Opinion: Is the PC Gaming resurgence here to stay?

PC Gaming is king of the hill again, but can it keep it through the fall?

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When the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 released in 2005-06, critics and analysts from all over the tech and gaming industry came out to proclaim that they would be the final nails in the PC gaming coffin. At the time, it seemed like they might have had a point. Sales for PC games and hardware were in steady decline since 2001, and longtime champions of PC gaming like Epic Games' Cliff Bleszinski practically declared that the company was putting priority on console development. Epic refuted the sentiment (Bleszinski even did an about face during an MTV interview), and became one of the first members of the PC Gaming Alliance. However, the company still ended up producing more console and mobile exclusives in the coming years than PC games. It seemed like affordable gaming consoles with great graphics would be what finally drove PC gaming into the ground.

Source: DFC Intelligence

But the pendulum quietly swung in the opposite direction over the next several years. By 2013, it was clear that PC gaming had made a full comeback, even surpassing consoles in popularity in recent months. In 2012, pre-orders for Diablo 3 broke records and accumulated over 3.5 million sales in the first 24 hours of its release, then another 1.2 million during the following week.

But is the comeback a natural result of the changeover between console generations, or is this a resurgence that will last past the fall?

The fast and cheap war of attrition

A funny thing happened during the Xbox 360 and PS3's eight-year lifespan: PCs caught up. It didn't take long for PCs to surpass the graphical capabilities of consoles. More importantly, the cost, size, and weight of reasonably powerful desktops and laptops started dropping. Sure, power users might spend over a thousand dollars on a super high-end gaming rig, but more budget minded gamers can pick up a relatively inexpensive system with a dedicated video card to play intensive games like Bioshock Infinite. The ultimate expression comes out this fall with the Alienware Alpha, a console-like PC that starts at $549 for the base model.

The irony is that console gaming didn't put PC gaming into the ground - it ended up burying itself. The 360 was purposefully designed so that developers could easily port Windows games over. As a result, more third party developers released games across multiple platforms as standard practice, with the weaker Nintendo Wii often left out. So, as PC hardware became more powerful and cheaper, most games could work on mid-range systems using high graphical settings. Power users would still strive for the Ultra settings, but the point is that a lot of gamers could get an acceptable experience without having to buy a console.

Alienware Alpha

The Xbox 360 and PS3 had some great exclusives to keep gamers satisfied. But as of right now, there's not much incentive to pick up a new generation console unless you really must play Forza, Killzone: Shadow Fall, or Infamous: Second Son. Most third party games are coming to the PC, including the Dead Rising 3 (an Xbox One launch game), Grand Theft Auto V, and the lauded No Man's Sky.

The added benefit of the PC is that it can appeal to every type of gamer, including casual, mid-core, and hardcore. The availability of cheap, powerful, hardware led to an explosion of indie games built to run on virtually any computer and the diversity to satisfy almost any taste.

The living room isn't what it used to be

With the launch of the Xbox 360, Microsoft made it its mission to take over the living room. That sentiment was echoed during the Xbox One reveal, when Microsoft highlighted deep television integration. Unfortunately, it seemed like nobody got the memo: TV was dying.

It might sound like trading in rumors of one death for another, but both broadcast and cable television has seen negative grown rates since 2011. Last year, reported statistics showed that fewer young people were watching TV. Instead, they were streaming entertainment on mobile devices and computers in addition to relying on them for social media, work, and communication. It makes sense that they would stick with those same devices for other forms of entertainment, like gaming.

Consoles are starting to see the same problem that desktop computers had over a decade ago. Just as old bulky desktops were chained to a private office, or a dark corner in the basement, consoles are stuck sitting in a living room at time when people are starting to leave it. Mobility is becoming a necessity, and Sony realized this when it developed the PS4 Remote Play for the Vita. Gamers have to decide whether it's worthwhile to spend the money on both a PS4 and a Vita to play games on a small handheld screen, an investment of about $600 for the consoles alone. Or they could spend money on a notebook with a 14+ inch screen, and do things in addition to playing games.

The Steam Effect

Reductionists will say that a handful of games are responsible for PC Gaming's resurgence. Those would be mega hits with near infinite replayability like World of Warcraft, League of Legends, EVE Online, and Minecraft. While those games deserve a lot of credit for bringing PC gaming back to the forefront, there is no way to overstate the impact Steam has had on gaming over the past decade.

Steam pioneered digital retail when brick and mortar stores were phasing PC games out from their inventory and inspired a host of similar services. Its infamous sales have made a plethora of games accessible to millions of people, ranging from top tier AAA games to little known indie games. Since games are generally overdeveloped for the PC, the likelihood of having to re-purchase a game to take advantage of better graphics remains low. The Steam client deserves credit for setting up a more unified purchasing, social, and gaming experience similar to what consoles provide. Furthermore, Steam takes advantage of computer ubiquity. As long as there is broadband, your games will be available to you wherever you go. You just go over to someone's house, login to your account, and download the game you want to play.

PCs are even entering the much contested living room space, for anyone still hanging out there. With In-Home Streaming, Steam users can stream games from a large, immovable, desktop system to a weak notebook hooked up to a large screen TV. Gamers can navigate their libraries using Big Picture Mode using game controllers. The competition is bound to get turned up when Steam Machines become a reality.

Can the comeback last?

No one factor made the resurgence of PC gaming a reality, but the combination of powerful, affordable, hardware combined with fun, inexpensive, games certainly played a huge role. I would be remiss not to include sites like GoG.com, which has made old classic games playable on today's systems. Then there's the launch of Windows 7, which shook off the terrible memories of Windows Vista. The casual and social media game boom left an undeniable mark. Not to mention YouTube and the Internet in general makes it possible for even the least tech savvy to do some troubleshooting. The growth of PC gaming is enough for Epic Games to develop the Fortnite exclusively for the PC. Ubisoft, famous for long delays between the console and PC releases, is now aiming for parity, and the indie studios at Devolver Digital give priority to the PC.

