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Digital Distribution Numbers Speak To Health of PC Game Industry

Soulskill posted about 4 years ago | from the i-demand-a-recount dept.

Businesses 192

An anonymous reader writes with this quote from PC Authority: "Over the years many voices have declared PC gaming dead. We have seen developers abandon the platform for consoles, citing piracy as the cause. Game stores have slowly relegated PC games from prime shelf position to one tucked away in the back corner — even Microsoft dumped AAA PC game developers from the company. It seems, though, that the demise of the PC as a games platform has been exaggerated, because until very recently sales data ignored digital distribution, with the latest data released by US company NPD revealing that 48% of PC unit sales in the US in 2009 were digital. That translates to 21.3 million games downloaded in the US. Interestingly, although 48% of games were sold online, it only worked out as 36% of the revenue. This highlights the fact that it isn't just convenience that has PC gamers shopping online; it is also that games are generally cheaper than in stores."

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192 comments

Of course. (4, Funny)

bbqsrc (1441981) | about 4 years ago | (#33000346)

Who would have thought $99 wasn't due to the cost of packaging? The eyes, how they roll!

Re:Of course. (1)

NibbleG (987871) | about 4 years ago | (#33000374)

Are we the only ones up right now?

Re:Of course. (1)

NibbleG (987871) | about 4 years ago | (#33000392)

"Well Yeah, all that cardboard, plastic, unicorn meat is cheaper than the IP so we aren't spending much compared to what we have already invested..."

Re:Of course. (1)

Shanrak (1037504) | about 4 years ago | (#33001352)

You can also attribute some of the big difference to Steam's great sales. Only a couple of my games list I purchased at full price some because I didn't want to wait otehrs because I wanted to contribute since it is such a good game: DAO, X3:TC, Sins of a Solar Empire, and a few others, almost all the rest of my games I bought in those sales where they were anywhere from 50-90% off and big game packs(THQ complete pack for 49.99, that comes out to be about 3-4$ per game).

Re:Of course. (5, Insightful)

Pharmboy (216950) | about 4 years ago | (#33001376)

Steam has done more than offer great prices, they have increased sales. There are several games that I never would have bought if I had to pay full price. I bought Bioshock 1 when it went on sale for $15, which led me to buy Bioshock 2, once it went on sale for $25. Actually, I was going to pay the full $50 and just got lucky that it went on sale. But I have a couple dozen games that I would not have paid $50 for, simply because Steam had a reasonable price on them. A few I have seldom played, but don't feel bad because they only cost $10.

I know I'm not the only one, so it is pretty reasonable to assume that the lower prices drastically increase sales.

Re:Of course. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33002098)

Second.

I got Vice City for £1.50 on PC, and GTA IV for £5.

History repeats itself (4, Insightful)

zr-rifle (677585) | about 4 years ago | (#33000372)

The demise of the PC has been called for for at least 20 years now. I remember similar headlines in the early nineties, claiming that home computer gaming industry would be beaten to pulp by japanese consoles like the Sega Genesis or the Super Famicom, mainly because it would be impossible to pirate a cartridge.

Nowadays, we have a massive user base connected to a cheap digital distribution network, the Internet, with no vendor lock on. You need the right technology and strong commitment to take advantage of such a powerful platform: that's what Valve did with Steam and, seven years later, it's still a great success.

Re:History repeats itself (4, Insightful)

SharpFang (651121) | about 4 years ago | (#33000444)

The idea that better protection means guaranteed market dominance is inherently flawed.

People quite often choose a platform strictly for its being hackable, for its flawed protection scheme. And they will buy some games while pirating more others, generating some revenue for the flawed-protection market and none for the perfect-protection one. The other will get much better revenue per customer, but much less customers. And of course they will never get the idea just WHY does their console sell worse?

Re:History repeats itself (1)

Dencrypt (1068608) | about 4 years ago | (#33000818)

I guess they never heard of the Super Wild Card Backup Station [flickr.com] back then.

Re:History repeats itself (1, Informative)

Xest (935314) | about 4 years ago | (#33001164)

The problem is, I'm not convinced that the prediction is actually wrong, and this article despite what it says, seems to fail to demonstrate that.

To put the statistic they gave as an example into context, 21.3 million total PC games sold online in the largest market for games purchases is roughly around the same amount of units sold as for an individual game in roughly the same period- Super Mario Kart wii.

That figure doesn't help their case, if a single console game can outsell every PC game distributed online in a similar period in the largest market for games then I'd say PC gaming does in fact have a problem still.

Even if it's not declining, it's clearly a relatively small market, it doesn't look good when you factor in console sales of games beyond Super Mario Kart Wii like New Super Mario Brothers, Wii Fit, Call of Duty MW2, Uncharted 2 and all the rest.

I'm sure some people will jump on me for hating the PC, but that's stupid I don't, particularly right now as I'm sat like a kid at Christmas hoping my collectors edition of Starcraft II arrives tommorrow and I don't have to wait until next week, but I'm not convinced that pretending there isn't a problem, when there is clearly at least one problem- that the PC is, relatively, an extremely small market is the best way forward. As for whether there's a decline, it's hard to tell, but as I've pointed out previously, this list is a little disconcerting:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-selling_PC_video_games [wikipedia.org]

Most of the top selling PC games are years, many over a decade old now, newer PC games just aren't even breaking their way onto the list. If the PC games market is healthy then why aren't many modern games managing to do this? Particularly as there are more PCs in the world than there have ever been nowadays.

It's a sad state of affairs, but for whatever reason it's pretty easy to see why many companies focus on console platforms nowadays from a commercial perspective. Personally I wish I knew what the answer was, I don't really know how the state of PC gaming can be improved as much as I'd like it to be- I'd love nothing more than to have the glory days of PC gaming back when we saw the likes of Doom, Quake, Syndicate, Theme Park, Magic Carpet, the early C&C games and so forth, undoubtedly the PC has the most varied and innovative gaming history of any platform IMHO.

Re:History repeats itself (1)

Zironic (1112127) | about 4 years ago | (#33001564)

Seriously, you can't compare games sold during 2009 in the US to games sold from 2008 to 2010 worldwide, that's silly. Mario Kart Wii sold a million copies in the US in 2009, in the entire 2008 to 2010 period it sold 5 million copies in the US. The other 16 million were worldwide.

Re:History repeats itself (1)

Xest (935314) | about 4 years ago | (#33001770)

But we're talking about a single game vs. the entire US games market. Even if you look at US only for the exact same period then you only require literally a handful of console games in the US to outsell the entire PC market. That's a big deal and no amount of disputing the relevance of a particular example metric will change that. I'll even give you another example that you simply can't dispute with complaints about invalid comparisons, Modern Warfare 2 in the US sold more (~14mill) on the 360 and PS3 in just a few months of 2009 than quarter of what the PC shifted of every game both digital and hard copy for the entire year, factor in sales of the likes of New Super Mario Brothers for a couple of months and you'll be at about a half- in less than 10 titles over just a few months consoles outsell the PC's entire years units, how bad do you think it looks when you take every console game across the entire year? It looks even worse when you factor in the much lower average price of PC games too.

At the end of the day however you cut it, the PC market is absolutely dwarfed by the console market and that's the fundamental problem with discussions about the health of the PC market- it's certainly a fair size yes, but also it's still absolutely dwarfed by the console market, and as such that is why it gets largely neglected by developers still. More importantly, it's why saying "things are fine and dandy in the PC gaming world" is akin to simply burying your head in the sand, and doing so will only make the problem much worse, ignoring it or pretending the problem doesn't exist wont make things better.

Re:History repeats itself (2, Informative)

Zironic (1112127) | about 4 years ago | (#33001968)

I'm not sure where you're getting that number from since NPD says the total US sales up to march 2010 is 10 million, the first month it sold 6 millionish.

