When people think about the competition in the video game market, their focus usually turns to the home consoles such as the Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and Nintendo Wii. However, people often forget about (or dismiss) the PC platform entirely. The additional cost and hardware requirements make PC gaming less attractive for some, and it is hard to compete with the “plug and play” ease of a home console. However, the PC remains a solid platform for gaming, and recent sales figures are continuously showing a upward trend. Some might say that PC gaming is too niche to be successful, but the numbers paint a different picture.
According to industry experts NPD Group, the sale of PC-based games have earned over $80 million within the past year, which is a 230% increase over the previous year. These numbers are spurred on by the release of Blizzard’s highly-anticipated Diablo III, which became the top selling video game in May 2012 despite a tumultuous launch. The PC also has a technical advantage in games like Battlefield 3, which many gamers felt was inferior on the home consoles. These games have also sparked interest in people acquiring new gaming PCs, or upgrading the ones they currently owned. With the prices of serviceable gaming computers falling, the once cost-prohibitive nature of PC gaming is becoming more accessible.
Another possible reason for the rise in PC game sales is the decline we are slowing starting to see in the home console market. The numbers from the NPD Group also show a decline in sales over a six month period, culminating in a 28% drop in revenue. These figures apply to every area, including hardware, software and peripherals. This is likely due to the fact that our current generation consoles are nearing the end of their shelf-life. Nintendo has the Wii U on the way, which has no doubt resulted in fewer sales for the Wii console, and the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 successors have yet to be announced. With PC technology progressing while the consoles remain static, the increased sales should not come as a surprise.
PC gaming may have had its heyday back in the 90’s and early 2000’s, but it is still alive and well today. While the overall sales of PC games are not on par with the home consoles, the blockbuster titles and more accessible technology are responsible for the upward trend we’re seeing. The aging hardware of the home consoles is also compelling more people to see what the PC has to offer, so we will likely see it move further beyond the perceived niche market in the coming years.