Of course, there are still all the doom and gloom merchants who will tell you that the PC's days as a major games machine are numbered. Influential US games analyst, Michael Pachter, has described the PC games market as "a niche", and while market figures worldwide have shown a bounce back in 2007, revenues in the UK retail market are still shrinking year by year. Even key developers have been known to have doubts about the format. For every Gabe Newell (Valve) who defends the PC as the leading game platform, there is a Mark Rein (Epic) who argues that the Publisher's prioritisation of console platforms and the limited user-base for DirectX 10 hardware will prevent the PC from taking the graphics lead it should theoretically develop.
All the same, there's every reason to be confident that you're not buying into a dying format. For one thing, those shrinking retail figures ignore the blooming market for digital downloads over services like Steam, GameTap and Metaboli. For another, let's not forget that there is already a huge, installed user-base of PC owners out there. Don't forget there are over nine million people out there paying a monthly subscription to play one game alone - World of Warcraft. Not all of those people will be prepared to upgrade systems in the next twelve months, but the PC gaming audience is larger than it's often thought.
In the end, of course, it all comes down to games - and here the PC is in a stronger position than it has been for years. Even discounting the many triple-A titles that will be launching on console and PC in the next six months - Alan Wake, Unreal Tournament III, for example - the PC has some hot exclusives all of its own. If you need more reasons to get into PC gaming or give your system an upgrade, we've got five that should help you make up your mind.