The PC has always been the main gaming platform for “non-gamers”. But since gaming is statistically not the main reason most people own a PC, its standard controls are not gaming-specific, so developers have had to adapt. Most of the gameplay concepts we have nowadays were born from the limitations of the standard PC. So what is to be expected of PC gaming in the next 10 years?
According to techradar.com, in the near future, we could be using a unique, super-small, all-purpose device. Connect it to anything and the OS will automatically know which software to run from the cloud.
PC, mobile and console gaming would then cross-breed in a very interesting way. With no platform-specific genre boundaries, and with VR also in the picture, console developers having entered the market of what was once the PC - and vice versa - this could be a very promising scenario for gaming.
For commercial reasons, this convergence of hardware may or may not come to be - so let’s consider the following probabilities (most of them applicable to this hypothetical universal platform) as true for what we currently know as PC gaming.
Whatever the PC of the future will look like and however it will be used, gaming will remain one of its many uses.
The generations that grew up with games are now getting older. We have to be responsible adults, but we still want to play games – and, with tools like Unity, Unreal Engine, and others, we can decide what those games are, for free, by making them.
These points are reflected together in the seemingly casual, light-hearted approach to the gameplay of most indie titles nowadays. The average user will choose not to invest the time and effort it takes to willingly immerse their attention into a game that demands it completely. Playing games is taken up as a means of relaxing by most people.
This limitation matches those of indie development. The result is a subtly new form of easy entertainment which provides a unique and secretly superior avenue of expression for truly visionary artists – resembling in this respect older pop-culture forms such as sci-fi literature or comics.
Due to issues like console dev kits and company licenses as well as this casual-gaming factor, the indie market will probably remain mostly PC-oriented.
The social media experiment of building a global A.I.-type software that learns patterns of human behavior and then offers content based on those patterns so it can learn deeper patterns will most likely profit from the possibilities of combining MMO games with VR and AR.
While social media is not PC-centric and VR is a platform in itself (the headset could be a mini-computer in 10 years), we can still expect the PC to become one of the main platforms for a new dimension of social networking; one that would take the current social media games, increase their complexity a bit (not too much) and move them into a Second-Life-type environment, but friendlier and just as immersive.
The first people who happened to create interactive entertainment were tech geeks. They happened to think of certain game mechanics, and some of them – mostly cartoon-style violence – stuck. They stuck because the target demographic was made up of other tech geeks and of kids, mostly boys.
The current gamer demographic is still mostly male, still oriented towards the same types of game mechanics. This association itself keeps many people away from games in general, out of a sort of prejudice.
Indie developers, being necessarily out-of-the-box thinkers, have started slowly removing this stigma by exploring the possibilities of gameplay mechanics from the ground up – not based on the canon of pre-existing genres.
AAA developers will probably want to follow this trend, at least on a user-friendly platform like the PC. Hardcore gamers will still have their share of traditional titles, while most new developments will probably need to compete for originality.
Ultimately, the distinction will prove arbitrary.
If the PC survives as a platform and VR doesn’t become standalone in 10 years, most hardcore gamers will probably still be PC gamers.
After all, what’s already on the market right now when it comes to affordable, gaming-oriented PC laptops is, at the low end of the spectrum, at least as powerful as the highest-performance console.
All in all, consoles may offer an ideal medium to deploy a product to its most eager audience: hardcore gamers. But the PC will remain a valuable a sandbox for developers to test the possibilities of hardware and create new technological innovations. Gaming on your laptop or desktop computer may look very different in 10 years, but it’s here to stay.