By Patrick Soulliere, Global eSports and Gaming Marketing Manager at Micron Technology
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock – you’ve likely heard the yearlong buzz surrounding the Nintendo Switch. It’s been hailed as the ‘most vibrant indie platform of the moment’ and it’s easy to see why. The latest gaming platform combines amazing graphics and portability to create a user experience that is completely unique. The Switch allows gamers to hang glide through the fantastical world of Hyrule anywhere from their daily commute to their home TV. I am the proud owner of a Nintendo Switch, and can say without hesitation that it’s terrific! That said, I’m not ready to make the claim that it’s a better overall platform than the PC for gamers. With an unparalleled user base, not to mention platform longevity, the PC has been and always will be KING.
The PC is a steady constant for any gamer. As the gaming industry has evolved over time, creators like Rockstar games have found a way to adapt with each trend, while remaining true to the device’s roots. PC games have had to accommodate updates in speed, higher resolutions, graphics, gamers who use multiple screens, MOD support, and more. Yet, with each new trend, PC games have only advanced and gotten better. The PC is the go-to device for gaming because at its core the platform is built for advancements and improvements. Unlike a console or even a portable device, the PC is configurable: gamers can pick and choose specific parts to build a computer that meets their needs – or makes their gaming dreams come true.
For as long as I’ve been a gamer (26 years and counting!), I’ve heard more times than I can count that game console ‘X’ is THE platform to put all others to shame. And yet, not a single console has withstood the test of time like the humble PC. If history is any indicator of the future, Nintendo’s Switch will likely suffer a similar fate. Although a hot commodity right now - and for the foreseeable future - there will eventually come a time when the Switch is either replaced by a newer, cooler console, or the technology won’t scale to meet gamers’ demands. We saw this happen with the Nintendo 64, and more recently with the Nintendo Wii. Even wildly popular mobile games are not immune to this phenomenon…I’m looking at you, Pokemon Go!
The final piece of the puzzle is the PC’s versatility. As an example, in order to buy a new game for the Switch, there are only two options: buy a physical disk or buy the game in the Switch software. The platform doesn’t allow users to search gog.com for a game and purchase it or distribute via a website.Additionally, games have to be purchased through official Nintendo channels. These limitations, which hold the Switch back in some regards, don’t apply to PCs.
With any industry, there will be technology advancements and trends that ebb and flow - what was once cool and exciting will eventually be overshadowed by the next best thing. Consumers are insatiable and are constantly digesting the latest technology. When the time eventually comes that the Switch is overshadowed by the next big innovation in gaming, the companies that put all their development “eggs” in one basket will be faced with an uphill battle that’ll be hard to overcome.
As of January 2018, Nintendo reported that Switch sold 14.86 million units - while significant, there were 262.5 million PCs shipped worldwide in 2017. This demonstrates that no matter how popular the Switch is, it will never have the user base that the PC does. As a marketing professional in the eSports industry, I look at those numbers and it becomes crystal clear: PC gaming is the sleeping giant in the tech industry and shouldn’t be ignored.Header image courtesy of ContraNetwork