I've been wondering about this for the longest time... will soundcards even be necessary soon?

From ExtremeTech.com:

If computer games can be said to have come of age in any particular time period, it must be the late 1980s and early 1990s. Hardware had advanced to a point where artists' visions could be more realistically rendered onscreen, and the proliferation of first 3.5-inch floppies and soon after CDs would give programmers more space than they ever dreamed of to make their ideas a reality. But if one year could be said to be the most transformative, the most magical, it would have to be 1988.

That was the year when, with Sierra On-Line's release of King's Quest IV: The Perils of Rosella, PC games finally became able to treat your ears like important parts of the body. With creativity and time, a designer had long been able to fashion decent-looking (if often improvisatory) images, but—on the PC, anyway—beeps and boops were forever the lay of the aural land. But if you had the right additional hardware, you could fire up King's Quest IV to the sound of true fanfare: horns, harps, and drums playing music (by Emmy-nominated composer William Goldstein) that sounded truly majestic.

Read more here:
http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0,2845,2363879,00.asp