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Is PC Gaming Set For a Comeback? 495

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 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*
  • by Winckle ( 870180 ) <> on Monday July 05, 2010 @11:58AM (#32800076) Homepage

    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:Bread and butter? (Score:3, Informative)

    by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Monday July 05, 2010 @12:02PM (#32800126) Homepage

    >> ... 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 in you saw a period where PC games were on top.

    However, that didn't last very long because consoles stole all the thunder.

    PCs come with a lot of integration issues that consoles don't have. For a particular game you
    may not even be able to count for a sufficiently large number of potential PC customers. Sure
    there is a very large installed userbase of PCs in general. That doesn't mean that your new
    whiz-bang game will have enough of an audience though.

    The general PC numbers tends to over-inflate expectations (fanboys here in this thread included)
    past any point of reality. n+1 million boxes does not mean n+1 million boxes that can play your
    game acceptably well.

    That's the real kicker with PCs vs consoles.

    Dealing with all the device related issues on a PC game can be a real b*tch.

  • Re:Comeback? (Score:5, Informative)

    by bami ( 1376931 ) on Monday July 05, 2010 @12:03PM (#32800132) Homepage

    Epic Megagames, released for example:

    Unreal (Tournament, II, Championship, Tournament 2003/2004, Tournament 3)
    Gears of War 1 till 3
    And before that (DOS era), a buttload of shareware games.

    Next to that, the Unreal engine, which is the basis for a huge chunk of all 3D games released from 2000 till now. []

    Publisher wise, not huge, but they really sped up 3D development with their 3D engines.

  • by am 2k ( 217885 ) on Monday July 05, 2010 @12:12PM (#32800232) Homepage

    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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 05, 2010 @12:13PM (#32800246)

    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.

  • 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.

  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Monday July 05, 2010 @12:51PM (#32800662) Journal
    I don't think it's astroturfing. Some people genuinely like Steam. Some people genuinely liked iTunes DRM'd music too - right up until they copied it to their Nokia phone and discovered that all the music they'd ripped played fine but the stuff they'd bought with DRM didn't. For any DRM system, there are two kind of people:
    1. Those who have been bitten by its limitations.
    2. Those who haven't been bitten by its limitations yet.

    For Steam, there are still quite a lot of people in the second category. A lot of these people think that they are in a mythical third category; people who will never have problems with the system's limitations. This category does not exist for any DRM system, but people in the second group constantly believe that they won't have problems in the future. And, of course, the more money they spend on the system, the more cognitive dissonance requires that they defend it.

    I won't buy DRM'd products, unless the DRM is so effectively cracked before I buy them that I can remove the DRM entirely. I legally own the first Half Life, bought new, in a shiny box, but I won't buy anything from Steam. Valve lost me as a customer shortly after launching Steam, but they got enough new ones that they probably didn't care.

    At the end of the day, DRM will continue as long as people show that they are willing to put up with it.

  • by IICV ( 652597 ) on Monday July 05, 2010 @12:58PM (#32800746)

    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?

  • by tepples ( 727027 ) <> on Monday July 05, 2010 @01:00PM (#32800762) Homepage Journal

    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:

  • 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.

  • Dude I have built decent gaming PCs for less than $300. Here is a dual core AMD [] kit for $200, go to your local mom&pop shop and pick up a dead box with an XP OEM license (usually around $30-$50, and you can get some good parts like an extra HDD or DVD ROM) and a $70-$100 graphics card and you are good to go.

    In a way the consoles dragging their feet on putting out a new rev has helped lower the cost of PC gaming. Both consoles have a 7600 era GPU, which means most mainstream games had to lower the system reqs if they wanted to release on consoles as well. I'm using an HD4650 I got for a grand total of $36 after MIR and it plays everything I throw at it, just got done with a little Bioshock 2 before getting on here.

    And finally I would point out that PCs have a MUCH longer life and can be re-purposed after they are no longer your main rig. The Celeron 3.06Ghz I gamed on in 03 and the 3.6Ghz P4 I gamed on in 05 are both being used by my two nephews to play MMORPGs and do that job quit well as well as helping them do homework, and my 1997 733Mhz P3 is now my mom's Internet box. If you build it yourself you'd be surprised how long they'll last. PC gaming is very cheap, not only cheap on the PC itself but with places like good old games [] I can get the games I missed often for less than $5. You can't get cheaper than that.

  • by Pfhreakaz0id ( 82141 ) on Monday July 05, 2010 @02:14PM (#32801642)

    1: Buy game.
    2: Update game with patch.
    3: Get no-DVD patch from

    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 :)

  • by DDLKermit007 ( 911046 ) on Monday July 05, 2010 @02:24PM (#32801758)
    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 can spend way more, but the extra cash spent past $500 in hardware gets you really diminishing gains compared to what spending that money in 2-3 years will get you. So much of that gets amortized as well since $600 gets you a system for work, play, home server, etc. A gaming system is suited for pretty much any use, and it's got life long after a console's expires (I'm running a new 360 every 2 years!).
  • by mlts ( 1038732 ) * on Monday July 05, 2010 @03:17PM (#32802264)

    You can build PCs very inexpensively which can play games. I've also looked at PCs on special at Costco, Best Buy, even Wal-Mart. HP is good because I can pull the core specs of the machine like maximum RAM and other important things. Then, if I find a low end model which is good enough, I just max the machine's RAM, drop in a low to midrange video card, and wipe the OS (getting rid of the shovelware most PC vendors stick on.) This gets me a decent gaming box that can last a couple years without breaking the bank.

  • by obarthelemy ( 160321 ) on Monday July 05, 2010 @06:08PM (#32803642)

    and $632+20+whatever is not more than twice $300 ?

  • by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Monday July 05, 2010 @06:49PM (#32804022) Journal

    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 [], 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 - which, considering just how powerful and convenient UE is, is a great deal

  • Re:Dollars (Score:3, Informative)

    by rxan ( 1424721 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @12:03AM (#32806264)

    What's fundamentally better about running a full performance-hogging OS along with the game that's playing in fullscreen? The PC is a fundamentally better power machine. For the cost, even. The problem is that when you are trying to run a full OS and your game at the same time, you must have a much more powerful system than todays consoles. That's why you never saw PS3 running Linux in the background. More capabilities and requirements mean more cash.

  • 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.

Perfection is acheived only on the point of collapse. - C. N. Parkinson