Bragging Rights: PC Gaming Market Maintains Sales Lead Over Consoles

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IreMinMon

We could just plug the controllers and TVs into our PCs and played. Programming those games for each platform separately is worth it only because people actually pay money for it. We could pay less money for it and save some engineers for better work. How hard is it to connect your TV to your PC?

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RUSENSITIVESWEETNESS

It seems the editors and the advertisers paying their salaries are often at odds with reality.

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John Pombrio

Until TVs run at higher than 1080P, there is no real need for consoles to be more powerful. The same with last generations capability of 720P. I would have expected a full 60FPS at 1080P would be the minimum standard tho for the new consoles, something I was surprised to see was not very common. Perhaps over time...

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beatyas

I might add that the PC has the additional immersion of real/virtual peripherals like TrackIR & VoiceAttack...

... and, hopefully soon, Oculus.

The closest approximation I have seen to these is the WII and PS3 camera+tracking hardware. They just don't size up to PC gaming, IMO.

Just a personal aside as a middle-aged PC gamer: There is NOTHING like playing something like Elite Dangerous in nVidia surround, with TiR5, VoiceAttack, and TeamSpeak in a conflict zone. Youtube it. Just plain amazing.
Console gaming just doesn't do it.

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EKRboi

One would have thought that a "next gen" console would be able to output at a resolution that has been pretty much standard for half of the life of its predecessor and at a frame rate that has become the standard for a while.. but nope.

Are MS and Sony planning on an 8-10 year cycle like before? With the price of 4k tv's constantly on the decline it is getting harder and harder to opt for a 1080p over a 4k. What happens in a couple of years when joe blow next gener hooks his console up to his shiney new 4k tv and it is outputing at 900p-1080p? 720p fullscreened looks quite bad on a 1080p native monitor and thats a small leap compared to 900p - 4k (2160p)

Anyone who has seen an XBone or PS4 hooked up to a 4k tv care to chime in? are there hardware mechanisms in place on the new consoles to upscale to 4k so it doesn't look quite as bad?

Obviously they will learn to get more out of the hardware as it matures just as they did with the previous generation... but we are talking about 1080pish becoming more the norm compared to 900p in AAA titles.. not anywhere near 4k.

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tetris42

Well Microsoft has announced that they plan for the Xbox One to last 10 years, but they've changed their mind on things regarding the Xbox before...

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John Pombrio

About half of that amount spent on PC Gaming computers is my fault. I just cannot help myself.

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EKRboi

ditto! =)

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Xenite

Meh, it's not the gamers but I do despise the consoles themselves. Nothing holds gaming back more then obsolete console hardware, obsolete the day it hit's the shelf.

Price isn't even a valid excuse anymore seeing how console gamers get gouged price wise on games compared to PC gamers.

Our biggest enemy though is the clueless media who propagates these BS claims about the PC market at the behest of the entertainment industry who prefer consoles because it gives them tighter control over the consumer.

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LatiosXT

How exactly are consoles holding PC gaming back? I'm being serious here.

Is it the usage of outdated APIs that developers will spend most of their time on? Brand new APIs take time to get used to and nobody wants a crappy product because of poor usage of an API (not to mention nobody really cared about DX10 because Vista, so this really wasn't a problem until 2009 with DX11). And all DX12 is bringing us (at least from what they announced) is "closer to metal" programming. Oh wait, the PS4 graphics API does this already. Looks like the PS4 is ahead of PC gaming in that regard.

Is it the "baw, I got a crappy console port"? For every "crappy console port" I think I have at least 5 other games that play well enough or were patched in subsequent releases to suit the taste of people who complained enough. Then again, it isn't really a "crappy console port" to me unless it basically an exact clone of the console version or is so buggy to hell that it's unplayable for more than half an hour.

Is it the "why are you using old hardware"? Because consoles need to be cheap enough for the general public to afford. Everyone laughed at the PS3 being $600 on launch. Everyone shunned Microsoft for pushing the XB1 out at $500 (though much of that had to do with a useless peripheral that would've shaved off $100). And honestly, targeting weaker harder makes it run better on my system. If it looks great on a PS4, imagine how much better it would look on a PC. And all they would have to do is crank up the particle count, texture resolution, draw distances, etc. You know, things that are easy to adjust.

Well here's another perspective. Console gamers, at least the ones who aren't jocks buying into the next Madden or Call of Duty, are closer to gamers than PC gamers are. At least from what I'm looking at. The outspoken PC gamer are all about their master race and how their hardware somehow makes games play better with their enhanced detail and smooth framerates.

