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Is PC Gaming Set For a Comeback? 495

Posted by Soulskill
from the we'll-enjoy-our-mice-and-keyboards-while-you-flail-around dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A combination of factors like console penetration, piracy, and the huge inherent variability in PC hardware setups have made the PC a third-class citizen for many gaming genres, especially the kind of high-adrenaline action games that were once the PC's bread and butter. Epic is a company that has been vocal in its shift toward consoles, with many controversial statements dropped over the years in reference to piracy being the reason. So it was with some surprise that we noted Epic's VP, Mark Rein, pointing out recently that the PC is as important as ever. Why the turnaround? This article suggests that the extended length of the current console generation will drive some developers back to the PC as new games push up against hardware limits."
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Is PC Gaming Set For a Comeback?

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  • by Winckle (870180) <mark@@@winckle...co...uk> on Monday July 05, 2010 @11:20AM (#32799686) Homepage

    Steam proves that the right games sell well on PC.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 05, 2010 @11:27AM (#32799754)

      Steam is definitely PC gaming's main champion.

      last week's incredible sales probably moved more games than any other retailer did during the previous 6 months.

      • by Zencyde (850968) <Zencyde@gmail.com> on Monday July 05, 2010 @03:02PM (#32802130)
        Their sale is the reason why I've purchased about 8 games in the last few days whereas I prefer to pirate usually. Christ, I even bought games I already pirated that I felt were worth paying for. I gave developers money based off of my preference to see them create more material. I'd like to point to myself as a good example as to why the price curve is too high for video games. I'm not spending 60 bucks (takes over 6 hours to make on my measly wage) on a video game that I'm unsure of! Am I supposed to be an idiot or something!?
    • by am 2k (217885) on Monday July 05, 2010 @11:50AM (#32799994) Homepage

      Yes, Steam is pretty genius, but not just due to having "the right games". I started to use it recently (due to the Mac client). Every time you want to play a game, you have to start up the client first, and it presents you with a list of discounted games (only today for -50%!).

      I'm really not susceptible to ads, but I already bought 3 games I wouldn't have otherwise. When they're at $5-$8, that's below my impulse-buy threshold.

      I also own consoles, and the games are much more expensive there -- games that are a year old still sell for $40-$60! I'm seriously considering moving back to PC gaming right now, since the very same game usually costs half of that on PCs.

      The Steam platform fixes the biggest issues with PC gaming --- automatic updates and online distribution.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by obarthelemy (160321)

        yes, but

        a good run-of-the-mill PC, for Office, internet, HTPC... can be had for $300-500. A gaming PC needs more CPU and GPU horsepower, and probably more RAM and HD, which can easily double the price. You've got to buy a whole lot of games to amortize that.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by am 2k (217885)

          That's true, but only when you buy a PC specifically for gaming. I originally bought my PC for software development, all it would need right now is a better graphics card for maybe $100 and I'd be good to go.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          This is simply untrue. My year-old, $450 computer still runs the newest games at medium-high settings. The flip side to this article is the effect console-focused development has had on the progression of PC games - namely, it has slowed down the ascension of hardware requirements dramatically.

        • by delinear (991444)
          Consider that most people will want a PC anyway, even if they already have a console. Therefore the only thing you're weighing against the cost of the console is the difference between your good run of the mill PC and a very good gaming PC, it's not that different. Actually I was just thinking myself, after being almost exclusively a console player for the last 6 or 7 years, that it might be time to go back to the PC. Not because of hardware constraints, but because of the worrying trends in stupid console
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          >>>A gaming PC needs more CPU and GPU horsepower, and probably more RAM and HD, which can easily double the price.

          I've noticed that consoles are becoming more-and-more like computers. The hardware is no longer a fixed standard (different models with different capabilities), and you constantly have to worry about having the right OS software else the game might not play. This is why I never did any computer gaming beyond the Atari, Commodore, and Amiga computers - they were fixed hardware and ther

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by DDLKermit007 (911046)
          Really? Where are you getting ripped off for your parts? $300-$500 will get you a nice gaming rig. Mobo $50, CPU $120ish (quad AMD), case & PSU ($100), 4GB RAM, ($100), 500GB HD ($50), videocard ($130). Quite a bit of that can even be made a bit cheaper too without sacking performance/stability. Oh, and depending on who you are...add a legitimate licence for 7 for an extra $100, or find one on Craigslist for $30-$50. Using my rough calculations it's just $600, and certainly NOT double an HTPC. Yes you c
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Winckle (870180)

        Hey that's swell, but I just want to point out, not just to you but to everyone reading your comment thinking "adverts?!?" These can be turned off by flipping a switch in the interface section of steam's options menu. But I like you, am happy to read them when they show up and have not disabled them.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by IICV (652597)

        Just FYI, that was a special sale that was going on last week, with multiple games discounted every day; usually what happens is that there's one game on sale between Tuesday and Thursday, and then one sale over the weekend (though neither of these is guaranteed).