If you take the top games of 2009, you have:

Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Activision 8.82mil
Wii Sports Resort Nintendo 4.54mil
New Super Mario Bros. Wii Nintendo 4.23mil
Wii Fit Plus Nintendo 3.53mil
Wii Fit Nintendo 3.60mil
Add them all up: 24.72 million.

While that shows that the console market is bigger then the PC market it shows that it's not nearly as dwarfed as you seem to think it is. You seem to keep stumbling over wildly inaccurate numbers which causes your conclusions to be off. You also have to take into account from the publishers perspective it's rather expensive to develop separate versions for the PS3 and XBOX360 and that the higher price on Consoles doesn't go to the publisher, it goes to the console maker as their publishing fee.

Re:History repeats itself (5, Informative)

smallfries (601545) | about 4 years ago | (#33001790)

Wrong, wrong, wrong wrong. In fact you are so wrong that I'm undoing mods to reply to you.

You take the figures from the summary and then produce some figures from your arse, claim they are bigger and therefore the article is wrong? Who says that Super Mario Kart wii sold 21.3 units in the US in 2009? Your claims are at odds with wikipedia which claims that 22 million copies have been sold world-wide in the two years since launch.

Although I can't find annual sales figures for consoles in 2009 I have at least looked a bit harder than you to find some real figures: NPD sales figures for the US in 2009 show 22.6 million units sold for the Wii, 20.4 million units for the xbox360 and 8.7 million for the PS3.

So the PC market for digital downloads is the same size as the most popular platforms, and the total PC games market is twice the size. Quite the opposite of your conclusions, but then I used real numbers instead of those stored up my arse.

Re:History repeats itself (1)

Zironic (1112127) | about 4 years ago | (#33001988)

Nice, you managed to find the totals. NPD isn't very friendly to people that want to get data for free since they're in the business of selling it so I just managed to find the top 5 games.

It's interesting that the PS3 sells so abysmally, that explains why Activision said they're about ready to stop developing for the PS3 all together.

In Other News... (3, Informative)

Inschato (1350323) | about 4 years ago | (#33000376)

Software box companies continue to dislike digital distribution, oil companies lobby away from nuclear power, and the middle east is still a warzone.

Au contraire (3, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | about 4 years ago | (#33001182)

I don't think any publisher ever hated the idea of digital distribution (if only it could be made pirate-proof enough for their taste.)

See, ever since the 90's or so, most of the profit has been made by the retailers. Those make money both from the few games that are a success, and from the complete flops. Even games like Daikatana or Aiken's Artefact (which got great reviews, but IIRC sold a total of 800 copies and nobody knowns why) actually made a bunch of retailers a bunch of money.

See, some of us learned a 17'th century version of capitalism (which is also the version in the game called Capitalism) where the merchant buys a barrel of wine in France for price X and tries to sell it in England for 10% more. (Or 50% or whatever.) And if it doesn't work, hey, the producer got his money anyway. Most of retail in today's post-scarcity economy doesn't work that way. Producing stuff is easy, selling it is hard, and basically as a producer you pay the retailers for shelf space to even carry your product at all. If you made an Aiken's Artefact and sold 800 copies total, congrats, you still pay all those retailers to have it on the shelves.

Worse yet, basically the retailers know how important they are and often get to directly or indirectly got to set the rules for you.

The most trivial example is the current brouhaha over ESRB ratings, which exists because of one single retailer: Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart doesn't carry Adults Only game, 'cause god forbid someone may think that means porn, and that would ruin their BS corporate image. Dumbly enough it's also the biggest retailer. Which left the industry in the pickle of simultaneously arguing (A) not all games are for kids, so fuck off, we can make a game with tits and gutting people like sardines because it's for adults, (B) but this particular set of tits and gutted people is good for 17 years old (or sometimes even 13) because otherwise Wal-Mart won't carry it and we'd, like, not make as much money. (And of course making money overrides and moral considerations. What are you, some kinda commie?)

But, heck, even the E3 exists only because at some point the industry figured out they need a way to woo the retailers. That's right. It never was meant to be a place where nerds get their photos taken with booth-babes, except as a further way to show the retailers "look how many people are interested in our next game."

But generally, you have an industry which for a long while has been squeezed by the balls by the retailers. It had to keep brown-nosing them and paying them for the privilege.

I believe that most publishers would have sold their soul to the devil to get out of that, not just tried digital distribution.

Of course, it also had to be enough of a market share, and give some reassurance that it won't get pirated right off your own servers. Piracy, now _that's_ a bigger scare than the retailers.

Im buying solely online. (3, Informative)

unity100 (970058) | about 4 years ago | (#33000386)

digital download. permanent. always there. nothing less.

gamersgate.com works great. i have a hoard of games there. no client, no strings attached, you download, install, play. then you may delete the game. if you later on want to play it again, you just download it again. no client, no strings attached, dl, install, play. rinse and repeat. all games permanently stay in your account as accessible.

also very cheap. they make huge sales. apparently online distributors can afford to sell prime time titles from $3 (with loyalty discount - depends on member status, it hits in between $3-10 for prime games).

what this has over steam is, it doesnt need a client, hence no mods etc will have issues, and difference with direct2drive is, gamersgate is much cheaper.

as you see, i counted 3 major online digital distributors... didnt even need to mention countless smaller ones. so, digital downloads can be said to come at last.

Re:Im buying solely online. (3, Insightful)

IBBoard (1128019) | about 4 years ago | (#33000480)

digital download. permanent. always there. nothing less.

Until it is DRMed by a Steam-like system, the owner vanishes and your game is gone. Granted, some boxed games these days have bad DRM (EA), but the old-school copy protection is as good as not existing. I've got 15 year old games I can still play. I doubt the same would be true of most modern digital downloads in 15 years.

That said, there are some sensible digital download sites (gog.com and, from the sounds of it, gamersgate.com) that do give you the discount and the freedom/fair use.

Re:Im buying solely online. (1)

unity100 (970058) | about 4 years ago | (#33000560)

they arent drmed. majority of the titles. even in drmed ones i have had no issues, their drms are rather mild compared to what ea, ubisoft tries to push. of course these brand's titles are still drmed as their originals.

Re:Im buying solely online. (2, Insightful)

IBBoard (1128019) | about 4 years ago | (#33000848)

You've not had any issues...yet. That's the biggest problem of DRM - people don't have problems at the moment and so assume that all will be rosy in the future. Granted, most media-based 'copy-protection' DRM is trivial to defeat, but it's the phone-home ones that are especially likely to bite you later.

Re:Im buying solely online. (1)

Canazza (1428553) | about 4 years ago | (#33000958)

The only games I've found on Steam that have any DRM are Source-based games, in that you can't run them without running Steam (though you can run them in offline mode). Everything else can just be launched from the .exe like normal, all Steam provides is a Library system (like Media players do for music and video)

Hell, some games you can buy WONT run from Steam, especially if they have a launcher programme that needs admin rights (like Fallen Earth or APB)

Re:Im buying solely online. (1)

Skuto (171945) | about 4 years ago | (#33001210)

>Everything else can just be launched from the .exe like normal, all Steam provides is a Library system (like Media players do for music and
>video)

The .exes are still wrapped in Steam DRM. It will be obvious if you try to apply patches. Offline mode stops working if Steam is down >30 days.

Re:Im buying solely online. (1)

Pharmboy (216950) | about 4 years ago | (#33001440)

Actually, the Source based games have the LEAST offensive DRM. Almost everything else I have bought on Steam has more restrictive DRM. Bioshock 2, while a great game, pissed me off that I had to have a microsoft gamer's account to save games, and I am FORCED to log in each time, or I can't save game. The others had serials that I had to copy/paste from the steam client, and register online. Source games, on the other hand, simply work. Then again, Gabe (owner of Steam) has made it clear that piracy is not at the top of his list of things to worry about.

