PC gaming is nearing the end of it's era of dominance and the console is ascendant. In the next decade consoles are going to be the big thing for gaming and the PC will be home to casual games and innovative indie games, but there will be no more AAA PC exclusive titles. The reasons for this are manifold, but largely come back to the fact that the group of people able and willing to buy and play those games is not large enough to support the development costs of the games. Lets start with able, and by that I mean hardware. You essentially have to purchace a gaming computer in order to play any of the big name games on the market today. Modern gaming has requirements that far exceed those for day to day uses for the computer. Low end CPUs and integrated graphics are entirely adequate for everyday tasks. You can easily browse the web, play music, watch video, use office programs, burn CDs and whatelver else on any low-end budget machine from Walmart. It's only when you want to play games or do certain very specialized tasks (image or video editing for example) that you need more than the $399 budget machine. We rant about all the POS computers sold, but the reality is that they are entirely adequate for most users. No, they're not going to be able to play Crysis at all, but so what? The reality today is that if you want to play games you need a better computer. Then comes the willing. By the willing I mean the subset of people who have spent the money to buy an adequate computer and who are further willing to spend the money to buy your $50 game. There are a lot of people who are going to be in the first category, but not in the second. There are lots of reasons for this, the fact that they can pirate it is one, another is that they don't like a certain genre, or that they're pouring their money into a WOW subscription every month or whatever else. There are lots and lots of reasons that people choose not to buy games, even if they are able to play them. So that's the consumer side, lets look at the production side. Making the kind of huge, gorgeous, AAA games we all want is expensive. Making those games for the PC is also significantly more expensive because of the compatibility headaches, and the need to work around a nearly infinite number of potential hardware permutations. We've reached the point, as has been mentioned in a number of posts by industry insiders recently, where a game has to sell huge numbers of units in it's first couple of weeks to be considered viable. Basically, you must have several million customers who are willing and able to buy your game at full price in order to be viable. The more impressive the game is, and hence tha higher the hardware requirements, the smaller the "able" group of customers is, and hence the smaller the "able and willing" is. The lower the system requirements for a game, the larger the "able" group becomes, and hence the larger the pool of "able and willing". With so much money at risk, it's no surprise that studios and publishers are going to be unwilling to take risks on innovative new concepts in gaming. It doesn't take too many 15 million dollar failures to put you out of business. With that much at risk, it's amazing that games like Spore ever see the light of day in the modern market. With consoles there is no gulf between the haves and the have nots. Everyone who owns a PS3 (or 360 or Wii or whatever) is able to play your game, some are willing to buy it. You know exactly what hardware they have, and have only one set of standards to program for. You don't have to worry about propritary sound systems or different display driver models or incompatible BIOS issues. If you produce it it will almost certainly work, which means that customers are less likley to have a good expierience and buy more of your games. Sure, gameplay is still an issue, but writing for consoles reduces the number of potential user expierience issues. Given the issues at play, fewer and fewer people able to meet ever higher system requirements, the need to compete for the money of those who are able to play games, the pitfalls of developing for such a varied platform as the PC, the huge financial risks invloved and the relative ease of console development, it's no wonder that big budget PC gaming is dying a predictable death. That said, PC gaming will never die competly. The majority of homes have at least one PC, and so there is a massive market for games that will run on low spec systems. The advent of digital distribution has also opened up opportunities for indie developers that were not there a few years ago. Combined with the viral nature of the web, any monkey who can code a game has a shot at being the next big thing. Casual gaming and MMOs that run on low spec hardware are massive money makers for their developers, without being tied to a small group of the able. Likewise, we will continue to see PC ports of console games because spreading an IP across as many platforms as possible increases revenue and reduces a studio or publisher's risk and allows them to try more things. Essentially, ports expand your base of the "able" without being tied to the limitations and headaches of any one platform. This also allows for cross platform gaming, which both increases your potential audience for a game and also makes feasible more niche online games which are unlikley to attract enough users on any one platform to make a viable community. So what is the future of PC gaming? Well, that depends on your perspective. If you're addicted to massive, bleeding edge titles that are exclusive to the PC because no other platform can handle them, then it's pretty dark. If you like innovative new games that can be played online across different platforms, then you're in luck. I think we'll see the death of the "graphics is everything" mindset as the PC moves out of the limelight, but in the end I don't think this will be a bad thing for gaming overall. We've all seen more than a few promising games that sacrificed gameplay in the name of graphics. We've also seen a new platform, the Wii, demonstrate that games can be incrediably fun and innovative without being graphical powerhouses. PC gaming as we have known it is in it's twilight, but that does not mean that gaming is dead. instead, it is evolving into something new and different, and I hope that is something we will all be able and willing to embrace. NOTE: This bagan as a reply to another thread, but got out of hand, so I made it it's own thread.