        However, they do frequently have awesome sales like this, usually around holidays. Last year's Thanksgiving and Christmas sales were particularly epic, and of course who can forget free Portal with the Mac launch?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dingen (958134)
      Steam proves that people want downloads more than physical media. The industry needs to understand that downloading doesn't equal piracy.
    • by Ephemeriis (315124) on Monday July 05, 2010 @11:59AM (#32800084)

      Steam proves that the right games sell well on PC.

      Steam is a terrific platform and I think it could go a long way towards revitalizing the PC game industry.

      Yes, it's DRM. I know someone's going to show up and start yelling about the evils of Steam DRM. It always happens every time somebody mentions Steam. But everything is wrapped in DRM these days, and wishing that it wasn't so is not going to change the world. Sure, we could start boycotting and lobbying and whatever else... But the fact of the matter is that DRM is a part of the game industry these days. And Steam is one of the least-painful forms of DRM out there.

      The marketplace is a great way to pick up your games. Buy them on-line and download them. No waiting for boxes to show up. You can even pre-load games before the release date. And you can burn backups of your files, so that you can install them offline later.

      Plenty of impulse buys. The lack of physical shelf space means that you can sell stuff on Steam for a lot less than in a brick & mortar store. There's constantly something good for sale for $5.

      There's a built-in system of patching, finding network games, finding friends, planning events, achievement, etc. Sure, that's all kind of wasted on a single-player game... But most games include some kind of multiplayer these days. And that's an awful lot of nicely reusable code for anybody looking to implement multiplayer.

      And now you've got the ability to use Steam on multiple operating systems. And your games, if supported, will work across multiple operating systems.

      • by dave420 (699308)
        If DRM didn't exist, Steam wouldn't exist either. There are a lot of anti-DRM folks who seem to think if DRM didn't exist, the DRM'd content we get now would still exist, but without DRM. Unfortunately they don't realise that without DRM, that content wouldn't be available quite so readily. We'd have to order a physical disk, and then only have the software on one computer at a time. With Steam I can play at home, or at work, just not at the same time (and as I respect the laws of physics, I don't tend
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by delinear (991444)
          That was the same excuse they used when they wanted to keep DRM on music downloads, now we have DRM-free music everywhere. There's no reason, beyond the blinkered greed of a few people, that this couldn't work for games. I agree with your basic point though - that blinkered greed, misplaced as it is, would have been enough to kill Steam without DRM, or at least relegate it to a matchmaking system for MP games.
      • by Nemyst (1383049) on Monday July 05, 2010 @12:28PM (#32800408) Homepage
        Not just that. Valve understands players (heck, make that consumers) more than brick and mortar stores seem to. Have you ever seen such large sales as 75% off at GameStop? Valve's experiment with Left 4 Dead showed them that people will buy in droves when you reach the market's sweet spot. Instead of arbitrarily defining a value, they decreased said values down to price points that sold. The result? Extreme success, it seems. I hadn't bought games in a long, long time (the majority seemed overpriced for what they offered), but I just can't refuse things like Mass Effect 2 for $25 or the Introversion pack for $5. No, the devs and Valve may not be making as big a cut, but if they get half the cut while selling thrice as many units, then they've won and so did consumers. Further, they'll often get sales they otherwise would never have had, not even later on in the game's shelf life.

        I honestly applaud Valve for their efforts with Steam. No it might not be perfect, but it's honestly a DRM that I can tolerate and even like, since it adds value. I wish more execs understood that: don't fight piracy by considering consumers as criminals, fight it by providing additional value and ease of use that you just cannot get with pirated games!
      • Steam is one of the least-painful forms of DRM out there.

        At least console DRM allows lending game discs to friends and resale to GameStop or to eBay buyers, even if it does achieve its intended purpose of shutting out micro-ISV games.