Re:Im buying solely online. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33001312)

The Steam servers go down, and then... what? The DRM that Steam games use is just another form of client-side PC DRM, the weakest kind. If Steam goes down, the games will be cracked almost immediately. Steam's games were not built ground-up around DRM; it was tacked on. It does not download crucial executable instructions at runtime... thereby requiring an emulator or network interception. Everything needed to run the game is already installed, local to the PC. It's obfuscation. That's it.

Re:Im buying solely online. (2, Informative)

dave420 (699308) | about 4 years ago | (#33001768)

If Steam goes down due to bankruptcy, or simply being closed down, Gabe Newell (Valve's CEO) said they'd turn off authentication for all games. They've tested it, apparently, and it works a charm. So nothing would need to be done. Your downloaded games would still work just as they did before.

Re:Im buying solely online. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33001812)

They've tested it, apparently, and it works a charm.

So what? If they are in bankruptcy by definition they are not in control.

Re:Im buying solely online. (1)

wjousts (1529427) | about 4 years ago | (#33001930)

Your naivety is positively charming. Well I guess if Gabe said it, it must be true. Never mind that the TOS of Steam mentions nothing of the sort and nowhere have Valve said anything that could be construed as a legally binding pledge.

Re:Im buying solely online. (2, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | about 4 years ago | (#33002038)

If Steam goes down due to bankruptcy, or simply being closed down, Gabe Newell (Valve's CEO) said they'd turn off authentication for all games.

Is this patch in escrow? If not, the company that buys Valve's assets at auction might disagree with the plan to turn off authentication.

Re:Im buying solely online. (1)

dave420 (699308) | about 4 years ago | (#33001750)

Gabe Newell, the CEO of Valve, said that in the event of the company going bust, they'd disable authentication (which they have apparently successfully tested), allowing people to play the games without Valve's servers being there.

Re:Im buying solely online. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33000594)

You counted 3 major online digital distributors, but due to a missing noun/verb combination, it appears you are inflating your figures. Please complete your third paragraph.

Re:Im buying solely online. (2, Funny)

segin (883667) | about 4 years ago | (#33001024)

All heil the Grammar Fuhrer!

Re:Im buying solely online. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33001290)

gamersgate.com works great. i have a hoard of games there. no client, no strings attached, you download, install, play. then you may delete the game. if you later on want to play it again, you just download it again.

I'd rather go to GOG.com [gog.com] where they actively encourage you to keep your own backups of the games you buy from them. You buy, download, play, uninstall, reinstall from backups, play, etc. No need to worry about gog.com going under and not having the ability to redownload later on if desired.

We've know this since the 80's (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33000402)

Marty McFly: [showing the two boys how to play the shoot 'em up video game] I'll show you, kid. I'm a crack shot at this.
[shoots a perfect score with the electronic gun]
Video Game Boy #1: You mean you have to use your hands?
Video Game Boy #2: That's like a baby's toy!

So, how does it translate... (1)

SharpFang (651121) | about 4 years ago | (#33000418)

So could anyone give the adjusted graph of market distribution, consoles vs PC?

PC's will always be a popular platform (2)

pinkushun (1467193) | about 4 years ago | (#33000420)

Despite the curve involved to maintain, it's highly customizable, and handles a multitude of tasks and games. You can run emulators for different platforms, network PC's together (without needing an online gaming subscription), and hack someone's port... until quantum computers come out, that is.

pc games from the 1990s (2, Interesting)

wakim1618 (579135) | about 4 years ago | (#33000424)

Old games can still be played on today's pc's (starcraft comes to mind). If you bought an older game for the previous generations of gaming consoles, it will not probably play on the latest generation of consoles.

I still buy pc games that I don't have time to play today in the expectation that I will be able to play them in the future when I have more time. That said, I am buying almost exclusively stand-alone games that don't need to connect to a server with thousands of other players.

Re:pc games from the 1990s (1)

pandrijeczko (588093) | about 4 years ago | (#33001142)

Old games can still be played on today's pc's (starcraft comes to mind).

It does vary from title to title. Starcraft is obviously well written but it does beg the question as to whether or not it would be worth Blizzard updating the engine a little so it can support higher screen resolutions - although I already own the game and the expansion, I would certainly pay, say. £5-£10 for an updated version that did this.

And if we're talking about classic RTS games, don't fail to mention Total Annihilation. I've not upgraded beyond Windows XP but TA runs well on XP and seems to still support higher resolutions well.

I still buy pc games that I don't have time to play today in the expectation that I will be able to play them in the future when I have more time. That said, I am buying almost exclusively stand-alone games that don't need to connect to a server with thousands of other play.

I tried WoW after continual badgering from my friends to give it a try but couldn't see the appeal of it personally and gave up after a month. Good luck to those that do enjoy it but I thought it was a lot less sociable then logging into an Internet server for a quick Quake deathmatch or, even better, a LAN party with a few friends.

I did use to "hoard games for later use" but these days I realise it's just a waste of money - if you really feel like playing an old game, you can always find a legal copy somewhere on Amazon or eBay. And hopefully sites like GOG.com mean that older titles will be always available for download if you want them at a later date.

Re:pc games from the 1990s (1)

Zironic (1112127) | about 4 years ago | (#33001592)

"It does vary from title to title. Starcraft is obviously well written but it does beg the question as to whether or not it would be worth Blizzard updating the engine a little so it can support higher screen resolutions - although I already own the game and the expansion, I would certainly pay, say. £5-£10 for an updated version that did this."

They've said they won't, but it's going to be relatively trivial to make a Starcraft 1 mod for Starcraft 2 so I suspect someone will do that for you shortly after release.

Re:pc games from the 1990s (1)

pandrijeczko (588093) | about 4 years ago | (#33002002)

I'm prepared to wait for the initial response to SC2 because SC1 was so good, but I'm not holding out much hope if I'm honest.

I really haven't been enthused with RTS games since they went from sprites to 3D, I think changeable camera views & zooming in & out just adds unnecessary useless features to that type of game.

Wheater prediction: Black Clouds (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33000468)

Even if that is good news for the open platform, is not the only thing to take into account.
PC game companies are closing, and social game studios are opening. There are more diversity, but the number of AAA game is reduced. The Indie is only a type of games. And the social games are not really creating more gamers.
The search of general acceptance from no gamers, seems to mean making no-games.

The PC is the king of a undying fortress, so will never die, there will be *always* people making games for the PC. But most people has already jumped to the consoles.
And the consoles have aged, and in a not good way.

The futures consoles will include a harddisk, and the prefered method (in number of sales, and maybe profit) will be digital download games.

For how long after release? (2, Insightful)

Beardydog (716221) | about 4 years ago | (#33000472)

Borderlands:
Amazon.com from a shifty third-party seller - $28 ( before shipping )
Steam - $30
Onlive, which charges you $5 per month AND eats your games when you quit, $40, if I recall correctly.

Mind=Blown

Re:For how long after release? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33000620)

With the added advantage of Steam deals which saw me pickup Borderlands for ~£7 the other day, PC wins.

Re:For how long after release? (1)

icebraining (1313345) | about 4 years ago | (#33000940)

Also, TF2 for 15E, and I got Portal and Alien Swarm for free.

Re:For how long after release? (4, Insightful)

omglolbah (731566) | about 4 years ago | (#33001402)

And it is so bloody convenient it is costing me a fortune....

When it has become faster and easier to buy it than pirate it... I'm sold!

Damnit steam and your abilty to entice me to pay for things I would have pirated 2-3 years ago :p

Re:For how long after release? (1)

Inda (580031) | about 4 years ago | (#33001896)

<p>No. No. No.

<p>I paid &pound;12 for Borderlands a few days ago off eBay (hoping its on the doormat whern I get home).

<p>I will end up selling it for &pound;6 or &pound;7 in a few months time.

<p>Secondhand on the Xbox wins.

