E3, the gargantuan annual orgy of gaming excess, has barely kicked off—heck, as I'm writing this it hasn't officially kicked off yet—and it's already got my PC gamer heart more aflutter than it's been for any E3 in recent memory.
With the deluge of "Day Zero" press conferences behind us, one thing is certain: PC gaming is surging like never before, even at a show as console-centric as E3. But don't take my word for it! Check out these six PC gaming milestones from E3's Day Zero doings.
1. PC games. Lots of PC games
The seeds of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One's migration to a traditional x86 processor architecture are finally starting to bear fruit. While all of the games at the various Microsoft, Sony, EA, and Ubisoft events were promoted firmly as console titles, hordes of those games are also destined to land on the PC—so much so that "Console exclusive" was the buzzword at the Xbox and PlayStation events, rather than the open-and-shut "exclusive" of old.
Assassin's Creed Unity. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Battlefield Hardline. Rainbow Six: Siege. They're all headed for consoles, sure, but they're also launching simultaneously on the PC. Check out the full list of all 23 PC games shown off during yesterday's Day Zero events.
2. PC games in your living room
For many people, Valve's Steam is synonymous with PC gaming. Valve is leveraging that cachet to throw off the shackles of Windows and bring PC gaming into the living room with SteamOS. But the initiative suffered a major blow in the weeks leading up to E3, as Valve announced it was delaying the launch of its new operating system to fine-tune the crucial (yet currently flawed) Steam Controller, meant to bridge the gap between gamepad and keyboard-and-mouse. Would that spell disaster for the army of Steam Machines announced at CES earlier this year, stifling the movement before it even got started?
Nope. Alienware revealed full details about its Alpha console—which has been called "a console that encapsulates the full potential of what a Steam Machine should be" by no less than Valve boss Gabe Newell—on Day Zero, with plans to bring the PC to market this holiday season. Smaller than the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, yet with comparable performance, the $550 Alpha is skirting the SteamOS delay by releasing with a custom, gamepad-friendly UI over Windows now, with plans to switch over when SteamOS becomes available in 2015.
Nor is Alienware the only company doing so. Just last week, Asus announced similar plans for its Republic of Gamers GR8 PC console. The living room revolution lives on, with or without SteamOS.
Catch all the details about the Alpha console and why Alienware thinks SteamOS is a vital development for PC gaming overall here.
3. Indie games rising
Sony and Microsoft's events each highlighted a slew of indie games, as the companies continue their attempts to lure small developers to consoles. All the attention can only mean good things for PCs, the traditional home for indie games. Even games that begin life as console exclusives—like Fez—often wind up migrating to PCs.
While E3 is a breeding ground for blockbusters, indie games have a growing (though still comparatively small) presence tied to the show. Just like last year, IndieCade will have an E3 booth showcasing a slew of games from small developers, while an online event dubbed indiE3 is currently taking place in the digital world to coincide with the Big Show. Both are saturated with PC-gaming goodness.
4. The Sims 4
Okay, okay, The Sims might not hold a place of honor with hardcore PC gamers—I'm not going to buy it—but there's no doubt that the series is a casual-gaming juggernaut, and it's making its return this fall. What's more, the PC version of the game was prominently crowed about during EA's glitzy press event. The big draw this time is that the Sims have "heart" and emotion, which you can customize to your own heart's content. And that, in the gameplay demo, one Sim laughed so hard he died.
Tell your friends and neighbors. Who knows? Luring them in with the Sims could make them PC gamers for life.
5. Just the tip of the iceberg
Not to beat a dead horse, but did I mention that E3 has barely gotten started? These were just announcements from the Day Zero events—traditionally a day skewed toward consoles, to boot. PC gaming stalwarts like CCP, Devolver, Obsidian, Paradox, Blizzard, Wargaming, Deep Silver, Frontier Developments, and 2K Games all have a presence at the show, and PCWorld will be visiting them all over the coming days.
On the hardware front, companies like Nvidia, AMD, the aforementioned Alienware, SteelSeries, Oculus, and Razer will be flying the PC flag. Heck, Razer already is, and Alienware will have several Alpha consoles set up for people to play.
None of those companies played a big role on Day Zero—but they're at the show proper. Stay tuned.
6. Grim Fandango
A Grim Fandango remake was announced at E3. Grim. Fandango. If any announcement proves that PC gaming is no joke at E3, it's the resuscitation of Tim Schafer's stylized comedic adventure through the Land of the Dead. Grim Fandango is a PC gaming classic; a PC gaming icon. Alas, it has officially been announced only for the PlayStation thus far. If this remake doesn't land on the PC once again, it'll be an outright crime.