This week was IDF and one of the most powerful presentations was on gaming. One of the interesting gaming stats is that $32 billion will be spent on PC games this year and currently 205 million folks watch gaming tournaments. This last number has me a bit amazed as you’d think with numbers like that we’d see more gaming coverage in the national press.
I’m a gaming system builder myself and one of my hobbies is to build personal gaming PCs but the systems they had on stage made what I’ve built look well outclassed. These systems looked amazing—one was even modeled after the <href=”#/vehicles”>Tron Light Cycle. And it reminded me of the days Pat Gelsinger and I used to meet and talk about building excitement for PCs nearly two decades ago. Intel seemed to lose that passion for a bit, but it looks like it is back in spades and this session on gaming was all about performance, experience, and passion for gaming. It is great to see the passion come back into the company.
Let’s talk about some of the coming amazing improvements and some of the fascinating on-screen drama.
Intel Xpoint (called “cross point”) is a new solid state memory architecture 1,000 times faster than currently shipping high performance SSD drives. Coming next year this will massively improve gaming performance. You’ll see it mostly on page loads but they should be damn near instant with this kind of speed improvement making moving through a complex game far more seamless than it is today.
Skylake, Intel’s 6th generation processor architecture, was at the core of Intel’s pitch. And not only will it bring a strong improvement to desktop gaming but it will bring with it the first notebooks designed for overclocking and high performance gaming. They’ll come with huge 4K displays and a level of performance that many desktop machines today can’t reach.
One of the most anticipated new games under development is called Star Citizen which was crowd funded and designed to push the performance of these new systems. The developer (who had also developed Wing Commander years ago) came back to PC gaming because the technology on PCs is pushing the envelope on performance. Apparently you’ll be able to fly with your friends in formation, attack other players, and steal their stuff. It is a year to a year-and-a-half out and the demo showed an amazing level of rendered detail.
This is Intel’s 3D camera and they expect it will be used to scan the player so that you can actually appear in the game as an avatar or scan your surroundings so the game field can become your living room, bedroom or office. I’m thinking there are some folks that will scan their bosses and teachers and put them into games as targets pretty sure that is going to end badly if they get caught but a ton more fun than putting their pictures on dart boards. Lego was on stage showcasing how they could scan a table with stuffed animals and then create a Lego player that could interact with the scanned objects (which were turned into Lego constructs).
They had an impressive iRacing gaming rig on stage during the opening keynote. It had three huge 4K displays and it was a fully active setup so it actually felt like you were in the car. One of the Intel folks indicated they nearly broke their wrist hitting a wall. He was advised to cross his arms over his chest, just like a real race driver, so that didn’t happen. I’m guessing we won’t be putting small children into these rigs and we may need a way to lock them up to keep the kids off them (great a real reason to keep kids away from MY toys).
CLG Red: The Most Accomplished Girl Gaming Team in the World
Intel sponsors the most successful girl gaming team in the world and they’ve been playing for about a decade and currently play 5 days a week including at night. They are located across the country and effectively this has become their job. At some tournaments the prize money is now up to over $6M dollars for the winning team and $18M in total prizes for all of the players. They showcased a new Predator tablet by Acer which has 4 speakers and is designed for gaming. Apparently a few lucky members of the audience are going to get one though they gave the girls a koala bear they had scanned into a first-person shooter (seriously they scanned a stuffed bear into a game for a girl gaming team. I bet they get some interesting emails). The girls, er women, kicked the butts of the Intel execs on stage in the game which might have had a tad of payback in it.
Wrapping Up: Gaming is Back Baby!
One of the huge mistakes Intel and Microsoft made when the Xbox was created was to effectively allow gaming to pass to consoles. This never made sense to me and it appears both companies are coming back to the idea that PC gaming is important because it pushes technology. That’s great news because this means gaming is back baby and since I’m a PC gamer that hits me where I live.