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The future of the PC Gaming form factor


Gaming is saving the desktop computer(it has for a long time), and esports is saving gaming.


This can only be temporary, because…

Maybe… however…

esports titles will run on a potato…something traditional desktop sized simply isn’t required.


When you look at statista’s PC gaming statistics they say that PC gaming is on the rise still and there are more PC gamers than Console gamers. There are around 638 million console gamers compared to over 1.22 billion PC gamers. So PC gaming is Number two, behind mobile gaming and consoles are a distant 3rd when you look at actual amount of gamers. If you also look at the projected growth of console vs PC, PC is still ahead in percent of expected growth.

While I can see more people doing Mobile gaming I also see that potentially they will start making less money as more places require better parental controls in games so children quit spending thousands on fake clothes for people that don’t really exist or gambling on loot crates.


Well I can say with certainty that I will be making builds with more room for expansion as long as possible after my experience with my first big boy PC I built for myself.


Definitely doesn’t make sense for everybody these days though. I think mATX is a better fit for most people if it wasn’t for the quality boards always seeming to be ATX or ITX. I guess the ATX form factor shows no sign of petering out soon which is good for me if that image says anything.


I see it’s time for some math. :slight_smile:

So 2012 PC gaming revenue was 37% of 70.6b meaning a market revenue of ~26.1b dollars (0.37*70.6b).

2018 PC gaming revenue was 24% of 137.9b meaning a market revenue of ~33.1b dollars (0.24 * 137.9b)

2021 it is projected to become 19% of 180.1b meaning a market revenue of ~34.2b (0.19*180.1b)

This means in ten years, PC gaming revenue grew by 31% if projections hold steady (27% between 2012 and 2018). While not amazing growth like Mobile, it’s still steady growth and PC is projected to keep on growing.

While I agree you should not ignore mobile, there are some questionable business models for sure there, and the bulk of this revenue is on iOS - a platform in decline. But it’s still too early to say for sure if and when gaming revenue on Mobile will stop.

Then again, PC loot boxes have been questionable behavior too for a while… :slight_smile:


Whether the platform is iOS or Android or whatever, is irrelevant, what is important is the form factor IMHO. Whatever the software platform is, the tech is going mobile.

We are rapidly approaching the ability to put desktop quality (or near enough) graphics into portable devices - without needing to lug around kilos of batteries.

Take Doom 2016 for example and check out the differences between “low” and “ultra” details.

They’re there, sure - but even “low” settings are “good enough” for a good experience (and runs MUCH faster); give it 1-2 years and that will be capable on a mobile APU if not already.

Ultra high end desktop class GPUs are going to be less and less relevant for the mainstream as mobile devices become more capable. And while Nvidia and AMD are offering maybe 2x performance every 5-6 years (Or roughly every 3 generations), the mobile APUs are scaling up much, much faster than that.


Ultra high end gaming rigs stopped being relevant for the mainstream since the advent of DX11. These days, a $200-$300 graphics card can get you most places you need to go, it is more the enthusiasts and professionals that wants more.

And right now mobile gaming is an absolute shithole to work in, the competition is so fierce that it is entirely a luck-based industry where the bulk of the money is made on Candy Crush Saga and other “casual” titles. If you want to make quality games like Stardew Valley, Super Meatboy and so on, PC and Console is your best bet. :slight_smile:


With regards to RGB and watercooling, SFF will be able to support that too, without a doubt. Even with a minimalistic form factor such as the Lazer3D LZ7, Silverstone Sugo SG13 or Loque Ghost S1, there is still ways to fit a radiator and adequate cooling in these cases, as well as have glass panels and whatever else you desire. Granted, some tradeoffs are made, but with the advent of more m.2 slots, you could easily fit 6TB storage and water cooling in such a small case (2 m.2 and one 2.5").

See, for instance:


The future of gaming is that consoles and pc’s and handhelds all become one type of device.


