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Valve Questions Microsoft's PC Gaming Commitment

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the are-you-in-or-are-you-out dept.

PC Games (Games) 79 is reporting on comments from an interview they conducted with Doug Lombardi, marketing manager at Valve Studios. Lombardi criticized Microsoft's recent commitment to PC gaming in the form of the 'Games for Windows' initiative, which we've previously discussed here on the site. In Lombardi's view, this new push for games on the PC platform is nothing more than an extended advertising scheme to sell the Vista OS. "'Sony and Microsoft both have armies of PR people whose job it is to cram that information down the throats of press and analysts every day ... All those people do is say the PC's dying, the console's winning, and nobody on the PC side is championing that platform. And sales data tracks retail, and there's no doubt about it, PC sales at retail are declining ... World of Warcraft is making a whole lot of money outside of the retail channel, we're making a decent bit of cash off Steam, all the casual guys are not tracked - the PopCap games, Bejewelled, all that stuff doesn't show up.'"

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It's a rollercoaster (5, Insightful)

Sensae (961755) | more than 7 years ago | (#18321971)

It happens every couple years. The new consoles come out, everyone's hooked onto them and the PC games die down. A year or two down the road PCs come out ahead, or at least on par again. As for the whole "Gaming for Windows" that's obviously just a marketing scheme Microsoft is using in prediction for when PC gaming catches on again.

Re:It's a rollercoaster (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 7 years ago | (#18322189)

I think you're probably right, and PC game prices seem to reflect this somewhat, the cost of PC games seems to drop when sales figures drop, around 5 years or so ago when the Xbox, PS2, Gamecube etc. came about PC games went back down to around £29.99 after a breif period of being up at £34.99, around 3 years ago they went back up to £34.99 and dropped around a year ago to £29.99 (around the time of the 360 launch), now a lot of PC games are selling for £24.99, since the release of the Wii.

It seems as PC sales decline, so do game prices in an effort to coax more people into buying them I'd guess. Still, if lower PC sales mean lower prices then regardless, it seems great for the consumer.

Re:It's a rollercoaster (2, Interesting)

HappySqurriel (1010623) | more than 7 years ago | (#18322475)

Honestly, I don't think PC gaming has been on the same level as consoles (in terms of sales) for a very long time ...

The big problem PC gaming has is that its two biggest strenghts work against eachother; everyone has a PC and the hard-core group of PC gamers have amazingly powerful hardware. This ends up meaning you either target the Hard-Core and have limited sales, or you target the mainstream and upset the hardcore gamers (thus limiting sales) ...

That's just how I see it though

Re:It's a rollercoaster (2, Insightful)

cgenman (325138) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327353)

PC games != retail sales.

PC games = retail sales + download sales + recurring subscriptions [] + ad-based revenue + Korean microtransactions. Heck, World of Warcraft's recurring subscriptions alone count for an estimated 100 million dollars Per Month. Again, WoW is making a bit over A BILLION DOLLARS A YEAR, not including box sales, and it only accounts for an estimated 50% of paid MMPORPG subscriptions out there.

If US videogame sales are estimated at 10 billion dollars [] per year, it's not unreasonable to imagine 5 billion dollars coming from MMPORPG subscriptions, online purchases, the softer retail sales, and (yes) computer upgrades to facilitate gaming (are there really any other kinds?)

Re:It's a rollercoaster (1)

honkycat (249849) | more than 7 years ago | (#18328525)

and (yes) computer upgrades to facilitate gaming (are there really any other kinds?)
Yeah, upgrades to do home video editing. That takes a butt load of disk space. That's going to be my next upgrade. Yes, I just answered your rhetorical question. Sorry... no offense intended.. :-)

Re:It's a rollercoaster (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331037)

"Again, WoW is making a bit over A BILLION DOLLARS A YEAR, not including box sales, and it only accounts for an estimated 50% of paid MMPORPG subscriptions out there."
I'm betting someone will comment that this isn't pure profit (even remotely), and they would be right.

But in the context of this article, it's about competition for what is in gamers' wallets. In that regard, the biggest threat to retail PC games are not consoles, but subscription-based PC games.

There are a lot of people (including myself) who have *severely* cut back on retail gaming purchases (both console and PC) in favor of 1-2 MMOG subscriptions. Many are probably spending MORE money on PC gaming overall, just not in the areas that are easiest to track (retail channels).

Re:It's a rollercoaster (1)

MeanderingMind (884641) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331999)

Back in the day I played Diablo 2. I played it a lot, pretty much to the exclusion of any other PC game. I didn't buy other PC games, I didn't care about other PC games. Having Diablo 2 severely reduced my investment into the PC games market.

The same can be said of WoW now. I don't buy other PC games, I don't play other PC games, I don't particularly care about other PC games (Supreme Commander was a big letdown for me) although Hellgate: London may be the next game to eat my time.

However, what WoW does do is funnel $15 of my money into the system per month. My contribution to PC games, even if it isn't pure profit, is far greater than it ever was. Before, the market was lucky if I bought a $20 game every year. Now I'm spending $180 every year without even thinking about it.

Re:It's a rollercoaster (1)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 7 years ago | (#18322725)

Yeah, I remember when the MegaDrive came out, we all stopped playing 16colour CGA games for a while until we could have 640x480x256.
I got RAC Rally with my first 386, that's Colin McRea's Rally Version 0.

And Sentinel, anyone know where I can find the abandonware of that.

I got a Sim City 5 1/4 inch floppy round here somewhere too

Re:sentinel (1)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 7 years ago | (#18322813)

I should have looked myself first.

Ah many a wasted hour to be wasted again

Re:sentinel (1)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#18323267)

Did you mean Sentinel, The Sentinel, or Sentinel Worlds? If you found something, share!

