Where is PC gaming going?

Genre info would be nice but how reliable would the trends be? CRPG sales would be pretty crappy for last year because there was only a handful of major releases, each with some baggage of some sort (KotOR2, Fable: TLC, DS2) but this year should be a different matter - Oblivion, NWN2, Gothic 3, The Witcher, Titan Quest, Hellgate London…

Funny thing, going to the local GAME shop the PC section is constantly taking the high road for the good of the consoles. At first it had 4 “sections” with each consoles in total 12. Then almost bimonthly the PC sections kept getting the axe. Then the store was empty. Now there are 6 PC “sections” in the store, but moved towards the back of it. Funny thing part 2, at any time during the day, something like 7/10 people are in the PC section. The GBA has 2 on its own, yet I doubt I have seen more than 1 person for months now there, not including myself. (I go there every day since it is so close just for a walk).
Another thing I noticed there was that where console games were stacked properly, the PC games, the bottom 3 rows of each section had the games stacked diagonaly at a 45 degree, so you had to almost hurt yourself to read the titles. Mind you, the console games too have rows that games are not placed face front, but at least they are at proper 90 degrees and they are mostly not new games, where in the PC part about half of them are new releases. PC gamers have to fight a war the moment they enter the store lol.

I don’t know how online destribution is going but as I have stated in the past, I am only in favour if it is done the Stardock or even MatrixGames way, no DRM and just a key. When it is done the Steam or D2D way, no thanks.
The thing about MMO games is that you can only play so many. Because they are mainly interaction with other humans experiences and because you have to spend a lot of time in one to go anywhere, you cannot possible play more than one at the time, still it feels some times that publishers and/or developers think that it is a money making machine just waiting for them to exploit it. Leaving the human factor aside, I have no problem seeing these companies learning a lesson teh hardway.

There are two major things that do lend truth to the numbers that we are ignoring.

  1. While WoW is certainly soaking up a lot of untracked money due to its monthly fee, that fee is likely to quell other game purchases. A good percentage of the WoW populatation has no need for other games.

  2. I think we’ve all witnessed the PC shelf space in our local game store shrink or become extinct in the last year. I would very much doubt that electronic distribution channels make up for this loss in local sales, especially where the average consumer is concerned.

Walmart and Target have picked up this slack though. I think most of the casual PC gamers I know shop in these places unless they know specificaly what they want to buy and an EB is closer.

Serious gamers (like many of us) are much more likely to do their shopping online. Gogamer and Amazon have probably gotten more of my dollars than EB has in the last few years.

Troy

Have they? I haven’t noticed a change in the Walmart or Target shelves (thankfully). I have noticed the change at my local EB, though.

Well, the box stores haven’t added space, no. But they haven’t lost it either.

I would argue that the specialty game stores are in decline in general, since more people are willing to buy their stuff at general stores like Walmart or from an online distributor. EBGames.com is probably one of the biggest competitors for a brick and mortar EB.

On a side note, one the highlights of my vacation was a trip to Fry’s Electronics where I basked in the glow of huge shelves full of PC Games. They were still selling Shadowbane, of course, but the range of games there was quite impressive.

We need Fry’s in the east.

Troy

My consumption of PC games has shrunk because most of the product reads to me like a rehash.

I can’t see that my experience playing CoD2, or Brothers in Arms, or Medal of Honor Whatever It’s Up To Now, or F.E.A.R. is going to be that different from CoD1 or Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, or Half-Life. Ditto for Dawn of War, or AoE 3, or Dragonshard (okay, Dragonshard is a different type of beast): most of the AAA games I see feel like incremental improvements over the games I played two years ago - and four years ago, and six years ago - and not worth my time and money.

But how is that different than on a console. Look at the top 10 sellers overall last year:

  1. Madden NFL 2006 (PS2)
  2. Pokemon Emerald (GBA)
  3. Gran Turismo 4 (PS2)
  4. Madden NFL 2006 (Xbox)
  5. NCAA Football 06 (PS2)
  6. Star Wars: Battlefront II (PS2)
  7. MVP Baseball 2005 (PS2)
  8. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (PS2)
  9. NBA Live 06 (PS2)
  10. LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game (PS2)
  • 5 of 10 are just ‘roster updates’
  • 3 are sequels
  • 1 is a movie tie-in
  • and one is dual-licensed (and the best game on the list ;) )

So … the clear message that people buying games are sending is that we don’t like originality or cerebral games.

Mike

It’s not that simple and straightforward though. The industry itself fosters that behavior with marketing, and by consistantly making and pushing sequels.

Find me an industry that doesn’t foster low-risk & high-rewards.

Beats me. I don’t own a console system, and replied to this thread because I thought it was about PC gaming.

I’m not a console gamer, but we as gamers in general have to think of ourselves in the larger context of an overall industry of gaming.

Look at PC Games last year:

  1. World Of Warcraft (Vivendi Universal) - $47
  2. The Sims 2: University Expansion Pack (Electronic Arts) - $33
  3. The Sims 2 (Electronic Arts) - $45
  4. Guild Wars (NCSoft) - $48
  5. Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 (Atari) - $30
  6. Battlefield 2 (Electronic Arts) - $48
  7. The Sims 2: Nightlife Expansion Pack (Electronic Arts) - $32
  8. Age Of Empires III (Microsoft) - $47
  9. The Sims Deluxe (Electronic Arts) - $19
  10. Call Of Duty 2 (Activision) - $46
  • Sims & Sims 2 for 4 out of 10
  • Shooter sequels for 2 out of 10
  • MMO was #1 - new IP
  • Online RPG - new IP
  • Sequels for the other two.

Mike

I’m really beginning to wonder if PC gaming has become a victim of it’s own success. Over the years, the budget and production quality of PC games has constantly gone up but have the sales really caught up with that?

Basically, once Carmack makes the new Quake 2 engine and the cat gets out of the bag that that sort of visual is possible on the PC, everyone else’s overhead goes up.

Chris Woods

Why? [SIZE=“1”](Extra words here because this forum software won’t let you enter a post of less than five letters, like ‘Why?’)[/SIZE]

I’m surprised the Xbox arguement hasn’t been brought up yet.

That’s not the point. The point is that you can’t blame the consumer for something the industry cultivates.

If there exist better opportunities for profits in other areas, like consoles, then people will naturally gravitate towards those opportunities. See Bioware, for example.

Not that I mind that terribly. It’d kick ass if Stardock were to create some Xbox Live Arcade Strategy Titles.

I’m not sure Bioware has really fared all that well on consoles though. MDK2 was a miserable failure at sales, KOTOR was a big success, but I’m not sure it matches the sales of NWN, and Jade Empire was lukewarm on shelves.

The fact that they are pushing forward with console stuff is more, I think, a sign of the times than anything.

I’m still not sure why I should be concerned about that, and if I were concerned, what I’m supposed to do about it. In my opinion, PC gaming has been in a spin cycle for the past 10 years; I don’t care if game developers go out of business or migrate to consoles to keep themselves afloat: if they’d made better games they’d have an audience.

Well, you said you don’t own consoles, so if the good developers are moving to consoles instead of PCs, why wouldn’t you be concerned about that? And it doesn’t necessarily relate to the quality of the games. Games like Freespace 2 got a LOT of critical acclaim and were generally seen as good games by those who played them (even great games). But they didn’t sell. Many developers have decided (I think rightly) that they can make more profit on consoles because the costs tend to be lower and the user base is larger. Why make a great game for the PC when there is a pretty high risk that no one will buy it?