Scaremongering Anew

By Alec Meer on November 20th, 2007 at 1:29 pm.

Some interesting (and perhaps worrying) facts’n'quotes over in this report on PC industry heavyweights discussing the future of the ol’ IBM Compatible as a gaming platform. They claim all is rosy and well, but it seems PC gaming generates half a billion dollars less now than it did in 2001 – though as the piece points out this doesn’t include digital distribution such as Gametap or Steam (and, I’d guess, MMO subscriptions too). Or, indeed, pirated copies of games, the elephant in that particular room which doesn’t seem to have been mentioned, and could quite possibly account for some of the drop from $1.5 billion to $970 million over the last five years.

I can’t help but get a little bit snooty and defensive when I hear talk of something rotten in the state of PC gaming.

“But it seems that PC gaming is becoming more of a specialized experience for only certain types of games. At an event last week, Intel’s Dadi Perlmutter, vice president and general manager of Intel’s mobility division, bemoaned the fact that just about every game developed for the PC these days seems to involve killing on a mass scale. There’s more to it than that, of course, but PC games do seem to either be first-person shooters or complex role-playing and strategy games. And that’s the interesting question for the PC industry: people are buying PCs anyway, why don’t game developers focus on casual yet compelling games for those of us without an itchy trigger finger? “

While it’s true that there aren’t any truly high profile casual games to speak of (and even when there are, they seem to be overlooked. Read many excited features about Guitar Hero III on PC lately? I’ve got hold of a copy, and will be writing about it soon, hopefully), it’s a big money-spinner for the few that take it very seriously, while lesser-known publishers and no-budget indie games scratch every possibly gaming itch a PC owner could have. Taking off the Wii-tinted spectacles for a moment, ultra-violence is far more of a mainstay on the consoles than on PC, simply because of the sheer variety you get on this platform that you don’t on others.

Granted, we do talk about games with guns in quite a lot on RPS, but look at all the whimsy and obscura we mention too. I spent this morning with moral-juggling Flash adventure Move Or Die. I popped in on Kieron yesterday and found him staring in cheery confusion at some batshit horse management game. John’s probably getting all teary over some point’n'click heroine even as you read this. And Jim.. well, Jim really likes shooting men. We never live the same day twice, at any rate.

Of course, the gathering of moneymen mentioned in the CNET piece wasn’t to celebrate Launchball or Splume, which frankly aren’t pouring millions into the industry’s coffers (and nor should they). It was about how to make more money from PC gaming, and right now, that does indeed involve mass-murder depicted with cutting edge graphical technology. As the piece points out, even the highest-end PC available now can’t run Crysis at is absolute visual best. While that bodes well for revisiting the game in a year or two, it’s incredibly disheartening for people without ultra-biff machines. Yes, it’ll play OK at minimal detail, but with that comes a feeling of missing out. I know I’ve been doggedly playing Crysis with the detail levels as high as I can ramp them up without passing out from low-framerate motion sickness.

So hearing Intel’s Randy Stude say “”Something needs to be done so a person buying a PC at Wal-Mart could be a PC gamer too” could be good news. Intel’s integrated ‘Extreme’ graphics chip is infamously poxy (and the ludicrously hyperbolic name doesn’t help) – there needs to be an affordable GPU built into motherboards that is realistically capable of a good couple of years’ of contemporary gaming, and not a few months of just about coping at minimal detail settings. People shouldn’t have to spend more on a gaming PC than they would on a console, and they shouldn’t have to take the side off the case and work out how to fit a new graphics card if they don’t want to. There have been numerous attempts, but they’ve always seemed afraid of standing on the toes of the ludicrously profitable 3D card market. Equally, there do need to be more high-profile (and high quality) games that don’t require a powerhouse card and years of WASD muscle memory. I hope that can happen, as I do tire of both seeing a targeting reticule in the middle of my monitor and of suffering the twice-annual dread that my PC’s no longer good enough.

