The RPS Bargain Bucket: A Golden Age

By Lewie Procter on August 7th, 2010 at 12:11 pm.

You know, if you stop and think about it, PC gaming is in such a fantastic state at the moment. Never before in all my years clicking on keyboards and pressing the buttons on mice has there been a time when such a rich diversity of high quality and interesting video game software available for such crazy low prices. The deal of the week this week has a strong (positive) anti-pirate message attached to it, and I think that the excuses that anyone use to justify piracy are dwindling. There’s not really much reason to pirate PC games these days, pretty much anyone who can afford a computer can afford to take part in the international network of shared experiences that make up PC gaming. Wave the flag, and consider purchasing these items. Also, go to the (still slightly broken..) SavyGamer.co.uk.

Torchlight – £3.23/€3.98/$4.97
This didn’t grab me at all, but it’s not my thing. You can get Walker flavoured opinions here, and Meer flavoured ones here. They both seem to really like it.

TopWare Pack – £20/€24/$31.90
GOG do their best to screw me over again by bundling together another bunch of games of which I have played not one of. This isn’t going well. Here’s the list:
Earth 2140 Trilogy
Earth 2150 Trilogy
Earth 2160
Enclave
Gorky 17
Jack Orlando: A Cinematic Adventure
Jagged Alliance 2: Wildfire
Knights & Merchants: The Peasants Rebellion
Septerra Core: Legacy of the Creator
Two Worlds
You get 50% off if you buy the whole lot, or 30% off any of them individually.

Immortal Defence – Whatever you want.
The Minimum is £1.14/€1.37/$1.75 to cover costs, so we recommend a bare minimum of £3/€3.60/$4.80. From the developers blog:

This is not a sale, but a test of using this model as a permanent price. We may switch back some time in the future if it doesn’t work as well, but we do like this model and hope that it can work as the standard price for indie games.

Interesting stuff. Do we think this can be a viable model for lots of games? Demo here.

Gratuitous Space Battles – £4.49/€4.99/$4.99
You can also get the Collector’s Edition for £5.24/€5.99/$6.24 which includes the three DLC packs (which are also individually discounted to 99p/€1.24/$1.49 a pop). Unless I’m mistaken, this is the cheapest GSB has ever been discounted to, possibly excluding packs that it has been part of, so snap up now if you’ve been interested for a while. The CE represents a massive saving if you want all the DLC (The DLC on it’s own normally costs £14.07 direct from Cliffsky). Sadly, Steam DLC only works with Steam games, so if you have bought the game from elsewhere, you can’t just buy the discounted DLC from Steam. RPS coverage here, demo here, and you can follow Cliffsky’s blog here.

Deal of the week
Machinarium – £3.84/€3.93/$5
This includes the Windows, Mac and Linux versions, as well as the hauntingly beautiful soundtrack. All free of any DRM of any kind whatsoever. They say that a lot of people pirated the game, although haven’t shown the data behind the claim, but this is pitched as an opportunity to people who played the game but didn’t pay for it to make up for it. It’s a wonderful game, it absolutely has to be played. There is magic hidden in it’s hand drawn pixels, it’s beautiful sounds, in the puzzles you solve and in the innocence and wonder of how the story unfolds. Play it, don’t rush it, and don’t let yourself get frustrated with it. Wot John thinks here, other RPS coverage here and demo here,

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275 Comments »

  1. Langman says:

    “PC gaming is in such a fantastic state at the moment”

    I don’t know what it is you’re smoking, but please can I have some?

    • leeder_krenon says:

      i guess you missed all the awesome games that have come out in the past couple of years…

    • the wiseass says:

      Unfortunately most of these games are missing more and more features, that we as PC gamers have become quite fond of. Features like LAN, decent controls, dedicated servers, server browsers, non-intrusive DRM, offline play, etc…

    • Heliosicle says:

      Basically wiseass means Starcraft 2.

    • Jimbo says:

      Really? When I stop and think about it I get depressed. PC gaming is certainly cheap nowadays, but I think the prices fairly reflect the quality/age of the games on offer.

      I would gladly have a more expensive ~’95-’05-esque market back again if I could.

    • subedii says:

      So out of curiosity, what games exactly do you think the platform’s missing here?

      I mean there’s always been a bias towards specific styles of games, so you were never getting things like Platformers as a common occurrence. Other than that, I can’t see that there’s specifically a dearth of good quality games, both low and high budget. If anything I feel the opposite is true. Gaming’s not only gotten far easier, but a lot cheaper and with a lot more variety than there used to be.

    • Wulf says:

      I have to agree with Jimbo, these days only the indies are doing anything for me. In fact, the current PC line-up is so bleak that I finally got around to picking up Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time (budget) for the PS3, just to have something to play. And I hate gaming on consoles.

      Currently, there’s one particularly imaginative game I’m excited about: Guild Wars 2. And that’s it. The past games that I was excited about like VVVVVV and Machinarium I’ve now played to death, and there doesn’t seem to be anything on the horizon to replace them. Imaginative games seem to be becoming increasingly rare. Though I blame a lot of this on the XBox 360.

      It seems about… what, ’03? After ’03 things started on a downward slide. Games like Sands of Time, Beyond Good & Evil, and Uru: Ages Beyond Myst became increasingly rare. Even RPGs could be imaginative back then, Anachronox was just plain bonkers. Earlier than that we had the adventure gaming stouts, LucasArts and Sierra, we had odd, bizarre, strange games like Vangers, Another World, and Little Big Adventure, and we had games that were serious but unafraid of looking or being silly… like Wing Commander! I always dug that the Kilrathi were obviously just guys in really bad suits, but they acted around that so well. They just didn’t care about that.

      Even on the consoles too, we had utterly bonkers Japanese fare, and some breathtakingly beautiful games too. Okami springs to mind. The entire Dreamcast library was pretty damn strong, too, and those that had one know what I’m talking about, here.

      Then we got the XBox, and then the XBox 360, and gaming seemed to start on a downward spiral of populism and boredom, with wildly imaginative games becoming less and less common, almost as if games developers were thinking hey, we got in on the ground floor, we’re mainstream now, we don’t want to risk our fat profits by potentially challenging our mentally limited audience with strange and imaginative offerings that might scare and confuse them.

      Things seemed to go on a downward spiral from there, becoming increasingly less imaginative as time went on, and that’s what got me looking at indies, really. For a while there, indies seemed to be the holdout. And Yet it Moves, Blueberry Garden, Machinarium, VVVVVV, and so on… it might be my mind playing tricks on me but even that seems to be tapering off, and indie developers are moving to the consoles and making more and more sane games. The most mildly bonkers games I saw come from the console end of things were Flower and Shatter. Both of which were admittedly glorious.

      The thing is though… where from here? I’m mildly interested in Shank, Deathspank, Joe Danger, and a bunch of others, but they seem to be more in the field of half-decent entertainment rather than actually being the kind of imaginative, bonkers gaming that I enjoy. There’s Journey. Journey does look good, and yes, I’m probably going to play that on the PS3, even though I hate doing that.

      There is that one game on the PS3 I’m looking forward to, the one with the gryphon and the boy. But that’s Team Ico. And knowing Team Ico it’s going to be a needlessly melodramatic thing filled with angst, more angst, and eventually either the boy or the gryphon dying. So I’m a bit dubious about that.

      Currently, there’s one game I’m looking forward to, which is Guild Wars 2, and two games that have the potential of being a bit special but I’m worried about. This, compared to the nineties and the early ohties where I was incredibly excited about gaming as a whole, and looking forward to each new game. These days though, things seem to be asking questions like: How can be less bonkers? How can we be less subversive? How can we be less niche? How can we be less philosophical? How can we be less strange? How can we be less out there? How can we be less imaginative (and more familiar)? How can we be less traumatising? How can we be less special?

      This is compared to an era where developers were not only unafraid of being these things, but where being bonkers, subversive, niche, philosophical, strange, out there, imaginative, and even traumatising (in varying amounts of each) was par the bloody course!! And this goes back to the early consoles and the home computers, where things were that bonkers and strange that it actually disturbed certain sorts of people. I sometimes yearn for those days.

      So yes, I’m a little depressed too. I’m watching an unending downward spiral. Every now and then, something happens that gets my hopes up that we’re going to hit the bottom and spring out of there on a speedy upward spiral into brilliance. The PC indies had me convinced that might happen, but even those seem to be becoming mired in mediocrity, and down we go again. There hasn’t been anything with enough thrust yet to shoot us out of this.

      Will there ever be? Dunno! I’m kind of hoping so. I’m just watching, and continuing to hope that the next wave of utterly bonkers gaming, one that will last us a few decades at least, is just around the corner. Depressed then, but still hopeful, otherwise I wouldn’t be here.

      And at least there is the odd morsel to tide me over in this drought.

    • Wulf says:

      Thinking about all this… I can’t help but think that a lot of what I feel sums itself up in gaming taking itself far, far too seriously, these days, which it never used to. Gaming was a fun joke that everyone was in on. And now you have games that consider themselves big entertainment, serious business, and they seem to be dead on the inside, no real soul to them, and no passion there. I feel that way about a lot of recent AAA titles, unfortunately.

      Gaming has lost the ability to laugh at itself. It’s like a stuck up old veteran of something unimportant that no one really cares about (like paperclips, gaming is currently a haggard veteran of paperclips), and laughter is but a distant memory. I wish to boot out the current spirit of gaming and put a complete bloody goof in its place.

    • Xercies says:

      @Wulf

      Eloquently speaking what i’m thining as well.

      Indies are great but like AAA titles they do seem to be a little samey now and again. limbo is another environment platformer(platformers do seem the norm for indies) and yeah they seem to also be going on the consoles. The only thing weird now a days are free itnernet games but there a bit to small to get my fix.

      Sometimes I wish gaming didn’t become so companised. yeah I said it 90s and early 00s were best because no one knew that games could be a business. people could sell 500k and be happy…now games are selling millions of dollors it has to be broke. i see dreamcast as like 1970s movie companies where the big guy sega released some mainstream games but also allowed there developers to release strange strange titles or bloody ambitious ones(cry over shenmue :( ). But that of course failed again meaning the whole thing was lost and sega is just releasing incresing franchises of a dead hedgehog.

