2012: The Year The PC Showed Everyone Who's Boss
For years it slumbered in darkness, deep within the earth. An Old God, maybe even the First God, its hibernation marked by rattling breaths reverberating in the deep like cinderblocks dragged across wet asphalt. Sleeping… resting. One day to wake.
And in the year 2012, the day of awakening arrived, and the great PC Gaming God rose from the depths and wreaked terrible destruction across the world of console gaming.
Yes, 2012 was likely the year we’ll think back on as The Year The PC Returned. While of course, PC gaming never “went anywhere,” not really, there was a definite sense that it got backburnered for a few years there. No longer.
It’s possible to put together a good gaming PC for cheaper than ever. Indie developers have fled the restrictive clutches of consoles and found a welcome home on Steam. The modding scene has created game after game after fascinating, fun game. Classic games have gotten easier to play than ever, thanks to services like GOG.com, and the sorts of PC adventure and role-playing games we grew up with have been granted a second wind thanks to Kickstarter. Steam has become living-room friendly, and most developers have cottoned to the fact that they can do well by creating superior PC versions of their games. Kotaku launched a regular series called “PC Gaming Lives,” which eventually began to feel unnecessary, since PC gaming wasn’t just alive, it was thriving. I started playing an MMO, and actually enjoyed myself.
And so in the sprit of the year that was, let’s look back at the many stories that shaped the re-ascension of PC Gaming.
Kotaku boss Stephen Totilo returned to his PC gaming roots after a long absence, and chronicled the reasons for his return. More »
Mike reminisced about his first gaming PC in a story that resonated with more than a couple of us. More »
Was Windows 8 a threat to PC gaming? Lots of game-makers seemed to think so back in March. More »
Several months later, after using it for a bit, Kate Cox agreed: No thanks, Windows 8. More »
2012 was also the year that Skyrim modding hit its stride, and I became a bit obsessed with making the game look as good as computationally possible.More »
…Though not as obsessed as THIS guy, who, months later, got the game looking better than ever. My god, that grass. I want to go roll around in it. More »
Legend of Grimrock was another standout PC-only game, and a welcome throwback to the dungeon-crawlers of yore. More »
Two PC versions of console games showed two different ways to do things. Thankfully, Sleeping Dogs‘ great PC version became the standard for the year, while Darksiders II‘s shoddy port was something of an anomaly. More »
Defense of the Ancients was certainly one of the biggest deals in PC gaming in 2012. Jason went to the Dota 2international tournament in Seattle and reported back. More »
FTL was another standout PC game of 2012. Have you played FTL yet? Play FTL. More »
Kate discussed how if you play your cards right, a PC is actually an inexpensive way to play games. More »
ArenaNet’s lovely MMO Guild Wars 2 was one of the notable big-budget success stories on the PC this year. More »
Meanwhile, funcom’s The Secret World sat somewhere in the middle, an odd duck of a game that charmed with its Lovecraftian story but could be overly obtuse and perplexing, too. It didn’t find huge success, but it’s hard not to be glad it exists. More »
Evan loved Thomas Was Alone, the kind of weird indie thing that only turns up on PC. More »
Somewhat unexpectedly, Valve launched a new “Big Picture Mode” for Steam, which was one of those things we didn’t know we wanted until we had it. It also gave rise to a lot of speculation about Valve taking on living-room consoles more directly. More »
After everyone spent the better part of the year speculating about Valve’s possible involvement in making living-room hardware (née the “Steam Box”), Gabe Newell confirmed to Jason that Valve will indeed be exploring hardware to put into living rooms around the world. More »
Played in 1080p on an HDTV, the PC version of Borderlands 2 feels like playing a game on the console of the future. More »
Of course, DayZ was perhaps the most exciting PC phenomenon of the year. But of all the stories that came out of the game, this one, a live-tweet of an abduction, was perhaps the most indicative of just how different DayZ was. More »
Rather than link to every mod individually here, I’ll just link to Luke’s recent “Best Mods of 2012” roundup post, and say you should check those out. More »
Both of Ubisoft’s big fall games were better on PC, particularly Far Cry 3. But their Steam-alike platform Uplay is kind of a disaster. More »
It seems appropriate to end on this one: After a few months of getting into the swing of things, Stephen’s ready to say it: His PC is his next-gen console. More »