As PC Gaming Keeps Climbing, Hardware Sales Down

To analyse the state of the PC these days is to spin around until you get dizzy. PC gaming is climbing and climbing, with extraordinary numbers being published for games like Dota 2 and League Of Legends, the massive popularity of the download market, and the phenomenal rise of the indie market. When RPS launched nearly six years ago, there wasn’t a single other big-name dedicated PC gaming site online. Now there are many. And indeed multi-format sites have switched from treating the PC as a barely mentioned also-ran, to a significant portion of their coverage. From MMOs to Humble Bundles, eSports to Minecraft, the PC is enormous right now.

So why isn’t anyone buying them?

Data recently published by market research firm IDC, and very usefully broken down by Ars Technica, shows that PC shipments dropped more in the last quarter than ever before. Almost every major PC producer, except Lenovo, saw very pointy-down graphs. Even Apple saw their non-iOS units failing to fly out of stores. So what’s going on?

Comparing Q1 sales (Jan – March) for 2013 and 2012, HP saw a fall in growth of -23.7%, Dell -10.9%, Acer -31.3%, and ASUS -19.2%. Lenovo, meanwhile, saw their growth sit steady at a flat 0.0%. US-only figures look similar, seeing Apple in the top 5 sellers with a drop of -7.5%, and Toshiba with -5.2%. Again Lenovo bucked the trend here, showing growth of 13.0%.

Clearly this is while the world is still very much in the grip of financial issues – manufacturers across all manner of sectors are showing losses. But it’s also impossible not to recognise these drops as indicative of a trend for PC hardware. No, the PC isn’t dying (those drops aren’t getting close to 0 – the PC still sells well – it just doesn’t sell as well as it used to), but it’s clearly not too healthy. And the blame seems to be being laid at the feet of Windows 8.

IDC man Bob O’Donnell says,

“At this point, unfortunately, it seems clear that the Windows 8 launch not only failed to provide a positive boost to the PC market, but appears to have slowed the market. While some consumers appreciate the new form factors and touch capabilities of Windows 8, the radical changes to the UI, removal of the familiar Start button, and the costs associated with touch have made PCs a less attractive alternative to dedicated tablets and other competitive devices. Microsoft will have to make some very tough decisions moving forward if it wants to help reinvigorate the PC market.”

But clearly the reasons are more widely spread than just Microsoft’s ill-advised and distinctly un-PC new operating system. There was a time when if a family wanted to be online, provide their kids with somewhere to do their homework, and have access to email, etc, they had to have a PC. (Heck, I remember when I was 16 (1994), selling entire PCs to parents just so they could run Encarta for their kids’ homework.) And that time stuck around for a good long while. But now a tablet can do much the same. With the exception of a useful way of doing word processing, the family PC – that so often morphed itself into a gaming PC – has been much usurped by other smaller, often cheaper devices. If you want to check emails, you’ll most likely do it on your phone, rather than boot up the giant wheezing box in another room, or even bother opening up the laptop. And while I think common sense dictates that a full size keyboard, separate mouse, nice big detached monitor (or two), and a device properly designed to cope with multitasking still remains a very preferable solution, there’s no point in denying it’s not winning that battle.

Then there’s also the rapid demise of the netbook. It feels like only yesterday complete strangers would approach me in a coffee shop or on a plane to coo at my miniaturised laptop, and comment on how useful one would be. Then POW, they were everything, everywhere. And then as quickly they were gone. The Ultrabook – a sort of middleground that wasn’t so tiny your hands looked like a giant’s mad claws, trying to wrestle with the half-gig of RAM that could be tucked into the casing – also doesn’t seem to be faring too well in a world where magic Star Trek flat-panel touch-screens let you sweep and swoosh your way through most of the same tasks.

But no, obviously, bloody Windows 8 hasn’t helped. Microsoft’s death-grip on the PC sales industry, such that it’s nigh-impossible to walk into a store and buy a PC device without having it pre-infected, has put many off buying the hardware. It’s bemusing blend of a touch-screen interface and over-complication of the most primary PC purposes looks like it will be remembered as one of the most damaging moments in PC history. While Vista was utterly terrible, it at least looked like Windows, and Windows 7 was hurried along to replace it with something far superior. At this point, if Microsoft wants to recover from Vista II: The Even Vistarier, it’s going to have to do some very awkward about-facing, back-tracking, and tacit-admitting of its failures. Something at which the company isn’t too brilliant.

It also hasn’t helped that both HP and Dell have both been through major restructuring in the face of their lack of profits. But the Lenovo story is one worth paying proper attention to. In the last year the company has been making statements about its desire to push itself from a relative unknown to the average household, to a big player (although in fairness, they were saying the same, less successfully, in 2006). They’ve focused hard on PC in the last 12 months, and as a result – and indeed while not endlessly restructuring themselves – they’ve proved steady. It’s evidence that there’s still gold in these here hills.

But what next? It’s interesting that IDC’s analysis is not, “And thus this is a sign that the PC will soon disappear…”, but rather focused on how the industry can turn itself around. The reality is, as great as tablets and phones really are, they just don’t have an adequate replacement for a mouse and keyboard when it comes to practical computing. And none is yet a serious player when it comes to top-end gaming. For business, the PC still remains the most practical solution, and as has been the case since the early 90s, it’s the success of the PC as a practical instrument that seems to be behind its success as a gaming platform. PC gaming has always been about the subversion of the tool.

What stands out as especially interesting to us, however, is what exactly a PC really is. When it comes to RPS, where does the line between personal computer, and tablet running a PC-like operating system, with options for mouse/keyboard attachments? Is the Microsoft Surface Pro a PC or not? Will we, eventually, see our remit covering something a lot broader than the big grey box and its folding portable pal? Or will everyone at a certain point realise that typing on a touch screen is BLOODY HORRIBLE, and just remember proper PCs again? However things work out, it’s important that people don’t resort to shouting, “THE PC IS DYING!” (because it’s REALLY annoying). Gaming – the good bit – is madly healthy right now.

Top image by S Baker.


  1. PostieDoc says:

    PC is dying blah, blah, blah.

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    • iniudan says:

      I do actually think the current desktop PC format is actually dying, outside home and SOHO use, for which it will most likely become simply a product for those that need high computation performance or special equipment requirement, while not in need of a larger infrastructure. While those with larger infrastructure will increasingly go for thin client and virtualized infrastructure, has it start to be able to support higher end need, thus losing need for the regular desktop format.

      Laptop will most likely only survive in the high end has mobile workstation for those that need power on the move and in a thin ultrabook or hybrid tablet like format, for those that need a full keyboard on the move with a screen size adapted for work.

      For everyone else I think a hybrid smartphone (i.e. favorite of science fiction, the general purpose PDA) that become a PC when you dock it, would simply do it, actually don’t understand why I have not yet seen an ultrabook sized dump terminal clamshell for smartphone yet, would beat a 10 inch tablet in most situation to my eye any day.

      Also make the dock capable of offering high end external hardware capacity and most of the desktop/laptop market will transform, basically from that point the PC builder would be building custom dock for their phone instead of desktop and laptop will simply be a mobile workstation dock.

      • pakap says:

        “actually don’t understand why I have not yet seen an ultrabook sized dump terminal clamshell for smartphone yet”

        I was wondering the same thing, actually. I think the bottleneck is the fact that smartphones aren’t designed to do fast input/output when plugged into something else…they can stream media and move files, but controlling a second screen plus various peripherals might be too taxing for the plugs we currently use (mostly mini-USB and that weird Apple thing).

        • iniudan says:

          I know thing are not up there yet for smartphone docking external hardware (we are just starting to see networked GPU to be more readily available for the server room), but a dump terminal is something that date back to the mainframe era, a simple mini-displayport on the phone would be able to handle all the interaction with one, which is basically transmitting display and sound output and receiving user input (keyboard, mouse (trackpad or trackpoint alternatively) and possibly touch in a more fancy model terminal).

      • nuronv says:

        I think you might see something like that from Asus. They have already had a PC Screen/ Mouse/ Keyboard dock for their padfone.

        link to

    • lijenstina says:

      It’s not dying it’s becoming less important as a form factor.

    • jamiehavok says:

      pc gaming is rising but hardware sales from companies like hp etc are down.. why? pretty obvious really, anyone who wants a pc for gaming isn’t going to buy an hp, a dell or a lenovo, they are going to build it themselves or the very least buy a custom built one.

  2. Dariune says:

    Another consideration is the huge burst in recent indie gaming. I don’t think this would make up for a massive percentage of the drop in hardware sales but AAA games, while still selling in the millions are now seeing competition from Indie games which don’t require the latest PC hardware to run.

    People like myself don’t really need to upgrade our PC’s to play the latest games because the games I want to play don’t have hugely updated graphics like AAA games do.

    Then there is the fact that Hardware isn’t progressing perhaps as fast as it was. So we are keeping our computers for longer.

    The reasons mentioned in the article likely cover a higher percentage of the drop but I think the above two reasons are certainly adding to it.

    • cwoac says:

      Very true – I wonder if we are approaching the point for games (even FPSs) that we hit for office apps ~10 years back – to whit, the machines we have are fast enough now, thank you very much.

      Yes, newer machines add more shinies, but the rate of shiny increase has slowed a fair bit (although I’ve seen some fairly impressive demos recently suggesting that may have been a lull).

      • The Random One says:

        I agree. There has certainly been a diminishing return of shinies. Dimishining returns, if you will.

      • Shuck says:

        Yeah, when graphics reached a certain level of complexity, each hardware improvement made less noticeable visual improvements. (That is, when 3D graphics used a small number of polygons, any improvement, any additional polygons, made a big visual difference. Not so much now.) I think with the latest demos are actually the result of the improvements of several hardware cycles having finally added up to a visible change.

        • mouton says:

          This was the case with sound, which is a much less complex system. In the nineties, we saw a rapid development of soundcards. Then, it hit the point were the only people who cared about an upgrade are crazy audiophiles or professional musicians. Nowadays, few people care about getting beyond the onboard.

          No reason why it can’t happen with graphics, eventually.

      • b0rsuk says:

        In my opinion new games don’t really benefit from better hardware now, because ARTISTS are the bottleneck. You can spend mountains of money on visuals, animation, models, textures. To benefit from an (already old and open-sourced) engine like id Tech 4 (DooM 3) you need normal maps and other stuff. If you just plug some textures they will look like crap, and that’s why many DooM 3 mods look amateurish in a bad way.

        • Zyrusticae says:

          I profoundly disagree. There are a LOT of benefits to just plain having more power, and you don’t always need more money to be able to take advantage of more power. Shader technology in particular benefits tremendously from power and does not require hundreds upon hundreds of man-hours to truly leverage, unless you’re trying to R&D your own shaders (and even then, you’re probably working off of an already-existing knowledge base).

          Lighting technology is also something that greatly benefits from additional power. We’ve yet to get to the point where our games can all have real-time radiosity, much less a fully accurate form of it like path-tracing. It doesn’t take man-hours to make use of realistic lighting; it only needs MORE POWER.

          So as far as I’m concerned, a slowing in the march of technology could only be a bad thing. We’re still extremely far from getting to the point where we start mistaking video games for CG movies, and until we hit that point, the technology needs to improve further. Hopefully by 2018 we’ll finally be able to run this in real-time with zero noise…

          • b0rsuk says:

            But Raytracing and similar techniques are almost binary in their power needs. I know it scales very well with CPU cores, but you need to make the *jump* from traditional 3D to raytracing. As far as I know, there’s no in-between.

            Also, except for Unity, engines are generally written for big groups of people. Natural Selection 2, Overgrowth are exceptions in that they’re high-tech engines usable by small number of people.

            I think the next major progress is going to be diamond-based electronics (blue diamonds like Hope are awesome semiconductors due to trace amounts of Boron).
            link to
            The manufacturing process for diamonds is improving. According to a Discovery documentary I’ve seen, humans can currently make and grow sufficiently large hyperdiamonds, but growing ones with Boron impurity is the currently the bottleneck. Once that is accomplished, away with silicon !

