This Dumb Industry: The PC Market Share

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Oct 9, 2018

Filed under: Column 97 comments

Back in 2008 or so I read some studies showing that the PC gaming market had dwindled. I don’t remember what those studies were, who did them, or where I read about them, but the idea stuck in my head that the PC was no longer a major concern to the big publishers.

This certainly explained their behavior at the time. In 2008, gaming was plagued by horrible ports, ghastly PC performance, and burdensome DRM. And that’s when publishers could be bothered to port a game to the PC in the first place. It very much felt like PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Wii were where the bulk of hardcore gamers were at, and the PC was sitting at the kid’s table.

“Hardcore” Gamers

I don't know what this guy is doing, but it looks pretty hardcore to me.
I don't know what this guy is doing, but it looks pretty hardcore to me.

I have to be careful here to avoid having people accuse me of gatekeeping. I know the terms of “hardcore” and “casual” are badly defined and often misused. For the purposes of this discussion, we’re interested in people who buy dedicated gaming hardware and use it to play a lot of games. Yes, smartphone games are huge and they make a ton of money. Those gamers are lovely people I’m not saying their gaming is any less valid than mine, I’m just saying that their concerns are mostly orthogonal to the stuff I write about on this site.

I’m sorry the nomenclature is so messed up, but I can’t fix it from where I’m sitting. Ideally we’d come up with a new word that properly communicates what we’re trying to say, but making up new terms is difficult and dangerous business. If I draw a line and say that “dedicated gaming hardware” is our dividing line between groups A and B, then I’ll end up dragged into grey-area arguments. “What about this laptop, Shamus? It’s ten years old and only runs Minecraft! Is that really ‘dedicated gaming hardware’? Your nomenclature is bullshit!” If we make our dividing line based on hours spent playing, then you wind up with stupid situations where the “hardcore” gamer only plays Madden 201* and Call of Duty at launch and their console gathers dust for the rest of the year, while the supposedly “casual” gamer plays games on their cell phone and clocks thousands of hours of play annually. We run into similar problems if we try to sort people by money spent or favored game genres.

We can make AAA vs. indie games the dividing line, but then we wind up in a sub-argument about how you demarcate those two ideas. Is the industry-shattering blockbuster Minecraft really “indie”? Is Child of Light really “AAA” because it was developed by publishing behemoth Ubisoft? What about smash hit Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds? What about the TellTale games stuff?

I don't care what games you play, if you're willing to get out of your chair and walk somewhere for your game then you're more hardcore than I am.
I don't care what games you play, if you're willing to get out of your chair and walk somewhere for your game then you're more hardcore than I am.

This is annoying because we want to talk about gaming enthusiasts but we can’t because we end up dragged into side-arguments over definitions. Normally that would be fine. Nerds love to argue over definitions and that’s a perfectly valid way to waste your time. We can argue about what makes something a shooter, what games count as an RPG, or what comics qualify as “superhero” stories. That’s fine. The problem is that the argument over “hardcore” gamers drags us into these awful gatekeeping arguments that boil down to “You don’t play games the way I do, therefore you’re not a gamer and your games don’t matter.”

I’m kind of partial to “gaming enthusiast” rather than “hardcore gamer”, even though it conceptually suffers from all of the same problems. “What, are those people playing smartphone games just not enthusiastic enough for you Shamus?

I know “hardcore” is a stupid term because it implies one person is “more” of a gamer than another. That’s annoying, but I’m going to continue using the term “hardcore” for the rest of this article, only for lack of a better term. Just understand that “hardcore” should have half a dozen qualifying asterisks beside it.

Anyway. Let’s get on with it already…

Market Share

This is a pretty cool setup, but I'm not sold on the vertical monitor arrangement. My neck would not appreciate if I had to spend a lot of time looking at monitor #2.
This is a pretty cool setup, but I'm not sold on the vertical monitor arrangement. My neck would not appreciate if I had to spend a lot of time looking at monitor #2.

For the last ten years I’ve been carrying around this idea that the PC was small and unimportant to the publishers and the consoles were what the likes of EA, Ubisoft, Activision, 2k Games, and Epic cared about. That was true ten years ago, but is it still true now?

I bring this up because I recently ran into this two year old article linking to a six year old study by the ESA claiming that the PC dominates the market. You’ll find this information on page 7 of the study, where it says that frequent gamersI’m pretty sure “frequent” gamers is their dodge for getting around the “hardcore” problem I talked about above. play on the following devices:

  1. Personal computer: 62%
  2. Dedicated console: 56%
  3. Smartphone: 35%
  4. Wireless device: 31%
  5. Dedicated handheld system: 21%

Obviously these percentages don’t add up to 100%. This makes sense, since lots of people play games on multiple platforms.

I get that “dedicated handheld” is talking about stuff like the Nintendo DS and PS Vita, but I can’t imagine what “wireless device” could be that isn’t included in smartphone or handheld categories. Wouldn’t a laptop be a wireless device? Technically, isn’t a Playstation 4 wireless these days? Heck, what devices aren’t wireless at this point?

In any case, I don’t know how to interpret this data. Like I said last month, there are about 150 million Steam accounts. But not all of those accounts represent active players. And even the ones that are active might not keep their PC upgraded enough to play current games.

I honestly wonder if that huge showing for the PC isn’t simply the Minecraft effect. Lots of peopleAnecdotally. I have no numbers. play games on consoles but keep a battered laptop around for Minecraft.

I’d love to believe that the PC is now ahead of the consoles, but this study isn’t convincing me. These charts are pretty, but short on depth and detail.

The study is too old to include the current console generation, but currently there are around 82 million PlayStation 4 units, 40 million Xbox Ones, and 20 million Nintendo Switches in circulation. I’m sure the number of viable gaming PCs is enough to keep up with these other devices as a gaming platform. I could even believe it was in the same weight class as the mighty PlayStation 4. But I just don’t see how the PC could be dominant.

I’m sure the PC is better off now than it was 10 years ago, but I’m not convinced this study is being interpreted correctly.

 

Footnotes:

[1] I’m pretty sure “frequent” gamers is their dodge for getting around the “hardcore” problem I talked about above.

[2] Anecdotally. I have no numbers.



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97 thoughts on “This Dumb Industry: The PC Market Share

  1. MrPyro says:

    Could “wireless device” be something like an iPad or another dedicated tablet device; technically not a smartphone, but also not a dedicated gaming device like the Vita? Or do you think they’d be folded into smartphone statistics?

    1. Michael Anderson says:

      I thought that historically iPad and Android tablets got folded into the smartphone category due to their games being sourced through the same marketplace.

      I have no clue what ‘wireless device’ might mean :)

      1. Jeff says:

        There are a number of games that are tablet-only, and wouldn’t work on smartphones.

        I can’t name the specific one, but vaguely recall a D&D or Pathfinder game like that.

