About ten years ago, when Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft were dominating the video game space, PC gamers were considered the minority. Yes, there were those stalwarts who preferred the precision afforded by the trusty mouse and keyboard, but the writing was on the wall: consoles were taking over.
But, with a protracted console cycle of almost 6 years, a shift slowly began to take place. Gamers began to flock back to the PC, drawn by the platform’s affordability, its ease of use, and its higher quality experiences. And, almost as soon as it had seemingly gone away, PC gaming was back.
In fact, as DFC Intelligence Analyst David Cole states, PC gaming actually accounts for more global revenue than console gaming. Now, as Cole explains, gamers see the PC as a “necessity,” and consoles are merely “luxury items.” He also cites genres like the MOBA, MMO, and first person shooter as the main movers and shakers in the PC space.
“Among core gamers there is a heavy overlap with most console gamers also playing on a PC. The big difference is that consoles are now the luxury item and PCs are the necessity. Just a few years ago the reverse was true. This means PCs have the broader audience.”
While Cole does not show any hard numbers, his claims do make sense given the rapid growth of PC gaming over the past few years. Digital distribution platforms like Steam have given gamers an easy way to purchase and play games, all while mimicking the console experience. And PC gaming on the couch, or in a more casual setting, will only get easier thanks to oncoming devices like the Steam Machine.
Obviously a lot of the PC’s growth is due in part to this most recent console cycle, which lasted far longer than most expected, but it’s not just that. Prices came down for PC parts and the capabilities of affordable machines surged well past those of the PS3 or the Xbox 360, to the point that PC versions became the premiere option. Developers were showing off games on PC at trade shows and many gamers were holding out for the PC release of high profile titles.
That being said, the transition into a new console generation with the PS4 and Xbox One will likely close some of the gap between PC gaming and console revenue. Both current-gen consoles are selling extremely well around the world, and that should help boost revenue for the console space. Even so, the shift might be a permanent one, as even now higher end PCs out preform these current-gen machines. All we know for sure is that it’s a great time to be a gamer, and we’re in the midst of a really exciting and competitive time.
To what platform does the bulk of your video game-related spending go: PC or console? Do you think that the PS4 and Xbox One will be able to steal back the market share from the PC?