    • Rapzid says:

      I’m pretty sure we already hit that. Has more to do with consoles and… very little to do with indies IMO. I built a Q6600 back in summer 2007. I’ve upgraded the video and nothing else in 6 years! Played Mass Effects, Dead Spaces, Assassin Creeds, Dirts, Grids, Batmans, etc, etc, etc.

      • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

        I agree, the stagnation of the current gen consoles has meant that like you I’m still on a dual core rig with a ‘current’ upper mid level graphics card.

        Once games start utilising new console tech then time for crossfire and a 4/6 core CPU is here!

        Plus you will always have the type that can’t have a console being better than their PC for bragging rights!

        • Stromko says:

          Logged in to say exactly this. We haven’t had to buy new hardware because our old PCs are still much more powerful than the consoles, and almost all the AAA games are built to run on consoles.

      • Reapy says:

        Same here, for me a new game is what drives a hardware upgrade, no new game I can’t play due to hardware and no upgrade.

        Everything else a phone or tablet does a way better job than a pc. Still waking up here I roll over and read my morning paper that is rps before getting out of bed on an ipad.

        I’m not sure what drives hardware sales but there exists no aaa gaming for performance drives, and exist less people needing a PC to email and browser themselves, it seems there is less and less a reason to own a desktop for the non enthusiast.

      • mouton says:

        I am playing Bioshock Infinite on an ancient 2,6 dual core and slightly newer 460 gtx now. Had to cut the details a notch, but no issues otherwise.

        • JeCa says:

          Hah, exactly the same here! Though I clocked my CPU to 2.94GHz to smooth up Shogun 2, I really don’t feel a need to get a completely new rig at the moment.

          May I guess you also upgraded from the good ol’ 8800?

    • povu says:

      People are also more likely these days to upgrade existing machines or buy a custom built PC, which doesn’t get factored in these statistics, as opposed to some pre-built PC from Dell.

      • Mr Wonderstuff says:

        Totally, with people playing games on systems they have had a for a while many gamers get there’s prebuilt by companies like Overclockers, Chillblast etc the big manufacturers are feeling the pinch – coupled with the fact that hardly anyone uses Windows 8 and you can see why these statistics look as they do.

    • Maxheadroom says:

      Ever since I bought my 1st PC in 1990ish I would typically replace my PC every 5 years due to graphics hardware advancing so fast.

      That all seems to have levelled off dramatically now though and even a middle of the road card from 5 years ago can still hold it’s own with most of todays games at medium settings.

      thats why I’m not buying new kit anyway, sure there are more valid reasons

      • says:


        My 5-year-old e8400 C2Duo is still fine for most anything that’s had a multi-platform release. (partly due to half of it running Unreal) It’s only the more PC-centric titles like The Witcher 2 or BF3 (hah) that utilize more cores and give my rig a harder time.

        It helps that I have a 460GT, but that’s already 3 years old. Good grief, I’m getting old… Granted, the technology has plateaued a bit, but there’s no way the me in 2000 would consider a CPU from 1995 adequate. (or 2005/2000, or even 2010/2005… it’s the C2Duos that really leveled the playing ground with the stagnating consoles)

    • Drake Sigar says:

      Perhaps it also helps that many big publishers have all but ignored the PC market, so there isn’t as much out to challege the hardware.

    • Fatrat says:

      True that, indie games are some of the best stuff you can play lately. Plus with consoles coming to the end of their lifecycle, it doesn’t take a super-expensive rig to play a lot of the latest games. I bought my rig over 18 months ago and it still runs everything on high. Whenever i built a PC 5+ years ago, the hardware would start to “feel” obsolete much sooner than it does now.

      Once the next-gen consoles come out, i think limits will be pushed again and our rigs will tend to last a shorter time before we get the itch of needing an upgrade.

      I don’t really agree with the guy blaming Windows 8 at all. Unless he’s saying that Windows 8 didn’t force people to upgrade just so they could run it decently (like Vista did). I don’t think it has much to do with people not liking Windows 8, otherwise they’d still be buying the same amount of hardware and running Linux or Windows 7 on it, surely.

      I just think it’s an overall feeling people have, that upgrades are needed less often, whether it’s for gaming or “Facebooking”.

      • Baines says:

        New factory built PCs will come with Windows 8. People are deciding that they can wait another year or two to see what Windows 9 looks like.

        People are used to the idea that Microsoft alternates between acceptable and dud OSs, and are used to the idea that it is only two or three years between OSs. (9 will be what? Two years after 8?) People buying factory built PCs probably aren’t going to buy a separate Windows OS. They are probably going to stick with what the machine comes with for several years. So they might be willing to wait another year or two on an aging machine (particularly when it isn’t aging that fast) to get a shot at a better OS, or at least to see whether early reviews suggest that they should keep waiting.

        • Fatrat says:

          I get that, but from what i read of this on the BBC, the data doesn’t include tablets. This article also states that many “casual” (if you will) users may have moved to using tablets. I think tablets would have had a more direct impact on PC/laptop hardware than Windows 8.

          I can’t say i’m a fan of Windows 8 either, but i also have only used it in the short term. But still, that quote from the IDC guy just sounds a bit like sensationalism to me. I don’t have the data to hand, but i’d be willing to bet that this drop in sales is much larger than the industry will have seen back in the Vista days, simply because consumers didn’t have the choice of buying a tablet instead.

          Does this data even include laptops? I can’t really tell, but i don’t think it does. So i’d be willing to bet that the fact you can get a decent spec, fairly lightweight laptop for a few hundred or so has helped too. I got a laptop a couple of years ago that’s still fairly capable of gaming (ARMA 2 at decent fps) for £600. Compare that to a decade ago where a laptop capable of gaming would cost double that of a PC.

          But hey, i’m not an analyst. This study still seems to miss out a lot of potential causes and the data of those areas, though.

  3. Sic says:

    I just hope the plans to make parts more integrated doesn’t come into fruition.

    I mean, Intel has been talking about processors soldiered onto motherboards for quite some time now, and as far as I know, it’s still the plan.

    Having to replace the entire god damn motherboard of a desktop computer just to replace the CPU seems just plain silly to me.

    • MasterDex says:

      That’s often the way it is now. Unless you’re doing something like upgrading to a cpu that uses the same socket, you’re likely going to be buying a new board just to upgrade to the shinier new CPU.
      e,g, LGA775 > LGA1155 > LGA2011

    • MiniMatt says:

      Not so sure. It wasn’t all that long ago that one would need a seperate sound card and network card; that has now been largely delegated to the motherboard (specialist hardware notwithstanding) to no great loss.

      • DigitalSignalX says:

        I really hope not – the resources to run audio and networking is miniscule compared to the horsepower of a discrete high end GPU + RAM, and their architecture is apples and oranges compared to CPU/RAM of an average PC system board. Combining them for portable devices is fine, but using the same CPU – RAM to run your operating system and memory requirements of multiple applications + the spec’s for a AAA game would create a bottleneck.

        I can run VLC media player and a 1080p movie in one monitor and skyrim on ultra with a hundred mods in a 2nd monitor right now and am barely peaking my system’s CPU/RAM where as the GPU-RAM is carrying the load. An integrated system would struggle mightily to accomplish even one of those tasks, let alone maintain all the background processes.

    • John Connor says:

      Intel already have so many arbitrary sockets you can’t feasibly upgrade your Intel CPU without buying a new mobo.

      AMD’s CPUs are a whole different story.

  4. Chupacabra- says:

    Time is changing, John.
    The PC willbe made obsolete as tablets become more powerful.
    Gaming will need to adopt to tablets, it’s already changing.

    I, for one, welcome our tablet overlords.

    • John Walker says:

      I don’t think it’s a matter of simply becoming more powerful – they have to dramatically improve their controls. Right now a tablet game is extremely limited by the necessity for touch. (Often to brilliant effect, of course.) But until they can at least come close to something as good as a console controller, I don’t see their taking over the non-mobile market.

      • Chupacabra- says:

        But you can transform a tablet into a traditional gaming machine if you connect a keyboard and a mouse. Place the tablet in a stand and voila, you’re good to go: ultra mobile gaming.

        No more need for a big dusty case wheezing in the background, but nice and modern equipment.
        It’s the next step in evolution for computing (remembr when Pcs filled a room? Neither do I).

        The games they are offering now on App Store/Google Play/Windows what’s-it-called are indeed very basic still. But it terms of graphics, they do a very ok job. Try ‘Real Racing 3’ by EA on the iPad with a Retina display. Looks awesome.

        Gaming companies cannot ignore the ever growing market of tablet owners.
        And I predict like in 10 years, most will have adopted to the next step in evolution of computing and will offer only games that can be played on tablets.

        But I’m no Nostradamus …

        • RobF says:

          Real Racing 3 looks good for something running on a tablet. Up against mid range PC games? There’s no competition at all. The thing is barren.

          I’m working on iOS/Droid ports at the moment and I can assure you, the amount of stuff I have to strip down to get things to run at a decent speed compared to the desktop versions is ridiculous.

          But y’know, why does one have to replace the other? This is the part of the argument I don’t quite understand. Why do tablets -have- to be a replacement for the PC rather than a compliment to them?

          Can’t the future be one where they co-exist? I mean, I suspect they will be because they’re still a long way from having the grunt, flexibility and adaptability I’d need to do most of the things I do that don’t involve typing onto the internet a bit and that’s allowing for some of the really cool stuff up there on the app store.

          • StranaMente says:

            From my point of view the problem of coexistance is the cost. Computers and tablets compete for similar (when not identical) uses, and with still quite high prices it’s hard for many families to justify having both.

          • Cinek says:

            They “compete” ? Last time I checked tablet was just a supplementary device to the PC.
            TBH: I don’t know anyone who would choose tablet instead of a PC. I do know however a lot of people who bought tablet in addition to the PC.

          • RobF says:

            Not sure I understand? Mobile phones and smart phones co-exist, you don’t need to purchase both. OSX and Windows co-exist so you don’t need to purchase both. Pears and bananas co-exist, you don’t need to buy both.

            Co-existence doesn’t necessitate needing to own both devices and you pick the device or software that’s best suited to your needs or rather suited to your needs and fits within your budget.

            And then you look at the Apple “it’s Apple” tax and weep a bit.

        • Colej_uk says:

          Meh, I don’t see everyone suddenly being ok with gaming on a 24″+ monitor to gaming on a sub 15″ tablet. Tablets will grow and possibly replace laptops, but I don’t think they will replace the PC gaming market as completely as you suggest.

          And in the future when we see tablets with i7 processing power, just think of how much power you will be able to get in a desktop. It’s not all about making stuff smaller, the desktop has stayed the same size for a few decades for that reason.

        • TheApologist says:

          Maybe – but aren’t you just repeating John’s point about categories getting more fluid. The future that seems likely to me is that it comes to a point where I am wirelessly connecting a tablet (or maybe a phone) with a more flexible PC-like OS to a keyboard, mouse and monitor in the study, and in the living room it is streaming images to a TV and interfacing with a proper game controller. But at this point, it is not that tablet has replaced a PC, it’s that the categories don’t make sense any more.

        • Xorkrik says:

          Let me know when those 27″ pads come out…

          • Chupacabra- says:

            You mean like TVs where I can stream my tablet to?
            OH WAIT!

          • Audiocide says:

            You mean the TVs with ~1ms response rates, the wireless technology that can keep up with that, and tablets that can output the same data as, say, a GTX 690?

        • sinister agent says:

          But you can transform a tablet into a traditional gaming machine if you connect a keyboard and a mouse

          It’s the same argument as “but you can put your PC in your front room next to the telly, too, wah wah consoles are inferior wah”, and the reality is the same: nobody actually does that.

          • Chupacabra- says:

            Why are Valve focussing so much on ‘Big Picture’ gaming, then?
            And what about this ‘Steambox’?

          • oxykottin says:

            I actually do that. When my baby was born I lost my office. So now my computer is hooked up to my 55″ tv. Its not perfect but it works well.