        1. NPC says:

          Shadowrun Returns?
          It was ported to mobile systems in general but is kind of impractical to play on any phone smaller than a tablet.

        2. Philadelphus says:

          FTL: Faster Than Light runs on the iPad, but the developers specifically ruled out porting it to devices with smaller screens (i.e. smartphones) due to it being unplayable at that screen size.

        1. parkenf says:

          As a nerd with a 4G enabled tablet that I use for most of my mobile Internet, rather than my phone which has a meagre data plan, I consider the two categories to be linked for myself. However most people don’t have a connected tablet: it’s wi-fi only, and their mobile data use is almost all on their phone. Consequently their tablet user experience is different to their mobile user experience. If nothing else, tablet operation is often two handed with rich control, whereas phone games by cliché are one handed with simple interactions.

  2. Infinitron says:

    The industry has long used the term “core gamer”, without the hard, to describe the traditional PC/console gaming audience.

    I agree with your appraisal – the PC is better off than it was a decade ago, but still nowhere near the majority. Like maybe 20% of the audience for your typical AAA game instead of just 10%. It varies by genre, of course.

    1. kunedog says:

      The ESA study was published in 2015 and the data is from 2014, right after the PS4/X-Bone launched in late 2013. So we’re looking at the tail end of the previous console generation, and it’s easy to forget just how far the PS3/360 generation had fallen behind in hardware prowess (e.g. both had just 512MB of RAM). 2013-14 might have been a high water mark for the PC, somewhat aided by a years-long period of sheer technological superiority. And yeah, Minecraft.

      1. Jay says:

        The study seems to be basing its analyses on units sold, not dollar value. That way of measuring means that a game sold for a 85% off in a Steam sale counts as much as a $60 AAA game. I’m not surprised if that measure says PC is dominant, but it’s not the measure I would use if I were running a game company.

        1. Taellosse says:

          Does it count used game sales on disc (from what I can see, it’s unclear, but I’m inclined to think not)? A large fraction of console games (at least those bought on physical media) are re-sold multiple times, for ever-decreasing values, none of which enrich the publisher or developer at all, but can reasonably be said to be bought by people as serious about playing games as anyone buying in a Steam sale. Indeed, even as digital console sales trend up, I’m sure a large fraction of console owners play primarily or even exclusively used games.

          Granted, that’s also not a great measure to judge market size from the perspective of a game company, but my main point in raising this is that’s not the only point of view of significance. And even from that angle, the difference between near-guaranteed audience and potential additional audience – i.e. the people who COULD play your game but need to be convinced it’s worth their money – is where almost all future growth comes from.

    2. kunedog says:

      OK I found the 2018 version:
      http://www.theesa.com/about-esa/essential-facts-computer-video-game-industry/

      On page 5 you can see the corresponding survey results:
      41% PC
      36% Phone
      36% Console
      24% Wireless – the sketch/icon seems to be a tablet
      14% Handheld – looks close enough to a 3DS
      8% VR

      Notice that the title has changed from “TOP DEVICES MOST FREQUENT GAMERS USE TO PLAY GAMES” in 2015 to “HOW MANY US HOUSEHOLDS PLAY GAMES ON THE FOLLOWING DEVICES?” in 2018.

      Out of curiosity, I looked up the 2017 version, and it’s even less helpful. The title is “How many US households own devices?”, so the PC sits at 97%. No data whatsoever about actually playing games . . .

  3. Misamoto says:

    The nomenclature problem is probably a lot older then computer games :) Chess, for example. You can not play at all, take it out once a month with a friend, play every evening with your family member since you’re a real fan, or play professionally and actually make money from it. Or even all of the above.

    1. Michael Watts says:

      All of the above? How do you combine “I don’t play chess at all” with “I play chess professionally”?

        1. Tuck says:

          Or schizophrenia.

          1. You wrote a program that makes money by challenging professionals and beating them?

  4. Redrock says:

    I’m pretty sure the high numbers for PC come at least partly from Minecraft and the like. Sims, Civilization, Facebook games. I know a lot of people who aren’t core gamers by any stretch, but would play some point-and-click and strategy games from time to time.

    1. rabs says:

      Yeah, or even play them a lot.
      Like Farming Simulator, Football (= Soccer) Manager, Cycling Manager, Euro Truck Simulator 2, etc.

      My father also played a lot of a tactical sailing simulator web based game, using real weather forecast, maps, races and everything.
      Free to play, but people can pay for extra useful features (planning more waypoints). Not really pay-to-win, but makes the life a lot easier.

  5. Michael Anderson says:

    I think that the PC has a bit of a double-edged sword problem: on the one hand I don’t see the volume of individual AAA games being up as high as consoles, so those games are now made primarily with consoles in mind.

    On the other hand, the stunning BREADTH of games you can play on the PC right at this moment dwarves what you can get if you sum up *every* commercial release on every console ever released. So for hardcore RPG gamers or strategy grognards or whatever, while you get a few AAA releases on consoles (except for real strategy war games where you get zero) on the PC you will get the AAA, mid-size shop games, smaller dev studio releases and a bunch of indie stuff.

    Go on to a PC gaming forum and you’ll see as many people talking about Elex or Eschalon Book I-III as Elder Scrolls or Witcher. Whole different world.

    1. DeadlyDark says:

      You know, I wouldn’t mind if Shamus talked about Elex andd Eschalon, just for the sake of variety. It would be interesting to see his opinion and such

  6. GoStu says:

    All I have is some speculation, unburdened by boring facts or studies, so here goes:

    I’m guessing the number of people playing games on their PC might rival or exceed the numbers of “Dedicated Console” users, but the sales numbers of new games are probably better on the consoles than on PC.

    Speculation the First: The “PC Gamer” numbers will be inflated not just by Minecraft but also by populations of various MMORPGs. Players of World of Warcraft are still a massive number of people but they’re mostly just cranking out whatever the latest expansion is. More MMORPGs = more PC gamers who are not often dipping into the new-release triple-A market.

    Speculation the Second: Console game sales are probably surpassing PC game sales. Taking a recent hit as an example, Spider-Man (2018), someone agreed to make this PS4-exclusive and to cut off possible sales to the XBox One market AND the PC market. I’m guessing the PC market for new games can’t actually be larger than “all the consoles combined” or we simply wouldn’t see console exclusives never arriving on PC.

    Speculation the Third: The PC market is seeing a bit of a resurgence with the growing support of mod development, mod communities, and games being designed to be easy to download & install mods. The last is something I’ve only really started to see in the last few years – for example, XCom 2: War of the Chosen now comes with a friendly little mod manager to help you add to and edit your games in ways you want. While modding has long been a thing, it’s only with user-friendliness that it sees wider adoption, and becomes a bigger factor in choosing a platform.

