A couple of hours ago, Epic Vice President Mark Rein opened the Develop Conference in Brighton with a keynote covering topics ranging from the economics of next-generation games, episodic content and middleware (which, incidentally, Epic makes a lot of its money from). The majority of the second half of his keynote took a critical look at Intel's place within gaming; specifically, Mark thinks "Intel is killing PC gaming".

Over several slides on the topic, Mark laid out the reasons he thinks that PC gaming is being harmed by Intel. He pointed the finger at Intel's integrated graphics chips. Integrated chipsets are often incapable of playing the latest (and certainly next-generation) games at any kind of graphics settings. Despite this, they are wildly popular amongst retailers. According to Mark's figures, 80% of laptops and 55% of desktops (note: he failed to cite a source for these figures) feature integrated graphics. That's bad news for companies like Epic, which are investing heavily into extremely demanding next-generation games.

If next-generation games don't run on the vast majority of computers, big-name and -money developers will lose (or have already lost) their bottom end. At the same time, the higher end is getting higher. The last year has produced widespread-SLI adoption within the hardcore PC gaming community and new technologies like Quad-SLI, Quad-CPUs, physics processors and $10,000+ PCs.

Over the next couple of days we'll be exploring this keynote and other seminars from Develop in more depth, but for now we'll ask you the same questions that Mark asked the audience:
  • Do games like The Sims, World of WarCraft and other low-budget Asian MMOs prove Mark's hypothesis, that PC gaming is going away because of Intel, wrong?
  • Will console MMOs put the nail in the coffin of PC gaming?
  • How come big publishers aren't placing big bets on PC gaming? (Mark says that he knows of at least two "major" developers that are considering moving exclusively to console based development, although he failed to elaborate on which ones).
  • Will the PC market be relegated to only mass-market and casual games?

This article was originally published on Joystiq.

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