          • Malibu Stacey says:

            1920*1080 resolution games on a 55 inch screen?
            Somebody please think of the children because that sounds hideous.

          • sinister agent says:

            Why are Valve focussing so much on ‘Big Picture’ gaming, then?

            Precisely because nobody does that. That’s what they’re trying to change.

        • InternetBatman says:

          If you essentially turn a tablet into a pc, I fail to see the problem.

        • Tams80 says:

          Well, you’re pretty much going down the route that “tablets will replace desktops” and excluding laptops there.

          Tablets may well one day be able to run games and other programs that can currently only run well on desktop PCs, but:

          1) Where will those types of programs be in future? Will they require an even more powerful computer and thus tablets will still be behind?
          2) If current tablets are anything to go by, they will remain locked down. Software and hardware wise. The hardware side being the worst, as you’d have to buy a whole new device to avoid it.

        • Bishop Knight says:

          Chupacabra you sound like a casual gamer. Because if you weren’t you wouldn’t just compare a tablet game’s graphics to a PC or console, you’d know to compare the game play too. And right off the bat you’d note that the game play is severely limited on a tablet. What your saying would be like claiming years back when hand held gaming consoles came out, that the end of the full size gaming console is near. That would be ludicrous. It complemented living room consoles. Nintendo even found ways to get the two to link together and add functionality.

          If you look over the years, the physical size of the PC and gaming consoles have gotten larger. That’s because as we get more powerful chips, we find new uses for that power. And about your statement “remember when Pcs filled a room? Neither do I”? The reason you won’t remember when PCs filled a whole room, no matter how old you are, is because they never did. A PC or PERSONAL Computer has always been able to fit on a desktop. Actually, I remember when PCs were smaller than they are now. Apple 1s and TI-99s were very small. Even tablets and smart phones are getting larger. And there are computers that still fill whole rooms, they’re just not made for personal use, just like the older computers you are referring to. Render farms can fill a whole room. Another equivalent would be server rooms.

          Tablets are just a trend. One that isn’t going away but one, like handheld consoles, that are NOT going to replace PCs and living room consoles. They’re a fairly new technology and the buzz will settle down eventually. And with new TVs coming out that allow you to wirelessly stream media from your PC along with downloadable and streaming content, a person will be able to have a PC anywhere in their house and harness the power of that PC on any screen in their home. I’m right now sitting comfortably in my living room typing this on my PC looking at it on our 45″ HD TV. Can’t wait for Ultra HD TVs to come down in price.

          All these devices will complement each other more and more as time goes on. Roku even is taking advantage of tablets as a complimentary device and not as a replacement to theirs. You can use your tablet as a high end interactive remote for their boxes. I have apps that let me control WMP from my phone and tablet. I don’t get how people become such fanboys of any one product and clamor the death of other products. It’s time to find new ways to tie these systems together for greater media and productivity experiences and not isolate and eliminate one or the other.

      • pagla says:

        maybe the new virtual eyes(i keep on forgetting the name) will do the trick. maybe some years later we will have a whole set of virtual controls for major limb muscles or whatever. and people will play standing on a treadmill with the tablet processing

      • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

        I need to update my fingers, they are from that bad batch that came out in the late 60’s! Having to constantly lick them to get touchscreens to register my interaction is a pain in the butt!!!

      • Reapy says:

        Agree here. Though the ohya will help with an android controller. But the real problem will be battery power. I still feel like if I want to game seriously I want unending hours of playtime, and that requires a wall socket, and no more need for mobility.

        I think for a while well be going with a PC at a desk or our couch, with lightweight portable phone/tablets for everywhere else.

      • malkav11 says:

        Frankly, I’m not convinced that there’s been a significant amount of “brilliant” touch games that wouldn’t have been as well or better served by mouse and keyboard. In a few cases it lends a sort of intuitive tactility, but mostly it’s just frustratingly imprecise, something I can deal with for turn-based gaming (and boardgame ports), but essentially destroys anything with real time action play.

    • Cinek says:

      It’s like saying that laptops will be made obsolete as soon as watches will become more powerful.

      Each year smartphone becomes more powerful – PC becomes more powerful as well. Hence the gap between these two types of devices never shrinks down. Yes, you don’t need a PC for facebook anymore, but that’s pretty much everything that has changed.

      What these analytics are missing is a fact that market simply filled itself, and with no progress in requirements for games or operating systems – people don’t feel so inclined to buy new gear.

      • Rapzid says:

        Nailed it.

      • Chupacabra- says:

        But isn’t it against the trends in the market to keep spending a lot of research on PCs that don’t sell?
        As you said, PC hardware evolution is already stalling, there’s no need to buy a better PC becase companies no longer invest a lot of research into hardware for PCs, and allocate more budget for tablets/mobile computing.

        So the gap is ALREADY there.

        • Guvornator says:

          But there’s a lot of stuff tablets can’t do and lack the physical wattage to power. Professional editing/rendering applications are always going to run on towers and desktops because of the sheer grunt they need.

          The research in those areas isn’t going to dry up, and we gamers should still see progress.

        • Strabo says:

          CPU and GPU are researched and built for supercomputers and servers anyway, sizing them down for desktop computers isn’t really much of an issue or cost factor.

        • Cinek says:

          “a lot of research on PCs that don’t sell?” – this research goes into high-end market. And high-end market is VERY stable and still (very) profitable. The effects you see here are mostly from mid and low-range markets which sell stuff for common people. The sales of a PCs come from vendors, and these sell either a pre-made PCs or laptops. People buying newest stuff from R&D don’t go for laptops or pre-mades. They build custom high-end PCs or components for servers, computing farms, etc. These markets are really huge in terms of income, but never seen on a polls like that.

          • Brun says:

            This. Peripheral companies like Razer can sustain themselves by selling products that cater exclusively* to PC gaming. That alone proves that there is still a significant market out there.

            *Well, almost exclusively. They sell some Xbox products I think (gamepads and headsets).

          • Enkinan says:

            I think this is on track. Non gamers that had home PC desktops just to use email and internet are now buying tablets or using their phones instead. Most workplaces are moving to laptops so employees can work from home.

            PC gamers are still going to have a high end desktop or possibly laptop (Im personally amazed at what my work provided MacBook Pro can run in bootcamp). Creative professionals and a few other vocations will continue to need desktops.

            In short I think the numbers just reflect that casual internet users have a better option than a desktop PC to consume online content.

      • ix says:

        The market was already at saturation in previous years. What we’re seeing is people replacing their PC less quickly, and newcomers finding fewer tasks they need one for, like you got correctly in the first part of your post.

    • RobF says:

      What are we going to write the stuff for tablets on?

      • Snids says:

        Probably a desk.

      • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

        Moses supposes erroneously

      • solidsquid says:

        There’s a couple of apps out there now that let you write apps for an ipad on an ipad, I suppose that’s the future?

        • FriendlyFire says:

          I hope not. You’d have to be seriously stupid to exchange an ergonomic desktop workstation with a proper sized keyboard and mouse, a large and properly positioned screen, and plenty of power, for a 10″ tablet straddled with a clunky, shrinked down keyboard and mouse.

          The people who say “PC is dead, tablets are the future!” need to go back to their iPads and stop annoying people who actually work on their PCs.

          • Malibu Stacey says:

            The people who say “PC is dead, tablets are the future!” need to go back to their iPads and stop annoying people who actually work on their PCs.

            Second this.
            I still remember laughing heartily when these 3 chaps turned up in our office to give a presentation with nothing but their iPads. They then proceeded to look rather stupid when they realised there’s no way to plug an iPad into a projector. Even more hilariously, these 3 guys are a web dev company, we’re a PC software developer & they were here to pitch a collaboration with us.

    • Gap Gen says:

      I still think laptops and desktops will remain important for work. Sure, answering a quick e-mail on a tablet is fine, but for writing software or doing data analysis, or even typing big reports, a tablet just doesn’t cut it yet.

    • Tams80 says:

      The controls on tablets (that don’t have dock) are mediocre at best and screen sizes are laughable for most use cases a phone/small tablet would be better suited to.

      You can’t change the usefulness of a display size much. The larger the display, the easier and more useful it tends to be (mobility excluded to a degree). Much like camera sensors, physics dictates this.

  5. r0ckarong says:

    My 2 Cents:

    For a few years now we have plateaued in hardware performance. Not that hardware isn’t getting any faster but the average user simply DOES NOT NEED any faster hardware. I remember vividly upgrading my machines every year because I was tired of the OS performance and waiting for documents or software to load. For maybe 4-5 years now hardware that will perform lightning fast operations in full resolution with large files is readily available and affordable. I built a new computer last year which cost me a little over 450€ and is the fastest machine I have ever owned in my life. Unless someone screws up their operating system royally (using Ubuntu so performance is good) or I discover some new application that requires me to get new hardware I simply won’t buy a piece of kit until the old stuff breaks. Money is tight. I don’t need upgrades because everything is as fast as I could want it to be already. Sure a few miliseconds here and there but honestly, why spend hundreds of your hard earned monies on that?

    The second part is that a lot of people who used to have desktop computers for things like email or social contacts are now using smartphones or other mobile devices. Those are the classic “non-computer people” to whom the idea of a computer desk is as foreign as handwriting letters is to me. A lot of tasks that used to be done on a static machine sitting in one of the rooms now functions more efficiently and portably in your phone. This is merely a shift and the people who are complaining about declining PC sales are the same ones that have pushed the mobile market forward for a decade.

    • MrMud says:

      I agree with this, I have been running an i7 720 for a long, long time now and I see absolutely no reason what so ever for upgrading.

    • brulleks says:

      Yup, absolutely this. When I first started building my own pcs, I was having to upgrade every couple of years to keep playing the most recent games.

      Not only that, but I was having to replace more parts in between because they were less robust than they are nowadays.

      I created this current build to play GTA4, and the only thing I’ve had to replace since then has been the GPU.

    • dE says:

      Yep. Signed.
      It’s essentially the computer age ancient saying: Never change a running system. For as long as it runs stuff perfectly fine, it can stay. And since there has been no noticeable increase in hardware taxing applications, I have absolutely no interesting in buying new computer things. Why would I? Just to satisfy some pretty silly benchmark number? To get 65 fps instead of 61? Nah.

      In recent years, the only PCs I’ve bought where replacements for when one broke down.

      • tigershuffle says:

        my PC is the equivalent of Triggers broom in Only Fools and Horses…..2nd case, 4th different mobo and variety of graphics cards etc

        Ive cobbled together 3 pcs in the last 6 months for my 10yr old and for 2 peeps at work from spares and e-bay and CEX all on the cheap

        They all gone from circa 2004/5 to at least a decent 2009 pc for under £100 with 4770/9600gt graphics

      • solidsquid says:

        Hell, a decent netbook with a reasonable resolution (an issue with the earlier models) can run a fairly large chunk of the games I’ve got in my back catalogue. The only issue is trying to run them on windows, since that takes a lot of ram from the get go, but running on XP generally seems to deal with a large chunk of things

        Also, I think people are possibly more comfortable with buying second hand computers now. You get places like CEX which specialise in this stuff, offer warranties, etc, so people aren’t as nervous about buying from them. End result is a drop in new hardware sales because the old hardware is still in use, even if it’s not being used by the original owner

    • oceanclub says:

      “Not that hardware isn’t getting any faster but the average user simply DOES NOT NEED any faster hardware”

      This. I mean, I’m one of those people who _likes_ to upgrade and feels like I should be, but I have absolutely no reason to now or in the foreseeable future. The rig that I put together 2 years ago still plays everything at full whack.

      I’m in the market for a laptop or tablet at the moment and I’m still inclined to go for the former, though (ultrabook format).


    • Gap Gen says:

      I wonder if the new console generation will launch a new mini-boom in PC upgrades. Then again, the fact that the consoles haven’t updated in years is perhaps another sign.