      Now a days its just so corporate..activision, EA…all the big companies seem to own gaming and they seem to only want the big titles…2008 maybe saw EA in a different light but that was one year and they seem to be going against that now. The indies seem to be off in their corner and the mega corps seem to be off in the bigger one. Its in the middle that is usually you see the big ones like beyond good and evil, Okami etc. But the middle seems to have just dissapeared, i want my middle games back.

    • Deano2099 says:

      That’s because when someone release something that goes in the middle, they sell it for £20 (literally, in the middle pricewise) and people complain it’s too expensive for an indie title and don’t buy it.

    • jaheira says:

      The middle ground does still exist, it comes out of Russia or Eastern Europe.

    • Metal_circus says:

      Come ON guys. Video games are brilliant! And yes, this really is a good time for PC gaming. Great mainstream games are coming out every so often and we have nice little indie gems leaking through all the time, too. What’s to complain about? And hey, you know what the great thing about PC’s are? If you don’t like any of the games out at the moment it’s never been easier to make your own damn game.

      Video games have never, ever been healthier, and if you disagree then you’re either spoiled or blind.

      Also, I hate to break it to you but there are some really bad indie games out there and some are just plain overrated, much like mainstream games. The indie scene isn’t this untouched, unspoiled art gem nestling in in the palm of your hands. I’m sorry to say it but much like mainstream titles, there’s a lot of copy-cat bullshit floating around that lacks any real power on both sides of the pond. Games like Braid, Limbo, Mount and Blade, A Reckless Disregard for Gravity… these are the rare titles that shine through all the rest of the bullshit to show us games don’t need budgets. I love that indie games exist, I really do, but even I can’t turn off my bullshit filter for some of the trash that gets released under the premise that it’s indie.

    • Metal_circus says:

      And as for the argument that big business is controlling gaming, well, yeah. But that’s the way our world is, now. It’s not like the end of the 20th century when people could create art forms on a grass roots basis. Everything is digital, monetized. That’s our world for you.

      This does not mean great mainstream games are not being released. They are, they’re just plagued by EA disease bullshit like DLC, the idea of making the game, then taking parts away to sell at a later date, is ENTIRELY a marketing decision. This is the real problem with mainstream games, aside from the generic bullcrap that’s always being released (but so what? games have always been doing this) the true problem is that companies trample on great talent and great creative endeavours by wringing every ounce of money out of the players and this is fundamentally wrong. It’s this mentality that is suffocating developers creative spirits but that doesn’t mean great games cannot be made and it’s ignorant to think so. There have been fantastic mainstream titles over the years.

    • Wulf says:

      @Deano

      Could you name one? Still, I’ve bought games at that price point and not complained. Sometimes though, an overpriced indie game is just an overpriced indie game. The only example I can really think of that fits the bill of what you’re describing is Trine.

      Though Trine was originally priced at £34.99, which was price gouging in my opinion. I snapped it up when it got discounted a bit, though. Big difference between £35 and £20.

      @Metal Circus

      “Video games have never, ever been healthier, and if you disagree then you’re either spoiled or blind.”

      And if you don’t agree with my entirely factual take, the only truthful opinion there is, then you’re a big, stinky poo-poo head.

      Sigh.

      Opinions are and never will be facts, that’s why they’re opinions, and every person is going to have a different opinion that is no more or less valid than your own. Just because someone does not share your opinion, it does not automatically mean that they’re a lesser form of life or the dregs of society.

    • Metal_circus says:

      Right, Wulf, I totally agree, but honestly? You don’t need to lecture me on free speech, kay? I stand by what I said, you’re welcome to debate it with me though, if you want. I’m all ears!

      It wasn’t my intention to sound like that, btw, I was simply saying it’s a somewhat selfish/spoiled attitude to take when there really is a lot of great stuff around these days, especially when compared to the 90′s/early 00′s which, for your information, and i’m sure you’d remember, had a lot of crappy games too.

    • Jimbo says:

      “Video games have never, ever been healthier, and if you disagree then you’re either spoiled or blind.”

      Assuming you mean healthy for the gamer, then I do disagree and yes I have been spoiled – by the ’90s and early ’00s. I think there are plenty of indicators that suggest PC gaming isn’t particularly healthy, and certainly nowhere near its peak.

    • subedii says:

      So when exactly was that peak? Because whenever people talk about the past “glory days” of the PC games industry, I just can’t help but feel it’s looking back with some hefty rose tinted spectacles on about how shiny and brilliant things were in the past.

      I mean the thing is, PC Gaming is niche, but it’s always been a niche. There’s the occasional break-out title that hits the mainstream, like the Sims, or Doom, but those are extremely few and far between, the exceptions rather than the rule.

      And even then, let’s take a title like Doom as an example. It was widely considered the big blockbuster hit, heralding in the so called “golden age” of PC gaming that people are so intent on describing. It sold about 4 million copies. One of the only PC only titles to reach those kinds of numbers at the time.

      Now compare to something like SNES. Street Fighter 2? 6.3 million units. Street Fighter II Turbo? 4.1 million units. Even Disney’s Aladdin sold about 1.75 million units. Mega Man 2? About 1.5 million (that was a NES title by the way). And those are just the Capcom titles.

      Let’s look at another widely heralded game of the golden age, and this one is more typical because Doom really was a freak occurrence of the time. Wing Commander 3, brought in the age of multimedia, really showcased just what was possible with a PC game. three (four? can’t remember now) discs crammed with FMV’s, and awesome space combat. It was widely regarded as a gigantic success, and a sequel was guaranteed, even bigger and more expensive than the last one.

      You know how many copies it had sold by the time they started work on Wing Commander 4? 600,000.

      Look at adventure games. If you want to talk about how popular they were, just think about how much a “smash hit” title like Monkey Island 2 would’ve really sold. I looked it up. Tim Schaeffer said it sold an amazing 25,000 copies. Compare that to any major seller on the SNES. Saying adventure games were mainstream back then is delusional, we just thought they were because that’s what we were interested and what stuck in our minds. Grief, World of Goo already sold more than that.

      Speaking personally, I’m seeing more games that interest me on a regular basis, both mainstream and indie, than I ever saw growing up. And they offer a lot more for the money too. Crikey, Prince of Persia was one of my favourite games as a kid, and that was a game that literally had a 1 hour time limit.

      I’m just wondering, what was so brilliant about back then that you feel now is actually backsliding? It’s not that games are harder to play. Today I just download and run my games. Back then I’d create a boot disc and faff about with EMS and XMS to try and get Ultima 7 working with speech.

      It’s not that there was some huge groundswell of creativity. What creativity came from the more niche games (which guess what? The PC platform often houses, as it’s a niche platform), as has always been the case. Doom wasn’t exactly original, it followed on from Wolfenstein, and even before that you had Ultima Underworld anyway. And even then, I certainly spent a lot of my childhood playing identikit pltaformers from Apogee (unless you really want to try and claim that Secret Agent, Crystal Caves and Bio Menace weren’t all the same game).

      We remember the standout games because they were standouts. Then, as well as now. Nobody remembers freaking Soccer Kid.

      And it’s certainly not that the PC games industry was making huge amounts more money, I’ve already gone over that one. And if we were to go into actual popularity of titles, there was never anything on the PC side that could even touch franchises like Street Fighter, or Mario, or Sonic. Back then if you didn’t have a mascot platformer, you were already an unknown to a large extent. And I sincerely doubt that we can count Commander Keen in on quite the same level there.

      Let’s see, RPG’s, really good ones coming out of Europe (Risen, Witcher), and these days the genre’s being mixed with everything. Adventure games making a comeback. High Budget titles still being released on the PC (with the budgets of today’s AAA titles, they NEED to be on as many platforms as possible).

      So I can’t really see what’s left to complain about.

    • Robert says:

      Should not forget

      Battle for Wesnoth
      Left4Dead

      nor the upcoming:

      Monaco

    • bob_d says:

      Most of what people are complaining about here is due to one thing: rising development costs. Unfortunately, graphics sell games, and increasing graphic quality means ballooning budgets. (Then there are all the other things that players have come to expect from AAA games: the physics, interactive and destructible objects, procedurally blended animations, expansive environments, etc. that also all add significantly to development costs.) The number of sales required to be profitable have increased proportionally, but the audience hasn’t grown that much, and game prices haven’t changed much, either; in other words costs have exploded and revenue has stayed pretty much flat. In order to stay afloat, game publishers are less and less willing to take chances and fall back on sequels and proven game types. (Some friends of mine tried to shop around a sci-fi RPG to publishers before Mass Effect came out. Publishers considered *the whole idea* to be “too risky.” Only after Mass Effect was shown to be successful was any publisher willing to even talk.) Development costs are so high that only the highest selling AAA games are likely to be successful, as the market (on both PC and consoles) isn’t big enough to support any more than that. We’re seeing so many ports for this very reason (only with the combined user-base of both PCs and multiple consoles can some games hope to make money). The next generation of consoles is delayed because everyone in the industry knows that development costs for those machines would be double what they are now, and the market would simply not be able to support costs that high. Even hit games now don’t necessarily make any profits unless they’re mega-hits. (The latest “Red Dead” game, a top seller, didn’t make its development and marketing costs back from what I understand.) The previous industry funding model, where the profits from a successful game might fund a number of subsequent games, is right out. That funding model allowed developers to take chances, as they weren’t beholden to risk-adverse investors for every single one of their games. The few independent (i.e. not Blizzard, EA or Ubisoft) AAA game developers left are having a harder and harder time of it. Companies in places like Russia/Eastern Europe, i.e. where wages are low and exchange rates favor exports, are in the best position to make games that don’t require the absurd sales numbers just to stay afloat.

      The indie makers should be in a better position – they don’t have the graphics and feature expectations that have made costs so unmanageable in AAA development. The problem is that there are expectations of lower pricing, and their sales numbers are usually a fraction of AAA sales. So even though indie games might be more complex than the AAA games of 15 years ago, they’re expected to be profitable with much smaller sales numbers while being sold for half the price (or less). So the games have to be made, for the most part, pretty darn quickly with tiny teams. Better tools mean that games can be made much more quickly, but that also means the ideas aren’t necessarily given the development time that might have once been possible, back in the days when they would have been considered AAA games.

