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Game Devs On the Future of PC Gaming

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the all-ubisoft-all-the-time dept.

PC Games (Games) 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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Right (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31746112)

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

Re:Right (2, Insightful)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746442)

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

Re:Right (3, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746740)

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 (2, Insightful)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746492)

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:Right (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31746562)

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

Re:Right (2, Informative)

anarche (1525323) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746734)

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...

http://www.softwaretop100.org/component/content/article/250-Top-25-largest-game-software-companies-in-the-world [softwaretop100.org]

Or, if they want people to buy them.. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Or, if they want people to buy them.. (1)

martas (1439879) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746360)

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:Or, if they want people to buy them.. (2, Informative)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746444)

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.

Re:Or, if they want people to buy them.. (1)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746652)

I never got the hate for the Mako controls in ME1, I had no problem with it (on PC).

Re:Or, if they want people to buy them.. (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746538)

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 (helped greatly by bringing them so close together by MS).

Hey, be happy, that means it's a mature market with big business seriously involved, not only "for kids". That's we always wanted, right?

Re:Or, if they want people to buy them.. (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746676)

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.

Piracy (5, Insightful)

headkase (533448) | more than 4 years ago | (#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:Piracy (2, Interesting)

nataflux (1733716) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746162)

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't many games like this, although a more recent one such as Global Agenda comes to mind. I really can't say that the pirating is not happening, because it is, even games that require steam have been cracked for people to play the campaign content for free. I think the best commonground solution would be to tell your story in an online world, similar to how guild wars handled story progression and massively multiplayer features, then require a subscription, because it then becomes a point where buying the software is irrelevant, and its all about a subscription, add more content through patches, and you have a steady userbase.

Re:Piracy (1)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746180)

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?

Re:Piracy (1)

nataflux (1733716) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746208)

Because you are still trying to get your $60 from the consumer when today's fps' only have some 6-8 hours of gameplay. Therefore the developer is only garanteed to make $15 for the first month that the player takes to beat the campaign and then they hope that they don't get bored with multiplayer. The question in mind is how can developers still make money with first person shooters on PC while protecting that income from piracy, but also not butt-fucking the player with DRM for wanting to play a game on PC.

Re:Piracy (1)

Alphathon (1634555) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746334)

Well for starters that's a terrible example - Half-Life 2 is a single player game, so a subscription doesn't make any sense (unless you meant HL2-DM, which is fun, but not subscription-worthy). As for XBL, well it's more like $50 a year I believe (I live in the UK so don't know US prices...unless it was some other $ you were talking about) but even then it's $4.15/month to play ALL YOUR GAMES ONLINE. You start charging $5/month on every game, and it would soon mount up (heck, if you played 3 multi-player games...say MW2, BFBC2 and Halo 3...that would add up to $15/month or $180/year) and people already complain about the price of XBL (I can't say I like it, but it's so small a price I don't complain - I pay begrudgingly). MMOs are different, as the servers not only have to host the games, but store the stats, items etc so on the scale it's done on is almost a necessity, and MOST people don't play more than one MMO at a time purely because of the time you have to pump into them.

Re:Piracy (1)

jmac_the_man (1612215) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746512)

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.

For one thing, XBL costs $50 US per year if you don't get it on sale. (About once a month, they'll offer you either $40/year or $50/13 months.) For another thing, that subscription covers EVERY GAME on the service.

Also, if you keep paying a subscription for a game, you expect the game to be continuously updated. If I had to continuously pay EA to play Madden, I'd damn well better keep getting all the updates for free. Right now, I have to pay $60 per year for them.

Re:Piracy (1)

AntiNazi (844331) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746520)

Because I'm running the server?

Most of the subscription's justification in MMOs is that the dev/publisher is providing server infrastructure and the rest is content updates. I'd say you have a pretty tough sell to tell me I have to go rent a server off someone and then pay you tax just to use it. And all the content updates are made by some random internet guy for free. Essentially you are trying to get me to license the server software so that I can then provide you an opportunity to sell more copies of the client software (and the $5/yr fees) which I get no cut of. Now if you suggest the dev/publisher get in the market of renting servers, you may have something there.

