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State of PC Gaming in 2004 Probed

Zonk posted more than 9 years ago | from the retro-is-the-best-kind-of-spective dept.

PC Games (Games) 35

NetDanzr writes "Netjak.com has published another of its annual articles probing the state of PC gaming last year. The author complains about the demise of strategy and role-playing gaming, at the expense of action titles. Even though he praises Valve's Half-Life 2, he is skeptical about the Steam copy restrictions, and predicts that Valve would face legal challenges because of it in 2005. Slashdot reported on the previous article in the series last year."

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Legal Challenges (1)

kaellinn18 (707759) | more than 9 years ago | (#11410362)

No [slashdot.org] kidding? [slashdot.org]

XBoX (2, Interesting)

Apreche (239272) | more than 9 years ago | (#11410394)

The XBoX killed PC gaming. It was the dumbest thing Microsoft ever did. Two years ago I was a windows users because I had to play all my games. But now, PC gaming is dead, except for Steam. All the games that used to be on PC are now on XBoX. So now I run Linux. PC gaming has gone down the crapper.

Re:XBoX (2, Informative)

l1nuxpunk (738263) | more than 9 years ago | (#11410496)

Wait? Dead?

Hmm... let's go through a very short list. Half-Life 2, City Of Heroes and World Of Warcraft.

Doesn't seem dead to me.

Re:XBoX (1)

Caydel (851013) | more than 9 years ago | (#11410599)

Vive Linux!

One of the reasons I stuck with a Windows PC as long as I did was because I used it for gaming. However, as you have said, PC gaming is for all intents and purposes dead.

Netcraft confirms it.

So now I've moved onto Linux full-time, and one interesting aspect of the remnents of the PC gaming market is starting to show through to me:

The best games for PC are now either written to run natively in Linux, or are slowly but ssurely being ported over. Fore example, I play America's Army, Enemy Territory, CS:Source, and, of course, BZFlag.

Plus, for linux gamers, Wine is becoming better and better at running Windows games. Sure, if you want really solid support for gaming, you would be better off to buy Cedega or WineX, however, the original Wine is really starting to come into it's own.

I am really interested in what the state of PC gaming will be as we move into the next few years. I think there is a real future ahead for gaming in the Linux environment!

FWIW, I am still holding out for a remake of the original X-wing and Tie-Fighter ;^)

Re:XBoX (2, Insightful)

Beatbyte (163694) | more than 9 years ago | (#11410903)

tell that to nVidia and ATI.. they seem to keep making these massively fast video cards that sell like hotcakes. i

but i'm sure it's just because they do great 2d rendering.

Microsoft dumb like a fox (2, Insightful)

AtariAmarok (451306) | more than 9 years ago | (#11410973)

"It was the dumbest thing Microsoft ever did"

How is this dumb? Let's see:

Without Xbox, they sell someone one single OS for a computer that plays games and does Office/etc

With Xbox, they still sell the OS installation for Office. However, they are now selling another OS...hell, they are even selling the other BOX too just for the games.

Re:Microsoft dumb like a fox (2, Insightful)

M.C. Hampster (541262) | more than 9 years ago | (#11411308)


You're forgetting the license fee they get for each game sold for the XBox also.

Ultimately, XBox gaming (if they make a profitable console next time around) will be much better for Microsoft than PC Gaming ever was.

Yeah (1)

AtariAmarok (451306) | more than 9 years ago | (#11411405)

Licensing? Very important. I see that you are not the only one who does not think it is dumb of Microsoft to carefully move to a position of dominance in the videogame world. They aren't there yet, but they are working toward it.

Re:Microsoft dumb like a fox (1)

TheWickedKingJeremy (578077) | more than 9 years ago | (#11420597)

Ultimately, XBox gaming (if they make a profitable console next time around) will be much better for Microsoft than PC Gaming ever was.

I think the original poster's point was that PC gaming is a large reason why people felt tied to the Windows OS in the past. Now that it is shifting to XBox (a conclusion that I don't even agree with, by the way -- PC gaming is not "dead", nor will it die) he feels that he is free to switch OS's.

Re:Microsoft dumb like a fox (2, Insightful)

Apreche (239272) | more than 9 years ago | (#11411500)

Because they are selling the XboX at a loss first of all. Second of all, without the games there is now very little keeping people on Windows. In fact, Steam is the only reason I still have a windows partition at all. How many nerds do you know who wont switch to Linux because of games? IF the Xbox kills PC gaming entirely all of them will fold.

Create an unprofitable product that reduces market share of profitable product making it less profitable. So not only do they lose money on Xbox, but they make less money with windows than they used to.

Re:XBoX (2, Insightful)

zoobaby (583075) | more than 9 years ago | (#11411444)

XBox did not kill PC Gaming and it will not. It has cut into with people 'switching.' However, there will also be those people that want the most powerful machines for their games. A PC is ideal for this.

