PC Gaming Alliance Seeks Unified, OS-Agnostic PC Game Certification

PC Gaming Alliance Seeks Unified, OS-Agnostic PC Game Certification

PC Gaming Alliance logo, better

The PCGA's goal is to introduce a quality bar for PC games so customers know better what to expect from PC game purchases.

Remember the PC Gaming Alliance? Founded all the way back in 2008, a few major players have dropped off since. Nonetheless, the alliance is still determined to further PC gaming, and PCGA president Matt Ployhar has just detailed an "OS-agnostic" certification program for PC games, aiming to introduce a quality bar for PC games so customers know better what to expect from PC game purchases.

The program, which is completely opt-in, is in part an attempt to achieve standardization across games within the open PC market, hopefully encouraging more consumer confidence and as a result, more sales for developers. Members of the alliance can get their games certified for free, while the cost for non-members is $500 per title if applicants test the game themselves, or $2500 if they want the PCGA to help test it - still considerably lower than any console certification program.

PCGA-certified games would sport an official logo showing compliance with the standards, designed to be used on physical retail and digital products.

"We don't need to have it completely locked down and so restrictive," says Ployhar. "We don't need to tell people, 'This is your minimum configuration.' But, you still need to hit a certain quality bar." Ployhar says, as an example, games would have be be able to maintain 30 frames per second at 720p on medium settings, and have controller support if it's a multi-platform title.

Some of you may be having Vietnam-style flashbacks to "Games for Windows - LIVE" after reading this, but Ployhar assures us that that the platform-agnostic nature of PCGA's program is one aspect that will help make his system more viable that Microsoft's train-wreck.

Source: Gamasutra

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I'm all for this. If this takes off it would help out insanely for consumers doing research. It could also push developers for higher standards. I would really like unlocked FPS, unlocked resolution, and a minimum of 90 available FOV where applicable. That last part seriously needs to happen. I hate it when people can't play a game because it makes them sick.

I don't see how relevant this quality bar would be in today's almost download-only PC gaming scene. I do appreciate any effort made in the name of PC gaming regardless.

I would love to see this. I'm so sick of getting a game then finding out that I can't map the controls or some other stupid little thing like that.

Steven Bogos:

Some of you may be having Vietnam-style flashbacks to "Games for Windows - LIVE" after reading this, but Ployhar assures us that that the platform-agnostic nature of PCGA's program is one aspect that will help make his system more viable that Microsoft's train-wreck.

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That being said, whats the point of it? I mean..a unified process sounds nice and all, but unless everyone plays ball, and evidently they dont, its not really gonna amount to much.

Its essentially the same thing as "optimised for X" you see as stickers or pre-trailer blurbs in games.

The problem is, and always will be, that with so many possible configurations, it's impossible to make sure a game will run exactly as it's supposed to on every PC. Unless I'm missing something? I mean, they're welcome to try, but I really don't see how that will make much of a difference, although I'll welcome properly optimised ports.

Also, I love how 2008 warrants a 'all the way back', like this is ancient history or something.

not sure this is necessary for those of us that buy all our games off steam, where we have access to the forums for user ratings and meta critic

Windows live was a quality assurance scheme? That is news to me, I just thought they were trying to "Xboxify" the PC

KarmaTheAlligator:
The problem is, and always will be, that with so many possible configurations, it's impossible to make sure a game will run exactly as it's supposed to on every PC. Unless I'm missing something? I mean, they're welcome to try, but I really don't see how that will make much of a difference, although I'll welcome properly optimised ports.

Also, I love how 2008 warrants a 'all the way back', like this is ancient history or something.

You hit the nail on the head. This is something that sounds very good on paper but it really does nothing, remember performance is a function of your hardware and soft and other people's software...most every machine has something running in the background and your performance could basically be the difference between someone running Norton and someone else running avira.

PC's are just very hard to quantify It's why devs basically give, minimum and recommended specs, that's about the best they can do. As for optimizing games for x... uhm... this again sounds great to someone who's not in software development. Optimizing is a biatch , very costly and time consuming.

And finally . it won't really matter. If all the devs and publishers aren't using it, it won't matter in the long run. PC gaming is always going to have some guess work compared to console games because quite simply... the hardware and software variables are just that many.

BigTuk:

You hit the nail on the head. This is something that sounds very good on paper but it really does nothing, remember performance is a function of your hardware and soft and other people's software...

I think you guys are missing the point here.

In my opinion, the important bit here is not the performance optimization or hardware support, I agree that such a thing will always be an issue in a hardware-unlocked market.

I think the important point is to promote the idea of there being platform-independent standards that developers can adhere to. In other words, breaking the notion that software needs to be tied to an specific OS or hardware (You know, the whole "exclusives" thing)

I'm guessing such a thing won't sit well with hardware/OS manufacturers, though.

