From VR to 4K, eSports to free-to-play, there has never been a better time to be gaming on PC.
But what are the core driving factors behind the sector's resurging success? MCV asked the PC experts
THE VR REVOLUTION
After years of developer-only prototypes, this year will finally see the release of at least two major VR headsets for consumers – the Oculus Rift and Valve's Vive VR.
Sasa Marinkovic, head of software technology marketing at AMD, foresees the huge impact VR could have.
VR is poised to dramatically transform an array of applications, including gaming, entertainment and more,” he says.
But for Phil Wright, head of content development for EMEAI at Nvidia, the real question will be whether the concept can find success outside of a niche audience.
He comments: The worry is ensuring consumers have a great first-time VR experience.”
He adds, on the effect VR could have on sales of higher-grade PC components: Undoubtedly, VR creates a greater demand for graphical hardware, which is nothing but great.”
"Undoubtedly, VR will create a greater demand for graphical hardware."
Phil Wright, Nvidia
CAN 4K TRANSFORM GAMING?
While PS4 and Xbox One are still aspiring to run games at 1080p resolutions, PC is already moving on.
Rich Leadbetter, director of Digital Foundry, observes: I see 4K as a very promising niche market, with a higher degree of relevance to PC gamers - when the screen is literally right in front of you, the improvement to image quality can be astonishing.”
He adds that such advancements will particularly help VR to take off: For various reasons, 4K and very high framerate support will be very important in virtual reality. It's going to require highly powerful PC hardware, plus a greater push for more optimised games.”
Andy Tudor, creative director at Slightly Mad Studios, comments that even 4K no longer marks the cutting-edge of graphics technology: We initially ran our game Project CARS at 4K, but with companies like Nvidia and Intel continuing to make leaps and bounds in new cards and chips it wasn't long before we moved to 12K.
Certainly, higher resolutions and framerates will become expected as new standards.”
THE LIVING ROOM INVASION
Long considered rivals, 2015 marks the year that the consoles and PC combine, in the form of Valve's living room-friendly Steam Machine PCs.
The idea of bringing PC gaming to the living room applies to a certain class of games and genres that are popular on the PC,” states Dennis Fong, CEO of Raptr, on the potential success.
But, that doesn't change the fact that you wouldn't play League of Legends kicking back on your couch – even if you could.”
THE RISE OF ESPORTS
Competitive gaming was born on the PC, and continues to thrive across the platform.
From titles such as Dota 2 and League of Legends that attract million of players, to services like Twitch that provide new avenues into the sector for newcomers, PC remains the home of eSports.
Fong observes: There's been a monumental shift both in the number of people that are into PC gaming and the accessibility of gaming on PC.
The result of that is the rise of things like Twitch and eSports because there are now hundreds of millions of new people in the community that can appreciate what's going on on-screen.”
PC CRACKS F2P
Once considered the scourge of mobile gaming by some players, free-to-play has found a footing on PC in the forms of triple-A titles such as the upcoming Fable Legends.
Emmi Kuusikko, business and strategy director at developer Lionhead Studios, observes: On the PC side, it's now widely accepted that free-to-play is not just pay-to-win. With League of Legends and other titles that have eSports communities, you just can't have pay-to-win in there.”
Fong adds that the model has also bolstered the PC audience: The free-to-play model working for high-quality games globally has really impacted in a positive way the PC games industry, because the barrier to entry is now practically non-existent.”
"Free-to-play has really impacted PC because the barrier to entry is now practically non-existent."
Dennis Fong, Raptr
MICROSOFT'S PC COMEBACK
Microsoft's latest operating system lands on PC later this year, introducing new cross-compatibility with Xbox One and other gaming-focused features, such as the new graphics engine DirectX 12.
Agostino Simonetta, third-party account manager for ID@Xbox at Microsoft, says bringing Xbox's console knowledge to the PC space will leave Windows 10 set for success among gamers.
Xbox is a brand that people love and have come to respect over the years,” he says. It will really show our commitment on Windows 10.”
Features include the ability to play multiplayer with those on Xbox One, as well as streaming Xbox One titles across to PC.
UPCOMING PC GAMES
GRAND THEFT AUTO V
Rockstar's opus takes the leap onto PC, adding 4K support