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 The Death of PC Gaming – Again

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MensagemAssunto: The Death of PC Gaming – Again   Ter Jul 28, 2009 6:07 pm

Australia, July 27, 2009 - "PC gaming is dying!" has been a pretty regular refrain in the games industry over the last, well, forever. Whenever the venerable platform posts comparatively low retail sales results or another PC developer/PC franchise makes its way consoleward, someone is there to prophesise the doom of the platform as a whole. We thought it was high time we took a look at the health of the PC platform from as objective a viewpoint as possible. Is it really in trouble? Are the success of franchises like The Sims and games like World of Warcraft merely aberrations? How has the role of the platform changed over the last few years?

From a retail sales perspective, the PC platform is certainly flagging behind its console/handheld brethren. Where GfK's figures tell us that overall sales in computer and video games in Australia grew 43.9% and 47.6% in 2007 and 2008 respectively (with the result that last year saw almost AU $2 billion in sales), PC game sales grew only 6.4% and 4.2% respectively. As a result, shelf space for the platform continues to shrink, which then leads to lower sales, creating a vicious cycle. "In terms of dollar value in 2008," Ron Curry, CEO of the Interactive Entertainment Association of Australia (IEAA) told us, "just 6 per cent of games sold were PC games, and this compares with 9 per cent in 2007."

The Digital Distribution Revolution

The PC, however, has almost always been ahead of the curve when it comes to technology, and the retail sales figures only tell part of the story, as – in Australia - they don't currently include 'digital sales', which include games purchased and downloaded online, monthly subscription fee revenue (for games like World of Warcraft) and micro-transactions within games (such as paying 75 cents for a new microwave in The Sims 3).

In the United States, the situation is changing. NPD began tracking subscription revenue earlier this year (across all platforms, from World of Warcraft subscriptions through to Xbox Live Gold memberships), which is reported quarterly in its 'Video Game & PC Game Subscriptions Report'. This helps give a far more accurate window into how much money is being injected into PC gaming – even if a substantial proportion of it does go to World of Warcraft (with its 11.5 million subscribers worldwide and counting). Other digital sales still aren't accounted for, but NPD is planning on incorporating them as soon as possible – hopefully later this year. That will be the real test of the health of the PC platform, as digital sales represent an ever-increasing percentage of PC game revenue... but right now it's hard to say just how high that percentage is. While we may not have the figures, we do know the PC has by far the most mature digital marketplace, and has moved the furthest away from retail. Unlike the current consoles, all of which offer robust selections of smaller games and retro titles for digital download, but which – for the most part - don't offer 'full' games, the PC essentially offers its entire catalogue. When a PC game comes out at retail, you'll be able to pick it up at the same time online, while there are plenty of other PC games only available online. According to the Interactive Australia 2009 report, 19% of Australian gamers download games from online vendors, and that's only going to grow.

We also know that services like Steam and Direct2Drive (which is IGN's own digital distribution offering) have gone from strength to strength over the last few years. Neither service is prepared to release concrete numbers, but we know that Steam has 20 million users (as of February 2009), over 750 games with over 100 developers/publishers with titles available, and that the service has seen consistent year on year growth of 100% since 2004. As for IGN's own Direct2Drive (D2D), our VP of Digital Distribution, Jeff Steele, told us that: "Since January 2007, D2D's sales - as % of NPD - have increased rapidly. When month-over-month sale of PC games have shown a decline on NPD, D2D sales have continued to grow. When NPD PC games sales have increased, we have shown a larger increase."

Just how much of the true size of PC gaming isn't reported is unclear, but Mike Morhaime, president and co-founder of Blizzard, thinks that: "If you look at how much time people are spending entertaining themselves on the PC, I think that probably by any measure, other than PC retail sales, it's got to be through the roof ...even if you just look at micro-transactions, subscriptions and everything like that on the PC, I think from a revenue standpoint it's growing."

Big Fish in a Shrinking Pond?

Revenue may be growing, but are there fewer games? In other words, is a smaller set of games grabbing a larger slice of the pie? Without World of Warcraft and The Sims, would the PC platform be in bad shape? Or is the platform simply evolving, becoming something less recognisable for the hardcore? We'll explore that question in a minute, but in terms of breadth, Mike Morhaime told us that: "I think that the dynamic has changed a bit, so... there probably aren't less games being created for PC, they're just being distributed differently."

World of Warcraft and The Sims may be PC behemoths, and a lot of big names may be going to console, but there's still plenty of choice on PC. This platform has always been a crucible for innovation, and it's still proving to be just that, with a thriving indie games scene. The consoles are certainly pushing indie content too, but no other platform is as easy, direct and affordable for independent developers. Would we have games like And Yet It Moves and Crayon Physics Deluxe without a healthy PC development community? Would we have the free to play scene if there wasn't an audience? And while some staple PC genres are on life support, they haven't necessarily disappeared altogether. Witness the ultra-hardcore flight sim DCS Black Shark - available to buy digitally from the developer's website.

There's little doubt, however, that many developers are eschewing the PC platform, but why is that, when others are embracing it? Why, for instance, does a company like Blizzard continue to release its titles exclusively for PC? Why is this platform more appealing for the company than the consoles?
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MensagemAssunto: Re: The Death of PC Gaming – Again   Ter Jul 28, 2009 6:08 pm

Citação :
Last 2 games I bought for PC has pretty much killed it for me. Total War and Demigod. Both games were filled with bugs and wrecked the game experience. If you buy a PC game at release it seems your pretty much a beta tester these days. Better to wait a year to buy it a half price and have a working title, or like everyone else pirate it. If there's ever a Witcher 2 I'll buy that.. and Blizzard seems to be able to release playable games so Starcraft and Diablo are good, the rest of the industry can frak right off with their buggy bs

Citação :
Razr, while that may be true, I refuse to do it, simply because that will hurt me in the end. This isn't like pirating music, as the music industry is many times the size of the gaming and pirating does little to hinder the "development" of a song, which litterally costs the song writter nothing but time, whereas games and software in general cost money to produce, in the end you will just end up seeing more and more half assed games, that could hav been better
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MensagemAssunto: Re: The Death of PC Gaming – Again   Ter Jul 28, 2009 7:16 pm

Diablo 3 e Stacraft 2... dead??? i dont think so....estes jogos sozinhos aguentam o PC gaming por inteiro......


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MensagemAssunto: Re: The Death of PC Gaming – Again   Ter Jul 28, 2009 7:20 pm

O principal problema do PC gaming é o facto de estes ficarem desactualizados muito rapidamente, e o gamer tem que estar constantemente a gastar dinheiro para comprar componentes novos.
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MensagemAssunto: Re: The Death of PC Gaming – Again   Ter Jul 28, 2009 7:31 pm

Eu armei meu pc praticamente para poder correr Starcraft 2 e Diablo 3 o resto é bonus.... Smile


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