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PC Gaming Enters a New Cycle


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Tablets, smartphones and certain consoles be the sexy newcomers in gaming platforms, but PC gaming isn't dead.

Nvidia’s third quarter earningsare in, and apparently, quite good, with a revenue increase of 4.9 percent over last quarter. While you might expect the company’s Tegra smartphone and tablet processors to be the stars of the show, Nvidia’s actually attributing much of its revenue growth to desktop graphics cards for PC gaming.

That’s right, the gaming platform that conventional wisdom loves to declare dead is actually a big money-maker for Nvidia right now, with revenue growth of 23 percent over last quarter. And Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang is not surprised:

“This happens every major game console cycle toward the second half of its product life, because PC technology advances on a regular basis instead of once every seven to ten years,” Huang told investors.

As PCs become more powerful, game consoles’ technical limitations are showing. Battlefield 3, for instance, only runs at 30 frames per second and 720p resolution on consoles, whereas the game looks much smoother and sharper on high-end PC rigs. I must admit, as a die-hard console gamer, even I’ve become tempted to splurge on a speedy desktop.

The bad news for Nvidia -- and for rival chip maker AMD -- is that we’re starting to hear rumblings of new consoles from Microsoft and Sony, and Nintendo has already announced its next-generation Wii U. The latest scuttlebutt claims that Microsoft will announce a new Xbox either at CES in January or at E3 in June. If graphics card sales peak when game consoles get old, they’ll surely drop when new consoles come around.

So perhaps PC gaming wasn’t dead and isn’t dying. It just comes and goes as gamers demand more power.

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