Are we living in the golden age of PC gaming?

Are we living in the golden age of PC gaming?

The PC is in fact the only platform that has remained stable in the entire history of the videogame industry, precisely because it is continually renewed within its changing borders, therefore it also becomes difficult to establish a real golden age, since the continuous evolution has led to ups and downs, historical courses and appeals.

Over the decades, the PC has seen the birth and decline of a large number of videogame generations, first with a certain detachment, then joining the consoles and finally overlapping these, going through different phases but remaining an irremovable presence of the video game landscape, but never as in this period has it been so pervasive and omnipresent, able to draw from the vast world of consoles, but also from its own exclusive reserve of productions, which in fact have never been lacking.

In short, a great step forward compared to when the end of PC gaming was feared, an opinion that actually returns cyclically in discussions on the gaming scene, but which has always been denied so far. The fluidity of the PC platform is what essentially makes it constant and apparently immortal: at this point it is no longer a question of a complementary device compared to the console experience, since it is proving to be able to replace it in an ever more complete way.

This not only as regards the catalog of games, but also in terms of use, which in fact remain the elements of greatest distinction compared to machines built specifically for video games. Let's see why we might think that this is a sort of golden age for PC gaming, keeping in mind what continue to be persistent problems for the platform.

Accessibility, savings and use

Steam, the historical logo of the store On the economic front, gaming on PC represents a sort of paradox: it is well known that it is necessary to invest significant amounts of money to be able to put together a performing platform for video games, but this can easily be counterbalanced by the great savings that can derive from the purchase of the software, which comes on the Windows platform with prices on average much lower than the console ones. The difference may have narrowed over the years thanks to greater regularity in the promotions of titles on consoles, especially in digital, but it is impossible to balance the score with an open platform such as the PC, which does not have to rely on centralized digital stores and can therefore offer lower prices with a much more dynamic economy. In fact, games on PC cost much less, this is a practically incontrovertible reality.

To all this we must also add the frequent initiatives that even allow you to download large quantities of games practically for free (such as the weekly titles of Epic Games Store) or bundles at ridiculous prices that would be impossible to find on consoles. Therefore, in the long term, this saving on the software front could compensate for the certainly higher expense that must be faced for the assembly (or purchase in bulk) of a gaming PC or even the individual components that need to be replaced at a probably pace. superior to the replacement generation of consoles.

Epic Games Store, logo of the other reality in affirmation in the PC market However, there is another element that can intervene to mitigate this obstacle, which has emerged especially in recent years: cloud gaming and the possibility of play streaming. The various cloud gaming services, such as Nvidia GeForce Now and Xbox Cloud, break down the access barriers imposed by the hardware requirements of the games, allowing anyone with a sufficiently good internet line to be able to play even expensive titles with machines much lower than the requests. .

Not only that, this possibility of using small and agile machines, or directly accessing the streaming through various available systems, has also changed the historical gaming style of the PC: the classic setting at the desk, with mouse and keyboard resting on a table, is no longer a necessity or a limit, since it is easily possible to resort to PC gaming even from a comfortable sofa, with a controller and connected to the main TV. Without considering Steam Deck.

An ever-expanding catalog

God of War PC, an image of the game From a platform complementary to consoles, the PC has gradually become a machine capable of understanding others and basically replace them almost completely, also in terms of the catalog of available games. Obviously there remain several exclusives for consoles only and, on this front, Nintendo titles continue to be substantially off-limits on the Windows platform, but the progress made with regard to other producers and third party pubishers in general has been really impressive in general. this years. For some time now, the PC has been an integral part of the Microsoft Xbox ecosystem, treated on an equal footing with consoles, but also on the Sony front we have seen a notable progression of events. The immovable PlayStation exclusives have begun to appear on Steam and Epic Games Store, marking a sea change in the gaming landscape, although there is still a long way to go to get to the situation of parity seen elsewhere.

That said, it remains In any case, the specific pool of PC games is intact: the indie landscape has expanded dramatically and, although it is now normally at home also on consoles, it still has its main core in the Windows platform. Many indie titles come out first on PC or stay there for a long time before eventually landing on other platforms, with this area representing a sort of inexhaustible source of "exclusives", also thanks to more dynamic and modular distribution systems than before through early access. , crowdfunding projects with progressive distribution and other modern solutions not feasible on closed machines and focused on integrated "walled gardens".

Cutting-edge technology

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090, one of the tips more advanced than PC gaming hardware A key feature of the PC is that it is a potentially superior machine, from the hardware point of view. This is because the configurations can range up to very advanced technological peaks, more than a console can ever do, given the long life cycle that it must go through and the fact that it is the result of a long-term design, before its actual release. The result is self-evident: a hardware configuration that can be constantly updated and enhanced will always be superior to a predefined machine and destined to remain more or less unchanged over the course of almost 10 years of presence on the market. On the other hand, the architecture designed to achieve certain results such as that of consoles allows for certainly superior optimization right away, but the fight on this front will always remain unequal, with the PC inevitably destined to represent the most advanced technological front of video games.

It should also be noted how the dynamism of the hardware market on PC has also led to significant technological advances as regards software solutions: the study on ray tracing starts from graphic cards for PC, as well as that on machine learning applied to 'optimization of graphics, all characteristics that have then also had an impact on the console, but which have emerged and have been studied mainly on computers. This is generally true for all the initially experimental trends in the videogame field, from virtual reality to interface systems up to online gaming with related services, all elements that necessarily start from the PC to then expand elsewhere and this pioneering spirit remains a fundamental characteristic of the computer field.

Persistent problems

Chip production continues to be problematic In the face of all these points in favor, it must however be noted that some critical elements concerning PC gaming remain, compared also to the use of consoles. To make the most of the full potential of this platform, you must be willing to get your hands on it: the assembly of the computer is a backbone of the PC, as well as a source of real "gameplay" for fans, between joys and sorrows. , but not everyone wants to keep up with the more practical part of managing a computer. In addition to the hardware, other additional headaches can also arise simply from managing the software, having to do with a machine that is much more complex than a console, with a full operating system and all the rest. It is clear that this is a platform that requires a certain dedication, which is not absolutely necessary with platforms exclusively dedicated to gaming.

This greater complexity, resulting from the large openness of the platform that allows for different approaches, emerges also in various other aspects of gaming on PC: the optimization of games requires a certain study and deeper action on the graphic settings to be adopted, all elements that favor attentive and passionate users, which can be very different from what represents a large part of the mass audience on consoles. Another big problem is what has arisen especially in recent years: the difficulty in finding hardware pieces available and at human prices. First the boom in cryptocurrency mining, then the crisis caused by the Covid pandemic has generated a chronic shortage of products available on the market, consequently leading to an uncontrolled rise in prices.

However and in any case we are in the in the midst of a real golden age for the PC market and the amazing thing is that the future looks even better.

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