PC Gaming Hardware Boom

By Jim Rossignol on November 19th, 2008 at 11:06 am.

Cleverthinks research company Jon Peddie Research have put together a report on the state of the PC hardware market, and it’s looking good. Peddie says: “From Q3 2005 till Q3 2008, 196 million gaming PCs shipped, and 10 million of them were in the Mainstream Enthusiast class—and if we include mainstream desktop and High-end high-end notebook, we could add another 187 million units—now that really is a lot.”

The Techwatch article (currently on the front page of the Peddie site) seems astonished at the rude health of the PC gaming industry compared to the fledgling consoles. In fact it gets a little sarcastic about the HDTV fanfare from console types: “Thankfully HD TVs are sneaking into the living room bringing 720p and, in some cases, 1080i capability. Imagine, 720p almost as good as 1024 x 768—old XGA resolution introduced by IBM in 1988—wow.”

Peddie sums it up: “Fact is the PC Gaming Market is bigger, worth more money, growing faster, and has better technology than the console market. How come no one but us seems to know that?”


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  1. Gaming Guru says:

    Good to know in these troubled times…

  2. Bobsy says:

    On better tech than consoles… ’twas ever thus. The problem is that the sheer variety of hardware combinations encountered makes it near-impossible to optimise software for the platform. The original Xbox had pretty feeble tech, but could still crank out the high-end visuals of Halo 2.

  3. SLDeviant says:

    Concentrated truth, leave the non-believers to their consoles. The promised land of PC will be kept for the chosen!

  4. Paul Inc says:

    “Concentrated truth, leave the non-believers to their consoles. The promised land of PC will be kept for the chosen!”

    I second that.

  5. pauleyc says:

    “Imagine, 720p almost as good as 1024 x 768—old XGA resolution introduced by IBM in 1988—wow.”

    Wow indeed. And a plague upon those PC game reviewers that mention HDTV resolutions with regard to PC hardware: “runs at 60fps at 720p on our system”.

  6. Mark-P says:

    Price must surely be helping. ATI/AMD have done gamers a great service with the 4XXX series of cards. If NVidia had their way we’d be paying £100 more for a decent gfx card. Add on reasonable mid-range Dual Cores from Intel and cheap DDR2 prices, and the realisation from many companies that the low-to-mid range is a huge potential customer base, and you can now get a solid gaming PC for a good price. The price difference with consoles can easily be made up in the reduced cost of the games themselves over a system’s lifespan.

  7. Gap Gen says:

    If only piracy weren’t killing PC gaming…


  8. Dexton says:

    Agree with Mark-P, the price difference between a decent home built PC and a console may seem like alot, but when you factor in games that are nearly double the price you can make the money back after you purchase 10 games or so.

  9. Okami says:

    Gap Gen beat me to it.. damn…

  10. marilena says:

    Well, I don’t see how the health of PC gaming can be measure in hardware sales.

    In fact this is even more worrying, it says that people have PCs capable of playing high end games, they just don’t want to.

    They may be all busy playing World of Warcraft, or they may be playing pirated games, I don’t know, pick your favorite PC gaming doom bringer, but they surely aren’t buying as many games as console gamers.

  11. ChaosSmurf says:

    If only it was massively easy to pirate console games too :<

  12. Guido says:

    “If only piracy weren’t killing PC gaming…”

    Heh, and console gaming, as we saw with Fallout 3 :) The XBox isn’t sold in some regions in asia in the first place for piracy reasons, right?

  13. AbyssUK says:

    I’d like to see figures for fallout 3…

    on play.com the pc one was 24.99 while the 360/ps3 was 39.99… i’d like to see how the sales compare.. did more people buy it on the console or the pc ? Then which made the devs more money the pc or the consoles ??

  14. cannon fodder says:

    As usual with the consoles: when they come out they are ahead of the curve/on the bleeding edge compared to PCs in terms of hardware.

    Two/three years later midrange PCs are comparable/slightly better and the high end is streets ahead (I’m ignoring the theoretical performance of cell in the real world it’s almost impossible to utilise fully)

    Taking in the above it has been noticable how console/PC codeveloped titles are now looking a little tired graphically when compared to their PC specific counterparts. For example Crysis vs. FarCry 2 or Stalker clearsky vs Mass Effect amoung the games I’ve played this year.