Re:It's a rollercoaster (1)

AbRASiON (589899) | more than 7 years ago | (#18323175)


PC gaming has been easing off for ages, the PS3 only just came out, the X360 has only been out a bit over a year, yet in the past 2 / 3 years PC gaming has been declining, despite the fact we had 'only the old gen' from Xb1, PS2 and GC around.

It's not just about the graphics, it's about the simplicity and ease of use of a console - plus the graphics on them now is really more than acceptable overall (XB1, PS2 and GC that is)

Re:It's a rollercoaster (1)

Puff of Logic (895805) | more than 7 years ago | (#18324551)

It's not just about the graphics, it's about the simplicity and ease of use...
Interesting. While I accept that consoles are somewhat easier to use in a "shove the disk in and play" sense, I have to say that I really hate console controls. Having played on a 360 and a Wii (I own the latter) it really irritates me how imprecise the controls are. Playing CoD on the 360 felt like one of those weird dreams where you can't move freely because the air is too thick or something. I used to mock auto-aiming and/or target-locking I saw in console games, but I now understand it's the only damned way you can reliably track a target! If only someone would make a mouse and WASD/stick for the Wii or 360, I'd be a happy camper.

Re:It's a rollercoaster (1)

autocrawler (1004066) | more than 7 years ago | (#18329039)

"The new consoles come out, everyone's hooked onto them and the PC games die down. A year or two down the road PCs come out ahead, or at least on par again." This gen, it took PCs just six months to reestablish technological dominance. And that amount of time goes down with every new generation. All this leads me to believe that this time around, the next generation of consoles(XBox 720/whatever, PS4) will be technically obsolete right at release and they'll just be proprietary mid-end PCs, and nothing else.

They have such a tough position (3, Funny)

GregPK (991973) | more than 7 years ago | (#18321995)

On one hand they have the PC gaming market they need to support; On the other hand the more they move to console the more they make money and Vice Versa. Though with Vista's new Xbox live connection feature allowing Xbox 360 owners and PC owners to play each other. It sort of bridges the gap. But they did it to themselves.

Re:They have such a tough position (1)

26199 (577806) | more than 7 years ago | (#18322693)

I find it hard to be too sympathetic :)

They're making money on PC games and they're making money on console games. This is not a bad position to be in...

Re:They have such a tough position (1)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 7 years ago | (#18329121)

M$ are not generating a licence fee on PC games. Their aim is to do nothing and charge for it. Vista's (FU)DRM is the first look at an M$ licensing scheme for PC games, don't pay the DRM licence fee and watch the windows PC downgrade the quality of the picture and sound of the game, with even the future possibility of not playing the game at all.

A possible alternative direction upon the failure of the xbox gaming division or to be used in conjunction with Xbox licensing fees. Sony also generates income of windows gaming, but why feed a competitor.

For me I saved $48 by getting a Dell box with windows pre-installed and doing the dual boot my self ie. my game console cost me minus $48 and is free of game console licensing fees, and by dual booting to Kubuntu I retain full control over 'my' personal computer.

Re:They have such a tough position (1)

Macthorpe (960048) | more than 7 years ago | (#18333449)

The scenario you describe is entirely fictional and more than a little doolally.

If developers and gamers alike started having to pay a license fee to develop for the Windows platform, game development would shift to free alternatives like Linux quicker than you could say 'antidisestablishmentarianism'. Microsoft make enough money off OS sales at the moment as it is: charging a license fee would more than likely lose them money rather than gain it.

I also question how buying a Dell computer and installing Linux on it costs 'minus $48', unless you meant stealing a Dell computer.

really? (2, Interesting)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18322089)

and nobody on the PC side is championing that platform

People are buying and playing the games, thats good enough.

Get rid of Steam (1, Funny)

superangrybrit (600375) | more than 7 years ago | (#18322117)

and then I'll take you seriously about that "Games for Windows" bit. I don't want to hear about your other games made by other companies on your Steam platform. The game should alert me if there is an update at start up like in Blizzard games. I don't want to install your store.

Re:Get rid of Steam (4, Insightful)

Sensae (961755) | more than 7 years ago | (#18322289)

I don't see the huge issue with Steam, and why everyone thinks it's evil and want it to go away. Personally, I love it, especially because other companies are starting to adopt it. I hate having to store CDs, keep them in good condition, and find them every time I want to play or get a crack if I don't care about online play. Steam is a way to centralize the games you own, let you re-download them and even play them on different computers. The only problem I see is that Valve can and has decided what you can and can't play, but that's easily countered by going to the store, buying the game (if it's a Valve title) and registering it through Steam. I bought the Source pack in store and added it to my steam account, and if they ever mess up my account I still have the CD key.

Re:Get rid of Steam (1, Funny)

beef623 (998368) | more than 7 years ago | (#18322853)

What turned me against steam was the fact that I went out and bought Half-Life 2 took it home, installed it and had to wait half a day for it to get the required updates because they didn't even ship the full game on the disc(90-95% if I remember right). I could understand if it was an MMO or something along that line, but the least they can do is put a working copy of the game on the cd/dvd you buy. I can't honestly see how a company that would do that to its customers would have the nerve to complain about someone else's methods, even if it is microsoft.

Re:Get rid of Steam (2, Insightful)

Sensae (961755) | more than 7 years ago | (#18323107)

That's a blessing and a curse. Of course it's annoying that it takes forever to patch, but the flip side is that you have a company that supports their single-player game like it's an MMO. You were probably downloading nothing but engine updates. I personally find it great that they continue to support their engine and release new revisions of it, without going the Unreal route, making sub-par games with each new version of their engine just so they'll have an engine to sell. I say this is a blessing from my view as a modification developer, though all a normal gamer will get out of it is most stability and some added features.

Re:Get rid of Steam (2, Funny)

beef623 (998368) | more than 7 years ago | (#18323525)

I'll agree that the support is nice and that aspect of steam is a good one, but they shouldn't force the updates down the gamers throats and they shouldn't require an internet connection for a single player game.

