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State of PC Gaming


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I was making fun at my own expense. It's not is it, far from it. However there are some big publishers out there which keep treating the PC platform as some sort of afterthought. Sale issues aside, it's frustrating as someone who likes to play their games on the PC.

They treat it like an afterthought because it is one.

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I sort of accidentally got into PC gaming. I used to play the occasional mmorpg when I was younger but was always more of a console kid.. Anyway, I was purchasing a new desktop computer since I do a lot of photo/video editing and my old computer just wasn't up for it. So I get this really mid-level gaming PC, and it works great.. a friend tells me how wonderful steam has gotten and I give it a go. I purchase a few titles like Mass Effect and BioShock and I get hooked. I had a 650 gtx that came with the desktop and it was okay.. but I surprised myself, as soon as the PS4 and XBO starting coming out, instead of purchasing one of those first, I went and got myself a newer graphics card and PSU for my pc.

That's when I knew I became a true fan of PC gaming. Granted, I still play PS4 titles due to certain console exclusives but mainly I use my PC for gaming nowadays. And with a GTX 970, it works pretty well for most modern titles.

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If you're a Stereoscopic 3D nut like me then PC gaming offers several solutions to play most games in 3D that were never designed for 3D, Mad max in 3D, Witcher 3 in 3D, The vanishing of Ethan carter in 3D etc ect.

Is that purely through software solutions (i.e. not the nVidia box you can buy)? What's the best way to do it?

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Is that purely through software solutions (i.e. not the nVidia box you can buy)? What's the best way to do it?

Yes a software solution. Tridef3D is what I use, they have a 14 day trial.

Here is a gallery of screenshots of some of the games I have played using Tridef3D excluding the Trine games. Just fullscreen your browser and enable 3D on your TV/monitor to view.

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I honestly think PC gaming is in a bit of a precarious position right now, for a variety of reasons, even though it's probably the best it has ever been at the moment (especially with Japanese developers all suddenly deciding to get into the PC porting game).

Steamspy has exposed the low sales figures of many games. Sure, there are still many successes, both AAA and indie. And, broadly speaking, cross-platform AAA games aren't really the problem - while PC sales for AAA games are far lower than their console equivalents, they are high enough to be justify ports and are therefore sustainable. But there is an absolute flood of titles, and the majority of them do not sell enough copies to be sustainable. In recent years, the number of games has exploded and sales have stagnated. There are many quality, mid-range, reasonably high profile titles that sell very badly. Steamspy suggests that the PC platform seems to revolve around a very small amount of "whales" who buy a lot of titles, which is concerning about the sustainability of the platform, especially as games budgets continue to rise.

It feels like the audience is getting fragmented again. A few years ago, it felt like there was a single platform for most games: Steam, Windows (first XP and then 7) and the 360 controller. Now most developers seem to be pushing their own stores to reduce Valve's cut, and there's increasing pressure to support three platforms (PC, Mac, Linux) and Valve is getting into the controller game. This is not good - this makes it a pain for the audience and requires more effort for developers.

Steam is increasingly bloated and has stagnated. Valve has focused on little-used features (e.g. Big Picture Mode, Linux support, streaming), while much of the core desktop Steam user experience has either not changed or got worse.

Two of the less talked about causes that fuelled PC platform growth are changing. First, the previous console generation, allowing multiplatform titles to run better than consoles on even modest machines, is changing due to next-gen. Secondly, after a long period of PC hardware prices falling, prices seem to have started rising again, especially in terms of graphics cards (e.g. it's pretty clear Nvidia badly crippled the 960 to avoid cannibalising brisk 970 sales). AMD's struggles are also worrying in that regard, as an Intel/Nvidia monopoly would almost certainly be a bad thing for consumers, and Intel/Nvidia's increasing dominance has created a vicious cycle for AMD, spurred on by some slightly dubious business practices (e.g. Nvidia successfully pushing middleware that's designed to cripple AMD, or AMD basically being forced to write DX12 themselves due to Microsoft's reluctance to introduce changes that benefit AMD over Intel/Nvidia).

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Two of the less talked about causes that fuelled PC platform growth are changing. First, the previous console generation, allowing multiplatform titles to run better than consoles on even modest machines, is changing due to next-gen. Secondly, after a long period of PC hardware prices falling, prices seem to have started rising again, especially in terms of graphics cards (e.g. it's pretty clear Nvidia badly crippled the 960 to avoid cannibalising brisk 970 sales). AMD's struggles are also worrying in that regard, as an Intel/Nvidia monopoly would almost certainly be a bad thing for consumers, and Intel/Nvidia's increasing dominance has created a vicious cycle for AMD, spurred on by some slightly dubious business practices (e.g. Nvidia successfully pushing middleware that's designed to cripple AMD, or AMD basically being forced to write DX12 themselves due to Microsoft's reluctance to introduce changes that benefit AMD over Intel/Nvidia).