    1. Michael Watts says:

      Taking a recent hit as an example, Spider-Man (2018), someone agreed to make this PS4-exclusive and to cut off possible sales to the XBox One market AND the PC market. I’m guessing the PC market for new games can’t actually be larger than “all the consoles combined” or we simply wouldn’t see console exclusives never arriving on PC.

      My understanding was that the reason Spider-Man came out as a platform exclusive was that the IP is held by Sony, not by Insomniac Games. Insomniac had the choice of “release a game for the PS4” or “don’t make the game”. Sony isn’t a game company; they could make more money selling video games by releasing for all platforms, but they do a better job of promoting the PS4 by releasing as a PS4 exclusive.

      If the PC market was larger than all consoles combined, none of the above would change.

  7. Jabberwok says:

    If we’re wondering about this as a way to interpret trends in development and publishing, then game sales per platform (esp. console vs. PC) seem like a more important statistic to me.

  8. Jabrwock says:

    I get that “dedicated handheld” is talking about stuff like the Nintendo DS and PS Vita, but I can’t imagine what “wireless device” could be that isn’t included in smartphone or handheld categories.

    I imagine tablets? My daughter uses an iPad, it’s not a smartphone (even though it runs the same OS), and it’s not a dedicated handheld gaming platform like a DS. Maybe they categorize it differently because it’s not as portable as a smartphone? (you’re unlikely to be carrying it in your pocket for example, although you might in a backpack)

    Lots of people[2] play games on consoles but keep a battered laptop around for Minecraft.

    It’s the only reason I keep a Windows boot on my desktop computer. For the games.

  9. Thomas says:

    I assume the study would include Facebook games and puzzle matching, which explains the dominance.

    I reckon the PC market is healthy though. All the latest crazes have started on PC.

  10. RCN says:

    I know politics is a no-no here, but this is a concern about hate speech and is related to PC gaming and Steam as a gaming store.

    Take a look at the trailer of this game. Just watch the trailer.

    https://store.steampowered.com/app/930460/BOLSOMITO_2K18/

    Take notice that the “hero” is the right-wing presidential candidate here in Brazil. The “enemy” are left-wing politicians. And the “mooks” are minorities, I.E. black people, gays, transgender and poor (nordestinos, the northeastern ethnicity, and people of the MST movement, a movement of poor families with no land to work who invade unused land by rich land-owners to try and make a living, the farming equivalent of squatters in abandoned buildings).

    Also, when you “kill” one of them, they turn into a pile of shit.

    Maybe I’m too much of an insider… but it looks a lot like hate speech to me. And I have no idea how Steam let this get monetized…

    1. Agammamon says:

      I don’t think Steam has a policy prohibiting ‘hate speech’. Just ‘trolling’ or ‘illegal (in America – there’s lots of speech we in America tolerate that’ll get you jailed elsewhere)’. Steam lets it get monetized because Steam is an American business and Steam has learned that once you start policing speech you can never stop. The demands to police this or that speech never end and the more you do to cater to those who want to silence someone the more demands to silence other people you get – its why they dumped the censorship policy that they spent a lot of resources to craft within weeks of announcing it.

      Plus, frankly, Valve seems to want to put the least amount of effort possible into their storefront – even though its their primary (pretty much *only*) business nowadays. I mean, its 2018 and the Steam browser still doesn’t support tabs. The freaking *in-game* browser for Eve Online supported tabbed browsing years ago – but Valve can’t make it happen.

      1. RCN says:

        Steam does have a flag for “slanderous content”.

        And as far as I know, American free speech is “everything goes… except baseless slander.”

        I can’t just come out and accuse you of being a pedophile, for instance, without proof (and even with proof, I’m pretty sure you have to send your proof through the proper channels). If I’m good enough with my words to convince your neighbors and then they kill you in a fit of vigilante justice, how is that not an abuse of free speech?

        I know it is rarely enforced and people has skirted the issue by being vague, but I’m pretty sure slander and libel ARE crimes nonetheless. Not to mention there are games that steam has refused to sell. I don’t remember the name, but there was an FPS where you are a neonazi skinhead and all your enemies were black people you had to beat to death and gun down that steam pulled from its store way back.

        1. guy says:

          Generally if you ask if something is slander under American law the answer is going to be no. If you ask if something is hate speech under American law the answer is always no because American law has no definition of hate speech. Encouraging people to commit violence can be criminal incitement, but only if it’s sufficently specific encouragement.

          Valve can pull a game for any reason they feel like, but it’s really unlikely a political videogame will qualify as slander in the US.

          1. RCN says:

            Thing is, Brazil HAS a clear-cut definition of hate speech and this game is being sold (and taxed) here.

            “Law number 7.716 of January 5th, Rio de Janeiro, 1989

            THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC, I make known that the National Congress decrees and sanctions the following law:

            Art. 1º It will be punished, under this law, crimes resulting from prejudice resulting from race, color of skin, ethnicity, religion or nationality.

            (…)

            Art. 20. Practice, induce or incite, through social communication means or publications of any nature, the discrimination or prejudice of race, religion, ethnicity or nationality (amendment from the law number 8.081, September 21st, 1990) or directly (amendment from the law number 9.459, May 15th, 1997)

            Sentence: One to three years of confinement and fine.”

            1. guy says:

              Under the SPEECH Act, US courts do not enforce foreign defamation judgements unless they conform to US laws. It also does not enforce foreign laws on US soil for things that are not illegal in the US.

              If you want Brazil to enforce its laws take it up with the Brazilian government. Valve will probably take it down or region-lock it if presented with a court order.

              1. RCN says:

                I know this. But the developer IS Brazilian.

                Also, my main point is that I want to know if you people think this looks like hate speech. I’m not really asking about the law.

                1. Agammamon says:

                  Honestly? No. No more than the thousands of other games that have brown people (or people of ‘undefined European ethnicity’) as villains.

                  In poor taste? Yes. Something I would buy? Definitely not. Hate speech? No.

        2. tmtvl says:

          There is a provision for that in American law. You can call someone a no-good wanker, and that’s fine. Calling someone a pedophile is a statement of fact and therefore punishable under libel law.

        3. Agammamon says:

          Thing is, nothing you’ve listed in your post is slander/libel under American law.

          And yeah, undoubtedly Steam has done that in the past – when they still tried to ‘curate’ their store and thought it would be possible to maintain some standards of decency.

          Their *current* policy probably wouldn’t see that game banned though.

      2. Viktor says:

        Except Valve DOES keep removing overly sexual games. It’s not clear what the line is, since they’ve kept Mass Effect et al, not to mention there’s a bucket of porn mods for Skyrim, but they’ve bounced a fair few sexual games even though their official policy against them has ended.

        Again, US company, and around here sex is far, far more objectionable than someone getting killed, especially a minority.

        1. Mephane says:

          Not any more. The store is now offers a deluge of hentai games and “games”*.