        The lack of physical shelf space means that you can sell stuff on Steam for a lot less than in a brick & mortar store. There's constantly something good for sale for $5.

        As with WiiWare and Xbox Live Arcade.

        And that's an awful lot of nicely reusable code for anybody looking to implement multiplayer.

        As I understand it, most Steam games need four PCs and four copies of the game for four players. Certain genres of console games, on the other hand, allow for local multiplayer on one machine. Look at fighting games, or Bomberman series, or Mario Party and its knockoffs.

        But PCs' big advantages

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Totenglocke (1291680)

        But everything is wrapped in DRM these days, and wishing that it wasn't so is not going to change the world. Sure, we could start boycotting and lobbying and whatever else... But the fact of the matter is that DRM is a part of the game industry these days.

        Wrong, wrong, wrong. If being wrong was a felony offense, you'd be sentenced to thirty consecutive life sentences for how wrong you are. Not everything uses DRM - I don't buy any games with DRM and yet I still find plenty of great (and popular) games to play. DRM is only used by the asshole companies that normally (but not always) make crappy games. The fact that you think that people should just stop caring about their rights to the property they purchase and just take it up the ass is exactly what's w

    • by steve-san (550197) on Monday July 05, 2010 @12:00PM (#32800094)
      They're selling in spite of (and now because of) folks like me.
      Yep, I was one of those haters when the service came out, but I'm a Steam convert. There's just too much to like. Crazy low prices during sales + the almost instant gratification factor = lots of impulse buys. I find myself visiting the steampowered.com site to check out the current deals.

      Sure, you won't be lending out discs anymore, but you won't be losing/damaging them either. OTOH, you get easy access to your old games for as long as Steam sticks around (the only possible catch, I suppose).

      I'd never played the Mass Effect series before, then saw them on sale on Steam. Picked up ME1 for 5 bucks! (ME2 is currently $24.) That's a LOT of entertainment per $.
    • Dunno (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Moraelin (679338)

      Dunno, I'm one of those who never allowed Steam anywhere near my computer (but I'm not going to turn it into a rant about DRM for now) and it still seems to me like I've had no shortage of PC stuff to play.

      The "right games" always sold, anyway. WoW still wipes the floor with any of the over-simplified button-masher MMOs that were built to be good for consoles too, for example. The Sims sold 16 million copies. The latest incarnation, The Sims 3, sold about 8 million copies as of mid 2009. And we're talking w

    • by morcego (260031)

      Seriously. Blizzard will also agree.

      Isn't Blizzard like ... making more money than all the console companies put together ?

  • Wait, what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by decipher_saint (72686) on Monday July 05, 2010 @11:21AM (#32799700) Homepage

    "Comeback"? Did it go somewhere while I was playing all these awesome PC games?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Ziekheid (1427027)

      Yeah. Eventhough I know PC game sales are fairly low compared to consoles that first line of the article really bothered me. "the PC a third-class citizen for many gaming genres, especially the kind of high-adrenaline action games", I'd say a lot of high-adrenaline games are for the PC and work better on it because of the usual higher pace (mostly slowed down on consoles due to no mouse in FPS's for example).

  • Epic fail (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dyinobal (1427207) on Monday July 05, 2010 @11:21AM (#32799704)
    So what happened epic gears of war sales drop, and you realize how limited the xbox hardware is?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 05, 2010 @11:33AM (#32799828)

      Hearing Epic complain about the PC market is like listening to a farmer that planted no seeds.

    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Monday July 05, 2010 @02:17PM (#32801670)

      Epic's big money isn't on the games they make. You'll notice that when Unreal Tournament started up they didn't really make very many games anymore. In fact GoW was kind of a change back to make more than just UT games. Well the reason is their real business is the Unreal Engine. That thing is in EVERYTHING. Mass Effect, Rainbow Six, Borderlands, Medal of Honor, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Global Agenda, etc. If it's a first person game, better than average chance Unreal Engine is driving it. There's like a 150 games just for the current Unreal Engine 3, never mind UE 2 and UE 1.

      Well, a great many of these games are cross platform. PC, 360, and PS3. That's part of the draw of the engine. It has some top flight developer tools, so you can work on your game with great tools in a flexible PC environment and easily get it to both consoles and the PC. It costs big bucks for that, they won't say how much precisely, but it is six figures and likely a percentage of royalties. It is very worth it for many game studios though, because it seriously cuts down on development costs and time.