      • r0ckarong says:

        The boom you’re talking about will only affect gamers and they’re the one’s who are already the hardware manufacturers darlings because they buy new stuff every time someone breaks a graphical barrier. The new consoles will affect absolutely none of the office or home users that couldn’t care less about video games. I used to play a lot more and my current rig could possibly run a lot of the new games at decent resolutions, I simply have not enough time to game on PC anymore. I’m personally looking forward to the new consoles (probably gonna buy my first ever Playstation). Our perspective as active gamers is a little skewed since most of us grew up observing the PC market from the cutting edge angle. Crysis n+1 comes out? Need to buy a new computer/upgrade. The regular user is not very likely to feel compelled to install 16GB of RAM and a six core CPU to run the next iTunes or MS Office.

    • sinister agent says:

      Just to add a thought to this: I agree, and the fact that the iditoic hardware cock waving race has stopped is the exact reason that I bought a decent PC at all. Prior to then I only ever bought old refurbished ones and contented myself with playing older games instead, because pissing money up the wall on an arms race was pointless.

    • Carra says:

      Yes, there’s little use to upgrade a PC when the average game is a port of a 6 year old console.

      It’s about time that some software comes out that requires you to upgrade and I hope that the new consoles will give this a boost.

  6. CaspianRoach says:

    Bit offtopic, but if you spend 30 minutes with Windows 8 you can make it look more presentable. The only time I remember the tiled interface is when I restart my computer (which isn’t that often) or press the windows key to type the app I want to launch.

    • Strabo says:

      Until MS decides to really remove the APIs Start8 and other “make this stuff useable again”-mods use. Like with Windows Blue or the next update after that.

      • FriendlyFire says:

        They don’t provide any sort of APIs for Start8 and such… Stardock’s been doing this kind of desktop replacement/addition for years and they’ve largely used low-level hooks to do their things. Microsoft can’t remove that without also breaking their own stuff too.

    • iucounu says:

      I tried to do that with my mum’s computer – some bastard at PC World sold her a Win 8 Vaio – and soon found that it was actually impossible, due to some kind of extremely serious bug or corruption that had broken all Metro apps. The best thing about that was that PC settings is Metro for some reason, so there was no way to get in and fix it; and also Win 8 appeared to have a whimsical attitude towards the concept of Admin rights (“Sorry, you need to be an Administrator to do that.” “I AM A FUCKING ADMIN. LOOK HERE IS YOU CALLING ME AN ADMIN ON THE USER ACCOUNT SCREEN”) so I couldn’t install anything. It was the most frustrating evening I’ve ever spent trying to fix anything and eventually I had to give up and suggest that she take it back to the shop for a refund.

    • InternetBatman says:

      This same line was used with the introduction of the ribbon in Excel 2007. I did make it better by fooling around, but I’m still quicker and happier on LibreOffice.

      • Llewyn says:

        It’s actually true with Win8 though. The Office ribbon is just an abomination.

      • FriendlyFire says:

        The ribbon’s actually good UI design though. It’s been shown that people can find elements faster and more intuitively using it. It’s also improved over the course of updates and new versions.

        The only people who complain about the ribbon are people who are used about the old menu paradigm. People hate change, even good change, so they’ll whine and whine and will never try to actually use the new paradigm with an open mind.

        • spedcor666 says:

          Good UI design is developing one which your users can use effectively. If a user cannot use it effectively for whatever reason, then it’s not a good design for that particular user. So, if people cannot use the ribbon because they are too used to the old menu paradigm, it’s not good UI design from their perspective. Of course, they can learn to use the ribbon, but if they feel they shouldn’t need to or find it difficult, then the new design isn’t taking into account the needs of its users, and that in itself is poor design practice.

          In short, even if it is only people complaining about the ribbon because they’re not used to it, that’s a perfectly legitimate reason. And in any case, just because you have reason to like it, it doesn’t mean those reasons apply to everyone else. Not everyone is the same as you.

        • Llewyn says:

          So you’re basically saying that it’s better for everyone except for all the people that it’s not better for? That’s… helpful.

          More seriously, the ribbon might be founded on good UI principles, but it’s implemented dreadfully (at least in Excel, which is the only thing I use on a regular basis).

    • Godwhacker says:

      I’m using Start is Back– $2 and you’re back at a faster and leaner version of Windows 7… which is what Windows 8 should have been in the first place.

      I wish Microsoft would realise that if you want to get anything done the Metro interface is worthless. It’s fine for watching videos and playing Angry Birds, but for anything else it’s a complete mess.

  7. mpk says:

    My machine is, for the most part, nearly five years old. I’ve recently upgraded it with a second hand CPU and graphics card.

    Ideally I would have a whole new machine, but there’s no way in hell I can afford that right now.

    So yeah, s’probably all my fault.

  8. xx says:

    Uhmm… why do pre-made PCs count towards sales and not component sales? Seriously… the last PC I bought pre-made was in 2004… maybe sales in components have shot up because people have learned to build their own PCs and not buy overpriced crap they can’t tweak on their own without voiding their warranty?

    • varangian says:

      Good point, last one I bought must have been in the 90’s from Olympic who promptly went bust literally days after the machine arrived. Contained a mighty 486 processor as I recall. The lesson I took from this – after having disassembled the machine one day to upgrade it and seen how straightforward it would be – was that building my own would be cheaper and get me something exactly to my requirements. Bought a swish case a year or so later that I still use and just bung in – at longer and longer intervals – new boards etc. as and when the need arises.

    • WantOn says:

      I was about to say the same thing. Not sure what the numbers are for people buying components and building their own/having someone build a PC for them are, but they must be significant? I’ve never bought a pre-built; the last one I used was around 1994, that my Dad bought when I was 15. Ever since the whole family has used PCs we have built ourselves, or hand-downs etc. Would love to know what percentage of PCs in existence that accounts for. Component sales by Overclockers et al is probably the closest we could get and I don’t know if they publish those.

      • Llewyn says:

        No, they won’t really be that significant. How many active gaming desktop PCs would you estimate there are out there in the wild in total? WoW subscriptions are somewhere around 9-10m, other MMO subs total about the same, the biggest-selling AAA titles peak somewhere around 3-5m. What do we think? 20m? 30m? 40m? I find it somewhat unlikely that there would not be a single PC game in the last few years that hadn’t been bought by an eighth of gamers.

        Let’s double that and go for 80m.

        Of course some of these people are playing on laptops, some of them are using pre-builts, and we’re looking at a total built during the last five years or so. The pre-built chart above shows sales of 76m for a three-month period.

    • Carra says:

      I was going to say the same thing. What serious gamer just buys an HP pc?

  9. Tridae says:

    I’d say PC sales are slowing is because we’re waiting for the next wave of consoles to hit . I have no reason to upgrade my pc yet so I’m waiting until there’s something that forces me to.

    Plus with Haswell on the horizon and a bunch of other new tech I’d say a lot of people are just holding back for a while. I’d guess next year will see a big jump in pc sales again.

  10. Har0x says:

    I personally wouldn’t ever purchase a PC from any of those vendors as I build my own. Most of the people I know that are into PC gaming do the same.

    Does this data take that into consideration? From what I can tell it’s only taking into consideration the amount of pre-made PC’s/notebooks sold by these major vendors.

    • Gap Gen says:

      Would be interesting to see the business and home sales individually; I can’t see this in the data linked, but like people say the markets are different and people who buy pre-built machines are probably moving towards tablets and phones.

  11. basilisk says:

    So Windows 8 is going to become the scapegoat. I am not surprised, but honestly, it’s utter nonsense. I’ve been using the system since launch and apart from a redesigned start menu (much more spacious, which is good, with slightly broken type-to-search compared to W7, which is bad), it’s just the same bloody Windows as ever. “Metro” certainly wasn’t designed with traditional PCs in mind, but it’s perfectly easy to just ignore it. It doesn’t harm anyone, and apparently it’s quite good if you start using it for what it’s designed to do – join together your PC with your Windows Phone and Windows RT device. If you don’t have those, it’s just there, doing nothing.

    Blaming declining PC sales which are almost certainly caused by the rising popularity in tablets as devices useful for consuming content but useless for creating content (corresponding to what most regular users actually do with their PCs) on Windows 8 is positively disingenuous.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      How many button presses does it take you to shut your machine down? Compared to two on the previous generation, I have to slide my mouse down the right hand side of the screen from the top corner till the slideout menu appears. Then I have to click on settings (Yes, shutdown is in settings…. ). Then I have to click on power, then I have to choose from restart, shutdown and restart or shutdown.

      How many button presses does it take you to search for a folder as opposed to 1 from the previous generation. I have slide open that menu and click on search. Then I have to wait for the tiles interface to invade my entire screen, so I can no longer have something open for reference while I type my search in. I type in my search term but because search defaults to searching for apps, I then have to direct it to search for files.

      I could go on and on

      Nearly everything that you want to do has been made less efficient, more obfuscated and more difficult. yet the OS provides literally no greater functionality. So people use 3rd party software to make W8 more like W7 which in my books, makes the interface a fail.

      Now go into your local PC superstore and watch people demoing the new machines. Watch them try to perform the simplest of tasks and decide that their old computer is better! I have helped 3 family members since windows 8 shop for a new PC, none made a purchase after trying the OS, which I was actively helping them in a positive way to understand. Not proof, not even really evidence but certainly enough to indicate that windows 8 may be a factor!

      • basilisk says:

        How many button presses does it take you to shut your machine down? Compared to two on the previous generation, I have to slide my mouse down the right hand side of the screen from the top corner till the slideout menu appears. Then I have to click on settings (Yes, shutdown is in settings…. ). Then I have to click on power, then I have to choose from restart, shutdown and restart or shutdown.

        Yes, it takes three clicks instead of two. Major usability problem, obviously. Also, sliding from the bottom gets you closer to the button you want to click. Just a tip. And if you do that, you aren’t moving your mouse that much more than when you do the same thing in the bottom left in W7. Alt+F4 or the power button on your case still work, too.
        Also, remember how back in 1995, everyone was making oh-so-funny comments that in order to turn off your computer, you first have to click “Start”? How the time flies, eh?

        How many button presses does it take you to search for a folder as opposed to 1 from the previous generation. I have slide open that menu and click on search.

        Just one: pressing the Windows key. Considering you are going to type anyway, it’s not really unreasonable to force you to put your hands on the keyboard. I quite honestly haven’t clicked the Search button in the charms bar since installing the system.

        I type in my search term but because search defaults to searching for apps, I then have to direct it to search for files.

        Yes, that is annoying and I hope they fix that in Blue. Or at least give us a setting.

        So people use 3rd party software to make W8 more like W7 which in my books, makes the interface a fail.

        People do that because we’re for some reason biologically programmed to blindly resist change.

        • Godwhacker says:

          The point is that it’s extremely unintuitive. Routine things that should be obvious turn out to be a huge trial. Try getting someone who’s only ever used Windows 7 to fully close a Metro app without pressing alt-f4, or try asking them to get two Metro apps running side by side in different Windows. It’s a nightmare.

          It works great on a touch screen, but it’s a nightmare on a real computer.

        • Kaira- says:

          >Yes, it takes three clicks instead of two. Major usability problem, obviously.

          As a matter of fact, it is. Every single mouse click should be justified, and when possible, cut out. This is UI design 101 here.

        • Sheng-ji says:

          “Yes, it takes three clicks instead of two. Major usability problem, obviously. ”

          Not a “Major usability problem”, but a very poorly designed UI. But as literally every last thing you want to do in win 8 takes more clicks and presses, I’m guessing the accumulation very quickly becomes a “Major usability problem” for those with RSI or motor related disabilities as well as just being really frustrating.

          Also, sliding from the bottom gets you closer to the button you want to click. Just a tip.

          Thanks, I know this because every time I want to access anything in the bottom right hand side of my taskbar, that fucking menu opens, along with it’s retarded massive clock – because its just covered my perfectly sized one in the bottom right :/

          And if you do that, you aren’t moving your mouse that much more than when you do the same thing in the bottom left in W7. Alt+F4 or the power button on your case still work, too.

