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Console Wars: The History of PC Gaming

You already knew that we HAD to talk about PC gaming in this long series, and don’t worry, it’s time to talk about it.

PC gaming has always been known as the top echelon style of gaming due to the components, hardware and graphical power behind some of these titan like PC rigs of the modern era. And believe me, I was willing to spend over $3,300+ on an ungodly tank of a PC, but luckily, Evan talked me out of it and wants to make me a cheaper PC. That’s if I even get a job during this whole pandemic or at least we’re planning on it depending on the time this article comes out. Consoles and PCs have coexisted as far back as the introduction of the Magnavox Odyssey, the first-ever video game console in 1972, but didn’t get a proper boom until the 80s and over time, it became the be all end all for gaming now in the modern 20s. So let’s get into the time machine once again, and talk about how PC gaming started and became to be.

PC gaming has been around for a long time, and it’s an engine that’s obviously far stronger than a console, and while PC gaming existed in the 70s, it wasn’t all that big. Home computers were sort of a novelty and a niche market since most computers back then could literally fill up an entire room. The Trinity of home computers, or what was then called “microcomputers” to start the computer revolution to bring computers to everyone’s homes were the Commodore PET 2001, the TRS-80, and the legendary Apple II, all three of these computers were released in 1977, and it was the birth of the microcomputer revolution that eventually sparked the rise of the personal computer. 

The Commodore PET

The TRS-80

The Apple II

All three computers together

The home computer was on the rise after these three computers were released, and it was pretty much off to the races when the 80s came around and floppy disk drives became more common, even to the point where the 80s, a lot of schools started using Apple II computers, or at least from what I know of the machine. The most money making market was obviously schools, so it made sense as to why computers were normalized in the 80s. However, the most famous computer that would revolutionize PC gaming was about to come. Commodore released the VIC-20 in 1980, and at the time, it easily beat out some of its competition with ease due to its low price, and it’s simplicity. Keep in mind that back in the 70s, all PCs were the keyboard, and nothing was all in one just yet, unless you had a portable computer, and all in one computers didn’t start popping up until the TRS-80 Model II in late 1979. 

Commodore then released the legendary computer, The Commodore 64, which to this day, is the highest selling computer of all time, selling between 12.5 – 17 Million units from 1982 to its discontinuation in 1994. Not only is it the highest selling computer, but it’s possible that it has the largest library of software up to 10,000 and games, with an estimated 23,000 titles. Can you imagine how big a basement, let alone a house needs to be to cram 33,000 games and pieces of software on either a floppy disk or cartridge? The PS2 was famous for its large library of games, amassing 4,500 games in total. Steam (although a game distribution company) currently holds 30,000+ games across the decades, however they’re just a digital distribution, not a company making the games, which is mind numbing to imagine that a computer has the largest library of games and software compared to today’s standards, where most consoles barely break 1,000 titles. I’m pretty sure that to this day, absolutely no one has a complete Commodore 64 collection.

A complete Commodore 64 computer

Commodore also made a portable version of the C64 called the SX-64 or “The Executive” in 1984. I wanna own it and it looks cool and it’s better than having all the gubbins on the table. 

Also because of aesthetics.

The Commodore SX-64

The video game crash of 1983 unfortunately murdered the gaming industry as a whole until the NES and Sega Master System drank some Quick Revive to bring it back to life quickly in 1985, but in that two year window, PC gaming erupted into the megalodon it became today as well as the PC market exploding with computers like the C64 and the all too familiar original Macintosh. That does explain the large amount of games Commodore could make, but not only that, big game companies like Activision and EA had a bigger boost into the giants they are now, because of the video game crash, and lack of trust into the console market. PC gaming pretty much went on a massive rise even after the crash ended, with the eventual bringing of actual dedicated gaming PCs being made in the 90s. The earliest record of it was in 1993 by company Falcon Northwest with their computer, the Falcon MACH series.

Now if I’m gonna be honest, gaming PCs are pretty vague for me around the 90s as most people used pretty standard computers that weren’t graphic intensive. But then again, what graphic intensive games in the 90s? Really, the 90s was a bit of a plateau or a decline in PC gaming. But hey, it was the birth of shareware which was how Doom and Wolfenstein got to where it is now. Let’s skip to the 2000s.

The 2000s pretty much saw the rise of gaming again as well as the explosion of the internet, Windows 95 being a nostalgic trip to make for the Vaporwave conosur like yours truly, Windows XP being everyone’s childhood, Windows Vista being a nightmare I’ve never experienced before and dedicated PCs but around this time, it was pretty expensive to have a rig that could handle the ever increasing strength and graphic intensive games that were being made and for a lack of a better term. There was no such thing as a budget gaming PC in the 2000s, as most were high up in the low to high thousands, so if you wanted to make a PC build, you’d have to pay a pretty penny for one. In a way it’s a good thing that these dedicated PC builds were as expensive as they are, because the 2010s literally became the birth of gaming PCs where the capabilities to have mastodonian amounts of power was possible and a whole lot more affordable. 

Nowadays, Gaming PCs can be made with just 500-600 dollars, with them going as high as the thousands, so it’s no surprise as to why almost everyone (excluding myself) owns a Gaming PC, and the Gaming PC Master Race is something that sure as hell isn’t slowing down anytime soon. The 2010s pretty much became the Renaissance of PC Gaming in a nutshell with millions of people using Steam and doing a lot of their things off of computers, where you can have a strong PC, for under 1000 or even 500 dollars. It truly redefined PC gaming as a whole and morphed it into what it currently is today, where everything is interchangeable and you can experiment and tinker with the equipment compared to the years prior.

And yes, I don’t own a PC. Don’t worry, I will be getting one soon, I’ve been making ends meet for several months. I think at this rate we’ll be owning supercomputers by the time the 2020 decade is over… well I think.

But I know that we all have that burning question in our mind that no one has yet to ask, or someone has asked, but never got an answer to it. How high and strong can PCs go before they eventually become the end of consoles?

To Be Continued…

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