Re:XBoX (2, Interesting)

Darth_Burrito (227272) | more than 9 years ago | (#11411503)

Assuming that xbox sales really do hurt microsoft's os and applications market, then we might be talking about a disruptive technology. In that case, Microsoft has a couple of choices. They can try to bring it to market and potentially canibalize their own business or they can wait until someone else brings it to market.

If they bring it to market themselves, they may be cannibalizing their own OS/applications business but the money still goes into their pockets. On the other hand, very few big businesses are successful at bringing products to market that are disruptive with respect to their existing products. If it truly was disruptive to their OS/apps market, it would be a marvel of business ingenuity for them to have successfully brought the xbox to market.

As things are, I really don't think the xbox puts a dent, ding, scuff, or scratch in os/app sales. For starters, most of the cash probably comes from businesses. Second, the percentage of people who are sticking with Windows solely for games has got to be extraordinarily small.

When I look at the xbox, all I see is expansion into additional markets and, longer term, creation of entirely new markets for their existing os/app products. I mean, the thing runs a stripped down version of windows. They may be losing money now, but that won't last forever.

Re:XBoX (2, Insightful)

snuf23 (182335) | more than 9 years ago | (#11412451)

I have an Xbox. I have a PC. Let's look at the games I've played over 2004:

Rise of Nations
City of Heroes
Rome: Total War
Half Life 2
Doom 3
Pirates!
Battlefield Vietnam
Battle for Middle Earth

Hmmm. These seem to be PC games. And what have I been playing on the Xox?

Robotron. Original. Emulated. Can't beat having two joysticks to play it the way it was meant to play!

Re:XBoX (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 9 years ago | (#11421039)

I paid twelve bucks for a dual analog gamepad for my PC. No need to pay for an XBox just to get dual analog sticks.

Re:XBoX (3, Insightful)

fistfullast33l (819270) | more than 9 years ago | (#11412822)

The XBox did not necessarily kill PC Gaming. Instead, the Xbox pulled together two markets. First, it grabbed all of the normal console people who can't even spell PC let alone try and run a game on one. Second, it grabbed all those PC fanboys who thought it was cool that the XBox was basically a PC with a special BIOS/OS.

What I see Microsoft doing instead is combining the two platforms. I remember reading in PC Gamer not too long ago that Microsoft was attempting to develop a platform on the PC that operated just like consoles - instead of installing a game, it could just run off of the discs. This is a brilliant idea when you think about it. If they can write a wrapper and sell it (or even just let it be free), then people can buy Xbox games that run on PC and the Xbox. This way, if you don't have $2000 for a decent PC, you can still buy an XBox. On the other hand, you can use the PC's advanced Graphics chips and easily upgradeable hardware (how many people have installed an ATI X800 in their Xbox lately?) to play the newest games as they were meant to be. The term "console port" would quickly become obsolete.

Of course, if Microsoft were smart, they'd develop features that could only work on the Xbox so that people don't just buy a new PC and play all the XBox games on that alone.

Don't rule it out...Microsoft has already said they're attempting to allow PC gamers to play on XBox live.

Movie-Based games (1)

DingerX (847589) | more than 9 years ago | (#11411420)

Well, there's a good deal to comment on there. Perhaps another way to put the article is "I'm getting to old for this crap."
But I will comment on this forecast:
As usual, movie-based games will do poorly. In fact, after the last couple of years, I expect there to be fewer of such games, as some of the brighter managers realize that the niche has such a bad reputation that there's little chance for a blockbuster title.


No offense, but movie-based games have always been crappy, and done poorly: just look back to ET on the 2600. For nearly the last quarter century, companies have been releasing games tied to movies, and they've almost always sucked (okay, I thought the robocop game was kinda cute). But they keep getting churned out. Why? Because people will buy that crap! The quality of gameplay is irrelevant to the people making the decision to buy or not.

That said, there have been some high-budget attempts recently to port the world of a movie into a game. Of course it can't be done. Ultimately, the developers have to meet end-user expectations about the experience that are dictated by the movie, and an incredible static experience, such as a movie, makes a pretty boring dynamic one.

Tie-fighter battles are always cool; just don't give me a light saber.

Re:Movie-Based games (1)

filth grinder (577043) | more than 9 years ago | (#11412086)

Of course I think the old saying hold true about everything, 99% of [blank] is crap. That is definitely true about movie based games. However, there have been some great games based on movie properties.

Tie-fighter battles are always cool; just don't give me a light saber.

Your own statement right there provides you with a hint. X-Wing/Tie Fighter series were movie based games and they were amazing games. But even beyond the Star Wars Franchise.

EA's Lord of the Ring games (notably the Two Towers and to a lesser extent Return of the King) were good quality games. Hell the Two Towers dev team but the game to work in the Forgotten Realms game, "Demon Stone" that came out a little bit ago which was fun as well.