Re:For how long after release? (1)

Inda (580031) | about 4 years ago | (#33001914)

Bollox.

Re:For how long after release? (1)

aj50 (789101) | about 4 years ago | (#33001012)

It varies hugely from game to game.

Borderlands was £20 on shop.to at release while it was £27 on Steam.

Digital stores only tend to be cheaper when games are on sale or when a game has mostly sold out at physical retailers.

This is what happens when you let publishers dictate prices.

Re:For how long after release? (1)

powerspike (729889) | about 4 years ago | (#33001174)

That's funny, when borderlands came out, i got it off steam for $30. Just checked steam again, and yup, it's $79.99, It's obvious that they are charging different amounts for different countries now as well. (in australia for reference) It's cheaper in EB games down at the local mall (even when not on special). go figure..

Re:For how long after release? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33001140)

PC gaming isnt dead. It's just sick... Severe greed infection.

Don't worry. it'll cure itself. Just takes time.

Re:For how long after release? (1)

Dudibob (1556875) | about 4 years ago | (#33002186)

Borderlands was a whole £10 though a week or two ago, now it's gone back up to £30

BenJCarter (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33000488)

Three words describing why the PC game console is still rocking: World of Warcraft.

Re:BenJCarter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33000516)

Hardly, if any this thing is damaging the PC gaming platform. Who wants to make a game that has to compete with WoW or The Sims?!

Breaking news: People like cheap stuff! (2, Insightful)

IBBoard (1128019) | about 4 years ago | (#33000492)

This highlights the fact that it isn't just convenience that has PC gamers shopping online; it is also that games are generally cheaper than in stores.

Who'da thunked it - if people can get a game cheaper and quicker without leaving their house then they will! Next thing you know they'll be telling us that people go shopping in sales...

and (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33000496)

I'll bet that in 10 years when these people who got their games through download, want a bit of nostalgia, i'll bet that they.
1) have forgotten their account name and or password
2) have changed email address so they can't get their password
(happened to me already with my steam account, silly me)
3) the antipiracy DRM server is unavailable for one reason or another. (unsupported, company non existant).
4) they forgot to make a backup on top of one of the above.

plus, then can't sell the game after playing it or lend it to friends and family so it better be cheaper than a disc version.

I just installed one of my old favorites from about 8-9 years ago under wine and I had fun with it for an evening.
Tons of stuff has happened in my life since then, and if I didn't have that disc to install from. I would not have been able to play it.

Re:and (4, Interesting)

pandrijeczko (588093) | about 4 years ago | (#33000822)

I'm a fan of Stardock's Galactic Civilizations II and the expansions, all of which I own on CD.

Not long after the original game was released about 5 years ago, Stardock changed the license key format (I think due to piracy issues) so that the key printed on the instruction manual no longer worked. However, they informed everyone about this & getting a new key issued was straightforward & quick.

I hadn't played the game for about two years & had rebuilt my PC since I'd last played it but decided to dig it out again recently. When I installed the game & connected to Stardock via their Impulse application (think of it as a simpler version of Steam), I remembered the old key didn't work, had the lost the new key & realised that the registered email address Stardock had for me was an ISP-based one from an ISP I no longer use or have access to.

I emailed Stardock, asking them to either send the key to my new email address or to update my records to that I could send myself the key from Impulse. This was on a Friday evening and I had been looking forward to playing GC II over the weekend.

To give Stardock credit, they were very helpful and by the following Tuesday they had sorted it all out - but I did need to send out about three emails to them and they appeared to have nobody on duty over the weekend, which is when I had really fancied having the gaming session.

So, yes, this is one specific reason why too much reliance on the game creator servers can be a problem for legitimate purchasers.

the PC will never really die as a games platform (3, Interesting)

johnhp (1807490) | about 4 years ago | (#33000504)

I know I could be wrong, but I think there's almost no chance that the PC will ever die as a gaming platform. The reason it won't die is the console + TV and PC + monitor distinction will become less defined over the years. They're not that different conceptually as it is.

There was another story on Slashdot recently about centralizing graphics processing into a single graphics server per household, with the output from that server being displayed on client devices. Once you reach that point, consoles and PCs, monitors and TVs, all become the same devices.

Re:the PC will never really die as a games platfor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33000666)

it'd be interesting if it happened, but i can't see sony, microsoft and nintendo EVER working that shit out. DRM is too important to trust X with it!

new definition of consoles (1)

Tei (520358) | about 4 years ago | (#33001104)

What define the consoles now, is that the console games hare created for people playing in a coach, with a pad on the hand. this sets limits and expectations. Then, after that, you have the effects of the owner of the console, setting rules, and maybe his idea of quality.

The PC is defined by the high and medium graphic cards, memory availability, mouse and keyboard. And people use it on a desktop.

This may change on the future,but is like that today.

Re:the PC will never really die as a games platfor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33001322)

Wouldn't that just be a mainframe with dummy terminals? Funny how technology **cough** cloud computing **cough** is stepping backwards to system setups from the 70s.

Equation to describe why the PC will live on... (1, Insightful)

BenJCarter (902199) | about 4 years ago | (#33000508)

World of Warcraft > all console games combined.

Low(er) Prices + Convenience = no-brainer (4, Insightful)

TheMadScot (1835772) | about 4 years ago | (#33000562)

Most of my game catalogue is on Steam these days

I remember when I signed up for the Steam service and paid for my first game - it was Half-Life 2, naturally

At the time, I thought it vastly different to the conventional model (and psychological security) of buying your games on CD / DVD at retail. I actually paused before committing to the order.... weighing up the pros and cons of online only distribution when I could just wander down to the store instead

Fast forward to today and, given the choice, I'll elect to buy a game via Steam over any other method. No expanding collection of physical media, no waiting in queues at retail stores where pushy assistants are trying to sell me wares I don't want and - one of my favourite points - no laborious installation processes and/or the need for a disc to be present in the drive to play the game.

I haven't even touched on the low price aspect of Steam which, except for some AAA new releases, sees software available for quite a bit less than in retail stores. I don't think I'm alone in seeing single games or multi-title packs priced at what could be said to be impulse buy pricing.

One thing I would like to know is how the revenue from a purchase via Steam is divided up. Knowing how small a percentage goes to the developer / publisher from conventional sales, I wonder how platforms such as Steam fare by comparison.

Re:Low(er) Prices + Convenience = no-brainer (1)

Bert64 (520050) | about 4 years ago | (#33000658)

Piracy has given you all that convenience for many years, while also giving you no DRM so no risk the game will become unplayable when the distributor decides to stop maintaining drm servers.

Re:Low(er) Prices + Convenience = no-brainer (3, Interesting)

Skuto (171945) | about 4 years ago | (#33000790)

Piracy

1) Hunt for suitable p2p client that isn't taken down or adware infested yet
2) Hunt for suitable download that is not a translated version or fake and has a proper crack
3) Wait hours to leech from people with unreliable connections
4) Start over again when an important patch appears
5) Get trojans off the PC that came with the crack

Digital sale

1) Shell out $$$
2) Download at line speed
3) Play (if Steam is not overloaded)

I admit, this is hearsay experience. I've obviously never pirated a game, that would be illegal.

Re:Low(er) Prices + Convenience = no-brainer (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33001016)

Piracy is more like...

1) Find torrent tracker, preferably reputable with an invite only system.
2) Find game
3) Download
4)???
5) Profit

If you aren't stupid you shouldn't have to worry about any sort of Trojan or virus of another kind. And if you look for a game, say, one week after it is released. Then you'll have no trouble getting it at the same speed that steam would download at. Sometimes even faster.

Piracy can easily be a problem but, in my experience, A good number of people only pirate things to see if its worth a damn, if so then they shell out the money to buy the game from steam or another store.

