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By , the enormous popularity of the Nintendo Entertainment System had greatly affected the computer-game industry. A Koei executive claimed that "Nintendo's success has destroyed the [computer] software entertainment market".
A Mindscape executive agreed, saying that "Unfortunately, its effect has been extremely negative. Without question, Nintendo's success has eroded software sales.
There's been a much greater falling off of disk sales than anyone anticipated. Experts were unsure whether it affected bit computer games,  but Hawkins in nonetheless had to deny rumors that Electronic Arts would withdraw from computers and only produce console games.
Computer games, however, did not disappear. Increasing adoption of the computer mouse , driven partially by the success of adventure games such as the highly successful King's Quest series, and high resolution bitmap displays allowed the industry to include increasingly high-quality graphical interfaces in new releases.
Further improvements to game artwork and audio were made possible with the introduction of FM synthesis sound.
These cards allowed IBM PC compatible computers to produce complex sounds using FM synthesis, where they had previously been limited to simple tones and beeps.
However, the rise of the Creative Labs Sound Blaster card, released in , which featured much higher sound quality due to the inclusion of a PCM channel and digital signal processor , led AdLib to file for bankruptcy by There were also several other companies that produced early first-person shooters, such as Arsys Software 's Star Cruiser ,  which featured fully 3D polygonal graphics in ,  and Accolade 's Day of the Viper in Id Software went on to develop Wolfenstein 3D in , which helped to popularize the genre, kick-starting a genre that would become one of the highest-selling in modern times.
The release of Doom on the PC was a breakthrough in 3D graphics, and was soon ported to various game consoles in a general shift toward greater realism.
Computer Gaming World reported in April that some software publishers planned to only distribute on CD as of Chris Crawford warned that it was "a data-intensive technology, not a process-intensive one", tempting developers to emphasize the quantity of digital assets like art and music over the quality of gameplay; Computer Gaming World wrote in that "publishers may be losing their focus".
While many companies used the additional storage to release poor-quality shovelware collections of older software, or "enhanced" versions of existing ones  —often with what the magazine mocked as "amateur acting" in the added audio and video  —new games such as Myst included many more assets for a richer game experience.
Many companies sold "multimedia upgrade kits" that bundled CD drives, sound cards, and software during the mids, but device drivers for the new peripherals further depleted scarce RAM.
BAT files for memory management cumbersome and confusing, and each game needed a different configuration. The game Les Manley 2 satirizes this by depicting two beautiful women exhaust the hero in bed, by requesting that he again explain the difference between extended and expanded memory.
Computer Gaming World provided technical assistance to its writers to help install games for review,  and published sample configuration files.
By , the growing popularity of Microsoft Windows simplified device driver and memory management. The faster graphics accelerators and improving CPU technology resulted in increasing levels of realism in computer games.
During this time, the improvements introduced with products such as ATI's Radeon R and NVidia 's GeForce 6 Series have allowed developers to increase the complexity of modern game engines.
PC gaming currently tends strongly toward improvements in 3D graphics. Unlike the generally accepted push for improved graphical performance, the use of physics engines in computer games has become a matter of debate since announcement and release of the nVidia PhysX PPU , ostensibly competing with middleware such as the Havok physics engine.
Issues such as difficulty in ensuring consistent experiences for all players,  and the uncertain benefit of first generation PhysX cards in games such as Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter and City of Villains , prompted arguments over the value of such technology.
Similarly, many game publishers began to experiment with new forms of marketing. Chief among these alternative strategies is episodic gaming , an adaptation of the older concept of expansion packs , in which game content is provided in smaller quantities but for a proportionally lower price.
Titles such as Half-Life 2: Episode One took advantage of the idea, with mixed results rising from concerns for the amount of content provided for the price.
In high-end PC gaming, a PC will generally have far more processing resources at its disposal than other gaming systems. Increased draw distance is also common in open world games.
Better hardware also increases the potential fidelity of a PC game's rules and simulation. PC games often support more players or NPCs than equivalents on other platforms  and game designs which depend on the simulation of large numbers of tokens e.