          *Air quotes for bare-bones shovelware that barely qualifies as a game in the first place, and was just hastily thrown together to make a quick buck.

      3. stratigo says:

        no place on this earth has perfectly free speech. Everywhere, absolutely everywhere, polices speech. And they somehow find where to stop. From forums, to comment sections to governments. They all police speech without transmuting into dictatorships.

      4. shoeboxjeddy says:

        “Steam lets it get monetized because Steam is an American business and Steam has learned that once you start policing speech you can never stop. The demands to police this or that speech never end and the more you do to cater to those who want to silence someone the more demands to silence other people you get – its why they dumped the censorship policy that they spent a lot of resources to craft within weeks of announcing it.”

        Yeah… if you’re going to have rules, you’ll have to actually enforce those rules. Every other business in the world already does this. Steam even does this, with some rules. Like, if you try to use a fake payment method, they will not allow you to receive goods. They have to never stop doing that. Somehow, they have managed. It’s really quite impressive how Steam managed to get some people behind them on the “but doing that would be Haaaaaard and we’d have to pay humans to do it~~~~~~” defense. Since when is that an excuse to not do ANYTHING? Making sure the content you want to sell is fit for sale is what I would call the minimum threshold for being a storefront in the first place. If I own a 7-11, I can’t just be like “the products on the shelves might be poison, I dunno, not my problem” or “yeah, this breaks local law, but how is that my problem” or “yes, this says baked beans and actually contains a live snake, you’ll need to take that up with the manufacturer.” NONE OF THAT SHIT WILL FLY.

        1. guy says:

          That’s because those are things everyone agrees are bad enough to make illegal. Games on Steam can run for at least some people, are legal in some jurisdictions, and are not outright fraudulent. Valve has decided not to impose further restrictions and has added a refund system for when a game is not playable even in countries that do not require them to.

          They don’t check if something complies with local laws because they are not law enforcement or capable of hiring enough lawyers to evaluate every game for compliance with every set of laws on Earth. Like most companies running digital services, they comply with court orders in some fashion, though they may not recognize the authority of a country to enforce its laws outside its borders and thus might refuse a worldwide takedown order.

    2. Adam says:

      At least it actually runs. That’s a step up from some of the products Steam/Valve sells.

      It’s really, really weird. Steam seem to have achieved market dominance with little beyond “be the first/only convenient option” but seem to make money as a side effect rather than as its primary purpose – which in turn means all the usual “free market” checks and balances don’t apply. There isn’t anywhere else one could go to (even without the walled garden, but GOG is a start) and even if you could, Steam/Valve don’t care about losing business due to crappy customer experiences and PR (again, not that Steam/Valve are – in an absolute sense – currently a worse customer experience than EA / Ubi / MS / etc).

      1. guy says:

        Steam is basically just a catalog where Valve makes no promises about anything in it. The service it provides is that if you want a game you can go buy it on Steam and then install it and get patches automatically. Valve could improve secondary attributes like UI and search, but the core functionality is pretty good.

      2. Agammamon says:

        Except they do. Don’t confuse ‘I don’t see why people would by this crap’ with ‘the free market has failed by offering idiots a chance to buy this crap’.

        Steam is a catalog and its in Steam’s interest to fill that catalog, one way or another. And a lot of the idiots buying that crap? They’re playing the ‘cheevo game’. Its where you collect cheevos. Not play the game the cheevos come from, just collecting cheevos is their game.

        I don’t get it either but there it is.

  11. krellen says:

    I suspect a “wireless device” is a tablet, whether running Windows 8 (or some other tablet Windows OS) or iOS on an iPad.

  12. The Rocketeer (Not actually a font snob) says:

    Shamus, I’m curious why the “TWENTY SIDED” logo at the top of the page might briefly appear in Comic Sans before changing.

    1. Shamus says:

      That’s terrifying. I have no idea. Comic Sans isn’t anywhere in any of my CSS.

      Is my CSS… haunted?

      1. King Marth says:

        Comic Sans Script.

        It is already here.

      2. The Rocketeer (Still not a font snob) says:

        I wish I’d gotten a screenshot, but it was just a moment while the uncached page was loading in, and I didn’t see it on a reload. Which is why you’re reading this in a public comment, and not in an extortion letter. Figured it was a mild prank that I hadn’t seen anyone else comment on, but now that it seems you didn’t realize, it’s actually funny.

        1. The Rocketeer says:

          Caught it. Behold!

          Yes, the fact it only appears this way before many of the page elements have loaded in makes it look like a cheap fake I threw together in Paint. But I’m super trustworthy.

          1. Blake says:

            Hah, F5’d, got the same.
            Running on latest Firefox FYI Shamus.

      3. Attercap says:

        It looks like your site-title class is set to “Unica One”,cursive; neither are native fonts to all systems so some browsers might just go, “meh, cursive, comic sans… close enough” before the Unica One font loads in.

  13. Christopher says:

    I guess that makes sense for the US? I always got the impression that the consoles had a bigger marketshare overall from stories like this https://gamerant.com/the-witcher-3-sales-pc-consoles-125/

  14. Geoff says:

    Anecdotally, I can say that my gaming habits and those that I game with have definitely shifted back and forth. Over at least the last 15 years (maybe more? These days its hard to say what happened last year, let alone 15+ years ago…) I’ve had at least one current gen console and a comparable gaming PC in my home. Fifteen years ago I was predominately a PC gamer, that shifted over the years to primarily console gaming and shifted back to PC a couple of years ago as my primary platform. At least some of that has been due to the availability of the games I want to play on PC.

    Though there’s more to the “developers favor [xxxxx] platform” discussion than just user base. Monetization is a big part of it too. Even if 50% of a player base is PC, but 80% of the revenue comes from console players (ie: they’re more likely to purchase additional DLC, micro-transactions, or other F2P purchases), then developers are still incentivized to cater to their console player base, regardless of usage statistics.

    Also, as others above have mentioned, likely “Wireless Devices” refers to tablets; iPads, Android Tablets, Kindles, etc. In my home, tablets outnumber the other categories, so those numbers seem reasonable to me.

    1. Duoae says:

      I’m in a similar situation to you. In the c early 2000s I was predominantly a PC gamer but over time my gaming tastes changed and I moved to consoles that were more comfortable for the whole “lounging whilst playing” thing.

      I never really went back, though. Where once I really preferred PC for fps, the current console generation’s controllers are good enough and titles lacking in demand of skill that I don’t miss m&k. TPS are (at least in my opinion) better with controller. The only two genres left to me on PC are strategy and tactics – and tactics (at least the indie side of things) have been making inroads on the console space. Sure, I can’t get things like SoaSE on console but then my renovated PC from 2010 (new RAM and gfx) has no problem running AAA games from up until 2016 at 1080p.