      So my bet is when Epic said "We don't care about PCs!." Their licensees said "Yes you do, at least if you ever want to get our business again."

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        It costs big bucks for that, they won't say how much precisely, but it is six figures and likely a percentage of royalties.

        Not really, no. The licensing terms are public [udk.com], and are also extremely liberal:

        - completely free for non-commercial use

        - $2,500 per developer seat per year for internal use (i.e. no outside distribution); once you stop developing it, you don't pay a cent

        - for external distribution (i.e. your typical title sold boxed or on Steam), it's a one-time $99 fee, no royalties for the first $5,000 (so if your game totally flops, you don't lose anything on engine licensing), and 25% royalty on revenue above $5,000 - w

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Lissajous (989738)

          You appear to be confusing a UDK license agreement with an Unreal Engine license agreement. UDK is the indie non-source code product. With an Unreal Engine license, you are free to modify the engine source to your heart's content, and most licensees do precisely this. It's also the only license you can get for consoles.

          This license costs considerably more than UDK.

        • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @09:07AM (#32809520)

          UDK is for basic titles. It has limited modifiability. A full UE3 license comes with the entire source code, you can do whatever you like, as well as support from Epic where support means "You can talk to the people who actually wrote the engine."

          Basically the UDK is their way to capitalize on the mod market and indy market. There's a lot of talented modders out there. Some of them may be able to get together a group of people talented enough to make a game, but not from scratch and not one they could sell to a publisher. Well, UDK is for them. They can get a full featured engine for a cheap price that allows for profit redistribution. Also, unlike straight UT3 modding, there is more flexibility to what you can do.

          However it's not the full UE3 license. The cost of the full license is not public, since it is individually negotiated with each licensee, but is estimated to be over $700,000.

  • Dollars (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LBt1st (709520) on Monday July 05, 2010 @11:23AM (#32799728)
    It's true that many developers want to do things that the consoles can't handle. But in the end, money is the driving force of any successful business. The one thing we've learned this generation is that graphics are not the selling factor they once were. From a business standpoint there's little reason to abandon consoles when console sales rake in the money.
    • As long as my console has the "penetration" factor, there's no way I'm switching back to PC gaming. Whoah baby!

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Darkness404 (1287218)
      Mostly because you can get good graphics on any console. Yes, the Wii can't do HD, but quite honestly the Wii is aimed as the main console for kids these days, how many kids do you know that have anything other than a SDTV bulky CRT TV in their rooms?

      If you want to do something you can do it on any console these days, when developers stop whining about how they don't have a Core i7 built into every single console these days and actually get to coding, they can make some pretty good games. I mean, look a
  • by ctsupafly (1731348) on Monday July 05, 2010 @11:27AM (#32799762)
    This is generally the cycle of things. New consoles pop up with fancy new graphics accelerators & all kinds of happy new buzzword technologies & devs flock to them. Magazines, industry shows, etc, call it "the end of PC gaming!!" & the PC lays low for a couple years, mostly powered by the MMO crowd & a few of the better shooters. Then, a couple years later, the consoles start to show a hint of aging & devs flock back to the PC to make "prettier" games. The PC gains momentum until it actually starts cutting into console game sales by which time the new set of consoles is set to launch, inciting fanboy mania once again & the circle starts anew. It's a beautiful thing *sniffle*
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by D66 (452265)

      Not a circle, so much as a downward spiral for PC Games... Each revolution lower than the previous. Look at the shelf-space devoted to PC games now in Gamestop or EBGames and compare it to the entire floorspace that was once devoted to them in the age of Babbages and Software Etc. That is a ration that has been in steady decline regardless of the age of the Console generation.
      Maybe Digital Delivery is making a dent too. I hope so. I would like to see the EBX line of shops go away. With the availabili

    • by Kjella (173770)

      True, but there's diminishing returns. If you look at graphics card reviews they've been constantly pushing up the resolution because only the 30" 2560x1600 or multi-screen setups actually push enough pixels to strain them. That's about twice the pixels your full HDTV will ever do, and there's a huge install base of that compared to the obscure 30-inches. Obviously with more shaders/pixel you can in theory do more to make each pixel realistic, but in practice it doesn't look that way. No game has an ultra-