No offense intended but you guys are the only people I've ever heard say anything about steam that didn't involve a lot of swearing, things flying across the room and the death of small animals...

Parent modded troll; why? (1)

electrosoccertux (874415) | more than 7 years ago | (#18326249)

He's right. You have to connect to the internet if you want to play your game. If they released patches that you have to download, and you're on dialup, and I can certainly understand why he would be frustrated. I don't see much that was troll about his comment.

Re:Parent modded troll; why? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18327727)

I think there's definitely been more troll-rating by some moderators recently for non-trollish comments. Even abuse of "overrated" has become rampant. Personally, I think they should limit mod points to one -1 and 4 positives/neutrals to cut down on it. If there was a nintendo/360/ps3 flamewar here it'd be really bad.

Re:Get rid of Steam (2, Informative) troll (593289) | more than 7 years ago | (#18333895)

What turned me against steam was when my copy of Counterstrike (a game I paid for years ago) suddenly developed ingame ads. Didn't fix the numerous bugs that have been around since day 1, or update any of the games content in any way, just..threw some adverts in there that lag you every time the round restarts. Thanks Valve.

I was actually for steam before at least somewhat, but it's just a lot of examples of a good idea that Valve did wrong.

Streamed content: Possible with steam, but just doesn't really happen, definitely not as well as it could (thats where you download the engine/core data files first, then the first level or two, then start playing the game while level 3 and 4 download in the background.)

Episodic content: Neat idea,if they stuck to it. Instead HL2:E2 gets pushed absurdly far back to the point where I'm no longer remotely involved in the E1 story. And they bundled in two additional games, which goes against the entire premise of episodic content (release often, develop quickly).

Game data stored online: Many possibilities, like weekly map additions or updates. Nothing happens.

I could go on and on, but frankly its not even worth it. Valve fucks up everything they touch, sometimes not enough to ruin it, but never enough to make it come out as good as it could have and should have been.

Re: [don't] Get rid of Steam (3, Interesting)

demiurgency (1072428) | more than 7 years ago | (#18323145)

I agree. I'll admit. I'm addicted to digital distribution. I have even re-bought games that I had on disc already, so that I would have an electronic right recorded somewhere stating that I can download and play this game whenever / wherever I choose. It actually makes me feel like the game is mine, more than just owning a physical cd.

Granted, I might be a slightly unusual case, because I move A LOT, and every time I move, things get misplaced, lost, damaged, left-behind, or stolen, and this especially includes CDs/games. And the physical form of a game (box, manual, cd's) mean very little to me and I'm liable to just throw them away, which I know is not the case with a lot of gamers. However, I love knowing that I can uninstall a game, and 5 years later if I get the urge to play it again, then that game is mine, and I can just re-download without any fear that the game disc has been lost or damaged over that time.

The one thing that bugs about digital distribution services is that they are heterogeneous, owned by different companies, and I have different accounts with them. My copy of GalCiv 2 is purchased through Stardock, while Half-Life 2 and Jagged Alliance 2 I have through Steam. This could potentially be a problem years down the road if many other game companies jump on the digital distribution bandwagon. It would be much better if (imo) all of my games could be available through a single service, but I can't imagine a service any time soon that could make that a reality. I wonder, if maybe, the Games for Windows initiative might open this possibility up in the future.

Now if only the RIAA/MPAA could move to a model similar to this for albums and movies (pay for once, and I am permanently licensed to download/burn/play on whatever format/player I choose), then that might be the first fair use model I have seen yet that might actually tip me in favor of DRMed content. But since they keep holding on to a 'worst of both worlds' model (worse for the consumer, good for them) I have to vehemently reject any notion of ever buying DRMed content.

Re: [don't] Get rid of Steam (1)

Kalriath (849904) | more than 7 years ago | (#18325077)

I'm confused on a couple of points. Why did you re-buy your games over the internet again? I distinctly recall that when you enter a Galactic Civilisations CD-Key into Stardock Central that it binds it to your account, allowing you to download updates - or indeed, the entire game - anywhere on any computer at will? And Steam, when you enter a Half-Life, Blue Shift, or whatever key into it binds the game to your account as well, allowing you to download the entire game at will as well.

Re: [don't] Get rid of Steam (1)

Jthon (595383) | more than 7 years ago | (#18326365)

I'm definitely not a fan of steam/digital distribution. I hate it so much that while I was a great fan of Half-life I've never purchased HL 2 simply because of Steam. I hate being dependant on a network connection and someone else for access to games I might buy. Why should my single player game require that I log onto the 'net before I play it? What happens when I'm on my laptop, or even on my desktop but don't have 'net access and want to play some games without being able to get online?

How do I know that such a service will continue to exist as long as I want to play my games? I still go back and play my old games like Wing Commander, and Descent. Are Origin Systems and Interplay still around to authorize my play if I didn't have the disks?

Software companies and distribution systems come and go. By at least having some physical media that I can personally take care of, I can guarantee that I'll be able to play in the future. Systems such as Steam just don't allow this. You're counting on the fact that the service will still be available in 5 years, but companies come and go. You also are sort of counting that the games work on the latest systems/hardware. I actually have older systems or might duel boot an OS so I could go back and play an older game that doesn't work with XP.

How long do you think a company would support their old software/clients on a dated system? In most cases not very long. Many great games just don't work after a few years and lose support. Steam doesn't really make it that less expensive to keep patching an old game. In 5 years the best support you'll be getting for most old games is grabbing some patches off a download site. Half-life, is a rare exception to that rule.

My other big complaint is steam requires you be online to play. Sure you can play HL 2 offline, just make sure you authorized with steam first, and didn't shut it down. Steam can be a nice compliment to an online component of a game, but the hassles and restrictions it puts upon me for single player/offline gaming are not worth the hassle. If I could download and burn copies of my games that worked completely independently of the digital distribution system then I might be interested. Until then I'm not touching steam.