Guild Wars 2 , World of Warcraft are rarely seen anywhere else. The PC also supports greater input fidelity thanks to its compatibility with a wide array of peripherals.
The mouse in particular lends players of first-person shooter and real-time strategy games on PC great speed and accuracy. The defining characteristic of the PC platform is the absence of centralized control; all other gaming platforms except Android devices, to an extent are owned and administered by a single group.
The openness of the PC platform allows players to edit their games and distribute the results over the Internet as "mods". A healthy mod community greatly increases a game's longevity and the most popular mods have driven purchases of their parent game to record heights.
Mods can compete with official downloadable content however, or even outright redistribute it, and their ability to extend the lifespan of a game can work against its developers' plans for regular sequels.
As game technology has become more complex, it has also become harder to distribute development tools to the public.
Modding has a different connotation on consoles which are typically restricted much more heavily. As publicly released development tools are rare, console mods usually refer to hardware alterations designed to remove restrictions.
Although the PC platform is almost completely decentralized at a hardware level, there are two dominant software forces: Microsoft introduced an operating environment named Windows on November 20, as an add-on to DOS in response to the growing interest in graphical user interfaces GUIs.
Valve does not release any sales figures on its Steam service, instead it only provides the data to companies with games on Steam,   which they cannot release without permission due to signing a non-disclosure agreement with Valve.
PC games are sold predominantly through the Internet, with buyers downloading their new purchase directly to their computer. Valve Corporation released the Steam platform for Windows computers in as a means to distribute Valve-developed video games such as Half-Life 2.
It would later see release on the Mac OS X operating system in and was released on Linux in as well. Digital distribution also slashes the cost of circulation, eliminates stock shortages, allows games to be released worldwide at no additional cost, and allows niche audiences to be reached with ease.
Games confer with these computers over the Internet before launching. This raises the prospect of purchases being lost if the distributor goes out of business or chooses to lock the buyer's account, and prevents resale the ethics of which are a matter of debate.
Modern computer games place great demand on the computer's hardware, often requiring a fast central processing unit CPU to function properly. CPU manufacturers historically relied mainly on increasing clock rates to improve the performance of their processors, but had begun to move steadily towards multi-core CPUs by These processors allow the computer to simultaneously process multiple tasks, called threads , allowing the use of more complex graphics, artificial intelligence and in-game physics.
Similarly, 3D games often rely on a powerful graphics processing unit GPU , which accelerates the process of drawing complex scenes in realtime. GPUs may be an integrated part of the computer's motherboard , the most common solution in laptops,  or come packaged with a discrete graphics card with a supply of dedicated Video RAM , connected to the motherboard through either an AGP or PCI-Express port.
Sound cards are also available to provide improved audio in computer games. These cards provide improved 3D audio and provide audio enhancement that is generally not available with integrated alternatives, at the cost of marginally lower overall performance.
PPUs allow the computer to process more complex interactions among objects than is achievable using only the CPU, potentially allowing players a much greater degree of control over the world in games designed to use the card.
Virtually all personal computers use a keyboard and mouse for user input. Other common gaming peripherals are a headset for faster communication in online games, joysticks for flight simulators , steering wheels for driving games and gamepads for console-style games.
Computer games also rely on third-party software such as an operating system OS , device drivers , libraries and more to run. Today, the vast majority of computer games are designed to run on the Microsoft Windows family of operating systems.
Whereas earlier games written for DOS would include code to communicate directly with hardware, today application programming interfaces APIs provide an interface between the game and the OS, simplifying game design.
Microsoft's DirectX is an API that is widely used by today's computer games to communicate with sound and graphics hardware.
The version of the graphics card's driver installed can often affect game performance and gameplay. Multiplayer gaming was largely limited to local area networks LANs before cost-effective broadband Internet access became available, due to their typically higher bandwidth and lower latency than the dial-up services of the time.
These advantages allowed more players to join any given computer game, but have persisted today because of the higher latency of most Internet connections and the costs associated with broadband Internet.
LAN gaming typically requires two or more personal computers, a router and sufficient networking cables to connect every computer on the network.
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