Re:Low(er) Prices + Convenience = no-brainer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33001120)

Having a "invite only" tracker to go to is barely even necessary. Most popular torrent sites such as isohunt have rating and comment systems, making it very easy to find a working game + crack bundle and a fix for that nasty one bug. Even 10 year old games usually have 3-10 comments on how to get it working properly.
Better customer service then most game stores!

Re:Low(er) Prices + Convenience = no-brainer (1)

Skuto (171945) | about 4 years ago | (#33001222)

>1) Find torrent tracker, preferably reputable with an invite only system.

"Invite only" => Great ease of use there.

>If you aren't stupid you shouldn't have to worry about any sort of Trojan or virus of another kind.

I'm not stupid, which is why I do worry :-)

Re:Low(er) Prices + Convenience = no-brainer (1)

Issarlk (1429361) | about 4 years ago | (#33000804)

Risks with piracy:
- slow download
- darn, you just downloaded a virus/trojan/keylogger with your game
- you have to download patches from the editor's website, just like with physical media
- No online multiplayer for some games

Steam is a no-brainer, click, buy, get the up-to-date game. Unless one is broke I can't see why one would dowload pirated games.

Re:Low(er) Prices + Convenience = no-brainer (1)

Bert64 (520050) | about 4 years ago | (#33001422)

- Slow download is also a risk from a legit supplier, depending where you are, where the download servers are etc...
- Trojans, well not from any remotely reputable site... legit items have been known to have trojans too.
- patches - there are pirate bundles which include preinstalled cracks and patches

But you don't mention the potential risks with non piracy:

DRM may not let you play the game if you are without an internet connection...
DRM may not let you play the game if the service is shut down...
With Steam you are effectively renting the games, if the service is shut down you lose the ability to download anything and might not be able to play all of the games you already downloaded.

Re:Low(er) Prices + Convenience = no-brainer (2, Informative)

Skuto (171945) | about 4 years ago | (#33000682)

>I haven't even touched on the low price aspect of Steam which, except for some AAA new releases, sees software available for quite a bit less than in retail stores.
>I don't think I'm alone in seeing single games or multi-title packs priced at what could be said to be impulse buy pricing.

Only if you're in the USA. In Europe, Steam games are ludicrously expensive compaired to retail.

That said, the convience is huge. So if there are sales (which undo most of the price differential), I'm buying.

Re:Low(er) Prices + Convenience = no-brainer (2, Insightful)

RogueyWon (735973) | about 4 years ago | (#33000766)

I'm in a similar position. I own pretty much every gaming platform around, with the exception of the new revisions of the handhelds (the DSi and PSP Go), and when there's a multi-platform game I want, I generally look at a number of factors before deciding which platform I go for. But if I go for the PC (or if the game is PC-exclusive), then I want to know that I can get it on Steam.

Why?

First reason (and one that applies to other download services) - I don't need to put any CD/DVD/Blu-Ray in my machine to fire up the game. This is actually a fairly major point for me; yes, I really am that lazy. When I get home from work late in an evening and want a quick bout of gaming before bed, I do not want to have to faff about looking for discs. So 9 times out of 10, I go to Steam, or an Xbox Live Arcade / Playstation Network game.

The other reason, which is particular to Steam, is that I like the convenience of being able to manage which games I have installed, and redownload previously-uninstalled games at will with just 2 clicks.

However, there are a couple of things I would like to see Valve do to further improve the service. First of all, I would love it if they could make it easier to relocate your cache folder, or split it between multiple drives. I have 3x 500GB drives in my desktop and it irritates the hell out of me that Steam games always have to fit onto one of those drives.

Second, it would be fantastic if Valve could start to shamelessly abuse their currently dominant position to throw their weight around and lay down some laws regarding DRM to the publishers that sell over Steam. It does annoy me that many games are allowed to add DRM controls above and beyond Steam's own protection.

Re:Low(er) Prices + Convenience = no-brainer (3, Insightful)

pandrijeczko (588093) | about 4 years ago | (#33001080)

This is actually a fairly major point for me; yes, I really am that lazy.

This isn't just about laziness, it's more about expecting some common sense from gaming companies.

If I buy a laptop then common sense says I'm doing so because I will probably be moving around a lot with the computer & maybe even using it while I am travelling... in which case, why the f*** do I need to carry around the game disk as well? Especially as the whole purpose of a hard disk is to deliver the capability of storing everything that might be on the game disk!

If Microsoft insisted that you inserted the MS Office CD/DVD everytime you fired up Excel, there would be a public outcry & people would be telling MS to shove their Office disks where the sun doesn't shine. So why we gamers have allowed ourselves to be treated this way is beyond my comprehension - and as someone who has bought many games over the years, I'm equally to blame.

Valve Financials (3, Insightful)

DMalic (1118167) | about 4 years ago | (#33000572)

Does anyone have reasonably current figures for Valve's revenue and income? A 2005 Forbes story claimed that Valve had an income of 70 million with an operating profit of 55 million. Other sources say that Gabe never accepted venture capital funding and bought out the company's cofounder... Given the relatively few number of employees, Gabe must be loaded.

Re:Valve Financials (1)

w00tsauce (1482311) | about 4 years ago | (#33001054)

Maybe you should get maddox to hack into valve again.

Re:Valve Financials (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33001302)

Are you saying he's a fat cat?

The only people who want PC gaming dead.. (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33000578)

is the industry itself.

All the reasons that it's "dying" are reasons the big players make. The pc is open, anyone can make a game, and don't need publishers. Publishers hate this. Much how the RIAA hates P2P and the internet in general because Artists can just bypass their robber baron horseshit.

1, Piracy. aka, "we dont control the hardware and software, and cannot fully exploit the people who buy our crap"
2, Forced obsolescence. Many big companies are trying to make PC games a second rate citizen, Microsoft gives bigger perks to those who develop games using the "games for windows" moniker, which essentially makes them develop it for the 360 first. The big development houses are pushing for consoles to make console makers happy.
3, see number one

Re:The only people who want PC gaming dead.. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33001112)

Piracy occurs on consoles too...

The complexities of gaming on a PC are beyond many people's technical abilities... Having to apply patches, deal with video driver updates or incompatibilities put a lot of people off.

Making Older Titles Available Again (4, Interesting)

pandrijeczko (588093) | about 4 years ago | (#33000642)

I don't necessarily agree with the comment about digital distribution always being cheaper than stores - for example, because I don't usually hurry to buy new games, I picked up Fallout 3 about 6 months after release for £12.50 new (=$18.00) & then the Game Of The Year Edition (with all 5 DLCs) for £19.99 new (=$30.00). That was from my local Game game store here in the UK, a national chain, and they constantly have similar pricing offers on.

However, especially as I've noticed how the PC games shelf space has shrunk in Game stores over the past couple of years (in favour of console games), this is where digital distribution comes into its own - namely for the range of stuff that's available on-line but not in stores.

I don't buy that many new games but I've bought from Steam & GOG.com - in both cases it's good to have the ability to get hold of a few older classics again.

I don't think PC gaming is dying as such but I do think the whole PC market with respect to games is changing dramatically for the following reasons:

1. PC and graphics hardware development is slowing down for desktop gaming PCs & focus moving to lower-powered netbooks & portable devices. Presumably people still want to play games on those devices which means smaller & less complicated games - one reason for the success of selling older titles online.

2. Most Windows users still seem happy enough with Windows XP even though I have no reason to doubt Windows 7 may be a better OS. This brings into question as to just how many people have the capability to run (or even care about running) DirectX 11 and therefore how much development games companies are prepared to do on it - when all said and done, this list [wikipedia.org] of DirectX 11 games is very small.

3. I don't personally care about "mass migrations to Linux", I use it because it's there and because it does what I need an OS to do. But whilst Windows 7 may have fared better than Vista, it's still not the raging success for Microsoft that XP was & Linux has matured greatly since XP was released to the point where there's a far greater chance of running older Windows games in WINE on Linux than on Windows 7 or XP. Again, this fact alone must influence older game sales & the forums on GOG.com have lots of threads discussing whether or not certain GOG-released titles will run under WINE. (I don't go on the Steam forums much but the fact that there's soon to be a Steam client for Linux says a lot to me).

