Game Stash: The Death of PC Gaming

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Game Stash: The Death of PC Gaming

Why it's not true, and why you would cry if it was.

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What I read was actually pretty cool. You are right Steve. For me the worst thing is the death of Mods and Player made content. I know publisher like money but taking out mod support is stupid. Thats the only reason why I dont like consoles and dont get along with console players that think that mods are stupid gimmicks( I usually get along well with those that are not ignorant about mods, that is to say thankfully most of them, I hope).

"The open development environment means that the PC catalog is so full of mediocre titles that it's sometimes impossible to separate the good from the bad."

Uuuhh... Metacritic?

What a ridiculous statement, it is EASY to find the good games on PC from friends, forums, reviews, magazines and websites like this. My problem is I find TOO many great PC games, I literally don't have enough time to play them all.

(frankly you aren't taking a very even handed approach considering all the shovelware on Wii and Xbox 360, Microsoft or Nintendo have yet to refuse a licence to release a game on their console merely because the game is crap)

Console games are easy to START, but all gamers still have to work to sort the wheat from the chaff of what games are actually worth playing, no one can just pick a random game and hope it is good.

Also what's all this jibber-jabber about drivers and patches... have you not heard of Steam?

For games developed by big studios, yes, the risks involved are an incentive to keeping to well-known formulas and mass-market appeal.

But aren't the experimentation and niche-marketing being addressed (at least in part) by the indies now? The indie game developing scene takes advantage of the lower barrier of entry the PC provides.

Treblaine:

Also what's all this jibber-jabber about drivers and patches... have you not heard of Steam?

I too don't agree with the argument that it's harder to find good games on the PC. It's also hard to find them on consoles, and on the other hand it's not very hard at all with the internet around.

But regarding Steam, it patches automatically but it will not solve driver problems or other system configuration problems. Case in point: I bought Batman: Arkham Asylum from Steam and couldn't play it. After looking for information around, I found out I had to manually install the PhysX drivers from nVidia, and only then the game started working.

The biggest boon to the PC is indie developers.

Especially for those of us that like old-school adventure games or RPGs.

PC Gaming cannot die so long as there are people willing to make new, interesting or niche games for it. The AAA games may be fewer now, but there's still plenty of other games around.

Just as we hear about the new XCOM, there's also Xenonauts, The Two Sides and others.

As we hear about Dragon Age 2, theres the alternative of Eschalon: Book II, Age of Decadence, A Zombie RPG and more.

We may also be waiting for Diablo 3, but there's also Torchlight, Din's Curse and Grim Dawn.

And of course while Activision are generally trying to out-do EA in the nasty stakes, we get The Silver Lining released for free!

Good times for all.

I'm enjoying your articles so far, Steve, and this is one is as good as the last few. I couldn't agree more. Just earlier I was having a conversation about how "broader appeal" is just another way of saying "dumbing down" or "homogenizing" a game or genre.

They still have yet to prove, however, than an RTS game can work anywhere but on PC. Long live RTS!

Treblaine:

Also what's all this jibber-jabber about drivers and patches... have you not heard of Steam?

Steam brings with it its own special problems.
That has happened to me far more times than it should in the 6 years I've used Steam.

OT: PC gaming isn't dieing, but Publishers sure seem to be trying their hardest to kill it.

PC's aren't consoles, and publishers/developers need to stop treating it like a console.

Consoles are comfortable and rigid, PCs are tough and flexible.

Problem being that the big companies are trying to force everything to be more rigid.
(Note how all 3 consoles only let you go onto the Internet via their products: Something that Micro$oft were dragged through court for trying on the PC)

PC gaming isn't dying, but there's enough assassins being sent after it. All of whom have been taught to chant "complex and expensive".

Andy_Panthro:
The biggest boon to the PC is indie developers.

Especially for those of us that like old-school adventure games or RPGs.

PC Gaming cannot die so long as there are people willing to make new, interesting or niche games for it. The AAA games may be fewer now, but there's still plenty of other games around.

Just as we hear about the new XCOM, there's also Xenonauts, The Two Sides and others.