As you can see my concerns are very similar to yours, but rather than seeing steam as a solution I see it as just another problem. The difference is you rely on someone else have access to you games, while I trust myself to do a better job.

Re: [don't] Get rid of Steam (1)

EnglishTim (9662) | more than 7 years ago | (#18329915)

To be fair, with Steam you can go into 'Offline Mode', which locks the games to that PC until you choose to log in again.

Re: [don't] Get rid of Steam (2, Insightful)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#18328107)

However, I love knowing that I can uninstall a game, and 5 years later if I get the urge to play it again, then that game is mine, and I can just re-download without any fear that the game disc has been lost or damaged over that time.

See, this is exactly why I don't like digital distribution. With a physical CD, I know that I can just go grab it and reinstall it 5 years down the road. With Steam (or another service), on the other hand, there's always the various risks that Valve went out of business, or lost my account, or disabled it because it got hacked (this actually happened and I had to email Valve a photo of my original Half-Life 1 CDs to get it reinstated), etc. that only occur because my property is out of my control.

Incidentally, it is because of this that I don't own Half-Life 2 (although I might go buy a physical copy in a store, eventually).

Re: [don't] Get rid of Steam (1)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 7 years ago | (#18337177)

Which is why Steam is actually superior to just purchasing a physical CD.

I purchased HL1 so long ago I can't even count the number of years. My CD has survived five moves and much abuse. But even if it ever died, I still have a backup of the most current version of it saved to a thumb drive and another copy on a CD. Both of these were made using Steam's built-in backup utility, I don't have to worry about if Valve were suddenly to disappear.

You are avocating wearing just a belt because you think the suspenders will fail. But in reality, Steam gives you the option to wear a belt AND suspenders.

Re:Get rid of Steam (4, Interesting)

joystickgenie (913297) | more than 7 years ago | (#18326277)

The main issue I have with steam is in the long run. Sure for the moment if you have the time it takes to download the game its fine but what about 2 years from now when there is no longer steam distribution available to you (hypothetical)? Valve could be bought out, go under, or the CEO or board of directors could just kill steam on a whim. At that point you just lost your game. You paid for it, you played it you own it but you now have no way of installing it and playing it again.

I have seen way to many game studios go under to trust that I will still be able to play my game a year from now unless I physically have the game in my position in the form of a CD or some other backup installation source.

Of course I'm one of those crazy gamers that actually keeps the games he buys so I can play them again later rather then selling them back to EB for trade in value. You never know when you might get the urge to whip out the Atari 2600 and play some pitfall.

stratjakt questions Valve's gaming commitment (-1, Troll)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 7 years ago | (#18322121)

Episodic content was the end of Valve for me.. Releasing a game with 2 hours of gameplay every 2 years?

What a joke.

Maybe someday someone will buy up the franchise and turn out another AAA Half-Life title. Valve obviously isn't up to the job anymore.

(Didn't RTFA, I'm sure it's some sort of "they should package Steam(tm) cuz it's da futore of da gamze!", or similar Steam vs Live pissing match)

Re:stratjakt questions Valve's gaming commitment (2, Interesting)

justinlindh (1016121) | more than 7 years ago | (#18322287)

Really? I have to admit that I'm quite the opposite. I'm probably in the minority, but I seem to have the attention span of a 6 year old with a 2-liter Jolt cola when it comes to games, anymore. I'd MUCH rather pay a smaller fee ($10, $20) for episodic content than take the $60 plunge on a game that I'll grow tired of before finishing. This is probably why I've spent more money on Xbox Live Arcade and smaller Steam games than I have on retail titles over the last few years. If I don't end up really, really liking the game it's no huge loss. Bite-sized gaming appeals to me. This doesn't excuse the long delays between titles, I'll admit.

As for staying on the original topic, I applaud MS for the "Games for Windows" route. They're trying to standardize PC gaming requirements with a points system that could ultimately prove useful. They're also bringing Live to Windows, which is far and away the best online multiplayer service (yeah, go tinker some more with Battlefield2/2142's matchmaking service and tell me that Live isn't better).

Re:stratjakt questions Valve's gaming commitment (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 7 years ago | (#18322811)

Episodic content isnt episodic if it takes years between "episodes", and the "episodes" feel more like expansion packs for a game you've bought.

If they could spew out an hours worth of gameplay a week, I'd be interested. As it is, I don't even remember what happened in the last half life "episode", so the upcoming one just registers in my brain as "shitty budget title fps that I'll beat in an hour"

These aren't episodes: they're just really crappy sequels.

metrics (3, Insightful)

RichMan (8097) | more than 7 years ago | (#18322273)

It is all about the metrics:

PC gameing is not dead. Probably more people playing longer and more often than ever before (Warcraft).
Retail Box store sales of PC games is low compared to console sales.

Hours played of PC games: missing is Warcraft, web games, ....
Sales: missing is Warcraft, online sales ...

Blizzard gave the box stores a thank you for the Burning Crusade release. It could have totally be done with a download and all those stores would have had nothing (currently you can do a direct online, avoid the store upgrade).

Because PC's can download, even burn DVD's. New PC games can totally avoid the box stores in the future.
If the box stores want to live they must champion the console games.

Valve could make extra cash by championing a download system, if they make it work out for more cash for a game maker than a box store. It could be the end of box stores.

Steam? (2, Informative)

phorm (591458) | more than 7 years ago | (#18322731)

Valve could make extra cash by championing a download system, if they make it work out for more cash for a game maker than a box store. It could be the end of box stores.

Hmmm, that might just be an idea. Once they come up with such a thing, maybe they can choose a cool name for it, like "steam"

(granted steam is more than just a download system, it also handles their rather annoying copy-protection, advertisements, etc, but it's been around for awhile, and hasn't killed box stores yet).

