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Game Devs On the Future of PC Gaming 375

Shacknews wraps up a developer panel at PAX East discussing the future of gaming on the PC. They cover topics including DRM, digital download platforms and cloud-based gaming services. "Joe Kreiner of Terminal Reality: 'If you look at it from a giant publisher perspective, then the numbers on the PC just really don't make financial sense for you to bother with it. But if you start out with the mindset — you know, you're targeting that group, you make a niched product that's going [to] do well, if you look at a lot of the titles on Steam, Torchlight's a really good example — as long as you know that's your audience to begin with, and you make something inside of a budget that you know you're going to be selling those kinds of numbers, you can be very successful. I think it just takes a targeted developer. ... There is no [PC] platform, really. It's just a mish-mosh of hardware, an operating system that kind of supports games. The problem with that platform is, there's no standards and piracy is rampant, so why would we want to make a video game for that platform unless you had some sort of draconian DRM thing to keep it from being stolen?"
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Game Devs On the Future of PC Gaming

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  • Right (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @05:33AM (#31746112)

    WoW gives Blizzard 11 million times ~$12 per month and an unknown amount of starting purchases.. that's not financial sense?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ByOhTek (1181381)

      I believe they are one of (and the biggest) exceptions to the rule. Still, the rule does have a number of exceptions...

      • Re:Right (Score:4, Insightful)

        by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @07:38AM (#31746740) Journal

        I believe they are one of (and the biggest) exceptions to the rule.

        So they have a game that people want to play and are willing to pay for.

        If computer gaming is "dead" then it's because there haven't been enough killer games out.

        And why the hell don't game companies actually make use of their products. I really enjoyed Far Cry. Now they had all kinds of assets already developed when they were done with Far Cry, yet they made the decision when going to Far Cry 2 to start from scratch with brand new engine. They could have made a second Far Cry with a lot less investment and it would have sold. I'm glad to see that Bioware is taking this approach with Dragon Age: Awakenings. I'm still waiting for a new Burnout Paradise game. I mean, how much would it cost to just put out Burnout Paradise 2? Just do some new textures, design a new town, some new races and a few new skins for cars and people like me would be happy to have it. And I wouldn't pirate it because I like to do the online racing and events with other people.

        I think the game companies are leaving a lot of money on the table for PC, "rampant piracy" or not.

      • Re:Right (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Ubergrendle (531719) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @08:23AM (#31747144) Journal
        I've been playing WoW off and on for 5 years. WoW is actually a problem for the PC gaming industry, since it consolidates so many players -- most likely if you're subscribed to WoW, your 10-20hrs a week of gametime is absorbed into the MMO. You're not buying and trying other games, or other MMOs for hte most part. Its good for Blizzard, but bad for diversity. In the 1990s you'd be playing 1-2 games every month, each costing around $40. Now a large chunk of people are playing 1 game for years, @ $12/month going to one developer.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        EA PC reveneue isn't on the same level as XBox 360, but it's pretty equal to PS3 ... frankly Joe Kreiner is an idiot. No "giant publisher" can ignore that kind of potential in this day and age of multiplatform games.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sznupi (719324)

      And WoW essentially has, mentioned in the summary, draconian DRM; you can't really do anything with the game without the explicit authorisation and cooperation of Blizzard servers.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Tell that to all those private wow servers please. Some of them have 14k players online at peak times.

        • by Kelbear (870538)

          How many people are on at peak in the legitimate servers? It's important to know for the statistic to make any comparative sense.

          The bulk of the game is oriented around large teams of players which are extremely hard to form without a large base to draw from.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by anarche (1525323)

      Yep, and Activision Blizzard are the second largest gaming company in the world, riding WoW roughshod into the ground.

      They are still only the second biggest gaming company in the world, after Nintendos' gaming console empire... []

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @05:36AM (#31746122)

    ..stop shipping them as obvious console ports. Pretty much every major PC release in the last 2 years has had their control systems ported to the PC in a manner that can only be described as half-assed. Where it's most obvious is in menu systems (Dead Space), Vehicle controls (Red Faction, ME1), and Quick-Time events (Pick any game that had them). If you're going to put something on PC then you need to stop porting crappy control configurations and do the job right.

    • by martas (1439879)
      agreed. EA used to do this with FIFA, though recently they seem to be making a slight effort to make more PC tailored version.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ByOhTek (1181381)

      I'm not sure that ME1 is a good example, the vehicle controls sucked no matter what platform you used - the mechanics for it were awful.

      • by wjousts (1529427)
        I never got the hate for the Mako controls in ME1, I had no problem with it (on PC).
      • I liked the Mako controls on the 360. But they did change them for the PC—unfortunately, for the worse. (The 360 version would, if the camera was angled too far to one side or another, start turning the vehicle. The PC dropped that, so you could have the camera up to 180 degrees from where the vehicle was going. Very disorienting, at least for me.)
    • by sznupi (719324)

      They'll do that right when games on consoles stop being spoiled by mechanics or technical approach that came from PCs but doesn't really work that great after transition.