As we hear about Dragon Age 2, theres the alternative of Eschalon: Book II, Age of Decadence, A Zombie RPG and more.

We may also be waiting for Diablo 3, but there's also Torchlight, Din's Curse and Grim Dawn.

And of course while Activision are generally trying to out-do EA in the nasty stakes, we get The Silver Lining released for free!

Good times for all.

And don't forget about these :P

Thinking about it, are there even any games on the consoles that are "free"? You know... games made out of passion and fun and not with the sole factor of just making lots of money? xD

Steve Butts:
Steve Butts is a dying genre.

One of a kind.

I like you Steve. I really do. I think your 'stache has magical good article writing properties. Hang on to it.

Anyways, PC gaming has been declared "dying" or "dead" since the 80s... Hasn't gone anywhere yet. That said, it is taking a bit of a beating lately, mostly due to publisher's own ignorance and greed. Things like Ubisoft's DRM scam, leaving out dedicated servers, holding out on mod tools... Then they complain they have poor sales. It's kind of the equivalent a guy pissing against the wind and complaining he's getting wet.

Hey guys, want to sell a lot more on the PC? Stop treating your legitimate customer's like crap. Stop trying to nickel and dime us every chance you get, and stop treating everyone like criminals. Pirates will get their free games anyways, you're not stopping them, you're just fucking with the legitimate customers. Take every measure you can to stop piracy, but not at the cost of your customers. What good's a game that is impossible to pirate, if nobody buys it because it's also impossible to play?

But I rant... Good article Steve. I predict PC gaming will continue happily "dying" for the rest of our entire lives and then some...

Treblaine:
"The open development environment means that the PC catalog is so full of mediocre titles that it's sometimes impossible to separate the good from the bad."

Uuuhh... Metacritic?

What a ridiculous statement, it is EASY to find the good games on PC from friends, forums, reviews, magazines and websites like this. My problem is I find TOO many great PC games, I literally don't have enough time to play them all.

You realize that you are speaking from the perspective of a veteran right? Like any industry whether one is a journalist, producer or even a consumer there are many nuances that one learns overtime and not instantly attained when one takes an interest like an immortal cutting off another immortal's head from the Highlander.

Imagine a person who saw a video game that they liked and wanted to play it but have never played games before and don't have friends that know about games. Do you think he would be able to get websites like gamefaqs or industry related magazines or websites like Edge online or The escapist from a simple google search? Or what about ars-technica?

It is that near tabula rasa that most people have or at the least ignorant to when starting a new hobby or career path and must start doing the footwork. There is a difference from the novice to the master. You just don't remember or know how to think like a novice.

Treblaine:
"The open development environment means that the PC catalog is so full of mediocre titles that it's sometimes impossible to separate the good from the bad."

Uuuhh... Metacritic?

What a ridiculous statement, it is EASY to find the good games on PC from friends, forums, reviews, magazines and websites like this. My problem is I find TOO many great PC games, I literally don't have enough time to play them all.

I think this ties in part of what Steve was saying (and forgive me if I misinterpreted); some of his favorite games have a very niche appeal. Thus some games he LOVES could have low or average metacritic scores for instance.

Metacritic generally favors AAA blockbusters. Firstly, games such as Dwarf Fortress or Nethack or other great free/indie games aren't even on metacritic. However, imagine if they WERE: These games probably appeal to 5% of the people who would review them or possibly less, and would garner very low ratings. Yet these games have two very dedicated, even rabid, fan bases. Some still claim Nethack is the best game ever made.

____________________________________________

In regards to the original article:
This was well written, Steve. One thing I noticed though, you're REALLY playing it safe trying not to offend anyone with this article. I get that's probably what you intended, but it would great to hear your views in a more... direct manner :P

Anyways, here's hoping on some more PC articles in the future!

I'm really starting to love your articles Steve. They're a nice and refreshing addition to The Escapist. As for the actual article itself, I agree. The PC is much more unique than any other console out there. But the problem nowadays is that companies making games for the PC are ignoring what makes games on the PC so great. Flexibility, user created content, and independent communities; these are what make PC gaming so amazing and diverse. And a majority of companies are completely ignoring the potential of these things. Oh, and there's the whole DRM scam. I hate that too.

