Despite all the console hype, it seems PC gaming is doing just fine, thank you and Windows 7 looks to bring gamers up to date, while hardware upgrades may go the way of the dodo.
reports that, contrary to lots of nay-saying, Windows gaming is alive and well with $11 billion in sales in 2008. The article points to a future of digital downloads, online subscriptions and micro-transactions. However, all that hardware upgrading to play the latest games can be a drag and put off the casual gamer.
So, how about the OnLive box announced at the Game Developers Conference, Kotaku
has the full story. OnLive
is a service that does all the hardware side of gameplay on its own servers and sends you the video. You can play on any type of PC from a netbook to an older desktop or even a customised video box, a device that does away with the need for a PC entirely.
Fast broadband is required for the control commands to be sent and video received, so lag and throttling could prove problematic, but if you consider that high definition video can be sent at 30fps in 6 - 12 Mbit/s, as long as you had an ADSL2+ connection, it's not actually implausible. Presumably OnLive is planning to have a bank of super-grunty MPEG-4 encoders at their end for the video side of things.
It all sounds a bit like the ethereal Phantom console, but if it takes off, could provide gaming to the broadband-enabled masses without the cost. There's a video interview with the Steve Perlman, CEO of OnLive that shows the hardware box, here
OnLive could change the way PC games are played
In case you are still a dedicated follower of hardware fashion, unofficial tests are springing up all over the net and the news is that Windows 7 posts modest performance improvements over Windows Vista using the latest drivers. PC Perspective
has one of the most thorough tests with a range of budget to power video cards from both AMD and NVIDIA. It concludes "Both NVIDIA and AMD seem to be taking a proactive stance with Windows 7
support as well but it is AMD that is first out of the gate with a
unified driver package and a promise to continue Windows 7 driver
development on a monthly basis." And that was the same with the release of Vista