4. Modern games are huge development projects with huge up-front costs. Developing games for a fixed console platform *MUST* be much easier than developing for PCs with their plethora of different hardware. Plus games companies make their money from making sequels of established titles, it's the younger, less cynical gamers that rush to buy (or get their parents to buy) those titles & the youngsters like their consoles. All of this leads to the conclusion that there will be a continued slowdown in new PC game releases.

5. MMORPGs & online gaming - if people are spending more money on monthly subscription games then they're spending less on boxed games, especially during an economic slowdown.

As a PC gamer, what I'm really looking forward to is a lot more resolution of petty licensing squabbles of older games so that more of them get released, maybe even with some commitment to allow those games to be updated to run on more modern Windows OSes or even natively on Linux. It make sense that if the games companies are no longer getting as much revenue from new PC games than they used to, then they should look at opening up the revenue streams from re-selling older games.

Re:Making Older Titles Available Again (1)

Skuto (171945) | about 4 years ago | (#33000732)

>1. PC and graphics hardware development is slowing down for desktop gaming PCs & focus moving to lower-powered netbooks & portable devices. Presumably
>people still want to play games on those devices which means smaller & less complicated games - one reason for the success of selling older titles online

This is a good point. My main system right now is a laptop instead of a desktop. I understand this is a common transition. Laptops have worse video hardware than desktops, even the high end ones. If I'm shopping for games, I have to take hardware requirements strongly into account. And this often means preferring slightly older titles.

Something like Battlefield Bad Company 2 may be a great game of the kind I like, with the HW requirements it shuts out all but the very highest end laptops, and by it, a sizeable proportion of potential PC gamers. (Funnily MW2 is very different)

If you look at the HW statistics on Steam, there's a large portion of games who do NOT have top of the line hardware. What are the most popular games? MW2, CounterStrike, CounterStrike:Source, TF2, Football Manager and L4D2. All games which run fine on older machines. Being able to run a game at all is a strong prerequisite to buying it.

>I don't go on the Steam forums much but the fact that there's soon to be a Steam client for Linux says a lot to me

You have been misinformed. Probably by catchy, but badly-researched headline stories from untrustable websites.

Re:Making Older Titles Available Again (1)

DingerX (847589) | about 4 years ago | (#33000854)

It's more complex than that:
1. Games are getting simpler because the hardware is no longer hi-spec.

___A. Hardware development is not only related to PCs, and it follows market demand. If only a few games exist that require high-end cards, why make an even more powerful one.

___B. the most recent console on the market (the PS3) dates from 2006. That is, we are at the cosmic minimum in the console dev cycle: no replacement has been announced, and so big developers are producing games for the 4-year-old graphics cards.

___C. The visual quality (in terms of number and sophistication of art assets) of games used to be limited by the quality of hardware. Now it's also limited by the projected sales. That is, if you plot the size of development teams for AAA titles against the hardware available, you'd see a pretty stable relationship until recently, when the market no longer increases to cover additional costs. That's also why the current generation of consoles isn't going anywhere.

__2. The XP Ghetto. I quite disagree. While I still run XP, Windows 7 has done good things for gaming. Since the first DOS machines in the early eighties, there's been a split between general computing machines and PCs that can do games. At some points, the gap between an office computer and a gaming PC has been wider than others: in 1992, for example, there was little difference between a 486x33 with a fancy VGA card and Gravis Ultrasound and a 486x25 with a normal VGA card and a Soundblaster compatible; in 1998, on the other hand, a 500-MHz PII (or even a legendary 300->450 OC'd Celery) with a TNT 3D card and 16-bit audio would blow the doors off of a stock processor and a VGA card. Now, with Windows 7, there's finally the requirement that cards actually be capable of doing 3D operations. And that means that a bunch of Windows-7-ready machines can play some games, even if their owners put XP on them.

3. Mass Migrations to Linux and old games. I don't know about any of that. Online sales, however, are not always driven by the latest games, and, where retail shelf-space is expensive, online sales can make cheaper products (casual games, old games that are still extremely engaging) a worthwhile proposition. Also, when they say 36% of the revenue comes from online sales, retail revenue has much higher overhead, in terms of what the retailer and even the distributor get, with respect to the developer.

4. PCs: the configuration nightmare vs. Consoles. Well, yes and know. Yes, PCs with all their flexibility, are a challenge for developers. On the other hand, developers don't have to resolve every single difficulty in releasing a title. Development for Consoles require an expensive and time-consuming process of validation and verification by the console maker. Spending the time and money to go through these products makes a far superior product, but for PCs, it's an option, not an obligation.

5. WoW is still one of the hugest sources of online sales: WoW and Blizzard are listed separately, and both factor into the top five online distributors.

Re:Making Older Titles Available Again (1)

pandrijeczko (588093) | about 4 years ago | (#33001020)

__2. The XP Ghetto. I quite disagree. While I still run XP, Windows 7 has done good things for gaming. Since the first DOS machines in the early eighties, there's been a split between general computing machines and PCs that can do games. At some points, the gap between an office computer and a gaming PC has been wider than others: in 1992, for example, there was little difference between a 486x33 with a fancy VGA card and Gravis Ultrasound and a 486x25 with a normal VGA card and a Soundblaster compatible; in 1998, on the other hand, a 500-MHz PII (or even a legendary 300->450 OC'd Celery) with a TNT 3D card and 16-bit audio would blow the doors off of a stock processor and a VGA card. Now, with Windows 7, there's finally the requirement that cards actually be capable of doing 3D operations. And that means that a bunch of Windows-7-ready machines can play some games, even if their owners put XP on them.

I think you're talking about a "chicken and egg" situation.

I don't use Windows 7 so cannot claim to be an expert on it but as I understand it you do need some degree of graphics acceleration on it because the UI has effects built on those requirements. But most desktop and laptop PCs have had some degree of graphics acceleration for years now & whilst I don't credit Microsoft with much, I'm sure the last thing they'd want to do is stop people upgrading to Windows 7 if the hardware requirements were so high that it locked most of them out from doing so.

So what I'm really saying is that Windows 7 needs graphics acceleration because most PC owners probably already had it anyway.

And has Windows 7 *REALLY* done much for gaming? The list of games that support DirectX 11 is very small and I'm sure most of those games also run on Windows XP and DirectX 9. I can remember one PC game in about the past 3 or 4 years that was DirectX 10 only and that was "Shadowrun" although I accept there could be a couple of others - however, judging by how quickly I saw copies of Shadowrun appear in game store bargain bins, I'm not sure it did that well.

4. PCs: the configuration nightmare vs. Consoles. Well, yes and know. Yes, PCs with all their flexibility, are a challenge for developers. On the other hand, developers don't have to resolve every single difficulty in releasing a title. Development for Consoles require an expensive and time-consuming process of validation and verification by the console maker. Spending the time and money to go through these products makes a far superior product, but for PCs, it's an option, not an obligation.

Agreed, but going on from what I said previously, do you not think it's equally as difficult for a games company to make PC games that currently have to be able to potentially support up to three versions of DirectX (9-11), based on the fact there are large numbers of gamers running XP, Vista and Windows 7? At least with consoles they are developing for systems that have fixed specification.

Re:Making Older Titles Available Again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33001510)

it's equally as difficult for a games company to make PC games that currently have to be able to potentially support up to three versions of DirectX (9-11), based on the fact there are large numbers of gamers running XP, Vista and Windows 7? At least with consoles they are developing for systems that have fixed specification.

You seem seriously confused about how DirectX works, or software in general.

DirectX isn't a moving target, once released it does not change which is why games made for DX6/7 still run on DX11 video cards. Each new version of DirectX is essentially "everything that was in the previous versions plus this extra stuff".