PC is always going to be viable I think. Its great for releaseing those small, casual games...and then the over-clocked behemoths too! Also, with all the flexibility, I think PC gaming, although sometimes overshadowe by the console generations, which, is a shame

Its hard to see PC as a gaming platform when companies like EA and Ubisoft go out of their way to invent and use crippling DRM.

The best thing about PCs is when a new console comes out and is touted the best thing available, 6 months later new PC hardware comes out and the new console looks like a turtle by comparison.

Games on consoles tend to be less buggy tho...

Wow. This is one of the best articles I've read on The Escapist.

I do love playing games on my PC more than my consoles, but I'm not oblivious to what's going on in the market. PC gaming is in way more danger than it ever has been. If you need evidence, just post that "Happily dying since 1985" picture. Yes, I consider that to be supporting evidence for the argument that it actually is dying. There are very few recent games on there, and some of them aren't even PC exclusive to begin with!

Keep in mind that in gaming's early days, there were very few large companies dominating the market, like we have today. Most games were made by incredibly small teams, and the risk of making a game was greatly reduced. "Indie" meant nothing; almost every game was developed by what we would call an "indie" studio today.

That also meant that the people with the best ideas were mostly part of new, smaller development teams. Now, people with awesome ideas find themselves at the forefront of a large team dedicated to making AAA blockbusters. The indie scene is the only thing that's really tailored to the PC anymore (aside from the games of a few select developers), and in the last four years, I've only seen one PC-exclusive indie game (Aquaria) that came even close to matching the quality of a commercial title.

PC gaming isn't going to decline much further, but I can't see it getting much better either. The PC crowd is more or less doomed to live off of mediocre console ports and countless Valve/Blizzard games until something drastic changes.

Dexter111:
Thinking about it, are there even any games on the consoles that are "free"? You know... games made out of passion and fun and not with the sole factor of just making lots of money? xD

So in order for a game to be made out of "passion and fun" it needs to be free? I think thats a rather insulting statement to many of the designers who work hard on making games.

OT: Very interesting article, definitely going to have to go back and read your previous articles Steve. Looking forward to your next one!

Andy_Panthro:
The biggest boon to the PC is indie developers.

Especially for those of us that like old-school adventure games or RPGs.

PC Gaming cannot die so long as there are people willing to make new, interesting or niche games for it. The AAA games may be fewer now, but there's still plenty of other games around.

Just as we hear about the new XCOM, there's also Xenonauts, The Two Sides and others.

As we hear about Dragon Age 2, theres the alternative of Eschalon: Book II, Age of Decadence, A Zombie RPG and more.

We may also be waiting for Diablo 3, but there's also Torchlight, Din's Curse and Grim Dawn.

And of course while Activision are generally trying to out-do EA in the nasty stakes, we get The Silver Lining released for free!

Good times for all.

Dear lord, Grim Dawn looks fuckin' sexy! And from the guys that made Titan Quest, one of my new favorite games (yeah, I'm a little behind)? Fuck yeah, I cannot wait. Thanks for bringing this game to everyone's attention.

What bugs me is when they port a console title to PC, then add small things to try and make it unique and desirable to the PC gamers. Take GTA4... they added nothing significant to the game, other than changing the resolution and improving the graphics. So what? It's still the same game, just with a prettier picture. Did this make anyone who bought it on 360 or PS3 want to reinvest in the title for PC?
DLC is really the bane of my existence. Remember when devs used to give that sort of thing away to gamers who liked playing their games? With all this cross-platforming going on, they don't want to piss off the console gamers by releasing DLC free to PC gamers just because they prefer to game that way, so they generally screw everyone equally. I'm fine with that, it's just business, but what happened to the old days? How long will it be before they start charging people to update their games to the current version?

PC gaming offers a brilliant area for game developers with a minimal of money and a maximum of imagination to take risks with their small investment and see if their idea works, which any larger studio will ignore because it's simply too risky, but these guys will do it and some of them effect the entire industry and it's those risks they take that stop the entire industry from stagnating.