      I have very little reason to upgrade my PC – especially when I lose compatibility with my music recording equipment by upgrading to win 10.

      At this point, I may go back to PC gaming as my primary at some point but it would need a complete rearrangement of my house, life and games available (or at least the processing demands of those games).

  15. Redrock says:

    The notion that PC is doing much better today is fully supported by the publishers’ behavior. We get way more ports these days and from more publishers. Sega, Square Enix, Bamco all seem to be paying more attention to PC. And the ports are getting better. We even see such things as in-game benchmarks and fps counters more often. Hell, Ubisoft even includes native Dual Shock support these days. Which is just crazy.

  16. Agammamon says:

    I think a decent proxy for ‘relevance of the PC’ is the number and quality of console ports.

    Now, no AAA publisher is likely to ever again develop *specifically* for the PC – even if the PC is massively dominant. If you did, then either you’re developing for high-end PC, in which case you’re going to need to cut and cull massively to get it to run at a consistent frame-rate on the consoles, or you’re developing for low-to-mid-level PC’s, in which case its easier to just develop the two console versions and port to PC later. Take Skyrim – a massive, previously PC-centric, franchise built to run on 32bit OS only despite the majority of PC’s having made the switch to 64 bit, Dx9 despite Dx11 being out for a good while. 2GB of RAM usage max at release (later patched for the PC since, at that time 4-8 GB was standard for us and LA memory issues weren’t an . . . issue for us).

    With that said, you can tell the relevance of the PC by the level of effort/polish they put into their PC ports. PC’s relevance is basically measured by its market share – what percentage of copies sold are going to PC. The larger that percentage, the more money to be made from the PC version, the more effort to be put into it.

    So, looking at today, you see games whose previous iterations never got PC versions getting them. Console games from years ago getting PC ports – even console *exclusives* suddenly getting a PC version even if they don’t get a competing console version.

    Yeah, in 2008 the PC was dead. I certainly thought the consoles were putting the final nails in ‘AAA’ PC gaming. Then the PC4/XBone were released – which was, frankly, a bit below mid-level spec at the time (not full HD and still at 30 FPS? In 2013?) – and suddenly everyone discovered the joys of ‘power-gaming’ on PC’s again.

    Sidenote: For the AAA publishers – the guys making expensive games that get played a lot for a year and then, in the second year when the MP starts to die to the next big thing so they release a sequel for another $60+ – PC will likely never be a big part of their market again. Not locked down enough, not able to monetize it as well, and these guys want the big shots of money that come in in the weeks after release, they’re not interested in chasing the long-tail over a decade with a trickle of consistent money.

  17. Fizban says:

    You know, console manufacturers are always crowing about how many consoles they’ve sold, but that strikes me as pretty close to the same argument as the number of Steam accounts. Tons of steam accounts sit inactive, and I will guarantee you that there are plenty of consoles, even current gen consoles, that are also sitting inactive. Probably a smaller percentage, and if they’re making an overpriced DLC-laden “AAA” sale once a year they’re still bringing in money, but just because there’s a console out there in a house doesn’t mean that person is playing all that much games

  18. Tonich says:

    If we’re talking world wide statistics, don’t forget that there are countries like Russia where PC gaming dominates, mostly due to pricing issues. Prices for PC games (especially digital) are much more flexible and usually cap at around 2000 RUB (~$30 at the time of writing) for a new AAA title, while console retail has us cough up the same equivalent of $60 the Western world pays. Unless it’s an Activision game, in which case we pay top price on any platform. And I’m pretty sure Russia isn’t the only country like that. I really wonder if this is the case with China as well – because if it is, ANY study that includes China is going to look weird. :)

  19. Joshua says:

    “I honestly wonder if that huge showing for the PC isn’t simply the Minecraft effect. Lots of people[2] play games on consoles but keep a battered laptop around for Minecraft.”

    My wife, really, really pushed for us to get an X-Box One two years ago. We could check out Minecraft and all of those other games! Two years later, it’s a $250+ Minecraft player.

    1. Jabberwok says:

      That seems….tragic. Unless something about Minecraft has gone exclusive since I stopped playing? I suppose it is owned by Microsoft these days…

  20. rabs says:

    Even more hardcore than Pokemon Go: Dance Dance Revolution and other physical games. Especially at high level, those guys are doing some real sport.

    Recently there is a wave of varied physical games related to VR. A research institute is rating them: https://vrhealth.institute/
    There should be a documentary about Beat Saber high level players soon.

  21. WWWebb says:

    When it comes to “devices people play games on”, talking about “PC” is tricky since that might include games in browsers (fantasy sports, Facebook, etc.) as well as “casual” games that run just fine on a 5 year old laptop (BigFish, etc.). Neither of those cover what the big publishers are mostly concerned about: people buying games that cost $40-$60 on release.

    Based on my own experience, if PC games are seeing a surge, it’s because 1) they’re easier to stream and record and 2) mods provide lots of additional content for streaming. YouTube and Twitch are becoming HUGE marketing channels.

    Video games certainly aren’t the only medium that has a fuzzy line between casual and hardcore. Sports goes from season ticket holders to people who watch the occasional game over broadcast. “Comics” includes both graphic novels and the newspaper funnies. Books, television, movies, theater, and music all have the same sort of split between “seriousness of content” and “amount of money people are willing to spend”. Knowing how much people are willing to spend on what content and settings budgets appropriately is a publisher’s job (in any medium).

  22. Brian says:

    May I offer the word “identity” for these gamers? They identify as gamers. They are “identity gamers” who read here, who read Penny Arcade, who think of gaming as a hobby, as a thing they do and are into.

    The rest of humanity just plays games.

  23. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

    My own behavior was heavy PC until 2010, largely driven by strategy and rtt games like Myth or Close Combat. Some flight sims, too. In 2010 I switched to Xbox 360 because it was cheaper to get an Xbox than upgrade my computer. Then, by 2016 I was switching back to the PC because the limiting factor in my gaming is not PC upgrades, but the cost of ROM. I have a couple terabytes in my PC for games, plus a dedicated solid state drive for the operating system. The Xbox One has memory for about 20 games at a time, depending on size, while I have 80 on Steam.

  24. Soylent Dave says:

    Regarding the number of actual Steam users (rather than simply the 150 million accounts) – back in 2017 Valve were claiming 67 million monthly ‘active players’ and 33 million daily ‘active players’.

    Microsoft claim 57 million active Xbox Live subscribers (as of last quarter)

    Sony claim 80 million active PSN users (as of March 2018)

    Obviously that’s people playing on both current and last gen consoles, looking at the sales data – but it’s still a reasonable benchmark & it suggests that PC gaming is at least on par with console gaming in a way that it definitely wasn’t ten years ago (we can also acknowledge that there are plenty of ‘hardcore’ gamers who don’t use Steam, if we like – I don’t think it matters too much if we’re just trying to get a rough sense of scale).