On your first point, I'm not sure - it seems quite apparent that the current gen consoles are less powerful at this point compared to PCs than their last gen counterparts were at the same point. I agree that the cost of bulding a good PC seems to have gone up quite a bit though, at least compared to the awesome laptop I bought for £300 4 years ago which I just now need to replace with a desktop. That wouldn't get me a remotely passable PC (forget about a laptop, I don't want one anyway) right now, even spending a big chunk more would basically get me a current console-equivalent system.

It has me planning to go back to consoles in the meantime instead of replacing my PC (which can still run most games but can't handle any modern AAA stuff), then replacing the PC once they pull away from the consoles more in two years.

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On your first point, I'm not sure - it seems quite apparent that the current gen consoles are less powerful at this point compared to PCs than their last gen counterparts were at the same point.

Whoops, I meant the long previous generation - the fact that it lasted for 10 years meant that for a good 5 of those years, PC performance was easily above the home consoles even on modest machines and meant that people didn't need to continually upgrade their machines to play the latest games, helping to fuel the popularity of the platform. I think console stagnation was a huge and often overlooked benefit to the PC as a platform, even though it meant less bleeding-edge games.
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I honestly think PC gaming is in a bit of a precarious position right now, for a variety of reasons, even though it's probably the best it has ever been at the moment (especially with Japanese developers all suddenly deciding to get into the PC porting game).Steamspy has exposed the low sales figures of many games. Sure, there are still many successes, both AAA and indie. And, broadly speaking, cross-platform AAA games aren't really the problem - while PC sales for AAA games are far lower than their console equivalents, they are high enough to be justify ports and are therefore sustainable. But there is an absolute flood of titles, and the majority of them do not sell enough copies to be sustainable. In recent years, the number of games has exploded and sales have stagnated. There are many quality, mid-range, reasonably high profile titles that sell very badly. Steamspy suggests that the PC platform seems to revolve around a very small amount of "whales" who buy a lot of titles, which is concerning about the sustainability of the platform, especially as games budgets continue to rise.It feels like the audience is getting fragmented again. A few years ago, it felt like there was a single platform for most games: Steam, Windows (first XP and then 7) and the 360 controller. Now most developers seem to be pushing their own stores to reduce Valve's cut, and there's increasing pressure to support three platforms (PC, Mac, Linux) and Valve is getting into the controller game. This is not good - this makes it a pain for the audience and requires more effort for developers.

Is it not much more cheaper to release your game on PC compared to a console release? Kickstarter games for example are targeted at PC by default then usually have quite large stretch goals for a console release. There have been quite a couple of releases on PC that are absent on console like Codemasters rally game and Dragons Dogma althought if the numbers stack up are likely to get ported down the line.

There was even mention of quite a few devs moving from what was usually lucrative mobile game development to PC. Sure, not every title is going to be a million seller but the advantage of PC is that games usually have a long sales tail which can be bolstered by Steam sales or other digital store sales or bundle sites.

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Steamspy has exposed the low sales figures of many games.

It's the other way around. Steamspy has exposed the high sales figures:

http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1105286

In a low key month like August 2015, 60 million games were sold on Steam with an average price of $10.77. This does not include F2P and other some such. That is an absolutely insane number if you stop to think about it. It's hard to compare it directly to a console, since prices are different (often lower on Steam) and profit margins different (often higher on Steam), but in pure numbers it's possible that Xbone still hasn't sold that many games in all it's lifetime. And that's a single month.

There's a reason we see so many developers, even Japanese, embracing Steam these days.

Are there titles that don't sell well? Absolutely, but competition is high on Steam with not only thousands of games in the current library, but many released every single day. And the number of releases have been growing for years (this year more than 2000 games will be released on Steam).

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Is it not much more cheaper to release your game on PC compared to a console release? Kickstarter games for example are targeted at PC by default then usually have quite large stretch goals for a console release. There have been quite a couple of releases on PC that are absent on console like Codemasters rally game and Dragons Dogma althought if the numbers stack up are likely to get ported down the line.

The barriers to entry are lower and there's more flexibility on PC.

There was even mention of quite a few devs moving from what was usually lucrative mobile game development to PC. Sure, not every title is going to be a million seller but the advantage of PC is that games usually have a long sales tail which can be bolstered by Steam sales or other digital store sales or bundle sites.

I'd argue that's more about about the mobile market being such a disaster that the PC begins to look at least superficially appealing, not necessarily the strength of PC itself.