But the real test will come this fall, when the console lull ends and big games like Dragon Age: Inquisition, Far Cry 4, and a number of sports games release, all designed to take advantage of the latest generation of consoles. Even if the PC can't keep the top spot, it's likely to remain a serious contender, and that's something that was practically unheard of a decade ago. Although not everyone has a high-powered gaming rig, practically everyone has a computer of some kind, and they're good to game.

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  • reply
    July 16, 2014 12:00 PM

    Steven Wong posted a new article, Opinion: Is the PC Gaming resurgence here to stay?.

    PC Gaming is king of the hill again, but can it keep it through the fall?

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      July 16, 2014 12:04 PM

      I think the fact that there are a metric fuckton of new indie games coming out all the time on steam, makes the PC an extremely good place to game. I pretty much never touch my consoles anymore. So many types of games plus crazy sales makes it a tough sell to play console games. For me at least.

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        July 16, 2014 12:21 PM

        me too, I really have only bought PS3 exclusives and until my blu-ray borked I'd play one or two but not really. PC just is where I watned to play and had the most variety.

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      July 16, 2014 12:13 PM

      I take issue with suggesting that consoles looked better than PC games even at the release of the 360 and the PS3. I'm not saying it's definitely untrue... but I doubt it.

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        July 16, 2014 12:35 PM

        When the 360 came out it was true, by the time the PS3 hit PC's had surpassed Console in technological power. Sure a monster Quad SLI system could have outdone an XBOX360 when it came out but that isn't a realistic PC build for 99% of people.

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          July 16, 2014 1:05 PM

          That's not particularly true. Nearly all of the launch titles for the XBox360 were multiplatform, like Call of Duty 2 and Quake 4. Unsurprisingly, a mid-range PC could run those games with higher framerates, resolutions, and settings than could the 360. Perfect Dark Zero was the big exclusive and likewise it didn't look any better than the PC exclusives of the time, like F.E.A.R., or Half-Life 2 or Farcry which came out the previous year. You could make an argument that the PSX/N64 generation of consoles were briefly more powerful than the average PC, since 3D acceleration technology was only just being introduced on the PC at the time of their release, but certainly by 1998 with the release of the Voodoo 2, the PC once again had the lead, and the consoles have never been able to catch up.

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            July 16, 2014 1:17 PM

            Dude, DX10 graphic cards weren't even available when the XBOX360 came out.

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              July 16, 2014 2:00 PM

              I'm not sure why that matters. Looking at 2005 the AAA title that would push machines was FEAR. Searching the internet for forum discussions on FEAR 360 vs PC shows most people thought it was better on the PC.

              It also produced this little quote "Well of course the PC can out-do any and every console however you probably need to upgrade your PC with every new high end game that comes out. Which is a horrible con."

              Which makes it sound like not much in the discussion has changed since then.

              This video is relevant: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EpabjVBcN_g

              It's just one game, but I'm still leaning towards the PCs having been more powerful even at that time. I'd like to see counter arguments.

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                July 16, 2014 2:51 PM

                FEAR came out for the 360 a year after it's original PC release. Full DX10 GPU's were out with a year of tech over the XBOX360, and Intel had released the Core 2 line in that time frame.

                When the XBOX 360 came out you had Pentium D's as the consumer chipset and the fastest single GPU video card was a GeForce 7800 GTX and the Radeon X1950 was the best ATI had to offer at the time both of these cards struggled to maintain 30fps in Oblivion @720p with several of the bells and whistles the XBOX 360 version had turned off.

                But yeah in 2006 when the Core 2's came out and we hate the Nvidia 8000 series hit, both of which were 50%+ jumps in raw power PC's started crushing consoles.

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                  July 16, 2014 2:53 PM

                  "t and we HAD the Nvidia 8000 series hit, both of which were 50%+ jumps in raw power PC's started crushing consoles."

                  Not sure how I missed that typo.

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                  July 16, 2014 6:53 PM

                  I can confirm I had a pentium D and the ATI X800 or something like that, they were the first popular PCI express cards and I could never keep fear at higher than 30 seconds.

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              July 16, 2014 2:05 PM

              Ummm, GTX 7xxx series cards? No they weren't DX10 (DX9.0c) but not sure why you mentioned that since the XBox360 used an ATi Xenos which was based on the R520 desktop chip (also Dx9.0c generation).

              When the 360 was released in Nov 2005, a single card 7800 GTX 512 out performed it (13.2 Gt/s vs 8000 Gt/s, 400Gf/s vs 240Gf/s, etc....). Nearly every area of the Xenos (even with it's daughter board) was trumped by a single card solution. So no, the PC didn't need Quad SLI to beat the Xbox360.

              The one area they may of had the advantage is in the CPU (single core with HT vs 3 core with double thread), as the PC still only had the Pentium 4 3.8Ghz (unless you went for Xeon). 4 months later though the Core 2 processors came out.

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                July 16, 2014 2:07 PM

                Oops, meant 13.2 Gt/s vs 8 Gt/s

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                July 16, 2014 2:37 PM

                The problem with that argument is that consoles get much more usage out of their hardware than the PC equivalent. And XENOS had embedded EDRAM on its own die and few extra features.

                It was a very brief window but the XBOX 360 did out preform the vast majority of PC's at the time of its release.