The day PC gaming is dead is the day games stopped being made, I believe that.

I can't help but remember something Ricky Gervais said...when he was being touted as #1 comedian and how awesome The Office must've been to have launched him into that spotlight. I think that interview is still somewhere up on Youtube, but his answer to that ego-stroking was a simple: "It's funny, people still say how many people liked The Office, but no they didn't. In fact more people hated it rather than liked it. Luckily however, you don't have to please everyone to be successful or to become well-known. Instead you focus onto the people who share your views and find the appeal that you do."

I've managed to apply this to many parts of life and I can't help but think, could this be applied to PC gaming as well. As the article says very well, while not completely free from it, it does however manage to be a lot less constricted by overarching companies that control all of it as is the case with consoles. Why not try things like...games for Linux? Oh, I'm sure it wouldn't make as much money as any mainstream title or such and there are all kinds of marketing considerations of how to get the word out for such products.

But if the development was based around a reasonable projected return and a group decided to actually try some genuine entrepeneurship...could it be enough for a developer/distributer to make a living off it? To focus on specific groups of gamers who have specific tastes in what they'd like to see from a videogame? Honestly, it might go far in turning back the homogenization that seems to be progressing within most of the mainstream titles, even if such successes would be less-known than your standard triple-A title.

Steve Butts:
If you'd ported Streets of Rage II or Secret of Mana to the PC, they'd have felt out of place.

Would I have loved to see a PC port of Secret of Mana anyways? Yes, yes I would. =(

Anyway, very nice article. Good to see some appretiation for the PC platform.

Tenmar:

You realize that you are speaking from the perspective of a veteran right?

(concerning finding good games on PC)

You just don't remember or know how to think like a novice.

I fail to see how that is any different from consoles or iPhones or any other device you play video games from.

And on ANY system it is NOT HARD AT ALL to find the good games. Novices are novices, I know, but they aren't MORONS. They can use the internet, there are SO MANY resources to help them find the best games, you can't go 5 paces on the internet without finding some one's opinion, a top 10 list, some article on great games, Yahtzee has given so much advice on games.

I don't think it is fair to focus on the complete novice archetype, i.e. an independent adult with their own money and their own choices to make who has NO EXPERIENCE AT ALL with any games. Come on, those make up a tiny percentage of the target market. Most start gaming as kids, dependant on parents, older siblings/cousins and friends to introduce them. I, like I think most PC gamers, started on consoles before I wanted more than they could offer and moved onto PC gaming.

tautologico:

Treblaine:

Also what's all this jibber-jabber about drivers and patches... have you not heard of Steam?

I too don't agree with the argument that it's harder to find good games on the PC. It's also hard to find them on consoles, and on the other hand it's not very hard at all with the internet around.

But regarding Steam, it patches automatically but it will not solve driver problems or other system configuration problems. Case in point: I bought Batman: Arkham Asylum from Steam and couldn't play it. After looking for information around, I found out I had to manually install the PhysX drivers from nVidia, and only then the game started working.

Batman AA... WITH PhysX? Come on, that is a highly advanced feature that is not activated as standard. Don't be surprised if you have to do something as basic as update your drivers. PhysX isn't supported at all on the console release of Arkham Asylum. That is not "update drivers JUST to play the game" that is updating drivers to unlock GPU-based physics processing which is no trivial thing.

Installing drivers is not hard. just run the .exe and stuff like that is to be expected if you want to use a PC for gaming or non-gaming tasks.

For maybe the first time I feel like I don't have an opening to make a smart ass comment. Good article.

I certainly wasn't happy with the death of Amiga gaming. When DMA made the original GTA it sort of felt like one of their Amiga games only now it was on Playstation and PC. Was there something about the culture of DMA that was influenced by the Amiga that lead them to create GTA? Does the death of the Amiga mean that we are missing out on similarly great games that could have been made if the Amiga was still an important platform? I'm probably reaching a bit there but even if most young gamers have no idea what an Amiga is they still almost certainly play games made by developers who learned their trade making games for the platform.

Quad08:
So in order for a game to be made out of "passion and fun" it needs to be free? I think thats a rather insulting statement to many of the designers who work hard on making games.