          No because when I click the start button, the start menu appears instantly. It doesn’t feel the need to load an entirely separate interface and slide the menu in. While it may only take an instant, it is noticeable and is annoying. Not to mention the notion that windows doesn’t always notice that you made the gesture so the menu doesn’t open reliably.

          Also, remember how back in 1995, everyone was making oh-so-funny comments that in order to turn off your computer, you first have to click “Start”? How the time flies, eh?

          Yes, but the start menu offered a genuine improvement to the UI. Metro offers a second environment on a single device, one which works differently to the other making for an inconsistent UI.

          Just one: pressing the Windows key.

          The windows key starts the metro ui. Which doesn’t have a search box, so you still have to gesture over to the right.. Oh, you’ve installed a 3rd party plugin haven’t you! Well done for proving my point.

          People do that because we’re for some reason biologically programmed to blindly resist change.

          People generally embrace change that makes their life easier and reject change that makes their life harder. I don’t see many skyrim UI mod users returning back to vanilla skyrim UI because they are biologically programmed to resist change.

          • basilisk says:

            The windows key starts the metro ui. Which doesn’t have a search box, so you still have to gesture over to the right.. Oh, you’ve installed a 3rd party plugin haven’t you! Well done for proving my point.

            Well done to you for proving mine. Go on, try it. Vanilla, out-of-the-box Windows 8. Hit the Win key and start typing. See what happens?

          • Sheng-ji says:

            Er… nothing…. What was supposed to happen?

            EDIT: Oh, wait.. it filters my apps by the letter I’ve just typed. Not sure how that helps me find a file or folder, but next time I can’t find a program I’ve installed because I no longer have a start menu, I’ll be sure to remember that one.

          • Llewyn says:

            Mostly what would have happened on Win7 – it starts searching as soon as you start typing.

          • basilisk says:

            Sheng-ji: it does exactly the same thing as clicking Search in the charms bar and typing. Precisely that which you were describing in your very first post in this thread. How did you not notice that?

            (Also, Win+F is the shortcut for directly searching files and folders, but again, I do agree that the way W7 did that was better.)

        • InternetBatman says:

          People are programmed to resist effort, and changing requires effort. Therefore every change should make things easier. Changes that don’t do that are just failure.

          • basilisk says:

            True, but you can’t evaluate whether the change made things easier or not until you’ve done the effort to make that change and adapt to it. It’s all too common for people to reject it off-hand without even thinking about it or, god forbid, actually trying it out, which is the crux of the issue here.

            To rephrase, I’m not saying change is inherently good, but it most definitely isn’t inherently bad, either.

      • Llewyn says:

        Win-i is a useful Win8 shortcut. Still less efficient than Vista/7, but I’m only hibernating once a day so I can live with that.

        • Sheng-ji says:

          It was a single example. Truth is, nothing is easier on windows 8 compared to previous versions, and many things are more difficult.

          • Llewyn says:

            I would probably agree with you if I actually noticed any of these things, but for years my workflow’s been organised around having direct access to the things I want – multiple quicklaunch bars, pinned applications where I want access to their recent document lists, structured document storage etc – rather than interactive OS features. Arguably I didn’t make good use of Win7’s ‘efficiency’ tools, but only because I didn’t find them that efficient for the most part, so I guess I’m largely unaffected by their decline.

            I do notice the power one though, and mention it because having to use charms is one thing that would really irritate me about Win8.

      • FriendlyFire says:

        How many buttons to shutdown? One. You know, the big “POWER” button on your computer’s chassis? Yeah. Works really well, too! Awesome tactile feedback and everything.

    • Mattressi says:

      While Win8 might actually be ok-ish, the argument is more that people perceive it to not be. I know a lot of non-computer people (parents, in-laws, etc) who got burnt by Vista and asked me to revert them back to XP. They waited to hear what people thought about Win7 (again, these people aren’t at all computer-type people) and eventually got it. With Win8, even the slightest hint that it might be terrible is enough to scare them off. So, they remain with a Win7 machine – unwilling to upgrade their hardware because they insist on buying premade brand-name PCs, and really don’t want Win8.

      As well as this, I think many others probably see Win8 as a sign of the times. They see that even the great Windows has admitted defeat and has simply turned into a mostly-for-smartphone-and-tablets OS (at least, that’s how it presents itself). I know quite a few people who swear that it is the end of the PC, so they are only buying tablets. I guess I can understand the logic – it seems as if Microsoft have no faith in the PC as a platform, so why would you want to stick with the sinking ship?

      So, basically, while Win8 might be fine after some tweaking, it has had much negative criticism thrown at it and it presents itself as a tablet OS. I imagine that these two things are enough to deter most buyers.

      • basilisk says:

        While Win8 might actually be ok-ish, the argument is more that people perceive it to not be.

        Precisely so, but regurgitating the same nonsense about how absolutely unusable W8 is by people who have barely touched it only adds more fuel to this particular fire. I know W8’s reputation is most likely beyond salvaging now, and probably was even before it launched, but I still feel it’s monstrously idiotic. Like the “only every other Windows release is good” mantra which only works if you do your fudging just right. It’s some kind of memetic barely informed groupthink killing a product that didn’t really deserve it.

        • Blue_Lemming says:

          It takes me one click push to switch my pc off in Win8, its called the power button.

          Aside from the lack of start bar, which i now just deal with. I haven’t found the same issues i did when i adopted Vista on launch . Some of the metro apps are useless to me, but otherwise it boots in seconds off an old IDE drive and does what an OS should do.

          I feel its more that hardware requirements for games mean you can play a ton of fine titles without having to fork out tons of cash every year for more ram or a newer CPU, my old “Quad” core handles everything. Its been over two years since my last hardware upgrade, I can still play everything I want to.

          Plus there is a good 20 years of nostalgic gameplay if i really fancy it, without everything being about raw number crunching liquid cooled Powwwaahhh!

  12. 1Life0Continues says:

    Why am I not buying a PC?
    Because I can’t afford upwards of $3k for a gaming machine that will need upgrading every 6 months to keep up with demand from graphics (a severe problem in my unwanted opinion) and that will soon become a walled garden due to the direction Windows 8 seems to be taking, unless developers start taking an interest in OpenGL rather than DirectX and Linux starts becoming a viable gaming option (which I would take up in a nano-second).

    PC’s are expensive. Replacement parts are expensive. I’m not necessarily complaining about the expense, since it’s something I expected when I fell in love with this hobby of mine, and it’s not likely to change any time soon. So that’s why I personally am not buying a PC.

    For what it’s worth.

    • Tridae says:

      um. . .how’d you end up on a PC gaming only site if you seem so against PCs? I have a 3 year old system I built for about $1000 and it runs everything maxxed perfectly fine. You could argue that a console is cheaper for the same games but can your console run 3ds max? Maya? Photoshop and such? the extra premium you pay on top of those other systems is justified by its versatility.

    • Cinek says:

      3k$ ? 6 months? What world do you live on?
      5 years old PC can handle pretty much ALL of the games on market if you are ready to play them on a level of details from old consoles.
      You can upgrade GPU each 2-3 years if you want to play on higher details, sure, but noone is forcing you to.
      Spending 3k$ on a PC might be a good investment, but I never spent more than 1000$ and so far I haven’t seen a game that wouldn’t play smooth on my PC. And it hasn’t seen an upgrade since 4 years.

      Your imaginary view on what PC is and what it’s not is completely detached from reality.

      • derella says:

        ^ This. My PC hasn’t been upgraded in 2 years, and I haven’t had trouble playing any recent games. $3k every 6 months is just ridiculous.

    • Revisor says:

      Hello, dear gamer,
      have you seen this useful guide?
      link to

      You can buy your first good gaming PC for about $1000 including Win7, an IPS monitor, mouse and keyboard.
      If a part later breaks, you can just buy a new part, not the whole PC.

      Steam sales, freedom and superior controls await you.

      On a side note: What are you doing here if you don’t have nor want a PC?

      • Tridae says:

        your “Hello, dear gamer” and the url link sent my internal spam filter into a craze. I was almost sure you were going to offer me cheap tablet covers or shoes by then end of it.

        Has anyone ever told you you type like a spambot? :)

      • MasterDex says:

        Handy site – bookmarked. My brand new PC contains bits from Superb to Extremist, which is nice.

        • Revisor says:

          I bought the last four PCs (for me and people around me) according to this guide, adjusted for regional differences, and couldn’t be happier with them.

    • bwion says:

      The reality is more like “Spend $750-$1500 on a machine you won’t need to upgrade for a couple of years unless you feel like it”.

      Which, come to think of it, is probably one reason why PC sales are in decline (in addition to, as folks are saying, sales of components that people buy separately to build into their own PCs not being counted as PC sales).

      Also, I’ll believe the walled-garden stuff when I see it. I believe there are people who would love to see it happen, but I don’t believe it’s actually possible to take PCs there in any meaningful sense at this stage in the game.

    • Werthead says:

      Not sure if serious or trolling.

      If people are spending $3,000 on gaming PCs, they have more money then they know what to do with. You can get a perfectly credible gaming machine now for around £600. Maybe even £400 if you don’t mind not everything being maxed out.

    • Strabo says:

      Except it’s more like 700 € every 3 years or 1200 € every 5 years to play even the more demanding games in their most beautiful state. Seems like the last time you actually saw a PC was in the late Nineties?

      • Grygus says:

        I’ve been a PC gamer since 1983, which is pretty close to the beginning. There has never been a time in PC gaming history that you needed to spend $3,000 on a machine. Possible, absolutely. Necessary, no.

    • Arithon says:

      What an absurd load of FUD. Console delusions.

      I’ve never had a PC cost anywhere near that money. I’ve had the same PC since October 2010 and my previous PC, built in 2007, runs BF3 and everything else. My PC is an Intel Core i7 and is the most expensive I’ve ever had, costing £800 ($1200), because I had a windfall and treated myself. So wake up and smell reality.

      I’ve never wanted or needed to upgrade my PC or the graphics card more frequently than 2-3 years. Usually after a new PC build a couple of years later I might add more RAM or a faster graphics card, but that hasn’t happened on my last two PC’s. Frankly if I hadn’t had the windfall, I’d still be using my 2007 PC – happily – it ran Crysis on high.

      An XBOX live subscription for 12 months costs more than I’ve spent on my PC in two years. i.e. nothing.
      Plus all the games I buy are cheaper than most console games cost pre-owned. I picked up the new Tomb Raider for my son (running on his 2009 PC) for £17 ($25) last Thursday when a second-hand copy for the XBOX is still £24 ($36) – This “cost” myth is total crap – just like the “PC gaming is dying” mantra.

      That’s why PC gaming is on the increase but sales are not. You don’t need and expensive or bleeding edge PC to run the newest games. They run just fine on 3-5 year old hardware.

    • Drake Sigar says:

      If you go to a store like PC World or buy from Alienware, you will get utterly shafted. It’s perfectly possible to buy a great system from dedicated hardware stores like Novatech for a mere £500. Less if you can buid it yourself and save on some parts. (Buying a new OS or monitor can really drive the price up).

    • oceanclub says:

      “$3k for a gaming machine”

      If you’re spending more than $1K to buy a PC – and I’m talking about everything including monitor, case, etc – you’re doing it wrong. My last upgrade – CPU, motherboard, memory, graphics card, and SSD drives – everything except case & monitor – cost me €500 for a system that, 2 years later, still plays everything full whack.

      In all sincerity, you have no idea what you’re talking about and this is the kind of thing that puts the uninitiated off PC gaming.


      • MasterDex says:

        If you’re spending more than $1k, you’re not doing it wrong….unless you wanted to spend under $1k. For instance, I’m after building my new system, minus a monitor, keyboard & mouse and it came out to €1200. Sure, I could have built a cheaper machine that’s nearly as good but it wouldn’t match this machine.

        A PC can cost you $3k if you want it to and that $3k might even be money well spent.

        The point that should be made isn’t that spending more than $1k on a PC is stupid because in many cases, it’s not. The point being made should be that building a PC is as cheap or expensive as you want it to be.

