By the late 1970s to early 1980s, games were developed and distributed through hobbyist groups and gaming magazines, such as Creative Computing and later Computer Gaming World. As 3D graphics libraries such as DirectX and OpenGL matured and knocked proprietary interfaces out of the market, these platforms gained greater acceptance in the market, particularly with their demonstrated benefits in games such as Unreal. However, major changes to the Microsoft Windows operating system, by then the market leader, made many older DOS-based games unplayable on Windows NT, and later, Windows XP (without using an emulator, such as DOSbox). First sold in 1977, Microchess eventually sold over 50,000 copies on cassette tape. Computer games, however, did not disappear. More than a third of games sold in North America were for the PC, twice as many as those for the Apple II and even outselling those for the Commodore 64.
A Mindscape executive agreed, saying that "Unfortunately, its effect has been extremely negative. Their defining characteristics include a lack of any centralized controlling authority, a greater degree of user control over the video-gaming hardware and software used and a generally greater capacity in input, processing, and output. By 1989 Computer Gaming World reported that "the industry is moving toward heavy use of VGA graphics". While some games were advertised with VGA support at the start of the year, they usually supported EGA graphics through VGA cards.
By 1990 DOS comprised 65% of the computer-game market, with the Amiga at 10%; all other computers, including the Apple Macintosh, were below 10% and declining. Another pioneer computer game was developed in 1961, when MIT students Martin Graetz and Alan Kotok, with MIT student Steve Russell, developed Spacewar! on a PDP-1 mainframe computer used for statistical calculations. The CD-ROM had much larger storage capacity than floppies, helped reduce software piracy, and was less expensive to produce. Experts were unsure whether it affected 16-bit computer games, but Hawkins in 1990 nonetheless had to deny rumors that Electronic Arts would withdraw from computers and only produce console games. By 1993 ASCII Entertainment reported at a Software Publishing Association conference that the market for console games ($5.9 billion in revenue) was 12 times that of the computer-game market ($430 million). By 1987 the PC market was growing so quickly that the formerly business-only computer had become the largest and most important platform for computer game companies. Without question, Nintendo's success has eroded software sales. As with second-generation video game consoles at the time, early home computer game companies capitalized on successful arcade games at the time with ports or clones of popular arcade games. By 1982, the top-selling games for the Atari 400 were ports of Frogger and Centipede, while the top-selling game for the Texas Instruments TI-99/4A was the Space Invaders clone TI Invaders. That same year, Pac-Man was ported to the Atari 800, while Donkey Kong was licensed for the Coleco Adam. In late 1981, Atari attempted to take legal action against unauthorized clones, particularly Pac-Man clones, despite some of these predating Atari's exclusive rights to the home versions of Namco's game. 51% of IBM or compatible had 386 or faster CPUs. By 1992 DOS games such as Links supported Super VGA graphics. While leading Sega and Nintendo console systems kept their CPU speed at 3–7 MHz, the 486 PC processor ran much faster, allowing it to perform many more calculations per second. Consumers began purchasing DOS computers for the home in large numbers.