PC Gaming is in Rude Health, Concludes PC Gamer PAX East Panel

Pulkit Chandna

Panel discussion delves into the future of PC gaming

Our sister publication PC Gamer on Friday convened a star-studded, four-man panel at the ongoing Boston PAX East conference to discuss the future of PC gaming (see video below). The starry quartet, comprising Nvidia director of technical marketing Tom Petersen, Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey, PlanetSide 2 creative director Matt Higby and Star Citizen creator Chris Roberts, touched on a wide range of issues, including the prospects of streaming games and Microsoft’s role in the future of PC gaming.

The first thing to come up for discussion was the rise of cloud-based streaming games and its implications for traditional gaming. Nvidia’s Tom Petersen was of the view that the general direction of PC gaming’s evolution is towards it becoming a “much more cloud-oriented experience,” with both public and personal cloud game streaming gaining in popularity in the future.

The panel moderator, Evan Lahti (US editor-in-chief of PC Gamer), evoked widespread laughter from those in attendance when he jokingly asked Petersen if he was suggesting that people “won’t have to buy a graphics card in the future.” Meanwhile, Luckey and Roberts were equally unconvinced. Identifying latency associated with remotely rendered games as a major deal breaker, Roberts, an avowed 4K aficionado, said he as a PC gamer wants the best experience possible and that is something he doesn’t see cloud gaming delivering anytime soon.

The panel then proceeded to discuss some of the obstacles to delivering better gaming experiences on the PC. According to Higby, overcoming hardware fragmentation remains one of the biggest challenges from a developer’s standpoint. However, he also credited this variety — a byproduct of the immense control PC owners wield over their hardware — for making the PC a truly special gaming platform.

The PlanetSide 2 dev then broached the topic of piracy, noting that it continues to decline as digital distribution becomes more widespread. Others on the panel concurred, attributing the decline to the fact that it is now becoming more convenient to buy a game than to pirate it. Of course, the lesser the piracy, as Higby put it, “the more you can run a company off of the games you’re making.” Speaking of the economics of PC gaming , Petersen pointed out that it is currently estimated to be a $24 billion a year industry.

As soon as Lahiti asked the panel if they thought PC gaming would continue to be essentially Windows gaming, Luckey quipped, “Yeah, don’t you remember Games for Windows Live?” This prompted a discussion on Microsoft’s contribution to PC gaming.  While Petersen and Rogers lauded Redmond for some of things it is doing with DX12, the general consensus was that it needs to do a lot more to prevent gamers from abandoning Windows for Linux.

Image Credit: PC Gamer

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