Whatever happened to, you know, actually enjoying the game for what it is, a game?

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tetris42

If you want a serious answer, here's how they're being held back:

-You say a 5:1 ratio for crappy console ports, but that hasn't been my experience. For cross platform games that I've played, I'd say it's more like 1:1, possibly the majority. Signs of an awful port are FOV so small it hurts to look at it, lack of non-16:9 ratios, mouse lag, mouse smoothing, auto-aiming, enormous UIs with way too many steps, etc. I see this AGAIN and AGAIN and it gets in the way of being able to enjoy the game.

-The Watch Dogs graphics fiasco really shined light on a lot of things. The short version is they intentionally downgraded the graphics AFTER they had it looking fantastic (and lied about it multiple times in the process). An industry insider later said that the reason was because they didn't want it to look TOO much better on the PC as opposed to consoles, because of concern that would eat into sales. This crap happens a lot in the industry (Far Cry 3 had MUCH more jungle, even Bioshock had a lot more details like extra fish swimming). While I'm the last person to care about how many polygons something is using, omitting some things (like extra trees, additional people, lighting) can take away from the atmosphere and make it feel like a different game. It's one thing to aim lower to run on more platforms and save time and money, I have no problem with that. It's another to have already DONE THE WORK to make it look fantastic AND have it running well on PCs, THEN intentionally cripple it so that it doesn't look TOO much better. This is just pure waste and everyone loses.

-It's harder to prove this one, but it can limit game design in ways that I would say are less fulfilling. Alan Wake is an example where it was originally meant to be an open-world mystery exploration game (sort of like LA Noire) which I think would have fit its theme much better. Once it became an xbox-exclusive, the design focus changed to make it a linear 3rd person shooter. I'm not saying it's BAD, but I can't help but feel the experience got cheapened.

-I hate exclusives, they're a remnant of the past that console makers use to rope people in. They don't help the gamers, they don't help the developers (they have to appeal to a smaller marker). In the past it was a no brainer due to hardware limitations, nowadays it's just strong-arming consumers.

Now don't get me wrong, I don't like elitists any more than you do, I think people should be able to enjoy games and have as many options as possible, whatever their hardware level is, but to claim console gaming isn't holding PC gaming back I think is a little naive.

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LatiosXT

We'll just number this.

1. So basically you'd rather see something like what UT2K4 brought, which I guess is cool and all, but none of these elements bother me enough to distract me. Then again it's just me.

2. Ubisoft is a terrible company to begin with. They shouldn't be used as an example here. :P

3. Alan Wake changed to a third person shooter for game design reasons, not console "exclusive" reasons. Remedy wasn't sure how the open environment would've worked with the story, and Alan Wake was more or less a Max Payne clone minus the bullet time.

4. Except porting on every damn machine known to man was one of the factors that lead to the crash of 1983. And honestly I'd rather have some exclusives. It actually gives me a reason to buy a system. It gives us something to talk about other than "XBone is better than the PS4 just because".

Well anyway, there's one major reason why game developers love consoles: the number of variables has been reduced to one (system wise anyway). It's easier to develop for a system when you know the machine, know its specs, and know what could go wrong. You spend less time not only developing it, but supporting it.

PC gamers want choice. Choice has a steep cost in development and your set of variables may be the game breaker (and of course you'll just blame the software you're trying to run).

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tetris42

1. It's more like I'd like options that were kind of standard for First person shooters for about a decade and we threw out the window for some reason. Maybe it's because I'm on a 16:10 monitor, but here are some I've had bad experiences with:
Borderlands = FOV zoomed in way too much
Dead Space series = zoomed in a lot, borderline on me not playing it
Resident Evil 5 = FOV zoomed in so much it literally made me nauseous, I had to quit playing
Bulletstorm = zoomed in too much, floaty mouse aiming
Rage = zoomed in too much, texture pop-in didn't exactly help with immersion
Deus Ex HR = literal mouse lag
Crysis 2 = FOV zoomed in too much
Singularity = FOV zoomed in too much

There are good PC ports, but there's way too many that make me queasy because of the FOV.

2. Bioshock wasn't an Ubisoft title, Quake Wars wasn't, this sort of thing has likely happened on MANY other games, though thankfully some aren't held back much. Again, I don't mind low-definition, but I hate removing elements that literally make up the atmosphere.

