Speaking to TG Daily, Tim Sweeney, creator of the Unreal engines and co-founder of Epic, has revealed how PC development is suffering because of the huge gulf in power between the mainstream PC and the high-end gaming enthusiast PC.
"The biggest problem in this space right now is that you cannot go and design a game for a high end PC and downscale it to mainstream PCs," said Sweeney. "The performance difference between high-end and low-end PC is something like 100x."
He continued: "If we go back 10 years ago, the difference between the high end and the lowest end may have been a factor of 10. We could have scaled games between those two. For example, with the first version of Unreal, a resolution of 320x200 was good for software rendering and we were able to scale that up to 1024x768, if you had the GPU power. There is no way we can scale down a game down by a factor of 100, we would just have to design two completely different games. One for low-end and one for high-end.
"That is actually happening on PCs: You have really low-end games with little hardware requirements, like Maple Story. That is a $100 million-a-year business. Kids are addicted to those games, they pay real money to buy [virtual] items within the game and the game."
Sweeney summed up the current state of affairs, claiming mainstream "PCs are good for anything, just not games".
That said, he admits casual games and online games will always find an audience on PC and attributed some of World of Warcraft's success to its low-end graphics requirements - the game's "DirectX 7-class" visuals able to "run on any computer".