    • Wulf says:

      @Metal_circus

      It wasn’t a lecture, it was just a correction of a group of common misconceptions. You gave too much importance to your own opinion whilst putting yourself on a plinth above the hoi polloi. I busted you down a bit for that.

      Yes, free speech is the way of the Internet, but let’s not forget that that goes all ways. Everyone is entitled to their oppinion, and by the very virtue of ‘free speech’, there’s not one that’s more valid than any other.

      Here’s an example: This comment is truth, and what you think about that is irrelevant.

      I’m going to pick up on that whenever I see it, and I’m sorry if that hurts anyone’s feelings. That’s not the intent, anyway.

      @subedii

      That’s actually an interesting post, but I feel that you’re being a bit harsh to a point of view that you may not understand.

      You think that this is all about nostalgia and your post concentrates on genres, but that shows that you look for different things in games. What you and I look for is different. This is where, I feel, we’re all disconnecting.

      What I’m depressed about is how gaming seems to be losing its vibrant bouncyness. In the past, Machinariums were commonplace, but now they’re rare. You had silly games like Monkey Island and Sace Quest out the wazoo, and I loved that.

      You cited RPGs, and I’ll give you a further example: Ultima VII and Wizardry 8. Both of which were completely and utterly bonkers.

      If you’ve played either, you’ll know what I mean. From the Kilrathi ship in Ultima VII, the black sword, Serpent’s Hold, the virgin-loving Unicorn, the horny fairy, and so much more. It was just completely bloody nuts, if games could be insane, Ultima VII had some form of psychosis. Clearly.

      Then you had Wizardry 8, a game in which I remember talking with a very angry spaceship in a fantasy setting, surrounded by talking wolves, cats, and lizard people. And the game continued like that. It, too, was bonkers.

      Now, more recent examples? You mention Risen and The Witcher. I like The Witcher, but it’s still quite sane compared to those older games. And Risen was depressingly sane and safe. This is what I’m missing more and more from recent games.

      Gaming used to be the the sparkly, oddly clad hero who wore Y-fronts on top of his spandex, spandex which had sequins. It was Project G.e.e.K.e.R, it was Earthworm Jim, it was not right in the head. At some point, gaming got therapy and it started becoming more and more sane. Now we have an accountant who sometimes dreams of being that hero, but only very rarely.

      That’s what I find depressing, that we used to have loads of games that were just completely off-the-wall, inexcusably, bloody nuts, three fries short of a happy meal, whacko, or whatever else you want to call it. It was glorious. And… then things started to get boring, I had less to look forward to.

      The more time goes on, it seems that the amount I’m excited about lessens.

      What I want is for gaming to be crazy again. Unashamedly so. I want it to stop taking itself so seriously and have a laugh. Crazy worlds, impossible worlds, mad stories, eccentric and bizarre characters, those were my ‘glory years’, so to speak.

      I miss that. And I’m sorry, but I think that’s disappearing, and yes, that does depress me.

    • Wulf says:

      To explain things better, I just want to see gaming once again become that crazy, where stuff like VVVVVV is commonplace, rather than rare.

      I know I talk about that game a lot, but I can’t help it. VVVVVV was bonkers, is bonkers, from start to finish, it’s completely and utterly absurd, and despite itself, it actually has a compelling storyline, which it tells well whilst not taking itself at all seriously. I really want Terry to make another big game, he’s got really interesting things going on in his brain, similar to my own.

      For a while, playing VVVVVV it was like the past of gaming again, and I enjoyed myself more with that than a lot of games I could think of in recent years, so much so that I replayed it, and I’ve even played the demo a couple of times since (on a whim). At this point, I can pretty much do Veni, Vidi, Vici on my first try, too, whenever I go back to it.

      Everything about VVVVVV was bonkers though, the whole thing about collapsing dimensions, the nature of the characters, the secret “LET’S COMBINE OUR POWERS!” ending, the crying elephant, the levels, the room names, everything. For me, that was like crack for a time, because it seemed to be forged of Pure Creativium.

      And what I’m hoping gaming might eventually become is more like that, just absolutely crazy, taking pride in the craziness, not caring about being boring, or dull, or sane, or familiar, just being bloody nuts. Gaming used to have a lot of that, and eventually things might come full circle and we’ll see that again, I’ve already witnessed a few instances where that looked like it was going to happen.

      Has to happen eventually, dunnit?

    • Jimbo says:

      You can look at sales if you want – this is hardly scientific, but look up the best-selling PC games and count how many post-WoW games get anywhere near the top of the list. Not many, if any.

      The biggest PC hit of this year is an RTS that feels about ten years old. The first million seller of the year and it became the best-selling PC game of the year 24 hours after release. That doesn’t say an awful lot for the rest of the market.

      The PC used to be the engine of the entire industry. It used to be where the best developers would come to duke it out. Today’s most popular genres (and even franchises in a lot of cases) were birthed and nurtured on the PC. The last two generations of consoles were designed specifically to accommodate those popular PC genres and make them work from a couch. Graphics improved at the pace they did because the PC forced everybody else forward just to keep up.

      The platform has been abused so badly in recent years (by developers and gamers alike) that it’s simply no longer strong enough to drag the industry forward. The consoles have stagnated because there is no longer a thriving alternative to force them forward. It’s true that the Wii is driving the industry, but it’s driving it sideways into new markets, rather than forward for the existing market. ‘Our’ market is stagnant.

      Graphics have gone precisely nowhere since Crysis came out three years ago. Compare that to any other three year period in gaming’s history and it’s crazy how quickly everything ground to a halt. I’m not saying graphics are the issue here; they are just a symptom of the PC ceasing to be the driving force in the industry.

      I know that a lot like to bury their heads in the sand and try and convince themselves that everything is ok – and it might even just about be ‘ok’, at a stretch – but I can’t even comprehend how some think that this is as good as it ever was. I doubt this year’s Top Ten PC games would stand up against even those of the last few years, let alone a genuine ‘Golden Age’ year like ’98.

      imo.

    • subedii says:

      I’d disagree that games like Machinarium were all that commonplace. Apart from Sierra and LucasArts, few even dared to make adventure games, fewer still made any decent ones.

      Regarding Ultima 7, it had a few silly elements in it, but I wouldn’t exactly say it was characterised by that. It was still a game that took itself very seriously. It just had a sense of humour on occasion. And yeah, I also found the crashed Kilrathi spaceship. :)

      I mean if you want to talk zaniness, then that pretty much describes something like King’s Bounty for example. A game where you can have your choice of bride from amongst a pirate, frog princess, or zombie lady. Quests involve things like a Dragon punching itself in the mouth, and attacking the gremlins in your own staff to make it better.

      Or even closer to home, Dragon Age also had its fair share of silly moments (I’d say about on par with something like Ultima 7 Never played Wizardry). Alistair alone was a goofball, but then you had stuff like raving lunatic hermits in the woods asking and answering questions in reverse order. Or pet dogs that try to make conversation with party members and “mark” their territory to make themselves stronger. And the whole Fade thing was nothing if not bizarre.

      How about Fallout 3? There’s always been a tonne of ridiculousness with that series, and number 3 certainly had no problems following suit there.

      If we’re going to talk about the LucaArts adventure games of old, then we also can’t ignore the new Monkey Island and Sam and Max games, or the fact that those creators are going to be working on a Back to the Future game, which is a prospect that sounds awesome in itself.

      The more off-the-wall stuff (Ben & Dan), you’re more likely to find in the indie section, that much is true. But like I said before, Adventure games were always pretty niche right from the start.

    • subedii says:

      @ Jimbo:

      The PC used to be the engine of the entire industry. It used to be where the best developers would come to duke it out.

      This is simply untrue. It only becomes true if we disregard everything from the NES onwards. The engines of the games industry have always been the console market, the PC has always been the niche market, and often where more “on the fringe” games can actually survive. This is not new, it’s always been the case. You want to talk about top 10 lists and “post WoW”? Grief dude, how many PC games pre WoW ever made it into the top 10 sellers? Those were always dominated by console games. You’re pretty much ignoring everything I said in order to adopt a “sky is falling” stance.

      At the very least, you need to back up what you’ve just said. Show me some real multiplatform games charts from back in 98. Or 93. Because so far, the numbers are showing a very different picture to the glorious past that you’re describing. You haven’t actually contradicted anything I’ve actually posted so far.

      I mean you point to Crysis as an example .Crysis was a watershed alright, it was an example of precisely not to do, and thank goodness that developers have realised it. Pushing graphics for their own sake and marketing the game as a powerhouse graphical showcase just cuts your market. They cut their own market for no good reason.

      I mean one of the big negative things to happen to the PC games market was precisely this, it was the advent and popularisation of the standalone 3D graphics card. Because up until that point, any store bought PC could act as a games PC. Once the 3D card came onto the scene, you had this delineation that didn’t exist before, and it caused nothing but market fragmentation. It’s only in the past few years that even dedicated PC developers have realised that “hey, pushing graphics like that isn’t in our favour”.

      The issue of graphics in itself is a lot more complex than you describe. Because graphics have reached a milestone of being “good enough”, and studios, whether they’re on PC, Wii, or 360, don’t want to push it further. Think about this for a second. We are well past the point in this console generation that a new console should have been introduced. The 360 came about 5 years after the XBox, the PS3, one year later. And yet here we are, and there isn’t even a next gen console in sight. And if anything, developers are scared of the prospect of new, more powerful hardware. Now why is that?

      The reason is that for the time being at least, production values are meeting or exceeding the capability of the teams to produce them. Developers can spend years churning out a blockbuster title with orchestral suite, hi-def graphics, and full voice acting. And that sort of process takes its toll on a development studio. Studio teams are now sized in the hundreds where a decade ago it might’ve been 20 people. Overtime isn’t a rarity, the 80 hour week during crunch time is a standard. For that matter, so is the occurrence of burnout. There’s a whole other topic in this subject alone, but the basic reason that you don’t see games with even more shinier production values isn’t that we’re not pushing hard enough, it’s because pushing any further is unfeasible. It’s true that for making PC-only games, this barrier is sooner. But then as I keep stating, PC gaming was always a niche industry.

      This is also why instead of focussing on creating new more powerful consoles, the major console players have instead opted to try and create alternate means of interaction. Because as the Wii showcased, you don’t need graphics to hit the mass market. And more importantly, development studios aren’t really capable of taking real advantage of more high powered hardware, even if you were to give it to them.

