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Written by Olin Coles   
Wednesday, 31 December 2008
Table of Contents: Page Index
Year In Review: 2008 Computer Hardware Industry Failure
2008: The Reason PC Lost
2009: Console Makes Gaming
Notebooks End Desktop Era
Final Thoughts and Conclusion

2009: Console Makes Gaming

In the last section I explained how status-quo software development over the past few years has led to the decline of hardware sales. In this section, I will detail why component hardware may have a difficult time returning to mainstream, even if software comes around.

Heading into 2008 there were three major console gaming platforms: Nintendo Wii, Microsoft XBOX 360, and Sony PlayStation 3. More than any other reason I received, the one that was most given for console purchases was "because I'm tired of upgrading my hardware every few months to play a game". In all honesty, that was probably true up until about 2007, at which point PC video games stopped demanding an upgrade (as evidenced by Battlefield 2142, Call of Duty 4, and later Crysis Warhead).


So it would seem that gaming consoles were gaining ground because of an old tradition of costly computer hardware upgrades. In reality, I can see why this is happening. If you release a new high-performance video card, the same $400 that buys just one computer hardware component could also buy an entire console gaming system and a few games. It makes perfect sense: if you like to play games, you can do it on a bigger screen for less money than if you played them on a PC.

But this is the only the tip of the console argument. It used to be that PC games held an advantage because of the heavy customizations and control configurations available. Flight simulation and racing games all had PC-only peripherals that kept enthusiasts attached to their computer. But even those days have been erased, since most consoles now offer at least two thumb pads and eight buttons on the bundled controllers, and the same flight yokes and racing wheels available for consoles.

Somehow, the PC industry, which has been restrained by lackluster software, has also let those same writers sell them out in favor of console development. It used to be that a game was written for PC, and ported over to console. Now it's the other way around. NVIDIA still has enough muscle to impose itself on a few writers, which results in at least a handful of PC-only video games, but everyone else wants their paycheck. AMD/ATI, who has never done anything to keep gaming adjoined to PC, has helped accelerate the situation and cut off the hand that feeds it. So now, there's no reason to be loyal to PC gaming when console offers the same experience (or better).

So with gamers quickly turning to consoles for their entertainment, what role does the desktop computer play anymore? Soon, it will be none, as the age of notebook computing has come upon us.


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