But frankly, I roll my eyes whenever I hear even a hint of PC doomsaying. As has always been the case, it’s easy to worry about the PC’s long-term future as a gaming platform in the face of fixed, affordable console hardware, but right now it benefits from ports of most of the consoles’ big titles, its own exclusives such as Crysis, an unparalleled collection of indie games and mods, and it’s at the very forefront of digital distribution. Clearly, the money won’t all go down the traditional avenues – and I know I’m fine with that.

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47 Comments »

  1. Piratepete says:

    Personally I find this trend of games outstripping PC’s performance wise more than worrying. After a bout of intense negotiation with the wife I have just spent £1000 on a new PC (Quad Core, 8800 GTS 2gb ram) I was more than a little disappointed to find that ok, it ran Bioshock at its highest detail settings but it wasn’t playable at 22″ monitor resolutions. Crysis it plays on medium and World in Conflict just laughs my spec, granting me single figure framrates for not being 1337 enough to spend £5000 on a PC.

    Surely the developers realise that they should target games for an ‘average’ price PC, then they hit the largest sales demographic? If they design for the highest spec PC’s then half the PC gamers out there aren’t stupid enough to buy a game they know won’t run well. Hence I’ll buy Crysis in a couple of years.

    If this trend continues then PC games sales will dip, I believe, because if people want the latest games to run well with a good framerate they’ll go and buy a console where that is guaranteed. Spending a day faffing around with graphics options just to get a playable game defeats the object doesn’t it?

    Lets look at two of the best selling games of recent times. Wow and HL2, ok HL2 was quite high spec when it was realeased but three years on they are still banging HL Ep’s out and they look gorgeous, with the Steam hardware survey showing that 95% of gamers don’t have Vadim style overclocked monsters but PC’s that are generally 1-2 years old.

    With Wow it is delieciously low spec, yet has over 8 million players and vistas (landscapes not OS’s) that still look stunning today, so It can’t all be on looks.

    I have my example of this worrying trend stuck on my shelf. STALKER ran like a shoddy dog on my old PC, so I blew the dust of it and tried it recently where it still ran like a shoddy dog. So back in the draw it goes for another attempt when I upgrade again. If this trend continues we may all be playing 2 or 3 years old games that have gathered dust on the shelf .

    Make the games for the people not the graphics cards manufacturers I say

  2. Jim Rossignol says:

    Which begs the question: how developers make these games if there are no machines that can run them? WITCHCRAFT!

  3. Andrew says:

    Like Piratepete, I actively ignore games like Crysis that are all graphics and wouldn’t run at their best on my PC. If anything’s wrong with PC gaming today it’s that engine optimisation is not a priority for enough developers. Playing Call of Duty 4 recently was a great experience, in part because it ran beautifully on high settings despite my PC’s components being between 1 and 3 years old, variously (biggest drawback being 1 gig of RAM). The Orange Box games similarly run very well. But playing The Witcher now and its system-hoggery is more than a bit annoying. STALKER is another prime example of a game that I’ve played so far through more than once, and enjoyed it, before giving up in despair at how shoddy it all is.

    I don’t expect shoddiness from Crysis but I don’t think it’d look terribly wonderful on my current setup. And I’m not up for that, really.

  4. restricted4 says:

    Please, let’s not point the finger to piracy, as always. There are some games that I refuse to buy on principle:

    - Anything with StarForce. The Russians can say what they want, I had loads of problems with it.

    - Anything by a company who thinks they have to right to install a service (on Automatic, no less) with the game, and even worse, said service stays installed after you uninstall the game (or even a demo!). A growing trend.

    - Steam. Yeah, yeah, is great, yadda yadda, why should my father need a connection to the net to play a game?.

    In the end, I caved with Steam (damn you, Portal!), but I feel that distributors take way, WAY too much for granted in their EULAs, and we let them.