    • Starky says:

      I have to agree with Sub, there was never a golden age of PC games, the console market was from half way through the NES lifespan on wards bigger than the PC market.

      Oh there was a time that PC gamers had the best tech, but it never sold the most, outside of a few freak titles.
      Of course games didn’t cost as much to make back then, so a million units was a vast success, in a way that a million units now wouldn’t even be a break even point.

      I lived through basically all the ages of gaming, with the exception of the 80s arcade boom – I began with the C64, Amiga 1200, and then in 1995 a windows PC. This along side a NES, Genesis and SNES, then saturn and PS1.
      Every generation had it’s great titles, and this generation is no different.

      There are just as many, if not more amazing titles per year now, than any year you could care to pick.

      Modern games may not be to your taste, but that is how things go.
      Games, music, movies, and all entertainment moves on – and if you’re stuck wanting more arcade classics, 80′s action flicks or Hair-Metal, well those things still are made, just not to the same scale.

      I often hear the cry that modern games don’t offer as much – which is crap too.
      People often cite modern warfare, or gears of war, only offering 5 hours gameplay, forgetting that was common for many, many games right through all console and PC generations.
      There have always been short games, and long games – 5 hour games and 100 hour epics.
      Final Fantasy 7 took 40-60 hours (up to 100 to get everything), while metal gear solid took maybe 4-5.
      Both games considered top games of their generation (97-98). While PC games were just as healthy, with Half-life, fallout, thief and starcraft.
      Then look at 2008-2009 – yes you have more Multi-platform titles, rather than PC exclusives (then again, diablo, half-life and most top PC games made it to a console) – but Fallout 3, Sins of a Solar Empire, Left 4 dead, Crysis, Dragon age… and a list of brilliant indie games so long it would take a hour to write it.

      So, tastes change, genres evolve and they may evolve beyond your personal tastes – but don’t fool yourself into believing any other generation was better than now.
      It just makes you sould like one of those old men chanting “They don’t make good music any more, not like when I was young”.

      The PC is a great games machine still, but if you want to be a gamer, you have to step beyond it these days – hell you ALWAYS had to step beyond it.
      Command and Conquer was amazing in 1995 and the reason I bought a PC – but so was Wipeout(PS1), so was Twisted metal(PS1) and chrono Trigger (SNES).

    • subedii says:

      Oh man Chrono Trigger! To this day it’s one of the few JRPG’s I really like. Awesome game.

      I bet I could give it a playthrough now and still have fun.

    • Dhatz says:

      fucked up alpha protocol? dragon age shitfaced on historical garbage from the whole fantasy genre? shitty MMO trash for retarded rich frats? of something from the childish zombie genres of adventures or strategies(don’t act like SC2 was something gender-blending/innovative enough)? Mr. PussyBat fighting game? fecebook intellect-proof games?

      Show me one game except of GTA, MaE MiE and AC2 that has the balls to be above just awesome as games till end of 2005. I’m talking nfs is boring/unrealistic(not necessarily in all games at once), McRae died so Codies went for arcade, FEAR got the dumbed down crosshair from COD, and shooters are ports of already ctrl-effed games(in addition there is not enough of ports to provide gaming above just good). Shove me something above indie /Alien swarm that is fun and awesome at once. Even Mafia 2 is getting shitty DLC instead of proper multi-thead story nobody has the balls to do in actual game.

      And I thought i was gonna keep this post short.
      Even the CAPTCHA agrees: FAK5

    • subedii says:

      You…

      I mean…

      er…

      Would somebody care to translate?

    • bleeters says:

      It must be so fun in your world.

    • subedii says:

      Also, on reading Wulf’s second post, I can sort of see where he’s coming from, and feel a bit more of a jerk now.

      That said, I’ve never played VVVVV so maybe I should give it a try sometime.

    • BeamSplashX says:

      Is this not the largest string of successful replies on RPS yet?

    • Dhatz says:

      Wasn’t expecting you to understand all at once, after all my poste sre complicated even if I write in czech. I would be extremely satisfied if I had laready played any of half-life games so that all those mods that come out couldn’t spoil it for me, but situation is they all have to wait untill Black mesa comes out and makes me want to start playing the HL franchise.

      Now I just want mods for max payne 2, and as a matter of fact, Payne Effects 3 recently came out and the link on moddb is cancelled and the mediafire link was set to private for some hour. So why nobody uploads it on some actually nonstop usable filehost is a mystery.

    • Starky says:

      Not even close – I’ve seen some on piracy issues stretch 50+ replies.

    • Langman says:

      I’m not even going to attempt to argue the point in any great detail, since those who choose to be very defensive of PC gaming will always come out with the same, predictable ‘ur just rose-tinted specs!1′ responses.

      There are those who really understand PC gaming from ’95-’03 and what that period meant – and those who don’t (or force themselves to ignore the truth of the matter, for various reasons). Having played PC games throughout that period, there simply isn’t any real comparison to the dull, coorporate, overly console-tainted platform it’s now become.

      I understand it’s not a pleasant truth – especially to talk about on a website like RPS, so ultra-defensive arguments are to be expected. But PC gaming ain’t what it used to be.

    • jeremypeel says:

      Jesus Christ kids… Yes, rising development costs discourage AAA developers from making sprawling, experimental games, and yes, there are some things I miss from ’90s gaming.

      But generalised nostalgia is so, so lazy – in 1977, Abba, Leo Sayer and Kenny Rogers sold the most records and dominated pop culture, not punk.

      We don’t remember the mediocre trash because it was mediocre trash. In 1997 we didn’t have indie developers. C’mon.

    • Starky says:

      @Langman
      You know you’re reply is just as bad if not worse than the rose tinted glasses dismissal, you’re using the old “you just don’t understand” rebuttal, seen on a thousand movie forums.

      It’s crap when it comes to movies and crap when it comes to games.

      I lived the 95-03/04 PC gaming. I owned more games than any sane person can play (half of them pirated granted, but I was a student). I played basically every major release on every platform – and yes it was great – but so was the console space at that time.
      PS1 games (and PS2 for that matter) were stunning in quantity and quality – Equalling if not besting PC only games.
      Hell the only genre that PC held firmly onto as the superior platform in those days was RTS games and FPS games – which still holds true today.
      Almost every other genre of game had an equal if not a better on the playstation/2.

      So what is lacking now? Old genre’s that died because no one sodding naught them? Speaking mainly of space shooters, and adventure games here – though the latter is getting a bit of a come back – and I’d argue that hidden object games (my mother and girlfriend play them) are pushing more into the P&C adventure game than people give them credit for.

      All just off the top of my head…
      FPS games: Left 4 dead 1&2, Bad company 2, TF2, Bioshock, Farcry 2, Crysis, ARMA 2 – All equal, if not better than FPS’s in the 90s.
      RTS games: Men of War, company of heroes, dawn of war 2, starcraft 2. World in conflict, Sup Com, The Total war series (which didn’t really hit it’s stride until rome, and though went a bit downhill after medieval 2: Kingdoms)… any more I’m forgetting?

      There were some great games back in the mid 90s, though most of my all time greats land late 90s early 00s – I just can’t see any real argument on how any particular genre of game is suffering today, which thrived back then*.

      *With the exception obviously of spaec shooters – that said, Eve, X3 and a few new Freespace style twitch MMOs on the horizon may counter that too.

    • HawksOfSavilleRow says:

      Well, these replys certainly seem dominated by the pro-progress lobby (I jest)
      In all seriousness though, I agree with Wulf, simply because games released before 2004 tended to more to my personal liking (there are of course, numerous exceptions) But simpy put the AAAs of the time were putting out games that i loved. The big name rpgs ant the time for example were the likes of Baldurs balls and its iso brethren, whereas now we have Dragon Arse and Mass Effect, which i find (I, ME,I) dull and uninspired.

      Im amazed that no ones mentioned the ACE Team, however, for sheer bat-shitery. With any luck, theyll inherit SHINYs crowd of inspired lunacy for a new generation.

    • Jimbo says:

      I just lost my lengthy reply, so I’ll try and keep this short:

      “So when exactly was that peak?”

      ’98. I’ll take my ’98 line-up against anybody’s ’08, ’09 and ’10 combined line-up. If you want to believe that Half-Life and Starcraft went on to sell ~10 million copies each on PC due to my ‘hefty rose-tinted spectacles’ and kid yourself into believing that everything is as good today as it ever was, then feel free.

    • malkav11 says:

      We’ve had indie developers forever, or at the very least since the advent of computer networking. Used to be called shareware, that’s all.

    • bleeters says:

      I’ll take naive optimism over perpetual gloomy doomsaying any day.

    • Wulf says:

      Well, there is something keeping my cursed, malaise-ridden black depression at bay: Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time. It’s strange, and I feel like a total traitor, a turncoat, a real Benedict Arnold if you will, but Gods damn, what can I say? It makes me laugh.

      Oh the reactions it’s got out of me.

      Recurringly: “Hehehe… ha… aha… hahahaha. Did that really just happen?! Blimey! Yes, yes it did! Bwahahahaa!!!”

      Why don’t PC games do that any more? I want them to! Is that too much to ask?

      And it’s rare. I keep mentioning Terry’s game because it’s one of the few in recent memory that really did it. The most memorable moment being Veni, Vidi, Vici.

      That went something like this: “Whu? …ahaha… haa… he’s joking… ahaha… oh christ, he’s not. Hahahaa… hahahahahaa! Oh, you total bastard, you magnificent bastard!”

      Terry trolled me good and proper there, and you know what? I loved every minute of it.

      I remember KG felt sort of the same way.

      I want more of that, too. I mean, I’m not afraid of challenges or of games trolling me. I’m not even afraid of games having a joke at my expense! And that’s the core of it, really. I want less serious PC gaming, the only thing I’m really nostalgic for.

      Sigh.

      Sorry to prattle on.

      @subedii

      I would happily buy VVVVVV for you, out of my own money, just so that someone else could experience it. It has a number of absolutely marvellous moments. Many of which will make you want to mate with and brutally, heinously, callously, mercilessly, twistedly slaughter Terry Cavanagh in equal amounts.