And, yes, long-tail exists on PC to a greater degree than the consoles, especially for AAA and well-regarded games, and is probably a key part behind the increased prevalence of PC ports. And bundles exist, but they really aren't exactly a huge revenue centre in themselves.

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I think console stagnation was a huge and often overlooked benefit to the PC as a platform, even though it meant less bleeding-edge games.

I agree, but isn't it still that way? Ever since this generation began tech sites like Digital Foundry have been comparing the next gen consoles to low budget PCs and been trying to determine how much you need to spend to get to PC hardware at that level. And it always ends up being some low end entry level card. A few weeks ago they demonstrated yet again how an i3/750 Ti could deliever console level quality in MGSV, though it needed to be overclocked to keep up with PS4.

Mad Max gave pretty much the same result, and it's been the same with most games this gen. Sometimes the i3/750 Ti performs a little better, sometimes a little worse.

vPZYMdJ.jpg

If you were to list consoles on that table it would be something like avg fps 29-30, lowest 26 (or something like that). Most gaming PCs have very little trouble keeping up with next gen consoles unlike last generation.

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The thing I find most daunting about PC gaming is finding/buying the right parts. I'll probably want to upgrade my graphics card and RAM soon (I don't play a lot of modern intensive games, but 6GB and a GTX 660Ti(?) aren't gonna last forever) but I'll be damned if I know what's best to get and from where. Dodgy fakes to watch out for on Amazon, different brands selling the same thing, will it fit my motherboard, do I need a bigger PSU, etc, etc...

I know I can get good advice around here, but I can't imagine having to seek advice for buying a console!

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Same here. I can say I've been building my own PCs for nearly 20 years, but not tinkered with them like someone might with a classic car. Right now my 'rig' is nearly 3 years old, but the graphics card is a 570 from 2011. I'm scared that buying an up-to-date graphics card would fry my system. And I don't particularly want to build a whole new system. To be honest once the case goes on that's it, I don't really want to have to get stuck in again.

Having said all that, PC gaming is definitely better now games scale better to different hardware, and don't aim for the top 10% of machines like they did 10-15 years ago. It's easier to enjoy a game now on medium settings and not have it look like it came from 1995.

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Phew, well I'll probably go for a cheaper card, maybe the 800 range, and that'll be even better.

Did see something about some company wanting to establish a standard for truly modular PCs where you snap boxes together and aren't pissing about with cables and jumpers and the like. it's a nice dream but can't see that happening without some major effort. That would really revolutionise PC gaming.

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There is no 800 range outside of laptops, so that might be a little difficult ;) Edit - what futureshock said

The naming convention for cards should make figuring out what's a worthwhile upgrade reasonably straightforward too - though certainly not 100% accurate, the rule of thumb with their numbering goes that for ever generation you go up, you can drop down one digit in the tens column and end up with a roughly equivalent value.

That is to say that a 570 would be roughly equivalent to a 660, which is roughly equivalent to a 750 and so on. Just remember that the 900 generation is the follow up to the 700s. So you could spend around £150 on a 960 and have a nice little bump in performance along with a significant boost in efficiency; or a 970 would give you a big jump in performance, but would also gouge a significant chunk out of your wallet.

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It's the other way around. Steamspy has exposed the high sales figures:

http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1105286

In a low key month like August 2015, 60 million games were sold on Steam with an average price of $10.77. This does not include F2P and other some such. That is an absolutely insane number if you stop to think about it. It's hard to compare it directly to a console, since prices are different (often lower on Steam) and profit margins different (often higher on Steam), but in pure numbers it's possible that Xbone still hasn't sold that many games in all it's lifetime. And that's a single month.

There's a reason we see so many developers, even Japanese, embracing Steam these days.

Are there titles that don't sell well? Absolutely, but competition is high on Steam with not only thousands of games in the current library, but many released every single day. And the number of releases have been growing for years (this year more than 2000 games will be released on Steam).

That doesn't really prove that much other than a lot of games were sold (and the previous thread it links to gave total sales for 4 months previously as 'only' 107m games) - so that 60m for just August isn't typical throughout the year.

The 15th highest-selling new release only sold 18,000 copies. That isn't too healthy a number for a $20 game.

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Same here. I can say I've been building my own PCs for nearly 20 years, but not tinkered with them like someone might with a classic car. Right now my 'rig' is nearly 3 years old, but the graphics card is a 570 from 2011. I'm scared that buying an up-to-date graphics card would fry my system. And I don't particularly want to build a whole new system. To be honest once the case goes on that's it, I don't really want to have to get stuck in again.

