Why gaming is a proxy for the PC market

Posted: 11.25.14

Or maybe a leading indicator

You can’t point to a single event like the big bang, but sometime late last year there was a renaissance, a rejuvenation, a revolution in the world of computer gaming, across multiple platforms, price points, performance, and personal use. ALIENWARE’S ALPHA UI Steam console.

Some of the sparks of the renaissance can be attributed to two new game consoles introduced with x86 architecture, a new gaming OS from Steam, a push into handheld gaming by Android-based games with serious 3D FPS playability, and smart TVs that become their own console. Alienware and dozens of new gaming laptops also rejuvenated the PC, the stalwart and ultimate gaming platform. HP woke up from its slumber and re-embraced gaming.

Intel invested more silicon in graphics and became even more enthusiastic about gaming. Intel constantly tried to present their platforms as being gaming-capable, but always with caveats (e.g., games one couldn’t play).

OMEN, HP’S new Voodoo-inspired gaming laptop.With all this new interest and enthusiasm for gaming, we watched the consumer PC market rejuvenate, and not just because Windows XP was going away—no gamer had used XP in maybe a decade.

New exciting titles on the PC and the new generation of consoles fueled the flames of the faithful, while attracting hordes of new players. Gaming as a spectator sport emerged in packed halls with large projector screens spawned by the idea of Amazon’s Twitch.

More than 30 million people tuned in for the recent League of Legends world championships. All of these fans are now gamers, too. And they can see the types of machines the champions are using, so they will be attracted to getting a similar system.

Today you are no longer chained to your gaming rig at home. Yes, that kind of machine can provide a wonderful ex¬perience, but we are a mobile society. We spend hours in airplanes, hotels, coffee shops, airports, and sometimes at doctors’ and dentists’ offices. We can read stale magazines, or newspapers, maybe even a book, but our need for excitement drives us to TV and gaming— and there’s just so many hours of Oprah one can watch.

In such situations you pull out your tablet and then ask yourself, do I want to run a game I have on my machine at home, one Nvidia has put up in their Grid gaming cloud, or one I’ve downloaded onto my tablet? (Nvidia recently announced its Grid online gaming service, which will use a Netflix-like model to supply PC-level games for free to all buyers of its Shield tablets.) PS4

Or maybe you are more aggressive and instead whip out your new HP Omen, or Razer, or one of the other new thin-and-light gaming notebooks. 

Intel, of course, doesn’t care which one you choose, nor does AMD. Nvidia would prefer you choose a Shield tablet, but will settle for your choice of a Google Nexus 9. Point being, all the players have skin in the game, so to speak, with their APUs, CPUs, GPUs, and SoCs.




What this all comes down to is that gaming, often the whipping boy and a mocked segment of the industry, has been the engine of growth for the PC market. And not only does gaming sell PCs, it sells accessories and software