      In other words: don't wait for it. It's not about "console ports" (or "PC ports", a term which might be similarly applicable in many instances); it's just publishers coming to conclusion that it's best to minimize costs and maximize profits. One of the ways is to make games which are essentially hybrids of what worked well on each platform

    • by poetmatt (793785)

      this is deliberate. Publishers don't want the PC games to be successful, so that they can make statements exactly like they did in this post. "oh, piracy is rampant, pc games aren't profitable", even though both the pc hardware and gaming markets are obviously quite successful. I mean look at the players! They're billion dollar industries. Nvidia, Intel, AMD, foxconn, asus, blizzard, bungie, microsoft, the names go on and on for hardware and gaming.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      What is even more ridiculous is how a handful of these "developers" presume to speak for the entire PC gaming world.

      I think the title of the article should be "Greedy Game Devs On THEIR Future in PC Gaming". I'm tired of all this shit where some guy who works for some mega game corporation decides that they speak for EVERY PC game developer and player.

  • Piracy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by headkase (533448) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @05:36AM (#31746124)
    I think the solution to piracy is to make all games multiplayer. Multiplayer in a way that actually adds value to the game. It comes down to market forces, singleplayer is proven to be a rip-off fest so the publishers can whine all they want but it won't change things. A world like Second Life is something of what I see as a start for the future. But instead of just walking around looking at the latest hair pieces you instead raid the corporation down the street with your buddies. Doing multiplayer would refine it, massive worlds change the value from being on your computer to being on the network and the network is a lot easier to monetize (how I hate that word).
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by nataflux (1733716)
      So essentially this would require developers to go out on a limb and almost invent a new type of online experience, we have our mmorpgs, and we have our first person shooters. The mmo is protected by subscriptions, where the first person shooter is not, obviously you can't charge people a monthly fee to play a first person shooter in its current format, but why not instead take the campaign content and put it in an online mmo format, then charge a flat fee for the game as well as a subscription. There aren'
      • by brunes69 (86786)
        obviously you can't charge people a monthly fee to play a first person shooter in its current format,

        Why not? Microsoft seems to be doing (extremely well) with XBox Live, which costs $60 / year. The vast majority of games played on it are shooters.

        Why couldn't a Half-Life 2 command a $5 / year annual fee to play on the servers?

        • by Ltap (1572175)
          Because, while many PC gamers play online, a lot (especially FPS and RTS players, two of the biggest groups) will play with their friends on LAN to reduce lag and latency times and to provide control (if the game supports dedicated servers).

          Charging money for access to servers wouldn't really do anything and would just make a lot more people drop the faster.
      • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

        So essentially this would require developers to go out on a limb and almost invent a new type of online experience

        Sounds good to me. What are we paying them for, anyway?

    • by Durzel (137902)

      I'm not sure what value multiplayer would add to - say - Mass Effect, and I would certainly have concerns about what sort of "tacked on" multiplayer they added if it diluted the product as a whole, had knock-on effects in the single player realm (e.g. balancing) or just plain diminished the amount of time & energy spent making the SP experience what it ended up being.

      Mass Effect - as an example - presumably used up its budget in producing what we ended up with. If you assume that you had to somehow squ

      • by headkase (533448)
        I don't think a multiplayer game has much in common with singleplayer. It would be a different style of gameplay not so much focused on a linear story but way more open and branching. The singleplayer experience would die but that is not the point: the point is doing something you can actually make good money off of.
        • by hedwards (940851)
          Sure it does, you just have one person be Mario and everybody else gets to be a Gumba, Buzzy Bullet or if they're supremely lucky Bowser.
    • From the summary:

      The problem with that platform is, there's no standards and piracy is rampant, so why would we want to make a video game for that platform unless you had some sort of draconian DRM thing to keep it from being stolen?

      Why would you want to make a video game? How about: to make money? Instead of focusing on people who play your game without paying for it, why not focus on the people who do play it? This seems to work very well for Stardock.

      Big publishers try to adapt the real world to their business model. It's much easier to adapt your business model to the real world. Of course to do that they'd need to get their head out of whatever dark place they're currently keeping it, but I expect to see more prag

    • Re:Piracy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by master_p (608214) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @07:12AM (#31746524)

      And If I don't want to play with/against other humans?

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by headkase (533448)
        Curse that singleplayer wasn't commercially viable in the long-run ;)
      • by IBBoard (1128019)

        Then you're obviously a pirate and the scum of the earth. How could any sane and sensible person ever disagree with that idea without being some horrible and immoral person who just wants to suck these poor, defenceless little companies like EA and Blizzard dry?

        (More honestly, I agree with you. I've got Dawn of War and its expansions and never once wanted to play online. Too many idiots, too much commitment, not just a simple pick-up-and-play).

      • Re:Piracy (Score:5, Funny)

        by Fred_A (10934) <{gro.emohsderf} {ta} {derf}> on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @08:27AM (#31747180) Homepage

        And If I don't want to play with/against other humans?

        Then you'll have latency issues playing with beings from other solar systems and you'll probably get kicked from the games. Not to mention radio-telescope rental bills.

        Probably not worth the hassle.