    • sinister agent says:

      Thank god you’re here, 2002! Listen, this is very important. In about a year, someone called Boris Johnson is going to be a guest host on Have I Got News For You. I don’t know how, but somehow you have to stop it from happening. Do whatever it takes.

    • 1Life0Continues says:

      Answer to all: Australia.

      Okay. so $3k is a bit of a stretch, but pre-built PC’s are still over $1500 for anything with any futureproofing in mind. I’ve done my research, I’m not talking out of my arse here. I looked into building my own PC and only managed to knock a few hundred dollars off the cost.

      Seriously, unless there’s something I’m missing (and that’s highly likely, so please educate me) sourcing parts in Australia that are mid to high end and totaling under $1000 is hard.

      I don’t own a console. So I don’t get the console snobbery attitude, since you’re completely off the mark.

      But hey, what else is the internet for?

      • PeteC says:

        But that doesn’t explain why you think you need to spend that much every six months!

        I’ve had my PC for exactly three years now and the only upgrade I’ve had in that time is an SSD a year ago. I’ve got a middling graphics card that I’ll maybe upgrade in a year or so but I can play every game out there so see no need right now.

        Sounds like you’d be better off getting the parts from abroad and importing the damn thing. Seems like you’d still save hundreds of dollars. Maybe a site like PC Specialist could be useful?

    • 1Life0Continues says:

      Also: Um, where is the assumption I don’t have a PC coming from? I wrote the damn comment on my PC. The article is about hardware (both pre-built and components) and I responded with why I’m not buying either.

      You all made the incredible leap in logic that olympic athletes would be jealous of.

      • MasterDex says:

        Can you really blame them? Your comment reads like thousands of comments PC gamers have read a thousand times – .i.e. the ignorant rant of a console gamer, sore that they can’t afford a PC.

        It’s nice to know that you’re not but you should re-read your comment to see why others might have jumped to the conclusion they did – it wasn’t a large leap by any stretch of the imagination.

        I have no idea what component prices are like in Australia but the best advice I can offer you is to shop online and try to find the best prices. I know Australia tends to be a bit more expensive than everywhere else for a lot of things but you should be able to build a decent PC with at least $1k.

        Just out of curiosity, what’s the average price you find online for these components:
        i5 3570k
        i7 3770k
        Radeon 7870
        Nvidia 660 Ti

    • FriendlyFire says:

      I don’t know where the hell you’re buying your PCs from but $3k gives you a monstrous machine that’d last for a solid 5 years no problem. Your entire rant is horribly misinformed or plain trolling.

  13. Innovacious says:

    I find that the price point on new hardware is just too steep now for how much extra performance I would actually get. And my 4 year old build is still holding up, can still run some new games maxed out. Ran Bioshock Infinite at 1920×1200, Ultra settings, 50-60fps.

  14. mbp says:

    Windows 8.

    In making Windows 8 Microsoft tried to make one interface suit everyone from the power user on a desktop to the casual user of a tablet. Unfortunately in trying to make one size fit all they managed to piss off the power users while singularly failing to attract new casual users. I was due to replace my gaming rig this year but everything I have seen and heard about Windows 8 put me off. I have now decided to wait for the next, hopefully better version of Windows assuming that Microsoft stays in business long enough to get to Windows 9. I suspect that a lot of other genuine PC users have similarly put off upgrading this year.

    To be honest if the gaming industry ever starts to support Linux properly I would be quite happy to say goodbye to Microsoft for ever.

    • basilisk says:

      As a power user of Windows since the 3.11 days, I can tell you that once you look past the hysteria, you’ll see it’s just a major redesign of the start menu which was, frankly, long overdue. You do not, I repeat do not, have to use the new interface at all if you do not want to, and if you don’t have a touch-enabled monitor, I can’t see why you would. There’s really no need to be pissed off about it.

      And I still firmly believe that the idea that Microsoft is going to move everything to Metro is ludicrous. Not even RT devices run Office in Metro. And Microsoft’s making a fuckton of money from Office and enterprise users.

      • RobF says:

        You know that the control panel is moving to Metro in Win Blue, right? And Sound Recorder and various other little apps are also going Metro.

        It’s baby steps and it’s happening.

        • basilisk says:

          Well, having two different control panels in vanilla W8 is pretty ridiculous. Definitely one of the sillier parts of Metro.

          • Machinations says:


            Game publishers and developers ought to consider Linux native versions of all their releases as a hedge against future Microsoft idiocy and self-sabotage

          • RobF says:

            But do you see, the idea MS are moving everything to Metro isn’t ludicrous, it’s actually happening. It will happen slowly because no-one would accept such a stark change overnight, even at £25 early adopter rates. HOWEVER, slowly bit by but remove or replace the functionality from the desktop – there’s a Metro file explorer in the works too – and you can gradually and more effectively effect the change.

            And that’s what’s happening. MS have strongly pointed out that retaining the desktop is a major part of Win8’s philosophy. And this is an absolute truth but it’s not Win8 as is now you have to worry about. It’s Win Blue moving control panel and standard apps that have always been desktop, it’s about what The one after Blue and the one after that.

            And in the meantime, whilst you say it’s not happening Microsoft erodes or mothballs projects that don’t initially effect you. XNA disappears, the future of Direct X is muddied, the things you count on people using to make things for desktop quietly do one from underneath your nose, things other packages are built on do one and bit by bit, their ability to continue to run slips away.

            But yeah, it’s ludicrous. Definitely ludicrous. But also happening.

    • Cinek says:

      To be honest if the gaming industry ever starts to support Linux properly I would be quite happy to say goodbye to Microsoft for ever.” – if there would be any worthwhile linux distribution that got a professional level of support for regular users (read: not geeks) I would consider it a valid alternative. But at the current state of things it’s nowhere near. I’d much more likely switch to MacOs than Linux.

      • BrandeX says:

        These exist. You have to pay for them same as Windows or OSX. Understandably, generally only some corps. pay for supported Linux distros.

      • iniudan says:

        SUSE Enterprise Linux and Ubuntu offer professional support for desktop.

    • InternetBatman says:

      Same here. I love Mint. We use it for our couchputer. The only problem is drivers, and some of that is because it’s at least five year old computer I got in a yardsale.

  15. Alec Meer says:

    I’ve had the same processor since 2008. I AM THE PROBLEM.

    • kyrieee says:

      Q6600 high five

    • Rapzid says:

      Still rocking mine! *high five*

    • Lone Gunman says:

      +1 for the Q6600

    • SanguineAngel says:

      I still have an E8400 from, I think 2006! I have only upgraded my graphics card once in that time, everything else is the same spec I kitted out when I got that sweet sweet processor. I’ve yet to encounter a game I cannot play flawlessly

    • Rufustan says:

      I am not part of the problem yet, but having bought an i5 2500K a couple of years back, in a couple more I will be.

  16. bwion says:

    I am, I suppose, a recent convert to the Way of the Touch Screen, and it’s still pretty telling that almost the first thing I did when I bought my Nexus 7 was buy an external bluetooth keyboard for it. When it comes to entering more than slight amounts of text, the traditional keyboard is, and likely always will be, king. Anyway, I love the thing but it has not given me the slightest urge to chuck my desktop behemoth into the garbage. There’s room in my life for both, in a way that there isn’t, for example, really room in my life for another dedicated game-playing box when I already have a PC.

    Haven’t gone near Windows 8. I do hear that the new interface is annoying but largely ignorable (and compeltely so with various third-party software) and the desktoppy bits are actually a minor improvement over Windows 7, but I figure I’ll wait for Windows 9. Microsoft usually get it right with every second major release. (And there’s no way in hell they’re ever going to completely abandon the traditional desktop and the install-anything-you-want architecture. The business customers who are their bread and butter would never stand for it.)

    Anyway, from a functional perspective, tablets are absolutely personal computers. (I’m old enough that I still implicitly think “IBM-Compatible” when I hear the term “PC”). I don’t know that I necessarily would want to see tablet coverage here, but when I can (theoretically) run DOSBox on my Android tablet, hook up a keyboard, a mouse, a controller, or pretty much anything else I want, I’m hard-pressed to see any sort of major distinction that’s worth making.

    • FriendlyFire says:

      Fun story: I bought an Asus Transformer tablet. End result? 99% of the time it’s docked. I just never use it as a “tablet”, it’s almost always like a touch-enabled netbook with much better build quality and insane battery life.

      Granted, I’m not really the average tablet user…

  17. Drayk says:

    I’ve never bought a premade pc… I am terrible with hardware but i always build my own pc. It’s always cheaper, you know what’s in it, if you can upgrade it easily and there are lots of tech savvy chaps that can help you out in case of trouble… plus it’s part of the fun.

    The other problem being. My PC is 5 yo, and only changed the cpu and the GPU once. I can play most games perfectly fine at max graphics… plus I am waiting for tons of kickstarter games which will have quite low requierments too.

    I’ll probably won’t invest before second half of 2014 at the very least.

  18. JayG says:

    There is a fear of WIndows 8. My mother ended up spending more on a laptop then she needed too just to get Windows 7.

    As for me my gaming PC is nearly 3 years old and still works fine. I see no reason to upgrade at all as most the games I’m looking forward seem to be coming from Kickstarter, and most AAA games these days are very derivative. I wouldn’t agree about how expensive PC’s are, can get a decent gaming PC here for a lot less then the new consoles will cost, never mind looking at the prices of Ipads and so. And games are a lot cheaper on PC. What games do you need to upgrade your PC every 6 months for? Most high end games these days are console ports anyway.

  19. rustybroomhandle says:

    Don’t think I have ever bought a PC. Usually when I feel it’s time to upgrade I will do it in parts.

    Also, there’s a note scribbled on the inside of my tinfoil hat that says this is exactly what Microsoft want to achieve. Kill off the less profitable platform, push people towards the more milkable ones.

    • jrodman says:

      I doubt this. The PC has remained firmly in their grasp for 3 decades now, while other markets have repeatedly eluded them.

  20. Desmolas says:

    This article’s very well researched stats come from OEM sales of computers. Not self-builds. Maybe people are just becoming more technically savvy and are prepared to self-build their PC with the components they need instead of buying OEM hardware at the inflated cost.

    • vodka and cookies says:

      Self builds are a tiny fraction to the point where it’s barely a blip on the radar, where talking mass market sales that actually move the needle.

      People arent buying PC’s, they are buying more reliable, easier to use dedicated tablets and leave the PC for the occasional time they still need to use it.

      PC gamers are one of the few groups who would still be PC primary users.

    • TehTR says:

      It’s also important to remember that a lot of webshops do their own OEM machines using available components, and they usually outperform and outprice these “major” Producers by quite a large margin, at least for tower PC’s. With laptops the story is pretty different, much of the market seems to have transitioned to tablets, and for some people that’s fine. But current tablets are not a replacement for a desktop PC for any serious work, and will never be able to match even a mid-range pc in terms of gaming performance.

  21. vodka and cookies says:

    Tablets/smarthpones are slaughtering the PC in the consumer sector, they are simply easier to use for the mass market & growing more capable.

    Microsofts hybrid approach is an attempt to save the PC from becoming a minority computing platform like the Apple Mac (which saw sales drop too but Apple has iOS to make up for it), it typically takes Microsoft 2-3 tries to get something right so the PC isn’t down for the count just yet. Those who want to double down on keyboard/mouse will ensure the PC becomes a second class device.

    What constitutes a PC in the future is also interesting, there are reports that several laptop makers have approached Google asking them to speed up the unification of Android and Chrome OS so they can begin selling laptops using Android/Chrome.

  22. timethor says:

    Most people already have a pc in the house capable of doing the most common productivity stuff. If you keep the OS clean or reinstall it once in a while, a 5-10 year old PC is perfectly capable of doing all the word processing and powerpointing and image editing that the average person will ever need.

    My pc is now 2 years old (costed €800?) and it is ridiculously overpowered for 99% of the things I do besides gaming, and I consider myself a power user (my word files are hundreds of pages long, I program stuff for scientific research, process large datasets from the same research, produce images to paste in the word files, etc). I can’t think of a single reason to upgrade this machine for anything besides gaming in the coming years.

