Next-gen consoles will struggle to beat PC, say industry insiders

A number of industry insiders have suggested that the hardware underpinning the next generation of consoles is already some way behind that of the PC gaming rigs of today. And with the likes of GeForce Experience allowing tech-naive PC users to optimise their games at a click of a button, we could well see the consoles' advantage of a static development spec diminish, too.

Crytek CEO, Cevat Yerli, spoke out about the state of play during a press tour of Crysis 3. "The current generation consoles, when they launched, were far ahead compared to PC," Yerli told earlier this month. "But PC has caught up. With current generation consoles and what's on the horizon – new ones – due to the fact that the cost of CPU and memory are so much more expensive than they were in the past, it is simply impossible to have the same kind of impact on the console business; to be so far ahead of PC.”

Nvidia spokesman Ben Berraondo agreed when I spoke with him this month: “This is always a time frame where the PC is considerably more powerful. More so with this generation because I think, from what all the rumours are, the console guys are being quite conservative with their next-gen specs.”

“Consoles are in big trouble right now,” he continued, “they're now not just fighting each other, they're fighting tablets, phones and streaming boxes. What we're seeing is enthusiast console gamers moving to PC.”

Pretty much every game advert and show demo this last year has been running on PC hardware - and gamers are catching on. In a market where the focus is on mobile, and desktop PC sales are consistently dropping, PC gaming hardware is continuing to rise. A projected sales forecast AMD used earlier this week when they were touting their new mobile GPUs showed consistent growth, year-on-year, for gaming hardware.

And Nvidia's Berraondo agrees. “GTX desktop GPU sales are growing. GTX 660 and above the market is growing massively. Which we never thought it would. We thought it would stay flat, from a couple years ago, but we are selling more and more GTX cards. If you look at GeForce sales, GTX continues to get bigger because more and more people are moving over to have a gaming PC - we're not seeing that market shrink at all. What's happening is gamers from console are moving across and buying a gaming PC and that market's remaining flat or growing. The bit of the PC market that's shrinking is the entry-level as people buy more tablets. Tablets are replacing £400-£500 notebooks.”

As more and more folk are moving over to PC gaming, and the likes of GeForce Experience making it ever easier to do so, we may well see devs primarily marketing their games using PC footage at E3 2014 - no matter what Microsoft and Sony can come up with in 2013.

Dave James
Managing Editor, Hardware

Dave has been gaming since the days of Zaxxon and Lady Bug on the Colecovision, and code books for the Commodore Vic 20 (Death Race 2000!). He built his first gaming PC at the tender age of 16, and finally finished bug-fixing the Cyrix-based system around a year later. When he dropped it out of the window. He first started writing for Official PlayStation Magazine and Xbox World many decades ago, then moved onto PC Format full-time, then PC Gamer, TechRadar, and T3 among others. Now he's back, writing about the nightmarish graphics card market, CPUs with more cores than sense, gaming laptops hotter than the sun, and SSDs more capacious than a Cybertruck.