Is PC Gaming Really Dying?

Is PC Gaming Really Dying?Some might argue that Steam is saving PC gaming, and for many users, this may be the absolute truth. Buying games from the cloud rather than having to deal with DVDs and CD keys is a big plus for any PC gamer. That said, not everyone prefers a keyboard and mouse.

Many gamers stick to the basics. A controller, a console, and a big-screen television are all someone needs to enjoy the latest and greatest games complete with HD graphics and multiplayer capability. The great debate between consoles and PCs has been waged since consoles came to the world. Now, more than ever, the differences between the two are becoming more of a matter of semantics and less about actual concrete variables.

Take the fundamentals of the two. Both consoles and PCs use very similar hardware and run on similar operating systems. Consoles can be connected to monitors while PCs can be hooked up to televisions. Many of these systems share the same games, with certain genres such as MMOs being more dominant on the PC.

Taking a look at statistics, the PC has been dominant in terms of total PC game sales since 2010 with projected earnings continuing to extend the PC’s lead over consoles in gross revenue.

One is optimized for a controller while the other is better controlled by a mouse and keyboard. Beyond that, they’re pretty much the same.

The latest buzz going around the gaming world is a rumored move by Valve to issue a special Steam client for big-screen televisions and standard gaming controllers. Essentially, your PC would become a game console much like the Xbox or PS3.

That said, there are plenty of reasons to be wary of choosing one platform over another. Game purchases rarely cross over between platforms. This means that you can’t exactly buy a game on Xbox and play it on the PS3 or PC. Meanwhile, a growing number of publishers are releasing PC games universally so you can play the same game on OS X, Windows, and even Linux without having to rebuy the game for the different platforms.

There is also the matter of functionality. The PC, while a capable gaming system, is also useful for a number of other tasks. You can browse the Web and run business applications between games on the PC. Consoles, on the other hand, are typically restricted to games, streaming media, and a basic browser.

PCs are superior in terms of graphics quality. Consoles, being fitted out to keep costs down, usually don’t offer the same shadow details or texture resolution as what you might find on a game made for a PC. Consoles, on the other hand, are fairly cheap by comparison.

You can get a modern console with all the benefits of guaranteed compatibility with all the games currently being made for the platform at a relatively small price. In fact, the starting price of around $200 makes it a much more economical solution than buying a gaming PC running Windows.

In the end, the choice comes down to personal preferences. Do you like enhanced visuals and extended functionality or do you just want something you can get your game on with? Are you more of a keyboard and mouse type of gamer or are controllers more your style? These answers may vary greatly from person to person, which only lends fuel to the heated debate. For now at least, the PC will remain every bit as much a key component to the gaming world as it has for the past two decades.

What about you? Do you believe PC gaming is dying in favor of consoles and other dedicated solutions?

PS3 Controller by Lucas Jeszke

Article Written by

Ryan Matthew Pierson has worked as a broadcaster, writer, and producer for media outlets ranging from local radio stations to internationally syndicated programs. His experience includes every aspect of media production. He has over a decade of experience in terrestrial radio, Internet multimedia, and commercial video production.

  • Qassim

    I thought we got over asking this question a few years ago? This is a good article, but the title is one that is often mocked in the games industry.

    “Both consoles and PCs use very similar hardware and run on similar operating systems.”

    They do? PCs today don’t use the PS3’s Cell architecture and the last mainstream PCs that were based on PowerPC (Like the Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii) were Apple’s Mac, and they’ve been gone for a while. Mainstream PCs we use today are all x86.

    The Xbox probably runs some form of Windows CE, and the PS3 & Wii some custom Unix based OS. But, really, from a user’s perspective (which you seem to be taking in this article) the operating systems are very different, and don’t really hold any resemblance to the operating systems we use on our PCs.

    • Ryan Matthew Pierson

      PowerPC processors used in PS3s are 64-bit processors much like the ones Intel makes. It isn’t exactly a world of difference. Both consoles and PCs have motherboards, RAM, a hard drive, and a graphics card. They both connect with peripherals via USB, networks via ethernet or Wi-Fi, and other similarities.

