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 Pag on Games » Blog Archive » What’s Killing PC Gaming and What to Do about It
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What’s Killing PC Gaming and What to Do about It


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PC Gaming hasn’t been doing so hot the last few years, especially for traditional games sold at retail. Here are a few causes for this and some thoughts on avoiding those pitfalls.

  • Piracy: That’s a huge factor. Sales of PC games have fallen faster than the number of actual players. It’s easier than ever to find pirated copies of games on P2P. I believe DRM and other rights restriction systems are pointless and only annoy legitimate users. There’s a number of better solutions:
    • Games as Service: Give the game away but sell the experience. Subscription games like World of Warcraft and the Korean model of free games with extras at a cost both avoid piracy very well.
    • Advertising-supported games: It works for TV, why not games?
    • Pay what you Play: Some “real world” games like Warhammer and Magic: the Gathering only make players pay for what they play — you don’t need all the Warhammer figures or Magic cards to play. Casual gamers pay a few dollars, hardcore players pay a lot. This model hasn’t been used much in video games, but I think it has potential if done well.
  • Complexity: PCs have become a commodity. Hobbyists aren’t the only ones to buy them anymore and most “ordinary” folks can’t tell the difference between an Intel Core 2 Duo and an AMD Phenom, between a Radeon HD 2900 and a GeForce 9800. Making games that run fine on a 500$ computer or a cheap laptop is more important than ever. Games that only run on the latest generation of hardware are shooting themselves in the foot. That does mean focusing less on fancy graphics and finding another way to distinguish your game from the lot.
  • Cost: Cheap PCs are more expensive than consoles — you’re not getting much of a gaming PC for the price of a PS3. This brings us back to the previous point: target lower-end PCs because that’s what a lot of people have.

So that’s for the problems. PCs do have a number of strengths over consoles for gaming:

  • Openness: There are no gate keepers for PC games. You don’t have to please Nintendo, Sony or even Microsoft. That means space for edgier content, but also lower distribution costs because there are fewer middle-men.
  • Unparalled Connectivity: Only the PC has full access to the internet, with no restrictions at all. There’s a lot of experimentation that can be done that wouldn’t work on console manufacturers’ limited networks.
  • Unique Input Devices: The mouse and keyboard allow many things that consoles just suck at (and vice-versa). I’ve yet to see a RTS that’s easy to play on consoles for example.

2 Responses

  1. talkjack Says:

    Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/public/wp-includes/formatting.php on line 82

    Interesting reading Pierre.

    Another suggestion on the same theme might be the conecpt of selling pc games cheaply with little or no DRM built in, and using this as as an advertising feature to promote initial sales.

    Then, market additional features online, such as extra levels, extra abilities, extra characters and weapons, all for sale cheaply online to encourage purchases. Use non-intrusive DRM on these to make if necessary. The idea being to make money selling add-ons to the game rather than on the initial sale. Win customers over by releasing pathces to remove DRM after a couple of years.

    If done properly it might even be possible to give a way new C games for free, to establish a firm market base. Then make your business revenue stream by selling lots of expansions and add-ons.

    All this done at cheap prices, the idea being to make money by selling in bulk, there being little cost to sell a digital add-on product, i.e. no packaging or postage costs.

    If done well, this would encourage the home gaming market to expand. More PC gamers means a bigger market, so more scope for sales.

    … talkjack

  2. Pierre-Alexandre Garneau Says:

    Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/public/wp-includes/formatting.php on line 82

    Good ideas — that’s actually close to what the Koreans are doing with a lot of success.

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