    Look at GalCiv 2. Did it sell less because it had no protection?. No way. It sold MORE just because of it. Ok, and that russian mod from StarForce pointing to torrents helped as well. Copy Protection doesn’t work. It makes you LOSE sales.

    So, please, let’s not say the loss in sales is because of the piracy. All the guilt lies in the distributors lap.

    Also, I agree with Piratepete. It seems like these last years, the word “optimization” has dissapeared from the developers’ dictionaries. I have almost the same machine (core duo instead of quad, 4gb instead of 2gb), and I should be able to play everything at maximum. And I can’t. And let’s not even talk about that bloated sh*t OS that Microsoft wants to shove down our throats.

    So no, PC gaming is not dying, despite hearing the same song every year. But it is a bit weaker. And if you want to know why, you only have to ask Microsoft, EA, Ubi and the rest of those greedy b*st*rds.

  5. SwiftRanger says:

    These kinds of worries aren’t exactly new idd, the PC is just nobody’s platform, no matter what Microsoft is trying to make us believe with their (disguised) Vista/Live Gold subscription propaganda. Without a strong, single company backing it up completely on every aspect like you see with consoles, it’s simply harder to get the message around to the world that the PC overall is a worthwhile, serious gaming platform.

    The typical PC-problems have always been there as well, even when the PC was on top of the game world several years ago there were still the same technical hassles; that eternal dilemma of “should I upgrade now or not?” and the same genres which were bestselllers. Yet, the advantages are still alive and kicking too, I regard graphics scaleability as a pure joy, just like all the other options and pure versatility of PC games. Choice is pretty much the keyword here.

    I’d call the cry to “expand” into other, more accessible and easier genres a general feeling though, every major publisher has put its eye on the casual crowd over the last several years, whether it’s on consoles or not.

  6. Adam Hepton says:

    “I popped in on Kieron yesterday and found him staring in cheery confusion at some batshit horse management game.”

    I would like to know what this is. Honestly.

  7. Crispy says:

    They didn’t include Steam sales!!!??? I think you found your answer right there. There are simply SO MANY games on Steam these days. Here are some of the bigger games/collections:

    - All things Valve
    - All things ID (except Quake 4)
    - Call of Dutys 2 and 4
    - Bioshock
    - Psychonauts
    - Darwinia, Defcon
    - Dawn of War, Company of Heroes
    - Popcap games

    I’d say those probably amount to quite a lot in sales worldwide. They don’t account for the total drop in sales, but to miss them off does skew the results pretty wildly.

  8. Jim Rossignol says:

    There are, reportedly, 13 million Steam accounts.

  9. John P (Katsumoto) says:

    Just like to add: there is a great satisfaction in coming back to games 2 or 3 years down the line when you’ve got a pc! I loved Far Cry on my old-old pc, but it ran so shit that it became unplayable in the larger maps later on. And this was on low quality graphics. Then, I got my old-pc, and I could relive the joy but with maximum settings and finally complete it! Getting a new PC gives you a great excuse to get out all the old classics! So many exclamation marks!

    I’m with the guy above re: Stalker to an extent, I got a system pretty much identical to his expecting to finally play Stalker at a good frame rate, and still was only managing 20-30fps. The difference was, this was with maximum settings and that AWESOME Nuclear Snow mod, so i was happy anyway (brilliant game btw, even if the ending makes no sense).

    Anyway, games from 3 years ago are still awesome. Look at Half Life 2, which i’m sure many of you recently completed again. At last I have a pc capable of playing it on full everything AND even adding some AA!

    I also had a look on the recent stats on Steam and see that Counter Strike 1.6 is the most played game, over 3 times the amount played as Counter Strike Source, getting over 7 BILLION minutes played per month. And that game is from, when, 1999? 2000? THe closest is Source on 2 billion, and that that we’re talking hundreds of millions.