    • by Nemyst (1383049) on Monday July 05, 2010 @12:30PM (#32800452) Homepage
      You forgot RTS games which, despite many attempts, still suck tremendously on consoles. There's a little thing called Starcraft 2 that, even if you don't really like it or care about it, will be making a huge impact on the PC market.
  • by mentil (1748130) on Monday July 05, 2010 @11:28AM (#32799776)

    Nowadays, most game developers are owned by bottom-line-oriented publishers who prefer consoles over the PC for the reasons listed in the summary. There are very few developers who are enough of hardware geeks to want to push the envelope beyond what consoles can manage -- iD's Doom 3 and Crytek's Crysis are the only ones I can think of offhand, although both companies have sold out to consoles in recent years. Strategy games and MMOs are still PC-centric due to needing a mouse or dozens of keys; if the standard $200 Xbox 360 came with a mouse and keyboard, PC exclusives would be toast.

    • There are very few developers who are enough of hardware geeks to want to push the envelope beyond what consoles can manage -- iD's Doom 3 and Crytek's Crysis are the only ones I can think of offhand, although both companies have sold out to consoles in recent years.

      Because there are very few people who own that kind of hardware. Look, the average person's computer doesn't even have a dedicated video card, there are few people who are willing to shell out $1000+ for a PC (unless of course it has a shiny Apple logo on it....) that will be obsolete in a year or so anyways and they will need to put in another $300 video card if they want it to be top-of-the-line again.

      A $200 Xbox bought today is going to get me at least 2 more years of gaming, probably 3. The $250 W

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        there are few people who are willing to shell out $1000+ for a PC

        I built this machine in 2008 for $540 ($40 shipping). Case, PSU, HD, Memory, Video Card, CPU, MB. The works. I've not run into many games that I can't run at 1920x1080 (my HDTV). Actually scratch that, I've come across zero games that push this system. Probably since they are all console ports nowadays.

        You may need $1000+ for a 'gaming' PC, but a PC that plays modern games can be had for a fraction of that amount. A slight generation of

    • The general trend towards laptops over desktops also hurts PC gaming quite significantly. I used to play a lot of PC games. These days I use a macbook + xbox. It works well.
  • So... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AstrumPreliator (708436) on Monday July 05, 2010 @11:30AM (#32799790)
    The PC is set for a comeback... Until the next generation of consoles is out... Then PC gaming will be dead again.

    Not that I think PC gaming is dead or will be anytime soon.
  • It's a River (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dcollins (135727) on Monday July 05, 2010 @11:41AM (#32799904) Homepage

    Business-wise, PC gaming is a river that leads to the sea of Consoles. Practically every gaming company starts out on PCs, and at some point tries to make the jump up to Consoles with x10 the install and active customer base.

    Therefore, it always continually looks like "all game makers are leaving PCs for Consoles". Soon the river will be dry! Not so much -- the cycle refreshes itself constantly.

    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      Only so long as console makers make it difficult/expensive to develop to their systems. Things have turned around in the last generation, with XNA and WiiWare (and probably something similar for PS3). A lot of small shops who would have never been able to make it in the old console world, because they lacked the ability to make it into the large retail chains, and buy extremely expensive dev kits, can now produce games for the consoles. If things continue in this fashion, then small shops will be able to
      • Only so long as console makers make it difficult/expensive to develop to their systems. Things have turned around in the last generation, with XNA and WiiWare (and probably something similar for PS3).

        WiiWare is more like the old Xbox Live Arcade than like XNA/Xbox Live Indie Games. Unlike XNA Creators Club, Nintendo's WiiWare developer program still rejects developers working out of a home office (source: warioworld.com).

  • Market Penetration (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Manip (656104) on Monday July 05, 2010 @11:42AM (#32799912)

    PC gaming will never die completely for one simple reason - market penetration. You can talk all you want about how many PS3's and X-Box 360s are floating around but just about all of these homes will have at least one computer in them. You can argue that high end multi-million dollar PC games might disappear but I am still skeptical about that given how easy the console makers and third parties have made it to port to a PC (or off of a PC). Plus you see games like World of Warcraft that are designed to run on barebones PCs without the need for an expensive gaming rig, perhaps that is the future of PC gaming.

    • by Fross (83754)

      WoW wasn't designed to run on barebones PCs, it was reasonably demanding when it first came out. It's just old.

      Having said that, I dread to think how it would run on a "business machine" or another without 3d acceleration.

      • by Aranykai (1053846)

        You would be surprised. My friend fried his video card once and played wow with integrated intel video for several days. It wasn't pretty, but it worked.