But... at $5/yr people might be suckered into paying it.

Re:Piracy (1)

Ltap (1572175) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746670)

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.

Re:Piracy (1)

Durzel (137902) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746280)

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 squeeze in a shippable multiplayer component within that same budget & timescales, well something has to give...

Re:Piracy (1)

headkase (533448) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746288)

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.

Why would we want to make a video game? (1)

mcvos (645701) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746346)

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 pragmatic publishers do very well in the future.

Re:Piracy (4, Insightful)

master_p (608214) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746524)

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

Re:Piracy (1, Insightful)

headkase (533448) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746564)

Curse that singleplayer wasn't commercially viable in the long-run ;)

Re:Piracy (5, Insightful)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 4 years ago | (#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:Piracy (2, Interesting)

The MAZZTer (911996) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746730)

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 installing, integrated server browser, Steamworks (integrates third party games with Steam, including achievements support and Steam Cloud), Steam Cloud (saved games, config keybindings, etc in the cloud that get synced with any of your PCs), the ability to download and play your games on any PC without having to carry around CDs/DVDs, the ability to burn your own install DVDs if you DO prefer that approach, high quality trailers, free game demos, organization of your games via grouping and adding custom shortcuts to Steam, voice chat, group chatrooms, management of downloaded content such as pausing/inhibiting automatic downloads defragmenting on disk files, deleting games, verifying game file integrity, the ability to buy games online and begin downloading the fully-patched versions immediately, and playing them soon after once they finish. Oh, and the occasional access to Steam client and Valve game patch betas. And this is just advantages over NON-DRMd games not sold on Steam, I haven't even touched on the advantages over other forms of DRM, such as unlimited installs or the ability to play a game without needing the CD, despite all the content being locally installed.

Well... (4, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746136)

...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. (5, Insightful)

headkase (533448) | more than 4 years ago | (#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. (3, Insightful)

zwei2stein (782480) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746466)

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. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#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:Ubisoft. (3, Insightful)

RanCossack (1138431) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746566)

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:Well... (1)

billymailman (1576723) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746160)

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

There, fixed it for you.

Re:Well... (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746628)

Well, according to what I've read, that's not really true, as cracks have just started working right. I think that until now nobody could really enjoy the game. Of course, as the crack gets finished, the "pirate" version will be the superior one, has the other will continue to suffer from flaky DSL lines and overwhelmed DRM servers.

Re:Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31746242)

Or they could make PC games ship with some nice stuff, like an actual manual, a nice-looking box and a soundtrack CD, while leaving the intrusive DRM home. Sins of a Solar Empire sold quite well, I believe.

Re:Well... (2, Insightful)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746654)

To play devil's advocate, I don't think that would work. Most people* don't care about the box and physical manual, and the soundtrack can copied as well (as well as a pdf of the manual).

* Personal experience. I have no data to back it up. If you do, please share :)

Re:Well... (1)

jochem_m (1718280) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746462)

they have more trouble actually, which is the problem with those 'phone home first' type drm schemes.

Re:Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31746544)

As far as the crashing issue, that got fixed for me when I switched away from ATI cards (great hardware, drivers blow).

Draconian DRM stops copyright infringement? (2, Interesting)

gweihir (88907) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Draconian DRM stops copyright infringement? (1)

Durzel (137902) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746290)

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?

Re:Draconian DRM stops copyright infringement? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31746330)

Even assuming it's working as a way to prevent pirates from playing the game, it doesn't mean it's working as a way to increase sales.

How many people would have pirated the game but bought it instead since they couldn't?
How many people would have bought the game but didn't due to the annoying DRM?

I'm not convinced the balance is going to be positive especially in the long term. The protection is going to be cracked sooner or later, however disappointed customers are going to take a long time to win back.

Re:Draconian DRM stops copyright infringement? (1)

JackDW (904211) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746370)

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 games that get it so badly wrong, as all of Ubisoft's recent titles have done.

Re:Draconian DRM stops copyright infringement? (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746728)

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 flaky DSL lines, non-connected areas, etc. Besides, I'm not sure people will fall for the "Don't worry, the servers are good now!". Fool me once...