  10. John P (Katsumoto) says:

    *got a new pc! Damn not being able to a) edit posts b) be bothered to look at the preview and see if i’ve made a silly boo-boo. Apologies for any further cock-ups

  11. Robert says:

    Everytime I read “Guitar Hero III PC version” I can’t help sighing. Why did they port it so lazily? Why does it have to have minimum requirements that are on par with Crysis?
    Sigh.

  12. Ravenger says:

    I think one of the biggest problems is that the resolution of flat panel displays has far outstripped the ability of current graphic cards to render to them, especially given the amount of post-processing effects and multi-pass rendering in modern games. Also some panels are particually poor at displaying in non-native resolution, so using lower resolutions adversely affects image quality.

  13. The_B says:

    Aspyr aren’t really known for their, shall we say “thorough” conversions, but as long as it all works, that’s fine with me. And it is roughly the same spec as most 360 games that have made it to PC. Although I still have no idea what the hell is up with the “not supported 64 bit OS (including both XP 64 and Vista 64)” that the website claims. Alec, could you at all tell us if that’s poppycock?

    On the topic of the original post: I one hundred percent feel the exact same way when people try to cry that the PC market is in trouble, or is somehow not as good as the other formats. But what really gets me is just the fact that there blatently is a huge – if not the biggest – range and variety than on any other platform, but usually the suits and therefore “public” at large don’t generally find them or get to see them, other than through “specialist” publications such as this this blog, or PCG. I don’t expect, for example, to see Masq pop up on the BBC website very soon, unless it’s in a small nieche news story hidden away at the back of their website. It’s more often than not a case of exposure, and although people like us may shout as loud as we can about these things, it’s sometimes feels like were being infuratingly ignored.

  14. Kieron Gillen says:

    Any report on PC Games sales that doesn’t include MMOs and online sales* is absolutely missing the point, and gets me very angry indeed.

    KG

    *i.e. 90% the casual market as well.

  15. dw40 says:

    I may be wrong, but isn’t the “Sims” series the best selling in gaming history? I guess you *can* play it on console, but know nobody who does. Portal and Civ4 were concurrently in the top 8 Best Seller list on Steam recently…
    The PC game market FPS only? Maybe I’m missing something.
    I agree with the others above that this race to outpace hardware has potential to hurt the market. The jump from “Can Run It” to “Can Run It Full On” seems to be getting wider. I just decided against going SLI after realizing that:
    A) I am already fairly close to max on the games I play often and…
    B) I would have to nearly double my system investment, not just adding a card but upgrading mine *then* buying another, just to chug through Crysis.
    It just doesn’t seem worth it.
    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining or bitter here. I’m glad people are pushing the envelope, moving the industry forward in hardware and software, but as (probably) an average gamer making average money, there is an fun/expense ratio I’m not going to be comfortable crossing. It reminds me of cars. There will always be those guys who either make enough cash to drive tricked-out sports cars or who live with their parents and eat ramen noodles every night, sacrificing everything else in their lives to drive those same cars. Most guys interested in an exciting driving experience end up buying less car and splurging on things like turbo and tires. They cant’ compete with the big boys but they can still have a lot of fun.
    As a gamer, I’m going to spend what others consider a stupid amount of money on computer parts, but I’ve got a limit, as do most other people (especially those of us with significant others involved in our financial lives).

    Maybe the high end of the industry should split off, with boutique-level versions of games for those with cutting edge systems and more generic, mass market versions available for the masses. The latest advancements would trickle down over time. This is exactly what happens in the car world, where the “money is no object” racing world spawned once-bleeding-edge technology like anti-lock brakes and computer-controlled ignition we now find standard on the most generic of sedans.

    Until that happens, there are currently, it seems to me, a nearly unprecedented amount of truly great PC games out there that can be played very enjoyably on a system like mine, a few years behind the curve. I’ve got a LOT of great game playing to do before I’ll feel the need to buy Crysis.

    And I’ll need to stop playing TF2 before I can even start.

    That may not happen.