    • Re:Piracy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by wjousts (1529427) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @07:35AM (#31746708)

      Multiplayer does not add value for everybody. I rarely if ever play multiplayer games because I simply don't have the time. If I'm playing single player games, I can usually get away with being interrupted by real-life but pausing (or saving) and coming back later. I can't do that in a multiplayer game. In a multiplayer game I have to make a commitment of a block of uninterrupted time to play, and my life just doesn't work that way.

      The only multiplayer action I could realistically do would be short (~5-10 minutes) rounds in a shooter, and I want more than that from my gaming time.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by The MAZZTer (911996)

      Not just Multiplayer, but anything valuable in the cloud is difficult if not impossible to replicate with piracy, since that is code the user never has so any pirates need to code something from scratch, and it probably won't be as good or as functional. This is basically Steam's approach. Your games are tied to the Steam platform and your Steam account and Steam must be running to play the games, BUT you get integrated community features and im, automatic patching, automatic download and silent installin

    • Re:Piracy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Vectormatic (1759674) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @08:38AM (#31747302)

      that would be my cue to stop gaming alltogether.

      In case you didnt notice (if you never played Halo online, or battlefield), anonymous internet people are asshats. Halo online is a constant barage of 13 year old squeaky teens trying to teabag you, every single battlefield server has at least a few tards completely ruining the immersion by trying their best to exploit certain engine features (dolphin diving, running around with a 'nade launcher like they are playing quake, killing you with airdropped-supplies). I'm pretty sure every online game has some of this.

      When i want to enjoy the environment of a video game, i do not trust anonymous internet asshats to co-operate with giving me a nice WW2 (or whatever) like experience, they will fuck it up. In those cases i much prefer the slightly less smart, but much more realistic IA the developer puts in the game.

      online gaming is fine for no-holds-barred Deathmatch, unreal/quake already is unrealistic as fuck, but i dont need some asshat ruining my RPG-experience jumping around and killing NPCs

  • Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pojut (1027544) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @05:39AM (#31746136) Homepage

    ...they could start with A. not making PC games that crash when you do anything (yes an exaggeration, but you get the point) and B. letting me play the game without insane drm hoops. When it's easier for me to play a downloaded copy than it is to play the copy you are selling, there is a serious problem.

    And don't argue that Ubisoft's newest DRM scheme is the answer. Paying customers are having just as much trouble as the pirates.

    • Ubisoft. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by headkase (533448) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @05:47AM (#31746158)
      I think the problem with Ubisoft's idiocy is that it adds nothing of value to the player and takes away real enjoyment. As a legitimate player there is no value to having a constant internet connection for a single-player game and also as a legitimate player it is annoying when your single-player game is artificially restricted by network connectivity. Single-player games should not pause because of a flaky DSL modem: there is a literal disconnect between the purpose of playing the game and the hoops the publisher makes you jump through. Punishing legitimate players for the actions of non-legitimate players may in the end turn out to be lucrative but it is a shitty thing to do to a customer: hopefully enough people will see this and Ubisoft will die.
      • Re:Ubisoft. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by zwei2stein (782480) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @07:01AM (#31746466) Homepage

        You know what you should do where this happens?

        Refuse to buy it. Refuse to crack it. Do not support this game in any way that would endorse it (that includes pirating it btw.).

        Instead, go and purchase game that you do not fear will fuck your experience up when drm fails (for any reason).

        Make sure developers understand that your only option to playing their game in way you enjoy it is to pirate it and/or crack drm. Make sure makers of games that you find that have acceptable rights management learn that you enjoy and buy their products party because of it. Write a email or two.

        • Re:Ubisoft. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @07:15AM (#31746546)

          You've sort-of missed something in there, though.

          In this modern world, if sales drop, it's not because the game is naff, it's not because there's a recession or the price point is set too high. It's because of piracy! PIRACY!!!!

          Writing emails is unlikely to have any impact, because you're only attempting to justify your decision to pirate it rather than buy it.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by RanCossack (1138431)
          Thank you. I couldn't agree more, the whole way through -- don't buy it, don't pirate it, don't support it. Sure, they'll blame piracy anyway, but it's the only way to strange this sort of thing.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by elrous0 (869638) *
          Either way it's a lose-lose situation. Don't buy the game, the developer will go console-only and abandon the franchise on PC's. Buy the game, and they'll be like "See, people don't mind our DRM." About the only way to win is to support smaller studios and lesser-known franchises that don't include draconian DRM, but that will mean having to suck it up and give up on the bigger franchises that most gamers want. You're not going to be able to keep your Call of Duty franchises or your EA Sports titles if you
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by mlts (1038732) *

            I'm of a different take. If the big guys don't like the PC industry due to "piracy", don't let the door hit them on the way out.

            PC gaming is a big market. If the big guys who make another sequel leave, then indies will step in and start making titles people want to play, with little to no DRM.

            Look at Bioware. They have been immensely successful even with little to no DRM. After a later patch patched out disk checks, NWN1 still sold quite well for several years. Dragon's Age is doing extremely well with

    • by mc6809e (214243)

      ...they could start with A. not making PC games that crash when you do anything

      That's much more difficult than you realize and that was part of the Game Dev's point. There isn't enough consistency in the PC as a platform. There is such a vast variety of hardware and OSes that's it's next to impossible to make fast responsive game that works well on every platform. So why bother?