      As for Crono Trigger, I wholeheartedly agree. Hell, I still find myself randomly quoting “MY QUEEN!”, wheneverI find the excuse. Only a Crono Trigger nerd is only going to even begin to get that… Gods I’m a sad gaming nerd. There’s something we can all agree on.

      But yes, that would have to be my second favorite gaming quote of all time. With “PRIORITY OVER-RIDE. NEW BEHAVIOUR DICTATED. MUST BREAK TARGET INTO COMPONENT MATERIALS.” being the first.

      If only because I got to say it when I was roleplaying a robot in CO this one time…

      @BeamSplashX

      Looks like, doesn’t it? >.> One can’t help but imagine that it’ll probably keep going for a bit, too.

      @jeremypeel

      Malkav covered one part of that comment, I need not repeat that.

      I remember plenty of trash from the 90′s, but one thing I’ll say is that I never claimed that games were technically better. What I will point out is what you said yourself: They were more experimental.

      All I feel is that a lot of modern games lack that soul. Games are serious business these days, I can’t laugh at them, they can’t laugh at themselves, and that’s what I find most depressing. It’s not that the quality of games has gone downhill, it’s probably risen, it’s just that overall… they’re less characterful. They have less personality, and to say it again, I know it’s silly, sentimental, and entirely personal/subjective, but less soul.

      If gaming could be a bit more experimental and a bit less serious, a bit more quirky and a bit less sane, then I could be a lot happier.

      But yes, I was never talking about quality per se. I mean, if we were to take a number of games on the quality of their strength as a game and compare them to a game past, then the evolution is clear.

      If we were to compare the personality of two games, however…

      And each game should be a person, with a likeable, interesting, deep personality. I find that this is an art that’s being overlooked today, though. There are some very recent examples, yes, like World of Goo, but they’re still too few.

      A lot of titles on the horizon, if examined, probably wouldn’t consider having a personality to be important.

      Call it generalised nostalgia or whatever you like, but that’s just how I feel about it.

      @HawksOfSavilleRow

      True enough, Zeno Clash was really a bit special. And batshit insane, yes! Hooray for batshit insane!

      Glad you mentioned SHINY, as well. So much love for SHINY entertainment. EVery one of their games was golden.

      @malkav11

      This is true. One of the joys of the 90′s was getting a magazine disc, filled to the brim with shareware demos. That was always a real delight, that was.

    • JuJuCam says:

      I dunno, I have an XBOX 360 and I have to admit it gets at least as much playtime if not more than my PC but this has always been true of me and consoles. I consider myself a gamer first and not a *specific platform* gamer. Heck I even have a Wii, and I bought Let’s Dance yesterday because I allowed my girlfriend to know that such a thing existed and she wouldn’t let me not own it. Whatever, it’s agreeably bonkers if you’re at all inclined to gyrate in time to music.

      Concerns about creativity and innovation in PC game development ring just as true if you remove the “PC”. Just because Ratchet and Clank gets it right doesn’t mean every other PS3 title is just as good, nor does it mean that PC gaming has gone down the shitter. I own more games on Steam than I could possibly fit onto my terabyte hard drive, I consider this a good sign. If they were in boxes, I doubt I’d make the purchase. I’d run out of storage space too quickly!

      PC gaming has been “a dying breed” for years according to any retailer, but will we die?

    • neems says:

      I don’t know if it’s a generational thing, so to speak, but growing up gaming on C64, Spectrum et al, it just seems to me that games now are so very very good.

      Oh sure there are some that just don’t appeal, and there is that whole mass market love / hate thing, but even most of the bad games now are light years beyond anything I grew up with. Hell if you’d shown me Stalker for example while I was sitting there playing Ikari Warriors on my Commodore 16, I probably would have creamed myself.

      As interesting a read as all that ( ^) is, it doesn’t really settle anything. You either like the games or you don’t. It does seem a shame though, all the gamers who don’t seem to like games. I guess I maybe just have lower standards :-)

    • neems says:

      Bollucks, messed up the italics. Oops.

    • Wulf says:

      @JuJuCam

      I didn’t mean for it to look like I was saying that all PS3 games are great, and I’m quite familiar with the obvious truth that there’s a lot of tripe there. What I do think is that Insomniac are very good at games in general, and have never made a bad one. Not ever. It’s a crying shame that Sony owns them.

      The PS3 seems to be predominantly the home to niche titles, too, as far as consoles are concerned. So I find that there’s a lot to enjoy there for me. I’d love to see the likes of Flower, Ratchet & Clank, and that upcoming Team Ico game on the PC, and that was my point. Not specifically those games, but games which are like those.

      My problem still is and always will be that PC gaming is moving more towards becoming a very stern and humourless accountant. I worry that developers think PC owners are stern and humourless accountants, and this is something that plays on my mind a lot. Is this why you don’t think the PC is worthy of your games anymore, Tim (Schafer), Ron (Gilbert)?

      I guess I just want more games which are A) bonkers, B) characterful, and C) can make me laugh. The games I look forward to are usually two or more of the above (to varying degrees), and sometimes a bit of all three. To stress my point again: I’m not depressed because PC gaming is subpar as far as game mechanics are concerned (it’s not), dying (it’s not), or losing its genres (it’s not), but simply that I think developers who release for the PC are gravitating away from my A, B, and C.

    • Wulf says:

      I goofed up my italics too! 8D There, you can feel better now. Let’s make runaway italics trendy!

    • Wulf says:

      Egad! Has everything gone italics now?!

      Hahahahaha.

    • subedii says:

      @ Jimbo:

      I just lost my lengthy reply, so I’ll try and keep this short:

      “So when exactly was that peak?”

      ’98. I’ll take my ’98 line-up against anybody’s ’08, ’09 and ’10 combined line-up. If you want to believe that Half-Life and Starcraft went on to sell ~10 million copies each on PC due to my ‘hefty rose-tinted spectacles’ and kid yourself into believing that everything is as good today as it ever was, then feel free.

      Half-Life didn’t sell 9.5 million in one freaking year, it sold that over the course of a solid decade of sales. It sold well in its first year, but for the following two or so years, sales were actually increasing simply due to word of mouth.

      You neglect to point out that Half-Life 2 (coming out after the “Golden Age”) sold 6.5 million in-store. I wonder, how many DD copies have been sold since 2004? Following the same pattern, probably more than enough to cover the difference. That’s excluding the Orange Box BTW, which shifted 3 million copies by end of year 2008 (in-store again), and as far I remember sold a “double digit” percentage more on Steam. Which could mean anything from 10%-99% but certainly means 1.5 million more in sales (assuming that the PC version of OB sold about 1.5 million by 2008) for a total of about 3 million by year end 2008. And bear in mind as well, this likely applies across the board to other Valve titles too.

      Remember, Orange Box contains Half-Life 2 by default, so it pretty much subsumes any future sales of the former. More importantly, unlike store sales, Valve makes somewhere in the region of 90%-95% profit per unit sold of their games on Steam. Compared to maybe 30%-50% per unit sold in-store. So tally that up in terms of actual profits made, and then maybe we can consider that Valve likely made more money still off of HL2.

      Likewise, you point out Starcraft and rather ridiculously completely ignore that Starcraft 2 just launched (which funnily enough, some people here seem to be crying about as harbinger of death of the PC games industry for some reason). Starcraft 2 on sale in the UK has already sold more than the total lifetime UK sales, and that was in less than a week. And that 1 million figure for the first day of launch? Yeah, that’s actually excluding the Asian markets, where the game is the biggest seller.

      I mean you want to talk about Starcraft selling 8 million (again, over the course of literally a decade of sales, when it first went on sale in the UK it quickly dropped out of the PC Games top 10), literally half of those were from the Asian market. Because Starcraft became a freak sales occurrence and outright phenomenon there, but hey, I’m willing to go with it all the same. The point is, Starcraft 2 so far is already breaking the previous games records, with analysts predicting it’ll break 5-7 million units in its first year.

      http://gamasutra.com/view/news/29577/Analyst_StarCraft_II_Could_Hit_7_Million_Units_In_First_Fiscal_Year.php

      So now, if you want to claim how ludicrously successful Starcraft 1 is, fine. But you’re being nothing if not completely disingenuous for ignoring the sequel. OR for that matter, that the sequel is making more money than a standard PC retail release since it’s charged at $10 more (not necessarily new, Blizzard did that with Warcraft 3 as well), and that a large portion of those sales will also be DD, not store bought. And as has been already established, DD sales have a FAR higher percentage profit margin.

      So yeah. You’re taking sales of two games over the time period of literally ten years where they were consistently selling, without looking at all at the obvious case to compare, the sequels. When one pretty much has matched or exceeded that in less time, and the other you’ve given all of less than a month to even try. You’re also not looking at operating profit margins, because DD has given a huge, I mean incredibly huge increase to profit margins for own titles sold.

      But hey, those stats are all lies. Valve are lying, and so are Blizzard. I really should ignore them because it proves I’m only capable of “kidding myself”.

    • Jimbo says:

      I really don’t think you can use a 6 year old game as an indicator of the health of today’s PC market. That’s a bit of a stretch. I said right at the top I’d take a ’95-’05 market and HL2 comes in that. You asked when the peak was and I’d put it at ~’98, but the market was still healthy enough through ’05. A decent selection of PC games were still coming out as late as ’07, but they weren’t selling well enough to sustain the market as it was.

      I’ll come back and concede Starcraft 2 if it ever sells close to ten million copies (don’t hold your breath). My point with that was that it only needed to sell a million copies to become the best-selling PC game of the year. Meaning nothing else has sold any millions at all. I can’t even think of the last time a new IP sold a million copies on PC… not sure if anything has since The Witcher in ’07.

    • subedii says:

      You brought up Half-Life and Starcraft, I brought up the sequels, which you neglected to mention.

