Sweeney: PCs Good for Anything... But Games

Unreal creator: Tim Sweeney PCs are good for anything, just not games” on TG Daily is a Q&A with the Epic CEO which, as the title of the article suggests, features some negative comments about the PC as a gaming platform. This is actually just the age-old complaint about PCs with integrated graphics, as he says that mainstream PCs are not suited to gaming:
Retail stores like Best Buy are selling PC games and PCs with integrated graphics at the same time and they are not talking about the difference [to more capable gaming PCs]. Those machines are good for e-mail, web browsing, watching video. But as far as games go, those machines are just not adequate. It is no surprise that retail PC sales suffer from that. Online is different, because people who go and buy games online already have PCs that can play games. The biggest problem in this space right now is that you cannot go and design a game for a high end PC and downscale it to mainstream PCs. The performance difference between high-end and low-end PC is something like 100x.
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Mar 11, 2008, 09:35
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As usual, a lot of people reply without reading the whole article. Tim Sweeney has a good head on his shoulders, and definitely knows what he's talking about. I won't pretend to know whose fault it is that games don't work on crappy video cards anymore. On the one hand, you could argue that it's developers' fault (like Sweeney) for abandoning software rendering once 3D accelerators started becoming the norm. But why should developers be forced to not be able to keep using the same old hardware baseline? Intel could have improved their graphics cards to keep up with games, but they didn't.

The end result is that while the installed user base for PCs is very high, only a small fraction of that user base has gaming-grade PCs. Sweeney is absolutely correct that gaming PCs cost far more than they are worth, and that the price makes the point of entry artificially high. Hardcore gamers know that it's possible to build a good gaming machine for under $1000, but the average computer buyer doesn't know that. They think you have to spend $2000+ to get a good gaming machine (probably from Alienware). Console gamers, on the other hand, don't need to know anything about their platform. They simply buy the console and can play any game out there (of course, there are a few exceptions that require specific addons). In a way, the hardware enthusiast market (combined with manufacturers like Intel putting crappy graphics cards on their PCs) is keeping casual PC users from playing hardcore games, which some of them might do if their PCs were capable of it.

It will be interesting to see what happens as an end result if console gaming continues to take the market away from PC gaming. If it becomes strictly a niche market, maybe hardware prices will finally start to become realistic. I don't think PC gaming will ever die, but there might come a day where publishers stop bothering with ports and all we get is indie games and casual games.

By the way, did anyone else read about Tim Sweeney's computer? I'm guessing he never runs low on memory when he's developing... 16 fucking GB of RAM!

This comment was edited on Mar 11, 09:36.
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