  15. Kieron Gillen says:

    Marilena: The “Health of PC Gaming” is a different thing to “The Health of the PC Games Business”. Both WoW and Piracy count for the former.


  16. The Sombrero Kid says:

    this is a point I’ve made before is that it’s in hardware manufacturers interest to keep the pc market going and the pc games industry if they have to they’d fork out the cash to develop a game and give it away for free and have been doing similar things to that for years bloating revenue for games like crysis but shrinking their sales figures

  17. Down Rodeo says:

    Oh, that’s quite nice :)
    Thanks for sharing RPS! Gaemz pwn credit crunch? I realise that these are figures from a while ago but it would be interesting to see if the gaming industry will continue to grow or if games will be one of the first things to go when belts get tight…

  18. notlimahc says:

    That 720p comment is a bit dishonest, 1280*720 is larger than 1024*768. Also, going by the Valve Hardware Survey 50% of PC gamers were still using 1024*768 or lower in November of 2006.

  19. The Colonel says:

    Who owns a console that doesn’t ALSO own a PC? Forgetting the extreme cost of games on consoles (plus extra controllers, HDDs, plastic guitars and ‘Expansion Paks’), the total cost of being a PC gamer who also uses Facebook, Microsoft Word and Youtube is surely much cheaper than a console owner who does all these things. A crap computer will still play old games, unless perhaps it has onboard graphics. The great thing about PC titles is that the quality of the best of them doesn’t take a massive dive when the graphics are out of date. Perhaps this is the reason why we’re on Sonic 24 and The return of the return of the return of Solid Snake adventures in Gran Turismo-land.

  20. Evangel says:

    cannon fodder, consoles aren’t anywhere near “top of the line” when they come out, they’re at least a generation behind, if not more.

  21. Butler` says:

    notlimahc, equally, you could point out only X% of console users have a HDTV.

    I sniggered at that comment, recalling a ‘debate’ I had with a 360 fanboy at Uni, informing him that ‘high def’ isn’t actually so high for us PC folk :p

  22. Okami says:

    A crap computer will still play old games, unless perhaps it has onboard graphics. The great thing about PC titles is that the quality of the best of them doesn’t take a massive dive when the graphics are out of date. Perhaps this is the reason why we’re on Sonic 24 and The return of the return of the return of Solid Snake adventures in Gran Turismo-land.

    I really don’t understand what you’re trying to say with this. There are absolute classic games for old consoles that are easily as good as the best classic pc games. And it only takes an old and cheap console to play them.

    The best console games also don’t take a massive dive when their graphics are out of date. Super Mario Bros 3 still is one of the best platform games ever made, Chrono Trigger still is an amazing RPG and Shadow of the Colossus will allways be one of the first games mentioned in any discussions about “games as art”.

    I dare you to take a good look at PC games from 5 to 15 years ago and tell me how many of them have aged well. Take an especially good look at your early 3D games..

    As for sequels…. Well there are enough PC gaming franchises that are currently in their Nth iteration, so I really don’t see your point there.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love my PC, but I’ve never quite understood the hostility against consoles displayed by some pc gamers. I also don’t get the point of bashing consoles or feeling superior to console gamers. Then again, I was brought up on the Commodore 64 and Amiga 500, so I allways was both a PC and a console gamers, since in the glorious age of home computers you used one machine for deep strategy and role playing games as well as for arcade and jump’n'run games.

  23. Ginger Yellow says:

    “I dare you to take a good look at PC games from 5 to 15 years ago and tell me how many of them have aged well. Take an especially good look at your early 3D games.. ”

    I’ve got no hostility to consoles, but this seems a bit of a bizarre comment on a site which has massively supported things like Good Old Games and features posts about, say, Carrier Command or, just two days ago, a Spectrum classic . Speaking for myself, I regularly play games from 10+ years ago and love to plunder abandonware sites.

  24. notlimahc says:

    Butler` – Most PC users would be using whichever resolution gives a playable frame rate. Even if you don’t own a HDTV the Xbox360/PS3 hardware is still just as capable of running whatever game at 720p/1080i/1080p.
    Personally, I don’t see the need for picking or choosing between PCs and consoles. Picking either one means you’ll miss out on something great.

  25. Tei says:

    I don’t know, but I see more people playing from laptops.
    Even If a laptop have a Nvidia 8800, the laptop will be optimized to power saving and what not, maybe even the GPU is not the real one, but a limited version.. to save power.
    This result on lots of people with sub-standard hardware.