      And yet, as I already pointed out, selling multiple millions was always an exception for PC-only titles, because the PC market has always been a niche. This is something that I’ve already shown with quite a few numbers to back up. You still haven’t addressed any of those, nor have you come back with any multiplatform sales charts to show that PC gaming was the major market back in the region of 2000. Instead you keep pointing to those ancient exceptions as if they were the norm, when it’s been established that was never the case. You can try to believe it, but that’s just not true. As an example Fallout was also a classic game of that era, it never broke the 1 million mark. For its success and getting a sequel, it had sold a lifetime sales total of approximately 300,000-400,000 units. By comparison Fallout 3 sold more than the COMBINED lifetime sales of Fallout 1 and Fallout 2, in one week. Deus Ex? Even 5 years after its release, hadn’t even cracked a million (it may have just about cracked the 1 million mark, by now, 10 years later). Its first year it sold something like 200,000 copies worldwide. Even assuming it’s reached 1 million now, it’s literally outsold by ANY iteration of the Tomb Raider franchise you’d care to mention. I could go on. System Shock 2. Thief. Total Annihilation. These are well renowned series of the so called Golden Age, but in comparison to console sales at the time they aren’t even something worth considering.

      If you want to talk about new IP’s in particular, new IP’s rarely sell over a million to begin with, let alone PC exclusives. Dead Space 1? Sold about 1 million units, and that was a multiplatform title. Similar with Mirror’s Edge. You talk about the Witcher as if it’s not an impressive number for the platform, it is. PC Games have rarely broken the 1 million mark, for a new IP it’s incredibly rare, and from an unknown Eastern European developer, magnitudes more unlikely.

      Of course if you want a new IP, that broke a million in sales, after a PC led release, SINCE the Witcher (I believe that’s all the conditions that you put right? Any more you’d like to add in?), how about Left 4 Dead? Dragon Age? That sold multiple millions, and has to date actually outsold Mass Effect 2. If we allow more than just “new” IP’s, then I’m not going to be terribly stunned if Civ 5 also breaks the 1 million mark for that matter. Or the Sims 3. Any iteration of WoW will pretty much be a million seller by default.

      But you know what? As I said before, and keep saying, they’re exceptions to the rule. And it’s a rule that’s pretty much been maintained even during that Golden Age that you seem intent on pointing to.

    • Jimbo says:

      I think you have lost track of what was actually being discussed here. The subject was do you think the PC market is in a fantastic state / Golden Age? Do you? What exactly has been so great about this year or last year?

      I don’t see how your console sales history affects this either way. I didn’t say PC gaming was the bulk of the industry, I said it was the engine. Maybe you didn’t understand the analogy – the engine isn’t the bulk of a car is it? The PC market used to be massively influential on the rest of the industry -you only need to look at today’s console gaming to know this- and now it isn’t. The ‘mainstream’ certainly isn’t envious of our games anymore.

      PC games used to break 1 million sales and multi-million sales with more regularity than they do today, as evidenced by the list of best-selling PC games including next to fuck all from the last two or three years. Even if it didn’t happen with the regularity of consoles, it still happened with enough regularity to incentivize a whole market’s worth of AAA development exclusively for the PC – a market which has all but dried up now.

    • subedii says:

      With respect, if that’s not at all what you meant, you had plenty of time before now to say so. This is just goalpost shifting. Regardless, the console market was never “envious” of the PC market, unless you can seriously prove envy here. The most that you can say is that the FPS became popularised enough to hit mainstream, but that’s a different argument. In terms of influence, PC Gaming has taken just as much from, and tried just as hard to emulate console gaming, as the reverse. Games influence other games, and it’s not the platform that dictates this, but the ideas represented in those specific games and how they impact on titles inside their genres, and sometime, outside. Thief and Metal Gear Solid may have released in the same year, but they each had different effects on the subject of Stealth based gameplay.

      Let’s see, what are the exceptional titles that I’ve played in the past few years on my PC that easily match whatever I’ve played a decade ago?

      Off the top of my head:

      Dragon Age, Mass Effect series, Left 4 Dead series, Half-Life episodes, Dawn of War series, Company of Heroes titles, Civilisation series, Total War series, Team Fortress 2, Portal, Battlefield series, Starcraft 2, Supreme Commander 2 (personally I might even rate that above Starcraft 2 so far, but that’s a separate discussion), The Witcher, Bioshock series, Crysis series, Trine, Shattered Horizon (a lot more depth than most people give it credit for), Penumbra series, Alpha Protocol (pretty heavily underrated, most reviewers simply didn’t understand its approach to combat was similar to Deus Ex), Dead Space, Batman Arkham Asylum, Devil May Cry 4.

      I’m certain I’ve missed a few. Out of those titles, even most of the multiplatform ones play or perform better on a PC. So yeah, I’d happily call it a golden past few years, I’ve had a blast playing PC games.

      As for the comment that there used to be so many more million sellers than there are now, that’s something you’ve yet to actually prove, and all the number I’ve provided point to a different picture. Meanwhile you literally ignored the examples that I provided for modern sellers anyway.

      My argument has never been that the PC as a platform matched up for being the primary focus for production of high budget titles (and subsequently, mass market mainstream sellers). It’ll occasionally receive ports of those, sometimes Blizzard or Valve might release one, but those were rare. However, it would be a mistake to presume that PC development was high budget in the first place (it couldn’t be with the kinds of sales numbers expected). The PC of 98 rarely if ever had a title on the level of Final Fantasy 7 developed for it. Or Metal Gear solid. Or Wipeout. The marketing campaigns for titles like those alone would’ve put most PC game development budgets to shame. I can remember plenty of TV ads for games from the Playstation era. I can’t really remember any for PC games around the same time.

      Between constant goalpost shifting and your simple refusal to address anything I actually posted, there isn’t really much I can say here. If you do address some of what I’ve said, then fine, if not, then there isn’t much left to discuss.

    • Jimbo says:

      I’m not moving the goalposts at all. I said “engine” because that’s what I meant. I said “look up the best-selling PC games” because that’s what I meant. I don’t think I engaged you in your console sale discussion at any point, because it was simply irrelevant to anything I had said and to the discussion at hand. If you want to take me to task on my position then it’s your concern to make sure you’re responding to what I actually said, and not just what you thought I said.

      “Dragon Age, Mass Effect series, Left 4 Dead series, Half-Life episodes, Dawn of War series, Company of Heroes titles, Civilisation series, Total War series, Team Fortress 2, Portal, Battlefield series, Starcraft 2, Supreme Commander 2, The Witcher, Bioshock series, Crysis series, Trine, Shattered Horizon, Penumbra series, Alpha Protocol, Dead Space, Batman Arkham Asylum, Devil May Cry 4″

      Not a whole lot besides console scraps to show for ’08, ’09 and ’10 then? I think we must just have very different ideas about what a healthy PC market looks like.

  2. Mister, Please says:

    Jakub Dvorský told Gamasutra that 85% to 95% of all Machinarium players pirated the game. The sale is what he calls a pirate redemption initiative to buy it anyway.

    • Dhatz says:

      yea, there are news in Czech republic that it’s at “amnesty” prices. Still I don’t think the piracy is lower than 97%(no DRM). Nothing brings me back to ancient genre of adventure games, so not my problem anyway.

  3. Xercies says:

    Hmm people pirated machinarium? Well i didn’t know that…its one of the lovliest point and click games i have played and a load of the puzzles in it make me feel smart…especially the ones at the start unfortunatly it does go a bit in adventure game logic near the end.

    Though if this is a great era of PC Gaming then it must mean I have totally gone off it because nothing at the moment is catching my eye really and i can’t really be bothered to get any.

    Also how replayable is GSB, I played the demo and i thought that it wasn’t all that replayable and i kind f got bored after awhile. Does the DLC add anything to this problem?

    • Xercies says:

      I only pirate when 1)Its a decent game but it has DRM, unfortunatly Anno 1404 was one of these games…i would have so loved to have bought it but I just cannot justify spending money on DRM crap or 2) There isn’t a demo or a decent demo of it out there. Machinarium had a decent demo so i didn’t feel the need to pirate and just got the game. Indies seem to be pretty good on the demo front anyway. But things like metro 2033 I pirated to find out what the game was like…didn’t like it so i unistalled my pirated copy.

      They may still make me on the grey side of life but I have to say those two are i think good reasons to pirate. But i do know there are people out there that will pirate everything so *shrug* I know i’m not helping anything.

    • FunkyBadger says:

      Not liking DRM is a piss-poor excuse to pirate things.

    • Rich says:

      I accept his second reason though.
      Wish I’d pirated Empire: Total War.

      Well OK Empire had a demo, which worked. The full game however…

    • Xercies says:

      @Funkybadger

      I personnaly think it is…if its the horrible DRM like limited activations and always online for no apprant reason. Anno 1404 had this because of ubisoft and it truly is a shame because genuinly i love that game but I just don’t want to buy and further a system where i have to be punished for buying a game, because thats what DRM is punishing the legitimate users while the pirates can go around the system and have that removed.

      Plus i believ that when we buy things we own it and hate hate anyone that says that actually it is mine even once you have bought it and i can do whatever you want. i also believe in privacy and the human rights system.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Xercies

      Actually Anno 1404′s DRM was removed, the base game is DRM-free at this point. You’ll want to avoid the Venice expansion, which still has limited installs, and has a huge save game corruption problem not present in the base game anyway. Neither version of 1404 ever had always-online DRM.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Xercies

      To clarify: Boxed copies of Anno 1404 have had their DRM removed by patching. Some of the online versions still have limited installs for some reason.

    • Xercies says:

      @Vinraith

      Thank you for that information…definitly getting that game then. I had Anno 1404 on a previous computer but didn’t put it on this one. But hearing that, that is great news. One of my favourite games of 2009

    • FunkyBadger says:

      Xercies: I agree with you up to a point – I’m never going to buy an always-on internet connection DRM game (not going to pirate one either), but expandig that to all DRM, like say a disk-check, would be silly.

      As for your railing against Software-as-a-service, you may well be right, but you’re being terribly naive. Have you looked at Microsoft terms and conditions recently?

    • Xercies says:

      Oh now i understand you, and yeah saying all DRM is evil is stupid..i personnaly don’t mind disk check and activation keys myself. I usually say DRM as the big evil DRM i don’t know what i would call that minor DRM because i definitly think there should be a distinction lol

    • Wulf says:

      It’s a shame that Machinarium was pirated. It’s so lovely, they deserve to be paid for it, and it’s been in a bunch of good sales.

      Personally, I was so pleased with Machinarium that I even picked up the (affordably inexpensive) Collector’s Edition DVD, which is something that I recommend to any Machinarium/Amanita fans. It’s amusing that the first Amazon review there defines it as ‘a work of art’, because it really is, snooty/snotty definitions of art be damned!

