Rahul Sood is the founder of VoodooPC and the chief technology officer (CTO) of HP's Global Gaming Business. In a recent blog entry, he essentially says the future of PC gaming is in efficiency. That is, with hardware reaching its potential and consoles offering their own form of competition, it's just not worth it to all but a select few to max out their configurations anymore (especially with the economy doing so terrible). So a new era is on its way. Heck, it's already started, really.
He says Crysis was actually a catalyst for a lot of this -- gamers are getting more for less, as a result, plus AMD, NVIDIA, and ATI are working on some cool stuff (Hybrid SLI and Visual Computing from NVIDIA, OpenCL from ATI, for example).
In short, the economy sucks, but it's always useful to see the light amidst the darkness, and within the PC gaming realm, maybe it'll kick it back to where it needs to be, that is, hardware not being ahead of software anymore. Sood states the bottom line is such:
The glory days of wicked-stupid hardware requirements are pretty much gone. Game developers are in the business of making money, and thus want to distribute their games to the widest possible audience. This doesn’t mean current games don’t scale, because we all know that games on the PC scale well if designed properly. You can buy a game that delivers a half-decent experience on a mainstream computer and a killer experience on a higher-end PC.
Will well-designed games that scale well bring another era of glory days for the PC, as we saw with the 90s? Only time will tell, but times are definitely promising for PC gamers.