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PC Games (Games)

The Imagined Future of PC Games 134

Posted by Zonk
from the year-two-thousaaaand dept.
PC Gamer has up a five-part series prognosticating the future of PC gaming. (part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5) Graham Smith, Kieron Gillen, and a few other PC games folks make some big-picture predictions about where console gaming's aging sibling is headed. Some of their predictions are fairly safe ("6. The mouse won't die, and graphics cards will get more powerful."), but others may be a bit contentious: "4. Steam and similar services will crush PC piracy. There's been a lot of talk from developers - old rivals id and Epic chief among them - about piracy making it harder for them to justify developing PC-only games. There's so little profit in it, apparently, that the poor fellows are left with no choice but to stray from their beloved home-platform and develop for consoles too. And yet the only games out there with a zero percent piracy ratio are all PC-only: MMOGs. They have a headstart in the anti-piracy crusade: connecting to a central server is an integral part of the game, so verifying that the user's CD key is unique can be done without much fuss. And no one's going to complain that a MMOG requires an internet connection; that's pretty obvious from the concept itself."
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The Imagined Future of PC Games

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  • by Maradine (194191) * on Monday April 02, 2007 @07:10PM (#18580575) Homepage
    And yet the only games out there with a zero percent piracy ratio are all PC-only: MMOGs. They have a headstart in the anti-piracy crusade: connecting to a central server is an integral part of the game, so verifying that the user's CD key is unique can be done without much fuss.

    Not all MMO's have been PC-only (and of those, there has been piracy, PSO anyone?). Further, I'd argue that connecting to a central server with a CD key is not proof against piracy. Finally, the primary financial outlay surrounding an MMO is purchased time, not software.

    Don't get me wrong, the pressures facing the PC side of the industry are very real. But if we're talking about means-to-profit, piracy is not the main threat that the MMO's face by a long shot. As with many things, the fulcrum is much lower elsewhere . . . account phishing and gold farming are by-and-large the most profitable way to attack the system.

    I'm also very curious about the implied assertion that game piracy has been licked in the console world.

    M
    • Not all MMO's have been PC-only

      Exactly. WoW is PC and Mac. Spore will run on Wii, DS, and PC - altho it's a bit of a Massively Multi-Instance Multi-Player Online-Library Game.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by anduz (1027854)
      We just want to see another game like X-COM. And hopefully we will with http://www.ufo-extraterrestrials.com/ [ufo-extrat...trials.com] - yeah it's an add and I feel dirty, but you'd think that someone talking about wanting a spiritual sequal to the x-com series would at least bother to do a quick google search before publishing the article. :P
    • by paeanblack (191171) on Monday April 02, 2007 @08:04PM (#18581141)
      Further, I'd argue that connecting to a central server with a CD key is not proof against piracy.

      It's not about "connecting to a central server" that fights piracy, it's changing the payment scheme to a method that gives both parties an incentive to play fair. I think a pay-to-play scheme will win in the long run on simple economic efficiency.

      Option A) Player pays full fare up-front for a bug-ridden game and assumes developer will release patches in the future.
      Option B) Player pirates enhanced version (no DRM) and developer holds their breath awaiting payment for inferior copy.
      Option C) Player and developer engage in ongoing tit-for-tat, exchanging partial payments for patches and additional content.

      The first two options both have several variants and variables, such as demos, brand reputation, extra box goodies, lawsuits, delayed purchases, etc., but all of those will either increase cost-of-entry or decrease market efficiency. In both of the first two cases, one party must pay extra to counterbalance the incentive for the other party to shirk, a perverse incentive inherent in the payment schemes.

      With option C, the player provides a constant revenue stream for as long as they are interested in the game. The developer uses that revenue to maintain player interest as long as it is profitable. This has occurred historically with expansion packs to games, but it was not until widespread broadband availability that the system was sufficiently fluid to handle small incremental tits-and-tats with efficiency. XBox Live has really pushed forward in this direction with their point system.

      The only thing special about MMORPGs and low piracy is that they fall more naturally into Option C, where there is less economic incentive for piracy.
    • What we really need are patches that check the validity of a given CD-key at installation. I think Stardock uses a similar model for their products and it *does* help.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Lonewolf666 (259450)

      Not all MMO's have been PC-only (and of those, there has been piracy, PSO anyone?). Further, I'd argue that connecting to a central server with a CD key is not proof against piracy. Finally, the primary financial outlay surrounding an MMO is purchased time, not software.

      I agree about the primary financial outlay, and I think games like EVE Online are doing the smart thing by allowing free download of the client, free trial period and eliminating box sales altogether.

