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The question came randomly and I think it will really help to know from everyone's experience.

It all started from this article on gamedev.net http://www.gamedev.net/reference/programming/features/x64ErrCol/ and then I saw a couple of more tweets embracing the 64-bit architectures.

So to you what is today's target platform and what important advantages does it have?

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Your target platform should be whatever the people you want to play your game, own.

There's no point targeting high-end PCs if you're making a game for the kinds of people that are happy with their ancient P4 running W2K.

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Indeed. The question can only be answered with a question. "What is your target audience?" –  Kaj Aug 11 '10 at 4:57
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Check out Valve's Hardware Survey. It will tell you most of what you will need to know about the PC game market at least

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Whilst I agree that is a superb resource, it is only so-called "hardcore" gamers. It totally misses out (eg) the millions of people who play Solitaire on their work lap-top and the market that PopCap aim at. –  PhillC Aug 10 '10 at 13:24
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Well, these are the only gamers that play games that require any kind of good hardware. Most casual games are quite lightweight, and could safely assume that any cheap consumer laptop on the marked could cope with it. –  Nailer Aug 11 '10 at 7:41
    
Actually, I see lots of people marketing at "casual" making the mistake of using D3D or OpenGL... Several machines (more than people expect) use utterly crap GPUs (like, OpenGL 1.0 GPU for example, or not even that), or they don't come with good drivers (or both). –  speeder Dec 8 '10 at 4:12
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The genre that the entire game industry seems to be most "atwitter" over is the casual games market. I think it's largely due to the success of games like Bejeweled and Peggle, combined with all the Facebook games and recognizing that the audience of Facebook games are people with a lot of time on their hands but very little desire to play a typical hard core or skills-based game.

If you acknowledge that the casual games genre is the popular one today, then it follows that "today's target platform" is the browser. Flash is still extremely popular, Java applets not so much, and some Facebook games can be simple HTML.

Browser games are typically the most compatible and require zero installation for users (given the user has the Flash plugin in the case of Flash games). They're not terribly difficult to write from a game developer's standpoint, since you can often avoid the game loop (especially, again, in the casual game genre) and simply respond to user input, like a traditional business app. And with upcoming technologies like HTML5 and WebGL, they can still have decent graphics and other capabilities.

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I wonder if WebGL should pay royalties to Laszlo. openlaszlo.org They've had that same paradigm (canvas, etc.) since 2005 if not earlier. I'm semi-kidding about the royalties. :-) –  JustBoo Aug 10 '10 at 16:29
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64-bit architectures are great if you have a game that can take advantage of 64-bit architectures. If your budget doesn't have at least eight figures you probably don't have that game.

Target the system that makes the most sense for your game. That's probably a 32-bit build, and if it isn't, you likely already know it isn't.

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There's a related post on 64-bit architectures as a target platform here: gamedev.stackexchange.com/questions/769/… The consensus seems to be that it's not really worth it. –  Tetrad Aug 11 '10 at 16:26
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Today's target platform is... all of them! Or at least several of them.

If you're making games commercially... you really want support as many platforms (and therefore as many potential customers) as possible/practical given the requirements of the game.

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My target platforms are Facebook, Flash, the browser generally, also Windows PCs, Macs, and Linux, and that's just for one project. The physical hardware is next to irrelevant for me.

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I think of the marget as segmented into a few tiers. At one end, you have the browser and smartphone market, which would be Flash, iOS, and Android. These involve a small target group of hardware, and typically provide one or few central locations where your content will be placed. (Flash can go anywhere, but there are some major hubs that are a good target for flash games)

Next up is the casual/indie market, which bleeds a little bit into the smartphone market, but in addition adds Xbox Live / XNA, Playstation Network, Unity 3d, and Steam for PC. While Steam is not exactly a platform, it is a fully featured service that feels fairly close to Xbox live in terms of digital distribution and user accounts. These are also singular 'shops' where all associated content for the platform can be found, thus making it easier for someone to find your game. Unity gives you the ability to distribute across a wide range of platforms, including the PC, the browser, iPhone, and Android.

Finally you have the AAA traditional game platforms which consists of PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, and the PC. These are the hardest to target and most likely involve larger budgets and contracts. Also designing a non-casual PC game complicates matters as you have many hardware targets you want your game to run on.

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A 1 GHz Pentium III with 512 MB ram and a GeForce FX 5200. If the game runs reasonably on this platform then it should run smoothly on almost every PC in the wild.

It's easy to add in optional graphical effects, high resolution textures and so on that users with better computers can enable, it's not so easy to get a game already designed for high end PCs running reasonably on lesser hardware.

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