The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay was a really good game (based on a wonderfully fun bad movie).

Look at Goldeneye (the orginal N64 game). Movie property that made a great game.

People will continue to make movie games, good and bad because there is a built in audience and market to the game.

Re:Movie-Based games (1)

ReverendLoki (663861) | more than 9 years ago | (#11412114)

Of course, then there are the exceptions that all others can aspire to, such as the two recent Spiderman games (why yes, I do know Spiderman was a comic book first, thanks for pointing it out), and from what I have heard the Chronicles of Riddick prequel game turned out to be a decent work as well.

What I hope is learned is that movie based games that are quickly hacked together in an attempt to make a quick buck don't sell well, whereas a movie based game made by developers who actually want to make a qality game and have the least amount of passion about the subject, can potentially be good games - much like the non-movie based games.

In short, just because you have a movie license, it's no substitute for quality. Some developers are learning this, and are the better for it.

Movie Moguls Moving In (1)

fistfullast33l (819270) | more than 9 years ago | (#11412946)

I'm referencing this CNN/Money article:

Rupert Murdoch's new game [cnn.com]

Look, the fact that the video games industry makes more money gross per year than Music and Movies is starting to turn a lot of heads. Even better, if you combine everyone's favorite concept of off-shoring and out-sourcing, it may be cheaper to eventually make a game than a movie or a CD. And the price is still almost 5 times that of either a movie ticket or a CD. Don't underestimate the money and influence these guys have at their disposal and don't be surprised when you see an advertisement for a Fox Interactive game on Fox News with a tie into a 20th Century Fox Picture.

Re:Movie-Based games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11413847)

I remember that true lies for the genesis was a pretty fucking fun game. and it was entirely verbatim from the movie.

Football Manager (1)

Fred Or Alive (738779) | more than 9 years ago | (#11411593)

...and Football Manager 2005. The latter was somewhat of a surprise, as it was an independent release by the maker of the Championship Manager series, sparking rumors that its relationship with Eidos may have come to an end.

I somehow don't think this guy has been following (association) football management games, seeing as he kinda missed the bit where Sports Interactive (makers of Champ. 1-4) split with Eidos. No rumours, just facts. Championship Manager 5 is made by a different company, as Eidos own the rights to the name, whilst Sega[1] published SI's football management game. I think SI kept the rights to the game engine as well. It was kinda known about for months before either game came out IIRC.

[1]Or at least Sega Europe, I have no idea about America, if they even like Football management.

No decent RPGs? What about Vampire tM: Bloodlines? (4, Insightful)

Attitude Adjuster (683211) | more than 9 years ago | (#11411652)

Role-playing games hit rock bottom. Blades of Avernum was just a marginal improvement for Spiderweb Software, and Beyond Divinity was an inferior sequel to Divine Divinity. The only mildly pleasantly surprising release was Kult: Heretic Kingdoms...

While on the whole I agree with his review I'm surprised there is no mention of Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines as a decent RPG. Sure, it suffered from those nasty Source-based texture and sound cache thrashing problems that Half-Life 2 also exhibited, but it was fun, well balanced, decent in terms of length and plot, and has more replay capability than most games thanks to the multiple distinct clans.

IMHO its the best RPG since the original KotoR, and it certainly (a) sold well, and (b) it got quite a few highly favorable reviews (along with some negative ones like Gamespot's one). That should at least have earned it a mention in the article, I think...

Re:No decent RPGs? What about Vampire tM: Bloodlin (1)

Amorpheus_MMS (653095) | more than 9 years ago | (#11412605)

That it isn't out of beta is a huge downside...

Re:No decent RPGs? What about Vampire tM: Bloodlin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11414126)

From what I've heard they are PROHIBITED (Not just "will not be paid for".) by contract from producing a patch to the game, even those the folks at the dev house know what they have to fix. Is this what the state of PC Publishing has come to?

Re:No decent RPGs? What about Vampire tM: Bloodlin (1)

tdelaney (458893) | more than 9 years ago | (#11414346)

That would be why the Bloodlines 1.2 patch is available ...

Did I have more fun gaming than I should have? (1)

zoobaby (583075) | more than 9 years ago | (#11411673)

"All in all, last year was nothing to boast about. It was marked by an overabundance of first-person shooters, at the expense of other genres. Game design suffered once again, with bland, repetitive and uninspired gameplay"

Reading this, you would think the year sucked. Granted the better games came late in the year, but is was fun all around. Tons of new FPS's, a few RTS games that were pretty damn cool. Very cool new engines setting up for some cool mods in '05 and '06.

It also seems like he wrote more about playing single player versions of these games. The only online mention is for MMORPG's. Many of the games he mentions offer multiplayer online and he doesn't really speak to the fun factor that brings.