                Comparing specs doesn't matter much when consoles can squeak much more performance out than similar PC hardware never could (its possible, just not realistic to code down to the metal for every PC hardware configuration).

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                  July 16, 2014 3:15 PM

                  Xbox360s primary memory for both the CPU and GPU was 512MB of GDDR3 memory, i.e. shared memory. The eDRAM was simply 10MB (yes megabytes) and was primarily used to apply AA, DOF, motion blur etc...

                  Yes, righting for bare metal has it's advantages (which is still very relevant today - biggest bottleneck being DX Draw - may be narrowed with DX12), but it would require the Xenus to get almost twice the efficiency just to be on par with the the 7800 GTX (yet alone SLI). And that would also require that the developers at the time of the 360s release knew how to take full advantage of the hardware. Look at 360 release titles and compare them to titles that came out 1 or 2 years later (even titles now) and there's quite a difference.

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                    July 16, 2014 3:16 PM

                    Gawd, I need to check spelling and grammar before I post, * righting* = writing

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                    July 16, 2014 4:29 PM

                    Why did multi platform titles play smoother on the Xbox360 than computers with x1950s or GTX 7800s?

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                      July 16, 2014 5:18 PM

                      30fps cap, no AA or lower AA, lower resolution textures, smaller frame buffer upscaled instead of actual resolution frame buffer, no OS overhead or rogue DLLs to parse, lots of little reasons.

                      Still, even with all the assets identical as in the FEAR example, the bar for quality is a lot lower for the consoles.

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                        July 16, 2014 5:42 PM

                        Texture resolutions were identical at the time and this was in an era where AF filtering was still a luxury, 8x AF or better didn't become a norm until GTX 200 series, AA was still a thing for multi GPU systems. This was years before 60fps became the normal target framerate as well (GTX 400 ATI 5000 series is when this became a thing for the masses).

                        The Xbox360 had an advantage at its launch because it could do AF/AA at a much reduced performance cost compared to its PC counterparts at the time.

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                          July 16, 2014 5:49 PM

                          Upscaling resolution had yet to become common practice on the 360, this didn't start happening until 2007 minus a few racing games that sacrificed resolution for 60fps.

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                            July 16, 2014 6:11 PM

                            This is quite false, many many early and even launch 360 titles are upscaled, Perfect Dark Zero and the first Forza title for instance had framebuffer resolutions which were even smaller than 720p, and nonstandard resolutions no normal television could display, even stretching pixels as they upscaled to achieve standard ATSC HD resolutions.

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                              July 16, 2014 6:21 PM

                              Yeah PDZ was upscaled. Every Forza Game was 720p with 2x AA though.

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                                July 16, 2014 6:38 PM

                                Also, plenty of games here at or beyond 60 fps on the PC with a single 8800, running at close to twice the resolution I don't think you can really say that being what, six months after the 360 debut makes it a generation away or an unfair comparison.

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                                  July 16, 2014 6:38 PM

                                  Woops forgot the article: http://www.cnet.com/products/geforce-8800-gtx/2/

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                                    July 16, 2014 6:49 PM

                                    http://www.shacknews.com/article/85377/opinion-is-the-pc-gaming-resurgence-here-to-stay?id=32181473

                                    No shock that a video card released a year after the 360 was significantly faster.

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                                      July 16, 2014 6:51 PM

                                      Oh my! Trying to link to a post in a thread from the front page isn't working right.

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                                      July 16, 2014 6:59 PM

                                      Is it a shock the 360 titles are still running slower than a card released six months before it then? Several of the titles in this list are available on the 360, PC versions are twice the resolution with the to for times faster framerate, well over 60fps and no SLI involved.

                                      http://www.trustedreviews.com/nVidia-GeForce-7800-GT-Reference-Card_pc-components_review_performance-graphs_Page-4

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                                        July 16, 2014 7:03 PM

                                        None of those games were XBOX 360 titles, they were XBOX era titles. Quake 4 was an XBOX 360 title that ran significantly better on PC than the 360 with a GTX 7800. Just about every multi-platform title struggled to match the 360's performance at identical resolution and settings.

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                                          July 16, 2014 7:08 PM

                                          What are you smoking? Half Life 2 is absolutely on XBox 360, so is Far Cry Instincts and even Doom 3, later yeah and running at 60fps but that is a slow framerate for Doom 3 PC, or even Doom 3 BFG on PC, how are you just brushing off a concurrent list of titles when an old ass PC smokes them and the 360 still, even when developed later with more developer knowledge and experience still keeps it at lower res and lower FPS?

                                          Denial ain't just a river in Egypt.

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                                            July 16, 2014 7:29 PM

                                            Far Cry for the 360 is a Graphically Enhanced version called Far Cry Instincts Predator Edition
                                            Doom 3 only exists as the BFG edition released in 2012, and we know that release was universally troubled.
                                            Half-Life 2 came out as the Orange Box in 2007.

                                            They all run at 720p, with expensive AA, and have an artificial frame-rate cap.

                                            All 3 games you listed were XBOX games:

                                            http://www.amazon.com/Half-Life-2-Xbox/dp/B000B2YR74
                                            http://www.amazon.com/Doom-3-Xbox/dp/B0001KUE7S/ref=sr_1_1?s=videogames&ie=UTF8&qid=1405563359&sr=1-1&keywords=doom+3+xbox
                                            http://www.amazon.com/Far-Cry-Instincts-Xbox/dp/B0002CHIZ6/ref=sr_1_2?s=videogames&ie=UTF8&qid=1405563443&sr=1-2&keywords=far+cry+xbox

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                                              July 16, 2014 9:28 PM

                                              You have got to be high. I'm well aware that these games were available on the original XBox. And I should, I own them all. (360 & PC versions too.) The fact remains that they were each from the same publisher, if not the same developer, in the instance of the 360 versions, using the same assets as the PC originals. They are also not ports of the XBox original titles. Remember the point of this discussion? Was the XBox 360 really more powerful than a PC in 2005?