Getting frustrating (1)

QuantumPenguin (1602343) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746150)

FTA: John Abercrombie: "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."

Just yet another industry guy who is either lying or fundamentally doesn't understand. Stop wasting your breath on this endless chicken-and-egg moral persuit of cosmic justice, and focus on what's best for you as a developer/publisher, and that is that removing DRM will increase your sales.

Re:Getting frustrating (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746168)

even if they just made DRM that wasn't so obnoxious and screwed up your computer they would be fine. sure it'll be cracked, so what there will always people that will do anything to not pay. write them off as a loss and move on.

as it stands now, all of UBI softs lastest releases are better quality downloaded from crack sites then if you pay for it. they can't see the millions they are making, only the few 1000's they are losing to pirates.

Re:Getting frustrating (3, Insightful)

SilentSandman (1488023) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746516)

As a game developer myself, I must say that you've got it wrong.

These 'pirates' are NOT A LOSS.

There is -no- appreciable cost to them having a "pirated" version of the software, so spending the millions they do on DRM schemes is complete and utter lunacy. Instead they should reinvest those millions into making their games better, and enticing "those who didn't buy", or even -not- spending it at all, and requiring lower returns to still make a profit. There is NO logical business sense to DRM.

Won't increase sales (1)

headkase (533448) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746182)

Removing DRM won't increase sales and may actually cost you some but your customers - the people who matter - will be a lot more satisfied. I think the average piracy rate sits at around 90% so what should publishers do? Moving the content off of the local computer like Ubisoft is experimenting with is an indication but their current implementation adds nothing of value to the customer. It's just another hoop to jump through without a benefit to a legitimate purchaser and that doesn't engender good will.

Re:Getting frustrating (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31746200)

removing DRM will increase your sales

An anecdotal statement (and indeed one which is likely false, people pirate games because they don't want to pay for them not because of the DRM system - with the exception of one or two titles) is not proof to the level that can be used in a commercial decision.

Also of note is that DRM is mostly to stop people just burning copies of disks for their friends rather then the hardcore torrent freaks, it is only in more recent titles where torrenting has become more accessible where the losses have justified much more rigorous DRM measures.

I currently use a subscription service for my gaming, I pay less then the cost of a single game per month and I get most of the recent titles (+1 month from initial release). I think the subscription cloud service is something that will dramatically change the DRM situation and make PC gaming both more attractive and more accessible, no more multi-thousand dollar rigs each year.

Re:Getting frustrating (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31746220)

Or they can not do that and create all games for consoles which are limited and expensive to pirate games for, which is pretty much what the developer said will happen. They can make more money on consoles so they will create games for consoles.
Nothing you can do can change that.

Exclusives (1)

jlebrech (810586) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746170)

I'm only interested in PC exclusives now... i.e. Indie games, and Starcraft 2. Mount and Blade: Warband looks/seems amazing.

Re:Exclusives (3, Interesting)

apharmdq (219181) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746308)

Agreed. All the major PC games I purchased last year were PC exclusives, with the exception of Dragon Age. (And even there I was rather disappointed with some of the consolized design decisions, though it did do better than most of the other PC ports out there.) Companies like Stardock, Valve, and Blizzard prove that profits can be made in the PC gaming sector. (I don't even like most Blizzard games, but I'm glad they still support PC gamers, so I may consider giving them my money in support.)

Indie games are starting to really come to their own on PC, since it is an unrivaled platform for developing and distributing, especially since the profit margins for selling in the PC marketplace are so much better than something like XBLA. Plus there are tons of free games that are amazing as well. This past year I've spent more money on indie games than on big budget games alone.

I think the main issue for big-name developers is that they force themselves into huge budgets, trying to make games with hyper-realistic graphics, famous voice actors, etc. They just end up being so expensive that the only way to make a good profit on the game is to have big sales, and at the moment, consoles do indeed sell more because they're more accessible on a mass market scale. However, to have big sales, the game not only has to look good, but to appeal to the general gamer population, which means watering it down to be generic enough that a large amount of people will buy it. The result is a bland and uninteresting game with overblown production values.

