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Nvidia: Console Software Sales Flat, PC on the Rise

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 78 comments

PC gaming is dead? Not so fast...

I'm not quite sure how it happened, but PC gaming seems to have gotten a bad rap over the last several years. It isn't from journalists like me, and it's certainly not coming from sites like Tom's Hardware; but at some point "they" decided that the PC should play second fiddle to the Xbox and PlayStation, instead of the other way around...or at the very least, seeing every player in the gaming space as equal.

Nvidia certainly has something to say about that, and the company's response isn't a sleek new near-$3,000 gaming laptop, nor is it some hot new PC title...despite Battlefield 3, Skyrim and Rage being right around the corner. Instead, Big Green is bringing cold, hard facts to the table. In short, it's all about the almighty dollar and how that cash is wielded by you, John Q. Consumer. I met with Nvidia recently to talk about gaming in general, as well as look at some exciting new hardware coming out in the near future. The latter is hush-hush until next month, but when it comes to the state of PC gaming, it's open season.

While Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo continue to sell consoles, game software sales for their respective platforms are stagnant, and Nvidia's research says that trend won't be changing anytime soon. Despite a 41 percent buffer in 2008, console software revenue will be eclipsed by PC games revenue in 2014. Console software revenue is flat, floating between roughly $21 and $24 billion, yearly, while revenue generated by the PC gaming market balloons from $13 billion in 2008 to a projected $23-ish billion in 2015. Nvidia breaks it down even further, showing that the bulk of PC games revenue is coming from digital downloads (Steam, Direct2Drive, etc.), meaning we're all spending less and less money on PC games when we go to Best Buy or GameStop. And rightfully so, since the latter's "PC Games Section" is one wire shelf amidst a sea of console paraphernalia and preorder-crazed salespersons.

Nvidia doesn't break down its data according to genre or service, but much of this newly-discovered cash is coming from the social gaming crowd, as well as from new business models. There's no denying that Facebook games like The Sims Social and micro-transactions in more "hardcore" titles like World of Tanks and League of Legends are pushing revenue streams and profit margins up for many developers and publishers. If that means publishers are either going to pump more money into PC games development, or come back to the platform that they've abandoned (Epic Games, anyone?), then I'm all for it.

Of course, the PC crowd should take these figures with a grain of salt since this information is coming from a company that eats, sleeps and breathes PC gaming hardware. That said, there's only so much you can do with numbers to make a given side look good, and these figures are painting a pretty picture for the PC gaming sector. If a mouse and keyboard are your weapons of choice (and I've been wielding mine since the days of Space Quest III and Catacomb 3-D), then believe me when I say PC gaming isn't dead. In fact, it's very much alive.

In other Nvidia news, the graphics hardware maker is tickled pink about the impending release of Battlefield 3, as it should be. The game is going into beta early next week (and by beta, EA really means "demo"), and quite frankly...the game looks incredible. Nvidia is throwing a huge LAN party next month to commemorate the launch of this latest BF title (rest assured, Tom's will be in attendance), and it should be one for the ages, especially since it's being held on a decommissioned aircraft carrier.

If you doubt how sweet Battlefield 3 is going to be, or how stunning the graphics and visuals are, here's a side-by-side comparison with an old favorite: 2005's Battlefield 2. A lot can change over the course of six years!

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Top Comments
  • 21 Hide
    house70 , September 22, 2011 4:39 PM
    Poetic justice would be to have Gruener write this article....
  • 19 Hide
    burnley14 , September 22, 2011 4:23 PM
    This doesn't surprise me as mainstream graphics are becoming more capable these days. Once an integrated GPU can play most titles on decent settings, I imagine that console gaming will take a really hard hit. If you can buy a mainstream laptop for everyday use and it also serves to play the latest games, why spend the ~$300 on a console as well?

    Since this hasn't been the case yet, and only higher-end machines that cost substantially more than a console have played games well (and often require upgrades to keep up with graphics progress), the tides will be changing very soon. Consoles have been successful for their convenience of playing everything well, without worries of compatibility or unplayable framerates. Once mainstream PC's can do the same, consoles will largely disappear. Just my two cents . . .
  • 15 Hide
    snwkill , September 22, 2011 4:34 PM
    Yea this data doesn't suprise me... New shiny console comes out, pc sales slump as the console hardware becomes dated, people want to go back to the PC. I do believe things like direct to drive and steam have given the PC an edge, as people can impulse buy a lot easier at their desk than they can getting in the car and driving to the store...

