2012: The Year The PC Showed Everyone Who’s Boss

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.

It’s Time For Me To Be A PC Gamer Again


Kotaku boss Stephen Totilo returned to his PC gaming roots after a long absence, and chronicled the reasons for his return. More »

My First Gaming PC: A Love Story


Mike reminisced about his first gaming PC in a story that resonated with more than a couple of us. More »

Is Windows 8 the Biggest Threat to the Future of PC Gaming?


Was Windows 8 a threat to PC gaming? Lots of game-makers seemed to think so back in March. More »

Windows 8 Is Not Good For Gamers


Several months later, after using it for a bit, Kate Cox agreed: No thanks, Windows 8. More »

How To Get Skyrim Looking As Awesome As Computationally Possible


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 »

What Skyrim Looks Like When You’re Running 100 Mods At Once


…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 is Everything I Wanted in a Modern-Day Dungeon Crawler


Legend of Grimrock was another standout PC-only game, and a welcome throwback to the dungeon-crawlers of yore. More »

Darksiders II And Sleeping Dogs: A Tale Of Two Very Different PC Ports


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 »

Dota Dispatch: Watching People Play Video Games For $US1.6 Million


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 »

You Won’t Survive FTL‘s Space Mission, But You’ll Remember It


FTL was another standout PC game of 2012. Have you played FTL yet? Play FTL. More »

Why Did I Become A PC Gamer? Because It’s the Cheapest Way to Play.


Kate discussed how if you play your cards right, a PC is actually an inexpensive way to play games. More »

Guild Wars 2: The Kotaku Review


ArenaNet’s lovely MMO Guild Wars 2 was one of the notable big-budget success stories on the PC this year. More »

Star Wars: The Old Republic: The Kotaku Review

2012: The Year The PC Showed Everyone Who's Boss

Meanwhile, Star Wars: The Old Republic sat somewhere further down the scale, lacking that revolutionary spark to make it a must-play and eventually going free-to play. More »

The Secret World: The Kotaku Review


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 »

Thomas Was Alone: The Kotaku Review


Evan loved Thomas Was Alone, the kind of weird indie thing that only turns up on PC. More »

See Steam’s Big Picture Mode In Action (It’s Awesome)


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 »

Gabe Newell: Living Room PCs Will Compete With Next-Gen Consoles


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 »

Borderlands 2‘s Killer PC Version Gives Us A Taste Of The Future


Played in 1080p on an HDTV, the PC version of Borderlands 2 feels like playing a game on the console of the future. More »

Dude Gets Kidnapped in DayZ, Tweets the Whole Thing


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 »

The Best PC Mods of 2012


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 »

Why Ubisoft’s Two Big Holiday Games Are Better On PC (Hint: It’s Not Uplay)


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 »

The Fear is Gone: My PC Is My Next-Gen Console


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 »

(Top Image detail: “The Master Race” /Art of Jin)


  • Kotaku once again parroting the nonsensical idea that we need to choose one system and stick with it.

    Whats wrong with liking all of them? Or different games on different systems?

    Seriously, dont you see how the vast majority of these articles are just flamebait for the tired argument of “omg my choice is better” “no my choice is better”. You would hope a games site would be above such petty squabbles.

    • Because for every game, there will be one platform that will perform better. PC games was always the worst as developers tend to port from console to PC without putting much effort and this year we see improvement from that.

      Looks good does not mean you have to play on that specific platform. I have all current gen consoles + PC and I play them all but PC got some great ports this year. Big titles looks great as well.

      It is also true that developers are at the borderline of consoles capability which makes good PC ports looks amazing and best platform to play on. I think it is quite safe to say most people have a few type of consoles to choose from. Since I have all of them why not I choose the best one? I have almost no reason to play CoD on Wii when I can play it on Xbox / PS3 / PC right?

      • I don’t really want to get into specifics but I can think of a handful of reasons you would prefer to play CoD on Wii… starting with the controller and ending with the community. Most people wouldn’t but that doesn’t make it any less of a valid choice.

        I’m aware the PC has suffered a lot of console ports, and I hear that, and that as this console generation dies down the PC is looming stronger than ever – but I’m sick of articles that imply the PC is “showing everyone else who is boss” “is the cheapest way to play” is where “games are better to play” – do we really need to frame this in such a direct comparison?