                                              It was not. Far Cry for PC has "Graphically Enhanced" mods and will still run at twice the framerate and at higher resolutions on a 2005-outfitted PC. Half Life 2 likewise can easily hit fps above 60 and beyond at higher framerates; that particular game does have HDR textures whereas the PC version does not, but the Half Life Episodes for PC have HDR and break no sweat doing over twice the 360's framerate for both that game, and the Episodes as well. All of these XBox 360 games run at a slower rate than the PC versions, with the exception of Doom 3, which is the same (60fps) yet still not at resolution parity. (Hint: it's lower.)


                                              It is comically foolish to give the XBox 360 a pass on these things and award it some kind of crown; it's likewise laughable to even mention the older XBox versions when the 360 cannot manage a faster framerate than any of them. Of course the framerate cap is "artificial," it wouldn't be a frame rate cap at all if it were "natural." It is irresponsible logic to attribute the cap to a whim, when the only reason a cap would be imposed at all is to maintain a non-tearing framerate. To do this without a cap would mean removing other features, not necessarily AA or AF, particularly when these features are "for free" when tiling on XBox 360, more likely reworked assets, lower quality models, lesser textures, or who knows what other changes would be required and tested.

                                              Meanwhile, you don't need to be valcan_s or own a rig like his to see that even in 2005, you didn't need to compromise on this stuff at all. About all you had to compromise on then, as with now, is the price of your hardware.

                                              For the cost of a decent video card the 360 got you 30fps with excellent visuals, if a middling-to-low resolution. It also got you a big bag of compromises. As if those two things weren't compromise already.

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                                    July 16, 2014 6:57 PM

                                    This was an awesome discussion guys. A+ would read again.

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                                      July 16, 2014 7:01 PM

                                      I would have inserted a few boobs in the exchange but I'm at my in-laws place.

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                          July 16, 2014 6:09 PM

                          I think i did say the assets were identical, and as opposed to the ZERO AF (and sometimes zero AA) the 360 had a much easier task. Years before 60fps became a target? I don't know about you but I remember 3dfx had a slogan, "real interactivity begins at 60fps," or something to that effect, it was part of the very justification for 3d hardware acceleration in the first place.

                          The 360 could only do AA when tiling was used, many, maybe even most launch and even first year titles did not do this due to the real hardware not even existing when programming was underway. And even after this stuff did get underway, the 360 only actually got this AA "for free" in the sense that it was still running at 30fps capped, and may have still had frame rate drops, in other words as I said the bar was and still is much lower.

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                              July 16, 2014 6:29 PM

                              Wrong about what, exactly? That forum is where I get a lot of this information. Okay, I was wrong about Forza's resolution, but quite correct about Perfect Dark Zero's, sub-HD frame buffer and no AA. I also see a lot of first-year titles in the list that are even lower, just look at Tomb Raider Legends. This has all been hashed out there in threads I participated in, the dreaded "pixel counters," and other places. The 360 GPU is comparable to an ATI X1850-ish if I remember right (sorry if I'm a digit or two off, it's been a while), which for its time is comparable to something between a 7800 and an 8800 with the custom die figured in and performs about as well, coming so soon before the real 8800 out should be no surprise it does not outperform it when you consider it is part of what was at the time a $400 expenditure. That's less than a computer with either of those cards and only approaching the cost of the card itself. Plenty of them, with a single card, were managing 60fps, unless you were thinking Crysis, in which case you're really not keeping things square.

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                          July 17, 2014 3:35 AM

                          [deleted]

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                            July 17, 2014 5:55 AM

                            Mostly, I feel sorry for Discrete. He must have had a really lousy PC back in the day.

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                              July 17, 2014 5:58 AM

                              [deleted]

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                                July 17, 2014 9:31 AM

                                Maybe if you upscaled your resolution:

                                http://www.nordichardware.com/Graphics/ati-x1000-preview/Benchmarks-Call-Of-Duty-2.html
                                http://www.bit-tech.net/gaming/pc/2006/03/31/elder_scrolls_oblivion/4
                                http://www.anandtech.com/show/1831/5


                                I spent the time to look this stuff up before talking as memory is a horrible witness.

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                                  July 17, 2014 10:13 AM

                                  Spend time looking up better tests, and put your noggin to better analysis then.

                                  COD2: http://www.pcper.com/reviews/Graphics-Cards/NVIDIA-GeForce-7800-GTX-512-MB-GPU-Preview/Call-Duty-2

                                  HDR in your second link makes it a useless comparison as the XBox 360 titles do not have this feature. For HDR, and to be running 16x AF, a mere 38fps at a resolution still higher than the XBox 360s absolutely qualifies it as being better hardware concurrent with that console, ditto for the F.E.A.R. benches in the third, the AA and AF given are higher than many/most XBox 360 titles at the time and still managing a faster framerate. Dial it to an XBox 360 level for these features and you'll be higher still.

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                                    July 17, 2014 10:16 AM

                                    And looking at that second link with the Oblivion tests, the textures are likely much higher quality than the 360 version's as well. Nobody is saying the 360 isn't punching above its weight. It's just not the juggernaut that the PC was at any point in time. Honestly, a good PC geared to gaming simply could not be beaten by any console as far back as about 1998 or so. Since then it has only steadily become more glaring.

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                                  July 17, 2014 10:42 AM

                                  [deleted]

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                                    July 17, 2014 10:43 AM

                                    The very first link is COD2.