3. Fine, what about Crysis 2? Bioshock? Dungeon Siege 3? Deus Ex 2? Supreme Commander 2? These are all cross platform games that are sequels (Bioshock is basically) to PC exclusives that were praised and intentionally aimed for a console market and I think it would be hard to argue there wasn't a "dumbing down" of these games that kind of took away from the experience compared to the originals. I'm not saying I don't want console players to have a good time too, I just don't like seeing the game compromised in anticipation of them.

4. Coding for multiple systems is a pain in the ass, I agree, but I'd rather see a game made for ONE open standard so everyone can play it. Unfortunately, the PC landscape IS a goddamn mess nowadays, especially with AMD and Nvidia playing games between adding protocols in custom beta drivers and lock-in contracts, the whole point of DirectX was to get AWAY from that back in the DOS days, but we seem to be returning there. I still see that as a lesser evil than on the console side however; with the latest generation, I guarantee you practically no one is going to be making exclusives for the PS4 or Xbox One without a lock-in contract. It's all x86 now, there's too much money on the table to not port it to the other system and PC after programming it for one. If a dev doesn't want to take the extra effort, fine, but if it's corporate money preventing them from do so (or outsourcing it), I still think it's anti-consumer. Gamers have taken a LOT of abuse in terms of consumer rights, the practices in the industry would never be tolerated elsewhere, but sadly they keep coming back for more. You asked how consoles hold back PC gaming, look at Heavy Rain. It was announced and developed for the PC, then Sony came in and paid them to make it exclusive to the PS3. It never got ported, PCs lost a game. Explain to me how that is not a textbook definition of holding PC gaming back.

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RUSENSITIVESWEETNESS

Sad that the only thing you have to look forward to after a long day of selling women's shoes is trolling a third-rate tech site, trying desperately to reassert your sense of masculinity and intellectual superiority.

You are almost as miserable a troll as the Microsoft employees whose only reason for living is to troll M$ press releases.

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LatiosXT

*Hands a cookie* Nice of you to come out and admit your faults~

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EKRboi

obsolete the day they were thought up.. there I fixed that for ya =) j/k I agree with every word.

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EKRboi

First of all I am a PC gamer, but I want to know if the numbers are higher because our hardware is more expensive or are there truely more PC gamers than console gamers.. I am guessing the former. Of the 10ish gamers I know IRL (including myself) only 2 are PC gamers. My other pc gamer buddy and myself combined have spent the same or more on hardware than the 8 console gamers spent on consoles combined.

PC's $2500-3000 X 2 = $5000-6000

Consoles $500-600 x 8 = $4000-4800

obviosly I understand that not every "pc gamer" is rocking a $3k+ rig, you are not really gaming on a $500 PC. We also get much better deals on games through services like steam, GOG and even though I hate to say it, Origin. Not to say the console discs don't go on sale or drop a bit in price after a while... but it's nothing compared to the deals we get in the PC space.

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tetris42

Definitely PC, I don't have one figure for you, more like some big sums. Steam has 75 million active users, Origin has 50 million users, League of Legends has 27 million people playing EVERY DAY, with 65 million playing every month. World of Warcraft is over 7 million, Minecraft has 100 million registered users (though some of that could be from consoles), World of Tanks has 60 million registered users, lists like this go on and on, though those are some of the bigger numbers.

Console sometimes has the perception of being bigger since it's more visible in retail in the USA plus it has way more money pushing its exposure as opposed to PC gaming, which is kind of all over the place.

Now if console gaming is bigger in the USA, that could be a harder question to answer, but globally it's no contest.

EDIT: You made me curious, I found this article, it's outdated, but the numbers might be even higher now:

https://software.intel.com/en-us/blogs/2009/03/03/just-how-many-pc-gamers-are-there

One item worth quoting:

"In 2008 well over 120 million discrete video cards sold thru last year. By comparison there were about ~45 million total consoles sold (Includes: PS2/3, 360, Wii) in that same period."

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EKRboi

Thanks tetris! That is exactly the type of article I was looking for earlier. I wonder what those numbers look like today with APUs taking away the need for a discrete card for many pc users. Not that it matters for gamer numbers because even I've been surprised at what those AMD apus can do. Like the writer of that article said there are so many variables it's really hard to nail down figures.

