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PC Games (Games)

PC Games On the Rebound 179

Posted by Zonk
from the moving-on-up dept.
Via The Escapist, an article on the New York Times website discussing the rebirth of the PC games industry. The piece talks about the bright-looking future for titles on the PC, citing the platform's ease and speed of development and Microsoft's 'Games for Windows' initiative as points in its favour. Mass-market PC maker adoption of the hardcore gaming market is also discussed, with financials being the main thrust of the article. That focus is a double edged sword, given the obvious comparison to console games: "The upsurge comes after some recent reversals. Over all, retail sales of PC-based games in the United States exceeded $970 million in 2006, an increase of about 1 percent of sales the previous year of $953 million, which represented about a 14 percent drop from $1.1 billion in 2004. By contrast, according to the NPD Group, retail sales for console games in 2006 were $4.8 billion; another $1.7 billion was spent on games for hand-held devices like Sony's PlayStation Portable."
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PC Games On the Rebound

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  • WoW (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Reason58 (775044) on Monday April 23, 2007 @02:09PM (#18843015)

    Over all, retail sales of PC-based games in the United States exceeded $970 million in 2006, an increase of about 1 percent of sales the previous year of $953 million, which represented about a 14 percent drop from $1.1 billion in 2004.
    World of Warcraft was released in 2004. The first expansion was released in 2007. What do you want to bet that the there will be another spike in sales for the 2007 figures?
    • by Itchyeyes (908311)
      WOW did not start out as the massive success that it is today. Additionally, most WOW accounts are outside of the United States. While WOW had an impressive launch, it wasn't released until near the end of the year. And lastly, WOW subscriptions and online sales would not be included in NPD sales numbers. My point is that the mere launch of WOW doesn't account for the $1.5 billion difference between 2004 and 2005.

      There are a lot more factors at stake here. Things like online distribution are not being
      • by Radres (776901)
        I seem to remember WOW selling out worldwide when it launched. There was a waiting list to even get a copy of the game.
        • No, it was released in Europe only in 2005 and in parts of Asia over 2005 and even 2006. There were AFAIK no problems getting hold of the original game at release or of the expansion at least in my area (Quebec). Collector's Editions were an issue, but not very relevant. I DO remember a surge in sales and lack of game boxes at the beginning of 2005, but not at release in Nov 2004.
          • by toleraen (831634)
            I distinctly recall there being a shortage of copies at release, at least in the US. It was common practice for my group of friends, and for the people in my major, to buy a copy if you found one, even if you didn't need it. It took several weeks for everyone who wanted a copy to get one.
        • by Itchyeyes (908311)
          Oh it certainly sold a lot of copies, broke records even. But it didn't sell the 8 million copies that are out there right now before the end of '04. At most it sold around 1 million copies between its Nov. 23rd release and the end of the year. That's about $50 million of revenue, about 3-4 times short of the difference between 2004's PC game sales and 2005's PC game sales. In fact more copies of WOW have been sold in 2005 and 2006 than were sold in 2004, yet PC game sales are still far below 2004's $1.
          • by Itchyeyes (908311)
            Actually, I just checked some figures. WOW's worldwide sales for 2004 were approximately 700,000 units, that's only $35 million in revenue for 2004, again a far cry short of the $150 million difference between PC game sales for 2004 and 2005.
          • by Glonoinha (587375)
            Maybe WoW is responsible for the difference in numbers.
            It could be that people bought WoW and didn't buy another five different games that year, games that they might have bought if they weren't still playing WoW.
      • "$1.5 billion difference between 2004 and 2005"

        From the summary:

        "Over all, retail sales of PC-based games in the United States exceeded $970 million in 2006, an increase of about 1 percent of sales the previous year of $953 million, which represented about a 14 percent drop from $1.1 billion in 2004."

