New games due soon may demand new hardware.

An article that seems keen to point out the obvious is now up at Wired News: Got Game? Might Need a New PC.

LOS ANGELES—Minutes after the doors to the Electronic Entertainment Expo video-game tradeshow opened at 10 a.m. Tuesday, spectators were four- and five-deep in front of screens playing the trailer for the upcoming ultraviolent action game Doom III.

They were lining up to see game graphics verging on Pixar Animation Studios’ animation quality, if not yet cinematically realistic.

With Doom III and other highly anticipated, graphically complex games like Half-Life 2 and The Sims 2 due to hit stores over the next year, PC hardware makers are licking their chops.

That’s because to enjoy the full richness of these games, many consumers likely will have to shell out $80 to $500 for a new video card. Many may also have to install more RAM. And with some of the new games putting a lot of pressure on older CPUs, some gamers simply will decide it’s time to go out and buy a whole new PC.

I’m assuming this is aimed at more mainstream gamers than the hardcore market as the latter already know that they need to upgrade their hardware every so often if they want to experience the latest and greatest games in all their potential glory. Most hardcore gamers not only don’t have a problem with upgrading their hardware every 6 months and many actually look forward to it. Part of the reason I built a new PC this spring was to have something that’ll be ready for this next generation of games that’s due to hit the market soon. I consider myself a fairly hardcore gamer, but I can’t afford to always be buying the latest and greatest so I try to strategize my upgrades based on where the games appear to be headed. This has worked pretty well for me so far.

The latest hardware to come out, though, has finally started to offer enough new features and improvements that game makers are actually going to take advantage of them and that makes upgrading more attractive to the more mainstream buyers. Even then many designers are still making their games at least playable, if not particularly pretty, on older platforms. For example Half-Life 2 has a minimum requirement a 700 MHz CPU with video card compatible with DirectX 6. As a point of reference my old Nvidia TNT2 video card is DirectX 6 compatible and that’s the third video card I’d ever purchased almost half a decade ago. In theory that should be enough to run HL2, but it won’t be very pretty compared to the Radeon 9700 I’ve got in my new box and when you compare the two even mainstream gamers can see the advantage to upgrading at least a little.

So I’m not sure who this article is aimed at. It almost sounds alarmist when the truth is that even the most demanding game still won’t necessitate you buying the absolute latest $500 video card to run it. The card I have now is slowly dropping toward the sub-$200 mark as even newer iterations are being released (e.g. Radeon 9800 Pro). Enough stuff has progressed to the point that anyone still running a 700 MHz PC with a TNT2 video card would probably want to consider upgrading anyway just to be able to run stuff like Windows XP at a reasonable speed. The new games just offer that much more reason to do so. At least, if you’re anything in the way of a gamer.

2 thoughts on “New games due soon may demand new hardware.

  1. I so want to upgrade my Compaq 655mhz Celeron PC. My current way of “upgrading” is to format the entire hard drive, and reinstall the basic system. I.E. use the standard Compaq install disks that came with the computer. I can’t wait till I pay off my computer, cause once I do that, its going to have a major upgrade (plans include windows XP, and a wireless network access point for the laptops that will use it for ADSL broadband access) Thats just a plan.

    d00d out

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