  16. Piratepete says:

    Well, I will now open The Drawer of Dead Games and see what picks my fancy. I have a hankering to play Rogue Trooper again.

  17. dhex says:

    just to note that stalker runs really nicely on med-high settings on my amd+3700 and 7800gt based system. i really enjoyed the hell out of stalker, and look forward to the prequel if it delivers gangland post-apocalyptic warfare.

    though i too have fallen to the crysis hype and my ma graduation gift to myself will be a opteron and 8800gt. :(

  18. Radiant says:

    Yeah articles like the one linked are a crock of shit.
    PC sales are down! But we didn’t count 95 percent of the market!

    Casual games sales are absolutely enormous.
    Look at something like ‘The Scruffs’
    Took under a year to make and made it’s money back in 4 days.

    These guys are taking an out of date model [store bought console gaming]; one which is on it’s way out, desperately scratching and clawing onto the mantra of “better graphics, complex systems, hardcore!” and applying it to an infinitely bigger installed user base that can make huge amounts of money off of smaller better targeted [niche] games.

    The home computer killed the music industry giants because they couldn’t adapt fast enough.
    How long before it does the same to the games industry dinosaurs?

  19. Saru-sama says:

    Without including digital distribution sales, the report is completely bunk. Simply because retail brick and mortar sales aren’t doing so hot is likely because digital distribution makes so much more sense, and is capturing a larger portion of the market. Every game I have purchased in the last 5 years has been through either Steam, the EA’s (piece of sh*t) Downloader, or Direct2Drive.

  20. groovychainsaw says:

    Its got too easy to look at most PC games, which are poorly optimized and compare them to console games which have a fixed framerate and roughly (to the untrained eye) equivalent grappics. When you figure out that to get the graphics card for the PC will cost you the same as the whole console, its not that difficult a decision (especially when 90% of the big blockbuster games are the same, ports one way or the other). I agree with the point that the PC supports indie gaming etc.etc., but you don’t need a big expensive PC for that.

  21. Hypocee says:

    World In Conflict runs gorgeously on my brother’s machine which I built for 1000USD a year ago. Couple gigahertz, couple midrange GeForces, couple gigs, nothing on super sale. I say that partially because it got singled out as a performance dog, but also to point out that “optimisation” may be the wrong target. Surely compaitibility is the PC’s perennial, fundamental bugbear? In terms of end-user marketing, a platform needs to be able to guarantee at least that Card X will give Y FPS in game Z. For the silent majority that’s the case, but every time you pick up a PC game you’re running the risk that it’ll throw a tantrum because it doesn’t like which slot your RAM’s in (true story). I can’t say I see any chance of that changing, and I know I don’t want to see the measures that would be necessary if we wanted to try.

  22. Hypocee says:

    I’d be leery of ivoking the holy name of Indie Gaming, folks. The times they be a-changing there. E.g. four of my most anticipated indie titles of the last few years:
    Fl0w – perfect PC fodder, exclusive to PSN.
    Everyday Shooter – got bought up, exclusive to PSN.
    Braid – still getting a PC release *last we knew*, but finished and being delayed for a more opportune XBLA release date.
    Castle Crashers – bought up, exclusive to XBLA.

  23. Chis says:

    Just a brief note on Stalker: don’t use full dynamic lighting without Float32 installed, or it WILL run like shite. Don’t play the game “as is” any more, either, as mods such as ABC Inferno make it a lot more accessible (but hard if you want it), and – frankly – a more interesting game. Still wish they’d add an “auto-walk” button though!

    Anyway, I completely agree with the sentiment of this article. Sick and tired of seeing (almost) nothing but FPSs and the same dull strategy/war games. Tarr Chronicles is a huge breath of fresh air, let alone Guitar Hero 3 and (hopefully) the new Katamari. Or did I hear wrong about the latter coming to PC?