      This way, you can check if you like the g

  • If you're playing a MMO than you're wanting to be playing online. Paying for a game that you're playing alone and it still requires a high speed internet connection is just asinine. All they'll do in the long run is push more folks to consoles where they don't have to put up with that.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Baldrake (776287)
      I'd much prefer an online check to the current situation of having to keep track of and swap CD's all the time.
      • I'd much prefer an online check to the current situation of having to keep track of and swap CD's all the time.
        Do many ISPs have a month-to-month plan, or do they all need a 12-month commitment? It would suck to be home from university for the summer, without access to high-speed Internet, and lose access to all your games for three months.
      • by ultranova (717540)

        I'd much prefer an online check to the current situation of having to keep track of and swap CD's all the time.

        I don't. I don't want Brutal Violence to stop working just because the company that made it goes banckrupt or decides to boost sales for Brutal Violence 2. Besides, most games have CD check removal patches available, sometimes from the manufacturer himself (Neverwinter Nights, for example).

        I can say for sure that I'll never purchase a game that requires an online check unless it's either an o

    • by wilgibson (933961)

      Paying for a game that you're playing alone and it still requires a high speed internet connection is just asinine.

      I totally agree. I bought Phantasy Star Universe shortly after it came out cause I wanted to play the offline story mode, I could care less about the online portion. But, it uses game gaurd. Forget that it has no CD keys... it uses game gaurd. Not just on the online portion, but on the offline portion! Ugh! So when I want to play the single-player story mode, if my connection is down I c

  • As much as I think people will not be fond of services like Steam (Comeone, they're pissed enough when people start DRMing their music service, what happens with the games?) I think services like this will probably be the future of gaming. And look on the bright side. Such services might improve online games with otherwise few players. =P
    • There is a fundamental difference between games and music: I can play an mp3 on absolutely any device that decides to support it, on any software I feel like writing for it. There is no technological reason for me not to -- ultimately, music and video is just data, so there is no reasonable reason it shouldn't work anywhere. Same with text, for that matter -- no website should be Flash, because every website should work on any browser, and there's rarely a technical reason for them not to.

      Games have yet to
  • So, is me and a mate sharing an account considered priracy? It's not like you're restricted to one character. I know at least a few MMOs that don't even prohibit simultanious logins..

    Almost all MMOs that require a boxed product don't do any "CD Key" checking.. it's all based on the account.
    • Depending on the MMO, maybe yes, maybe no. If it does prohibit simultaneous logins, then as a developer, I wouldn't care (although I might limit you to a number of characters...) Multiple accounts means you have to pay for them, although more than one account per person can be used to evade bans, I suppose.

      Now, if you're sharing a character, I'd call that cheating, because the two of you can tag team to level that char much faster than any one person. It's also annoying for others in the game, to not know w
  • by vertigoCiel (1070374) on Monday April 02, 2007 @07:19PM (#18580683)
    I am reminded of Douglas Adam's Electronic Thumb from HHTTG: half the electrical engineers in the galaxy are working on fresh ways of jamming the signals, and the other half are working on fresh ways to jam the jamming signals. There are ways to get around CD-key authorization besides using someone elses - I believe that people have already found a way to disable the Registration request in the Adobe CS3 beta, by deleting the file that reminds CS3 it still needs a registration number. Piracy is only realy a wide-spread problem after games are succesful enough to be widely pirated - otherwise it's too hard for the average user to find a pirated copy. By this point, the game has made enough revenue to be profitable. It's just the publisher's constant desire for insane profits that forces devs to move to consoles.
    • by Osty (16825) on Monday April 02, 2007 @07:29PM (#18580801)

      Piracy is only realy a wide-spread problem after games are succesful enough to be widely pirated - otherwise it's too hard for the average user to find a pirated copy. By this point, the game has made enough revenue to be profitable.

      Unless you're id, Epic, or other big-name developers and publishers, in which case your reputation in the market is enough for people to pirate your game on day one (or day zero, even), robbing you of that profitable "build-up to success".

      IMHO, the solution is not to keep fighting fire with fire. Instead, it's to get into a different game. MMOs are one example. Another example would be similar to what Stardock does. When you buy Galactic Civilizations 2, there is no DRM at all. Instead, you get a serial number that entitles you to game updates. This wouldn't work at all for a typical EA game ("punt it out the door and start working on next year's version"), but it works great for smaller developers with a loyal fanbase. The game of GalCiv2 as it stands today is quite a bit different from how it shipped about a year ago, but if you pirate the game you would not have access to any of those game updates. Also, I'm not talking about intentionally leaving in bugs or any of that crap. You ship as good of a game as you can, and then you support it through its lifetime with feature enhancements (GalCiv2 AI or ship builder enhancements, for example).