The biggest thing keeping me from moving to a smaller form factor is storage drives really. Which also has to do with HDDs vs SSDs debate. SSDs still don’t have the capacity that HDDs do for the price. But they are getting there. 1 TB for $119 is extremely tempting and I think I am going to get a 500 GB M.2 SATA SSD + PCI Adapter for my server.

I don’t think your going to find a motherboard with many M.2 Slots (mine only has one technically as far as I know and I haven’t used it). For storing movies, I can have a separate NAS storage for movies but for games I want to keep those on the same machines and those require plenty of storage.

There is an optical drive as well in my computer (a Blu-Ray Drive, forgot if it writes BD discs or not). I still use those to rip discs. It’s really the closest I can get to storing my movies on my own storage drives besides just downloading it from a website like GOG (and yes, GOG sells some movies but very few and even fewer that are noteworthy). Or Pirating but that’s an option I would prefer to avoid.

Big or small, one thing I want from my desktop (and my laptop to some extent) is being able to replace or upgrade components. I do NOT want my Storage and RAM integrated into my motherboard. Great thing about Storage and RAM is how easy it is to expand. I also would rather have a discrete GPU for my desktop since integrated GPUs still struggle with some demanding games. Witcher 3 still struggles on the poor R5 2500U. I am fine with smaller form factors like Mini-ITX but I would prefer Micro-ATX or ATX for a primary work machine since you can’t fit as much in M-ITX.

I say this though but my main machine is my laptop because it’s usually with me in most places I go. My desktop usually sits in one spot. Even for my laptop I still have some standards on things like RAM and HDD should be upgradeable, the Battery should also be replaceable.

Oh, I almost forgot to add, Optical Media hasn’t really dissapeared yet. It’s just become increasingly less necessary and now there isn’t really much reason to own an optical drive other than ripping discs, which is exactly why I still keep a Blu-Ray drive and have no plans on getting rid of it as long as movies keep coming out on discs.


Player numbers don’t actually mean anything. It’s how much those players spend that drives the industry — and results in new games. Development always follows the money in free markets.


I’d say they mean plenty though. If your just going to give a finger to that many people playing PC games, that’s suicidal. Imagine if developers decided to say “fuck consoles” just because it came in 3rd. That would piss off a lot of gamers (and understandably so).

Besides, not every gamer wants to be cashed in like a cow. I got other things to spend money on too. I don’t need to be sold an addiction and a bad habit that sucks me dry financially and emotionally. Besides, we don’t really live in a free market, that’s been quite a lie. At least the video game industry isn’t nearly suffered as much in this regard since at least small time players have a chance to be successful, good luck being small time and becoming big in most other industries without selling out completely.


This guy also seemed to completely gloss over the the whole “we’re making a Diablo mobile title and you should play it because we’re Blizzard” drama that happened at BlizzCon. But that is besides my point.

Yes mobile gaming is huge and there is a ton of money involved in it but PC gaming is where innovation happens. It’s where new technologies and new engines are built. Not mobile.


Exactly. The graph is worthless in the sense it does not put forth the point “everything is growing” but claiming “something is in decline”.

PC gaming, just like consoles cater to a market that is very different from mobile. Just like a movie is a lot nicer to watch on a big screen than it is on smartphone.


I get you what you mean. When someone puts up a graph and tries to drive a narrative that isn’t there is where I take exception.

Is the market share projections of the PC gaming sector going down? Possibly but don’t declare that PC gaming is going to be irrelevant because that is just hyperbolic nonsense. There is more money in PC gaming now then in the history of PC gaming. Why would entire platforms for streaming still be in business if there wasn’t? Why would Intel, AMD, and NVIDIA spend millions of dollars in research and development, specifically for gamers, to create new tech if there wasn’t money in it?

What an asinine train of reasoning to believe in.


Do you dispute the numbers? If not, look at the trend. PCs have been losing market share at the rate of about 1–3% per year since 2013. Now do the math. How long until it drops to (a level so low that it rounds down to) zero? Define ‘irrelevant’ for yourself. 5%? How long, at the current rate, will it take to get there? 8 years? 17 years?