        So you have:

        2004: $1.1 billion
        2005: $953 million
        2006: $970 million

    • by aztektum (170569)
      Yeah I'm sure Half-Life 2 and Doom 3 coming out in '04 had no impact either. I mean WoW was pretty popular from the start, but they didn't get 8 million+ subscribers in the 1.5 months of release in '04.
  • I dare to disagree (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Monday April 23, 2007 @02:09PM (#18843023)
    Actually, I predict procrastination and/or a desaster.

    With DX10 for Vista only, and Vista not being the hot cake MS wanted it to be, studios are sitting between chairs now. Develop for Vista and DX10, and risk not selling much 'cause people refuse to upgrade (erh, downgrade) just for a game? Or develop for XP and DX9 and suffer bad reviews for using "old tech"?

    Honestly, I could not make a qualified decision now if I was in the exec's chair of a game studio.
    • by Joe U (443617) on Monday April 23, 2007 @02:13PM (#18843071) Homepage Journal
      Or develop for both DX9 and DX10, like Flight Simulator.
      • by Lord Crc (151920)
        Or develop for both DX9 and DX10, like Flight Simulator.

        Indeed, just like several other games have a DX8 and a DX9 rendering path (STALKER, FEAR, WoW and many others).
      • The current FS X is DX9 only. DX10 rendering is part of the first service pack, which is not due out until fall 2007.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by DCastagna (959843)
        Why not OpenGL?
        • by westlake (615356)
          Why not OpenGL?

          The mid-line DX10 card will arrive this is spring and will be everywhere by this fall. The high-end DX 10 card of 2007 will be the mid-line card of 2008. Direct X (which is more than graphics) tends to evolve faster than OGL.

    • by SighKoPath (956085) on Monday April 23, 2007 @02:29PM (#18843331)
      Why not just develop for OpenGL?
      • Seriously. The hegemony that MS is rapidly losing thanks to an awful DRM laden release of an OS could easily be fully expunged by some better games for Linux/Mac.

        If I could get a full screen game that was worth playing and I could alt+ctrl+arrow to the left or right out of bringing instant mute and no more CPU load, well, that would be nice for my work environment?

        The MS killer is here:

        OpenGL and an improved Ubuntu/Beryl. And some really great games for that setup.

        Imagine just ONE really great game that p
      • Exactly. Some of the best games are OpenGL. Like one game I've got on preorder for June: Enemy Territory: Quake Wars [enemyterritory.com]. Check out the in-game footage. The game looks to be one of the biggest online FPS games of the year. It's not missing anything by omitting DX10.
    • by brkello (642429) on Monday April 23, 2007 @02:40PM (#18843455)
      There are only 2 options that make sense from a business perspective. Make the game run in both DX9 and DX10. Or go with DX9 because that is the lagest install base. Going with DX10 only would be a huge mistake and it would cost you a lot of money. For example, World of Warcraft isn't the most graphically amazing MMO out there by a long shot. But because it can run on older hardware, they have many more subscribers. If they made World of Starcraft DX10 only, it would die a horrible death. There will always be ids and other game companies that push the graphical edge...but right now it doesn't make sense from a business perspective. Most gamers know that XP runs games better. Until Vista can beat XP, no one in there right mind is going to touch it.
    • Develop for DX9 using something like the Unreal 2 engine (great graphics that even exceed TES 4: Oblivion if you throw in Speedtree) and an awesome, nonlinear story line.

      IOW if you do a Deus Ex or a Morrowind in the same game engine that brought us Unreal Tournament 2004 and you don't make it a simple knockoff of said titles, but an original, deep game with action and RPG elements, you can moon the reviewers and make them get down and lick it because all the PC gamers will be beating down the doors for your
  • by Murrdox (601048) on Monday April 23, 2007 @02:14PM (#18843079)
    I'm very upset over the MS "Games for Windows" initiative.

    "Games for Windows" is a wolf in sheep's clothing.

    What it pretends to be is Microsoft trying to improve the PC gaming scene. Make game system requirements more legible to the non-geek, increase compatibility, better market PC games, etc.