    So yeah – I can’t see any data which suggest PC gaming is the dominant form, but then given it was left for dead not that long ago, even building to the point where publishers have to seriously consider the PC gaming market is a big win.

  25. MadTinkerer says:

    The PC never fell behind consoles. All the talk of the PC gaming market dying was based on retail sales. That sounds dumb and it was dumb and it still is dumb because nitwits with MBAs are too dumb to keep up with the PC gaming market.

    This is why things like E3 press conferences are worthless as information sources. The people running the press conferences barely know what their own company is doing and half the time what they think is happening doesn’t even pan out. They do not understand their industry as a whole, and they have absolutely no idea what their customers are thinking.

    The Playstation Vita is essentially a portable Switch, and a Vita TV / PSTV is essentially a docked Switch. Why did it fail? Because it required proprietary SD cards with a maximum size of 32 gigs. It wasn’t too far ahead of it’s time, it was sabotaged by jackasses who kept saying “digital is the future” while sabotaging the platform that future would have been built on.

    The Nintendo online service is a disaster of such unprecedented scope that it’s retroactively hurting retail sales of Switch games because advertised features don’t work that way anymore and evidently Japanese businessmen still don’t care what is written on American boxes. Nobody likes it, and a lot of people predicted it would be a disaster when it was announced.

    Microsoft’s original XBox One pitch was so bad Sony killed that plan with a brief comedy sketch, and Microsoft had to cobble together a 360-but-better-graphics machine in less than a year.

    None of these disasters would have happened if old men with delusional ambitions had learned to listen to those who actually pay for their products. Or if they were just in any way sympathetic to how gamers think.

    These people do not understand their own market, and their lack of understanding is so bad they think PC gaming is not as big as the console market. That was only briefly true starting in the 1970s (when consoles were almost all hard-wired Pong clones and personal computers were something you soldered together from a kit), and hasn’t been true since the early 80s (when the console market crashed and the PC gaming market was completely unaffected). Those are the facts of the matter.

    Will PC gaming fall behind consoles some day? Maybe. When people finally realize en masse how badly PC hardware has been sabotaged for the last decade and a half (Hello, CCP! I know there’s a chip in my computer that is transmitting this to you!), that will likely affect PC sales until the situation is fixed. But other than that, there’s not a lot that hasn’t been tried already, and the PC gaming market is as fine as it ever was.

    1. stratigo says:

      no one is going to care even if the chinese have a chip in your personal computer. The chinese certainly don’t care about you.

      1. MadTinkerer says:

        Did I sound like I was complaining about me personally?

        Because the real problem has nothing to do with me. Like you said.

        It just kind of sucks that you’re dumb enough to say “no one is going to care” like no one in the world would ever care about anyone in the world spying on anyone else under any circumstances. Put aside the issue of who is doing it, the idea that no one “is going to care” about mass surveillance… That’s… just astounding.

        (EDIT: On top of the fact that you don’t know for a fact I’m not in China right now, because if I was you know they would care.)

        I really hope you’re just trolling and that’s not a real opinion.

        1. Droid says:

          Okay for anyone who doesn’t want to click on the YouTube video: Apparently a Silicon Valley news company called ‘Bloomberg Technologies’ has found chips in Apple’s and Amazon’s SERVERS trying to steal industrial secrets. Whether those allegations are actually true is another question (the statements are coming from Silicon Valley, after all), but I just finished this rant about how the situation described by MadTinkerer is actually all sorts of ridiculous that I didn’t want to go to waste, so that at least no one else has to feel compelled to write something similar:

          This just sounds like such an obvious and ridiculous conspiracy theory, it ticks all the boxes:
          – us poor PC gamers suffer greatly from the uncaring opportunism of them dastardly Chinese.
          – they OBVIOUSLY have chips in every computer that sends them our data without our consent. Like, do we REALLY have to talk about the fact that this is the case?
          – interestingly, even though this is apparently such widely known fact, you link to two “sources”, where the first is simply an explanation of the acronym you used and the second one is a YouTube video which I am sure clearly shows that your conspiracy is correct and somehow has not yet stirred up enough paranoia in actual security experts, not even the people whose JOB it is to be paranoid regarding any and all such claims, like, you know, people in the US and EU governments working on counterintelligence, or the US companies who ordered the production of those chips. Or are those all “in on it”? Since this has purportedly been going on for a decade, by now anyone who has helped build computer hardware must be in on it or somehow oppressed in order to not bring this vital piece of information to the public. You know, the people who have worked really really hard to squeeze circuits into smaller and smaller spaces because they’re now so small that making them smaller is wont to provoke damage through QUANTUM effects.

          But I’m sure that somehow them evil Chinese have managed to hide a chip sophisticated enough to independently send data from your computer without it showing up as network traffic, or to detect whether the person in question IS, in fact, currently monitoring network traffic through the many means available to them (not only on their computer but also by their modem, router or ISP) and to then suppress sending out network packets while the computer in question is being monitored in such a way…
          *deep breath*
          … WITHOUT anyone of the aforementioned people (trying to save every inch of space and energy they can on their respective piece of hardware) EVER catching wind of it.

          – There’s even some half-truth baked into your statement to try and trap any counterarguments as, yes, technically there is a chip in your computer allowing the CCP to monitor what you write on the internet, multiple in fact. The same chips also allow me to monitor what you write on here, and boy, do I ever use it for my own nefarious purposes like wasting my time writing this instead of ignoring this whole thing, like I should have.

          Either you or the person or news source you got this from clearly morphed the at least somewhat plausible claim that some servers in giant tech companies like Apple or Amazon could have been compromised by sabotage or staggering incompetence into a ridiculous conspiracy theory that would require more resources and power than even the CCP has just to keep secret, and would then need even more manpower fluent in all sorts of languages to make any use of the data they gathered in their costly endeavour.

          I mean, yeah, it happens. Sometimes we get caught off guard with half-truths and the like. I hope you can excuse my hyperbole/sarcasm up there to underline how much this reeks of stereotypical conspiracy theories to other people.

          1. guy says:

            It’s been a running concern that manufacturers, particularly state-run ones, could tamper with chips to perform various types of hacking, but primarily in the sense of sending a special variant to the people they want to hack in orders after the normal version has passed testing. The idea that they’ve done it to every or even many consumer computers is ludicrous.

    2. Agammamon says:

      Its not going to affect PC sales any more than console sales – its not like the supplier stream can’t be attacked for consoles either, all that stuff isn’t made solely in factories directly under the final assembler’s control.

      If anything, I’d be more worried that my (nonexistent) console has been hacked than my PC. Too many upstream suppliers to attack.

  26. Bloodsquirrel says:

    Keep in mind that not all of those consoles represent actively used devices, either, Just like someone might have a “Minecraft PC”, someone might have a “Madden PS4”. We’re also far enough into the console generation now that some of them have had time to be broken or have owners whose habits have changed and don’t use them at all anymore.