Way to misunderstand and turn my words around. Of course they don't "need to be free", but it's just the one extreme that proves the point.

The other being developing games solely on what will be commercially viable, e.g. not what you WANT to develop but going... hey I heard Halo/Modern Warfare 2/World of Warcraft etc. was successful, let's do a clone of it!

And most productions being somewhere in the middle (with the whole "triple-A" and "big-budget" titles rather inclined to the second.)

Timbydude:
PC gaming isn't going to decline much further, but I can't see it getting much better either. The PC crowd is more or less doomed to live off of mediocre console ports and countless Valve/Blizzard games until something drastic changes.

There are a lot more games out there on the PC, which are great and don't come from "Valve/Blizzard" (Drakensang, King's Bounty, World of Goo, Plants vs. Zombies, Torchlight, Machinarium etc. spring to mind)

Also: http://adrianwerner.wordpress.com/games-of-2010/

And an upcoming game, called Natural Selection 2 (which is a commercial remake of a Mod for Half Life that was called Natural Selection) might just be one of those "drastic changes", as it has been mainly funded/developed by Pre-Orders: http://www.naturalselection2.com/buy

The Alpha is starting soon (26th July), it's a Versus-based game in which one side are the "Marines" (they can also build bases and fortify with guns etc.) and the other one are the aliens, which have several dozen playable characters, from small aliens that can bite and crawl through vents, through to flying things and big rhinocerus-like things.

Timbydude:

PC gaming isn't going to decline much further, but I can't see it getting much better either. The PC crowd is more or less doomed to live off of mediocre console ports and countless Valve/Blizzard games until something drastic changes.

I'm hoping that since all 3 consoles are now massively trying to push motion controls and 3D tech, consumers and gamers will get fed up of no "hardcore" titles and just jump to the PC for a pure gaming experience. Wishful thinking I'll admit, but that small tangent of hope keeps me going!

Dexter111:

Timbydude:
PC gaming isn't going to decline much further, but I can't see it getting much better either. The PC crowd is more or less doomed to live off of mediocre console ports and countless Valve/Blizzard games until something drastic changes.

There are a lot more games out there on the PC, which are great and don't come from "Valve/Blizzard" (Drakensang, King's Bounty, World of Goo (also on WiiWare; not exclusive, and pirated to hell and back on the PC), Plants vs. Zombies, Torchlight, Machinarium etc. spring to mind)

Also: http://adrianwerner.wordpress.com/games-of-2010/

(Snip about Natural Selection II)

I admit that King's Bounty is one indie game I completely forgot about when I said that none of them had impressed me in the last few years. It really is a great game.

But look at the rest of those games. The PC used to be known for deep, in-depth, complex experiences, which Torchlight, Plants vs. Zombies, and Drakensang (I share a different opinion than most on that game) are not. Machinarium I haven't played so I can't comment on it. Torchlight is literally just a Diablo clone from the people who worked on Diablo, Plants vs. Zombies is a casual tower defense game, and Drakensang is just...not fun. Again, a lot of people will disagree with me on that last one.

Your link to the "reasons why its worth to be a pcgamer" only furthers my point. Look under the Role-Playing heading. There's almost nothing worthwhile there. It almost solely consists of indie games and low-profile releases, with the exception of WoW Cataclysm. I know I'll be chastised for saying this, but I've learned that in general, indie/low-profile = amateur.

Like I said, the indie scene will survive on PC because that's one of the few markets in which it's viable. Of course, Live Arcade, PSN, and WiiWare are slowly changing that, but that's another story. My point is that the PC used to be the focus for huge blockbuster efforts, and now it's only a home for indie games and console ports.

Also, while I give Natural Selection II credit for surviving on preorders, that really doesn't further a point. If anything, it shows that PC gamers are so hungry for anything PC-exclusive anymore that they'll throw money at it in the hopes that it will stay.

AC10:

Timbydude:

PC gaming isn't going to decline much further, but I can't see it getting much better either. The PC crowd is more or less doomed to live off of mediocre console ports and countless Valve/Blizzard games until something drastic changes.

