There used to be two types of gamers: console gamers and PC gamers. The growing sophistication of smartphones has led to the emergence of mobile gamers as a third category. However, among these three, gaming via PC remains popular among hard-core and professional gamers because the overall experience remains incomparable.
Understanding PC gaming requires appreciating the role of Microsoft Windows in advancing and maintaining personal computers as a default platform for high-end gaming. In addition, it requires understanding how and why Windows has become the standard operating system both for casual gaming and competitive gaming.
Reasons Why Microsoft Windows Has Become a Popular Operating System for Gaming
Despite the growing popularity of macOS from Apple or the presence of alternatives such as Linux-based operating systems such as Debian and Ubuntu, Windows remains a popular operating system for gaming due to three particular reasons.
Popularity of Microsoft Windows and the Microsoft DirectX
It cannot be denied that one of the reasons why Windows has become a popular gaming platform centers on market share. Fundamentally, because it has the largest number of users within the entire PC market, it follows that it would have a sizeable number of gamers.
The popularity of this OS stems from the efforts made by Microsoft in the past. During its first few years, the company aggressively secured licensing agreements with numerous PC makers as part of its market entry strategy. These agreements enabled manufacturers to market personal computers that came pre-loaded with Windows and other Microsoft software programs.
Over the years, Microsoft Windows became a dominant operating system due to the aforesaid business-to-business distribution model. This OS also has a first-to-market competitive advantage over other operating systems. Still, it is important to highlight the fact that Microsoft made a conscious decision to make Windows a first-class gaming platform with the introduction of Microsoft DirectX in 1995.
DirectX is a collection of application programming interfaces that grants developers with low-level access to hardware components such as memory, video cards, and sound cards, among others. Hence, it enables developers to fine-tune and optimize the performance of resource-intensive applications such as games.
Extensive Library of Game Titles and Large Community of Developers
When it comes to the number of available game titles, Windows remains unrivaled. There are limited titles available for macOS, and the ones developed for less popular desktop operating systems such as Ubuntu and Chrome OS are unimpressive. Popular titles that are available in gaming consoles are almost always available on Windows PCs.
The selection of games is extensive. There are casual games intended to simply kill time to include Candy Crush and Angry Birds. For more serious gamers, the genre extends from simulation and action-adventure to RPG and MMORPG. Popular competitive gaming titles include Fortnite, League of Legends, DOTA, and Call of Duty, among others.
Note that game developers primarily prefer writing and developing for this operating system because of its existing market dominance. Targeting the existing user-base essentially increases their chance of earning revenues and profits from their game titles.
However, it is also worth mentioning that Microsoft provides third-party developers with numerous selling points. These include Microsoft DirectX, a more relaxed software licensing agreement, an easier to use developer mode that grans programmers with advanced features, and the backward and forward compatibility of the entire system.
Availability of Hardware Components and PC Customization
The third reason why Microsoft Windows has become a popular gaming platform or, more specifically, has become popular among hard-core and professional gamers centers on the selection of hardware components that, in turn, translates to providing manufacturers and users with a higher degree of customizing their personal computers.
Of course, devices running this operating system are available in different configurations and price points. There are desktop and laptop computers built for entry-level users, while other devices are designed for creative and professional users. Moreover, there are computers optimized to handle the resource-intensive requirements of video games.
End-users or PC gamers are also free to customize their existing computers or built new ones by purchasing hardware components. Components such as random access memory, processor, video cards or graphic processors, internal storage, and cooling systems, among others, are readily available for separate purchases.
The availability of different hardware components means that the game consoles cannot match the performance of personal computers. Users can simply replace and upgrade a specific component of their Windows machines to keep it up-to-date with the ever-evolving performance requirements of new game titles. Configurability also translates to long-term cost-efficiency. It is easier to replace a specific component than to have an entire console repaired.
Bonus: Why PC Games are Cheaper than Consoles
Affordability of game titles is another reason Windows is popular for gaming. There are several cost advantages in developing for this platform. The existing user-base provide developers a less costly access to the specific PC gaming market segment. Even established developers spend less on marketing promotion and advertising because PC gamers almost always on the look for new titles and other news or information relevant to the gaming industry.
Furthermore, titles for personal computers are cheaper than titles for consoles because developers do not need to pay Microsoft royalty fees. Manufacturers behind gaming consoles such as Sony PlayStation, Nintendo Switch, and Microsoft Xbox charge developers licensing fees. In other words, developers need to pay these manufacturers if they want to develop games for their consoles. Microsoft Windows does not have this licensing scheme.
The large and responsive market segment also gives developers not only an incentive to develop and improve video game titles but also a competitive advantage. Creating products or services for a large and easier to access market would allow producers to lower end-user prices. Fundamentally, their revenue model is based on sales volume than premium pricing.