      A shell also doesn’t make the OS. You can make a Windows machine look almost exactly like an Xbox through an alteration to the shell without changing the core of the OS around very much. Yes, very different, but the fundamentals are there.

  • ClosetFuturist

    I’ve considered this many times in the past. It seems that games are a part of every devices app list. I do think it will happen but only because the modular desktop box is bound to become impractical. Even so; modern gaming laptops are monstrous in their own right. It may just be semantics.

  • Cameron Ryan

    It can’t be. I know plenty of people who prefer their PC over a PS3 or Xbox Console. And there is so many people on Steam as well as other Gaming Communities. Heck, all you see is PC gaming videos on YouTube’s Front page!

  • Eric Stephenson

    PC Gaming all the way its not going away at all Console gaming sucks.

    • Matthias Ho

      most of the console games are on the computer too and I highly doubt that you have tried all console games.

  • Jesse Aranda

    There are a many things about PC gaming that I prefer. One is the backwards comparability and support. I mean there was a steam update for a 13 year old game and If I remember correctly Blizzard still has their Starcraft 1 servers up. A game I played with my 3rd grade friend can be played on my newest machine. Yes you can buy some of the older games on XBL or Playstation store, but I don’t want to spend money on what I already own and if I have a big collection that’s a lot of money to spend on what I already have.

    Blizzard says WoW still has over 9.5 Million active users, which is a great example of a game that would be very difficult to play well on a controller (or the new trend of motion control) heck sometimes I wish I had more keys on my keyboard for my spells and combos. Not to mention the most preordered game of all time, Diablo 3. There are always going to be games that just play better on a PC, especially first person shooters (a little random but even on a horrible port, Saints Row 2 was better at shooting with a mouse and keyboard) I don’t see PC gaming ever being dead.

  • Kevin Wantz

    (this is going to be a long post so you might want to skip it)

    PC gaming is far from dying, in fact I would go as far to say that it is growing and becoming stronger. A lot of people have started to see what makes PCs more enjoyable when compared to modern day consoles and have started to move over to the platform giving it more people

    There are a lot of things a PC can do that a console can’t do and if done right a PC can be cheaper than a console. First of all yes a console CPU are becoming more powerful, however they are don’t have the same kick as a modern day PC CPU. The PS3 (the console with the most powerful CPU) has a 3.2GHz single core CPU with 8 SPEs, 6 of them are used for handling the processes needed to run the game, 1 is dedicated to running the Crossbar menu, and the last one is locked and can’t be used. A Modern PC CPU (in a stock machine) is a quad core that’s clocked in between 2.3 (Low-mid AMD) to 3.2GHz. To say that A console an PC is the same/similar would be like saying a Chevy Spark is similar to a Ford Mustang. Both have engines, but one has a V4 with 84 horsepower and the other has a V8 315 horsepower. One is simply stronger than the other (not the best example but it gets the point across hopefully).

    To say that PCs and consoles have similar Operating systems is true, however there are some major differences behind them. The PS3 runs an OS that is based on the Linux/Unix OS. Although similar it has its own, and complicated, programming style which makes it difficult to program and port for. Same with the 360. Although we don’t know what the OS is based off of, it still suffers from the same problem. This causes longer development times and more challenges to get something to work on several different plat forms. On top of that with every new console comes a different set of limitations with different Operating systems. A PC on the other had keeps it operating system relatively similar from generation to generation (although this isn’t always the case [XP to Vista as an example]).

    Because a console is stuck with the same hardware its entire life cycle it can quickly fall behind power wise. The 360 (console with the most RAM) only has 512MB of ram; Its OS only needs about 39MB to run, but is greatly stunted in what it can do in the middle and end of its life cycle. A PC on the other hand can be upgraded over time and keep up with the flow of technology. If done right you can spend $200-400 on parts that are 6 months to a year old (assuming that the power of a graphics card increases/doubles every 6 months) at the start of a consoles life cycle (Example: PS3 being $600 when first shipped) and you’ll be able to play games in high detail at the start and mid to low at the end of a cycle with 1-2 smaller upgrades throughout the life cycle (of course there will be some games that you won’t be able to play due to under-powered hardware).