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                                      July 17, 2014 10:45 AM

                                      Oblivion came out a whopping 4 months later.

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                                      July 17, 2014 10:46 AM

                                      [deleted]

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                                        July 17, 2014 10:55 AM

                                        I'm not cherry picking. CoD2 for 360 actually had effects and assets not in the PC version not vice-versa and ran butter smooth at 720p resolution (the max resolution available). Sure you could run it on a PC at 1280x1024 and watch it struggle to maintain 30fps if you turned on AA and AF at max quality both of which the 360 had enabled.

                                        Hell any difference between the two at the time was extremely minimal. When the Intel Core 2 series, ATI 2x00 series and Nvidia 8x00 series the PC absolutely crushed it.

                                        But at launch if the 360 didn't have a slight advantage at identical resolutions it was trading punches.

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                            July 17, 2014 10:52 AM

                            Complete and total bullshit. I have never owned a multi-GPU system, and I've been running 8x AF or better on everything since my Radeon 9700 Pro in 2003. 4x AA occasionally had performance impacts, but I've been able to do it on most games.

                            When the Xbox 360 was released, I was running a slightly dated Geforce 6800 Ultra in an Athlon 64 system. I had a 19" ViewSonic CRT at 1600x1200 native. Oblivion and CoD2 looked much better on my machine than they did on the console, even before taking into account all of the early graphics mods for Oblivion. The base game already had a better view distance than the console version, and I recall there being an INI edit to extend it further.

                            I do also remember Oblivion looking like ass on my cousin's older machine, though.

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          July 17, 2014 10:15 AM

          PC's were still running PS2 ports in 2005 (and requiring much higher specs)

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            July 17, 2014 10:18 AM

            Sure, but usually because they were sporting much higher quality assets. PS2 memory constraints loom large, nigh any texture you see is the most minimal variety.

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              July 17, 2014 10:30 AM

              running a game on low with a 1ghz+ CPU vs a sub 300mhz PS2
              256MB DDR2 vs 32MB eDRAM
              and a 64MB GPU vs 4MB PS2

              were talking 30 fps lowest quality everything at maybe 640X480 res?

              That was end the of the PS2 lifecycle.

              Of course having a SLI'd titan beast of a PC is going to be more powerful than a console. (which seems to be what everyone always argues over)

              Spec for Spec console wins everytime.

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              July 17, 2014 10:43 AM

              You keep saying early 360 titles had different assets, PROVE IT. They didn't, it was usually the PC versions at the time that had gimped assets, yes this changed over time.

              Facts you don't include: Xbox was limited to max of 720p resolution (when gaming) even if it had enough power to push it at higher resolutions. Vsync was mandatory so max frame rates are impossible to measure.

              If it didn't have a slight advantage over PC hardware it could at least trade punches.

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                July 17, 2014 11:58 AM

                You keep saying early 360 titles had different assets, PROVE IT.

                I'm not saying only early 360 titles have different assets, they pretty much all do. The usual shebang of multiplatform titles prove this pretty easily, just screenshot about anything. If you want an example from one of the titles we've been slinging around here, here you go: http://www.ign.com/articles/2006/03/25/the-elder-scrolls-iv-oblivion?page=4

                Unfortunately, the graphics aren't without their faults. Though you can see extremely far into the distance, far off hills will be blanketed in low resolution textures that otherwise mar a beautiful scene. Loading times may also be a bother. Not the loading times when entering doors or fast traveling around the world, those are entirely manageable. It's the loading that occurs when traveling across the land that will cause the Xbox 360 version to stutter, as well as any mid to lower end PC. The game needs to load in grass and environmental objects at regular intervals, and the ensuing pause in the action may turn some off. There's also a very visible amount of pop-in, as grass, rocks and even houses appear at the edges of your vision.

                I have included the fact of resolution, for some reason you seem to keep forgetting them, or forgetting that almost all the benchmarks you see of any era crank to the highest then start to punish the hardware with more and more effects and settings. So it really is quite funny when you come in with more benchmarks at higher resolutions (a better performing factor for the PC) and still higher framerates (yet another better performing factor for the PC).

                Framerates are very possible to measure and have been done on the site you linked and other places (Digital Foundry, etc) and some of the titles you keep bringing up even have framerate issues where things drop noticeably, despite the 30Hz cap. Nobody is saying the 360 isn't punching above its belt. But it is not in the same league as a 2005 era gaming PC by a long shot.

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                  July 17, 2014 12:31 PM

                  While you continue to ignore the PC version only could play those resolutions at playable framerates with AA and AF off. A falsely state early 360 titles had lower quality assets.

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                    July 17, 2014 12:37 PM

                    Hold on a sec, you call 30fps max, in a game that frequently drops to 15-ish (Oblivion on 360) with a low-average among three video cards of 38 fps unplayable. If the PC version with an average of 38 is unplayable, what does that make the 360 version? Its average would easily be a hell of a lot lower than 38. Or 30 for that matter.

                    Seriously? Is maths hard or something?

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                      July 17, 2014 12:50 PM

                      360 is running AA @640 something resand only dips during disk/asset loading.
                      PC is running with HDR enabled (this disables AA) and suffers same dips during disk/asset loading.

                      At 16AF with no AA only cards released in April of 2006 can provide barely playable framerate. The card that was available can do it with 8x AF and no AA at a 20% lower resolution than the 360.

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                        July 17, 2014 12:50 PM

                        Errwhoops 7800gt is running at nearly identical resolution, forgot the 360 was upscaling.

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                        July 17, 2014 1:10 PM

                        And strangely, the site you linked to still says 38fps average.