Demise of strategy games (2, Insightful)

fondue (244902) | more than 9 years ago | (#11411860)

In 2004 we 'only' had Rome: Total War, W40K: Dawn of War and LOTR: BFME. Worst year for RTS games ever!

Re:Demise of strategy games (1)

bynary (827120) | more than 9 years ago | (#11413576)

Yeah, a genre is really going down the drain when there are 'only' three good games in the genre. But yet when we get an avalanche of games (and good ones at that) in the FPS genre, that's also bad? I don't get it.

he was disappointed by Doom III? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11413790)

whatever dood. So much for your opinions, eh.

awe man... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11414826)

I was expecting some great +5 Funny's in here for the use of the word "Probed" in the title.

Sincerely,

Disappointed

I read the article (1)

obeythefist (719316) | more than 9 years ago | (#11416220)

The guy was a bit of a tool. For instance, flight sims - he completely missed the Forgotten Battles game that was released. Based on the IL2 engine, this flight sim according to all the flight sim addicts I know is the best commercial combat flight sim - ever.

When mentioning that this year we've seen Far Cry, DooM3 *and* HL2 all in the same year, he says this year was a disappointment? Hardly! Those were all fantastic games. Far Cry and DooM3 will have the largest outstanding influence, because the Crytek engine and the DooM3 engine are amazing technical masterpieces. With Quake 4 coming out this year based on the DooM3 engine, and the development being done by the legendary Raven software, it can only be a winner.

Dawn of War and BFME are excellent RTS games, although we could have used more than just those. Westwood have been extremely closed up about this genre and it's a big shame. I think next year, a new Red Alert game may be released based on the Generals engine.

RPGs were definately the worst hit, I can't think of any single shining example of how RPGs should be from this year. Having said that, we can look forward to Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion in 2006. The lure of MMORPG subscription cash has sucked all of the development efforts in RPGs away from classic RPGs that anyone can enjoy, marginalising RPGs to the evercrack addicts who are happy to treadmill their lives away.

uh... (1)

Mukaikubo (724906) | more than 9 years ago | (#11416607)

Any year where I got Halflife 2, Vampire: Bloodlines, and Pirates! and have blown far too much time on all three... and that's a bad year? Gods, I can't WAIT for the good- and we started it out so well, with Hearts of Iron 2. Basically, this is another Sky Is Falling article that gets printed every year when columnists run out of ideas.

"Things have changed a lot... (1)

Jaidon (843279) | more than 9 years ago | (#11416688)

...since I was a kid," is a statement many of us thought we would never hear ourselves saying about anything, especially video games. I have to say that state of gaming has taken a considerable turn for the worse since 2000. I blame most of this on the standardization of video game design that infects the industry today. Not too many years ago, the game design itself wasn't the only factor in game creation; a group of programmers actually had to sit down, come up with new, viable source code to get the game to work, design things almost completely from scratch, and spend upwards of a few years getting things ready to go. This doesn't seem to be the case anymore. Now, with pre-defined routines, a plethora of text books and college courses on the subject, and a little help from insanely powerful graphics cards that require little ingenious use of memory allocation or groundbreaking feats of coding, anyone can walk of the streets, spend a couple of months in front of a professor, text book, and dry erase board and be able to transfer his/her ideas directly into reality in just a handful of months. And forget creativity or innovation my friends, the gaming industry has gone Hollywood; they are reusing the same garbage over and over again. If there are any good titles still being released on the PC or console gaming systems, they are smothered by an almost infinite pile of mind numbing crap never to be truly appreciated for what they are. This phenomenon isn't limited to gaming, though, as it has infiltrated animation as well. Has anyone else noticed the steady decline in quality of animated programs/movies in the last 10 years? The bottom line: people are relying too much on progressively more powerful computers to create things FOR them, with as little mental and emotional involvement as possible. Art gives way to commerce I suppose; you've all heard this rant before. One of the entertainment industry's favorite paradigms is to depict the destruction of mankind via technology -- whether it be AI gone awry, atomic bombs, or just some madmen getting together and wreaking havoc with their state-of-the-art techno toys. In reality is we ARE ALLOWING technology to destroy us in a very personal way -- by affording ourselves less and less of a role in the creation of art in any form. I close with a simple thought: Just because one CAN do something does not mean one SHOULD.

Who is this guy? (1)

JasdonLe (680479) | more than 9 years ago | (#11416974)

What is this? A post to some guy's game-related blog? Maybe I'm out of the loop, but I have no clue who the author of the posted article is, nor any indication why I should care.

Why is his opinion even important, or relevent? Is /. this strapped for gaming stories? Thumbs down.

Re:Who is this guy? (1)

zero_offset (200586) | more than 9 years ago | (#11418191)


(appreciative nod, golf clap)
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