Over the past few years, there has been a slow transformation happening in the gaming world with the resurgence of PC gaming. As with many things, industries evolve and often experience ebbs and flows as the pendulum swings back and forth. The beginning of “modern” gaming began sometime between the 1970s and 1980s when personal computers entered the general consumer market. Gradually over time, the pendulum swung over to the side of console gaming dominance with Atari, Nintendo, PlayStation, and Xbox infiltrating living rooms across the world beginning in the mid-90s and reaching their height in the early 2000s.

Resurgence of the Gaming PC

From the late 90s until 2012, despite debates within the gaming world, consoles reigned supreme in public consciousness. In 2012, the tides began to change as multiple technological advances came together in the perfect storm that paved the way for PC gaming to emerge from its dungeon on the outskirts of society and crawl back into the mainstream light. Now console PCs are once again in competition with gaming PCs and the lines are more blurred than ever before. It is unclear whether a gaming console is just a small form factor desktop PC, or if a desktop PCs is a dressier version of a console.

The recent resurgence of PC gaming cannot be traced to one single change, but rather is the result of multiple evolutions in technology added to each other one step at a time. It has been an intricate dance between consumers, game developers, and PC manufacturers. One of the biggest catalysts has been advances in graphics card capabilities; as graphics cards became better, gaming developers were able to develop more interesting and immersive games and thus attract consumer attention. Where there is consumer attention, there is manufacturer investment. The PC manufacturer Eye of Sauron snapped to the dollar signs coming out of the gaming PC market segment, bringing mainstream manufacturers into the gaming PC world.

Once major manufacturers entered into the gaming PC word, the PC retail landscape increased exponentially from 2014-2016. The biggest success story is gaming desktops specifically. Poor desktop computers have been the rejects of the PC market ever since laptops became popular. But fret not, the humble desktop was just lying in wait until it was called to fulfill its destiny; provide a gaming experience like no other.

Charted trend of gaming PC placements in US Retail Channel

Gaming PCs vs Console

To look at the gaming industry through a different lens, the personification of gaming PCs and consoles can reveal some telling truths about the current competition between the two categories. Gaming PCs are often considered the alter ego of a workstation PC, perhaps with a dash of narcissism and an over inflated sense of self due to excessive concern with appearance. On the other hand, gaming consoles may have a Napoleon complex, seeking to compete with the big boys, but are blinded by their own inability to reach the same heights due to their inherent shortcomings of size.

The fact that the competition between gaming PCs and Consoles has entered mainstream society is a major feat for gaming PCs, which until recently were banished to the outer realms. Much like Sir Jorah Mormont from Game of Thrones experienced his own troubles during his exile to Essos, his loyalty and commitment to the mother of dragons herself, earned his redemption, and gaming PCs and its loyal followers have done the same. They now ride across the Narrow Sea to take back the throne and reign supreme over the consumer land of gaming.

The Future of Gaming PCs

Over the past four years, graphics cards began taking over across the PC industry as more important than the processor when it comes to what differentiates one product from another. Even more recently, with the rise of Virtual Reality, the importance of graphics cards can surpass that of the processor. With better graphics, PC gaming was able to draw more attention to itself. The industry has now reached a point where consoles have to compete with gaming PCs once again. Microsoft’s latest “Project Scorpio” announcement at E3 centered around the new consoles ability to compete with your gaming PC.

The gaming industry has come full circle, right back to where it started with the desktop PC, but much like a Pokemon evolves as it ages and battles its opponents, the desktop PC has reentered popular society stronger and more powerful than ever before. As we move forward, VR and the VR capabilities of a particular product will continue to shape this landscape. It is unclear yet what the future will bring, but the industry will continue to keep us on our toes, who know the next target could be right around the corner.