With a clear horse in the race, nVidia think current trends will place PC games software sales atop consoles.
In my heart, I am a PC gamer. My hands and arse are much more comfortable sitting in an office chair and tickling a mouse and keyboard versus a sweaty game controller. Watching the decline of the PC as the chief gaming platform among the young has been disappointing. Recent analysis of sales data by PC graphics processor manufacturer nVidia, however, seems to point to a heartening trend. If current growth continues, PC games are set to outsell their console brethren by fiscal year 2014 and nVidia cites ever-expanding GPU capability and the further growth of downloadable markets like Steam, Impulse and GOG.
In 2008, despite huge hits like WoW dominating the PC market, the picture was quite bleak. Console games earned nearly 50 percent more revenue than PC game titles did and PC software sales only made a modest climb in 2009. In 2010 though, PC games sales skyrocketed by almost $4 billion and independent research group DFC Intelligence predicts that growth will continue.
nVidia think that its GPUs are big reason why PCs are the platform of choice for so many of us. Granted, I like the idea of beefing up my system incrementally instead of waiting for the next console cycle, but I don't think that's the major strength that's driving growth.
Freedom is what PC gamers love. On your PC, you can purchase a game from anywhere you like, whether from a downloadable source or from the brick-and-mortar store. You are also free to communicate however you like with your gaming partners, whether by running Skype or Ventrilo in the background or using your chosen peripheral. On the console, you have to use their system and pay a premium price for their proprietary stuff.
But the real freedom comes from the open platform of the PC, allowing the customer to freely mod and adapt software or hardware to their liking. That kind of freedom drives innovation - how many times have you heard a game designer say that they learned their craft from modding? When you try to mod your console though, you end up getting sued.
I don't necessarily believe that the growth of PC game sales will continue rising quite so high, but I welcome the emergence of the so-called middle class of PC game publishers out there. Publishers like Paradox who know how to leverage the benefits of the platform into making games that utilize it best will hopefully drive the industry into a new Golden Age of PC Gaming.