      • GalCiv2 is a good example, but I must admit that it is still possible to get around the need for a CD key to get the updates. I was able to play a pirated version for quite some time before I bought the game outright. Of course, it was always my intention to buy the game, but I really wanted to play it before I had the cash to spare, and. . . well, we all know the story. Of course, the fact that I really wanted to reward Stardock for their efforts to do well by their customers may still prove your point.
      • When you buy Galactic Civilizations 2, there is no DRM at all. Instead, you get a serial number that entitles you to game updates.

        How does that work? I would have thought that if you know where to acquire a pirated version of the initial game, you could also get a pirated version of the update the same way. Are you just depending on the pirates to not redistribute the update?
        • You can download the GalCiv II updates even without a serial, but when you update the game, it changes so that the serial is required to launch the game. And there are very few games that are popular enough that the patches released to them are cracked, usually only the launch version gets a crack.
  • Pretty much all online play and MMORPGs are piracy proof if they take the current model of CD key needed to access online servers, this is just as true for FPS and RTS as it is for MMORPG.

    Quake3/4, battlefield, CS (steam), C&C Generals, Warcraft, etc.. all need valid CD keys to play online... the only way to pirate these games are their single player counter points.

    The biggest problem I see that develops from an online model is the one of cheating.. where there ISN'T a definitive way to stop people from
    • by QuantumG (50515)
      I used to think there was no way to fix cheating.. then I realised that, once again, we're trying to solve a social problem with a technical solution. So I thought about it from a social perspective.

      Imagine you're playing a FPS on a commercial server. You're actually paying money for this experience. Someone keeps headshotting you. They seem to never miss. It's really pissing you off, so what do you do? For most games the answer is: go play on another server, but what if there was an alternative? Wha
      • So much for competitive gaming, huh? Banning players for being good. That's just stupid. If you cannot prove he is cheating, then you cannot ban him. Burden of proof lies on the accuser.

        In the fighting game community, the best player is the winner. In the fps community, the best player gets kicked....
        • by QuantumG (50515)
          "being good" or "cheating" he is ruining the game for other players. The company has a duty to provide the best experience to the majority of their customers, not find the guy with the best head shot skills. Sometimes "playing fair" means letting other people win too. It's supposed to be fun.
          • How is forcing yourself to play at a sub-par level fun? If I buy the game and I'm good at it, I would be PISSED if they banned me for "cheating." If you want to play against people who aren't as good, play against bots or find some new servers.
            • by QuantumG (50515)
              Or, ya know, you could find a server with harder players instead of just beating up on people who are not as good as you. Conceivably, the server software could detect when someone is significantly better than the other players and shuffle them off to a server with more advanced people.. but you'd probably complain about that too.
              • by 4D6963 (933028)
                That's a pretty interesting idea actually, like an inter-server balancing, so you could keep servers for people with a low level of skills. Only problem is, how to decide which server to send the good player to? Maybe by running many instances of the same server for different levels of skills..
              • by cliffski (65094)
                I think if you are good at a game, you almost have a duty to help balance the fun. if my COD2 team is winning CTF 6-0, then I always swap teams to help out the side losing, I dont really care what the final score was, or how I do, but its just to cool to play a pitch battle right up to the last second, where it can go either way.
                I never understand those kids who will pull of the same move, the same run, time and time again, to rack up points, without any regard for the fact that nobody else on that server i
                • "I think if you are good at a game, you almost have a duty to help balance the fun. if my COD2 team is winning CTF 6-0, then I always swap teams to help out the side losing"

                  This is the real solution to people who are not cheating, balance the players out to give everyone a chance, this is also the solution i think is best. There are mods that do this automatically.

                  The reason I think this is best (from personal experience) is that if you remove all of the good players from a server then the "bad" players wil
      • what I think would be more effective than your solution is, motivate through game mechanics...

        try this.. make in game rewards reactive based on ability...

        in WOW, when you are a few levels above another player, defeating them is pointless, there is no gain...

        now, take your headshot kills.. give them (headshot kills) their own 'level' when you can pot 99% of the players with a headshot, you 'skill level' in headshots rises to such an excessive level, that it just doesn't give you any benefit (other than a
        • by QuantumG (50515)
          Some players do stuff entirely to piss off other players. It doesn't matter if you don't give them any score for it. These are the so called "griefers".
          • "Some players do stuff entirely to piss off other players. It doesn't matter if you don't give them any score for it. These are the so called "griefers"."

            Some problems can only be solved by in game admins, unfortunately.
      • Most... retarded... idea... ever.