The perfect example of where PC developers should be going is Sins of a Solar Empire. During development, the budget was limited, resulting in a game with slightly lower production values, but something that still looked fantastic, and as an added plus it ran on a wide variety of machines. Plus the core concepts of the game were still there, and while this focus meant that the game wouldn't appeal to the entire gaming population, it did appeal to a significant group. Add to the mix a lack of DRM, and there you have a game that was a dream for many PC players. The results show in the profit margins, which are higher than many of the large budget games out there. Granted you have beasts like Modern Warfare 2, but how many other big-budget games sell anywhere near as well?

And then there is the lock-in that a gamer experiences with console games. If the company decides to stop supporting the game, you just can't play anymore. (See Halo 1 and 2 on the XBox, and the whole slew of EA titles that lost support.) Meanwhile, I recently reinstalled Descent 2, a 15 year old game, and found a fairly active online community that still plays. (To say nothing of the Quake community.)

In any case, I've always been a PC gamer, have never had a console, and plan on staying that way for a long time to come.

Re:Exclusives (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746702)

Don't approach the problematic games and their design decision as "consolised", IMHO, that stops you from getting a bit closer to crux of the matter (though you're almost there; much closer than many people)

Me, I am both a console and PC gamer...just a gamer, basically. But like you, I notice that I play pretty much only exclusives. Games that wouldn't work almost at all on different kind of platform, games that exploit strenghts of their platform. In contrast, those that you call "console games", and I'd argue for more precise term of "hybrids", are, like you say, watered down for mass consumption (plus launched on pretty much all platforms, with the need to make compromises for all of them, because it "makes sense" to publishers, now that the platforms were brought together so much closer in terms of development... )

(btw, I hear there is talk of Diablo 3 on X360 ;p ...though in this it might not harm it, espetially remembering that PS1 version of Diablo 1 was, in some way, the nicest one)

Not a problem (3, Interesting)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Not a problem (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746310)

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 [polimi.it] , I love cars and I love AI.. so it makes sense even though it would be almost trivial to create an AI that can drive round a track quickly if your level of grip stays constant and you have clearly defined track markers).

PC is a lost cause, just like the last 25 years (4, Insightful)

Marcika (1003625) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:PC is a lost cause, just like the last 25 years (1)

suffix tree monkey (1430749) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746318)

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

The same Blizzard that forbids LAN play in Starcraft 2, and the same EA that distributed Spore with DRM trough the roof, right? Maybe in the 90s it wasn't like that, but we ain't there anymore and there is no DeLorean in sight.

Re:PC is a lost cause, just like the last 25 years (1)

Marcika (1003625) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746388)

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

The same Blizzard that forbids LAN play in Starcraft 2, and the same EA that distributed Spore with DRM trough the roof, right? Maybe in the 90s it wasn't like that, but we ain't there anymore and there is no DeLorean in sight.

But there is no effective DRM for the PC. If I wanted to play Spore for free, I would still be able to download the cracked PC version within a day (or so I assume). Cracking the hardware of the PS3 or Xbox360 is a lot harder. The only effective PC DRM would be a constant unspoofable server connection with unique IDs -- and even for WoW, where this is most feasible, there are still 1000s of private servers out there, as far as I've heard...

Re:PC is a lost cause, just like the last 25 years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31746496)

I have to agree. All of those developers not seeing a future for PC gaming should immediately leave the market. They lack the vision and the creativity to produce decent titles anyways. Their fear of piracy is a very real one, as well. Potential customers might figure how shitty their product is, before they buy.

IMO the real problem with PC gaming is the large number of competitors and their wish to target every single PC-owner out there. They fail to see the difference between Farmville-players as opposed to QuakeLive players. All those companies see is the success of browser games and 6-hrs-gameplay console titles and they want a piece of that cake.

The reason for all this is most probably the fact that those companies are being run by accountants without a joy in gaming. For them a game is yet another product unit and statistics is what you need to make a boring table turn into colorfull graphs.

Those accountants also hope for a single target platform to develop for to ease up the process. That way they can outsource the real work behind creating a game to random 3rd world country.