    Yes what I’ve wrote sounds VERY fan-boyish and lack luster (not to mention somewhat off topic), but it shows why PC gaming is not dying and is (from what I believe and see) growing at an increasing rate.

    Very good article though.

  • Casey Frennier

    PC gaming is dead to me. I used to love PC gaming. I have less time to game now than I used to so I’m not willing to spend the money on expensive gaming hardware and frequent upgrades. Also, those pesky CD-keys and DRM make it impossible to buy and sell preowned games and in some cases the DRM is so crazy that it gets in the way of gameplay.

    Besides, most of the old games and franchises that got me into PC gaming are long dead anyway. Unless someone makes a new official MechWarrior game that’s a sim like they used to be I have no plans to buy a PC game ever again.

    I’m all about my Xbox 360 now and not having to upgrade anything since 2005 and buying used games on eBay for like $15.

    I imagine PC gaming will be around for a long time to come though. Not like portable game systems being killed off by smartphones. Nothing really duplicates the bleeding edge appeal of PC gaming.

  • Wolfee Darkfang

    I really hate it when people say PC gaming is dying, when we got tons of new games coming out every month, and just about all i use my PC for is gaming. Those people obviously don’t know jack about what they are talking about. I don’t even play any console games.

  • Lewis Wes Snior

    PC gaming is definitely on the rise while I think console gaming is increasing to an extent. I just think mobile gaming has grasped more attention putting the others in the background.

  • Apie74

    PC Gaming is not dying. It has an advantage to consoles when it comes to hardware. The Xbox360 and PS3 have hardware that is already 8-6 years old. In that time the smartphone didn’t exist and we walked with Nokia mobiles with black and white screens.

  • Kevin de Bie

    PC Gaming is far from dead. I still have never bought a console in my life, and looking at individual market shares the PC more then stacks up against consoles individually. Its also cheaper to get games for. The only real investment is a gaming rig, which these days is well in the range of anyone’s budget, and games can be had for so much less then their console counterparts of sales and systems like Steam. Even if you buy them brand spanking new, but pricing difference really get rather jarring in the older market. Console games rarely drop below 20 euro’s here, but I’ve bought entire franchises for (a lot) less then that on Steam.
    Steam is not saving it, merely evolving it.

  • Lewis

    God, LockerGnome, What is this?? Pc gaming is far from dying, It’s getting more popular. Are you trying to start a debate?

  • Matthias Ho

    What can a console do better than a PC? You can connect controllers to PCs and play them like that if you like but the consoles can’t use a mouse and keyboard for most of the games out there. The PC has better graphics but at a larger cost but, if people would take the time, they could build their own computer for the same cost the equals or surpasses the power of the console. The only reason why I have a console is because of the exclusive games but that’s not the computers fault, it’s just life.

  • Chad Mucklow

    “One is optimized for a controller while the other is better controlled by a mouse and keyboard.”

    Not strictly true. A vast amount of PC games being released at the moment are designed to offer a choice. Keyboard/mouse where the prompts say “Press F, Press Space etc”, or simply plug in a USB 360 pad (or get the wireless adapter) where the user interface changes to support the controller. (“Press A” “Move left stick” etc)

    In fact beyond MMOs and RTS games, I cant think of any modern games that don’t support the controller. CDProjekt even added support for it in The Witcher 2 when they gave us all the Enhanced Edition goodies after releasing the console version.

    The only case in PC gaming where control is an issue for me is when companies shove these awful console ports in front of us which are rendered almost unplayable with a keyboard/mouse because they never bothered to modify the UI to match.

    In fact I sincerely hope that the company behind the biggest recent console port shambles would simply… ahem… Prepare To Die.