    This is why looking at game sales is probably more informative, since they better represent active use of the platform. Of course, it’s also harder, since you don’t have the same games selling proportionately across all platforms.

    1. PPX14 says:

      True, I have a PS4 pretty much exclusively for… exclusives. And use it mainly as a DVD/Blu Ray player.

  27. In the board game industry we call them “hobby gamers”. They’re people who define their hobby as “playing games” (which most smartphone gamers do not).

  28. Piaw Na says:

    I’m surprised that PC gaming is as common as it is given that I’m still running the integrated graphics card on my computer because I cannot find a decent GPU that can drive my 4K monitor at a reasonable price today, while $400 got me a PS4 Pro with a bundled-in Spider-man game. Then again, I played “Her Story” on an integrated GPU, so there’s that. But there’s no way I could play Rise of the Tomb Raider on my PC with the integrated GPU!

    1. Echo Tango says:

      This is a big part of why I play so many indie games; A larger percentage of them will run on lower-power machines. I’ve got 1900 hours on FTL, 1100 on Rimworld, and 700 on Factorio, and they all run on my 4-year-old (is it 5 now?) laptop. :)

      Heck, Wandersong literally lists its system requirements like this on Steam! :)
      Windows
      MINIMUM:
      OS: 7+
      Processor: Not that intense
      Memory: 512 MB RAM
      Graphics: Not that good
      DirectX: Version 9.0
      Storage: 2 GB available space
      Additional Notes: This game is very good

  29. Mephane says:

    I have to be careful here to avoid having people accuse me of gatekeeping. I know the terms of “hardcore” and “casual” are badly defined and often misused. For the purposes of this discussion, we’re interested in people who buy dedicated gaming hardware and use it to play a lot of games. Yes, smartphone games are huge and they make a ton of money. Those gamers are lovely people I’m not saying their gaming is any less valid than mine, I’m just saying that their concerns are mostly orthogonal to the stuff I write about on this site.

    My personal distinction is into three categories with a more specific meaning of “hardcore” in particular.

    * Casual. “Games are a fun diversion.” Plays to kill time, to relax a bit, to entertain. Picks whatever happens to be popular or a friend has recommended, a few select games that they particularly care about, or even just what they happened to see in an aisle at their local electronics retailer. Plays on phone/tablet, XB1, or a budget gaming PC they bought at Wal-Mart, usually just a single platform. If a game doesn’t run on their platform, so be it. Example: that uncle that has played all of The Sims games but would ask “what is a mass effect?”.

    * Gamer. “Games are my main hobby.” Will make dedicated time in their schedule for gaming. Follows gaming news, trailers, generally knows what’s coming up in the genres they prefer. Might preorders games of series of developers that they know and trust, play Early Access games or even supports some kickstarter. Gaming hardware is carefully selected, possibly a custom build PC, XB1X or PS4Pro, as are the peripherals (e.g. 144Hz screen, gaming mouse). Might play on multiple platforms, maybe even owns a VR headset. Example: your sister who ponders whether to upgrade to buy an RTX 2080 for that one upcoming game.

    * Hardcore. “Go big or go home.” Goes ways beyond playing for the fun of it. Might do speedruns, write guides, host livestreams, write a regular blog, or even play professionally. Visits events like E3, Blizzcon etc. Hardware has to be top of the line, latested iterations of multiple platforms. Example: that guy whose screen alone costs more than your entire setup.

    1. PPX14 says:

      This is a very good demarcation I think.

      Maybe there is one more which could be separated from within Casual – which perhaps covers the obsessive time-killer phone clickers and predominantly mobile games. Where such games are the equivalent of watching youtube on your phone?

      I.e. plays games because they are there

      (on something that they use for other purposes).

      Example: that aunt who got in the top 100 for Plants vs Zombies on her phone

      1. guy says:

        I think that’s not a relevant distinction from casual in this context; they’d have similar buying habits and interaction with gaming news. It does affect play and buying habits, but I think not enough to split given how broad the other categories are.

    2. RFS-81 says:

      Are you sure that spending habits and obsessiveness often correlate this way? Group two will certainly outspend group one, but I’m less sure about group three. The more you get into individual games, the less games you need. A Super Metroid speedrunner wouldn’t need any recent hardware, unless they also happen to play some modern AAA games on the side. And Metroid speedrunning leaves less time for that. Also, I’m pretty sure speedrunners are having fun, even if it’s not my thing.

      1. Mephane says:

        Not all points need to apply in all cases, hence I used a lot of subjunctives. This goes both ways. The speedrunner, if the only thing they do is sometimes do a speedrun for the challenge, not necessarily a hardcore gamer.

        Also, I didn’t mean to imply hardcore gamers wouldn’t play for fun, too. :)

        1. RFS-81 says:

          Ok, arguing about vague terms is kind of pointless, but I’d consider the speedrunner more hardcore than someone who has an expensive PC and preorders all Shoot Guy games. Now, for the purpose of this post, spending habits *are* the most relevant part, I was just wondering how well they match up with the other stuff.

          Also, I think one could make arguments for placing me anywhere from casual to the low end of hardcore on your scale, and I think that would be a very common case for people who are into niche genres, indies, or retro games.

    3. MelfinatheBlue says:

      Huh, so according to your categories, I’m both a casual and a gamer. Casual in how I play, gamer in that I keep up with the gaming news, plus I used to write a semi-regular gaming blog, so I used to be hardcore too. Never was that big into hardware though, the games I play/played don’t really need it plus I don’t have the cash.

      Mostly I’d define myself as a casual who likes to read and learn about games as much and sometimes more than she likes playing them.

  30. PPX14 says:

    It occurred recently that the notion of the ringfencing of “hardcore” gamers or “proper” games is surely rather analogous to the difference between novels and children’s books or magazines. Yes Candy Crush and Prey are both legitimate games, but so are The Very Hungry Caterpillar and The Hound of the Baskervilles both legitimate (and widely respected and enjoyed) books. But they’re not in the same category, and mostly no one would have a problem with one being considered a somewhat higher form of the medium than the other, (even if we changed Prey+ConanDoyle for more popcorn type titles like GTA3 and The Da Vinci Code), and the readers of the latter category a more “hardcore” audience than the readers of the former.

    I know that there is the trouble of games being a more complex medium than books, with mechanics, art and story, and the interaction of all three, but say

    the mechanics = the length, format and style of writing of the book
    the art = the imagery and use of language (?)
    the story = the story

    I believe we still have a decent analogy. The Da Vinci Code had a gripping but sophomoric story and a very simple writing style that I found bland and a bit empty. But it still holds a place far removed from a 10 page pop-up book about cute farm animals, or even a 500 page Sudoku puzzle book, regardless of the relative hours of enjoyment provided by any of them. People therefore seem to be fairly happy to consider avid readers of Dan Brown type books “hardcore” book readers by comparison to avid readers of the other two types of book.