As a PC Gamer i really wish for those studios and publishers to leave the PC Gaming market. That'll increase the market share for PC-targetted titles like the upcoming Civilization 5 or Brink and follow-up games will be less likely to suck as much as, for instance that latest Ghostbusters game.

Console Piracy (2, Interesting)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.)

Re:Console Piracy (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746422)

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 to do is to download a single ISO from BitTorrent which will likely include a simple crack (usually all you have to do is to copy the crack into the games folder)

WTF (1)

edittard (805475) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746226)

What's a niched product? Seems I spend too much time mainstreaming...

Sell me a product I like (3, Insightful)

dushkin (965522) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746228)

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)

... I stole a few ... (3, Insightful)

Errol backfiring (1280012) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746298)

Better give them back then before they find out they are missing.

The giant behemoth that is... (1)

carlhaagen (1021273) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746246)

...the PC game industry, has grown obese, too fat, too dumb and too clumsy to survive its own game. This is what happens when you move game production into being something akin to producing a hollywood movie, with all the inefficiencies that follow.

Lower prices to achieve huge net gains (2, Insightful)

Munden (681257) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746250)

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. [halflife2.net]

Some of the... (2, Interesting)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Too many options for people to buy (3, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746278)

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 cool...you 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.

PC is for small indie games and niche markets (1)

mentil (1748130) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746284)

Putting DRM on a game nowadays is like shutting the barn door after the horse has left. It only stops people who aren't intimidated by PC games, don't mind infringing copyright, but don't know about the existence of cracks. Those of whom which the 1st and 3rd apply is but a small minority of PC gamers buying anything more sophisticated than The Sims.

Digital downloads (I hate that term) will be great for PC gaming, eventually. There's way too many great PC games that can't be found on Steam for it to be a one-stop shop; consolidation, expansion, or a 3rd party frontend is needed to make more games easily available, to avoid each publisher having their own platform with associated system tray icon, memory footprint and updater.

The PC is the best platform for indie game developers, since there's no devkit to buy or gatekeeper to pay in order to develop for it. Updates are as easy as FTPing a new binary to your server; open source games are especially unlikely to appear on consoles. Interesting experimental or hastily-made games which would never appear on a console due to lack of polish or content can be offered for free on PC. And finally, the standard input devices of mouse and keyboard aren't standard on any console, allowing more precision or more functions for PC games.

Cloud gaming won't be very interesting until bandwidth is high and unlimited and the lag is low. I imagine it would work better in Korea, since it's compatible with the net cafe business model, and they have very high speed internet.

Publishers start funding of downloadable console games at $300k-$500k, so anything expected to gross less than that needs a new funding source. It may be negligible to publishers which rake in Billions per year, but to a two-man team $250k can be a lot of money, the amount a niche game might make. Self-publishing for the PC is always an option.

What is for indie party games? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746378)

Self-publishing for the PC is always an option.

But then PC gamers and console gamers tend to like different genres. For example, some games like Mario Party and Smash Bros. and Bomberman are best played on a large monitor with friends in the same room. With few exceptions [wikipedia.org] , these tend not to get ported to PCs due to a perception that HTPCs don exits [wikia.com] . So if my team has developed such a party-style PC game, should I try self-publishing it, or should we make and sell a PC game in a completely different genre in order to qualify for a console license?

These guys are as bad as the movie industry (4, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:These guys are as bad as the movie industry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31746494)

Funny to listen people outside the industry talk about things without any knowledge. Most of the big studios develop titles on cross platform, first it is developed on a console/pc combination, 360/PS3 being the target and the PC being the development platform. So releasing a game for PC when the main target was the 360 or PS3 is not such a big deal. That doesn't mean PC development was the intended target, it is just a side effect.

So, developers are getting this PC version of the game for 'free' and the issue is whether to bother doing the minor work needed for a commercial release or not. The numbers and the forums clearly indicate there is a generation of PC gamers out there that take for granted bypassing buying the games and simply go for the pirated ones. So for the meager sales one is going to make on the PC version it is really becoming more and more clear that the answer is not.

