Is the PC dead as a gaming platform?
The upcoming next-gen gaming systems purport that they will be X times more powerful than a PC. Say what you will about how bad a measure specs are on a gaming system, but the XBox 360's three 3.2GHz PowerPC processors are nothing to laugh at, especially if you're AMD and Intel. The XBox 360 is supposed to ship by Thanksgiving, at which point we'll be lucky to have dual-core processors out in full force on the PC side, at which time just the processor will cost more than the XBox 360.
One of the problems with the PC as a gaming platform is that a lot of power is lost as a result of having to support thousands of hardware combinations. The gaming system offers a unified platform where results can be predicted in the labs, and for the first time now, will surpass the PC in the graphics department.
The inclusion of PC-like features such as photo, video and audio players and iPod/PDA syncing will definitely make the consoles much more mainstream than they are already (I know a lot of adults who still think video games are for kids). This could cause game developers to switch from the PC as the primary development platform to one or more of the next-gen consoles. All of the graphics stuff aside, the biggest issue I see is that all three of the new systems will be using PowerPC-based processors from IBM. No longer will games be a simple recompile (as may have previously been the case between the XBox and the PC), they will take quite a bit of reworking. The PC could very well possibly run into the same problems the Macintosh has run into with regard to game porting where it may take months to see an XBox 360 title ported to the PC.
Microsoft would much prefer to have people buy an XBox 360 and lots of titles than a PC and lots of titles since in the latter case Microsoft will, at best, get paid for a copy of Windows XP whereas in the former case they'll rack up royalties for every game sold, be they 1st or 3rd party titles. Piracy is a lot more rampant on PCs and may also drive more developers to consoles over the PC.
It seems as though the main advantage that the PC had over consoles was that its superior graphics. Now that that's out of the equation, what advantage does the PC have over consoles? Sure some genres, especially real-time strategy and first-person shooters are better played with mouse and keyboard, but with the PS3 including 70,000 USB ports, even that doesn't seem to be an issue any more.