

    When I look at modern console gaming as it is right now, it’s painfully obvious that the majority of what’s “cool” on home consoles right now, has come from the PC.

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