In a year when PC gaming became more multifaceted and complicated than ever, it also popularized a genre—battle royale—with one of the simplest premises imaginable.
As ever, PC remains at the forefront of gaming. Whether it’s the platform’s longtime advantage in the hardware department, its role as a breeding ground for interesting indies that go on to become multiplatform hits, or attempts to solve the mind-boggling logistical problem of theoretically offering nearly Every Game Ever, PC leads so many dances that you’d need to be a human centipede to keep up.
This is part of our 2017 State Of series, a look at how the major consoles, PC, and other areas of interest are doing this year.
But in discussing PC gaming, we also have to consider that, unlike PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch, PC is not a monolith. “PC” is a conglomeration of disparate platforms and moving pieces, from Steam’s algorithm-driven digital metropolis to Itch.io’s boundless mom ‘n’ pop shop, from grimy CSGO and PUBG skin gambling pits to equally questionable gray markets like G2A, from games that are their own platform like League of Legends to tiny freeware games that don’t have platforms at all.
A great year in PC gaming for one person can be an abysmal one for another. So I’d be remiss if I didn’t discuss PC gaming on those terms. I can’t be 100 percent comprehensive here—I’d end up writing a book—so let’s go over the big ones.
Steam continues to balloon in all directions. While Valve hasn’t released an exact user count in a couple years, it’s safe to say the number still exceeds 100 million, and concurrent user counts just keep going up. The total number of games on Steam, too, is astronomical at this point, and the introduction of Steam Direct only opened the floodgates wider.