Over the last year or so, there have been numerous articles of how the pandemic has fueled demand for gaming. I have seen a lot of colleagues talk a lot (up from nearly zero) about video gaming, namely where to begin. Do they start with a console? Do they start with a PC? Can their existing laptops play games? Between the slew of media frenzy on the boom of gaming and seeing forty-something year old's starting to consider it as a casual hobby, one would think that this is the best time to be a gamer.
But what has the situation actually been, especially here? Now, I am no youtuber / twitch streamer or a journalist with a lot of data on my hands, so what I am writing here is the experience of my friends and I, which is a very small sample size.
Let us start with console gaming.
The PlayStation 5 was released in November 2020 with some very serious hype. It looked crazy, the demos were mind blowing and while priced a bit on the higher side, was not something that you needed to sell your kidneys for. I even bought a new TV, with all the bells and whistles that would enable me to get the “best” experience out of the new console. Fast forward to October 2022 and the PlayStation 5 has still not entered my house. Chip shortages, labor shortages, scalpers and what not. Stock comes in once every few weeks and then disappears in milliseconds. The pre orders usually occur on Tuesday afternoons, which means that I am neck deep in meetings and have no time to even think of a PlayStation, let alone play fastest fingers first. Various articles indicate that this shortage will continue well into 2023, by which the PS5 will be nearly four years old, a little over half the lifecycle of a console, which is typically 7~8 years.
What about PC gaming then? Here is where things get even crazier.
The crypto mining frenzy took out all the GPUs from the market like a swarm of locusts taking out crops. Things were so bad that you couldn’t even find older generation cards at MSRP. My friend spent months searching for a GPU at “somewhat reasonable rates” and ended up having to buy an ASUS pre-built rig with a 2060, when his laptop finally gave out last year. I am still using my PC that I built in 2016. My 1060 is just about sufficient to play modern games on medium settings these days. I dare not push it because I am afraid that something will happen to it and I will be unable to find a new GPU that I can afford.
The new 40 series has left me stunned. Prices are up by half compared to the 30 series. The 4070 and the 4060 cards have not been announced yet, but one can safely assume that they too, will be at least 30~40% more expensive than 3070 and the 3060, which would mean that a 4060 would be priced > 40k, given that the 3060 is being listed at 32~35k. The 1060 cost me 21k and I bought that within 3 months of its launch. This would mean that that if I buy a new PC next year, the GPU would end up being 35~40% of the cost, as opposed to just 20% for my current machine.
So where does it leave people who want to start gaming? Unless you are willing to spend big money, you will have to contend with a 3060 / 3060ti, if you can find them at a “reasonable” price. But that also means that you are locked out of 4K gaming, since neither of these two cards handles 4K well. If you want 4K gaming on a “budget”, your options are the latest gen consoles, which are still very elusive. With everyone now buying 4K TVs and OTT platforms advertising their “4K content”, people really don’t want to spend money on 1080p gaming towards the end of 2022.
The casual gamer has also been hit hard. Two of my friends have said that if GPU prices continue to rise like this, their next PC would be a laptop for personal work and not a gaming machine. Few others who are not PC gamers but have the PS4 are frustrated by the difficulty in getting a PS5. They are spending less time gaming and more time taking up new interests, like playing the guitar or doing origami or even gardening.
As for me, well I am praying for RPtech to get me a 3070 while enquiring at Furtados about piano lessons.