PC gaming is dead!
Well, erm, no it isn't. However, it does appear that worldwide PC sales are on the decline as the idea of dedicated personal computers or laptops become less appealing compared to tablets.
A new report from research firm Gartner contends that worldwide PC hardware sales have continued to drop since last year, this time by 8.6%, with 80.3 million PCs shipped globally in Q3 2013. This might sound like an impressive figure, but it's in fact the lowest ebb since 2008, and the period is usually associated with a major spike from students, universities and schools. Gartner suggests that preparation for the launch of Windows 8.1 may be playing a role in Europe (which logged a 13.7% YoY slump), alongside a shift to newer Intel processors, but contends that the primary factor is that consumers are switching to tablets and mobile devices.
"Consumers’ shift from PCs to tablets for daily content consumption continued to decrease the installed base of PCs both in mature as well as in emerging markets," said Gartner’s Mikako Kitagawa. "A greater availability of inexpensive Android tablets attracted first-time consumers in emerging markets, and as supplementary devices in mature markets.” Kitagawa also reckons that more retailers are offering a greater range of tablets and showcasing them prominently in-store, enticing the lucrative back-to-school/university towards the handheld devices. "Many PC vendors also introduced Android tablets as a main part of their portfolios and this initiative drove PC sales downward," he concluded. [GI.biz]
The PC's role as a dedicated games platform is still assured, at least for now, thanks to established marketplaces and the ease of development and distribution. Many PC gamers also choose to upgrade rather than buy new, and already have hardware capable of running most new games at maximum settings, which may also be skewing these figures somewhat. But as tablets continue to improve in terms of graphical capabilities and input methods, while native tablet-to-TV streaming becomes more commonplace, could we see the traditional idea of a "gaming PC" change or lose its relevance over the coming years?
I'm no analyst. If you want to have a crack, the comments box is right there.