Re:Steam? (1)

daeg (828071) | more than 7 years ago | (#18324615)

I think the GP was implying a generic downloading system that companies could license like they do graphics engines. Imagine something like the World of Warcraft delivery system that companies could license and pay per-download. Valve (or whatever company) would manage the entire operation and just get a cut of the profit from each copy sold.

Selling via box stores is expensive. You have a lot of overhead: printed materials, boxes, inserts, discs, cases. Then you have the shipment costs from production center -> box warehouses. Box stores then pay for warehouse -> store shipping. You have labor at production, shipping, and retail levels. Each level must make a profit, the end store probably getting the least profit of all. I'm sure even an expensive download service could rival it for cost efficiency.

Thought of it myself (1)

phorm (591458) | more than 7 years ago | (#18328231)

Basically this could be something like a "package management" system like many linux distros use. Steam doesn't quite do this, but I think it's actually due to lack of adoption (I believe they did offer some non-value products or products of affiliated companies at one point, I could be wrong).

It sounds like a great idea, but it would have to involve a very trustworthy middleman.

Re:Thought of it myself (1)

PingSpike (947548) | more than 7 years ago | (#18330961)

Steam does do this...pretty much. Like the other guy said, there are tons of non-valve games on the service. They also push out some older games from publishers like activision I believe. Additionally, there are some steam only games, many of which are quite good.

Re:Thought of it myself (1)

Bacon Bits (926911) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334097)

You clearly have not been on Steam in a long time.

Current library includes:
Call of Duty 1 & 2
Civilization III & IV
Flatout 1 & 2
Dark Messiah of Might & Magic
Midevil II: Total War
Dreamfall: The Longest Journey
*And* PopCap games like Bejeweled.

Re:Thought of it myself (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18338315)

there are a lot of 3rd party download systems now other than Steam. Frankly I am surprised anyone actually buys the CDs now.

direct2Drive and StarDocks systems come ot mind. Stardock is mostly thier own stuff though and small companies but direct2drive does handle some bigger games.

Re:Steam? (2, Insightful)

zootm (850416) | more than 7 years ago | (#18330165)

I think the GP was implying a generic downloading system that companies could license like they do graphics engines. Imagine something like the World of Warcraft delivery system that companies could license and pay per-download. Valve (or whatever company) would manage the entire operation and just get a cut of the profit from each copy sold.

Steam does this right now, so far as I can tell. There's loads of non-Valve games available through Steam these days.

Re:metrics (1)

b1scuit (795301) | more than 7 years ago | (#18324067)

Blizzard didn't give any stores a thank you, but they should. Blizzard's download service is godawful... it's nothing more than a crappy bittorrent service, plagued with problems. It's always been FAR easier to download patches from services like filefront or if you're lucky, your guild website, and buying TBC in the stores was a no-brainer... I had a friend who paid for his BC upgrade online and then had to wait for something like 30 hours for the installer image to download. I walked down to Best Buy (I still feel dirty, but I literally walked [in the rain no less] and they were geographically closest) and bought the thing and had it installed and running in something like 2 hours from the moment I left my apartment. Blizzard is either totally unmotivated to, or incapable of (either technically or because vivendi has them by the short hairs) providing a direct download service for anything related to WoW, be it free content patches (ok, I can see that being BT based.. fair enough, it's free) or expansions you have to pay for. And if I'm paying for something, I want it NOW, or as close to now as possible. Charging the same price online as in stores for 2 or so GB of software is fine, but only if I can actually download it over a fat pipe (700k-1Mb/s minimum). Selling it via download is fine, but it has to be fast. Yes I understand it'll still take a couple hours, which is ok. 24 hours+, and sometimes up into several DAYS to download something I just paid for (and really want to play, because we're all crack addicts) is NOT ok. As it stands, Blizzard does NOT have a viable alternative to buying their games in a store. If they'd suck up the bandwidth cost and provide a real service, they'd still make gobs of money, but they don't, and I'm betting it's vivendi's doing. Really though, I don't actually care why. Blizzard's downloads (paid or otherwise) are a joke though, and have nothing on the simple expedience of going to the box store. Valve already has an online option for purchasing their stuff, it's called Steam. It's also the devil, but that's even more OT than complaining about Blizzard's crappy download service.

Re:metrics (1)

Kiffer (206134) | more than 7 years ago | (#18325573)

You see what you should have done was... buy one copy of the upgrade in the shop. install it on all our friends machines and then they could have bought the account upgrade online and avoided the whole multi-gig download.

Re:metrics (1)

Dutch Gun (899105) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327041)

Blizzard's download service is godawful... it's nothing more than a crappy bittorrent service, plagued with problems.
On the other hand, you can download the GuildWars client (a few hundred KB) and the entire game will stream to your HD as required on a per-mission basis. If anyone should be licensing their streaming system, it's ArenaNet. I have to wonder about Blizzard's cheap-o approach to conserving bandwidth when a monthly-fee-free game can one-up them...

Re:metrics (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 7 years ago | (#18328821)

When you own one restaurant, It doesn't make sense to scrimp on the napkins to save $5/year. When you own a twenty thousand restaurant chain, that's an entire person's salary. And maybe you could use slightly lesser quality ingredients too..

Retail he says? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18322345)

Never had to buy a hard copy of eve online. I just downloaded it and started playing/paying one night.

Screw retail anyway.

What's the "news"? (1)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 7 years ago | (#18322355)

...this new push for games on the PC platform is nothing more than an extended advertising scheme to sell the Vista OS...

What's the news? That Microsoft is encouraging people to develop/port games for/to Vista so that its latest OS continues to be the one most often used with games? Even if this is news to most people, why would this be surprising to guy with a marketing job? (He either saw this coming or is probably not qualified for his job.)

