People have been saying that since the PSone and probably before. The PS3 & 360 combined have ~50 million sales total (according to wikipedia). Not accounting for the dead 360s people have replaced. This is *nothing* (1/30th) compared to the number of pcs on the net. Infact counting piracy on MW2 *alone* more than dwarfs all consoles combined. The PC market is massive in comparison (but a huge percentage are pirates). Infact the PSone sold 4-5x the amount of consoles both the 360 and the PS3 have sold combined in the same amount of time. Consoles are declining. This is available on wiki and also many other places, official sales figures etc.
There is a lot of hype about PC gaming "dying". As there was about specific machines for specific tasks in the past - then x86 and the IBM pc came along and equalled or bettered everything else at the same time. The only problem with PC gaming is piracy and when digital download platforms (aka steam, games for windows, impulse, direct2drive, ea direct) etc take over this will be significantly more difficult. None of the digital distribution services are counted in sales figures - only retail sales are counted which make up all console sales but only some pc sales.
The other thing to consider is they aren't directly a replacement for eachother. Consoles are a passive lounge experience, pc gaming is an active experience. You also still cant play many types of games on the console effectively for example:
- Starcraft - biggest game in history,
- Dawn of war,
- Age of empires,
- Sim City,
- The Sims
- sins of a solar empire
- ARMA II
- Flight simulator
and many other examples.
The cost arguement. PCs cost more? Sure, but there are several issues here:
1) The price is continually falling (I remember when £1000 wouldn't get a good pc. I can build a fast PC for half that now)
2) Consoles are getting more expensive every generation (See PSone, PS2, PS3. Xbox, Xbox 360).
3) Everyone has a PC *already*. Everyone needs a PC - I need a fast PC for work. I need the internet for personal and work use. No one needs a console, a console is a purchase in addition to a PC - this is far more expensive.. A reasonable graphics card is cheap.
4) Console games are more expensive.
5) Most games are available on the PC anyway.
For these reasons the PC market will always be bigger - Infact it has grown much faster than ever and the console market has shrunk. The challenge is tapping the PC market effectively, Piracy is the big issue, game design needs to change. Single player is the past, development studios need to realise this. It is about the social experience now - this is where you make money. The companies that realise this already (Blizzard for example) are already richer than their wildest dreams.
On the PC you can plug in a controller and it can do everything your console can and more, faster, better looking etc. Another thing to consider is World of Warcraft. They make well over a billion a year in subscriptions. This is tremendous. With this pay to play model they have established people are pirating the more traditional game types and only paying for MMOs - this is another pc only issue (but mmos are coming to consoles soon too so this should be interesting to watch the dynamic change there too)
The PC as a platform has the same weaknesses Linux has in this regard.....fragmentation. A thousand different copy protection systems (most of which dont work), a thousand different means of distribution (most of which suck and none are counted in sales figures) but these are quickly consolidating now.
Also consoles are becoming more like PCs (remember when you didnt have to install games on consoles? me too....). I also happen to know from a friend who is working on a major 360 title that future games on microsoft consoles at least (and I believe the industry as a whole) will start requiring CD keys as well. Yep, now you can have all the downsides of PC gaming in your living room - but with worse controls, worse graphics and a worse distribution system (can't buy full games, only mini games) :/ Just wait, once the fight over the distribution platform is won the rest will fall into place easily.