I hope the PCGA publishes guidelines for their certification process, so smaller/independent developers can try and comply (even if actual certification is way out of reach for many budgets). I for one, even when developing games just as a hobby, won't mind having a benchmark standard to measure my game to, specially if it is a standard that doesn't require use of specific technology.

Oskuro:

BigTuk:

You hit the nail on the head. This is something that sounds very good on paper but it really does nothing, remember performance is a function of your hardware and soft and other people's software...

I think you guys are missing the point here.

In my opinion, the important bit here is not the performance optimization or hardware support, I agree that such a thing will always be an issue in a hardware-unlocked market.

I think the important point is to promote the idea of there being platform-independent standards that developers can adhere to. In other words, breaking the notion that software needs to be tied to an specific OS or hardware (You know, the whole "exclusives" thing)

I totally agree with the idea, and I wish them good fortune in their endeavour, but I won't be holding my breath.

Oskuro:

BigTuk:

You hit the nail on the head. This is something that sounds very good on paper but it really does nothing, remember performance is a function of your hardware and soft and other people's software...

I think you guys are missing the point here.

In my opinion, the important bit here is not the performance optimization or hardware support, I agree that such a thing will always be an issue in a hardware-unlocked market.

I think the important point is to promote the idea of there being platform-independent standards that developers can adhere to. In other words, breaking the notion that software needs to be tied to an specific OS or hardware (You know, the whole "exclusives" thing)

I'm guessing such a thing won't sit well with hardware/OS manufacturers, though.

I hope the PCGA publishes guidelines for their certification process, so smaller/independent developers can try and comply (even if actual certification is way out of reach for many budgets). I for one, even when developing games just as a hobby, won't mind having a benchmark standard to measure my game to, specially if it is a standard that doesn't require use of specific technology.

That would just confuse things... it'd be like rating a car's mpg independent of it's engine or chasis.

OS's are always going to be an integral performance point because quite simply, different OS's are different, some in very fundamental ways. In other words... you can't have platform independent standards. If you design a game to be platform independent you design a game that will more or less run poorly on all OS's since you'd more or less wind up coding it in Java or something like that.

It'd be nice to have a metric to run for in all cases but in practical terms... not gonna happen. HArdware and software are not standardized. Is it really needed, I mean devs always publish minimimum, recommended and in somecases optimal specs for their game. That's about all they can do and it actually works nicely I think.

O maestre:
Windows live was a quality assurance scheme? That is news to me, I just thought they were trying to "Xboxify" the PC

It had many parts, most of the hatred for it (ignoring the obligitory its MS therefore hate part which was not insubstantial) was for those parts tied to its store and DRM elements, which for many caused real problems.

It wasnt a system entitrely berift of good ideas, and the benchmarking with simple numbers was a reasonably good one.

This system if it basically ran standard benchmarks on your PC and put itn into a system with an overal score and a breakdown for some bits, with numbers in a understandable realm so intialy rating PCs from say 1-5 in power. and then games had these numbers in the recomended and min specs to help tell you what you can run, it would help.

Hell Steam letting you store your registered machines so its store could tell you which will run a game and how well, would be great, if you could further allow steam friends to check it for gifting purposes even better. A disclaimer saying it is a standardised score so only a guide would be fine.

I still don't get it. What is the problem they are trying to solve?

It seems like a bad joke.
This "alliance" was formed 5 years ago with a single goal: to release a set of standards for PC games,and still 5 years later they haven't done it,while they are eating the membership fees of those who become members for all that long.
And after 5 years of no set of standards publication,they come up to make a statement that shows they are COMPLETELY IGNORANT with PC gaming.

You can't force "30 frames at 720p for medium settings" on PCs. For which hardware configuration ? That's the stupidiest thing I've ever heared for PC gaming.
For a developer to make a game have a set number of frames on a set number of resolution,he have to know the exact hardware configuration of this machine,and there are THOUSANDS possible PC configurations. What does he think a PC is,a console ?PCs dont all have a certain model of processor and graphics card,and amount of RAM. The person who said that shows that not only he doesn't have any knowledge of game development,but he barely knows how computers and games works at all. A console gamer who not only doesn't know how game development works,and how PC gaming works,but probably doesn't even have the slightest idea of what is a "PC",is going to set standards for PC gaming ?That's ridiculous. Doesn't he know that there are multiple companies making multiple different models of hardware pieces,each different year,and thus the consumers end up having hundreds of different combinations every year?

You want standards on PC gaming ?
These can be something like these:

# Make a game playable on computers up to 5 years old.
# Make games have FOV,resolution,Mouse Smoothing ON/OFF,adjustable on their options menus.
# Make games support different resolutions.

You can't apply a hardware performance standard on PC game developers,because doing so requires that all PCs have the exact same hardware. It's physically / practically impossible.
The only kind of standards you can set is that the software is scalable across a given number of hardware choices,and that it's allowing enough customization to fit individual player's preferations.