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                          July 17, 2014 1:13 PM

                          It also says 1280x1024. I mean... damn. wtf else is there to say? The 360 is impressive but it's also a midget doing heavy lifting. It just isn't capable of lifting that heavily.

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                            July 17, 2014 1:23 PM

                            That's on April 2006 hardware, hardware available at 360 launch is running 1024x768 without AA at 40fps. Add the AA penalty and it would drop below 30fps.

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                              July 17, 2014 1:45 PM

                              Yes it is on April 2006 hardware, which is more in line with the XBox 360 Xenos, which mostly gets to that tier for having 10MB intelligent EDRAM. Where the F do you see the XBox 360 running at 40fps? At any rate, run the PC version at 1024x768, it would still be faster.

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                                July 17, 2014 1:56 PM

                                So If we ignore my argument that the 360 had a slight advatage compared to pc hardware released at the time or could trade punches with it and compare the 360 to newer more powerful hardware released after the 360 launched im wrong? You win.

                                I never claimed the 360 was getting 40fps, that was the GT7800 without AA at 1024x768 nearly identical to the 16:9 640p res of the Xbox360.

                                I'm finished here.

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                                  July 17, 2014 2:01 PM

                                  It had a slight advantage by using sub-HD framebuffers and 30fps caps. Where possible, which sure as hell wasn't everywhere, it got some AA/AF from 10MB EDRAM, a feature that was underused til a couple years in. It "compares" in the sense it pushed out HD resolutions, but several games still had lesser textures, lesser models, or both, and many games that did absolutely ran at slower fps, or were used with sub-HD resolutions to match the PC. That is how it "traded punches," it just couldn't do it otherwise. The games that held every asset the same could still not match the PC, typically slower framerate. I get it if you don't think that 30+ fps is important, but you can't deny it is significant. In this linkage and others we see games of the era with demonstrably higher framerates and sometimes higher assets on the PC.

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                          July 17, 2014 1:19 PM

                          We can't measure average framerate on the 360 because of 30fps vsync lock. And once again no AA on the PC.

                          Anti-aliasing would have a 25-35% performance impact, which even at 25% brings the average below 30fps on the PC.

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                            July 17, 2014 1:43 PM

                            You absolutely can measure console framerate, it has been done, never read digital foundry? You just don't get a nice devmade counter in the corner.

                            The link that you show tells of 16x AF. Dial that down to the 4 that you might see in a 360 title and I would not doubt a 4x AA would keep it well above the lesser average of the 360 at those settings, turn off HDR and even moreso.

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                              July 17, 2014 1:56 PM

                              btw, went to digging, the Forza spec that I misremembered was in fact Project Gotham Racing.

                              Its framebuffer is all of 1024x600. Admirable perhaps that it has 2xAA, but still only runs at 30fps.

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      July 16, 2014 12:16 PM

      There was never anything particularly wrong with PC gaming except occasionally some issues with configuration, compatibility, and crapware screwing up system performance. Fortunately, all of these are things that we gradually make progress with. And as time goes on, I also think that the flexibility of the PC platform will be a benefit to people that have increasingly steep demands out of their entertainment platforms.

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      July 16, 2014 12:16 PM

      It never really died to tell you the truth, at this point nothing can stop PC gaming it is the Juggernaut, and always will be.

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        July 16, 2014 12:28 PM

        Although some might deride this as being too sweeping of a pronouncement, I basically agree completely. A general purpose computing platform is just too powerful to ignore. There's always ruminations about more specific platforms or remote platforms taking away the thunder, like for example everybody running their applications from dumb terminals, but that never pans out because it's ultimately contrary to the cycle of cheaper and faster parts.

        Why have a cell phone or a calculator when you have a computer in your pocket that can make phone calls or run a powerful calculator app?

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        July 16, 2014 12:29 PM

        Yup. I was always amused at the "PC gaming is dieing/dead" crowd, because that was always bullshit.

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        July 16, 2014 12:34 PM

        Agreed, it suffered some really bad ports there for a while but PC has been booming.

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        July 16, 2014 12:37 PM

        There shifts in different genres with some that were dominant now no longer being the hallmark of PC gaming and new ones that emerged to take their place.

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        July 16, 2014 12:41 PM

        The PC gaming market has grown incredibly. To put things in perspective a game that was considered a moderate success "The Witcher" has sold more copies than Half-Life 2 has to this day. Diablo 3 has sold more copies than all of the Quake and Unreal games combined.

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          July 16, 2014 1:08 PM

          It really is INSANE, I love the PC and it is my favorite platform [*strokes* the computer case gently]

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        July 16, 2014 1:12 PM

        it never died but there was definitely a pretty big lull from about 2003/4 to 2009 or so, where PC gaming was a kind of lame place to be if you were used to the sheer variety of games that were coming out years prior. the platform definitely collapsed into almost exclusively an MMO platform. i remember i went pretty hard into indie games during that period.

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          July 16, 2014 4:23 PM

          Very true, I try and forget that phase, there sure was that MMO everything phase thanks to WOW, thank god it is over.

          There is no question currently this is the golden age of the PC, it gets pretty much all the console games, exclusives, indie titles and finally respect from the main third party companies. Pretty much no one ignores the PC anymore.

          It is very cool times for the PC right now I hope the current state never changes, for it has the best indie titles, third party support of all the big tittles, multi screen extreme gaming, exclusives and even VR. I think one cool thing you really can not go backwards from the current state of the PC and that is pretty freaking amazing if you think about it.

          It's almost like the PC has finally given birth and is on its own now, out of its mothers womb and you can't go back Basically everyone knows it and wants to be a part of it, or sort of like the PC has finally acquired Jedi powers and no one can ignore or disrespect it anymore either you worship it or fear it. The cool thing there where many of us there from the start who always knew our time would come, the thing is we has a shit load to thank the new consoles for where things are now with the PC, never forget PS4 & XB1.

