Bigger Fish to Fry
One of the big companies I put the blame on is Microsoft. Back when Sony was making big business with its PlayStation, it began to take over the living room, especially when the PS2 launched. Microsoft saw the threat and decided that the Xbox was the best move: a PC built as a console, without Windows.
It worked, and Microsoft now has a gigantic multi-billion-dollar business because of it. Hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent on Xbox consoles, accessories, and the biggest money-maker of all: games.
Microsoft was so drunk on wanting to compete with Sony that it ditched its PC gaming business to concentrate on Xbox. We've seen Microsoft reiterate its position on PC gaming, but with games being developed on consoles first and then ported to PC, this is nothing but empty words, in my opinion.
If Microsoft teamed up with AMD, NVIDIA, and Intel and repositioned themselves all with the idea that games should be made on PC first and scaled down to consoles, things could work. But game developers and studios would need to be in on this too, which is something I don't see happening in the short term unless Microsoft really pushed it, and pushed it hard.
Valve is a company that is solely dedicated to PC gamers, and the company, in my opinion, is single-handedly saving the PC gaming industry and has been over the last 10 years. Valve has been doing what Microsoft should've been doing, and it doesn't even need to release Half-Life 3 yet.
When the company announced DirectX 12, it should've announced at the same time that it had talked to all of its partners, which would be pretty much every gaming studio on the planet, and that from this day forward, it (along with NVIDIA and AMD who power virtually every gaming console or PC on the planet) wants to see developers making games for PC first, and scale them down to consoles after.
It would've been huge news, something that wouldn't have an effect on the market for another year or two, but by 2015, things would start swinging around. Now, we have a world of games made for still underpowered hardware, the Xbox One and PS4, scaled up to PCs. It makes me sick.
4K, Increasingly Faster GPUs and Other Tech Are Useless
Why should I buy a 4K monitor when games are made for 1280x720? This means that the game is simply upscaling to the increased resolution, so while it looks better, the game world itself isn't made for that resolution. It's like watching a DVD on your $5000+ 4K TV; sure, you can do it, but it doesn't look that great.
Then we have the problem of user interfaces (UIs), which are again made for TVs (and thus consoles). So, when you do have an Ultra HD-capable monitor, the in-game user interface is made for a game that was built with consoles and therefore 720p (or so) in mind.
When 4K becomes mainstream, and GPU makers shift to the 20nm process, we're going to see GPUs that are $200 and much more powerful than what the PS4 and Xbox One are capable of, a GPU that can do 1080p at 60FPS or 4K at 30FPS without breaking a sweat.
Next-gen consoles will never push games out at 4K at a decent frame rate, so we'd need another generation of consoles released for that to happen, something I don't see happening, but it isn't impossible. Maybe we could see an Xbox One Pro or PS4 Pro? Or maybe I'm dreaming.
Controller and input lag is another problem for gamers stemming from games being made on consoles so that they're played on your TV. Console controllers have input lag to deal with, the lag between the controller, console, and TV, something you come to respect when you move to a keyboard and mouse for first-person shooters.
Ask any PC gamer to move to a console for their FPS gaming needs, and I guarantee they'll laugh at you. It just doesn't compete, but now all of these games are being built for consoles, and the aiming systems on first-person shooters don't feel right half of the time.
I won't even dive into the world of virtual reality, but Oculus VR are going to be another Valve in the coming years. Facebook has its business plastered all over PC and mobile, which is where Oculus VR is going with its Rift.
When PC gamers are enjoying truly mind blowing VR games on PC, what will console gamers be saying? Is this why Sony is working on Project Morpheus, so it has something to attempt to retaliate with? Oculus VR is ahead of the game right now, and has basically limitless pockets thanks to Facebook's acquisition.
Where to from here? Nothing will change, unfortunately; I could almost put money down on that. But, there is hope! I see Oculus VR and Valve changing the face of PC gaming in the next five years.
We already know Valve is working on Steam Box, Steam OS, Steam Controller, and allowing PC makers to make Steam Machines. Valve is pushing big time because of Microsoft and the lack of dedication to PC, so Valve is looking toward the light of Linux to power its Steam OS. But unlike Microsoft, Valve will be making its Steam Machine and Steam Box capable of both world's: Steam OS and Windows. You can install Windows onto a Steam Box or Steam Machine and enjoy the best of both operating systems.
Maybe you want to buy a Steam Box and play Battlefield 4 or Watch Dogs. You can install Windows on your machine and play those games. You can't just install Windows on the Xbox One (even though they're both Microsoft devices and operating systems), which is a disappointment. You also can't play Xbox games on the PC, another disappointment, especially considering they basically use the same hardware.
I don't see Microsoft allowing Xbox games to be played on PC anytime soon. We have been waiting years between Halo releases on PC, a disappointment to most gamers.
From here, I see Valve and Oculus VR "saving" the PC industry. There are no games coming out on the horizon that will push for 4K at 120FPS because the games are made on console first. The new Unreal Tournament might be something to look forward to, so I hope we see a giant leap in the graphics department of Unreal Tournament to show the world what developing on PC does for you.
Oculus Rift will push toward 4K before 2016 wraps up, if not 2015. With 90Hz+ displays required and used, 4K at 90Hz is going to require some serious horsepower. John Carmack is on-hand at Oculus VR as the Chief Technology Officer, so without the shackles of a console-dominated employer anymore, he will be able to make magic happen. You won't need a PC capable of 4K+ at 90FPS+, but that's the direction that Oculus VR is at least going in.
Valve will be the star of PC gaming in the future. Half-Life 3, Team Fortress 3, Left 4 Dead 3, and countless other games will put them at the forefront. Services, well, I'm sure Valve will update that when Steam OS is fully unleashed, and more so when Steam Boxes begin shipping.
The future of PC gaming is exciting, but we're going to see a shift of the companies we expected to save things, that's for sure.
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