        You're essentially saying they should cater FPS's to people who suck. I used to play CS at very competetive levels, and I still like to play on public servers every once in while. I rarely get done playing before some one accuses me of cheating. Am I actaully cheating? Nope! And I know I'm not the only one. Almost all the teams I've played were full of people who would get accused cheating if they played on public servers. The truth is that people most people who make
        • by QuantumG (50515)
          My friend is really good a volleyball. He's a national champion. Every now and then he suggests we go down to the beach and have a game. It's a lot of fun. One thing he never does with us is spike the ball over the net like he does when he's playing competitively. When he serves, he does it nice and easy and doesn't pick on the one person who always misses the serve, like he would do in a competitive game. He reserves his "A game" for the competition.

          Why should online gaming be any different?
          • Why should online gaming be any different?

            First of all, your friend isn't pulled off the volleyball court if he tries too hard. Second of all, in gaming you have hundreds if not other "volleyball courts" that you can join if your friend is being too tough on you. Third of all, volley ball is a sport where people can get hurt (bloody noses) if he spikes the ball into someones face. Fourth of all, he is the one that asked every one to play with HIM. It's in is best interest to keep everyone happy or they won't ever play with him again.

            Face it du

            • by QuantumG (50515)
              If my friend was to play at his maximum ability, we'd all go home. We'd say "thanks a lot of asking us to come play with you then trouncing us, does it make you feel like a big man?"

              Similarly, if you wanna play with people who don't mind being head shot every 15 seconds, you should go find some players at the same level as you or you should tone down your play.

              I don't think I can make this any clearer.
              • Did you not even read my post? Your volleyball friend example has nothing to do with video games. You are making it totally clear, but it's still a retarded idea.

                There are already individual servers that have admins that ban players for being too good. Some of them even have "complaint" systems (a.k.a forums). Why does it have to be a global thing? Instead of players like me getting banned from individual servers, I get banned from the whole game for doing nothing wrong? Bah, if you can't get why you
      • by brkello (642429)
        So you want to punish the good players who are doing nothing wrong because you suck. Brilliant!

        Let's take this in to the real world. You work real hard and become an expert in your field. Your company starts giving you raises that are higher that other people because you do more work and you do it well. But other people complain that you are working too hard and making too much money. They then threaten to fire you if you keep working beyond the ability of the other people because it ruining their wor
  • by p0tat03 (985078) on Monday April 02, 2007 @07:33PM (#18580837)

    I used to be a huge critic of Steam and its related services, but I've warmed up to the idea over time.

    As a softdev (and a small-time indie game dev) I have a hard time justifying piracy, and since I've made the moral choice to buy the software I use, it's hit my pocketbooks pretty hard, but it's a decision I am glad to live with. Most of my colleagues are not so conscious, I'm afraid, and most would buy a PC game if it's CD-key locked and the game was all about multiplayer (CS, BF2, etc), but almost none would ever buy a singleplayer game.

    In other words, the concept that developers should just intrinsically *trust* the gamer to be moral and buy the game is hogwash. There may be a number of gamers like myself who strive to pirate as little as possible (if at all), but the majority of the world isn't so dev-friendly. I welcome (legal and reasonable) ways to protect developer content.

    Additionally, I'm also a huge singleplayer gamer. I loved games like Deus Ex, Half-Life, and the new C&C3, which I bought mostly for the campaign mode (and it is excellent, btw). Many developers are eschewing singleplayer games in favour of multiplayer-only games, due to the fact that the multiplayer-ness easily lends itself to better piracy protection. This leaves gamers like me out in the cold. It is also why I believe, despite the evils of the technology, we must live with it if we are to see more singleplayer content being developed in this world.

    Just my 2c.

    • by daeg (828071)
      I just hope that Steam-like services don't have terrible interfaces.

      StarDock is one such interface. It is so horribly designed. I have to update Galactic Civilizations II through it, and I loathe starting it. It takes more than a few seconds to load. All I want to do is update my game.

      The nice thing is that Galactic Civilizations II has no DRM or CD verification or anything. In response to you, GC2 is mainly single player (with single player upload to the servers to have "multiplayer", e.g., your stats are
    • by Agret (752467)

      I used to be a huge critic of Steam and its related services, but I've warmed up to the idea over time.

      I think the idea of Steam is great but the execution is poor. Steam is a resource hog and takes ages to do anything. Yesterday I was playing Counter-Strike 1.6 and I was getting huge FPS drops so I opened task manager and Steam.exe was using 40% of my CPU for some reason. It's an annoying bloated background service you have to put up with to run your games.

      Steam is also not cross-platform(yet? one could hope..), although they have some titles on there that could release native Linux binaries they're not

      • The Source engine is DirectX only. Steam uses Internet Explorer -- I believe for large chunks of the interface, and also for the MOTD on CS:Source servers.

