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Doomed. Again.

September 11th, 2006 by Troy Goodfellow · 1 Comment · Industry

Gamasutra has a couple of articles today about the state of PC Gaming. The first is an interview with Dell founder Michael Dell about how Dell sees the gaming business at the moment. He is understandably bullish about the future of gaming on the PC, referring to consoles as a “locked down” PC. So why shouldn’t there be overlap or crossover? Dell is optimistic that multi-threaded chips and Blue Ray will have major positive consequences for gaming development.

The second article is three perspectives on PC gaming and why it sucks. Well, not exactly. But you would be forgiven if you read this piece and thought that the thousand bucks you just dropped on a new gaming rig was a waste of money. Michael Pachter calls PC gaming “a niche, substantial in size, but a niche nonetheless.” He sees console gaming growing exponentially, PC gaming stagnating because of piracy and a lack of a stable development platform.

Ed Barton sees PC gaming’s future in digital distribution and specialty products. The retail presence will wither and die. He has high hopes for Manifesto Games. (Hey, as much as I love Outpost Kaloki, I need my big production RTS games, too.)

David Cole begins on a positive note ([The PC] is at the cutting edge of new trends and has a very diversified consumer base.) but then goes on to note that consoles are much more profitable.

All agree that piracy is partially to blame (though Cole notes that console games are heavily pirated in Asia) and are cautious in their hopes for Vista, the new Microsoft operating system that will render my new computer obsolete in six months.

So weep, gnash your teeth, whatever. Though Battle for Middle Earth II seems to have been a successful experiment in console RTS development, the games that I love aren’t going anywhere. And compare the Sony Sims to the PC version. Or an open ended role playing romp like Oblivion to the latest JRPG. And how are the custom skins for those console RPGs anyway? Wait? There aren’t any?

For gamers, consoles have two big advantages over the PC – stable architecture makes it more likely they’ll work out of the box and you can play the games while sitting on your sofa. (Some people mention price, but since most people already own computers for email and internet, an upgrade is competitive with a new console.) The rest depends heavily on gaming tastes and developer interest. I think that the lesson of World of Warcraft is that millions of people are willing to game at their computer. WoW may be the first game in a while to make people look at their computer as primarily a game machine.

I’m optimistic, and not just because “there will always be PC games”. I think PC games will get bigger. I think they will get better. And I think they will remain a healthy industry.

Disclaimer: I am not a business analyst. Any stock you buy in Inforgrames after reading this post is entirely your own responsibility.


One Comment so far ↓

  • Jozef

    Don’t worry; all my money is safe in 3DO stock…

    No, seriously. Even when I worked as a stock analyst, pure-play video game companies were putting fear in my heart. If there was one group of stocks I’d never touch, it was them.