      • Re:Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Pojut (1027544) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @08:15AM (#31747084) Homepage

        This was true back in the mid-90's, but realistically there are only two companies releasing designs that everyone else uses for gaming purposes: AMD and Intel for CPUs, and AMD/ATI and Nvidia for video cards. Yes, I know that trouble shows up with different architectures on older cards, but come on.

        No longer do they have to worry about Verite, 3DFX, S3ViRGE, etc...they are using the same basic APIs, and really only have to optimize for ATI or Nvidia. True, there are other options like Intel's GMA, but you aren't going to be gaming on that underpowered thing anyway.

        There was a time when the "wide variety of config" argument made sense...but it just sounds like lazy developers to me at this point.

        My apologies if my ignorance preceeds me.

  • by gweihir (88907) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @05:45AM (#31746148)

    News to me. And it costs money and angers customers. I already know several people that will wait for the last UBI games to be cracked, instead of buying them as they had planned.

    Don't forget that the current higher initial sales for some draconian DRM is due to a) people not knowing about the restrictions they are getting and b) crackers till having to adjust to the technology. I expect in the end it will result in huge losses. Personally, I will not play titles that phone home and my experience with one of those that do it optionally (Mass Effect 2) was that when trying the online thing (required for DLC), it failed to run. Had to reinstall it and play without online connection. Seeing how people have problems with the Settlers 7 and AC2, I expect they will wise up.

    • by Durzel (137902)

      On the contrary it sounds as if the draconian DRM in AC2 & Settlers 7 is actually working from a "prevention of piracy" point of view.

      I've heard the former has been cracked but has ridiculous limitations (e.g. not being able to save, crashing arbitrarily at key DRM checkpoints, etc), and as far as I'm aware there is still no release of the latter.

      So, looking at it dispassionately - it seems like Ubi's DRM is actually working, all they have to do it seems is get the server reliability up to scratch?

      • by JackDW (904211)

        It's also working from a "prevention of sales" point of view.

        Today I mailed a polite letter to Yves Guillemot, Ubisoft CEO, at his corporate headquarters in France. It explains why I bought a couple of other games instead of buying R.U.S.E., which is a game that I genuinely wanted to buy.

        I don't object to intellectual property law or even DRM on principle, but a balance needs to be found between the reasonable expectations of the customer and the reasonable expectations of the publisher. I'm not buying ga

      • This DRM is complex enough to give them some time ahead of the pirate version, which means some people will prefer to buy it than to wait. This may have actually worked for this game, the first with "online singleplayer".

        The question is, what about the next game? How annoying was this to consumers? I'm guessing many won't buy the next game with this technology and/or from Ubisoft.

        all they have to do it seems is get the server reliability up to scratch?

        Well, they can revamp their server, but they can't fix f

      • Indirectly. It works from a "prevention of play" point of view.

        Unfortunately it prevents people who bought it and people who tried to copy it alike. We only get to see how many people bought the game. We don't get to see how many actually manage to play it.

  • Not a problem (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Thanshin (1188877) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @05:51AM (#31746172)

    It looks to only be a problem for highly expensive productions.

    Smaller games that start giving benefits after some thousand sales will thrive on a market devoid of big fishes.

    Which is fine by me.

    • Actually, good point. This might make the market attractive enough that people like me would consider it worthwhile writing games in their spare time, and possibly expanding into full time. This is what I used to imagine doing when I was a teenager, but at the moment I'm just doing asset management web apps for work and don't really have any projects I'm interested in outside of work (though I am slightly tempted to submit something to the 2010 Simulated Car Racing Championship [], I love cars and I love AI..

  • by Marcika (1003625) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @05:52AM (#31746178)

    There is no [PC] platform, really. It's just a mish-mosh of hardware, an operating system that kind of supports games. The problem with that platform is, there's no standards and piracy is rampant, so why would we want to make a video game for that platform unless you had some sort of draconian DRM thing to keep it from being stolen?

    Every point of that has been true for the last 25 years. It hasn't kept PC game companies like Blizzard or EA from becoming multi-billion dollar ventures which rival the largest console companies -- without draconian DRM, without any hardware sales, without a monolithic platform. Why? PC games interfaces are not dumbed down for a living room interface, and thus can present more of a challenge to either creativity (Sim City, The Sims etc) or tactical/strategic skill (FPS, RTS etc). Mario, Wii Sports or Halo might be fun and can be a challenge for hand/eye, but aren't not exactly intellectually stimulating and engaging in the long term.

    • by sznupi (719324)

      Why are you people trying to paint it as "us vs. them" (players of other systems) constantly? We're in the same boat, we just want good game. Don't overcomplicate it. Those games you mentioned were a success because...they were good. As well many other even "more" PC-ones (galciv2 would be my personal favorite); as well as many console games.