        There are titles on there that do have native Linux binaries -- Darwinia, for instance, has a Steam release, but you can also buy it from their website, which gives you 3 downloads each, completely un-DRM'd, of the Windows and Linux versions (Mac version is published by a third-party shop that did the port).

        Personally, I'd like to re-implement Steam, but
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Agret (752467)

          The Source engine is DirectX only. Steam uses Internet Explorer -- I believe for large chunks of the interface, and also for the MOTD on CS:Source servers.

          So? Valve is a publisher & Steam is a distribution network, it's got nothing to do with the Source engine being DirectX.

          Valve can replace the Internet Explorer control with the Mozilla control for a linux port. CS:Source is irrelevant as it won't run on Linux natively anyway.

          There are titles on there that do have native Linux binaries -- Darwinia, for instance, has a Steam release, but you can also buy it from their website, which gives you 3 downloads each, completely un-DRM'd, of the Windows and Linux versions (Mac version is published by a third-party shop that did the port).

          Exactly, the Linux version could be distributed through the Linux port of Steam....

          Personally, I'd like to re-implement Steam, but the way I want to do it is complete overkill, and not going to happen soon.

          Care to detail that at all?

          • by p0tat03 (985078)

            And why would they make Steam cross-platform? To support the massive gaming scene that's just bursting at the seams on Mac OSX? Or even more laughably, on Linux? It's an awful lot of effort to service so few consumers.

          • Valve can replace the Internet Explorer control with the Mozilla control for a linux port. CS:Source is irrelevant as it won't run on Linux natively anyway.

            This means they now have to test things against both IE and this Mozilla control. It's also likely a good deal less efficient.

            Cedega has done this, but that doesn't mean it's easy.

            Exactly, the Linux version could be distributed through the Linux port of Steam....

            Right, assuming they ever do such a port. I'm mentioning IE not because Steam cannot go c

      • by yoyhed (651244) on Tuesday April 03, 2007 @07:40AM (#18585661)
        I tend to think comments about Steam's "poor execution" reek of 2004, when it actually did suck and was in beta. I just started Steam, and it took all of 5 seconds, and now it's sitting in my tray using 3MB of RAM and 0% CPU.

        All you have to do is click the arrow on the upper-right to make it use the "old" interface, which is what I prefer anyway. Then set your Favorite Window to Games in Settings. Voila, every time you start Steam, it'll only go to the old-style games window, which is fast, and as you can see above, not resource intensive.

        I will admit every once in a great while it'll do an automatic update or something, which does use CPU. But I wouldn't call it a resource hog, unless you're still on a Pentium II with 256MB of RAM. I'm running an Athlon 64 4000+, which nowadays is in the $90 range on Newegg.
        • by Agret (752467)
          Interesting that you have a different Steam to me, i'm using the latest official Steam client. Takes about 10 seconds to start while uncapped, 5-10 minutes while capped (64kbps net sucks :P). It's currently using between 0% and 5% cpu & 40mb of ram. You're probably looking at the "Mem Usage" column to get your 3mb figure (mines 5mb with the main window closed, 15mb with it open), enable the "VM Size" column in task manager to get the true memory usage value.
          • by yoyhed (651244)
            Oh, I know the VM size is usually around 40mb, but the Mem Usage column is all that matters, as it's the physical memory being used. I have a 3gb page file in addition to my 2gb of RAM, so it's not a problem either way, especially since the 40mb that's probably in the pagefile isn't causing my hard drive to thrash or anything...

            I also wouldn't really blame Steam for that, lots of programs use a lot of VM but very little physical memory (Winamp 5 takes up about 40mb VM for me and 3mb physical when it's in th
    • Perhaps if games were not so expensive, we wouldn't get in trouble to find, download and install pirated games.

      Having to pay 60 euros for Half Life 2, for example, is unacceptable, in my opinion. If it was 20 euros, I wouldn't even consider the pirated version.

      If you think that the price of 20 euros is illogical, then you should consider that Valve spent 6 years rebuilding the game twice. Why should I have to pay for Valve's engineers having fun and not doing their jobs? Half Life 1 had more content and mor
      • by p0tat03 (985078)

        Oh yes, the classic "if things were cheaper..." argument :)

        If only cigarettes were cheaper, then I wouldn't have to rob the convenience store as often, wouldn't you agree? :D

        First off, HL2 is $30 USD on Steam. This I think is a reasonable price for the game. Furthermore, the mere presence of online distribution eliminates the publishing middleman, allowing us cheaper prices without damaging developer profitability. If HL2 lasts 30 hours, how do you object to paying $1 per hour for entertainment? Better

        • by master_p (608214)

          First off, HL2 is $30 USD on Steam

          Oh yeah? here is an example [pricegrabber.com] (first one choosen from google search!!!) which proves you wrong.