    I would be VERY suprised if the next gen consoles don't try to do this themselves, if I were Microsoft I would install a 500GB+ harddrive standard and either make a deal with steam or come up with my own internet store.
Other Comments
  • 10 Hide
    aftcomet , September 22, 2011 4:10 PM
    I hope they don't consider Farmville a game.

    This isn't likely unless good PC prices come down as the casual market doesn't build their own PCs.
  • 13 Hide
    reggieray , September 22, 2011 4:13 PM
    Haven't bought a PS3 game in long time but have several I plan on for my gaming rig, especially on 11.11.11
  • 19 Hide
    burnley14 , September 22, 2011 4:23 PM
    This doesn't surprise me as mainstream graphics are becoming more capable these days. Once an integrated GPU can play most titles on decent settings, I imagine that console gaming will take a really hard hit. If you can buy a mainstream laptop for everyday use and it also serves to play the latest games, why spend the ~$300 on a console as well?

    Since this hasn't been the case yet, and only higher-end machines that cost substantially more than a console have played games well (and often require upgrades to keep up with graphics progress), the tides will be changing very soon. Consoles have been successful for their convenience of playing everything well, without worries of compatibility or unplayable framerates. Once mainstream PC's can do the same, consoles will largely disappear. Just my two cents . . .
  • 4 Hide
    mobrocket , September 22, 2011 4:24 PM
    what is considered a "pc game" cus i think they are considering everything that isnt nintendo, msft, or sony...
  • -1 Hide
    rjq , September 22, 2011 4:28 PM
    Games availability is also a key factor besides computer prices going down by the years.
  • 15 Hide
    snwkill , September 22, 2011 4:34 PM
    Yea this data doesn't suprise me... New shiny console comes out, pc sales slump as the console hardware becomes dated, people want to go back to the PC. I do believe things like direct to drive and steam have given the PC an edge, as people can impulse buy a lot easier at their desk than they can getting in the car and driving to the store...

    I would be VERY suprised if the next gen consoles don't try to do this themselves, if I were Microsoft I would install a 500GB+ harddrive standard and either make a deal with steam or come up with my own internet store.
  • 21 Hide
    house70 , September 22, 2011 4:39 PM
    Poetic justice would be to have Gruener write this article....
  • 5 Hide
    beardguy , September 22, 2011 4:41 PM
    In Asian countries PC gaming is much more popular than console gaming. For every Karaoke bar, there's a PC lounge for gaming.

    PC's aren't going anywhere, even if in the US it seems like they may be dying.

    As consoles become more like computers, there may not be much difference between the two anyway. Perhaps all that "console" will mean in the future, is a standard set of hardware tucked inside a nice little case.
  • 6 Hide
    leandrodafontoura , September 22, 2011 5:00 PM
    This speculation is ridiculous. The chart shows that console beats PC in sales, has been for the last 3 years and may continue to go on that way. Nvidia cant predict a result 4 years from now, specially when there will be a console refresh in 2 years.

    Not saying PC gaming is dead, not saying we need a console refresh either
  • 2 Hide
    delbrugge , September 22, 2011 5:17 PM
    who cares who is winning. there are so many factors playing into both the console and pc world that neither is better. all i know is that building a gaming pc compared to buying a console is cheaper and all my friends are on xbox. that's all that matters to me.
  • 0 Hide
    jecastej , September 22, 2011 5:26 PM
    Gaming on a PC may be growing, not the general use for consumer desktop PCs, that is going down. Bur al least it looks the PC gaming is recovering and I feel good about it because the current PCs are much more powerful and I don't have to invest more for gaming.

    Give me an upgradable console option, some hybrid and I will consider that console, but with 5-7 years cycles in the latest years the hardware is too outdated. The Playstation may have longer legs. Also not everyone will want to pay extra for upgradeability.
  • 0 Hide
    clonazepam , September 22, 2011 5:28 PM
    Facebook saves PC Gaming? Who'da thunk it. jk

    Hopefully we continue to see a steady stream of awesome $5 indie games. In this economy, $5-$15 is probably the sweet spot in pricing where people are willing to take that gamble on a game that might suck.

