It was nearly 40 years ago, in 1981, when the very first IBM PCs started to enter the mainstream. Almost immediately, games like Microsoft Adventure and Microsoft Flight Simulator came on the market to add a fun element to this new technology.
Over the following four decades, it’s been something of a bumpy ride for PC games as they’ve fallen in and out of favour – and then back in again. This has been led by the competing forces of console gaming and, more recently, the meteoric rise of mobile gaming which saw it overtaking PC gaming in terms of revenue generated for the first time in 2017.
But while the numbers stack up in favour of the mobile experience, it would be very premature to write off PC gaming as old hat. There are still over 1.2 billion PC gamers worldwide and the success of today’s most popular games like Fortnite, League of Legends and Minecraft underline the PC’s enduring appeal.
And with computing power increasing all the time and hardware becoming more and more affordable – there remains a strong argument to plump for PC gaming over any other type.
The benefits of PC gaming
Perhaps the most important benefit of PC gaming is the option to customise your PC according to the budget that you have to spare. So it could be that you choose to invest in a better graphics card if there’s the cash to do it – and this is a feature that’s quite unique to the PC. Linked to this is the fact that it’s simple to effectively future-proof a PC by adding extra RAM or upgrading the HDD or SSD.
But where PC gaming really wins out is in terms of quality. The high-end graphics – including the potential for 4K imaging – simply isn’t yet possible with console and mobile games. Add to this the facility to play immersive sound through your own choice of speakers and it all adds up to a great gaming experience. Plus, many players already have a PC of some kind – eliminating the need to buy a console to play games.
Most suitable for: tech-savvy gamers interested in the best experience
The benefits of mobile gaming
We’ve already mentioned that mobile gaming has become the undisputed leader in terms of amount of revenue that it raises each year. But what is it that’s captured the imagination of the billions of players worldwide?
In a nutshell, it’s the huge number of free games that are available to play any time, any place and anywhere. Most of the games also have optional extras to purchase that can enhance the playing experience and, with increasing screen sizes, the games are becoming more complex and detailed.
Whether it’s Candy Crush or Pokémon Go, mobile games also have a very high level of playability. In the case of the latter, AR also adds to the playing experience – while mobile game developers are also experimenting with VR in bold new ways, such as with Google Cardboard.
It’s not just conventional games that work well on mobiles, either. The screen format and simple controls mean that they are also perfect for other sorts of games, including slot games.
Many leading online casinos have developed slot games that are increasingly engaging to play over mobile. They’re themed around a variety of niches – from music, to movies and more – and come with immersive audio soundtracks to make the gameplay even more fun and exciting. The jewel in the crown of any online casino is a thrilling range of slots which demonstrate just how advanced today’s games are.
Most suitable for: casual gamers on the move
The benefits of console gaming
Of course, that’s not to say that console gamers don’t have plenty of advantages of their own. That’s why there have been an incredible 75 million PlayStations sold since Sony launched them in 2013. Then there are the 29 million Xboxes currently in circulation.
On a purely practical level, the console is a compact piece of kit that will fit neatly almost anywhere you want to play and it’s also far more portable than even the smallest PC. Consoles are also relatively cheap to buy – you just need a TV or other screen with an HDMI connection to start enjoying playing on them.
The range of games available is also huge and many of them are exclusively for consoles, initially at least. There’s also a good resale market when it comes to console games – another important point in their favour. This is especially relevant thanks to the high initial cost of many games and this lets you recoup at least some of the initial outlay.
Consoles are also thought to be more accessible for gamers, compared to PC gaming. That’s because consoles are guaranteed to run any game smoothly. On the other hand, PC games depend on the processing speed and power of the machine they’re being played on – requiring forethought and planning when it comes to shopping for gaming titles.
Now, for the key drawback of the console. Generally it’s not possible to upgrade with more memory or a more powerful processor. If you want to get the very latest tech it’s always going to be a question of buying a new latest generation console.
Most suitable for: gamers looking for an all-in-one gaming system
What does the future hold?
Newzoo found that in 2018 the global games market was worth $137.9 billion and that mobile games accounted for 51% of the revenue, console games for 25% and PC games for 24%. Looking ahead to 2021 it’s estimated that the industry will be worth $180.1 billion, with the mobile share rising to 59% and PC games’ market share going down to 19% – although at $34.2 billion a year, they’ll still be generating considerable earnings for their developers.
So while the power of PC gaming may be on the wane, it still has a very bright future ahead of it. With so many benefits in terms of game performance, it’s certain to maintain a solid fan base – and the rising popularity of eSports and platforms like Twitch will also serve to secure its position. Ultimately, mobile gaming and consoles will still be more popular, but for the gaming purist the PC will always be the one to beat.