I can remember similar whining around the time Windows 95 came out; "32-bit DOS is great and everyone knows the command-line: why should we launch from Windows 95?"

I think a lot of this whining (and a big reason that M$ is taking heat for "allow-allow-allow") is that game installers and designers are so used to being ROOT on any box they live on that when someone finally tells them to pay attention to where and what you can install, they start crying...

DOS was great (1)

phorm (591458) | more than 7 years ago | (#18322809)

32-bit DOS is great and everyone knows the command-line: why should we launch from Windows 95

And you know what, for the first while, probably several years at least. DOS was the best way. It allowed much more of the PC to be dedicated to *gasp* the game.

Hardware was a bit behind too, so when you ran your game you tended to end up a little short (or just enough), when running

Not to mention all the funny issues with resources (soundcard) etc being tied up be the OS, needing to reboot into DOS mode, etc etc

From a developers perspective, I suppose the DirectX was quite a nice thing, but it took awhile to evolve (not without many bugs and quirks). In terms of performance, DirectX on DOS had more resources to work with, and was a more powerful solution.

With Vista I see this being moreso. Instead of having 900MB RAM and 80% of CPU free for the game (on top of XP), you're running 300-400MB or less RAM free for the game, and likely less CPU as well.

Re:DOS was great (2, Insightful)

Jarlsberg (643324) | more than 7 years ago | (#18328967)

DirectX on DOS had more resources to work with, and was a more powerful solution.
Except there never was a DirectX for DOS. ;)

Correction (1)

phorm (591458) | more than 7 years ago | (#18333969)

Darnit, I meant to say OpenGL...

Re:What's the "news"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18325895)

If all this "needs to be root to install" stuff was a big deal to Microsoft and they wanted to put an end to that, they wouldn't make Vista run "setup", "install", etc, only as Admin or not run at all.

Re:What's the "news"? (1)

PingSpike (947548) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331169)

I think he's just pointing out that Microsoft supposed new "commitment" to PC gaming is anything but that. He has a vested interest here, because as a guy that works at a PC game company he has to deal with all the bullshit that ensues.

The "Games for Windows" initiative, if you really look at its goals, will do nothing but turn the PC into a clunky and more expensive xbox 360. In short, it'll strip the PC of its advantages in order to make it similar to console gaming. The trouble with this is, of course, that its just setting PC gaming up for the fall. If its the same as a 360, but more expensive, everyone will just buy a 360.

Microsoft hasn't really done dick for developers, or at least their gift has barbs in it. DX10 abandoning compatibility on XP has forced developers back into developing for two APIs, developing for the older API (dx9) or developing for one API that has very little market penetration. GfW certification is just another way to extract a few more dollars out of them in exchange for getting their name in a Games list under the start menu.

I agree with Doug's sentiments, I think MS is humping and will soon be dumping PC gaming to move Vista. Think about it, what has Microsoft actually done for PC gaming since the xbox came out? Wooed developers off the platform to work on xbox games, then gave us some late, sloppy ports of console games. Of course, Doug is probably screaming more then usual since valve has pretty much locked themselves to Microsoft (HL2 doesn't even have an OpenGL mode does it? Its a purely windows title and I've heard its a real bitch to get it working under wine/cedega). I'm not saying linux was some sort of viable alternative really, windows is pretty much the defacto game OS...but if Valve had at least setup an OpenGL renderer they'd have a little wiggle room in what they wanted to do with the HL2 engine.

The guidelines (5, Informative)

ebingo (533762) | more than 7 years ago | (#18322543)

I'm far from loving Microsoft but I don't understand why people see a marketing ploy in the Games for Windows thing. As I see it, it's a guideline for developers so that the customer knows that the games he/she's buying will work in a certain specific way, and from what I read, it's not bad at all.

For example, the game must be executable from a normal user account (finaly!) and the savegames must be placed in the users' home directory (My Documents). It's a huge step for Windows - especially for games - where lots of programs can't be run under a normal user environment (this was becoming less and less true recently but there where still many games unplayable without admin rights). Then, it forces the game to support widescreen displays, task switching (alt-tab), have a shortcut in the Games Browser, etc.

Nowhere does it say that is has to be installed on Vista. Granted, it was announced a only a few months before Vista came out, but I think it's normal that they try to start fresh with a new OS with guidelines for programs that will be coming out from now on. Still, none of the requirements state that it needs Vista. Company of Heroes is a Game for Windows and does everything right on Windows XP.

I havent read it all, but I doubt it would prevent developing games for other platforms (Mac, Linux). It only makes it so that IF the game is to be installed on Windows, it should follow the guidelines. And some of them are a given for MacOS and Linux (user account, savegames)

Re:The guidelines (1)

fotbr (855184) | more than 7 years ago | (#18323661)

Minor nitpick: Games have to follow those rules if they want the "Games for Windows" tag/emblem/seal/logo/whatever. There's NOTHING that says you can't make a game, for windows, that doesn't follow those rules. It just won't have the Microsoft awarded logo "Games for Windows".

Re:The guidelines (1)

ebingo (533762) | more than 7 years ago | (#18324305)

True. I didn't mean to imply that it was required to make a Windows game.

Re:The guidelines (1)

tcc3 (958644) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340435)

You know after years of buying brokne, barely compatible games I heartily agree with you. If MS announced tomorrow they could cure cancer, people would lambaste them for contributing to wreckless population growth.

of course it is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18322623)

Of course it's an advertising scheme by Microsoft. I'm sure it's also to let people know that you can't get directX 10 unless you have Vista!

Glass Houses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18323335)

Valve should look to themselves for their "commitment" to the PC gaming market. They've done what? THREE games in over a DECADE, and two of those are sequels. Quit riding the gravy train, Valve. Steam's a DRM nightmare and Half-Life 2 had a lousy story and mediocre gameplay.