  24. Mark-P says:

    Constantly pushing the hardware envelope on big titles must be costing sales. Surely we should be at a point now where the race to consume ever more processing power can slow down and let consumers catch up?

    Looking at Crysis running on a new PC, I honestly couldn’t see how graphical fidelity needs to get much better. That’s it guys, mission accomplished. Now could developers please just stop trying to find new acronyms to chew up GFX card power with? Use the time, money and processing cycles saved on other cool stuff – optimisation, AI, experimental gameplay systems, interesting art styles. Anything other than sloppy bloat and the endless pursuit of perfect photo-realism.

    It’s depressing to see how badly many new games scale to look and run on low lettings compared to old games on high settings. The most shocking comparison I’ve seen here is Supreme Commander vs Total Annihilation on my 4 year old PC, but SC makes me angry in many ways so I won’t go there. ( incidentally Stalker, mentioned above, has been running nicely and looking good to me on my aforementioned pensioner PC. Great game, very much a PC gamer’s game. Thank god some of those still exist amongst an ever growing sea of ugly console ports with their retarded Fisher-Price interfaces. )

    Anyway, forget Crysis. TeamFortress 2 is still the best looking game released this year and runs great on my creaking old PC. Thank-you Valve. The minimum spec requirements for new games like Bioshock, which is essentially a corridor shooter with some nice shader effects, are mind boggling.
    Why won’t big developers slow down and better embrace the huge potential audience with old, crap PCs?

  25. roBurky says:

    But Total Annihilation looks better than Supreme Commander even on high settings, so that’s a bit of an unfair comparison.

  26. Evo says:

    Just a question, are sales from places like amazon and play included in the figures listed above?

    And for things not to include sales from Steam/EA Downloader/D2D/MMO Subs/Casual games is just plain ridiculous. The PC gaming world has moved online (at least in my mind) and this is where a lot of sales must be made.

    This has led me to consider doing some kind of poll on halflife2.net something like ‘How much do you spend on games via Steam in a year?’

    /goes to speak to site boss

  27. Coherent says:

    Not including digital distribution or MMO money is incredibly stupid. I own a 360 and all of the previous generation of consoles. But I don’t go home and relax in front of my 360 every day. I go home and play a MMO on my PC. Every single day, except when a high profile game comes out that I have to play on a console.

    But in terms of time spent with any particular platform, there is no comparison. The PC is the center of my gaming life.

  28. SwiftRanger says:

    “The most shocking comparison I’ve seen here is Supreme Commander vs Total Annihilation on my 4 year old PC, but SC makes me angry in many ways so I won’t go there. ”

    See, that’s hardly a fair comparison since TA ran like dog sh*t on the bigger maps as well when it was first released (1997 ya know), it didn’t even allow you to play the bigger maps if you didn’t have sufficient RAM. SupCom is the TA scenario all over again but still the way to go in any case, GPG took a step back (ditching LOS, real 3D terrain advantages and wreckage obstructions) to take two steps forward (perfected zoom option, massive armies of units with more than 100 polygons and some real texturing/shaders/lighting effects at last, controls/interface commands every other RTS could only dream of, etc.). And that’s coming from someone that’s having a lot of fun with it on a three-year old singlecore machine. Never thought about going back to TA even once.

  29. Mark-P says:

    But Total Annihilation looks better than Supreme Commander even on high settings, so that’s a bit of an unfair comparison.

    Ouch. :) I’ve not seen it running on high, so I’ll have to take your word for it. I wasn’t impressed by the general art direction on SC either way.

    See, that’s hardly a fair comparison

    I maybe should have worded it better. I wasn’t comparing the two games relative to the hardware available at their release, rather making a direct graphical comparison of the two games on one pc. SC on low gfx settings looks like a hideous smear and still chugs a bit. TA has aged well, still looks good and of course runs great. Since I didn’t like SC’s gameplay, I thought they’d wasted their time with all the technical innovations they kept talking about which made the game such a resource hog.

