The History of Computer Gaming
Unlike home consoles, which found immediate success in the market, it wasn't nearly the same meteoric rise to success for personal computers. Computers of the day were fraught with challenges that weren't present on home consoles. Games often came on giant boxes full of floppy disks and took ages to install. Then there was the fact that you computers simply weren't as intuitive and streamlined as they are today, and you had to know your way around a command prompt to get anything accomplished.
Still, several computers during this time became prominent gaming machines, including the Apple 2, the Commodore 64, and the Amiga, and some of the most notable games of the 1980's and early 1990's could only be found on PC's (at least at the time); from Fallout and Prince of Persia, to The Elder Scrolls and Microsoft Flight Simulator.
By the middle of the 1990's and the dawn of the internet era, computers were becoming more relevant to the mainstream and with more computers taking up residence in homes, game developers had larger customer bases for PC games. Still, the PC games industry was lagging behind the console business in revenue, and were still faced with the challenge of bugs and incompatibility. Game variety was also lacking for the most part, as PC game developers largely stuck to RPG's, real-time strategy games, simulations, and point-and-click adventures. Myst was the top selling PC game of all time at the end of the century, though it would be surpassed by The Sims early in the new one.
With the internet now in full flight, online games were gaining in popularity, with EverQuest being one of the first to achieve mass market success with over 3 million copies sold (since bested by only Guild Wars and World of Warcraft as far as online games). However PC game sales continued to decline throughout the 2000's, falling below $1 billion in 2005 (though those figures did not include online purchases or micro transactions, which were already becoming more prevalent purchasing options). Pirating was also becoming a serious concern, and is credited with driving many developers away from PC game development and to consoles.
Yet despite the many assertions over the years that PC gaming was dead, it is actually generating more revenue now than ever before. And despite worries over piracy, it is home to some of the top-selling games of all-time, including The Sims and its two sequels, Half-Life 2, StarCraft, Battlefield 2, and Diablo 3. While consoles are likely the premier place to play single-player games, PC's continue to offer gamers a lot of options in what they can play, and many experiences that simply aren't available on home consoles.