Can someone shut the limelight off on their way out? Thanks.

release Gears of War for XP (1)

ichbineinneuben (1065378) | more than 7 years ago | (#18325587)

If Microsoft were committed to PC gaming in the sense Valve is using the term ("to promote PCs as a gaming platform" as opposed to "using PC gaming as a tool to promote Vista") Gears of War would already be available for PCs. So I'm with Valve on this one. "DirectX 10 - Vista only" Need I say more?

Re:release Gears of War for XP (1)

Mia'cova (691309) | more than 7 years ago | (#18326413)

They should probably give the new games away for free too. Just to really show they're commited, you know? I'm so sick and tired of them claiming there's some kind of value in this directx stuff.

Now, had you used OpenGL on vista as your example I may have agreed with you...

PC Gaming on the Rise (1)

Artaxs (1002024) | more than 7 years ago | (#18325981)

For GDC, Xfire released a snapshot of stats from their gaming client from December 2006. Gaming on Windows PCs is on the upswing for the amount of time spent playing the games, even if retail sales seem to be in a slump.

Xfire Stats December 2006 []

One game, World of Warcraft, just counting Xfire users, accounts for 15,000 *days* of play time every day.

In unrelated news, there is still no cure for cancer.

Re:PC Gaming on the Rise (1)

jfodale (1032534) | more than 7 years ago | (#18330865)

Could that upswing also be attributed to a rise in the use of XFire though?

Re:PC Gaming on the Rise (1)

Artaxs (1002024) | more than 7 years ago | (#18342581)

Well, yes, but since the main reason people use Xfire is to find their friends gaming on PCs and the overall hours per user per game is also on the rise, I would infer that PC gaming's popularity cannot be solely judged by retail sales.

A big factor is the rise of Free-To-Play Korean MMOs in the Western World. On the top 10 MMOs, you don't see very many of SOE's games (only SWG; no EQ's) -- the kids who can't afford the $15 a month for WoW are playing the free games. Such games support themselves through a "cash store" which allows the user to buy special costumes for their character, etc., without giving them a direct advantage in-game over their free-play peers.

G4W Duplicates Steam (1)

Mia'cova (691309) | more than 7 years ago | (#18326287)

Now why doesn't it surprise me to see, out of all the people in the industry, Valve's PR guy is making the most noise? Okay, maybe not quite true. What should be noted here that there is HUGE value in the platform. Valve makes a cut when other developers release through Steam. They've invested heavily to become that platform. I'm not sure what all they offer but I assume it extends to distribution, copy protection, matchmaking, buddy lists, etc. Now, with G4W stepping in with the Live platform, they have a very giant competitor. This isn't about enforcing some very sane basic requirements for a half-decent user experience, it's about marketshare wars between live marketplace and steam to be the entry point to buying your games.

Re:G4W Duplicates Steam (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#18328163)

Seems like it might be a good time for Valve to stop ignoring Mac and Linux, then, if Microsoft is beginning to compete with it...

Re:G4W Duplicates Steam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18342369)

I'm not sure what all they offer but I assume it extends to distribution, copy protection, matchmaking, buddy lists, etc.
Distribution, yes. Copy protection, very yes. Multiplayer is impossible with a pirated version, single player is hazardous to your chances of ever getting a valid account. Matchmaking, yes. I know they provide master servers for their FPS games, and am fairly sure they will provide matchmaking for other games if a developer asks (in exchange for a larger cut, of course). And buddy lists, they're trying. Steam's Friends system hasn't been too happy lately. Has anyone been able to make use of it?

Meanwhile... (1)

MMaestro (585010) | more than 7 years ago | (#18326295)

Valve is a staunch defender of the PC, and points to the success of alternative revenue streams as evidence that the death of PC gaming is a myth.

Valve is a staunch defender of the PC? Aren't they porting the whole Half-Life 2 package to the Xbox 360 and the PS3? Valve probably just feels that Steam would be overtaken by Games for Windows.

Games 4 Windows == Don't Switch to Linux (1)

hobb0001 (989441) | more than 7 years ago | (#18326707)

I've always assumed that "Games For Windows" was a lock-in strategy to prevent people from jumping ship to Linux or OS X. How many people do you know would like to switch over to Linux but don't because they then couldn't easily play their games? What if nobody played "serious" games on PCs anymore? Microsoft would lose one of their last remaining roadblocks.

Re:Games 4 Windows == Don't Switch to Linux (1)

I'm Don Giovanni (598558) | more than 7 years ago | (#18328759)

Games 4 Windows has nothing to do with whether a game is ported to another platform or not.
Where are you getting this crap from?

Developers have hurt PC gaming. (4, Interesting)

MaWeiTao (908546) | more than 7 years ago | (#18326769)

I have noticed for quite a few years now the PC gaming section shrinking. Honestly, I think the biggest fault for the decline of PC games rests with the developers. The first problem is the complete lack of variety among most PC games. There are three basic genres, FPS's, RTS's and RPG's. And with each of these genres there's even less variety.

What do we get for FPS's? We get gritty, monochromatic future worlds infested by demon aliens. Either that or it's a war game, either based in WW2, modern times and most recently the near future. How about RTS's? It's predominantly some Age of Empires/Civilization, Warcraft or Starcraft clone. The PC RPG genre is probably even worse. Virtually all PC RPGs are based in Tolkien, D&D type worlds. With the recent RPGs developers have gotten obsessed with trying to depict realistic-looking worlds so they've sucked all personality out of these games. They all end up looking identical with player characters all looking like actors in some third-rate fantasy movie.

There's a lack of variety in the console market, but nothing like PCs suffer from. Cross-platform games hurt the PC market further. Developers inevitable build a game around the lowest common denominator. This means PC versions of console games are usually subpar. PC gamers are stuck dealing with poorly designed, awkward interfaces and graphics that are inferior to those of most PC-only games. A PC essentially reveals the short-comings of a console, so why even play the game on a PC?