      Really, Machinarium is one of those sorts of games that comes along once in a blue moon, unexpectedly and pleasingly unique in a lot of ways. Even down to playing a mini-side scrolling blaster to unlock hints when needed, that was marvelous. I could see it not selling well though, sadly. It is strange, and an adventure game, and not hugely marketed.

      I think the average person these days expects something good to be familiar (boring), well marketed, and… well, one of the huge genres that get milked every week. Machinarium was none of those things. That, of course, didn’t stop it from being absolutely glorious. I hope they make enough money off of it to make future ventures worthwhile, because I definitely want to see more of that.

    • skalpadda says:

      Oh thanks Wulf, I had no idea it was that cheap. Bought :)

    • Tei says:

      Open Source games are “pirated” too. This means that even if something is free AND gratis, it will be pirated. Pirating networks are networks, and for some reason some people use only these networks to download games.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Xercies

      Happy to help. Anno 1404 is a brilliant little game. Venice is a nice add-on, too, I just dearly wish they’d patch out the DRM and the bugs so that more people could enjoy it properly.

  4. MD says:

    Buy Machinarium! It’s one of the best games I’ve ever played.

    • subedii says:

      I can’t, I already bought it in a different indie bundle.

  5. Vandelay says:

    I agree with Lewie, this is a great time for PC gaming and gaming in general. There is obviously a lot of money to be had in pumping out the dreary sequel or another Gears of War-esque shooter, but mixed up amongst the dross is some really inventive and intelligent stuff. I feel that now is an exciting time to be part of gaming, where the medium is really maturing in a lot of ways.

    • Wulf says:

      What games are you looking forward to, on the horizon? I’m not doubting you, I’m just worried that I might have missed something. To my mind, the current line-up looks fairly bleak, barring one title I really want and a couple of others that I might. I’ve seen the intelligence and brilliance of the past, but I’m not seeing it in what’s to come.

      Again, this isn’t doubt, this is just… what might I have missed? I always remain hopeful.

    • jaheira says:

      @ Wulf

      Depends on how far away your horizon is. For me: Amnesia- The Dark Descent, Mafia 2, Civ V, and Elemental are the ones that immediately spring to mind.

      Lewie is right, I’ve been PC gaming for more than 15 years and this is about a good a period as we’ve ever had.

    • Armyofnone says:

      Let me throw in Natural Selection 2, Super Meat Boy, the inevitable starcraft II expansion/standalones, Dragon Age 2, Mass Effect 3, more updates to Dwarf Fortress, and the next game by Dejobaan into that list, off the top of my head. PC Gaming is as glorious as ever!

    • Armyofnone says:

      Oh! And Rock of Ages looks rather exciting. Plus whichever game’s being made by Icefrog there behind Valve’s closed doors.

    • Vandelay says:

      Add Portal 2 and The Witcher 2 to those lists and you have pretty much what I was thinking of.

      These bargain buckets are also a great example of why PC gaming in particular is so exciting. Barely a week goes by where there isn’t at least one game I can buy from the picks and most of those are from the last 2 or 3 years. I’ve bought many more games in the past couple of years then I ever have before.

    • HawksOfSavilleRow says:

      Off the top of my head:

      Diablo 2
      SOTS 2
      Victoria 2
      Magna mundi (stand-alone)
      Elemental
      Civ 5
      Deus ex 3
      Rock of ages
      Amnesia
      Bloodbowl, legendary ed (never picked up the first)
      Witcher 2
      Two world 2 (I know)
      40k space marine
      The new AI war expansion

      And more…

    • Vinraith says:

      I’ll throw New Vegas in there too, to the gnashing of teeth, but most of my top list that I can recall has already been mentioned. In particular, the new AI War expansion, Elemental, Civ 5, Amnesia, and SotS 2 are all must-buys for me, and this is ignoring the inevitable pile of brilliant indie games I’ve never heard of. It’s another fall where there are more games I want than I can afford or have time to play (because, by and large, I’m still playing games from last year and the year before trying to catch up, AI War alone is practically eating my life right now and I haven’t even started in on Minecraft yet) and as long as that keeps happening I’m not going to be concerned about the state of PC gaming.

    • Wulf says:

      @Armyofnone

      Hmmm. I’m of two minds about rock of ages, but I do adore the aesthetic. The only worry I have is that it might be a one-trick pony, and could outstay its welcome. It’ll depend on how varied it is.

      Still, I am intrigued by it and I’ll continue to follow it.

      @Vandelay

      Hm. Portal looks like it’s going to be fun to play, that’s for sure. I’m not that excited about it being an entirely new experience though, with it being a sequel. As is true of all sequels, really.

      It’s something I’m going to play, but not something I’m actually excited about. Well, not yet, anyway. That may change.

      @Vinraith

      Ooh. You know, that’s actually a good call. New Vegas keeps slipping off my mental radar and I don’t know why. I find this somewhat irritating as of all games recently it seems the most likely to have a screw loose.

      I feel I should be more hyped about New Vegas than I am. I’m not quite sure why I’m not. I have to think on this to figure it out. Still, New Vegas should be one game I’m eager to play.

      So yes, consider New Vegas to be on my radar.

  6. Gurrah says:

    Anyone who enjoys Tower Defense games should get Immortal Defense, it’s such a fantastic game and at that price it’s really not a question of yes or no.

    • Butterbumps says:

      Agreed, I bought it at full price, and it was well worth it. It’s a pretty interesting take on tower defense too, in that it requires more active participation after placing your towers than most examples I’ve played, so it might be worth a look even if the genre doesn’t usually appeal. I think there’s a free demo/shareware type thing?

    • dadioflex says:

      There’s an iPod/iPhone Tower Defense game whose name currently escapes me, where it’s almost impossible to finish levels from quite early on, without selling existing defences to buy new ones closer to the end goal. I had this impression that Tower Defence played a particular way – you lay the towers down and that was that, but this was more dynamic requiring you to marshall your resrouces agressively.

  7. Will says:

    I never played Machinarium, but I also never pirated it – so now I feel strange buying it, “I’m not a pirate!” I want to say to them at the checkout.

  8. roBurky says:

    Immortal Defense is very very good.

    • John Peat says:

      ID is certainly very interesting and it’s style is truly unique (and it’s demo is long and fullsome!!)

    • Stompywitch says:

      It’s certainly the wierdest TD game I’ve ever played. Pleasant, but absolutely insane.

    • Casimir's Blake says:

      ID has been out for ages, has it taken RPS this long to notice it?

  9. bill says:

    Gamersgate summer sale!
    Week 1 is RPGS – witcher for about 5 quid. And loads of others…

  10. MedO says:

    > Jakub Dvorský told Gamasutra that 85% to 95% of all Machinarium players pirated the game.
    Just to reiterate a point I already made back when 2D Boy corrected their piracy figures: The difference between 85% and 95% is HUGE. If the actual figure is 95% instead of 85%, it means there are over three times as many people who pirated the game .

    Shame on them of course, the game is incredibly good.

  11. IncredibleBulk92 says:

    Bought Gratuitous Space Battles this week and it’s one of the best games I’d never heard of. Everyone try the demo immediately. It’s a space combat strategy game where you carefully design your ships, formation and orders before just letting them go and watching the carnage unfold. It’s great fun

    • Fumarole says:

      It’s a pretty safe bet that anyone who visits RPS knows all about GSB. Hi cliffski!

  12. well says:

    i’m tempted to buy Machinarium but the implication that everyone who hasn’t already done so must be a pirate is putting me off

    • LewieP says:

      I don’t think that that’s the implication at all.

      I think they are saying “If you did pirate it, no hard feelings”, for everyone else, it is just a discount.

    • John Peat says:

      I know where well is coming from with this – I like a bargain as much as the next guy but there’s a taste of “here’s a deal for you SCUMS” about their offering.

      They also seem to have slightly missed the fact people paid 4-6 times as much for their game and those people might be a little upset by finding the game offered much cheaper to everyone else – to the extent they decide to pirate the next game at launch and wait for the cheapo sale on that.

      Developers – people will always pirate games and you aren’t ‘entitled’ to their money no matter how much you moan and groan about it or how much you cut prices.

      My suggestion is you release your game at a pricepoint which seems fair given the entertainment involved/the money you need to recoup and just work with that instead of grumbing about something YOU CANNOT CHANGE!

    • Auspex says:

      Anyone who pirates their next game because they’re angry Machinarium has been discounted nearly 10 months after its original release is an idiot.

    • trjp says:

      and you throwing insults won’t change the fact that piracy is much more complicated and that patronising (or insulting) people isn’t going to help matters any…

      If the developers want to release the game ‘cheap’ – that’s lovely and I thank them for that, but please don’t insult your existing customers or future customers by implying that they’re pirates – in fact it would probably be best if you ignored piracy in the way pirates ignore your attempts to sell games, really.

    • Auspex says:

      I don’t think it’s patronising (or insulting) to suggest someone is foolish for not paying for a game because a previous one was discounted long after release. Regardless of the reason for the discount.

      I also think it’s foolish to be offended by what appears to be, primarily, a whimsical attention-grabbing sale. There’s a picture of a robot wearing an eye patch and a pirate hat in a rubber ring advertising it for goodness sake.

      You may not be an idiot but vowing to never buy a game because the previous game was on sale at some point /is/ an idiotic thing to do.

    • Urael says:

      trjp, think of it this way. I bought Fallout 3 GOTY edition for a tenner not too long ago – original game and all DLC. Does that mean that everyone who bought it full price should now blaze off and pirate the very next game they were going to purchase? Of course not. So Machinarium was only released a few months ago, big deal. If you want the game when it comes it out so you can partake of the buzz and chat with your mates about it you pay the asking price – if you can wait until it becomes cheaper, missing all that but getting it at a reduced rate that’s entirely your choice.

    • Wulf says:

      If I may?

      Here is an observation: All games get discounted a couple of months after their release. Most games get discounted heavily to the point of almost being free.

      What we have here is a discount. The pirate stuff? Spin. It’s a clever marketing ploy, and they aren’t the first to do it. 2DBoy went on about piracy figures right before offering a Pay What You Want deal, that these two things happened right after one another can’t be a coincidence. I’m sure it racks up sales, too.