          What more could you ask for at this point, well I am sure I could think of some but it is pretty damn good atm.

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            July 16, 2014 4:34 PM

            I think things are gonna get super crazy when VR headsets hit retail. It's gonna be like when 3d cards first came out, but possibly bigger.

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              July 16, 2014 4:58 PM

              Ya I genuinely it's going to be one of those things that people will go to their friends house to try... when was the last time that happened.

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          July 16, 2014 4:57 PM

          I actually think WoW et al gave birth to a massive PC audience that otherwise wouldn't have existed. I played with tons of people who had never played games before WoW, or barely cared at any rate. As their addiction wore off the new audience was bored and hungry and dove right into Steam.

          I know we all like to lament the days of MMO dominance but I really believe they ended up having a positive effect in the long run. Of course I can prove none of this, just a hunch.

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            July 16, 2014 5:09 PM

            yeah don't get me wrong i don't think WoW was inherently a bad thing but at the time it definitely represented a pretty humongous consolidation of PC gamers for better or for worse. and people who weren't into that so much, or just weren't "one game" type people were definitely left without much options.

            it's very possible that in the long run it was a good thing, especially for a lot of people who were younger at the time. however, I do notice that we're not exactly seeing the same effects with LoL/DotA, at least right now -- the platform is still pretty vibrant, even with those leviathans floating around the waters.

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          July 16, 2014 5:32 PM

          I really hate what happened to pc games from around 2003-ish onward to a few years ago. So many bad ports. Tons of weird issues trying to run those games on modern systems, and might as well forget about taking advantage of the PC strengths. So many game that don't support AA, higher resolutions, widescreen, framerates higher than 30, or even run at all.

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            July 16, 2014 5:41 PM

            I think the two games that really got me down the most about the state of pc gaming in that era were Deus Ex Invisible War, and Thief Deadly Shadows. I was such a huge fan of both those franchises that to see both sequels so compromised to be console-friendly just made me sad. Maybe Deus Ex wouldn't have been a great game with larger levels and all the pc-centric things that helped make the original great, but Thief was surely hampered by the teeny tiny levels and other console compromises.

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              July 16, 2014 5:52 PM

              yeah those games were kind of the beginning of it. it was like "what the fuck are you guys doing," and then in 2006 when gears of war and oblivion were both huge it suddenly became obvious. they wanted to reboot everything for a console audience and set the clock back to 1990 for game mechanics. DX:IW and Thief just had the misfortune of being ahead of their time, in a way.

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                July 16, 2014 6:35 PM

                Guess times have changed. Saying this in the past would have been treated like some kind of heresy.

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                  July 16, 2014 7:13 PM

                  well, I mean, they were ahead of their time in turning the clock back in making everything console-friendly. Dunno if that's heresy...

                  it almost doesn't matter now though because we're finally now basically back at the point we were at in the late 90s/early 00s, and have even gained back some stuff that we were losing even back then, like deep turn-based experiences and adventure games.

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        July 16, 2014 6:41 PM

        Like people have said many times the PC has never left and isn't going anywhere. There were a few bad years with the introduction of the first nasty forms of DRM but nothing that would outright kill it. The thing that makes PC gaming so hard to track and define is that its mostly digital/streaming and plenty of competing services. On the console you see one semi-consistent experience and the metrics are easier to track.

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        July 17, 2014 3:50 AM

        [deleted]

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      July 16, 2014 12:17 PM

      what's more telling is that these sort of stories usually come out when current consoles are getting long in the tooth. adoption rate of the new consoles that bad huh?

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        July 16, 2014 12:38 PM

        From what I have read PS4 is selling really well.

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        July 16, 2014 12:40 PM

        The problem with consoles is that their lifecycles are too long and it takes forever to create them.

        PCs have always been a center of innovation and they are basically gateways to the Internet. Unless flexible browsers and open platforms come to consoles, they can never approach the same level of fluidity that PCs can when it comes to interacting with the Internet.

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        July 17, 2014 3:48 AM

        It's more that the new consoles weren't the significant upgrade that they needed to be in order to keep pace with the rapid PC development.

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      July 16, 2014 12:31 PM

      Having just upgraded my video card, another thing that's nice is that unless it's a super old game, everything is backwards compatible. And going back to those games with maxed graphics, higher resolutions and insane amounts of AA kind of puts those games in a new light.

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        July 16, 2014 5:36 PM

        That is one my favorite parts of pc gaming. Getting new hardware and maxing out a game you previously had to turn everything down in is such a great feeling.

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      July 16, 2014 12:39 PM

      The PC isn't back, it never left.

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        July 16, 2014 12:50 PM

        It hit a few bumps when developers tried to shovel nothing but shitty ports down our throats. I think a lot of them figured the PC was dying and then started to do a reversal when they found out it wasn't going anywhere.

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        July 16, 2014 1:11 PM

        As a main platform for AAA games, it left and isn't coming back.

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          July 16, 2014 1:14 PM

          So? Everything is multi-platform nowadays. That's awesome in my opinion.

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        July 16, 2014 7:10 PM

        aww yeah!

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      July 16, 2014 12:50 PM

      I like the mouse eating a gamepad image.

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        July 16, 2014 12:51 PM

        Ironically, I play just about everything on my PC with a gamepad these days. lol

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          July 16, 2014 2:08 PM

          Yeah I play a lot of games with it particularly flying games.

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            July 16, 2014 4:38 PM

            haha I'm way worse than that. Titanfall? Gamepad. Wolfenstein? Gamepad. Minecraft? I installed XPadder and created a custom mapping so I can play with a gamepad.