          Furthermore, the mere presence of online distribution eliminates the publishing middleman, allowing us cheaper prices without damaging developer profitability.

          I did not have an ADSL connection until recently, and I don't plan having my computer switched on and my network connection occupied for 5 days in order to download a game.

          If HL2 lasts 30 hours, how do you object to

    • This is the reason that I purchased a Cube, a DS:Lite (that my wife has now stolen) and a Wii. Good single player PC games are getting much harder to find. It's quite disappointing since I have a large back catalog of PC games that no longer run or run poorly. While Dosbox and windows compatibility mode fix some of the issues, it's still frustrating.
    • by PIPBoy3000 (619296) on Monday April 02, 2007 @08:40PM (#18581443)
      Not only bad, it may not be smart. Counterstrike was a fan-created mod which revolutionized the industry. Neverwinter Nights was great because so many people made modules for it. I think we'll see developers looking for ways to leverage user-created content. YouTube wouldn't be worth billions if no one uploaded anything to it.
      • yeah i'm sure rockstar will have wide open arms to mods in gta4
        • that mod just unlocked some thing that was left in the game next time they will likely remove all unused things in the game. Making anything like it 100% fan made.
    • Mods remaining free is crucial. Screw Microsoft and their business sense. Mods are about the only factor that keeps many old games alive to this day. When I beat a console game, I pretty much throw it away and forget about it. When I beat a PC game, I can always look forward to replaying it in a couple of years with all the mods installed, which grants me a completely new gameplay experience. If the mod tools really do go away, I will be very, very sorely disappointed.
  • by EnsilZah (575600) <EnsilZah@NospAM.Gmail.com> on Monday April 02, 2007 @08:26PM (#18581315)
    One thing they didn't mention and i think is going to be important is more malleable environments.
    I think this trend was mostly started by HL2's Gravgun, and we're going to see some significant advances in physics and materials in the next few years.
    The two best examples i can think of right now are the upcoming Crysis and Star Wars: Force Unleashed.
    Sure, attempts like Red Faction didn't do very well, but i think it's time.
    • by quanticle (843097)

      >>The two best examples i can think of right now are the upcoming Crysis and Star Wars: Force Unleashed.<<

      Also, don't forget Portal [wikipedia.org]. The entire point of that game is to modify your environment by opening portals (think wormholes) from point to point.

  • To quote the fortune teller from the Orson Wells film noir, "Touch of Evil":

    "You have no future; you're future is all used up."
  • They said WHAT!? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Aladrin (926209) on Monday April 02, 2007 @08:47PM (#18581491)
    Did they really say that DRM will save gaming on the PC? Are they insane?

    Let's be honest, here. Steam is simply DRM with some sugar stuffed around it to make people like it. And it's even broken, already. I've seen quite a few steam-rips out there.

    How in the world will an already-failed DRM save PC Gaming?

    No, instead, good GAMES are needed to save PC Gaming. Assuming it needs saving at all. Maybe the reason that gaming has been steadily moving back to consoles is because it works better there. The controls and basic interface are familiar, there's no worries about your particular brand of hardware working with the game, the DRM doesn't often bite you, etc. With the exception of a few games that really do play better with mouse and keyboard, consoles have PCs beat. And they are cheaper. Even if you buy them all.

    A couple years ago, I'd have laughed in your face if you said I'd prefer console gaming now. But with power of the XBox 360 (and PS3, theoretically... wish they'd go ahead and make a good game for it) and the innovative interface of the Wii, I rarely game on the PC now. Enough so that I am back using Kubuntu as my main OS because I rarely feel the need to be in Windows.
    • by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Monday April 02, 2007 @09:32PM (#18581815) Journal
      Being able to impulse-buy a game and have it playable either in a few minutes or in a day or so is a huge deal. Also isn't bad getting periodic updates (HDR for Half-Life 2 and CS:S).

      As for DRM biting you... I've lost, scratched, and otherwise killed game discs, and on a console, that's it, no more game for you. On Steam, just re-download and reinstall -- or burn a backup DVD, or whatever.

      I don't like the DRM either, and I won't make excuses for that -- technologically, it sucks, too, as does anything that requires IE to play a game. But it is actually a good idea, and it works very well.
      • by Agret (752467)

        Being able to impulse-buy a game and have it playable either in a few minutes or in a day or so is a huge deal. Also isn't bad getting periodic updates (HDR for Half-Life 2 and CS:S).