    Yes, there are laptops with good GPU’s, but most are not.

    Is that a bad or a good thing? IMHO is a good thing If you like indie games. Is a bad thing If you like EA games.

  26. Kanakotka says:

    Notable too, that there are quite a few people who would never buy a pre-built gaming PC due to the huge overprice with them, and would rather build one of their own. Like i have. In comparison to an equal Alienware puter, i got a much better looking (and better cooling) box for my puter, and saved 1500€. That’s ONE THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED euros, more than what i actually paid for the hardware…

  27. subedii says:

    and 10 million of them were in the Mainstream Enthusiast class

    Between 2005 and 2008, only 10 million “enthusiast” class games machines were sold. This figure is something that really needs to be kept in mind more often.

    Now assuming that what classes as an “enthusiast machine” is something that, today, would be able to play Crysis, you begin to understand why a game like Crysis wasn’t actually capable of being a 4-5 million seller like Cevat Yerli claimed it should have been, and much like other system intensive games, had a much smaller market. Given that, the 1.5-2 million it sold was pretty exceptional as far as I’m concerned. I mean, Over 10% of the available market? That’s amazing, surely?

    It’s one of the reasons that the numbers argument about how PC gaming is flailing around at the deep end always irritated me. People seem to have absolutely insane expectations about how well a title “should” do, irrespective of the available hardware base or market. This goes even to the extent that titles that cross the 1 million unit milestone are still seen as having performed sub-par. Unless you’re selling into the Halo / Gears range, people will somehow (and even some devs are guilty of this) proclaim loudly that the game should have done so much better. Max Payne 2? “Under performed” at 3-4 million. Supreme Commander? Bad sales at over 1 million. Crysis? Poor performance at over 1.5 million (Apparently it should have done 4-5 times that).

    I mean, even looking at the biggest mega hits that Capcom ever put out outside of Street Fighter, their maximum sales have hovered around the 2 million mark. That PC devs come out and say that a game like Crysis should have sold 5 million or more is just nutty. We’re talking about 50% of the hardware base!

  28. Okami says:

    @Ginger Yellow: I’ve got a GoG account and allready downloaded four games from them. Only reason why I haven’t played through Giants for the 3rd time is the absolutely ridiculous amount of games released in the last four weeks. I also play a whole lot of other old games in between all the shiny new releases.

    There are good games for PC and there are good games for consoles and good games are good games and will always continue to be good games, no matter how old they are or on which system they got realeased.

    The point I’m trying to make is: The Colonel’s argument against Consoles as gaming platforms just aren’t very good arguemnts as they can equally be applyed to PC games and vice versa.

  29. reiver says:

    I’d say a significant number of “enthusiasts” build rather than buy. Since they need a gfx card of decent whack a better estimate of the potential market could be derived from the sales of Nvidia’s and AMD’s sale figures.

  30. subedii says:

    That is a point. The enthusiast market is probably larger than those figures would let on.

    I still think sales expectations from mainstream observers and in the industry are very much overboard.

  31. Kommissar Nicko says:

    This article doesn’t seem to nod toward the type of illicit activities that Kanakotka mentions: the Do-It-Yourself. Personally, every salty gamer I know has lovingly assembled his own box from the ground up at least once, and anyone who’s got an eye for quality without paying through the nose will do it this way.

    As far as I know, if you want a machine that’s really nice, putting it together yourself is still the cheapest way to go about things.

  32. Kommissar Nicko says:

    Damn you comment blitz.

  33. Craymen Edge says:

    The number of PCs out there doesn’t really matter when publishers see (or believe they see) greater sales and profits on the consoles.

    Maybe they’re being unrealistic and expecting to emulate the success of Valve and Blizzard.

    Maybe I’m part of the problem; all I’ve purchased on PC so far this year are downloadable indie titles, and telltale’s Sam & Max / Strongbad games.

  34. subedii says:

    It’s not YOUR responsibility to buy games that you’re not interested in. :P

  35. dreamhunk says:

    pircay is on all gaming platforms! the only people who want to debunk the pc is the micro soft’s game devs.