    However, what it REALLY is, is Microsoft using their complete dominance of the PC game market to extend that dominance to the console. They're using their PC Monopoly to leverage the X-Box, and X-Box Live. The end result will be to get PC Gamers to pay extra for content they get for free now, just like console players are doing on X-Box Live.

    A requirement for a game to be branded a "Game for Windows" is that it is compatible with an X-Box 360 Controller. Need I say more? They're pushing for all PC games to also be X-Box 360 Games. If the PC Game is also an X-Box game, then it can use X-Box Live. If it can use X-Box Live, they can figure out a way to release content for it in micro-payments, and nickel and dime us to death on games that we used to get updated content for free on.

    Considering the fact that Sony and Nintendo are incapable of competing with Microsoft on this initiative... I'm really surprised no one at the Justice Department has taken notice. It's blatant leveraging of a monopoly if you ask me. I don't see how it's legal.

    And I don't see PC games as dying. They're not going anywhere. There might be a little less of them than there used to be... but 50% of the console games that come out nowadays are complete crap. I'd say only about 20% of the PC games that come out nowadays are crap. Those numbers come right out of my butt, of course. I'm willing to deal with better quality and less quantity on the PC.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by KDR_11k (778916)
      A requirement for a game to be branded a "Game for Windows" is that it is compatible with an X-Box 360 Controller.

      Really? How do I play Company of Heroes with that gamepad, then?
      • by Phil246 (803464)
        with difficulty.

        besides, its not the first rts which has appeared on a console you know, i remember playing red alert 1 on my ps1 at one point. Not sure if that was the first, but its certainly possible ( if rather annoying ) to play them on gamepad
        • Not sure if that was the first,

          The first console RTS as well as the first RTS on any platform was Herzog Zwei for the Sega Genesis. Yes, that's right, the RTS genre got it's start on the consoles.

          On the PSone, the original C&C predated C&C Red Alert.

          but its certainly possible ( if rather annoying ) to play them on gamepad

          What, you weren't hardcore enough to have the PSone mouse? :-)

    • by interiot (50685)
      Have you used the 360 controller? It's not hard to make a PC game compatible with it, many come close already. If the PC world had to standardize around a reasonably cheap and reasonably well-designed normal controller, you could do much worse than standardizing around the 360 controller.
      • Dumbing down pc game to work with a controller sucks.
        A mouse is a big thing that the x-box does not come with.
    • by Vexor (947598) on Monday April 23, 2007 @02:33PM (#18843381)
      I'll admit the idea of using a xbox controller for a few games on the PC slightly appeals to me (flying games/racing). Nothing is ever going to replace a keyboard/mouse combo for a shooter game though....

      Making a game controller compatible to get the "games for windows" tag is completely crap though. Windows == PC == Keyboard/Mouse. No way should a controller be a requirement.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Manchot (847225)
      Considering the fact that Sony and Nintendo are incapable of competing with Microsoft on this initiative... I'm really surprised no one at the Justice Department has taken notice. It's blatant leveraging of a monopoly if you ask me. I don't see how it's legal.

      The current administration isn't interested in prosecuting monopolies who abuse their power. That's why Microsoft got off their guilty verdict so easy when Bush came into office. Hopefully our next president believes in a fair, competitive market.
      • And magical pigs will fly out of my ass. Corruption and power go hand in hand. The only way to cut back on political corruption is to eliminate campaign financing (bribery).
      • by westlake (615356)
        The current administration isn't interested in prosecuting monopolies who abuse their power. That's why Microsoft got off their guilty verdict so easy when Bush came into office. Hopefully our next president believes in a fair, competitive market.

        Anti-trust sentiment in the states has always been notoriously short-lived.