        I don't like how updates are forced on you though, you can't play any of your games unless they are completely up to date which is a problem for people on slower internet. Also, I don't want some updates. Just recently Valve have rolled out in-game advertising in Counter-Strike 1.6, along with the ads comes more FPS lag and the ads don't even attempt to be non-intrusive. There is a huge ad right above the scoreboard and they just stuck the in-game ads randomly on level walls, not even on a billboard. For

        • by tlhIngan (30335)

          I don't like how updates are forced on you though, you can't play any of your games unless they are completely up to date which is a problem for people on slower internet. Also, I don't want some updates. Just recently Valve have rolled out in-game advertising in Counter-Strike 1.6, along with the ads comes more FPS lag and the ads don't even attempt to be non-intrusive. There is a huge ad right above the scoreboard and they just stuck the in-game ads randomly on level walls, not even on a billboard. For a

    • With the exception of a few games that really do play better with mouse and keyboard, consoles have PCs beat. And they are cheaper. Even if you buy them all.

      What about games by microstudios, which the console makers have historically ignored for the last couple decades? Among the current consoles (PS2, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii), only the PLAYSTATION 3 is open enough out of the box to let a microstudio self-publish, and a self-published game runs under Linux with no access to even 2D acceleration.

    • I gotta disagree with you on a couple of points.

      First, I'd say the interface is more familiar on the PC. The interface hardware pretty much never changes, and even the typical command button mapping is pretty uniform across titles in a genre (e.g., most FPS have similar WASD setups, even to the point where common weapons like shotguns are frequently mapped to the same number across titles).

      Second, it's not just a few games that play better on the PC, it's several genres. Strategy games (both RTS and non)
      • okay, but how do you "know" that RTS's and strategy titles are "unplayable" on a console. Are you absolutely 100% sure that the interfaces couldn't be changed to work on a console controller?

        Third, they're not always cheaper. Most of us need a computer for something or another, so if your main box doubles as your gaming box, the appropriate way to look at it is how much more you spent on the gaming box than what you would have needed. If all you do is word process and surf the Internet, you can get by grea

        • I've played the few attempts at console RTSs, and they're pretty awful for a few reasons: After the first several times you play an RTS, you learn build hotkeys. Not enough buttons on a console to pull this off (which is the same problem as a console has with Tactical FPSs). The cursors from a joystick are too inaccurate and too slow to be effective (which is the universal problem for most PC gamers who also console game). RTS games require speed in selection and moving about the battlefield. Both they
      • by grumbel (592662)
        ### Tactical FPSs like the Rainbow Six and Ghost Recon series are heavily dumbed down when they're ported to consoles.

        Operation Flashpoint played perfectly fine on the XBox and was a very authentic adoption of the PC original. I can't deny that games are often dumped down on consoles, but thats mostly due to the target audience (or whatever the publisher thinks it is), not due to the controller.

        The only genre where I could see a console having a real problems are flight simulators, with something like Falco
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by LarsWestergren (9033)
      Did they really say that DRM will save gaming on the PC? Are they insane? Let's be honest, here. Steam is simply DRM with some sugar stuffed around it to make people like it.

      In stores, they usually only stock a few titles, the most popular ones. Short shelf life means developers bet on safe cards, which means (in my opinion) boring games. If developers can sell online (not necessarily through Steam) they can reach a bigger market cheaper, and consumers can get games later. I personally have bough Psychonau
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by autocrawler (1004066)

      The controls and basic interface are familiar, there's no worries about your particular brand of hardware working with the game, the DRM doesn't often bite you, etc. With the exception of a few games that really do play better with mouse and keyboard, consoles have PCs beat. And they are cheaper. Even if you buy them all.

      Price should most definitely be NOT the only factor that determines your choice of a gaming platform, at least not if you consider gaming your hobby. As far a I am personally concerned, I won't be leaving PC gaming as long as gaming-oriented hardware continues to be released for the PC.

      A couple years ago, I'd have laughed in your face if you said I'd prefer console gaming now. But with power of the XBox 360 (and PS3, theoretically... wish they'd go ahead and make a good game for it) and the innovative interface of the Wii, I rarely game on the PC now.

      The previous generation, it was the "power of the PS2!". Guess what, the cycle repeats each time. PCs had to catch up to the PS2 for a few years back then, this time, PCs outperformed the 360 right off the bat. Every releas

      • by Aladrin (926209)
        For most people, money IS the biggest factor in their purchasing decisions. Hobby or not, you should have control over it, not the other way around. If you are throwing money into your gaming habit without control, you have an addiction that needs to be addressed. Don't make excuses for it.

        "The previous generation, it was the "power of the PS2!". Guess what, the cycle repeats each time."