Okay, if an agnostic is a person who believes the existence of a God is unknown or unknowable, does that mean an OS agnostic doesn't believe it's possible to know whether operating systems exist?

And wouldn't that be the last guy you want certifying your games?

The Apple BOOM:
I hate it when people can't play a game because it makes them sick.

You hate it? Try being one! :p

Doom972:
I don't see how relevant this quality bar would be in today's almost download-only PC gaming scene.

You can advertise it and display the logo on a digital marketfront?

If they want to enforce things like keybinding, mouse smoothing and FOV, they'll have to write a library that allows for easy implementation of such things, just like how OpenGL and DirectX allows for easier creation of 2D and 3D drawing and rendering, and GLSL and HLSL for shader implementation.

However we are overdue for an open-source user interface library that can easily integrate with renderers... Perhaps they should start working on an OpenUI language, similar to Scaleform but it's free?

I think the write of the article is confusing GFWL, the wannabe-Steam trainwreck, with Games For Windows, which was quality assurance (e.g. controller support). GFW is still going strong.

Oskuro:
I think you guys are missing the point here.

In my opinion, the important bit here is not the performance optimization or hardware support, I agree that such a thing will always be an issue in a hardware-unlocked market.

I think the important point is to promote the idea of there being platform-independent standards that developers can adhere to. In other words, breaking the notion that software needs to be tied to an specific OS or hardware (You know, the whole "exclusives" thing)

That's what I assumed the article would be about, but it actually has nothing to do with that. There's nothing about making software independent of hardware, but just saying that they meet a certain minimum fps on all the OSes it's been released for. It really is just an attempt to charge developers money for giving them a sticker saying their game runs at 30fps. Hardly surprising that many of the big players have dropped out. It's an utterly pointless attempt to solve a problem that doesn't exist using methods that wouldn't work even if it did.

Well I'm sure that idea made a lot of sense back in 2008, but right now any random youtuber can do what you want two and a half grand for, PC Gaming Wiki meanwhile does it do an absurd extent also without compensation.
The only thing I wonder at this point is how you kept alive for so long without doing a damn thing for 5 years straight.

If SteamOS takes off, I'm all in. No reason not to with consoles leading the pack.

LosButcher:
I still don't get it. What is the problem they are trying to solve?

How to keep their organization relevant, so far I am not sure they are succeeding.

Controller support as a PC gaming quality certification? Are you kidding me?

jezcentral:
I think the write of the article is confusing GFWL, the wannabe-Steam trainwreck, with Games For Windows, which was quality assurance (e.g. controller support). GFW is still going strong.

Yes, he certainly is. Although I believe there was at least one period where, in order to get Games for Windows certification, a game with a multiplayer mode had to use Games for Windows Live as its multiplayer platform. Or maybe it was just that they would be disqualified if they required Steam. I just know that all the post-2007 PC games I've seen box art of that lacked the "Games for Windows" banner were Steamworks titles.

Strazdas:
Controller support as a PC gaming quality certification? Are you kidding me?

"If it's a cross-platform title," the quote said. That's not unreasonable at all; to port a game from a system that only accepts controller input and then not even retain support for said controller (as was done with BioShock 2, for example) is just shamelessly lazy. And if the "living-room PC" starts to take off, as Valve hopes it will, controller support will become all the more vital.

The problem with trying to quantify a PC is that there are too many variables involved. Not just the various hardware configurations, but also the software running in the background. Since I do most of my non-gaming on my Mac, my PC only runs with minimal software running in the background. So my computer should run faster and smoother than someone with an exact copy of my hardware but running a bunch of programs in the background. There is no way for any organization to account for this.

"Ployhar says, as an example, games would have be be able to maintain 30 frames per second at 720p on medium settings, and have controller support if it's a multi-platform title."

I like how their absolute minumum standard is pretty much the Xbone's maximum.

So many different video cards, types or ram, mother boards, processors, and software set ups says this is a dumb idea.

Steve the Pocket:

Strazdas:
Controller support as a PC gaming quality certification? Are you kidding me?

"If it's a cross-platform title," the quote said. That's not unreasonable at all; to port a game from a system that only accepts controller input and then not even retain support for said controller (as was done with BioShock 2, for example) is just shamelessly lazy. And if the "living-room PC" starts to take off, as Valve hopes it will, controller support will become all the more vital.

Crossplatform ahs nothing to do with it. you cant interact with Xbone players with a PC version and vice versa. Thus the control mechanisms of said consoles should not be a factor.
To port a game from controller mechanism to keyboard and mouse usually does by simply rearranging the input, to add controller support is to double the input programming (granted it would be mostly scavenged).
Living room PC has already taken off. It is called PS4.

 

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