      We would be perhaps better off without many publishers catering to largest possible audience, on largest possible number of platforms, hence producing watared down hybr

    • by Xest (935314) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @08:44AM (#31747352)

      "Every point of that has been true for the last 25 years. It hasn't kept PC game companies like Blizzard or EA from becoming multi-billion dollar ventures which rival the largest console companies"

      I'm not sure where you get the impression EA is really a PC game company. I suppose you could say it was, a long time ago, back in the 80s, but it's been as much a console game company for a long long time, think of games like Desert Strike for example from the start of the 90s that was released on the Mega Drive initially, but also platforms like the Amiga, and Atari ST. Looking it up in fact, it was released in '92, the same year as one of the PC's first real successes as a mainstream gaming platform- Wolfenstein. So to suggest EA somehow has it's roots as a PC gaming company when it's been doing games for other platforms just as long, and when through the last 20 years the majority of it's profits have come from consoles (i.e. EA sports titles) is ignorant at best, dishonest at worst.

      Blizzard is however a good example of a successful PC gaming company, but it's really just a one off- the majority of it's fortunes have come from WoW and despite numerous attempts, billions of investment, countless major IPs no other PC gaming companies have managed to immitate the success of WoW which begs the question as to whether the PC gaming market only really has room for one multi-million userbase MMO in the first place, and if that's the case, it's not exactly an example of something that can be held up as evidence of a strong market when only one company can truly tie up the vast majority of it like that.

      Blizzard doesn't rival the largest console companies, because it's had to merge with what is primarily a console company to stay competitive- Activision. As pointed out above, EA is for the most part a console company and has been for a long long time, so your examples really don't hold up much weight. Even the likes of id Software, one of PC gaming's finest has now been eaten up by a publisher, and this is exactly the problem- even the most succesful PC games companies have been eaten up by larger publishers who have more interest in consoles because that's where the money is, and has been for a long long time. The fact is, even the most succesful PC games developers get eaten up by companies making the majority of their profits from consoles.

      If you want a real example of a succesful company that's managed to avoid being eaten up, I'd say Valve is the only real one, but again, Valve's done it by becoming a publisher, and cornering the PC digital distribution channel pretty well, rather than through just developing games.

      "Why? PC games interfaces are not dumbed down for a living room interface, and thus can present more of a challenge to either creativity (Sim City, The Sims etc) or tactical/strategic skill (FPS, RTS etc). Mario, Wii Sports or Halo might be fun and can be a challenge for hand/eye, but aren't not exactly intellectually stimulating and engaging in the long term."

      This paragraph is just absurd, you do realise games like Sim City had console ports that worked fine right? You do realise contrary to popular belief amongst PC gamers, there is a sizeable amount of RTS games that play just fine, and in fact, because the speed at which you can scroll is capped unlike with a mouse, competitive console RTS gaming is based far more on thinking and tactics than who has their mouse sensitivity the highest and can hit their macro'd hotkeys quickest? Processor speed, mouse sensitivity, macros and so forth are all out the window, it's an even playing field and tactics trump all. Did you really try and make the implication that PC games are somehow generally more intellectually stimulating than console games? I'm guessing you don't really know what console games are out there, because for every genre on the PC, games exist on the consoles too, and about the only genre that doesn't work well right now on consoles are MMOs, simply because typing is still the best way to communicate lots of infor

  • Console Piracy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Aladrin (926209) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @05:56AM (#31746190)

    So by that logic, they shouldn't bother to make games for PS2, 360, PSP, DS... Or basically any system except the PS3. And you can soon mark the PS3 off that map since Sony has waived the red flag in front of hackers' eyes.

    Those systems are pirated as much or more than PC games are pirated, and it's just as easy. (Easier, for some, like PSP and DS.)

    • by jonwil (467024)

      To pirate for the 360 requires you to hack the firmware of the DVD drive (risky and may not even be possible if your 360 has the wrong kind of DVD drive, plus it will cause you to be banned from XBOX live if you connect to that)

      To pirate for the DS requires a flash cart which costs money.

      I dont know about piracy for PSP but last I checked, it still requires replacing bits of the PSP firmware and may lock you out of newer firmware versions or features (or games that need those versions)

      With PC, all you need

      • by Aladrin (926209)

        And some basic knowledge about how to copy files, etc.

        If you can follow the instructions for the majority of PC cracks, you can follow the instructions on buying a DS cart or soft-modding your 360 or PSP.

        Or better yet, just pay some nerd to do it for you. Too easy.

  • by edittard (805475)
    What's a niched product? Seems I spend too much time mainstreaming...
  • by dushkin (965522) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @06:05AM (#31746228) Homepage

    I play the occasional game here and there. I stole a few, sure.

    But for instance I just bought the Orange Box two weeks ago and I'm not regretting it one bit. I bought Torchlight because it's some of the most fun you can have for $5 (steam sale). I'm going to buy SC2 because it's going to be an awesome game, etc.

    I like buying good stuff, or "ok" stuff for a good price. I don't however like the idea of paying $50 for a shit game. (Looking at you, 90% of the market)

  • Steam has also shown if you put the price of your game at a level gamers think is a good deal - you sell like crazy. []
  • Some of the... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by blahplusplus (757119) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @06:14AM (#31746268)

    ... comments are laughable. PC games sell less simply because Microsoft pushed the Xbox so hard and a lot of PC gamers left for console land. Now PC's get ports mainly of console titles except titles that are extremely hard to do on consoles without taking away from the game itself.

