E3 2011: The Future of PC Gaming

There's been a cavalcade of exciting announcements coming out of E3 2011, but what do they mean for diehard PC gamers? Our editors have been on the show floor testing new hardware, playing games and talking to developers all week long in an effort to find out.

Alex Wawro is PCWorld's editorial assistant, and he's been playing PC games since embarking on the Oregon Trail all those years ago; it's been uphill ever since.

We're on the cusp of a PC gaming renaissance, because game developers are clearly tapping the upper limits of what current-gen consoles can do. Microsoft released the Xbox 360 six years ago, and the hardware is starting to show it's age; seeing the stark disparity in gameplay footage of cross-platform titles like Battlefield 3 and The Witcher 2 here at E3 has proven that there's no substitute for a tricked-out PC if you want to play the latest and greatest games as they were meant to be played.

when we were preparing for E3 last week, but we were wrong to assume that Sony and Microsoft were ready to start talking about the next generation of game console. Instead, the biggest news of E3 2011 revolves around new ways to play your favorite games either on the go (with the PlayStation Vita or the 3DS) or at home with the Wii U and the PlayStation 3D Monitor bundle. Console games aren't going to get bigger or better in the next few years, they're going to get more ubiquitous. Soon you'll be playing Uncharted on the train to work, Civilization on Facebook while you're at work, and Starfox on the Wii U while relaxing on the couch after work. And if your wife wants to watch American Idol after dinner, you can just switch the Wii U's video output from the TV to the controller's screen; it may seem impossible, but console games are becoming even more mainstream.

But you can't lug your gaming PC on the bus with you. You won't be able to squeeze in a few rounds of Battlefield 3 during long meetings, and digging into a deep PC RPG like Skyrim will suck up your nights and weekends and leave you gasping for more. PC games can't expand sideways, so there's only one way left for PC game developers to go: forward. We've seen a variety of cross-platform games at E3 this year, and the PC version has always been more impressive in every respect. Games like Mass Effect 3 and Deus Ex 3 look better and play smoother on the PC as compared to their console counterparts, and that gap will only widen in the coming years.

Trust me, it may not be buzz-worthy news but PC gaming is here to stay. My time at E3 talking to game developers and hardware manufacturers has proven that PC games still offer the best bang for your buck, and they're only going to get better. Buckle up.