        Yes, except that I felt the PS2 was just so-so when it came out, despite all the fanboy outcry. Don't get me wrong, PC
  • by blahplusplus (757119) on Monday April 02, 2007 @09:44PM (#18581919)
    Piracy, right... more like too many games, and too many mediocre games at that. The truth is there is simply way too many games for the market to support @ 50+ dollars a pop, then add in MMO's with their subscriptions and everything else and you have perfect storm. Next many games offer nothing new, why should gamers buy games that are simply upgraded rehashes? Game developers only have themselves to blame in their quest of chasing their expensive technolust tastes. The truth is the game industry is the cause of their lack of profit... let's see where the game industry went wrong...

    1) While the game market has expanded, it hasn't expanded to keep up with development costs of high fidelity graphics that the industry is chasing.

    2) Game industry did itself in, gamers do not control where money is invested, nor what it produces, gamers do not control any of the financial aspects of where money is spent in development (graphics vs. gameplay).

    3) Capitalism and designing a good game do not always mix well, with it rubs up against the economic model of society. The more time you spend working on a game 99% of the time the better it will be, if you're independently wealthy or have connections like certain figures in the game industry you can take your sweet time. But the drive for short-term profit over long-term gains has been an emerging problem in the game industry since the PS2, Xbox and Gamecube.

    The whole industry right now is suffering since gameplay is getting stale and more games sell based on graphics then gameplay. I was never sure that the game industries model was very stable in many respects. It's built on the whims of a customer base which is not only difficult to understand but is just too diverse to pigeonhole with terms like "hardcore gamer" vs "casual gamer", next add in the mad rush for profits and you get a glut of mediocre games. I wouldn't be surprised of gaming slows down (Tanks) for a bit in the future but as long as their are fresh bodies without gaming experience (new kids being born) they may just be able to keep getting away with rehash city.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      1) This is almost inevitable as you can no longer have one guy his garage make a blockbuster game. Do you know how much the operating cost a video game studio is? Do you think they use pentium 3 800 mhz machines to build their models? Or that their artists work for free?

      2) Actually games DO control what games are made. If people weren't buying Madden 2001 2002 2003 2004 etc. by the truck load every year, EA wouldn't be making them. If people were willing to buy single player adventure games, those companies
      • that thing that Xbox Live was doing where people can make and upload their own game for others to play

        XNA [wikipedia.org] is what you're thinking of. Good idea--except games made with XNA must be released freely, with source, because you can't distribute them. Players of the indie games have to fork over a monthly fee to boot. The only people making money are Microsoft--fl0w on the PS3 at least pays the developers, too.

        XNA is not a good system, even though the technical aspects of programming with it are amazing.
  • I buy a title or two every month but have no desire at all to play online, in fact my main gaming rig isnt usually connected to my network. I have tried Ultima Online, Battlefield, Star Wars galaxies, FF online and some really stupid car racing game that was completly online. In the end all of them fell short. I think the big thing im most opposed to is paying $50 for the media to install a game but then having to pay $10-$20 a month to actually play it. I tend to play a game for a few days, go to somet
    • So where does that leave me? Im sure there are others that feel the same way.

      Like me. Online gaming just isn't my thing, and I won't play an offline game that requires online auth to install and/or play because I've been bitten too many times by software whose publisher dropped off the face of the planet. The games I like are the ones with stories I can get attached to, and I can't do that if I know that five or ten years down the line I won't be able to play through it again. Even if it's only once - like
    • Consoles. I came to the same conclusion a year or so ago and purchased a GameCube. It's sad, but it seems inevitable that the majority of single player games will migrate to the consoles. Since I get all of my FPS fixes with the PC, I've turned to the Cube and DS for my adventure gaming.

      I would suggest that you take a look at the Wii since it can play the entire back catalog for the Cube or perhaps a PS2 if RPGs are more taste.
  • Steam is not DRM (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Enderandrew (866215) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [werdnaredne]> on Monday April 02, 2007 @11:33PM (#18582663) Homepage Journal
    To say that Steam is the future of PC gaming is fairly true. To say that Steam directly equals DRM is not.

    DRM is a means to strongly limit your right to use something you purchase, to the point of suggesting that you don't really own it.

    Steam will allow you to download your content to multiple computers, and freely play your content.

    Most music DRM schemes limit your ability to copy your music, or play it on whatever hardware you choose.

    Steam is first and foremost a means of digital distribution to skip the distribution middle-man.

    Game development costs have skyrocketed, game developers are working more hours for less money, and yet while our expectations rise, our desire to pay more for games has not risen. Something has to give, and many truly great gaming companies have gone to the wayside.

    If digital distribution puts more money into the hands of the developer, keeps overall costs down, allows me to purchase a game without leaving my house, install on multiple PCs without even looking for disks, etc. etc. etc., then it is certainly more of a blessing than a curse.

    I'm all for digital distribution.

    Is Steam perfect? No. But it was largely the first venture in the market, and it is a step in the right direction.

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