Having said all that, PC gaming is definitely better now games scale better to different hardware, and don't aim for the top 10% of machines like they did 10-15 years ago. It's easier to enjoy a game now on medium settings and not have it look like it came from 1995.

The Geforce 570 uses about 330w of power at load. The modern equivalent, the GTX970, uses about 300w :)

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The thing I find most daunting about PC gaming is finding/buying the right parts. I'll probably want to upgrade my graphics card and RAM soon (I don't play a lot of modern intensive games, but 6GB and a GTX 660Ti(?) aren't gonna last forever) but I'll be damned if I know what's best to get and from where. Dodgy fakes to watch out for on Amazon, different brands selling the same thing, will it fit my motherboard, do I need a bigger PSU, etc, etc...

I know I can get good advice around here, but I can't imagine having to seek advice for buying a console!

If you didn't already know which one you wanted, you'd have a hell of a time choosing between a PS4 and an Xbox One. You'd need to examine all of the exclusive games (released and unreleased) the controller, the monthly costs/freebies etc. Not to mention which of the two closed platforms your friends were playing on. Then you could go super anal and work out which one had the best performance in multiplatform games (hint: neither). Then you'd have to investigate who was selling the best bundles, if a price cut or a hardware refresh was looming, etc. As with all these things you start with the one or two things you're most sure of and narrow down from there.

When it comes to graphics cards I'd suggest budget is your biggest defining factor. As an IT monkey, I always get asked things like "how much does a good laptop cost" or "how much is a good graphics card", which is essentially asking how long a piece of string is. "How much string can I get for £200" makes a lot more sense.

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That doesn't really prove that much other than a lot of games were sold (and the previous thread it links to gave total sales for 4 months previously as 'only' 107m games)

107 million in four months is huge, considering free stuff isn't counted in that number. That would be more than 300 million games sold every year. That's better than any console in history (if done consistently). Of course that says nothing about what they sell for or profit margins and so on, but if there's any doubt about the numbers being good, just follow the developers. If support is increasing that's as clear a signal as any.

Some weeks back when the Gunvolt games were announced for Steam, a video with Inafune announcing the game for Steam appeared, adressing that version directly. How much attention would Japanese developers give the PC previously? It's definitely growing and we see that in every metric we measure by: Number of users online, total number of active users, number of games released per year, number of developers supporting the platform. It keeps growing and it wouldn't do that if the numbers weren't there to back it up.

The 15th highest-selling new release only sold 18,000 copies. That isn't too healthy a number for a $20 game.

It's obvious why that in itself doesn't say anything about the overall health of the service, right?
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If you didn't already know which one you wanted, you'd have a hell of a time choosing between a PS4 and an Xbox One. You'd need to examine all of the exclusive games (released and unreleased) the controller, the monthly costs/freebies etc. Not to mention which of the two closed platforms your friends were playing on. Then you could go super anal and work out which one had the best performance in multiplatform games (hint: neither). Then you'd have to investigate who was selling the best bundles, if a price cut or a hardware refresh was looming, etc. As with all these things you start with the one or two things you're most sure of and narrow down from there.

Then once you decide on a console, you'll find yourself wondering why a 10gb download from the official store is only tickling your fibre internet at 50kbps, so it's off to google to search through sites and finally discover that you have to change your PS4's DNS settings to get full speed downloads. After that, you start your game (Until Dawn in my case) and discover that the devs didn't even think to include inverted camera controls as an option. Barbarians.

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Steam is increasingly bloated and has stagnated. Valve has focused on little-used features (e.g. Big Picture Mode, Linux support, streaming), while much of the core desktop Steam user experience has either not changed or got worse.

Just off the top of my head, they redid the store for desktop users, added tags/music/family sharing/broadcasting, support for multiple Steam directories, added the "follow" feature etc. Paid mods too, ha. If it's the UI you think is old hat, install a skin? http://www.metroforsteam.com/is a good one.

Then once you decide on a console, you'll find yourself wondering why a 10gb download from the official store is only tickling your fibre internet at 50kbps, so it's off to google to search through sites and finally discover that you have to change your PS4's DNS settings to get full speed downloads. After that, you start your game (Until Dawn in my case) and discover that the devs didn't even think to include inverted camera controls as an option. Barbarians.

Ah yes, Until Dawn took about 18 hours to download for me :(

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Just off the top of my head, they redid the store for desktop users, added tags/music/family sharing/broadcasting, support for multiple Steam directories, added the "follow" feature etc. Paid mods too, ha. If it's the UI you think is old hat, install a skin? http://www.metroforsteam.com/is a good one.

Oooooh cheers Moz, haven't seen that skin before but will deffo give it a go now.

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