  31. C__ says:

    Funny thing is, i never thoughtof myself as a PC gamer. I’m a console guy, always was, i really do not enjoy playing with mouse+keyboard even if it is better for gaming. If i have to answer any poll, i totally would say that.

    But then, i do not have a PS4/XBO neither intend to buy one anytime soon. Or never. What i do have is a decent PC with a GPU bought solely for gaming. And i bought a XBO joypad for use on PC. Weird, i never thought of that before…

  32. Shen says:

    I think the most interesting framing of casual vs hardcore is the old toys vs art argument – not as to what games are but how they are viewed. Do people engage with the game on the “deeper” thematic level or on a purely sensory level? Because the latter crowd while filled with old stand-bys (mobile gamers, sports gamers etc.) also opens up to include many who would define themselves as hardcore (“I’ve memorised the exact location of every item in Final Fantasy 7!”) but in discussion have remarkably shallow views on the game (“…so trust me, there’s no political message in Final Fantasy 7.”). A lot of that crowd will say that games are art to avoid feeling silly about liking them but still treat them like toys, to be reveled in isolation – and jealously guarded.
    I don’t know if there’s a term for those sides that doesn’t run into the same dismissive connotations as “casual vs hardcore” (which is important to avoid because people can be both about different games) but it’s definitely a distinction that makes much of the gaming landscape make sense.

  33. Lars says:

    How about a definition like “anticipating E3/Gamescom/TGS/Blizzcon/Whatever”? Or Core Gamers are those who read about games/watch Let’s Plays instead of just playing?

  34. BlueBlazeSpear says:

    This may sound a bit tautological, but I have to think that PC gaming is a significant share of the market because why else would AAA gaming companies even bother making it such a big part of the market?

    Otherwise, how much simpler (and far more cost effective) would it be to design a game that just runs on two or three fixed types of hardware/architecture? PC has to add a reasonably significant burden when it comes to implementation because there’s virtually nothing fixed about the hardware or architecture and game makers have to somehow design the game to run on it all. You’ve got customers with that five year old gaming rig that’s barely hanging on and you’ve got the people set up to run Ultra 8k and you’ve got everything in between. I have to imagine that it takes a lot of resources and effort to make it work in all of those cases. Any time a game has a buggy, poorly optimized PC port that everyone freaks out about, my thought is that it’s basically sorcery that these games even run at all.

    I have to think that profit-driven companies wouldn’t go through that hell unless there was a viable payday at the end of it. Economics isn’t a strong suit of mine, but my gut reaction is that PC gaming would have to account for a majority – even if just a slim one – of my revenue for me to sink all of those extra costs into going after and maintaining it. But that’s really hard to guess without knowing how much extra it costs to develop for PC gaming, which I imagine is a number even more obscure than the percentage of the market that comes from PC gaming.

  35. Lars says:

    The publishers aren’t interested in how many core gamers there are, they are interested in how much money that market provides. The marketing research company Newzoo came to these numbers in 2018:
    Console Games $33.5 Bn (+3.6% YoY)
    PC Games $24.8 Bn (-1.3% YoY)
    Browser PC Games $4.5 Bn (-9.3% YoY) (Probably those Wireless devices + Streaming, via amazon Link or nVidea Shield where the games run on a different machine)
    Tablet Games $ 10.8 Bn (+11.4% YoY)
    Smartphone Games $35.3 Bn (+22% YoY)

    Obviously this includes lootbox and other stupid thing sales. With this numbers the consoles are still advanced by nearly 10 Billion Dollars per year, but they are loosing to Smartphones now. If you see the whole market Consoles make 30%, PC 20% and Smartphones 35% of the cake.
    How much that ratio may change in the future is pure imagination, but you have seen the E3 conferences of Microsoft, EA and Sony. They will invest in the streaming market. Consoles and PC will dwindle if that succeeds.

    1. Shamus says:

      Huh. Going by these numbers I can see why you’d label the PC as “dominant”. That $33Bn is shared by all platforms: PS3, PS4, Xbox One, Wii, Wii U, Switch, and the last surviving Xbox 360. That means any individual console will fall below the $24Bn PCs get.

      Interesting.

      1. MadTinkerer says:

        That’s the point I was trying to make, but I had too much coffee at the time.

        I was also counting lifetime software sales of both digital and retail. But I suppose that’s a little unfair, but there aren’t individual statistics for things like “total sales of software that requires a 386”, “total sales of software that requires a Pentium II” and so on.

      2. Piaw Na says:

        One thought I have is that the PC market isn’t a single monolithic market, but a wildly fragmented market with a large combinations of CPU/GPU setups, not all of which will work for every game.

  36. houiostesmoiras says:

    We can argue about what makes something a shooter, what games count as an RPG, or what comics qualify as “superhero” stories.

    As any bartender knows, it’s a shooter if you can serve it in a rocks glass or cocktail glass, but also reasonably divide it into a set of shots. The definition of RPG is a little fuzzy, but one thing for certain is it has to be Russian, since it’s actually a Russian acronym. And legally, only Marvel and DC comics count as “superhero” comics, because they
    jointly trademarked the word “superhero.”

    1. Lars says:

      That got me laughing.
      RPG: ?????? ??????????????? ??????????, (speaks rutschnoi protiwotankowy granatomjot) or Rocket-Propelled Grenade

      And: Did you say anything against the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? :-)

      EDIT: Damn. No Kyrill letters allowed.

  37. Content Consumer says:

    I’ve always felt that a hardcore gamer is someone who has a definite opinion on the meanings of “hardcore” and “casual.” Someone who insists on separating people by whatever criterion or criteria they personally prefer (that relates in some way to games or gaming). Someone in the intersection of a similar Venn diagram: https://xkcd.com/747/

    A casual gamer is someone who knows that the argument and attempts to pigeonhole people based on frequency of play and personal taste exist, but doesn’t really care about said differentiation and is willing to accept either label, if only to avoid a fight. Someone in the symmetric difference of the diagram.

    By this standard, I’d dearly love to call myself a “casual” gamer, but to my shame I frequently find myself falling into the “hardcore” category. So clearly we need a third circle in there, just for people like me – the smug, self-satisfied people that are incredibly annoying to deal with and probably deserve a smack.

  38. Kayle says:

    Fortnite has around 80 million active players, and I believe well over a majority of them are on PC. Fortnite reportedly has made well over a billion dollars for Epic in about a year, for a free to play game purely through selling cosmetic items.

    League of Legends also has about 80 million active players and all of them are on PC; I suspect the overlap with Fortnite isn’t large. Riot reported $1.6 billion in revenues for 2015, also from selling cosmetic items in a free to play game.

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