People still build and ride steam trains. Steam trains are, however, completely and utterly irrelevant to the modern rail transport system, and have been for the good part of a century. Rolls Royce once made influential luxury cars, but they are totally irrelevant today. Horse-drawn buggies. Bi-planes. Monowheels. Cathode ray tubes. Quills. Stone tablets. They, and a million other obvious examples, are all products that still exist, but which exert exactly zero influence over the market segment that they belong to. They are all irrelevant.

‘Existence’ and ‘relevance’ are two different things. Just because something continues to exist does not make it relevant. Just because something can continue to be manufactured profitably does not make it relevant to its market segment. Steam trains continue to be commercially manufactured in the US. Does Amtrak care? Not in the slightest. Ditto for all of the other examples. Relevance is about influence. The tail does not wag the dog.

Anyone that thinks “PC Gaming” is magically and immutably fixed in time is either less than 20 years old and has no meaningful perspective of history, or does not understand how business and/or economics work. To think that PC Gaming can continue to influence the gaming industry — in the same way it did many years ago during its heyday — even as its market share approaches zero defies history, math and logic.

The evolution of PC Gaming is undeniable, inevitable and unstoppable. I don’t think the OP wanted this thread to devolve into a “PC Master Race chest-thumping session”, so how about folks stop denying that evolution will occur, and get back to discussing how that evolution may pan out?

To be clear: When I game I do it on a PC. I don’t do it on a console, a laptop, a tablet or a phone. I’ve custom-built all of my gaming rigs for nearly 30 years. I’ve enjoyed the freedom. I’d like to continue to do so… but I’ve personally witnessed the disappearance of storage cards, network cards and sound cards from the market. Now I’m seeing graphics cards go the same way. I’m not 'anti-'PC Gaming. But it is changing — right before my eyes — for better and for worse. My preferences don’t change the facts.



I haven’t seen anything truly new in PC gaming for (literally, i’ve been a PC gamer since 1990) decades. Maybe you could count the FPS style game in that, but they have been around since Catacombs 3d or earlier (early 90s).

Rasterised 3d graphics have been around since Elite on the C64 or earlier in the early-mid 80s. Current 3d rendering is just refined evolutions of that.

VR? First shown in the mid 90s. **

AR? Not really available on desktop PC. Pokemon Go and games of that ilk (like it or not, it is a new form of gaming experience) are a total no-show.

All i’ve seen happen on PC/computer/console games for the past 25 years is better graphics. I’d hardly call that “innovation”, it’s just the march of technological progress. It doesn’t enable any fundamentally different gameplay experience.

** VR was first prototyped much earlier than that even:

… but you could actually buy VR gear in the 90s. Sure, it was shit but i would argue that VR is also shit today.

Go look at some of the stuff Microsoft (in particular) and apple are showing with the hololens and i-devices…

Sure, right now the hololens is a bulky, dorky looking space helmet, but that will change fairly rapidly.


I’ve been wishing for ages that some smart cookie would come up with a way to do VR that didn’t require these. Heck, I’d even settle for a 3D screen that doesn’t require headwear. We’re getting close… I can feel it.


Give apple 6-12 months and it will be via wifi glasses and an ipad pro. There will be no bulky helmet, it will be wireless to the ipad in your bag or the phone in your pocket.

Presumably Microsoft/Samsung/etc. will follow suit. The hololens in it’s present incarnation is VERY MUCH a protype/developers kit type device. Once it is embraced by end users en-masse it will look nothing like it does today.

The tech is “almost there” (or maybe even feasible right now) to make having the actual processing device on your head a stupid idea. It’s just a matter of time. Not long either.

Somebody is going to do it (and soon), it’s just a matter of when.


I don’t really see the form factor really getting much smaller for a while with us still chasing 4K, 3D and holographic displays. After that it will be going after 8-12K and holographic projection and refining holographic displays.

Though I’m sure we will start seeing console sized computers soon since the cost of making them has come down drastically in the last 20+ years and that is the direction a lot of people want to go, just need a company to put out a decent amount of them since they have been trying to do that for a few decades now and failing.