        The break-up of Standard Oil into regional operating companies did nothing to hurt Rockefeller and left the small independents even more vulnerable than before. The "Baby Bells" have merg

    • by brkello (642429)
      Your premise that MS has dominance over the PC game makert is false. Thus the rest of your reasoning is flawed. I don't see how you can think what they are doing is not legal. They are finding a model that makes money for everyone involved. Other companies and independants will still exist...so if you don't like what MS is doing, don't buy it. Nothing is going to change.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Murrdox (601048)
        You'll have to describe to me how my premise that MS has dominance over the PC game market is false.

        Walk into a game store, and find for me the PC games that are made for other operating systems besides Windows. If you go into an Apple store, you'll find a few Mac versions of some games, but not much. Besides some educational titles, you won't find many Mac titles that aren't also on Windows.

        It is not COMPLETE. You can find scattered games that are made for Mac. You can find scattered games for Li
        • The computer game sections in stores are often misleading. True, a lot of games are Windows-only, but there are not very many Mac-only or Linux-only games. A lot of companies are doing what Blizzard does (put all versions of the game on the same CD in the same box). Take WOW for instance...you aren't going to find it in the Mac section, because the "Windows" boxed version has both Windows and Mac versions on the same CD. I think this makes a lot more sense than having separate "Mac-only" and "Linux-only
        • by calbanese (169547)
          There really aren't any antitrust violations going on in the games market, though. Microsoft doesn't lock anyone into developing solely for the Windows platform (as far as I know). If developers choose to release their games only for the platform with the most users, that really isn't Microsoft's fault. You can debate their OS monopoly, but here, they aren't using any anticompetitive measures to dominate the games market. Plus, from my understanding, all "Games for Windows" is is a way of ensuring that
    • This much is clear. I expect the killer app will be Xbox Live on your PC - with these certified games. However this doesn't preclude the gaming scene as it stands. EA and others try to develop their own on-line arena.
  • I was in Game yesterday looking for something new to play on my MacBook Pro with Windows XP Pro. Been playing Half Life 2 again and really enjoying it so I thought I would look for something similar. I was appalled at how small the PC game sections are in game shops these days. Worse though, they all seem to be strategy games which really aren't my thing. FPS on a console is worse than horrible so I wanted a PC FPS. Nothing I haven't already played and very little coming. The PC section was about the
    • by Hamfist (311248)
      A quick browsing of online stores seems to indicate that the highest selling games and franchises (Warcraft, The Sims, Civilization) are available for Mac. I think one could reasonably say that only Hard Core PC gamers can still use that as a reason to not use a Mac. Now if only more were available for Linux then I'd be really happy.

      • I think you meant to say "MMO players that play something besides World of Warcraft".
        Also just because something is released on a Mac doesn't mean it is released at the same time as on Windows. It usually takes 6 or more months to get out on the Mac. This might not seem like a problem but with something like an online FPS it is a huge problem. Jump on a server with people that have been playing for six months and you will get your ass kicked in two seconds. Either that or half the fans have moved on to the
    • Try shopping at a place that doesn't base its business model on selling used games and it won't look nearly the same.
  • by RichPowers (998637) on Monday April 23, 2007 @02:33PM (#18843387)
    Vista and DX10 pose a problem for me. Should I upgrade to Vista and buy an expensive DX10 graphics card even though gaming studios won't enthusiastically support DX10 for a while? Or should I buy a solid DX9 graphics card (saving me money), keep XP, and hope studios still support DX9 over the life of my new system? Or do I continue using my aging system while waiting for the PC gaming landscape to pan out? Perhaps I'm missing something here, but I imagine many people face the same conundrum.

    What serious PC gamer cares about Games for Windows? Same goes for MS's upcoming "Xbox Live Only for Windows" online gaming service. We already have Steam and free online games sans MS's bullshit and complications. Publicly, MS is trying to make PC's more "gaming-friendly," but I think we all know what they're really up to: making PCs into an extension of their Xbox franchise. But I don't think the devoted PC gamers will buy into it...at least I hope not.