    Windows 8 may not be very attractive, but the PC as a platform (especially the big bulky boxes.. I personally really like the netbook / tablet with optional keyboard formfactor) was already destined to sell less units. The “productivity” market is saturated. The “consuming content” market is now also served by phones and tablets. The “gaming” market remains in a way, if you want all the graphics, but spending serious money on a new machine just to turn up the slider from “High” to “Ultra” is not something the average person will do.

  23. Nim says:

    Why I don’t buy a new PC? Because I usually do not need to.

    I bought my last computer just after the xbox360 and ps3 hit and that computer can still run all games for these consoles as well as all the indie games I care about without a hitch. This (currently 6 year old) machine does not need an upgrade because it can still run everything with decent levels of quality, although with a new console generation coming up, a new machine will eventually be bought. I wonder how long the new one might last.

  24. amorpheous says:

    My machine’s 6 years old, but been upgraded a lot over the years: Current spec is GA-965P-DS3, Intel Q6700, 8GB DDR2, HIS Radeon HD4850 iCooler IV 1GB and 2x WD Velociraptor (10k RPM) drives in RAID 0.

    Bioshock Infinite runs smooth on it with most bells and whistles turned on at 1920×1200.

    The point is current hardware is overkill for current games.

  25. Llewyn says:

    Oh, where to begin… The global PC market isn’t driven by home consumers, it’s driven by business sales and always has been. The most obvious reason for the decline in business PC sales is the relative power of even the cheapest boxes over the last few years, which has allowed pretty much any business to extend their replacement cycle (or their leases) by a year or two. Where before the median lifespan of a business PC might have been three years, now it’s more likely to be five. It’s not hard to see how that will impact on new PC sales. Alongside this, reliability is perhaps the highest it’s ever been. I remember the days of ordering PCs in bulk and expecting to return 10-15% for warranty issues in the first year; I don’t hear of that kind of thing happening any more.

    The same’s also true of home users, outside the relatively small serious gamer market. PCs that were adequate for everyday home use three years ago are still adequate now. The same’s even true of gaming PCs away from the top end of the market. Nothing’s happened to change that and nothing will change it in the foreseeable future – the next-gen games consoles will disrupt PC gaming, but they won’t drive a significant new wave of gaming PC sales. Which leads to a slightly tangential issue…

    It’s likely that part of the reason that PC gaming is doing so well across all sectors at the moment is that there hasn’t been any huge shift in entry requirements for PC gaming. RPS readers are likely to buy new rigs when their old ones will no longer run the games they want to play; occasional gamers are more likely to stop buying games.

    But no, obviously, bloody Windows 8 hasn’t helped. Microsoft’s death-grip on the PC sales industry, such that it’s nigh-impossible to walk into a store and buy a PC device without having it pre-infected, has put many off buying the hardware.

    Obviously? There are two reasons why I think Win8 hasn’t helped – and I don’t think it’s actively contributed to the decline in PC sales, but it has failed to drive a new wave. The first is that it simply isn’t necessary for (almost) anybody. It doesn’t provide any significant incentive for either businesses or consumers to upgrade, and that doesn’t sell PCs. The second is that, mechanically, it’s probably too efficient. MS have made a point of its performance gains over Win7, presumably fearful of being slated even more for bloat, but the effect of that is that anyone who does want Win8 doesn’t need to buy a new PC for it – it will work nicely on their existing Win7 or Vista PC.

    PC sales won’t surge again until there is some significant new factor to create demand. And I just don’t see what could possibly cause that in the next few years.

    In the meantime sales will just tick along on a replacement cycle, which is probably good for everyone except PC manufacturers.

    Edit: Hmmm, that took rather longer than I anticipated…

    • TechnicalBen says:

      It’s also like trying to drive calculator sales. If people already have one, or other devices supply the use, then calculators stop selling as much.

      For now, most PCs offer either a speed (as in real terms in the work done), or useability (as in programming, software or keyboards etc) that tablets and phones just do not offer. However tablets and phones are useful in other areas.

      It’s the old horse and cart, whip makers and car makers problem. Only this time, it’s progressing from cars (pcs) to motorbikes (mobile devices)?

  26. jrodman says:

    PC Gaming is up.

    PC use for browsing the web and reading email is down.

    Phones are taking over the lazy computing segment, which was the largest for the last ten years or so.

  27. ecat says:

    Has MS shot itself in the foot with Win8 by chasing new markets at the expense of its existing customer base? Yes.

    Has MS shot itself in the foot with a long console cycle rendering gaming PC upgrades unnecessary? Yes.

    Is the PC market held back by lack of advancement in CPU speed? Yes. We hit 3.5GHz several years ago and we are still stuck, gone are the days of large % gains each cycle. And no, I do not count # cores, per core performance is still the most relevant metric.

    Is the mobile market currently innovating more quickly than the PC market? Yes. But once they hit the technological limits affecting the PC market the innovation will slow.

    Those who produce content generally need something like a PC. Those who simply consume content, the vast majority, can happily do so on a touch screen.

    All said and done, 76 MILLION units in 3 months doesn’t sound all that bad to me.

    • Brun says:

      And no, I do not count # cores, per core performance is still the most relevant metric.

      This is a software issue, not a hardware one. Having multiple cores is, from a purely technical perspective, better than having one really monstrous core. The problem is that software is still working to adapt to a multi-core environment. Proper multi-core implementation can be quite difficult and time-consuming so many developers don’t bother with it. The CPUs we have now could be quite a bit more powerful than they appear if the software we are using could properly utilize them.

      This is a situation that’s improving but it’s far from being completely fixed.

  28. Bhazor says:

    A big contributor for the death of netbooks is the fact Microsoft would only allow manufacturers to use 1gb RAM in machines using Windows 7 Starter. Which is ridiculous as 7 Starter can run 2gb and doubling the RAM would cost at most $5 and see a huge speed boost. So instead of buying a deliberately stunted netbook people were faced with paying an extra $200 for a medium spec laptop. But obviously this is a big corporation we’re talking about so theres no point looking for logic here.

  29. DXN says:

    a) Far too poor to upgrade any of my shit right now.
    b) My creaky old PC is capable of playing most shit that the consoles can.
    c) All this low-spec, high-qual indie shit coming out recently doesn’t need a beast PC.
    d) There’s also loads of classic shit from old times that I never did play yet.
    e) In conclusion, my shit isn’t too old for this shit so I don’t need any new shit.

    • Apocalypse says:

      Natural Selection 2?
      Tribes: Ascend?
      Witcher 2?

      Maybe not that demanding as crysis 3, but still more demanding than console games.

      • DXN says:

        Actually my PC (rocking an 8800GT 256MB) runs NS2 pretty smoothly! People rag on the engine but from where I’m sitting it’s well-optimized as hell.

        Witcher 2, Crysis 3, any other beast-PC-requirers: I can live without them for now. I have years and years worth of great games from times past to get through. That’s besides the many new games that aren’t beast-PC-requirers. Dig?

  30. Apocalypse says:

    “While Vista was utterly terrible, it at least looked like Windows”
    Sorry, but someone has to say it: FUCK YOU!

    Vista was awesome, it made the needed changes under the hood, and at least you could use it before SP2, unlike windows xp, which would reboot within 10 seconds flat without SP2 because its wide open security flaws ;-)

    Was Visa perfect? Not at all, but is was the first working 64-bit consumer windows, it broke a lot of compatibility that was dragging windows down since decades and carved the way for windows 7, which could use all the foundations laid down by vista.

    Was vista a great system with out troubles? Of course not, it was a big change after, I would not even recommend it to anyone to actually use, but still it was a important step in the windows evolution. And the biggest problem of vista was non of its flaws, but the bad press it got. It is amazing how the press will keep praising windows 7, which barely more than a fancy service pack for vista ;-)

    Reminds me somehow of windows 8 which has a lot of great changes to its core, booting faster than you can type your login is only one of them.

    • SanguineAngel says:

      Everyone’s user experience and satisfaction is different. To me, you look just as crazy as the last guy. I ran an XP 64 bit system for years absolutely perfectly. I had no driver compatibility issues and consequently was years late to the vista party.

      I recognise the benefits under the hood on Windows 8 but for my tastes (not everyone’s) vanilla windows 8 is just arse backwards in terms of workflow. I work exclusively in the desktop and cannot use any of the win 8 apps due to their craziness.

    • TechnicalBen says:

      You just compared XP without a SP to Vista with one?

      XP fully upgraded and at the end of it’s cycle, was quite a nice OS, minus the obvious security faults. But security is a progressive thing anyhow it seems, Windows and MS needed to change long ago, so thankfully have now. The main reason XP is not as usable now is usually the slow hardware it’s left on (old P4 CPUs).

      Vista was as problematic as any other OS release from MS it seems. After it’s SP updates, it’s little different than Windows 7. I think the only reason it does get the slack is because Windows 7 added to the strengths and lessons learnt in Vista. 7 made Vista look like a botched OS upgrade. People considered the upgrade to XP to be botched, but saw little else to compare it to. The change from Vista to 7 was smooth and rather intuitive, helpful and just worked. So of cause they would think 7 was better, and remember Vista as a painful experience (but probably forget the troubles of XP by then :P ).

      I guess they were aiming for the same with 7 to 8, but the change in the GUI was too much really.

  31. JamesTheNumberless says:

    I really don’t think the entry level for AAA PC games (remember they usually have graphics quality settings!) has shifted much in the last 5 years – so core and casual gamers alike have had little reason to buy whole new systems, except when computers have broken, etc. It’s been a long time since there has really be a major new change in hardware for home PCs that people have had to have – touchscreen monitors aren’t going to produce the effect that CDROM drives did in the 90s (remember when everyone had to get a “multimedia” PC?) – simply because people already have touch devices that make more sense to them. If core gamers have been upgrading bits and pieces, that obviously isn’t factored into the figures of complete new systems sales.

  32. Advanced Assault Hippo says:

    It’s a mixture of two things: Intel and consoles.

    Their Core2Duo circa 2005/06 (And to a lesser extent the quad cores) meant pc gamers could start to put their feet up, knowing they’ll still be able to play the latest games in 5 or 6 years time without a cpu/mobo upgrade. They were phenomenally powerful chips (too powerful?).

    And a large chunk of multi-format games needing to run on (relatively) outdated 360/PS3 hardware meant there were very few PC games that required new upgrades, apart from the minority who want a few extra frames per second.

    It’s quite straightforward really. No mystery.

  33. derbefrier says:

    I recently bought a new mobo amd CPU cause my old one decided to up and die. So I took the opportunity to upgrade a few things. I don’t see myself needing another upgrade for at least a couple years

  34. Hahaha says:

    Ahhhhhhh Encarta

    • Bhazor says:

      I remember that. Playing that terrible maze game all through lunch on the library computer.

  35. Bobka says:

    I worry about what will happen to a generation of children who have been given tablets by parents who believe that tablets can do everything PCs can do, but easier.

    In the cyberpunk world of 2030, after two decades of tablets, all computing skills have been lost to the younger generation, and digital content and production is ruled by megacorporations who hide behind “user content services” as a pretense of digital democracy while they turn society into a dystopian technocracy. Only the handful of PC gamers, raised by their PC-gaming-zealot parents, have the technical skills required to master the computers that dominate the lives of all humans. Now, they are the resistance.

  36. Kinth says:

    I think this can simply be put down to two things.

    1. A lot of the popular games don’t require high end PC’s to be run. Minecraft, LoL and even Dota 2 can be run pretty easily on low to medium end machines. With the rise of retro there isn’t much incentive to update.

    2. Even in the AAA market there isn’t much incentive to update, the new top end hardware far exceeds the actual power required to run any game currently released, the excess power we have in this generation is probably far greater in ratio than any other generation. It’s the longest generation in gaming and hardware that is 2-3 years old can still run new games on max settings with no trouble.