  • ... especially the kind of high-adrenaline action games that were once the PC's bread and butter.

    I'm not so sure that gaming was ever the bread and butter of computing, but then I have nothing to back up my opinion, just as the article submitter has nothing.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jedidiah (1196)

      >> ... especially the kind of high-adrenaline action games that were once the PC's bread and butter.
      >
      > I'm not so sure that gaming was ever the bread and butter of computing, but then I have nothing to back up my opinion, just as the article submitter has nothing.

      Gaming has nearly always been a second class citizen on PCs. PCs used to be CRAP for games. They
      had poor graphics capabilities and didn't even come with sound. For a short while there are more
      PCs had decent multi-media capabilties built

  • There are very few games that are console only, I can only remember a handful games that are PS3 or xbox only, the rest you can buy for any platform you wish to play on. PC gaming is not dead, developers target it just as much as they do the consoles.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 05, 2010 @11:44AM (#32799944)

    It has gotten to the point where I can't just buy a game and install it without having to worry about what kind of malware comes packaged along with it. I've got terabytes of space, so I don't want some capitalistic malware forcing me to put a disk in the drive, so that the disk will get scratched and I will have to buy another copy. I also don't want to have to ask the capitalist pigs for permission to play the games after I have paid for them via on-line activation.

    Thus, I have decided to buy all games used from now on, to screw the developers/publishers. The only people I will buy new games from are folks like Frictional Games, who offer native Linux games with no disk-checking or phone-home malware at reasonable prices. I will NOT pay over $20 for a new game.

    I'm also willing to buy from www.gog.com, because they don't include capitalistic malware in their games. Many games I want are not available on GOG though, so I buy them used. The publishers are losing money here. No, I don't want to buy your latest shitty un-optimized console port.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by theArtificial (613980)
      I agree with most of what you said but whats with the "capitalistic malware"? Do you work at a capitalistic place of employment? Possibly with capitalistic employees!? I personally prefer socialistic malware or even facist malware.
    • 1: Buy game.
      2: Update game with patch.
      3: Get no-DVD patch from gamecopyworld.com

      I do this with every game I buy. It would be a little annoying if I was buying brand new games and had lots of patches coming out, but I buy older games that aren't as expensive. They are new to me :)

  • It's great that PC games keep pushing the hardware and the state of the art, but after decades of PC gaming, it's becoming harder and harder to keep justifying the hardware upgrade treadmill.

    I know I could just play older games, and many people do. But then you miss out on some of the social aspects of game playing; e.g., discovering and playing new games at the same time as your friends and colleagues.

    I'm sure there are good technical and financial reasons that so many games can't and won't play very well

    • by SScorpio (595836) on Monday July 05, 2010 @01:22PM (#32801042)

      I'm not sure on how old the hardware you want supported is, but you can easily the run the latest game releases on hardware that is three generations old at medium-high settings. The latest releases do require high-end computers to run with everything maxed out at higher than 1080P resolutions spanning multiple monitors and enabling 3D, but the current state of the console market has kept system requirements low. Both the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 have graphics cards that are four generations old when compared to PC hardware and people are still drooling over the new games that are coming out for them. The trick is that the console are only running at a 720P and in many cases lower resolutions and being up-scaled. If you run games with those settings on a computer you'd be very surprised at the hardware that work.

  • DRM (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tom (822) on Monday July 05, 2010 @11:46AM (#32799960) Homepage Journal

    The real reason that people don't buy PC games anymore - at least for the class of people I've talked about - is DRM. And I'm serious. Actually, the combination of DRM + "no demo".

    Most of us have been burned once too often buying a game that sucks, doesn't run on your machine even if you satisfy the minimum requirements (and more), and so on.

    10 years ago, if a game was awfully short, or sucked, or didn't work, you'd put it on the 2nd hand market and it wasn't so bad. You'd not get your original investment back, but about half of it, a bit more if you did it right. That put the cost of picking a bad apple at maybe 20, often less. Today, with all those options killed thanks to DRM, the price for an error is 50 (prices have also gone up). That's 250% the old value. And then people wonder why less games are bought.