    I’ll compare it to Medieval Total War 2, which runs well enough with a lot happening on-screen on medium-low settings and still looks beautiful. MTW2 I bought after the demo, SC I didn’t. I don’t know what the relevant demographics for PC owners are, but I can’t help wondering if SC might have sold better and been a better game if the resources spent on tech-bloat had been directed elsewhere.

  30. Bob Arctor says:

    Or just have shops that sell PCs with good graphics card for a reasonable price?

  31. Mark-P says:

    Oh, and while we’re in whine mode, the PC platform isn’t being helped by the ever-increasing trend for companies to release unfinished games, halfheartedly fix half the issues in 2 patches over the next 6-12 months, then leave the remaining mess of bugs, balance issues and AI shortcomings to be fixed by the mod community. ( Hi Creative Assembly, Firaxis et al ) It’s just another reason not to buy a PC game for full price at it’s initial launch, but rather wait for it to hit the bargain bins.

  32. Heartless_ says:

    I love people that ignore piracy or don’t want it tossed into the ring when discussing the business of gaming. It is an issue. It will change the market. Stop ignoring it already.

    On to other stuff. While I don’t agree with MMORPG subscriptions and digital distribution not being counted in the figure, where does the line get drawn? Do games that make a profit from running advertisements count? Do profits from selling in-game items count? Do you count sales from things like map packs or content additions that are not really a full game in themselves? While we’re at it, mine as well throw the money server farms make renting out FPS gaming servers!

    I think sticking to the “box sales standard” is a good idea, until digital distribution is a bit more mainstream. There is already plenty of data available to track digital distribution and MMORPG subscription revenue. Chances are, people making these wild predictions, would just ignore the extra data if it were included anyways and cut back to the box sales.

    We have a bit of a disproportioned view here at RPS, because it is likely many of us have embraced things like Steam already. However, most of the consumer market has not and we can probably thank consoles for that fact, and we can continue thanking them as consoles whore their hardware out in hopes of making money off of software sales.

  33. Pidesco says:

    I’ve bought a 7600GT in the Summer of 2006 for roughly 180€ that still plays almost everything I can throw at it with maximum settings. The only exceptions are Crysis, NWN2 before the patches, and UT3 (This one’s pretty close to maximum, though).

    The secret is that I’m still using a 17″ CRT. PC gamers are screwing themselves and their wallets by buying 19″ and up LCD screens.

  34. Pidesco says:

    My previous comment was actually supposed to be about how hardware costs and the supposed inability to play games properly with a cheap computer are silly complaints. Got a little sidetracked there.

  35. BrokenSymmetry says:

    Why do PC games force me to understand what “anisotropic filtering” and “triple buffering” mean? Why is every PC game I buy a gamble if it will even start up on my Vista system?

  36. SwiftRanger says:

    “I’ll compare it to Medieval Total War 2, which runs well enough with a lot happening on-screen on medium-low settings and still looks beautiful. MTW2 I bought after the demo, SC I didn’t. I don’t know what the relevant demographics for PC owners are, but I can’t help wondering if SC might have sold better and been a better game if the resources spent on tech-bloat had been directed elsewhere.”

    Well, SupCom is different, M2: TW is a good game but scale-wise I don’t think the largest M2:TW map would even fit into the smallest SupCom map, it does have thousands of gorgeously detailed units (no flying units though:p) but they are all grouped together in 10-14 squads or so which means it’s a lot softer on pathing. So, not even that is a fair comparison.;)

    But sure, SupCom doesn’t look good on low settings (you should really see it in Cartographic View for a surprise:p) but even then I can still understand why it’s so performance-draining, because the tech-bloat is a lot more than some added shaders, it’s just another (with the zoom literally higher) level of gameplay. While TA has its awesome close-up Michael Bay-like explosions which never seem to get boring and those gritty, carved out maps, SupCom has the controls/interface commands of a real, massive wargame. I can’t go back to those manual single-load Atlasses, I want my Ferry command.:p

    Just saying: you’ll get by perhaps if you can play it with all options in the coming years. TA had me hooked me on even the smallest maps and from then on things only got better once my hardware catched up.

