"I'm glad the new consoles are here," says Nvidia's senior vice president Tony Tamasi, "if for no other reason than to raise the bar." He points to a handy chart, which claims that the company's GeForce GTX Titan — a $1,000 graphics card — has roughly two and a half times the power of the PlayStation 4. What he's trying to convey isn't that GeForce is more powerful, though. It's that the consoles are closer to the power of a PC than they've been in a while, and that somehow that's actually better for PCs than it is for consoles.
"It's nothing but goodness for the PC," continues Tamasi. "The PC will keep growing, but the consoles will give us that next bump," he says. "Developers can now build really awesome content that can then scale to the PC," he adds. And one more thing he wants to add: "To us, the consoles are great because they catch up from a features perspective."
Sour grapes? It seems so at first. At the 2013 Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, California,
Sour grapes? the new Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are the talk of the town, but you won't find Nvidia powering a single console this time around. Rival AMD landed both next-gen consoles and the Wii U's graphics chip, so you might forgive Nvidia for seeking a silver lining and positioning itself as a winner.
Only when you really think about it, Tamasi might have a point. The fact that the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 have narrowed the gap between PC and console means the least common denominator isn't quite so low anymore. If you're building a game and trying to maximize your profits, you need to build a game that can scale to a variety of machines. Now, instead of shying away from building features and levels of detail so resource-intensive they could only be experienced on PC, developers can theoretically build games with those features because the new Xbox and PlayStation will be able to run them in some capacity as well.
The console war has changed, and graphics aren't the main battleground anymore. But if Nvidia's right that the gaming PC can piggyback on the rise of a new console generation, the graphical advantage could continue to be important. So far at E3 2013, the most visually compelling games we've seen were all running on Windows.