Rich O’Neill, Product Development Manager at Stormforce Gaming explores the burgeoning prospects currently presented the gaming industry.
Demand for gaming systems is stronger than ever. The last 18 months have seen ground-breaking product launches in both the PC and Console sector with free to play games and subscription services coming to the forefront as a viable entry point for new gamers.
Whilst traditional content delivery services on PC have seen uplift in player counts, it is becoming increasingly obvious that the games as a service model presented by Microsoft with their excellent XBOX Gamepass for PC product is increasing in popularity. The prospect of a monthly fee to access hundreds of well optimised PC titles drastically reduces the upfront cost of owning a gaming system and provides a strong entry point into the world of PC gaming with a library of quality titles.
The market has been focused on high-end video cards since the launch of the NVIDIA RTX 30 series and AMD Radeon 6000 series with supply issues being a very real problem for DIY enthusiasts. Many gamers who have been planning an upgrade for years have been left disappointed with the inability to source a new video card easily. In many cases, pre-built solutions have become a much more viable alternative to self built systems.
Stormforce Gaming has been supported extremely well and leaned on the strength of relationships with key vendors like ASUS, AMD and Intel to ensure we are able to deliver a strong offering consistently.
Fortunately, the launch of new APU products from AMD are helping to ease the demand on entry level video cards somewhat. At first glance, an APU desktop may not seem like a viable solution for gaming but with the low cost of 1080p panels and the wealth of less demanding and older titles in the PC Gaming catalogue, these products provide a fantastic starting point for gamers who want an entry point into the hobby with a view to upgrade with a discreet GPU in the future.
The announcement of the Valve SteamDeck shows promise for the future of entry level PC gaming with a potential for more PC titles to be optimised to run well on lower end hardware. Whilst the mass long term adoption of mobile PC gaming devices like the SteamDeck are yet to be seen, it is important to consider that this sort of product could shift the focus of games development into the future if successful.
The industry has seen a shift in focus on high end too, with the ever expanding adoption of NVIDIA DLSS and AMD Fidelity FX upscaling technologies, 4K and VR applications have never been so accessible. Games that were previously difficult to run at high resolutions and refresh rates are now able to mitigate the performance deficit and still look sharp.
Accessibility in PC gaming has improved enormously over the past decade. Back in the days of the 8800GTX and Q6600, PC hardware started to become far more standardised, easy to assemble and easier to troubleshoot technical issues. This has introduced a healthy market with lots of competition to stand out. Individual components are adorned with RGB lighting and gaming design language to entice customers towards most big-ticket products. Whilst fancy lighting and screens on the side of GPUs doesn’t improve performance in games, it certainly helps to sell hardware.
For system integrators, the simplification of hardware standards has some downsides. Anybody with access to Youtube can assemble an advanced gaming system by following along with a video and this means that adding value into prebuilt systems is more important than ever. Cable management, optimised component installation and cooling configurations are all considerations, which most newcomers will not understand or be hesitant to learn.
Investment into the ongoing chip shortages and goals to meet supply demands will eventually see a return to normality in the market but this could take some time. For now, the current crop of hardware remains highly sought after and for good reason. Healthy competition in the CPU and GPU market has provided gamers with choice and pushed manufacturers to produce compelling hardware offerings that provide immersive experiences at any budget.
There has never been a better time to get into PC Gaming.
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