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              July 16, 2014 5:44 PM

              Oh yeah do a lot of fps shooters like that at least the SP stuff.

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              July 16, 2014 5:44 PM

              XPadder's such a great little program. I always have trouble getting mouselook to feel completely right using the analog stick though. So I end up giving up on games that require any sort of precision and returning to the mouse.

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                July 16, 2014 6:17 PM

                You need to tweak your dead zones.

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                  July 16, 2014 7:09 PM

                  I think it's more of an acceleration thing. Overshooting and undershooting. I've had to deal with deadzones a bunch though, since all three of my 360 controllers drift to one degree or another in games that don't have a proper deadzone.

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              July 16, 2014 9:54 PM

              That's what makes PC gaming awesome though, the options to choose your controls. KB+M should not be the only way to play. Gamepads, steering wheels, HOTAS sticks, etc.

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                July 16, 2014 10:13 PM

                I had everything from Atari joysticks and old Apple-style analog joysticks to flight sticks, steering wheels, giant force feedback joysticks and just about every generation of gamepad hooked up to my computers. I kind of miss all that stuff.

                I figure I'm going to have to get a flight stick again soon for some of these rad-looking space combat games coming out. :)

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          July 17, 2014 4:32 AM

          Same, whenever possible!

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        July 16, 2014 12:55 PM

        It looks like a left-handed Razer Deathadder.

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        July 16, 2014 3:15 PM

        Same, I like it.

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      July 16, 2014 1:04 PM

      Yes, proof: Oculus Rift.

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        July 16, 2014 2:08 PM

        Another situation that could occur either because of the Rift or at least in parallel to it is the resurgence of space sims; obviously those are best played with a joystick, which means implicitly that consoles are an inferior platform for those.

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      July 16, 2014 1:07 PM

      Often "PC gaming" is differentiated from "console gaming" by virtue of games designed to take advantage of mouse input and close-up high-resolution displays (and a more grognardy audience). But even when the exact same games come to PC/console I end up using my PC.

      So it's been a while since I spent any serious time using my 360 or PS3. Part of that is because, especially for the 360, it always felt like entering a space controlled by someone else. Hooking up my eyeballs to their advertising streams so that I can be appropriately monetized, and engaging in the carefully approved actions allowed to me.

      It's a touchy-feely subjective thing, and not some dramatic issue that I would take a stand on if some irresistibly awesome console exclusive came along. But as the years pile up it just got to be the sort of experience I'd prefer to avoid if I have the option.

      (Obviously things can change if Valve starts polluting my Steam library window with cross-promotions of the new show on the CW.)

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      July 16, 2014 1:46 PM

      I bought rocksmith 2014 for the PC. When my big screen tv is free, I become a rockstar!

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      July 16, 2014 2:04 PM

      [deleted]

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      July 16, 2014 2:07 PM

      yes. star citizen. next question

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      July 16, 2014 2:10 PM

      If/when PC gaming hits a speed bump, it will always bounce back for one simple reason. The PC is the trendsetter. Everything consoles do, PCs did at least five years earlier. That's what happened during the last 2-3 years of the 360/PS3 console cycle. Swarms of console gamers got tired of what their old boxes had to offer and went to the PC to see what new trends and tech had sprung up.

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      July 16, 2014 2:20 PM

      I disagree with the picture for the article.

      The great thing about PC is that I use my gamepad just as much as I use keyboard and mouse. It just depends on the type of game.

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      July 16, 2014 4:26 PM

      Why so click baity shacknews?

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      July 16, 2014 4:50 PM

      I think the author has it right when they mention mobile gaming and Steam.
      We are in an age where even phones will soon have almost full PC OSes built in which will mean that many games will be playable wherever you are with the hardware you naturally have in your pocket. Microsoft is trying to move their OS onto mobile at the moment and have partially succeeded to a state where software can be coded for their desktop and mobile systems without porting. This has seen some of their inhouse PC games running on mobile while sucking battery life but is a start which should go a lot further in the next 5 years. Steam will be on your phone as will all of your pc software and you will be able to play older games or more importantly new games made specifically to run on lower end hardware as many indie games do.
      As your phone gets a PC OS and you gain the ability to dock it with a full desktop of hardware including GPUs we will rely less on cloud storage for personal items or game downloading through services like Steam and your games collection will reside in either your phones storage or on a HDD in your home docking station.

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      July 16, 2014 4:57 PM

      as far as know Dragon Age and Far Cry 4 will both be released on PC too. And I have to say I think Valve has played the biggest hand in keeping the PC alive, along with cheaper hardware.

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      July 16, 2014 6:30 PM

      temp.css line 314 needs to have "0% 0%" changed to "center center". On a 1920 monitor that picture just looked like a blurry black thing.

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      July 16, 2014 6:48 PM

      "The irony is that console gaming didn't put PC gaming into the ground - it ended up burying itself."

      Unless I'm missing something, the article never really addresses this.

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        July 16, 2014 10:29 PM

        It does, the games that were popular on consoles got cranked on the PC platform, even though the consoles bankrolled development.

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      July 17, 2014 3:46 AM

      We had some tough times in the previous decade but PC gaming is back and here to stay.

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      July 17, 2014 6:49 AM

      Thing is, it never left. PC gaming has always been in the forefront of gaming regardless of stats and headlines.
      This is not news to me.

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      July 17, 2014 1:08 PM

      "intensive games like Bioshock Infinite" - Badum tss

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      July 19, 2014 9:28 PM

      We are Borg, I mean PC users.
      We add all innovation to our gaming machines as they are created rather than once every eight years.

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