In my opinion the PC game, and the PC hardware by extension, is dead or kicking its last strokes. A number of circumstances killed it, mediocrity at the OS level, apps is one cause, but the other without a doubt is piracy of both games and applications.

Re:These guys are as bad as the movie industry (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746526)

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:These guys are as bad as the movie industry (2, Informative)

PhilHibbs (4537) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746640)

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 most play at the moment is Carmageddon 2, I found my disk a couple of weeks ago and got it working and it's awesome.

Leave the PC games market then, big publishers (1)

Lord Lode (1290856) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746302)

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.

Re:Leave the PC games market then, big publishers (0, Troll)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746398)

There still is a market for proper shooters

"Shooter" is a broad category. There are A. bullet hell scrolling shooters, B. shooters from a first-person view in the Duck Hunt/Time Crisis sense, and C. first-person shooters in the Quake sense. Only category C is necessarily better on a PC.

and RTS games for PC

It's not exactly "real time" if you can build an oil refinery in less than the time it takes for your units to cross the map.

Re:Leave the PC games market then, big publishers (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746542)

It's not exactly "real time" if you can build an oil refinery in less than the time it takes for your units to cross the map.

That depends on the size of the map.

Re:Leave the PC games market then, big publishers (1)

ifrag (984323) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746568)

It's not exactly "real time" if you can build an oil refinery in less than the time it takes for your units to cross the map.

Perhaps you have underestimated how awesomely large my map is.

Hey Joe! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31746304)

Joe Kreiner! Everything you said basically boils down to "Making games for the PC is haaaaard and we don't make as much money from the flawed, pitiful, weaksauce console ports we try to fob off on you."

Got a request for you buddy.

Keep your whining ass as far away from the PC game market as possible. Thanks.

Leave the PC game making to the folks who aren't afraid of putting in a little hard work to make games for players who are capable of controlling games using more than their opposable thumbs.

What future? (1)

migla (1099771) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746324)

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 don't get to computing utopia before we collectively snuff it, of course).

Re:What future? (1)

melikamp (631205) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746620)

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 (2, Insightful)

apmonte (1235058) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746326)

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 for long stretches). Additionally, I like the idea that everyone is using the same hardware and the guys that are killing me every time I turn around aren't doing so because they're getting 10x my frame rate after building a new $5k system. Another benefit to ditching the PC for the console is that I haven't had to update my PC in years. (I'm long overdue for a new PC, but don't have a compelling reason to upgrade just yet)

Re:Console vs PC (1)

headkase (533448) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746396)

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.

Re:Console vs PC (1)

headkase (533448) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746404)

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 ;)

Re:Console vs PC (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746408)

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.

Re:Console vs PC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31746738)

Due to not upgrading, he probably doesn't have those ports. Few console people realize with an upgraded PC HD television, you can have better graphics that all the consoles.

Re:Console vs PC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31746548)

You miss the fact that console games are at least 50% more expensive than their PC counterparts.

If you buy a lot of games it doesn't end up all that much cheaper plus you don't need to spend silly amounts of money on a video card. My old 8800GT has run everything I have thrown at it for the last two years.

Re:Console vs PC (1)

the_one(2) (1117139) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746668)

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).

This is NOT the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31746344)

"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?"

Your words "from being stolen?" already tells me you have no clue and should just stop now. Nothing is stolen when something is copied. End of story.

I like techdirt's motto: Connect with Fans, and give them a Reason to Buy.

What stupid babble (5, Insightful)

KlausBreuer (105581) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746356)

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?)

Ciao,
Klaus

Re:What stupid babble (0)

PhilHibbs (4537) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746678)

The always-on-the-net DRM seems to be working. Assassin's Creed II cracks don't work yet, so I'm told. I haven't tried any. If I hear otherwise, I'll buy a copy and crack it. You hear that, Ubisoft? When it can be cracked, I will buy it. Until then, I cannot play it so I will not buy it.

If this is what they think get out of the industry (3, Insightful)

WCMI92 (592436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746418)

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...

Newer Games are more hassle then older ones. (0, Offtopic)

CFBMoo1 (157453) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746484)

I played Dragon Age and it was a decent game, but after playing the campaign there wasn't much for me. I had no desire to purchase additional content from the on-line store. There was no multi-player like there was in NWN1. Also the toolset I couldn't get working for it unless I did some trickery with my SQL express install from Visual Studio.

