Video games continue to evolve every few years, most notably in terms of graphics and gameplay. When big video game breakthroughs are introduced, these innovations are then applied to new games that are being developed, labelled as “next-generation video games”.
The release of the latest gaming consoles, such as PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/ S, is commonly used as the benchmark to classify next-gen games due to improved hardware being utilised. As a result, mainstream console games benefit from even more realistic visual quality and faster loading times, among other things.
That being said, can these next-gen games be played on PC too?
Yes, next-gen games can be played on PC. Computers, especially gaming PCs, can be retrofitted with updated hardware that elevates their gaming potential, running the most demanding titles like Star Wars Jedi: Survivor and Diablo 4 with ease.
Unlike gaming consoles, our computers don’t become redundant once better technologies are introduced. Instead of buying a new one (e.g. replacing a PS4 with a PS5), we only need to upgrade the necessary components instead, which are usually the graphics card (GPU) and RAM.
Many newer-generation PC games are digital too, removing the need to repurchase them if we find ourselves uninstalling or removing them at some point. Many seasoned gamers can argue that the latest PC games are becoming easier as the years go by, but we have to acknowledge that we are now in a different gaming era, dominated by the younger generation.
Still, a great advantage of PC gaming is that almost every game can be played on our computers, and this will only continue for new-gen games as well.
Do PC-Exclusive Next-Gen Games Exist?
Console-exclusive games have been around for years, primarily developed to boost sales of specific gaming consoles, like Demon’s Souls (PS5) and Halo 5: Guardians (Xbox One). On PC, our exclusive games are mostly confined to Real-Time Strategy (RTS) games such as masterpiece franchises, StarCraft 2 and Total War: Warhammer.
With that in mind, do PC-exclusive next-gen games exist?
Yes, PC-exclusive next-gen games do exist. Recent titles like Total War: Warhammer III and in-development projects like Star Citizen are just a few examples of them.
Before the release of the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S in 2020, every game that was released in 2021 was considered next-gen, back in the day. Even though it’s only been a few years since then, many gamers still call newly-released games today next-gen too, partly because we are still transitioning towards a different gaming landscape that focuses on advanced video game elements like ray tracing (RTX) and deep learning super sampling (DLSS).
As PC owners, we have the power to mix and match our computer’s internal hardware and rig, adapting to the times. Hence, when next-gen PC games like The Outlast Trials drop, we can quickly update our specs to run the games optimally, able to play the latest Xbox games on our computers as well!
This proves that PC gaming is here to stay indefinitely, regardless of how the console war might look like, moving forward.
What Do Next-Gen Games Mean on PC?
It’s easy to call the most visually-demanding games next-gen, but that’s not entirely true. Games that we used to call next-gen in 2021 are considered current-gen in 2023.
So what do next-gen video games truly mean, especially on PC?
Next-generation games refer to upcoming video games that are scheduled to be released on new gaming platforms, adopting the latest 3D programming and coding technologies. These games are graphically jaw-dropping but demand more computing resources, usually coinciding with newer gaming hardware that is introduced into the market (including new gaming consoles).
As we all know, PCs can be upgraded to accommodate higher spec requirements for running these newer-generation video games, all done by swapping the internal components around.
In today’s video games industry, ray tracing and 4K-resolution imagery are already considered to be the industry standard. At this point, future next-gen games might introduce even more advanced features, like 60-FPS cloud gaming, with some companies already starting work on 8K-resolution graphics as well.
As next-gen gaming begins to embrace a more digitalised environment, we might see a future where an Internet connection becomes a necessity for playing PC games, even for single-player experiences too.
However, if there’s one major positive that can be taken from it, it is that many PC games are still free to play online, with only a small number being exceptions, such as subscription-based massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) like Star Wars: The Old Republic and Guild Wars 2.
We might even see the end of physical game copies being sold on the market as well, come the next few years. Games on PC are usually much smaller than their console counterparts in terms of file sizes, so it might be a very real possibility, especially next-gen.
Is It Expensive to Build a Next-Gen Gaming PC?
Today, we are currently in the ninth generation of video games. As we continue to explore new ways to revolutionise gaming, better video game hardware and equipment will eventually be needed.
As such, will a next-gen gaming PC require a lot of money to build?
Yes, building a next-gen gaming PC can be quite expensive due to the rising prices of up-to-date gaming hardware. Right now, the best NVIDIA graphics card alone, the GeForce RTX 4090, could easily cost us upwards of $1,500.
This isn’t taking into account other robust components like a liquid cooling system or an 8K-display monitor, just to name a few. The cost of gaming peripherals should also be considered, like a gaming controller.
Summarily, if we want to prepare ourselves for next-gen PC gaming early, we need to be ready to invest a lot of money into it. Diehard PC gamers with a steady income should have no problems with this, but it isn’t practical for the vast, common people that play games on their computers too.
Understandably, some gamers have argued that PC gaming can be a huge waste of money because video game consoles are sold at significantly cheaper prices instead. Although that is certainly true to some extent, gaming PCs can be modified at any time, meaning that the higher initial costs of building them are compensated by their long-term worth and playability.
For next-gen PC gaming, though, that might be the better option.
What are the Basic Requirements of a Next-Gen PC Game?
To play next-gen video games on our PCs, we should be ready to accept that the minimum system requirements might be higher than what we are accustomed to in this era. Our current computers might not be able to play them at all, come the next few years!
Depending on the next-gen game in question, basic PC requirements can differ significantly. However, to keep things simple, I gauge my estimates according to the expectations of what a next-gen game should be in 2023:
- Minimum FHD image resolution (1080p)
- Consistent 60-FPS performance
- Quick loading times
- Advanced graphical features (ray tracing, DLSS, etc.)
Thus, here is my personal view of what the basic PC requirements of next-gen games could be:
- OS: Windows 10 (64-bit)
- Processor: Intel i3/ AMD Ryzen 3
- RAM: 6GB
- Graphics card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050/ AMD RX 400 Series
- DirectX version: DX11
- Storage: 50GB memory
- OS: Windows 10 (64-bit)
- Processor: Intel i7/ AMD Ryzen 7
- RAM: 16GB
- Graphics card: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080/ AMD RX 6000 Series
- DirectX version: DX12
- Storage: 100GB Memory
Kindly take note that these are my estimates only, and they are not conclusive or set in stone. There are thousands of different hardware combinations out there, and video game developers will have different views on what their respective game’s finalised system requirements should look like.
Nevertheless, I firmly believe that gaming studios will try to tone down their next-gen video game requirements as much as possible to ensure that even non-gaming PCs can play their games too. After all, this would maximise their video game’s sales revenue in general.
One major issue that gamers will have to tolerate is the increased storage memory that next-gen games could take up on our systems. In my view, even a 1TB SSD would not be enough for us to install more than five next-gen games at a time, accounting for other applications installed on our PCs as well.
New software drivers might also be introduced for next-gen games in the future, so our system drivers need to stay updated too. PC gaming does feel like a hassle sometimes, but it’s worth it in the long run.