        Whats wrong with saying “this has been a great year for PC” “PC gaming is cheaper than you think” “This game is great on PC” – why frame things in a way that creates an argument that one is better than the other when you can instead focus on what makes it so great on PC?

        Honestly, which article would you prefer to read out of the following:

        “Farcry 3 is much better on PC than it is on Xbox or PS3; Here is why”


        “Here are some reasons Farcry 3 is great on PC”

        … one is framed in a negative and competitive light, the other is just a positive discussion.

        I mean, odds are people will end up in the same console vs. pc argument in the comments anyway – but do we really need to start the argument for them in the content of the article?

        • Part of the reason is an inflamatory headline will increase the number of hits an article gets and broaden it’s appeal. To use your farcry example, the first will have console fanboys clammoring to defend theimselves and PC players patting themselves on the back, while the second only attracts PC players and console gamers are more likely to give it a miss.
          It’s for the hits, not for accuracy, and it’s an attempt to bring traffic to a summary of 2012 PC articles.
          I don’t disagree with you and I don’t agree with the way it has been done, but it’s the reason.

          • I fully understand the reasoning, I just object to it.

            I mean, I get it, this is a business, but can some shred of journalistic integrity be salvaged in the much more important pursuit of profit?

            I thought so.

  • Windows 8 got me back into PC gaming after being gone for 10 years.

    Safe to say it’s not bad for gaming. At all.

    I even got my Steam tile all metro’d up.

    • Everything ebbs and flows, man. It’s the way of nature.
      PCs are always there and are always consistent, but experience can’t compete with a shiny new toy for attention.

  • The cycle continues.. Consoles get old, the PC makes a comeback. A new generation of consoles get released, all the kids want one and PCs get pushed aside again, tears roll. Consoles get old, the PC makes another comeback and owners claim superiority, pissing contests continue and people argue on the internet. Rinse and repeat.

    There is no master race… master bates is probably more accurate.

  • Most of you including the journalist will stop talking much about PC once the next gen consoles arrives.
    ofcourse, PC is the boss… for a 7 year old consoles

  • I’m not sure who is worse, the pretentious PC master race morons, or the sanctimonious console idiots.

    Can’t we all be happy that gaming as a medium is popular in different forms? This stupid arm waving flame war would be the equivalent of people debating whether hardbacks or paperbacks provide a better novel because they use a different printer and typeface.

    PC gamers point to the superior graphical fidelity and controls of a keyboard mouse, and console gamers point to affordability and market penetration. You know what, each platform has its advantages and disadvantages. Don’t wish a platform to die simply because you don’t own one, because if you do, then you’re asking for a more homogenized gaming market. It’s like campaigning to have a gaming genre wiped from existence.

    So go ahead. Decry another platform as dead. Call a style of gaming experience worthless. Declare that you don’t want diversity and varied experiences.

    Just don’t come crying when you end up with a stale gaming market filled with hundreds of barely indistinguishable titles. You asked for it.

  • What’s wrong is you’re supporting the companies who’re exploiting which games are exclusive to which consoles, Purely to guarantee sales of an outdated product.

    In this day and age, ALL games should be multi-platform and there’s no excuse for them not to be. Majority of the gaming community has made it painfully obvious that they’re tired of hauling around their old consoles JUST INCASE a franchise they’re fans of, Gets a sequel.

    Yet still the development companies ignore those who keep them in business, And continue doing things how THEY want.

  • I bought my first ever PC this year! An absolute monster of a gaming rig that I spent $2.5k on!!!! I think it was that dude with the 100 mods on Skyrim that convinced me to finally make the plunge (and I never half-arse these things). Hooked it into my TV and I haven’t looked back. The best thing about playing it on an HDTV is that while my resolution may be stuck at ‘just’ 1080p I get to use that extra grunt in my rig to improve framerates and such. Oh and FC3 is frikkin’ awesome on PC.

    • Sir, please return to our PC store, we forgot to gold plate every component of your PC.

      Dude, pls don’t tell me you blew nearly $1.4k on the the CPU and GFX?

  • For me being a PC gamer is about the customisability, both of the PC itself and the settings of games and programs. Also the cheaper games helps.
    I don’t care if PC have more grunt or new console is the “it” thing.

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