    It gets multiplied by a good factor if you figure in that many gamers are now adults, with family. A large part of the "available income marked for gaming" is in a demographic that wants to play with their spouse or kids. Which means the game has to run on at least two PCs, and the network part has to work. You'd think that's a solved problem, but it isn't. For one, almost all games today require you to buy two copies for that - bringing the price of error up to 100. Two, it increases the chance that some part of the equation fails, so the chance for error increases(*). Both cost and chance of error go up. If that happens, you very, very quickly reach the point where it just isn't a rational decision anymore.

    Today, even though I enjoy coop gaming a ton, I would not recommend buying any windos game to anyone. Well, maybe my enemies on /. ;-)
    Seriously. You want to play a game? Find a torrent.

    Yes, I feel sorry for the developers. There's nothing I can do for you guys. Go indie and offer an honest option for me to buy (I've bought a lot of indie stuff, and so far haven't had one regret) or tell your distributors to stop fucking the customer. Because even in that business, "money up front" only works for a short time, and if you want them to come back, the product better feels like worth paying for afterwards.

    (*) you'd not believe the amount of total bullshit I've seen with windos network gaming. Like XP and Win7 not being able to communicate via TCP/IP when they're not in the same workgroup. Err... yeah, makes sense. Random failures left and right. Some machines on the network being able to see another machine, but not vice versa (because, you know, your ping reply gets through just fine, but your ping request doesn't???). Network games working just fine if machine A hosts, but not if machine B hosts. And so on.

    • by dave420 (699308)
      Eh? Without DRM Steam wouldn't exist. Without Steam many folks wouldn't be playing PC games at all. Some DRM is bad, some is great. It is rarely a choice between "content with DRM / content without DRM" but usually "content with DRM / no content at all". People prefer the latter, as they want content, so they put up with DRM. I love Steam's DRM - it lets me have games installed on multiple computers, all without media (simply download the files, and you're good to go). Their shop is easy as hell to u
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Tom (822)

        Some DRM is bad, some is great.

        DRM is always bad for the customer. Because it is never your rights that get "managed", it is always someone elses, and always to your disadvantage.

        Some DRM is worse than others, yes. Some is almost tolerable. I do enjoy that Steam on Mac is bringing more games to the Mac. But frankly, that is not thanks to Steam, but thanks to Valve porting their engines and picking up a bunch of mostly indie games that were already available for the Mac and bundling it all up into a distribution channel that is too big to

    • by DAldredge (2353)
      "windos" Grow up.
  • by EWAdams (953502) on Monday July 05, 2010 @11:48AM (#32799978) Homepage

    No, PC gaming is not "back." It never went away. Facebook games are printing money.

    Oh, you mean high-end PC gaming of the kind that requires expensive GPU cards? It didn't go away either. You can't overclock your PS3.

    PC games will be around as long as there are PCs.

  • by Liambp (1565081) on Monday July 05, 2010 @11:49AM (#32799982)

    I spent this morning browsing high street computer shops helping a relative to buy a new machine. I came away convinced that the "home desktop" will soon be a thing of the past. The shelf space dedicated to home desktops has shrunk to almost nothing while the shelf space dedicated to laptops, netbooks etc has grown and grown. Most significantly the price of a general purpose laptop is now lower than the price of a general purpose desktop. This isn't going to affect casual PC gaming like Farmville and pop cap games but it is certainly going to shrink the market for serious graphically intensive PC games.

    The funny thing is, I have been a PC gamer for over twenty years and there has never been a better time to be a PC gamer. Thanks largely to digital distribution the quantity and quality of games available for the PC at at extremely low prices is just awesome.

  • Understood. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by siphonophore (158996)

    As a former game pirater, I completely understand if a studio wants to abandon the PC platform entirely. The reason great games exist is that there is the potential for enormous financial rewards. Downplaying the financial aspect of this problem is unhelpful. We can't talk eschew greed without badmouthing the engine behind nearly all the great games today.

    Epic said the PC is the realm of farmville for a good reason. Ad-based games or simple labors-of-love are the only types of games that can exist when soft