Quite frankly I had more fun and incentive to buy NWN1 expansions then I have to buy Dragon Age expansions. The NWN1 expansions added more to the single player and more to the toolset which was way easier too install and use then the DA one. I got way more replay value out of that.

Torchlight gave me some great fun, though the limited number of installs will keep it from sticking around on my computer. I've switched to Vista and had a hard drive failure and had to reinstall the game twice. Now I'm eye'n up a SSD to replace the main one which means a reinstall there too. Same thing with Plants vs. Zombies, great game but the limited install options means it won't stick around on my machine too much longer either if I upgrade hardware any time soon.

I noticed there are a lot more nicer game options in my package manager these days on my Ubuntu machine. That and my older games with the less hassle installers go nicely under Wine.

draconian for sure... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31746534)

those draconian DRM things are nothing but a small nusance to those who can defeat them and a real headache for actual paying customers. Case and point, I have a friend that bought the new C&C4, but he can't play it because his DSL drops somewhat frequently, which kicks him out of the game and forces him to start over. He tried to play 4 times before getting aggravated and giving up. If publishers would stop with all the DRM stuff hackers would be less interested and real customers could actually enjoy the product.

Hoping for another video game crash.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31746540)

..if only to take the piss out of this consoles-uber-alles bullshit.

It seems to me that this guy's only real concern is keeping his work from being "stolen." Funny how the almighty consoles don't prevent this either, but it's so easy to point the finger at the "mish mash" of components on the non-platform of the PC isn't it?

The modern gaming era is a direct result of PC gaming. Were it not for Wolf3d/Doom on the PC, gaming would not have become popular enough to have caused the modern console explosion. Gaming has ALWAYS been a computer thing, going right back to Spacewar. When the original console/arcade meltdown happened in '84, gaming did not disappear: it was alive and well on the computers of the day. Hell back then it was a stigma to have your computer platform known as a "games machine" (Amiga, Atari). It wasn't until ID Software made it cool that critical mass had been reached, and it was a chain reaction. I'd be willing to bet that Wolf3d, Doom and Myst sold more computers than Microsoft Windows did.

What this "industry" needs is another humongous crash. When video games have budgets to rival major Hollywood movies and yet only give you a few hours of "gameplay," I think we've reached the point of ultimate hubris. It's another bubble...somethings got to give.

1983 Console Crash (1)

headkase (533448) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746604)

The console crash of: 1983 [wikipedia.org] was caused by two main reasons: over-saturation of the market and very low-quality software. Comparing that to today: over-saturated - yes, and low-quality - somewhat.

Bunch of whiny bitches (4, Insightful)

bemenaker (852000) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746592)

Is it just me, or are these developers just a bunch of whiny little bitches?

My own opinion. (1)

Tei (520358) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746664)

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 market of Culture and Quality. While the Console platform and these developers are evolving to a remake of the Hollywood culture.

Some people like Blockbusters like Independence Day(HALO), other people like 'smaller' movies like District 9 (Stalker). There are more in Stalker than where you will ever get from Halo.

Another reason to attack the PC platform, is that theres a type of gamer, the fanboy, that really like to read about how correct is his decission to love a platform, and how wrong is to choose other platforms, or like more other platforms. Badmounting the PC platform is lame fan service.

If PC gaming is dyiing, then probably Steam will close soon, Ok? do it look like Steam is the wrong thing and will close soon?

Maybe the future of consoles is Steam, a service like Steam to download games from internet, socialize, and things. The market of the very noise MegaBlockbuster Teenager Generic Shooter is not that big anyway. For every FPS gamer, there are 3 RTS gamers/players and 8 puzzle players. Hell... there are 85 million of FarmVille players. How much people play Halo 2 or BF2 now on the console?

An iddy biddy niche market... (4, Insightful)

BForrester (946915) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

DRM stopping pirates? (2, Insightful)

davidla (875720) | more than 4 years ago | (#31746710)

"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 are only hurting your paying customers.

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