PC games, also known as computer games or personal computer games, are video games played on a personal computer rather than a dedicated video game console or arcade machine. Their defining characteristics include a more diverse and user determined gaming hardware and software, and a generally greater capacity in input, processing, and video output.
Home computer games became popular following the video game crash of 1983 leading to the era of the "bedroom coder". In the 1990s, PC games lost mass-market traction to console games before enjoying a resurgence in the mid-2000s through digital distribution.
Newzoo reports that the PC gaming sector is the third largest (and estimated in decline), with the consoles second largest, and across all platforms as of 2016, 2.2 billion gamers generate US$101.1 billion in revenue (i.e. all numbers exclude hardware costs), and "Digital game revenues will account for $94.4 billion or 87% of the global market. Mobile is the most lucrative segment, with smartphone and tablet gaming growing 19% year on year to $46.1 billion, claiming 42% of the market. In 2020, mobile gaming will represent just more than half of the total games market. ... China expected to generate $27.5 billion, or one-quarter of all revenues in 2017." PC is considered synonymous (by them and others) with IBM PC compatible systems; while mobile computers – smartphones and tablets, such as those running Android or iOS – are also personal computers in the general sense. The "APAC" region is estimated to generate $46.6 billion in 2016, or 47% of total global game revenues (note, not only "PC" games). China alone accounts for half of APAC's revenues, reaching $24.4 billion, cementing its place as the largest games market in the world, ahead of the US's anticipated market size of $23.5 billion. China is expected to have 53% of revenues from mobile in 2017 (46% in 2016).
The uncoordinated nature of the PC game market and its lack of physical media make precisely assessing its size difficult.
Although personal computers only became popular with the development of the microprocessor and microcomputer, computer gaming on mainframes and minicomputers had previously already existed. OXO, an adaptation of tic-tac-toe for the EDSAC, debuted in 1952. Another pioneer computer game was developed in 1961, when MIT students Martin Graetz and Alan Kotok, with MIT student Steve Russell, developed Spacewar! on a PDP-1 mainframe computer used for statistical calculations.
The first generation of computer games were often text adventures or interactive fiction, in which the player communicated with the computer by entering commands through a keyboard. An early text-adventure, Adventure, was developed for the PDP-11 minicomputer by Will Crowther in 1976, and expanded by Don Woods in 1977. By the 1980s, personal computers had become powerful enough to run games like Adventure, but by this time, graphics were beginning to become an important factor in games. Later games combined textual commands with basic graphics, as seen in the SSI Gold Box games such as Pool of Radiance, or Bard's Tale for example.
By the late 1970s to early 1980s, games were developed and distributed through hobbyist groups and gaming magazines, such as Creative Computing and later Computer Gaming World. These publications provided game code that could be typed into a computer and played, encouraging readers to submit their own software to competitions. Players could modify the BASIC source code of even commercial games. Microchess was one of the first games for microcomputers which was sold to the public. First sold in 1977, Microchess eventually sold over 50,000 copies on cassette tape.
As with second-generation video game consoles at the time, early home computer game companies capitalized on successful arcade games at the time with ports or clones of popular arcade games. By 1982, the top-selling games for the Atari 400 were ports of Frogger and Centipede, while the top-selling game for the Texas Instruments TI-99/4A was the Space Invaders clone TI Invaders. That same year, Pac-Man was ported to the Atari 800, while Donkey Kong was licensed for the Coleco Adam. In late 1981, Atari attempted to take legal action against unauthorized clones, particularly Pac-Man clones, despite some of these predating Atari's exclusive rights to the home versions of Namco's game.
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