  • mmorpg (Score:2, Insightful)

    by stanlyb (1839382)
    The answer is MMORPG. They realize that they missed a big slice of the pizza, and they want to return back. I still play Unreal Tournament, and there are a plenty of other guys who enjoy this game, and there are a lot of custom made mods, in some sense even better than the original, and we are still playing with 5year old engine!!! It is all about money, and if they don't catch this train, someone else will do it. Especially with all the restrictions and inconvenience that come with all the consoles.
  • Publishers (Score:3, Funny)

    by Vamman (1156411) on Monday July 05, 2010 @12:15PM (#32800268)
    Developers don't make decisions. Publishers make decisions. EPIC get used to that crapbox360!
  • by Flentil (765056) on Monday July 05, 2010 @12:16PM (#32800288) Homepage
    I love PC gaming, but I think it's biggest weakness right now is the confusion created by video card manufacturers that makes it a major research project to decipher which codename/model number is actually good. If they would adopt a simple system of making their cards according to their actual capabilities, like CPUs do, for the most part, they could eliminate the confusion. But I think they actually like the confusion they create. The latest nvidia cards have a wide range, with numbers and names ending in GT, GTX, GTS...the biggest sellers now are in the 200 series, but there are also 300, and 400 series cards out, with GT and GTX versions, and some other random letter codes. They've been doing this a long long time. They should get their act together and stop trying to mislead consumers with confusing model names before some regulatory agency forces them to do it.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by stanlyb (1839382)
      And also when i buy a videocard, i need them to tell me whether i need a REFRIGERATOR for my little hot piece of hardware.....and for how long. I am really pissed off by all this COOLING-FAN issues.
  • Piracy excuse (Score:5, Informative)

    by rainmouse (1784278) on Monday July 05, 2010 @12:28PM (#32800406)

    Piracy is always quoted as the only real factor in disappointing PC sales though most of the multiplatform games were designed purely for use by joypad and with little to no effort to recreate any usable human / computer interface for pc versions. I have personally played PC ports where I was advised in the tutorial to press the square and triangle buttons together! Sigh.

    Comparing console vs PC sales for games, for example Dead Space which on the PC had no definable keys and the presets made it impossible to play if you were left handed as well as endless mouse related issues, it is no wonder these corporate goons and their little quarterly sales reports, graphs and pop up colouring books decided after this that the PC market was mostly just a minor but rather vocal distraction. Of course not until they caught whiffs of how well Valve are doing out of all these other publishers incompetence that they all start back peddling.

    IMHO the greatest thing Valve have done with Steam is make it easier and a lot less effort to buy a game than it is to pirate it. Something the clowns selling films really should try understanding sometime.

  • This is a repeat from 2005, 2001, 1995...

  • by sherriw (794536) on Monday July 05, 2010 @01:13PM (#32800928)

    "This article suggests that the extended length of the current console generation will drive some developers back to the PC as new games push up against hardware limits."

    Let me just say - stop it! Stop pushing hardware limits, especially for graphics. I'm playing Red Dead Redemption right now and it is stunningly beautiful on our Plasma TV. Enough is enough - now please focus on bringing back originality, story, better controls, and please-oh-please split-screen gaming. I heard Red-Dead is introducing a co-op mode but no split screen. BLEH. So much for my boyfriend and I playing at the same time.

    I have several friends who are also gamers. In our past we used to get together at someone's house and have lots of gaming options like Goldeneye, Mario Party, etc. Now... split screen gaming is rare- and even when it exists (ie Borderlands) it is limited to 2 players.

  • Osmos (Score:3, Interesting)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Monday July 05, 2010 @02:59PM (#32802100) Homepage Journal

    PC gaming is back for me... I'm thoroughly enjoying Osmos [hemispheregames.com]. Best ten bucks I've spent in gaming since getting World of Goo and a bunch of others and some of their code (effectively) in the Humble Indie Bundle for the same amount (hey, I paid nearly twice the average.) And several other parenthesized statements.

  • by pandrijeczko (588093) on Monday July 05, 2010 @03:22PM (#32802296)

    From the outset, let me say that I don't begrudge console gamers enjoying their gaming although with my being a middle-aged gamer, I don't see the appeal of the majority of modern games these days.

    However, in my own experience, the PC is now the refuge of older gamers who probably buy 2 or 3 new games a year at the most - this doesn't strike me as a market that the big games companies would move back to.

    In my particular case, I've been a "mostly Linux" user for years and am now down to one Windows (XP) installation that I keep about just for gaming purposes. Otherwise, I'm now finding that the many older titles I own now work better under Wine or DOSBOX in Linux than they do in XP, where invariably you need to do a lot of tweaking to get older games to run, if they will run at all.

    For new games, I really only look forward to releases from Valve, Stardock (Galactic Civilizations & Sins Of A Solar Empire) and any new Fallout games - I don't feel any other new PC games are going to deliver anything new to me apart from better graphics.

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