There is one problem unique to PCs. During the lifespan of a console a gamer never has to worry about compatibility. They don't have think about whether or not that console will be able to run a game developed five years down the road. In fact, that game will likely be far more impressive than anything released years earlier. Not so with PCs. New, mainstream PC games are constantly making a gamer feel inadequate. Especially with games nowadays. Buy a new PC today which will run anything at high detail and don't be surprised if even a year from now if you don't get acceptable frame rates at medium detail.

This is a problem I think is worsening with each passing year. Developers are building games to push the limits of the latest hardware available at the game's release. Sure, the game looks impressive but only for maybe 5%, at best 10% of the market. It creates a gaming environment that tends to alienate more casual gamers.

I recently bought Supreme Commander. It's a good game, but its performance demands are ridiculous. My PC more or less meets the "recommended" requirements but once my army has reached a significant size I start experiencing poor framerates. I find it very hard to believe they couldn't have coded the game more efficiently. So I end up not bothering. Why am I going to buy a recent game when it's unlikely to run well? I'll just wait to upgrade. And that in and of itself is another mess, trying to balance cost and performance, trying to ensure the longevity of new hardware. I'm sure this is a problem many PC gamers are constantly contending with. I have friends who've by and large given up on PC gaming for this reason.

What I don't understand is why PC game developers aren't pushing casual gaming more aggressively. In fact, there's virtually no marketing whatsoever for PC games. People promote the Wii as the ideal casual gaming platform. But they fail to realize that there's a $250 initial investment. That's a lot of money for a non-gamer to put down just because they thought Wii Sports was entertaining. PCs, however, are close to being truly ubiquitous. Who isn't familiar with a PC? It's far more approachable than any game console. And that same non-gamer is far more likely to spend $20 to $40 on a game that catches his or her eye.

The problem here is that the most prominent games in the PC market don't appeal to these people at all. There are plenty of great casual games out there but nobody knows they exist if they aren't specifically looking for them. It's a big opportunity that's being wasted.

If MS were so commited to pc gaming... (1)

OiToTheWorld (1014079) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327315)

then why is Halo 2 still for xbox only as far as i know?

Re:If MS were so commited to pc gaming... (1)

nexex (256614) | more than 7 years ago | (#18337775)

Bungie/MS is releasing it as Halo 2 for Vista. As in, Vista only.

Tell someone who cares, Valve (0, Flamebait)

petrus4 (213815) | more than 7 years ago | (#18328197)

HL2 blows compared to the first game; graphics alone don't cut need to put some effort into a few other aspects of game design as well. Before you sold your souls, you apparently understood that. Then you did the usual thing these days and allowed yourselves to be assimilated by corporate middlemen in the form of Vivendi.

I therefore am not interested in hearing your opinions about much of anything...and I consider it hypocrisy that you criticise Microsoft. You've done well enough on the corporate sellout scorecard yourselves in recent years.

Death by natural causes. (2, Interesting)

anduz (1027854) | more than 7 years ago | (#18329985)

I don't know if this is geniue but things sure have changed in my dorm doing the past few years. Two things have happened, people have gotten laptops, and given up their computer tables when they started using their flatscreen television as monitors. The laptops flying around a student community, at least here in tax heavy daneland, aren't really capable of any sort of top end gaming, and sitting in your bed/sofa while playing games isn't really optimal for keyboard/mouse either. So quite naturally most of the gaming that goes on here, and there is quite a lot, has moved to consoles.

I havn't joined the boat yet, I have a laptop but I also have a stationary pc and I got a normal television because I could get ten times the television for less money. But my gaming machine is ageing fast, and I've got to say that the console gaming has made me consider whether or not I'll ever upgrade it again. I don't think I will.

Microsoft is plotting to kill the independent deve (1)

kornkid606 (1076023) | more than 7 years ago | (#18359335)

I personally think the whole "Games for Windows" thing is terrible. For one thing it get's the uninitiated user thinking that any other game might not work for there machine. Second, it is a totally shameless f**king M$ plug, which is total b.s. And third, for any independent developers out there, it is stupid to have to fit some dumb ass constraints just to get a stupid little certification. It is like Microsoft is trying to slowly brainwash PC users, starting with Vista and "Games for Windows". That is why I like Steam, Valve is on the look out for good independent games getting made and they can offer them to the public without having to go through shifty publishers and marketing departments. Mark my words, the revolutionary PC games aren't going to be on the shelves at EB, or your local Fry's Electronic, they are going to be on steam or some other digital-only service. This is because the revolutionary games won't be made by 100 man teams for millions of dollars, they are going to be made by a group of 10 driven people who have the passion and the skill to make it happen. The revolutionary games won't come from developers with a marketing department or a PR team. They won't come from teams with connections to the big 5 publishers. In short: the revolutionary PC games will NOT be televised!! Consoles sell more because console games prey on the impulse buyer. That is why they spend millions on marketing and product desing and placement, because when grandma is in the store looking for a birthday gift for lil' Jimmy, she is going to pick up the game with the prettiest box art. My beef with consoles, and why they will NEVER be better than a PC, is because the console hardware developers spend billions developing these state of the art machines that can only play a few core types of games: platformers, thrid person action, puzzle, and jrpg. How many GREAT console games do you own? and how many of them fall into these catagories? It is my opinion that ANY game on a console (with the exception of the wii) can be played on a pc but how many good rts games do you see on a console? Consoles are just too limiting in their scope of games. The problem with a lack of diverse types of PC games is not due to the PC limitations, it is due to the lack of imagination of PC developers, or at least the major ones. Which brings me back to my main point: the great, imaginative, inspiring PC games will not be found in gamestop and will NOT be certified "Games for Windows", they will be made by indie developers and retailed digital-only, most likely on Steam because Valve knows what the f**k is up. And that is my (as a future indie PC developer) humble opinion.
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