Earlier this week, a maker of computer gaming peripherals named Razer took out a big ad in the Wall Street Journal that claimed PC gaming is not dead. The ad promised to “bring a new age of openness and innovation to all gaming” with a new product unveiling on Friday.
So here we are. Razer’s hyped up product turned out to be the Razer Blade, a $2,799 gaming laptop with a 17-inch display, cutting-edge specs and an eye for design. Inside, there’s a 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-2640M processor, Nvidia GeForce GT555M graphics and 8 GB of RAM. The outside is built from a solid slab of aluminum that Razer wants to shave thinner than a MacBook Pro. A customizable touch pad and set of LCD keys are on top, next to green backlit keyboard.
PCWorld’s Nate Ralph got a demo of the laptop and liked what he saw. So did Kotaku’s Joel Johnson, who wrote that the Razer Blade “might not just be the future of PC gaming—it may be the future of PCs.”
Maybe for him. But when I think of the future of PC gaming, I don’t see one that’s dominated by portable gaming rigs with price tags of $2,000 and up. I something completely different.
Part of that future might consist of streaming video game services like OnLive, whose remote servers have their own graphics processors to provide the muscle for modern PC games. The technology isn’t ready for prime time yet — whenever I try OnLive, I can never ignore its tiny bit of input lag — but some day, it will be ready. And when that happens, the need for super-expensive hardware will evaporate for the vast majority of gamers.
The other part is a broader change in the way we use computers. I don’t particularly care for the phrase “post-PC era,” but I like the idea behind it: The definition of a computer is expanding beyond desktops and laptops to include smartphones, tablets and televisions. In time, these devices may share the same content. They may even become modular, allowing the peripherals to change while the core computing device remains the same. (Hey, that’s good news for Razer’s mouse and keyboard business.) All those changes will dilute the importance of owning a laptop with expensive internal components.
I’m not saying all this to dismiss what Razer has created. It is what it is — a very expensive machine with some very impressive features — but that doesn’t sound like a savior to me. And who said PC gaming was in peril, anyway?