    But either way developers are the only one's to blame here. Does anyone think Starcraft 2 or diablo 3 is not going to sell well?

    What about the battlefield games? I'm certain the did just fine on PC. These guys are talking about the PC without noticing that the games that sell on the PC are _good games_. PC players don't like putting up with unfinished buggy crap, how many unfinished or broken games have dev's been releasing lately? A hell of a lot.

    The real issue is that developers painted themselves into a corner chasing hardware and graphics if you take development costs from 10-13 years ago and compare it to today there is a HUGE increase. Developers need therefore to focus on development processes that reduce their costs and not blaming piracy.

    Piracy is an excuse bad developers use because bad developers are so used to getting money for shitty games on consoles where bad games tend to sell giving developers a false impression of the quality of their games.

    We can all rattle off a whole list of unfinished games over the past 5 years released on PC. Another problem is DRM and game costs, if you're game is going to have DRM that means I'm not going to pay $50 for something that will be broken and unsupported 10 years from now.

    Lots of old DRM less games can be run offline, the same can't be said about DRM'd games. The industry wants to moved to a forced obsolescence model where no one owns their games and they have total control and it's sickening.

    Game servers for old games in console land were shut down, why exactly should we believe developers promises that they will un-drm their game? Quite frankly someone needs to sue the industry. If I want to play a game 10 years from now unconnected from the net and the data-mining anti-privacy mothership I have every right to.

  • The article wasn't terrible for a change, as the commentators didn't ignore indie games outright. But a couple things stuck out at me:

    John Abercrombie: "I think there's just too many options out there, honestly. Too many options for people to buy. With the consoles, there's just one. You just go to the store and buy the one."

    So would that one be PS3, Xbox 360, or Wii? At least PC games are supposed to run on both NVIDIA graphics and ATI graphics.

    John Abercrombie: "I think browser-based games are really don't need a PC, you just have something that has a browser. That way, people who were targeting PC or multiple configurations on PC before can just target a browser."

    With or without the DOM event model? With or without SVG? With or without HTML5 Canvas? With or without HTML5 Audio? With or without Flash? With or without Java?

    Joe Kreiner: "Most of the innovation right now, console-side, is designed around a living room environment. That's not typically where you have your PC."

    So you ignore the entire home theater PC market, which has grown since HDTVs displaced SDTVs in stores.

  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @06:23AM (#31746300)

    "Oh if you look at the numbers PC games just aren't worth it for big publishers!"

    Really? Then why the fuck do they bother? Since about the beginning of 2010 we've seen the release of:

    Dark Void
    Mass Effect 2
    Startrek Online (only for PC)
    STALKER Call of Pripyat (only for PC)
    Bioshock 2
    Napoleon: Total War (only for PC)
    Supreme Commander 2
    Battlefield: Bad Company 2
    Assassin's Creed II
    Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II - Chaos Rising (only for PC)
    Command and Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight (only for PC)
    Metro 2033
    Dragon Age Origins: Awakening
    Settlers 7: Path to a Kingdom (only for PC/Mac)
    Just Cause 2

    This is just a list of titles from major publishers, doesn't count any indy games or the like. Now I notice a few things about this list. I notice it is quite a few games, I notice that it includes major titles also on the consoles, and I notice that it has major titles that are PC one. Also some of these titles (like Metro 2033) are enhanced for the PC, meaning you get better graphics or the like on the PC version. That tells me that the PC is NOT a minor platform that "Doesn't make sense" for big publishers. Tells me it is still a big platform.

    In fact, as far as I have seen, PC game revenues are still the largest out there. They are bigger than any single console platform. They aren't bigger than all consoles combined, of course, but then you wouldn't expect that. Each console is a separate platform, and the PC is separate. Of those, the PC seems to have the highest revenues.

    The fact that big, expensive, games keep coming out for the PC, in particular from studios that also publish console titles (like EA and SEGA) tells you that indeed the PC is very worth it to publish for. If it weren't, they wouldn't.

    Remember it is real simple: You take all your costs to make something, all the development, support, staff and so on, call that X. You then take all the money you bring in selling that, call that Y. If Y is bigger than X by a non-trivial amount, say 10% or more, then it is worth doing. You are making a profit, and that's what matters.

    These people who think that piracy is "killing" the platform need to tie a can on it. It is clearly not. To me it smacks of the same thing Hollywood loves to do when all movies "lose money" on paper and they cry and whine, yet keep releasing them apace. Tells me that there is no small amount of BS going on.

    • by Thanshin (1188877)

      These people who think that piracy is "killing" the platform need to tie a can on it. It is clearly not. To me it smacks of the same thing Hollywood loves to do when all movies "lose money" on paper and they cry and whine, yet keep releasing them apace. Tells me that there is no small amount of BS going on.

      The counter argument is, usually: "Well, they don't lose money now, but they're making less every time and eventually the industry will crumble".

