Why PC Gaming is Nowhere Near Dead

Why PC Gaming is Nowhere Near Dead
By Joshua Temblett (Dontkillmydreams), OnRPG Journalist


The PC Gaming Industry continues to grow and grow. In a recent announcement from the PC Gaming Alliance (PCGA) it was revealed that software revenue was at $13.1 billion for 2009, which is a 3% increase from 2008. So what exactly can this rise in PC gaming software sales be attributed to?


I think the important thing is to recognise MMORPGs as one of the biggest genres in the PC Games industry. To put it simply, the MMORPG is something which is oddly exclusive to the PC platform. Game developers can make MMOs for consoles, as it has been proven by games such as Final Fantasy XI, White Knight Chronicles and Monster Hunter (and yes I know that the latter two aren’t MMORPGs per say; however they do have some of the same features).


Whilst online RPGs can be created for consoles, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of developers pushing for it, excluding Square Enix. This is interesting because it is generally believed that there are more console gamers out there then PC gamers, so why would game companies not want to create MMORPGs for a console, especially when there is such a large market for them (just look at World of Warcraft and its twelve million subscribers)?


PC Gaming Rise WoW


In 2006 it was revealed by Paul Sams (then World of Warcraft’s Chief Operating Officer) that the reasons why MMOs could not be brought to consoles were because “There’s no certification process outside of Blizzard’s internal process. When you introduce Microsoft, Sony or Nintendo, you introduce a whole new certification process.”[1] Blizzard has also been reported as telling Microsoft that “There are so many games like we make at Blizzard that we don’t take to consoles because they don’t support the input device, and you end up with crappy ports. That’s why RTS games never do well on consoles.”[2] If this logic is true then MMORPGs (and RTSs) will always remain exclusive to the PC, and there will always be a reason to return to the PC for games in those genres.


Of course, Blizzards ideas about developing MMOs for the console could soon be outdated. Final Fantasy XIV will enter the online arena in Q4, and it isn’t exclusive to the PC. In fact there’s a very large possibility that the game has been designed from the ground up to support console play, like Final Fantasy XI before it. Players have been able to play Final Fantasy XI on consoles for many years now, so even when Blizzard made the above statements in 2006, they could have been considered outdated.


 PC Gaming Rise Final Fantasy XIV


Even if a new, prosperous, market for MMORPGs were to be found on consoles, this still wouldn’t remove any of the reasons to game on a PC. With services such as Steam and Direct 2 Drive it’s never been easier to buy a game you like and install it. The former also has a huge community centred around it and has just as many, if not more, features as Microsoft’s Xbox Live service.


PC Gaming Starcraft II


The Real Time Strategy game is one genre that cannot be duplicated on consoles, even though developers have tried. It’s not that these games aren’t a “success” (of course this completely depends on how you define the word), it’s just that there’s not much of a market on consoles for them. Consoles are designed for simplicity, you turn on your Playstation 3 on, pop the disc in, and then you’re ready to play. This ease of use isn’t something that PC gamers have the pleasure, however that’s why we’re PC gamers. We love to boot a game up, and tweak it to our liking. Consoles are designed for quick play and to provide you with entertainment as quickly possible, that’s why First Person Shooters are popular on them because you just aim and shoot. RTSs don’t provide that type of gameplay. In most RTSs, you’ll end up playing for hours on end in one match, slowly building up your resources, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. They’re all about strategy and planning, and so are MMORPGs, and that’s why they’ll never be such a commercial success on consoles.


Now I know I’m stereotyping here. I know not all console gamers are restless teenagers who just want to shoot another human in the head with an AK-47. I also know that there are some incredibly artistic and beautiful games on consoles, such as ICO and Okami, sadly these games don’t sell millions.


In this respect PCs will always have a home for not only MMORPGs and RTSs (as well as many other genres), but also artistic games like “The Path. This is what makes PC gaming so great and so powerful (because of the variety that’s always available on the platform), not to mention the fact that it’s a great format to test a new idea on.


People and companies complain about piracy, however these complaints generally have absolutely no backing to them. One such example is that of Infinity Ward’s community manager, who in 2008 complained about “rampant” PC Piracy[3]. The only problem is that the community manager never released figures. “What wasn’t fantastic was the percentage of those numbers who were playing on stolen copies of the game on stolen / cracked CD keys of pirated copies (and that was only people playing online),” Fourtwozero complained after the launch of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. This was the reason that the company decided not to have dedicated servers and created a dumbed down Xbox 360 port for the PC.


Of course, the main problem with this claim that piracy is killing the PC industry is that you have organisations such as Blizzard and Valve who have built their whole company around PC gaming, and continue to do so. In fact Valve have updated Team Fortress 2 with maps, class updates, extra items and hats so many times that the game looks completely different from when it launched in 2007. These companies have not gone bankrupt, that’s because they both create games that are considered some of the best in the industry and they constantly innovate and evolve


These new numbers released by the PCGA show that PC gaming can achieve great heights, and is continuing to grow by billions of Dollars every year. Not only that but the PC gaming hardware market is also worth $9.5 billion [4]!


Games to me mean something incredibly special. There is something magical about setting foot inside a giant world for the first time, or following a Professor, helping him to solve puzzles. These are feelings only video games can provide. That is the beauty of the industry, and it’s refreshing to see that where it all began (with the PC) is where it is continuing to grow and expand.


[1] Source – http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/i_paulsams_wow

[2] Source – http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/gdc-blizzard-in-talks-with-microsoft-about-next-xbox

[3] Source – http://www.shacknews.com/onearticle.x/50748

[4] Source – http://www.techreport.com/discussions.x/18665

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