    PC gaming's biggest issue will remain piracy. I used to pirate games left and right until I stepped back and realized what I was doing to the industry. Now I buy all of my games. While I'm certainly not a pirate witchhunter, I fear that continued piracy will force developers to release PC games crossplatform. And that basically means dumbing-down PC games so they work with the consoles.

    PS: "Rebirth" suggests PC gaming died. Contrary to the flood of half-assed alarmist articles we see, this was never the case.
    • by brkello (642429)
      I fail to see how this is a real problem. DX10 games aren't something you need to worry about right now. So get a machine, stick XP on it, and get your cheaper video card. If a game comes out in the next few years that you just have to have, get a DX10 card. But if you are building a decent system, a few extra hundered dollars shouldn't be a big deal to get a DX10 card (I should know, I just built my own system with a DX10 card).

      PC gamers won't care about Games for Windows until something awesome comes
    • Now is the time to buy a DX9 card. When DX11 comes out, then buy a DX10 card.
  • This is like going to Las Vegas, hearing all about the great and sexy wanda in big and bright lights, paying the 200 bucks to meet her, and getting a ugly whore instead.

    Ok not exactly like that, Wanda is a lot more attractive than Vista is right now.

    That's not what I wanted to bring up but that's the sum of the article. You get the "It's going to be big. It's going to be huge" syndrome that you always hear in hype pieces, but you're inevitably going to be disappointed if you buy in.

    Skimming the names in th
  • by immcintosh (1089551) <slashdot.ianmcintosh@org> on Monday April 23, 2007 @04:29PM (#18844891) Homepage
    It happens every five years or so. It's almost like clockwork. A new generation of console systems will come out, and suddenly everybody will be predicting the demise of the PC. And sure, PC game sales and development will lag for a bit, then it'll bounce back. Now I know for a fact this has been going on since the 80's when the original Nintendo generation was supposedly going to spell the demise of the PC for gaming, and of course it never did. Why do people keep acting surprised?
    • by MS-06FZ (832329)
      Maybe it's just me, but it seems like there's so many new PC games coming out these days as there were, say, 15 years ago... Certainly PC games don't get the shelf space that they used to.

      As for the Nintendo thing - bear in mind this was back in the mid-80s. Console gaming had recently all but died, and that led to a boom in computer gaming. The NES was a big revival for console gaming - and while the NES didn't kill off computer gaming, it certainly diverted a lot of attention away from it.
    • Now I know for a fact this has been going on since the 80's when the original Nintendo generation was supposedly going to spell the demise of the PC for gaming, and of course it never did.

      It did kill PC gaming, on the Atari's and Commodores. Remember, PC means more than just the Microsoft/Intel platform. When Atari and Commodore died, PC gaming became a far less mass-market and more hardcore, platform It also became much more expensive, which helped cement the consoles as the mass market gaming device o

    • by ookaze (227977)

      It happens every five years or so. It's almost like clockwork. A new generation of console systems will come out, and suddenly everybody will be predicting the demise of the PC

      I and several other people must have suffered of collective hallucination, when we were arguing on many forums (even Slashdot IIRC) against people saying that the PC would kill consoles. I've actually never heard of people saying consoles would be the demise of the PC or PC games.
      Or what you said was irony ?

      And sure, PC game sales and development will lag for a bit, then it'll bounce back. Now I know for a fact this has been going on since the 80's when the original Nintendo generation was supposedly going to spell the demise of the PC for gaming, and of course it never did. Why do people keep acting surprised?

      Because you have it backwards. For example, I remember clearly people saying consoles were dead when Tomb Raider on 3DFX was "more beautiful" than on PS1.

  • i really wish slashdot was above forwarding on the constant stream of "the game industry is dying!" "consoles will put pc out of business!" "pcs will put consoles out of business!" "the game industry is thriving!" bullshit articles. nothing reeks more of a slow news day. it's all spin and idle speculation. i swear these guys write these articles based on what they had their stock broker do the day before. =|

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