      To which the easiest reply is: "So be it."

      We could all create a business based on leaving stuff and a cardboard box in the street, and then whine that people aren't taking the stuff and putting the money on the box as we expected.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by PhilHibbs (4537)

      And the two games on that list that I am interested in, Assassins Creed 2 and Settlers 7, are both out of the question for me as they have an always-on-the-net requirement, and I'm looking for single-player games to play on my laptop in the hotel room, or at a friend's house who doesn't have wireless internet. When I do have net access, I play World of Warcraft, I'm not looking for a game to fill that time with. Until this year, I was in their target market. Now I am not, because of the new DRM. The game I

  • If these big publishers leave the PC market, I don't think much of value is lost. There still is a market for proper shooters and RTS games for PC, so good such games without exaggerated DRM will still appear anyway. Also, games cost more than 100 times as much money to develop than 15 years ago. And yet I don't find them 100 times as fun as the games from 15 years ago. On the contrary, often.

  • Near future, I guess. Because looking at a more distant future, it appears to be a happy place with only free/open source software. If everything evolves, and since proprietary is not optimal, anything proprietary still has evolving to do, ie has a brighter future still ahead. So the future is wide open as in gratis and libre.

    Obviously, the future needn't be bright, but the future of computing will only remain proprietary in a future where evil forces use evil force to keep software proprietary (or if we do

    • by melikamp (631205)

      Because looking at a more distant future, it appears to be a happy place with only free/open source software.

      I think we will have more great free games in the future, but at the same time the proprietary games are here to stay. Even non-free OS software might survive, just as OS X does now, combining the minimal development effort (they cannot write anything half as good as BSD) and heavy marketing artillery (it does not matter that OS X is worse than Linux in pretty much every respect; people will still buy it because a talking head on TV told them so.)

  • Console vs PC (Score:2, Insightful)

    by apmonte (1235058)
    I used to be a big PC gamer, but broke down and bought an 360 a few years back because I could get that entire system for the cost of a new PC video card alone. I could live with console gaming if they'd give me the option of ditching the controller for a keyboard and mouse. For me, it's the only thing that makes PC gaming more attractive than console gaming. My 58" plasma and home theater really enhance my gaming experience, plus my couch is infinitely more comfortable than my computer chair (particularly
    • by headkase (533448)
      I also bought a 360 for my gaming. Here's what I found: without games there is little reason to keep Windows on my PC so I switched it over to Linux (Ubuntu 64-bit yes I'm a n00b). When games are out of the picture it completely removed the lock-in effect of Windows for me.
      • by headkase (533448)
        Oh yeah, and I don't need to buy a new computer either even though this one is now what I used to consider long-toothed: it works absolutely fine for everything but games - which it isn't meant for anymore ;)
    • by tepples (727027)

      I could live with console gaming if they'd give me the option of ditching the controller for a keyboard and mouse. For me, it's the only thing that makes PC gaming more attractive than console gaming.

      That and as the article pointed out, PCs are better for indie games.

      My 58" plasma and home theater really enhance my gaming experience

      Your 58" plasma likely has a VGA input to take signals from your PC's VGA output and an HDMI input to take signals from your PC's HDMI output.

    • You don't need the best video card to play games with quality equivalent to xbox 360... You probably couldn't get an equivalent computer for the same price as an xbox 360 but it wouldn't cost more than about twice as much at least (and as an anonymous poster pointed out, games are cheaper for pc).

  • What stupid babble (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KlausBreuer (105581) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @06:38AM (#31746356) Homepage

    Holy cow, some of this is simply pure garbage:

    * "The problem with that platform is, there's no standards and piracy is rampant, so why would we want to make a video game for that platform unless you had some sort of draconian DRM thing to keep it from being stolen?"

    In other words, DRM is what we need, and we need more of it! The current DRM cannot be a possible reason for low sales!

    * "If you look at how many guys have high-end graphics cards--well, yeah, all of you do--but the more casual players, the more general audience might not. The percentage is probably pretty low."

    Thus, you're forced to allow us options to set graphics options - ranging from very simple all the way up to dual-cards. Which is difficult because... ?

    * "If everybody would stop pirating, if everybody would stop doing DRM, it would be a much happier world, wouldn't it? We'd have a lot more PC games sold and a lot more happier customers."

    Piracy will never, ever stop. And as we've seen very clearly in the past ten years, DRM is quite worthless, succeeding merely in stopping people from buying the originals, as the pirate copies are so much better.

    * "I think you're going to continue to see what we've seen in the past five years, which is just console games ported to the PC..."

    Which usually don't sell all that well, as PCs are simply more capable than consoles. High-end PCs, that is - the others can have plenty of graphics options.

    * "PC gaming isn't dead, it's just in a partially vegetative state."

    Which is why the indies are doing so well - have a look at "Plants vs. Zombies", for example...

    * "At some point, there's going to have to be a fundamental paradigm shift in how we interface with the PC. The screen's just not going to do it anymore."

    I... see. So, let's not use the monitor. Sounds brilliant

    I'm sorry, chaps, but that discussion seemed pretty useless, particularly as the DRM attitude of some of the are idiotic (especially Joe Kreiner, Engine Licensing VP - but what do you expect from a manager anyway?)


