***UPDATE TO THIS ARTICLE*** - Please check this link here...
Hello everyone, greetings from my winter wonderland in Seattle! The weather here is crazy! Hey did you know that in Washington State they don't budget much for snow removal, yet it snows almost every year? I was amazed when we were driving down I5 and not only do most people NOT know how to drive in the snow, but their tires are completely inappropriate for such weather. We witnessed accident after accident, and cars doing 360's... When will they learn?
Anyways, this is my latest article for CPU Magazine - it's a bit of a doozy, specifically about the dog days of the Gaming PC. The days of the gas guzzling SUV PCs are dying, and we're about to see the future.
In this run-down economy it’s clear that companies need to carefully adjust the way they do business in order to succeed in the long term. The trick is adjusting to challenging times without overreacting. Being too reactionary is always bad, but common sense dictates that companies consider the current market conditions and adapt accordingly.
Few could have predicted the economic devastation that we’re currently seeing; stocks are down to incredible lows and many companies are slashing their forecasts based on current demand. We’re seeing companies like AMD and Ford hanging on by a thread; Apple lost 50% of its value; and the incredibly profitable Intel has seen its market cap decimated. Of course, companies like Apple and Intel are fundamentally sound and will be fine in the long run. Others, like Nvidia and AMD, are facing some incredible challenges, and although they may pull through, their product roadmaps will likely change dramatically, which brings me to my point: The gaming PC as we know it is doomed.
I am not saying PC gaming is doomed, because it’s not—far from it—but the PC with four GPUs, a 2-kilowatt power supply, 16 gigabytes of memory, and a stack of hard drives is all but distant memory, at least for the PC gamer.
Sure, there was a time when a gamer would slap down his credit card and buy a maxed-out configuration just to eke out a few more frames per second, but as the hardware reached its potential and new consoles were released, the landscape started to change. We witnessed this change some time ago (I’ve been writing about it here and there), and I have publicly called on AMD and Nvidia to bring more value to their offerings, because quite frankly I cannot justify buying three $500 video cards just to play a game.
And hey, if I can’t justify it, how are we supposed to sell it to our customers? There was a time when selling high-end hardware was easy, because we believed in it. Now we’re retooling and retasking our configurations so they make sense; let’s face it, high-end hardware has delivered diminishing returns in terms of value. This is why you don’t see ridiculous offerings like Quad SLI and 2-kilowatt power supplies coming from our company.
Ever since the Crysis fiasco, things have changed dramatically. We’re seeing a push for HDMI-enabled 1,900 x 1,200 displays, and manufacturers are stacking them with such extras as Web cams, audio, and microphones and selling them for less than a high-end graphics card. Even the 4-megapixel displays (30-inch diagonal screens with 2,560 x 1,600 resolution) are still popular, but you don’t need a Cray supercomputer to run them.
We’re also seeing Intel bringing low-power, high-efficiency CPUs to the desktop. In the meantime, both AMD and Nvidia are trying to pull down their thermal specs, though you’d never guess based on the current requirements. It would take some prodding to get them to see the light—and we’re almost there. Nvidia has some amazing stuff in the works, including Hybrid SLI and, of course, Visual Computing, which will change the company’s value statement dramatically.
Here’s the bottom line: The glory days of wicked-stupid hardware requirements are pretty much gone. Game developers are in the business of making money, and thus want to distribute their games to the widest possible audience. This doesn’t mean current games don’t scale, because we all know that games on the PC scale well if designed properly. You can buy a game that delivers a half-decent experience on a mainstream computer and a killer experience on a higher-end PC. The question is, just how high-end does one need to go in terms of hardware before he blows his brains out?
Yes, some cataclysmic changes are coming in this industry. For those of you wondering what will happen to the boutique space, I would suggest that unless the boutiques see the light, there, won’t be much of a space left. It’s a serious challenge, and it requires serious resources to keep up with the innovation that’s about to unfold