Also I stupidly had not considered your point of console gaming possibly just being more the "norm" in the USA. Which if true would explain why it seems I have met many more console gamers here over the years. I've met quite a few who do some PC gaming but when asked would label themselves as a console gamer as that is where they spend most of their gaming time. Also most of those just have nice laptops with decent discrete cards to play MMOs not on their consoles.

It seems though I was wrong and no matter how you slice it pc gaming sells more hardware by volume and makes more $$. According to a recent Forbes article linked below PC game sales have surpassed console sales. So we buy more hardware and we buy more software... yet we are still treated as 2nd rate citezens many times when it comes to games and they STILL use the old piracy bit as an excuse.

A worthy item to note from the mentioned Forbes article:
http://www.forbes.com/sites/jasonevangelho/2014/04/28/as-global-pc-game-revenue-surpasses-consoles-how-long-should-console-makers-keep-fighting/

"After reading the interview, I went back to my own conversation with Raptr CEO Dennis Fong, who reminded me there are a staggering 900 million PC gamers worldwide. Contrast that data with global consoles sales of, say, Nintendo's Wii, Microsoft’s Xbox 360, and Sony's PlayStation 3: About 262 million units. Combined."

So what gives game studios and publishers? When are you going to let us ride in the front seat where it's obvious we belong and let the consoles take the back?

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tetris42

Sure, honestly if Valve put half the money one of the console makers did into marketing, I think they would start to crush consoles because then public perception would change. I really wish they would get their act together with the Steamboxes though. The biggest thing the PC is lacking compared to consoles is a "turn it on and start playing" experience. A Steambox could deliver that and slowly start encroaching on console turf. I see its biggest obstacles as public awareness + getting more games functioning on Linux. If it can overcome those over time, I think there would be no stopping it.

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Xenite

You can build a $800-$900 system that will play just about anything out there at reasonable FPS. Hell even an older card like a 6850 that is slightly overclocked can handle the Frostbite engine games coming out.

$3,000+ systems are the minority.

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EKRboi

I completely agree about the minority.. but even that $800-900 pc is "nearly" twice that of a current gen console, I know some will disagree but I personally would not consider it a "gaming pc" even though it probably does better than a console.. just a decent midish range that happens to get usually more than 30fps at moderate settings on super optimized engines @ 1080p. But those systems still need to be lumped into the figures as there are many PC gamers who are completely happy with their $900 rig.. just not me =) Once you go tripple monitor gaming there is NO going back! Of course I can only speak for myself.. but even my console buddies who have seen my setup "get it" now. Whether they will end up spending the $$ to build a similar system has yet to be seen.. but a few have said they would like to.

Can anyone point me to a reliable place that gives even rough estimates of the number of PC gamers to console gamers? I didn't really find much in the 2 minutes I spent on google. All I really see are articles claiming more console gamers to PC gamers and articles like this one where we bring in more $$ compared to our console bretheren, but no real hard facts on the #'s.

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MAIZE1951

Can't say we didn't tell the console gamers so, but they (console makers included) want us to believe that consoles are the number one gaming choice instead of gaming computers.

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EKRboi

See my post above.. I still believe consoles are the "number one gaming choice" our hardware is just more expensive.. hence the higher incomes from PC gaming. I am no expert.. just using a bit of common sense, and the little bit I did google on the subject seems to point to my conclusion being correct.

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tetris42

I replied to your post, again, consoles really aren't close globally. PC gaming hardware is generally more expensive, but the games themselves are generally much cheaper (except the pay-per-month MMO psychos).

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LatiosXT

I hate to ask but what exactly defines "PC gaming hardware"?

I mean, I feel like I could reach that number by saying "any computer with a GPU that isn't Intel's".

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wumpus

That definition works for me (GPU that isn't from Intel in case this goes elsewhere). What I would do is simply grab the data from the steam survey and total that up. They might not be primarily "gaming computers", but games are sold to them, so add them up.

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praetor_alpha

If it runs Crysis, it's probably PC gaming hardware.

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Cyk0

At the Frys Electronics store I work at, I actually get that question of what should they be looking at in terms of a gaming PC many times. The usual case is a PC that can run DirectX 10+ types of games without issue. And the issues they don't want to have are those of dropped frames (I.e. Stuttering), fast load times, and upgradability. Were talking usually i5/i7, AMD Quad/Octacore machines with a dedicated Video card ranging in the $100+ range and at least 6-32gb of ram. Anything less and it usually won't live up to expectations (I.e getting returns with a side of angry customer maybe).