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The death of the gaming desktop PC

05/31/08 | by Adam | Categories: Technology, Games

Link: http://gizmodo.com/392555/question-of-the-day-are-desktops-dead

A discussion similar to the one linked to over a Gizmodo came up the other day while at a gaming session with some friends. After spending thousands of dollars on killer hardware and hundreds of hours on installation, configuration, patching and troubleshooting, we came to the conclusion that, basically, the gaming desktop had no future. It's not going to be replaced by an uber-laptop, but by the games console.

Between instability, utterly frustrating copy protection schemes, incompatibilities between operating system releases and drivers on a standard desktop, we figured that a $400 console with networking abilities was basically the way to go. There are very few games now that can't be adequately played on one -- I'm still of the opinion that RTS isn't a very console-friendly format and World of Warcraft simply won't be ported -- but those are not (by and large) games people group together to play. Given that a lot of PC games are now merely console ports (hello, EA and "Need For Speed") it's not like a PC is even adding anything. A PS3 or XBox 360 is cheap, portable and, with an HDMI connection, able to be plugged into any recent (and decent) LCD panel with good good resolutions and refresh rates. Put in the game and you're ready to go.

There's no question in my mind that the desktop will keep going, albeit in lower numbers. I reckon most people will no longer need huge power-hungry graphics cards and banks of drives to store game installations and so migrate to straight-forward (and infrequently upgraded) laptops for their non-gaming uses. For others who make a living from digital video, art or programming there the desktop will remain -- they need the storage, graphics card, multiple monitors, beefy processors and so forth -- but they certainly won't be dual-purpose gaming boxes any more.

Originally we reckoned that this would happen over five years; I think now it's going to take a lot less time than that. I'm late to this party having been a gaming PC hold-out for years -- I bought my first console just months ago -- but take a look at the shelves at a Future Shop, Best Buy or Electronics Boutique. The PC games section is now comparable to that of the Commodore Amiga in 1993; it's not a sign of a growing market. "Digital Convergence" may have been the mantra of the last few years but specialization is the more likely future.


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