  37. Mark-P says:

    Yeah, I’m looking forward to giving it another chance when I get my next PC and can pick it up for a tenner. It’s been so many years since TA, I really *want* to like it. It’s just not making it easy for me. :)

  38. malkav11 says:

    Of course retail boxed sales are going down – the biggest specialty game retailer in the market is now Gamestop (not EB, who actually supported the PC market) and they’ve shoved PC gaming off into a corner with a haphazard selection of perhaps one or two copies each of anything other than the very latest, hottest titles, those being locked securely behind the counter. They’ll grudgingly make those sales, but their focus is the used console game market and that’s where they’re going to devote their effort.

    And the non-specialty stores simply don’t have the space or the interest to carry more than a handful of AAA titles and a splash of niche.

    I don’t think digital distribution is so inherently superior that it’s capturing the market by that dint. (I for one find it rather alarming, not exciting, thanks to the inflated prices and ridiculously unfriendly policies most digital distribution services offer.) But when one’s choices are to hunt all over one’s city or town for a retailer that might have a copy of the game you want, to order online and receive it an indeterminate number of days later (or pay outrageous sums to receive it “quickly”), or simply enter one’s credit card number and start downloading….

    Well. I think you get the picture..

  39. WCAYPAHWAT says:

    I’m not really sure hardware lagging behind is the real problem here. I’m running a quite beastly (yet last gen) system

    Oblivion ran like a dream on full settings… STALKER, smooooth…. WiC, no problems… ditto with bioshock and CoD4. Not a hitch with The Witcher… And so on and so forth….

    However, the big titles in my ‘currently playing’ list?

    System Shock 2, Tiberian sun, Deus Ex, and UT99.

    It seems newer games just dont give me any reason to replay them whatsoever. Obviously the market just needs more compelling products. not just Look At Me!!! showcases, which are good for a blast, but then you’ve seen it all.

  40. malkav11 says:

    I for one don’t *want* to have reason to replay games. There’s too many clamoring for my attention as it is.

  41. John says:

    well all it means is that the gaming corporations have found out that games with replay value take away from valuable time that regular consumers need to consume their games. they’d rather toss out 4 or 5 mediocre, short games that nobody wants to replay than make a really fun long lasting game that everybody wants to replay because 5 games that reach out to their own niche market make more income than a huge sellout title that caters to everyone. the video game industry has now turned into an entertainment industry on par with independent short films? id rather have the video game industry up there with classic novels i mean they already have a writing staff for them.

  42. WCAYPAHWAT says:

    I just figure if i only want ones days worth of entertainment, i’ll go out and hire a pile of DVD’s for $10, rather than drop $100 on a (mediocre) game.

    Especially now, as i no longer live near an EB with their lovely return policy.

  43. AbyssUK says:

    So many bad games are made these days on PC’s.. you said piracy is a big cause in people not buying games anymore.. i’d say thats true.. because I torrent a game try it realise its a bag of total wank and therefore don’t buy it.

    I don’t trust demo’s as 9/10 times the demos are gimped to a) run better b) look better c) feel better so I’d much rather trial the full version thank you.

    However if I do like a game I do buy it.. I know a lot of people don’t, but hey am better than them :)

    Also the only game people need is Codename Eagle, so there.

  44. Piratepete says:

    well given the trouble I have had getting anything to run decently on my new PC except for Bioshock and Tomb Raider Anniversary, I am seriously considering a console for my next purchase and buying a cheapo Dell Pc for the web.

    oh and my gravatar works now. yay me :)

  45. malkav11 says:

    I don’t trust demos because nine times out of ten they a) leave out the parts I was interested in in the first place, b) run poorer, c) play poorer, d) are almost as large as the full game for much less content.