I'm hoping that since all 3 consoles are now massively trying to push motion controls and 3D tech, consumers and gamers will get fed up of no "hardcore" titles and just jump to the PC for a pure gaming experience. Wishful thinking I'll admit, but that small tangent of hope keeps me going!

Heh, that was included in the "something drastic" I mentioned. I think that the only situation in which the PC will be fully revived is if "console" and "casual" become synonymous; then, the two crowds will happily be separated.

But both of you, please keep in mind: I love PC gaming. I do own all three consoles, but that's because I got fed up of waiting for high-profile PC games that never came. While I enjoy playing original games on my PC more than anything else, I finally realized that the most big games nowadays are made for consoles. I enjoy most individual games on my PC more, but I've had more overall fun on my 360 and PS3 in the last few years.

Timbydude:

But both of you, please keep in mind: I love PC gaming. I do own all three consoles, but that's because I got fed up of waiting for high-profile PC games that never came. While I enjoy playing original games on my PC more than anything else, I finally realized that the most big games nowadays are made for consoles. I enjoy most individual games on my PC more, but I've had more overall fun on my 360 and PS3 in the last few years.

I own all three as well! I still prefer PC gaming more, mainly because I enjoy strategy games a ton, so I play the crap out of those. But, I sort of know how it is to play crap port after crap port and just say "Fine, fuck it! I'll just play it on the console like you clearly want me to." Though, for games which are controller enabled I can often just plug in my 360 controller and I'm good to go.

Of course, I've had some great times on my consoles too! Demon's Souls was likely my favorite game of 2009, though Arkham Asylum (which I got on PC) gave it a close run ;)

One of the great surprises for me on the PC was GTAIV and it's DLCs. The fact that it came with 1 of the deepest 1st party machinima tools ever but I found that the handling feels right when you use a keyboard and mouse(I was constanly crashing into things on consoles)was very reaussering that some people still care.

As far as valve goes, they are crusaders of pc gaming they give up on profits that MS and sony would never just to make themselves look better and make steam a better place.

Seeing as Consoles are basically PC's (especially the 360 being a 3 core AMD processor at the heart of it) architecturally, the PC gaming market is important to the consoles as well, without innovation being forced forward by PC gaming, how do the console manufacturers expect the consoles to make another drastic leap forward from say the PS2 to the PS3, or the Xbox to the 360, heck they even use SATA laptop drives for storage instead of memory sticks now.

I too still prefer playing games on my PC, my nephew couldn't believe how much better Dragon Age was both graphically and control wise, compared to the console versions.

And STEAM is the ultimate consumer friendly DRM, Ubisoft should have learned something from their example instead of the lame excuse they are using, that kind of thing will kill gaming regardless of what platform it is on.

Treblaine:
What a ridiculous statement, it is EASY to find the good games on PC from friends, forums, reviews, magazines and websites like this. My problem is I find TOO many great PC games, I literally don't have enough time to play them all.

Same here. I have tons of games queued up to get and play, some of which have been released more than a year ago, because I just can't keep up.

Anyway, besides the examples of good PC games that have already been brought up above, I'd like to add another one. Star Wars: The Old Republic - potentially the most expensive game of all time and it's a PC exclusive.

I tend to play on my console more than PC as of late (though that will change when SC 2 is out), but some of my favorite games with the most replay value are on the PC. I might not have a huge PC library but every game I own I love to play, regardless of how old they are.

If PC gaming ever died out I know a few series that would die out because there is no way in hell they would ever be playable on a console. The Total War series and the Hearts of Iron series just off the top of my head. Imagine playing Napoleon Total War on the xbox 360. It would be worse then Justin Bieber mixed with Twilight.

My Steam account is worth more than my car, it's literally the largest asset I have.

Just due to the nature of the PC as a multi-function device (that has become practically essential to everyday living), it's an impossible-to-kill industry. It can ebb and flow and change a bit, but it literally can't die.

And I haven't had driver issues with a game in years. The complexity of PC gaming is mostly myth these days. I'd say DRM is where the biggest issue lies as far as making it a pain-in-the-ass to just play the damn game I bought.

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