If you need a game to run on XP, target DX9 and get over it. [Or better yet, use OpenGL 2/2.1 so you can release for Mac as well]

And has Windows 7 *REALLY* done much for gaming? The list of games that support DirectX 11 is very small and I'm sure most of those games also run on Windows XP and DirectX 9. I can remember one PC game in about the past 3 or 4 years that was DirectX 10 only and that was "Shadowrun" although I accept there could be a couple of others - however, judging by how quickly I saw copies of Shadowrun appear in game store bargain bins, I'm not sure it did that well.

Windows 7 has better DirectX performance then previous versions. As annoying as it was when MS blew up the WDM driver system and created the new fangled one that broke compatibility with XP drivers when Vista first came out, it seems to have payed off. Vista/7 video drivers are faster and more reliable then the XP ones – at least, nVidia's are. The minimum requirements to run Win7 are pretty much DX9 compatibility so if the system runs Win7 you can be reasonably sure that most of DX9's optional features will be implemented even if it is a crappy Intel chipset.

As far as DX10/11 exclusives that didn't include a DX9 fallback, I'm pretty sure most of those were from Microsoft's own studios or partners. Microsoft were being colossal dicks during Vista's heyday and were not above attempting to 'extort' gamers onto Vista with that sort of bullshit. MS' behavior during that time did more harm then anything else (when they were really hyping the 360 — coincidence? I think not. Don't get me started on Games For Windows either, basically XboX Live for PCs with crappy UI and a truckload of poorly implemented unnecessary garbage emulating the 360 environment)

Re:Making Older Titles Available Again (1)

pandrijeczko (588093) | about 4 years ago | (#33001906)

DirectX isn't a moving target, once released it does not change which is why games made for DX6/7 still run on DX11 video cards. Each new version of DirectX is essentially "everything that was in the previous versions plus this extra stuff".

Yes, I accept & understand that part but that isn't the whole story is it? I don't claim to be either a game or graphics programmer by any stretch of the imagination (I'm more a shell & PERL monkey) but an older game's functionality is not just dependent on DirectX, it is also dependent on the graphics driver and card being able to continue to support features that may be in older graphics cards but not in new ones.

My case in point are games like Aliens vs Predator (from around 1998 IIRC) which will run (of a fashion) in Windows XP but suffer major graphical problems because the graphics driver no longer supports some of the features that the game wants - from what I remember, some people manage to play it by using really old NVIDIA driver versions.

Windows 7 has better DirectX performance then previous versions. As annoying as it was when MS blew up the WDM driver system and created the new fangled one that broke compatibility with XP drivers when Vista first came out, it seems to have payed off. Vista/7 video drivers are faster and more reliable then the XP ones - at least, nVidia's are. The minimum requirements to run Win7 are pretty much DX9 compatibility so if the system runs Win7 you can be reasonably sure that most of DX9's optional features will be implemented even if it is a crappy Intel chipset.

That's not just limited to Windows, you know - I myself swapped out an ATI 4850 card for an NVIDIA GTS250 (very little difference in benchmark between the two cards) but got over 4x framerate improvement in games on Linux, simply because the NVIDIA drivers are better than the ATI ones - and that has nothing to do with DirectX, for obvious reasons. :-)

As far as DX10/11 exclusives that didn't include a DX9 fallback, I'm pretty sure most of those were from Microsoft's own studios or partners. Microsoft were being colossal dicks during Vista's heyday and were not above attempting to 'extort' gamers onto Vista with that sort of bullshit. MS' behavior during that time did more harm then anything else (when they were really hyping the 360 -- coincidence? I think not. Don't get me started on Games For Windows either, basically XboX Live for PCs with crappy UI and a truckload of poorly implemented unnecessary garbage emulating the 360 environment)

The only game I own that uses Games For Windows is Fallout 3 - I registered on it a while ago, bought a couple of DLCs from it but other than that I've never bothered with it. I'll just have to take your word on that one. :-)

Re:Making Older Titles Available Again (1)

HopefulIntern (1759406) | about 4 years ago | (#33001232)

That was from my local Game game store here in the UK, a national chain, and they constantly have similar pricing offers on.

Now, by that do you mean the generic term "game store" or do you mean the chain of stores called GAME? Because I have always found that GAME is ridiculously overpriced. When MW2 came out I had a look round at whom was cheapest. GAME was selling it for £35 (earlier on it was £39.99), but I picked it up at Tesco for £29.99

Re:Making Older Titles Available Again (1)

pandrijeczko (588093) | about 4 years ago | (#33001254)

Yes, I am talking about GAME and you are correct - most of their stuff is overpriced.

But I do pop into them or HMV if I am passing - it's very rare I buy anything from either but occasionally there is a bargain to be had.

Most of the time, I just end up seeing that something new & interesting has been released, then just pull out my smartphone and order it for 2/3 of the price online.

Re:Making Older Titles Available Again (1)

Pharmboy (216950) | about 4 years ago | (#33001470)

I don't personally care about "mass migrations to Linux"

To Steam's credit, they are in the middle of porting Steam and their Source games to Linux, which is a very small but growing market. They have supported Linux for dedicated servers for over 10 years. They seem pretty determined to support Linux as much as possible, even if it isn't particularly profitable. Now that Steam supports OSX and Linux soon, they are certainly positioning themselves for the future. The question is whether other games producers on Steam will port to Linux as well. So far, that has been hit and miss, but having Source support it puts them in the lead and gives other companies a trail to follow.

Re:Making Older Titles Available Again (1)

pandrijeczko (588093) | about 4 years ago | (#33002146)

As I said already, how many other people use Linux really doesn't bother me & I don't believe any company anywhere undertakes anything unless they think there's profit to be made from it.

But Steam for Linux is a good thing & I'll be interested to see what impact it does have on desktop Linux take-up.

Sure Windows 7 may be better than XP, I don't use it & cannot comment on it. And, yes, it's more popular than Vista, enough so that it's being hailed a success - again, cannot argue with that.

But the fact is that Windows XP is still the most popular Windows desktop OS and good enough for most people until they get a new PC with Windows 7 on it or go buy the Windows 7 boxed version as an upgrade. So any PC games that are released in the near future are certainly not going to be incompatible with Windows XP because that would be commercial suicide for any games company.

So faced with the fact that most people have no reason to upgrade from XP to 7, Microsoft's only course of action would be to some how try to force them to upgrade - but then, with Steam on Linux and more games running on Linux, are they more likely to pay for Windows 7 or give Ubuntu a try because it's free?

Definitely interesting times...

Re:Making Older Titles Available Again (0, Troll)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 4 years ago | (#33001546)

Most Windows users still seem happy enough with Windows XP even though I have no reason to doubt Windows 7 may be a better OS.

An absolute shitpile of games don't work right on Windows 7, including many published by Microsoft, my personal example is Dungeon Siege:LoA. Windows 7 totally fails backwards compatibility, you can't even get APPS to work right without XP Mode. Consequently, unless your game needs a feature of Windows not present in XP (and DX10 has been brought over by some intrepid hackers) you're far better off with XP than Windows 7 if you want to be able to play the largest number of games.

"digital" distribution (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33000690)

Is there any way to distribute computer games that is not digital? CDROMs and DVDROMs are no less digital than internet downloads.

Second Hand Market (3, Insightful)

im just cannonfodder (1089055) | about 4 years ago | (#33000774)

sony and co (all the large game corps) have all got together and are simply trying to destroy the second hand market which is why they are trying to force us to only accept digital distribution laden with DRM like steam where all your purchases are not allowed to be resold.

they simply want to force everyone to have to purchase new which is why they have continually tried to get us to stop using the PC and move onto the kiddie toy consoles.

but now they are not happy with the consoles and are trying to block second hand games being traded on them.

i hate scum bag anti consumer corporations.

