Between Console Generations, E3 is a PC Gaming Show

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The Electronics Entertainment Expo, E3, is often thought of as a primarily console-focused show. But as we approach the end of one console generation and the beginning of another, and with console juggernaut Sony skipping out on the show altogether, PC gaming filled the gap here in Los Angeles.

Now, consoles aren’t going anywhere. While Sony isn’t here at the Los Angeles Convention Center, we know it’s next-gen, AMD-powered PlayStation is on the way. Microsoft revealed Project Scarlett, it’s next Xbox (also powered by AMD) at its own conference. Square Enix had a few console-specific games, likes its Final Fantasy VII remake on PlayStation 4. And Nintendo streamed its E3 Nintendo Direct online, providing more fodder for its Switch console.

But if there’s one stalwart, it’s the PC.

That’s one part of Microsoft’s strategy. The company is putting its gaming on console and PC, especially among its Xbox Game Studios. Over 60 games were at the Xbox press conference, and almost every single one was showing up on PC day and date with Xbox One and, in the future, Scarlett.  To a degree, this is a continuation of its existing plans, but also a furthered commitment, with more in-house studios than ever building games for both platforms. And perhaps the biggest standout that’s not on PC yet - Halo: The Master Chief Collection - will be coming (which we’ve known for a bit) with the addition of Halo: Reach.

That’s also why Microsoft has added a PC component of Xbox Game Pass, with a $9.99 monthly charge for over 100 PC games. It’s also part of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, combining console and PC game subscriptions with Xbox Live Gold for $14.99 a month.

Over at Bethesda, Ubisoft and Square Enix, a number of the highest-profile games were also highlighted on PC. Bethesda showed off Wolfenstein: Youngblood and Doom Eternal, Rage 2 and a number of others, while Ubisoft trotted out Watch Dogs Legion, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Breakpoint and its own UPlay Plus (stylized UPlay +) streaming service for its library of PC games (though that will eventually also make its way to Google Stadia as well). Square Enix showed off Outriders, a new shooter from People Can Fly coming to PC and consoles, Marvel’s Avengers, and a remaster of Final Fantasy VIII.

And, of course, our sister site PC Gamer had a whole show full of games on the PC, including Borderlands 3, Shenmue III and a number of indie games like Sam Barlow and Annpurna’s Telling Lies and Tripwire and Torn Banner’s Chivalry II.

AMD’s presence was also outsized at E3 this year, as it debuted its RX 5700 and RX 5700 XT GPUs as well as its Ryzen 3000-series stack. The company paraded The Coalition on stage to show off Gears 5 on PC, Gearbox to display Borderlands 3, Ubisoft for Breakpoint and some new developments for the Unity engine.

And with AMD’s parts in consoles for yet another generation (Xbox One and PS4 both use a modified AMD “Jaguar” CPU and custom AMD graphics), it should only be easier for console and PC games to be ported to each other and be developed alongside one another.

That’s all besides a ton of peripheral companies showing off their wares at the show, many with mice, keyboards and headsets to show off.

This all highlights the PC in two ways: One, as a steady stalwart as console hardware prepares to change (however promising the new hardware sounds); and two, as a thriving gaming ecosystem even as those new consoles and the cloud continue on as rival options.

So if you’re looking for something to play on your PC in the next few years, there’s plenty coming. And if you were worried about the future of the platform, well, it’s clearly not going anywhere in the near future.

Image Credits: Getty

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Andrew E. Freedman is a senior editor at Tom's Hardware focusing on laptops, desktops and gaming. He also keeps up with the latest news. A lover of all things gaming and tech, his previous work has shown up in Tom's Guide, Laptop Mag, Kotaku, PCMag and Complex, among others. Follow him on Threads @FreedmanAE and Mastodon