2015: Rise of the PC Gamer?

Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
| The video game industry has gone from a mole hill to a mountain in no time flat, Chris DiMarco is your Sherpa as you endeavor to scale Mount “Everquest”

2015: Rise of the PC Gamer?

While there are plenty of reasons for console gamers out there to be absolutely enrapt with 2015—it's the year in which plenty of big games are on their way, and likely, when E3 and the various PAX events fire up in earnest, we'll get a look at plenty more—there are some indications that suggest it won't be the consoles that have the best year at all, but rather, the PC. The recent Microsoft event talking up Windows 10 offered up some interesting, and some unusual concepts, and we may well be looking at something of a paradigm shift in 2015.

The concept of the “PC Master Race” was born as part of a review of 2008's title “The Witcher”, in which its writer, Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw, was originally intending to mock the “elitist attitude” seen by some PC gamers, particularly when same compare themselves to console gamers. Readers, meanwhile, appeared to take it literally and use it as a badge of honor. However, with the recent moves by Microsoft, it may well be that that's a badge that's about to get a lot less ironic and a lot more realistic.

Microsoft, in its PC capacity, has not meant great things for gamers. Windows 8 is still reviled on several fronts—did you know “Windows 8 Sucks” has its own Facebook page? It's got over 6,000 likes!--and there's plenty of skepticism around Windows 10, especially after the horrorshow that was Windows 8. But when Phil Spencer, the head of Xbox, is heard saying that “...the success of Windows 10 is critically important to this company,” you know something's up. And from the look of it, Windows 10 is going to be heavy on the PC gaming in order to keep interest.

What was most interesting about Spencer's remarks was that the company means to make PC gaming and console gaming “...kind of symbiotic with each other,” a concept that could mean disaster or useful bonuses, depending on where it goes. One big point that's already got people thinking about exciting developments is the ability to stream from the console to the PC. Some have wondered about the value here, but a recent comment in a news report kicked up a noteworthy point: many of the gamers of the 1980s, some of the biggest forces in hard-core gaming these days, have families. Young children. Which means said gamers are sharing televisions with the tots in the house, and that can make gaming a little tougher to get in on than it used to be. So with a development like this, gamers can route the produce of a console's output to a laptop or other computer, and play games that way, a development that keeps said gamers in the action.

That's a big step by itself, but it's not the only one; far from it. New features are emerging about the Windows 10 operating system, at last report, that should be absolutely huge for gamers. The game DVR, for a start, allowing gamers to record game sessions and share same—couple this on to Microsoft's recent clarification of rules for “Let's Play” and other video makers—and the boost to DirectX 12 add up to just the tip of the iceberg.

I'm of a mixed mind about this, myself. Windows 8 was indeed a huge problem. A very big problem. That thing is a misbegotten nightmare of an operating system and I wish it were never created. But to pin the hopes of Windows 10 on gaming? That seems risky. Oh, sure; PC gaming is a very big part of the PC ecosystem as a whole, but it's far from the only, and possibly not even the biggest. However, the one thing that really recommends this risky strategy is that, while PC gaming isn't the biggest part of the PC ecosystem, it is the part that's most likely to survive any move in the PC environment. Enterprise use is dropping like a rock; more and more users are turning to tablets and smartphones for everything from idle home surfing to business use, so trying to sell the PC in its old markets is a shaky prospect. But the PC gamers, meanwhile, need the PC; it's the only thing that's got the necessary firepower to play PC games. This could be a very smart move for Microsoft, and indeed, in some ways, the only smart move it could make. Only time will tell just how well it works out, but a bet-the-company strategy predicated on gamers may not be a bad idea after all.

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