Re:Second Hand Market (3, Interesting)

pandrijeczko (588093) | about 4 years ago | (#33000928)

sony and co (all the large game corps) have all got together and are simply trying to destroy the second hand market which is why they are trying to force us to only accept digital distribution laden with DRM like steam where all your purchases are not allowed to be resold.

I accept that Steam is a form of DRM control but it's the best of a bad bunch. The stuff you've bought already is always available to you to download onto any PC you own plus it's very easy to backup your Steam folder to an external hard disk - this means that if you rebuild your OS or upgrade your PC, you just have to copy the Steam folder back rather than having to reinstall and re-update each game one-by-one.

As for re-selling old games, have you checked prices on eBay recently? Unless the used games being sold are highly collectible or only a few months old, the prices of used PC games are peanuts. I have a stack of old PC games from about 3-5 years ago that I no longer play but are just not worth listing on eBay & will go to the local charity shop instead. I'm afraid that this idea that you can re-sell oldish games for anything near their original value is a myth.

but now they are not happy with the consoles and are trying to block second hand games being traded on them.

I'm not defending this behaviour by any means but if, as a gamer, it's important to you to be able to re-sell a game once you've finished with it, then maybe the only option is to factor it into your original purchasing decisions. The fact is that a lot of people appear to be mindless enough to queue at midnight with their kids to be the first to have a computer game suggests that most of them don't care about reselling them. Besides which, have you seen what happens to the condition of optical disks after a few weeks of kids putting them in consoles? :-)

i hate scum bag anti consumer corporations.

I agree - but the best way to hurt them is in their wallets. If you don't agree with the expected terms & conditions around something you plan on buying then just don't buy it. Corporations have got so powerful because too many mindless consumers have been sucked in by too many marketing lies - if you stop handing money over to them, they wither and die overnight.

whining (1)

Tom (822) | about 4 years ago | (#33000924)

It is always the same whining. "piracy is killing us", "the VHS is killing us", "bootlegs are killing us" - no matter if it's games, movies, music, the main expertise of the content industry has for at least 40 years been whining.

Unfortunately, they're not laughed out the door as they deserve to.

9/10 people agree that most stats are full of shit (3, Insightful)

nataflux (1733716) | about 4 years ago | (#33000976)

And let's not forget about the subscription based mmo market, as well as the mostly korean freetoplay mmo market, both of these markets being mostly pirate proof, and coincidentally massive.

Contested Numbers (3, Informative)

Tridus (79566) | about 4 years ago | (#33001098)

According to Stardock's CEO, these numbers are wrong. Going by raw sales numbers, he says the digital number is actually closer to 25% [elementalgame.com] .
Why the discrepency? Well, he has actual numbers for retail and Impulse (which he happens to own). He doesn't have numbers for Steam. Of course, neither does NPD. Their digital numbers are based on an online survey. These are not real sales numbers by any measure of the word, they're the sales equivalent of a biased online public opinion poll.
If I stood in the electronics aisle of Walmart and did a survey there, I'd find shockingly different numbers too. Unfortunately since we don't have accurate sales data for anybody, we're left with this kind of guess work.

Re:Contested Numbers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33002196)

Also of course digital is growing. Go to any of the big box stores and buy a PC game. Ill wait...

Oh your back. Small selections huh? The 3 BB's near me have 1 smallish isle for PC games. Yet 1/2th of the store is devoted to music and movies. I would say about 10% of the entire store is video games. Then of that most of it is console. BB is not stupid. They go where the money is. All of the stores that sell video games have this. Some do not even stock PC games anymore. The biggest selection of PC games? Target. They are not always up to date on putting things out when they should (release days) but they have a decent (at least compared to others) selection.

Even places like EB games. They have a small shelf, if any at all, of PC games. Even then most of it is MMO or FPS. I know for a fact there are hundreds of very good PC games out there. But no one even bothers to stock them. Maybe thats just my area and these stores are catering to that crowd.

But PC games margins must be razor thin or these big box stores would stock more of the stuff.

I know there are tons of good PC games yet I never see them at the store. Yet in the console isle there are hundreds of crap titles along with the good ones. Some other force is at play here. It must somehow involve money. Maybe the smaller players out there making the good games these days are not even bothering with boxes.

Also overall PC gaming (at least to me) seems to cost a lot less. Most of my games are 15-40 bucks new. Yet console games are usually 60 a crack new. Or if your lucky 45 used. At least for the top tier ones. For the lower rungs yeah its much cheaper. However I do not always want used games.

Publishers really shot themselves in the foot with online activation. As the used value is negligible then. I can not tell you how many times I stood in the store and got a new box over a used one. As the box may be ragged out a bit or the cd looked a bit dodgy. But with no used market no one will bother to go into stores looking for things in the first place. Console games currently have this. But they are slowly moving it to online activation there with DLC.

Like I keep saying everywhere these come up... (1)

Mystery00 (1100379) | about 4 years ago | (#33001384)

PC gaming was never dying/dead in the first place, these are all non-stories.

For the last time (1)

paragon1 (1395635) | about 4 years ago | (#33001700)

PC gaming is not going anywhere. It's *different* than console gaming.

1. Computers don't go obsolete like consoles do
2. A keyboard & mouse > controller
3. Console games tend to be more visceral; they're about fast, furious fun. Computer games tend to be more ponderous and strategic; this is partly due to differences in the control schemes of course (a keyboard granting you many more key shortcuts, for example)

We should seriously stop giving attention to these "OMG TEH PC IZ DED" articles; they're a cheap grab for attention, nothing more. The market has plenty of room for schools of gaming.

Re:For the last time (2, Insightful)

Skuto (171945) | about 4 years ago | (#33001864)

>1. Computers don't go obsolete like consoles do

No, they obsolete faster. A 5 year old PC is not going to run all the new games. A 5 year old console does.

>2. A keyboard & mouse > controller

There are other games besides FPS (for which a controller is better). Racing games, for example.

Ask Nvidia or AMD/ATi.... (1)

DickeyP (1651593) | about 4 years ago | (#33001784)

I highly doubt those in the GPU business would invest so much time, effort, and money into something that is "bound to fail". Sure, the PC isn't their only market, but it's a damn big one.

Genesis, NES,SNES,Dreamcast,xbox 360 and PS3 (1)

orateam (861461) | about 4 years ago | (#33001870)

All of those consoles were thought to be the end of the PC Gaming scene of which i've been a part of since the Zork days. PC gaming was and still is the innovator of gaming. Here is my recollection of the PC game wars. When the PC moved to better grahpical games on CGA and EVGA, the NES was already at its max limits. So when the SNES came out shortly after EVGA games in the early 90's, the PC gaming industry was declared dead. As PC's regained market share, the SONY playstation came out (1995?) and again the death of the PC gaming was declared. PC's fought back with 3dFX, the Voodoo card. I'll never forget seeing tomb raider with that beautiful 3d glide version of the game and just thinking "how could this ever be topped"? Then in the late 90's when PC gaming was at its near peak, the best PC game ever to come to PC's got bought by the biggest PC backing company. We thought PC's had won the war when Microsoft bought Bungie. Who would have thought that it was nearly the nail in the coffin. Between Xbox and PS2, PC gamers had a new system not only to look at but for the first time, but truly hack. Then came NVIDIA. The PC gamer's savior. Producing the RIVA TNT, PC gamers finally were revived. This led to 10 years of very expensive graphic cards where PC gamers would briefly lose their edge while a new console like the PS3 or 360 took the lead. The fight still goes on, although the PC is now clearly in the drivers seat, behind ridiculous video cards like Geforce 400 series. PC gaming is 7 or 8 generations ahead of the best consoles out there. But i'll admit, i play now 50% of my games on the PS3/360. But when i want to be fully immersed and get lost, nothing beats playing a game on a high end gaming rig with a supersharp large monitor 2 feet from your eyes.
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