    I have to think really really hard and review and study a title as much as possible before dropping $50 or more. For example, say I want to buy the combo pack of Crysis and Crysis Warhead on steam for $30. I was still unsure about it until I checked Origin's price and they want $30 for each.

    Hollywood takes old IPs and re-releases them all polished up, sometimes for the better, sometimes not. There's a million old titles I'd love to see given the fresh new AAA title attention. The gaming industry would at least save money by only re-touching the original story and not have to do a complete re-write.

    Steam FTW!
  • 2 Hide
    back_by_demand , September 22, 2011 5:30 PM
    aftcometI hope they don't consider Farmville a game.This isn't likely unless good PC prices come down as the casual market doesn't build their own PCs.

    mobrocketwhat is considered a "pc game" cus i think they are considering everything that isnt nintendo, msft, or sony...

    One would assume that as nVidia had something to say then the games in question are those that require a discrete graphics card
    ...
    So no, not Farmville or other casual browser based games.
  • 3 Hide
    KelvinTy , September 22, 2011 5:41 PM
    Old days, stupidly expensive computers to play games and not everyone needs a pc for work.
    Modern days, middle-class computers become a hell lot more affordable and almost every single job would pretty much include a little bit of computering, email, facebook, netflix, itune, skype and other useful softwares?
    This is especially true when the consoles are getting very old...
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , September 22, 2011 5:46 PM
    Good news imo, pc building is becoming easier and easier. When I first built one it was damn hard. Soon it may become so easy that everyone is doing it.
  • 5 Hide
    traumadisaster , September 22, 2011 6:14 PM
    Consoles are mainstream and easy for the masses. Which is where the money will always be. Pc gaming is such a niche hobby in comparison, albeit one we enjoy obviously since we are on this website. But all of my friends are blind to this sub-hobby they wouldnt fathom spending the effort, time or money on pc gaming. I'm constantly rationalizing the extra work it takes to be a pc gamer. It must be bliss to live in ignorant console world, But I'm glad I know the truth about jaggies!
  • 4 Hide
    bystander , September 22, 2011 6:17 PM
    jecastejGaming on a PC may be growing, not the general use for consumer desktop PCs, that is going down. Bur al least it looks the PC gaming is recovering and I feel good about it because the current PCs are much more powerful and I don't have to invest more for gaming.Give me an upgradable console option, some hybrid and I will consider that console, but with 5-7 years cycles in the latest years the hardware is too outdated. The Playstation may have longer legs. Also not everyone will want to pay extra for upgradeability.


    I think you fell victim to sensationalistic journalism. The PC market is still growing. What you read was a journalist saying that it's not growing as fast as it used to, but it is still growing.
  • 6 Hide
    brucek2 , September 22, 2011 6:23 PM
    Ignoring the 5 years in the future, which at best is an estimate, this article is based on 3 years of data. And that data shows console sales being both well ahead of PC sales and moving in the same direction.

    I'm a PC gamer and rooting for its supremacy (fewer console ports please!), but for this article to be taken remotely seriously it needs a lot more explanation about where those 5 years of estimates came from.
  • 4 Hide
    Soma42 , September 22, 2011 6:26 PM
    The only reason consoles can have a 7+ year lifespan is the graphics are pretty much stagnant after the first few years of a consoles' life. I haven't touched my Xbox in years, for many reasons really, but mainly because the games look like crap compared to my PC.

    PCs are constantly improving visuals, which is why titles like Skyrim and BF3 will be visually brilliant on a PC and merely mediocre on consoles.
  • 1 Hide
    clonazepam , September 22, 2011 6:32 PM
    Soma42The only reason consoles can have a 7+ year lifespan is the graphics are pretty much stagnant after the first few years of a consoles' life. I haven't touched my Xbox in years, for many reasons really, but mainly because the games look like crap compared to my PC.PCs are constantly improving visuals, which is why titles like Skyrim and BF3 will be visually brilliant on a PC and merely mediocre on consoles.


    I'm with you 100%. My xbox 360 hasn't been turned on in ages. If I ever do turn it on, it'll be to finish Gears of War 2 and Final Fantasy XIII. Neither is likely to happen though.
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