  • by WCMI92 (592436) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @06:52AM (#31746418) Homepage

    Publishers who think they have to DRM things to death or the PC market isn't "worth it" who also think that the console market is "piracy" free nirvana (it isn't) should simply leave the PC gaming industry.

    Chances are, they are making crap games that are just half-assed console ports, or trying to shove radical schemes (Ubisoft's constant phone home system) down people's throats. Companies that do either should EXPECT TO FAIL, and "piracy" has nothing to do with it.

    If these companies leave the market that just makes new room for the next Bioware or similar company to rise. I note that even EA, the 600 pound gorilla has been mostly abandoning DRM of late, first sign of intelligent thought from that company in over 10 years.

    The PC gaming industry will never die. The platform is too large, and it is the only platform that is actually open to independent publishers, since you don't have to pay a "Sony, Nintendo, or Microsoft tax" just to access the platform. That, coupled with faster and faster internet connections and the rise of digital distribution (I buy all my games this way now) there is more opportunity than ever for competition.

    This, I suspect, is why certain publishers actually WISH the PC would die. On the PC anyone who wants to can compete with them. On the consoles, access is restricted in a RIAA/MPAA fashion. I would say that the console publishers are actually the ones clinging to a dying business model, not the PC...

  • by bemenaker (852000) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @07:21AM (#31746592)
    Is it just me, or are these developers just a bunch of whiny little bitches?
  • Ignore the whole article. Or anything after "Theres no standard".

    The real thing here, is that some game dev's have moved to the console, where can live easier, can "monetize" everything than on the PC is free. These dev's want the PC platform to die, and are badmounthing it. Just ignore these people.

    The PC platform is in good state, and is evolving, theres less of the AAA "megablockbuster generic shooter" games, and more indie and "small" games with genuine original ideas. PC gaming is evolving to a marke

  • by BForrester (946915) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @07:33AM (#31746696)

    Of one billion PC users.

    Sure, you can carve that up with whatever limitations and excuses you want, but throwing away a market with potential like that shows either an incredible ignorance of economics, or a willful strategy of shifting retail practices to closed mediums where users can be controlled and gouged on price.

  • by davidla (875720)

    "The problem with that platform is, there's no standards and piracy is rampant, so why would we want to make a video game for that platform unless you had some sort of draconian DRM thing to keep it from being stolen?"

    The problem is that the draconian DRM isn't keeping it from being pirated. Pirates get to play free while us paying customers sometimes don't get to play what we payed for. The system is inherently broken, and it's starting to push toward a trend of 'rented game licenses'. By pushing DRM, you

  • I know this might come across as flame bait... but please bear with me.

    I firmly believe that Microsoft has had a big hand in killing off PC gaming, despite having a big hand in standardising 3D APIs; hands up here who remembers the first 3DFX and Rendition Verite cards... each had their own APIs. It was a mess until DirectX came along...

    Then Microsoft goes and kills it all with shenanigans such as making Halo 2 DX10 (and Vista) only when there was no technical reason for to do so. One has to simply fire up

  • I haven't had a console since the N64. I'll probably grab one so I can play with the kids in a few years (when they're old enough to demand one), but I'm happy with the PC for now. It's much cheaper entertainment than the consoles thanks to great user-created mods and maps --and I don't really mind unobtrusive DRM. For instance, Steam is DRM done right (IMHO); Ubisoft is the devil. I've bought games from those jerks that I could only play 1 in 20 times thanks to their DRM fcking up the disc that they de

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @08:14AM (#31747070)

    Generally, there have traditionally been five different groups of people who (want to) have a game.

    1. The group that cannot afford it and thus copies it.
    2. The group that simply collects copies, no matter if it's good or sucks or whatever, gotta have 'em all.
    3. The group that kinda-sorta likes the game, or thinks they might, and copies it if possible. If not, so be it.
    4. The group that WANTS a game, preferably free, but buys if it can't be gotten another way.
    5. The group that simply buys a game and doesn't care about copying.

    Depending on your genre and particular game, you may have different weighs in those groups, a sequel will probably have more weigh in group four than a casual game without a brand behind it, which will probably have more weigh in group four or five.

    Now imagine you implement the absolute, perfect and unbreakable DRM. What will change.

    You will not gain any sales from group one. They couldn't afford buying your game before, that won't change with any DRM you could tack onto it.
    You will also not gain any sales from group two. They just collect because it's free.
    You might gain a few sales from group three, IF your game price is below the threshold where people would rather abstain if they're unsure whether it's worth it.
    You will certainly gain sales from group four, who will now be forced to buy your game. They will even accept any DRM you force down their throat because they want that game.

    You will OTOH also certainly lose sales from group five, though, due to DRM and them not accepting it.

    The question is now, do you expect your fanboys to be numerous enough to outweigh the losses from the (almost certainly financially potent) group five, who probably didn't care about the price but do possibly care about the paternalism?

Is it possible that software is not like anything else, that it is meant to be discarded: that the whole point is to always see it as a soap bubble?