    Pc gaming is world wide, pc gaming has the best games, pc gaming has all the indie game devs. pc gaming created all genres.

    you can even play console games using emulators


    no console game can out game tittle such as wow,sims,linage,guildwars,linage,nacy drew,halfe life.

    even pc’s hardware is more adavneced than any consoles.

    lets compare console best fps to pc best fps

    crysisand crysis war head owns gears of 2, cod4, cod5

    heck you can’t even runt rts on console. Plus you miss out on all the ionic games such as sins of the solar empire, daiblo, starcraft! I could go on

  36. Gap Gen says:

    “I dare you to take a good look at PC games from 5 to 15 years ago and tell me how many of them have aged well. Take an especially good look at your early 3D games.. ”

    Yes, but as you imply, many 2D games have aged very well. Starcraft is still being played and still looks good, for example – much better than Warcraft III, which made the transition to semi-3D before the polygon counts could make it look good. In any case, games like Deus Ex and Half-Life are still classics, even though technical advances have been made – and as a counter-example, Goldeneye looks shit even though it’s a console classic.

  37. Ben Abraham says:

    This must be a lie for everyone knows PC gaming has been dead for years!

    /sarcasm and mild annoyance

  38. dreamhunk says:

    chances are consoles will not make the ression. I can look for a job and play free games usin a pc


    oh and check the games for pc

  39. fulis says:

    who cares about these numbers
    PC games don’t sell well anyway
    just get over it. when there aren’t any good PC games around we’ll know it. there’s no point in having arguments over whether or not the platform is dead, it’s stupid

  40. solomun says:

    Starcraft, Diablo, Deus Ex and Half-Life all came out for consoles anyway, so why are you even having this argument?

  41. Larington says:

    I’m beginning to wonder about the potential knock on effects of the economic downturn. My suspicion is that fewer people, parents especially, will be less willing to fork out the cash for a generally more costly PS3 than a much cheaper 360 or Wii… Could Sony be about to start suffering more than anyone could possible have suspected (Never mind the fact PS3 has lost several exclusivity deals its predecessor once had)?

  42. dreamhunk says:

    Deus Ex 3 will not be a console game it will be a pc only game.

    starraft was garbage on consoles rts don’t do well. That is why there is no starcraft 2 going to consoles. You can’t play the all the mods for half life on consoles . the best part of pc of that game. You miss out on counter strike too as well.

    spore sold 2 mill, crysis sold 1.6 mill, wicther sold a mill and that ‘s not the top of the bar for pc gaming.

  43. Larington says:

    Oops, just realised I messed up grammar on my last post, I meant to say, I suspect fewer people will be willing to spend more for PS3 which has roughly same selection of games as its competitor but with a higher initial outlay to buy the thing.

  44. Gap Gen says:

    Actually, the PS2 is still doing very well – far better than any other last-gen console, and is still the best-selling console ever made. So Sony should be doing OK, if not on the top-end of the market.

  45. Mr. Brand says:

    PC gamers don’t need to adjust resolutions to a playable setting; they adjust QUALITY to a playable setting. Consoles don’t do that. One resolution, one quality setting, one ruler!

    It really does seem like PC gamers are spending all their money on hardware and stealing the software, though. Personally I’m not part of the upgrade mill (my March 2007 system is great, thank you) and invest a bunch in Steam and Stardock games. Oh, and limited editions of games like BioShock and Fallout 3 :)

  46. dreamhunk says:

    sony is not doing ok they have lost 3 billion dallors on ps3. Sony is no longer the same company it once was. take a good listen to link here


  47. Gap Gen says:

    Oop. Still, it’s an achievement that they’re still selling PS2 games.

  48. Del Boy says:

    I’ve got an Athlon 2800, an Gforce 7 series graphics card and 1 gig of RAM.

    Is that an enthusiasts machine? I wouldn’t say so yet I can play Crysis, Far Cry 2, Bioshock etc…without a problem.

    Obviously not maxed out but they all look great to me.

    I think a lot of PC gamers expect so much out of their PC’s….’Oh no, I can’t run Oblivion at 1600*1200 with full AA…must upgrade!’

  49. Ginger Yellow says:

    “Maybe I’m part of the problem; all I’ve purchased on PC so far this year are downloadable indie titles, and telltale’s Sam & Max / Strongbad games.”

    That makes you part of the solution, if you ask me.

  50. Jetsetlemming says:

    I’m trying to find the source but can’t. How are the PCs sold counted? What areas does it include? I seriously doubt that’s WORLDWIDE sales, as those figures would be hell to find and track accurately.

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