    There is simply no need to upgrade right now. When the “Next Gen” hits and we have the console power limit on developers raised I suspect we shall see sales start going up again as we start to get games that can take advantage of more power. That will take some time though considering you can run those unreal engine 4 tech demos on a single Geforce 680 GTX which just shows the amount of excess power overhead quite a lot of people already have.

  37. Dayfather says:

    These statistics seem to be for prebuilt PC sales, are there any numbers on PC component sales? Star Citizen recently surveyed it backers and something like 85% said that they’d built their own PCs, while I doubt the percentage is that high for PC gamers in general it’s probably not far off. I would be interesting to see how CPU, GPU, motherboard etc. sales are doing, could it be that more people are building their own rigs and/or upgrading components instead of buying new computers?

  38. lizzardborn says:

    Simple explanation – a PC in 90s lasted two years top. Current desktops are fine for 5 if you upgrade the video card and add a stick of ram on the third year. If you only browse/torrent/watch video a 2004 era machine is more than enough

  39. Lenderz says:

    Things not needed to run other things as older things do the job just as well don’t sell as well in the midst of the worlds current long and deep recession shocker.

    Once software starts taxing our machines gamers will start buying hardware again. Especially if we have money in our collective pockets.

  40. Optimaximal says:

    The problem with analysis is it often doesn’t take into account customers needs, just their buying habits.

    These days, people don’t *need* to buy PCs because their last one is reliable, still supported and suitable for all the tasks it still does. This is the same as the car market (where even the Korean stuff is now well made yet cheap) and (crucially) at opposites with the profitable portable/mobile markets, which currently thrive on product churn, either down to built-in obsolescence or market direction.

    That gaming PCs have remained relatively stationary because of the stagnant console hardware is well documented, but still representative. We can choose to spend Eleventy-thousand on a mega PC, but the majority won’t because they’re using it to play WoW/Call of Shooty and don’t need to. The PS4/NeXtbox might shift that slightly, but they’re both turning into service platforms – the hardware is already behind the times.

    Windows 8 is causing a usability headache for certain markets, but given it can be cheaply converted into Windows 7+ by Stardock for less than a tenner, it shouldn’t matter where enthusiasts are concerned. Windows 8 isn’t selling because people aren’t buying Windows 8-loaded machines, because the Windows 7 one they bought 2-3 years ago is still fantastically good at being a Windows 7 machine.

  41. Lemming says:

    Why would anyone come at PC market stats like they are console stats? PC gaming’s health has never been about ‘units sold’ for hardware or Operating Systems. My PC is older than my PS3, I’ve ‘upgraded’ it with a new graphics card and Windows 7 in all that time, and if I decide to upgrade again, I’ll go with a motehrboard/processor/RAM kit. None of which is going to show up on that chart.

    I’d be fucking mortified if I had a HP or Dell ‘box’, tbh. Don’t their sales rely on economy and business start ups rather than individuals anyway? Their money comes from big companies buying their units in bulk, not gamers.

    • Misnomer says:

      YES! I went through 3 pages to find someone who would recognize this fact. The sales have pretty much everything to do with declining commercial demand and the longevity of PC hardware now. It has even less with gaming demand.

      While John uses this as an opportunity to fling out inflammatory language about Microsoft like

      But no, obviously, bloody Windows 8 hasn’t helped. Microsoft’s death-grip on the PC sales industry, such that it’s nigh-impossible to walk into a store and buy a PC device without having it pre-infected


      Whereas the comparable story on BBC link to notes that

      Consumers are migrating content consumption from PCs to other connected devices, such as tablets and smartphones,” said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner.

      IDC also said that, traditionally, companies replaced PCs every three years, but that during the economic downturn this was more likely to be every five years.

      “This is horrific news for PCs,” said BGC financial analyst Colin Gillis. “It’s all about mobile computing now.”

      Hewlett-Packard, the world’s largest maker of PCs, saw a 24% fall in shipments in the first quarter compared with the same period a year ago.

      China’s Lenovo Group, number two in the market, is benefiting from sales to first-time buyers in China and other developing countries. Its sales held steady, IDC said.

      So while there is a comment about mobile computing (something John refuses to admit because he approaches it from a gaming perspective), the reality is that business purchases as well as the growth in China explain quite a bit of what we are seeing. Especially that Lenovo bit which John oddly credits to

      They’ve focused hard on PC in the last 12 months, and as a result – and indeed while not endlessly restructuring themselves – they’ve proved steady. It’s evidence that there’s still gold in these here hills.”

      I am sure it has nothing to do with a Chinese company selling to one of the only consumer markets still expanding in that area.

      John has become king of the angry internet men and can read any statistic these days to fit into his ideology. This really should be an uncontroversial bit of news

  42. Solidstate89 says:

    I still must be one of only 5 or so people on RPS that love using Windows 8 on my desktop.


    • Llewyn says:

      I’m curious. What do you love about it?

      I’ve been using it since the start of the year and I’m perfectly content with it – yes, there are minor niggles and yes, there are minor improvements, but on the whole my everyday experience isn’t really very different from either Vista or 7. I certainly wouldn’t go out of my way to avoid it, I don’t regret upgrading to it, but I’m not excited by it either.

      • Solidstate89 says:

        I hardly use the Metro start screen besides what I used the Start Menu for in Windows 7 (Winkey + Search) but I do use a couple Metro applications. I enjoy using Netflix in Metro as opposed to the browser. I also like pinning aesthetically pleasing wide-box icons for my Steam Games (there’s a couple different ways of doing it if you’re curious).

        I really do like the new Explorer with the hidden ribbon bar. I think it’s a decent improvement over what was available in Windows 7. The boot times are also significantly better for me on the systems that use UEFI as opposed to the older BIOS.

        I’m also a big proponent of Windows 8’s under the hood changes, like much better entropy for conventional ASLR, the introduction of HEASLR for 64-bit specific applications, new (and lower) integrity levels like App Container and many other security enhancements.

        Don’t get me wrong, there are some things I’m quite pissed about. Like how they removed AppLocker from the consumer versions and made it exclusive for the business edition. I used to have AppLocker in Windows 7 Ultimate/Pro but they removed it in Windows 8 Pro so now I have to deal with the older and less granular SRP.

        • TechnicalBen says:

          So basically, apart from a couple of new features, you love not using the new feature of Metro? So basically, those who love Windows 7 love Windows 8 minus 1 also? ;)

          • Solidstate89 says:

            If you ignore almost everything I said and shove some words into my mouth; sure, I said exactly that.

          • uh20 says:

            windows 8 is the next release of windows 7, which has been given ONE of HUNDEREDS of readily-made features to shove into peoples faces.

            when the next version comes out, they will then spin the wheel again, and select another of said features they most likely developed as early as 10 years ago.

            so, yea, windows 8 is basically windows 7 minus that one feature.

          • El_Emmental says:

            Even if I didn’t recognized all the acronyms used by Solidstate89, I understood it as:

            – I don’t really use the most visible changes for the layman (Metro UI), even if I find some of its elements okay.

            – I appreciate the updated/upgraded elements “under the hood”, that most people probably never heard of on Windows 7 so they don’t see why it’s an important thing.

            From that post, it seems to me that Windows 8 is not just “Windows 7 with the UI of a tablet” – but it doesn’t chance the fact that for the average consumer it still looks like “Windows 7 with the UI of a tablet”.

            Since I’m very happy with Windows 7 so far, don’t see the need to move to Windows 8, and had to suffer through Vista on several laptops, I think I’ll wait for Windows 9 (or whatever allows me to do some gaming and is as good as XP SP2/Windows 7).

  43. ChromeBallz says:

    Did people check whether it’s just OEM’s that’s going down?

    Because i bet single parts sales are up…

  44. Prime says:

    Again, chaps? Tsk. Windows 8 is fine with a few simple tweaks and Classic Shell to bring back the old style Start Menu. I barely ever see Metro now and I’m on my PC every day. The improvements Windows 8 brought to the table rank it well above Windows 7 for me. That doesn’t xcuse the decison taken to make 8 so Metro heavy but it’s certainly no Vista.

    • Prime says:

      Fair enough. My comment was, however, aimed more at power-users of windows such as Mr Walker here. Alec has also has a rant about it. These kinds of people really should know better.

      • TechnicalBen says:

        Yep. A power user can either change Windows 8, or no upgrade. They are a power user, they’ll figure out how to get 7 to do the job they want.

      • Llewyn says:

        But you don’t even need to be a power user, let alone to install any additional shell components. If you use it like Win7 it behaves basically like Win7, in the same way as if you used Win7 like Vista it behaved basically like Vista.

  45. Mr Wonderstuff says:

    Ever tried designing a brochure on a tablet? No? Exactly.

  46. Solidstate89 says:

    No. Just no to everything. Windows 8 is apparently so “appallingly different” as to drive people away from it and your answer is to send them to Linux and to use LibreOffice?

    No. Just read what you’re writing.

    • Solidstate89 says:

      No. The people you’re referring don’t want to stop using Microsoft because it’s what they know. And using the explorer in Windows 8 is FAR FAR FAR more familiar than any DE in any Linux Distro. They don’t want to use Libre Office, they want to use MS Office. They don’t want to use Firefox, they want to use IE. They don’t want Unity, they want explorer. The list goes on and on.

      That you think showing someone to click on the desktop icon in Windows 8 is equivalent to teaching that person on how to Linux is laughable. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. If Windows 8 is too “different” and too hard to learn, like fuck they’ll want to use Linux. What’s a .deb? Why can’t I download .exes? What’s a package manager? Where’s Solitaire? Why can’t I just use [insert windows only application here] like I always did? How come Netflix doesn’t work anymore? What do you mean I have to use WINE? Why would I use WINE on a computer?

      No. Just no.

    • solidsquid says:

      For an average user, Linux Mint (an Ubuntu derivative) has a very similar interface to Windows pre-8 and equivalents for all the software they’ll use. There will be a bit of a learning curve, but significantly less than there is for learning an entire new interface. At least that’s the logic behind the argument, don’t know how accurate it is (some people might just make do with Windows 8, or wait until 9 and see what happens. Also there’s the issue of who helps them *through* the learning curve, without friends/family to explain the differences they could be just as stumped as with Windows 8)

  47. TechnicalBen says:

    Correlation =/= causation. Windows 8 does not put me off a new purchase. It in of it’s self is just Window 7 point 2 IMO. But cost and the economy tend to dictate spending patterns.

    Might be people buy tablets and phones because they cost less and are portable? As suppose to Windows 8 putting people of PCs all together (though it puts me off MS ;) ).

  48. Fred S. says:

    tl:dr the economy sucks, my current PC is good enough, so meh I won’t upgrade this time around. But I want that new flashy game…

  49. frightlever says:

    Even if PC sales are down it doesn’t necessarily imply that PC gaming rig and/or component sales are down. A year on year comparison for GPU sales would be more relevant.

    Laptops count as PCs in my book. They’re a subset. So are Windows-based non-RT tablets. Even Macs and Linux boxes count as PCs, and hopefully Linux will become ever more popular for gaming. Consider that gaming on PC is already a niche amongst all those PC sales so it’s possible to imagine that Linux could become the de-facto gaming OS with Windows reserved for business. Of course it’s possible to imagine anything if you put your mind to it.

  50. trjp says:

    PC sales across the board are declining for many reasons – PC gaming hardware sales, if down at all, is only only down because the rate of ‘power increase’ has slowed in the last 5 years.

    e,g, I spent £80 on a GPU 2 years ago and now, £80 won’t get me anything significantly better – I need to spend over £100 and that’s not how PC hardware used to work.

    PCs as devices used by people for are ‘consumers’ of content – who read email, browse web and use Facebook etc. are dead and gone – they’ll be replaced almost entirely by smartphones and tablets in the next few years. That’s mostly ‘cheap’ laptop sales but it’s a big hit to the numbers.

    I do wonder what will happen when the laptop sales drop starts to bite tho – because retail PC places already abandoned the desktop, I guess they’ll just die-off altogether, leaving us with only mail-order options for kit (which will reduce sales, of course).