      Then you have the Humble Indie Bundle, discounted, but I actually like this one the best. Wolfire always seemed to push the right buttons in my head though. I loved that they were going open source after that and everything. If most indie games offered to go open source after meeting a certain profit point, they’d probably see a greater interest with funds, but I digress.

      I feel the point might’ve got lost in all this exposition though, so I’ll try to bring this together. To play a game early is a privilege, and one you pay for. You can pay a little less buy paying before you actually get to play the game, but the quicker you want to play it, the more you have to pay. There are those, like myself, who paid much more months ago to play Machinarium early on.

      You’re paying as much for the right to play the game quickly as you are to play the game period. Therefore you can’t really be sore. If you’d have waited, you could’ve taken part in this deal too, or in every deal that seems to occur after a game becomes so old. You paid to play it when it was brand new, and those who paid less had to wait longer, it’s as simple as that.

      Then you have piracy, but piracy shouldn’t really come into this. Piracy is going to happen anyway, and I don’t even know if a deal like this will even get pirates to pay up, I honestly have my doubts. But ask yourself: What’s going to get your game mentioned on news sites? A generous discount, or an amnesty to pirates? It’s shrewd, and now that I understand the nature of that beast, it doesn’t bother me at all.

      Those who haven’t played Machinarium yet could take advantage of this discount, as it is a lovely game.

    • Wulf says:

      Further musings…

      I think I like Wolfire so much because I get this strange vibe from them. It’s completely understandable (if often intolerable) that to a large company, you are a walking wallet. That’s it. Hi wallet; I’m going to eat your insides! Prey, as such, which is interesting. However, with certain developers, I get the feeling that they are entertainers, and perhaps this is where the core notion of games as a service comes from.

      With Wolfire, the vibe I get isn’t that I’m a wallet, but rather that I’m a person. Indeed, I’m a person, they like me, and they want to entertain me. I feel far more an equal with them than I do with a lot of people who happen to be providing me with something for money. I also think that this is how you’re going to see the best results in sales, more so than any other kind of approach or spin.

      Interestingly, I get this vibe from Notch too. Those here who play Minecraft, do you read his blog? You should. You really, really should. In fact, I’m going to link Notch’s blog right now! I’ll request a momentary aside here, as I wish to derail my own post. I like Minecraft, I loved the creative mode because I could make things, and the Survival mode has charm because of the blocky nature of everything. I should’ve mentioned it in my first post, way above, but forgot to.

      I do have this feeling though that I might not like Minecraft as much if the community element wasn’t there. Notch is like… hmm. He’s like a well-loved King of his Kingdom, that Kingdom being Minecraft. And he’s an entertainer as well, he’s great at that, but he’s also a listener. This is all evident from his posts and patch notes. He’s frequently funny, he’ll try and make you laugh, and if you express some disappointment about an element of Minecraft (even a broken logo), he’ll invariably get around to fixing it.

      For those who can’t be quite so close to their core audience, they have to use other methods to raise awareness of their games. Those methods might, at times, be perhaps a bit sensationalist. It’s interesting what 2DBoy have recently done with their Corporation of Something site, it’s silly, and it’s designed to entertain. It looks like they’ve taken a gander at what Wolfire is doing and decided to take a leaf out of their pamphlet.

      I think we might eventually see more of this kind of thing as developers begin to realise that befriending their potential audience rather than alienating them on any level might get them more sales. Interestingly and perhaps a little on the devil’s advocate side of things, I’d think that the Wolfire/Notch approach would convince more pirates to part with their money than the Amanita approach.

    • Wulf says:

      ONE MOAR THING! /uncle

      Lots of thoughts in my head, today.

      It isn’t only indies doing this, either. I can think of at least one larger company that tends to lean toward the friends-over-prey approach: ArenaNet. I say this because noteworthy ANet people post on the non-ANet hosted community forums, they make frequent blog posts, some surprisingly informal, and there’s just generally a more convivial feel about the proceedings.

      I’m especially pleased by how they tease, both on forums, with interviews, and their blog info releases. Their pride in their work comes through, and I can’t help but like them. I’m familiar with most of them too, they all like yapping and have done so at various times. It was nice to see even Jeff Grub yapping about his book (really liked that book), and it was insightful.

      Amusingly, Isaiah (their profession balance person) even addressed himself as ‘Izzy’ in one blog post, which is pretty much what everyone calls him. And I like that familiarity, it’s pleasing. I really want to see more developers doing that instead of being aloof and distant.

    • Vague-rant says:

      I don’t see the need to call the sale “pirate amnesty” to be honest. It’s probably not earning them any extra sales (possibly publicity though?). On the other hand its not exactly an insult and it seems overly touchy to think of it as such.

      Also Wulf, I think we also see Irrational Games trying to do something like that with their blog thingy and podcasts. Isn’t the evolution of a stronger relationship between developer and consumer signs of a golden age of gaming? (Golden age is a little strong but its not exactly bad. I swear there’s inevitably a constant background of drivel with some shining examples at all times)

    • Wulf says:

      “Isn’t the evolution of a stronger relationship between developer and consumer signs of a golden age of gaming?”

      Is it? I have to differentiate here between a golden age (as in: we are experiencing one), and the potential for a golden age. That a few developers are doing this shows signs of potential, but for me, it isn’t anywhere near a golden age, yet. Gaming has become drab and dull, and only a few developers are actually bothering to do this.

      Does it mean that we’ll experience a boom and a golden age perhaps 3-5 years down the line? That’s what I find more realistic, what we’re seeing now are the progenitors, or the precursors, if you like, of a golden age to come. There are those today who are creating genuinely interesting games, and treating their customers like people. Wolfire, Notch, and ArenaNet are all doing this, as I’m intrigued by both their offerings and their approach, but as of now it’s the exception rather than the rule.

      It is an ongoing evolution, but as nature has shown us, humanity has a propensity to snap back into the old, the familiar, and the comfortable rather than the bold, brave, new, and decidedly better. Humanity, as a whole, is morbidly terrified of change. Some days I wonder if I have some kind of undocumented mental illness with how much I crave change by comparison, but I digress.

      A golden age could happen, one filled with interesting games and equally interesting and approachable people making them, that is the potential, and I suppose that’s the dream. Or my dream, at least. I’m hopeful that this will one day soon be the reality as well, or I wouldn’t be here. Still, it’s not the reality today. Not for me. But one day soon? Maybe. Live in hope and all that.

      So I sit, I wait, and I watch with mild interest. I’m gaming’s bloody Uatu.

  13. Dzamir says:

    Gorky 17 it’s a really great game!

    • mlaskus says:

      Yes it is. Definitely a highlight of today’s bargain bucket for me.

  14. BAReFOOt says:

    You’re kidding right?

    The deal of the week this week has a strong (positive) anti-pirate message attached to it, and I think that the excuses that anyone use to justify piracy are dwindling. There’s not really much reason to pirate PC games these days, pretty much anyone who can afford a computer can afford to take part in the international network of shared experiences that make up PC gaming.

    I’m seriously shocked, that you don’t only support the perverse delusion of “IP” and FUD words like “pirate” that are usually just spread by criminals from the media reproduction and artist extortion mafia, or complete noobs, but even support it. Who threatens you? Because normally you seem like a very intelligent person, and I can’t imagine someone like you falling for such blatant and mentally ill lies.

    Listen, information/ideas/data is not a physical object. Hence it can not be sold, stolen, owned, or controlled once passed on. And if it’s not passed on, it can not be proven to exist.
    So logically, the business models used by the mafia and some poor souls, is inherently deeply wrong. But like any good delusion, it tries to protect its existence. Because else everyone of them would look like the idiot he is.

    I’m with the Pirate Party. And my goal is, to make asking money for non-physical objects illegal, and punishable as fraud. You can demand money for the service that software development actually is. Or for a medium or e.g. a chair. You can even demand money for information that nobody else but you has (for that price). But you can not demand money for information that you already passed on and that that other person has no incentive in not giving away cheaper (e.g. free). You can ask. But he can say no. And that is his good right, because it is based on something the whole “industry” seems to not know: REALITY.

    • jalf says:

      @Barefoot: and the money to develop, say, Starcraft 2 then comes from where, exactly? Donations? Or this one first sale, when “no one else” has the game data, after which it becomes legal to charge for it?

      You’re kidding, right?

      There is a middle road between “DRM everywhere and IP holders control your lives in every detail”, and “I want everything for free, and game developers are my slaves who are going to develop games for me forever for no compensation.

      That middle road is called “reality”. You should try visiting it some day.

    • Auspex says:

      I think BAREeFOOT is one of those properly mental people who has realised (quite sensibly) that that existing copyright law and the actions and behaviour of companies such as Warner Bros. is unfair.

      However many of these people go bat-shit insane and get absolutely FURIOUS when companies starting charging for things. With /money/!

      It’s a bit sad that a supposed pirate “amnesty” still seems to infuriate some people.

    • Bhazor says:

      Worst thing in the PC games industry? Self Righteous Pirates.

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      I stopped reading as soon as I saw the non-word ‘FUD’ and phrase ‘perverse delusion of IP’. This insufferable attitude tends to be fostered by people who have never created anything worth being compensated for in their lives. Thankfully it tends to dissolve once they do, or more commonly, when they get a real job.

    • cliffski says:

      Barefoot. your bank balance is just information, not a physical obejct either. No obejctions if we arbitrarily set it to zero? or negative 50,000?
      I suspect you might object to that.
      Own your house? Says who? A piece of paper? thats just information too. Your salary is just information too, unelss you get paid in gold bullion.

      See how information is suddenly worthwhile if its something you worked hard to create?

      Also, congrats, YOU are the reason DRM exists.

    • Bhazor says:

      I recently travelled to an alternate dimension, as is my wont, to see similar debates.
      “Policing is such a con, it’s just a guy standing there in one spot and then getting paid. There’s no physical object being created so why should he expect to be paid”
      “Books are just made of letters in a sequence! NOBODY CAN OWN LETTER!S SO CAN THESE MAFIOSAS EXPECT TO BE PAID WHEN I COULD JUST THOSE SAME LETTERS AND RITE THE BOOK MYSELF!!!”
      “How can people pay photographers? All they’re doing is putting light in a box at a specific moment. They don’t own those photons!”

    • Andreas says:

      I hate your kind.

      Seriously. If you people had any sort of power, we’d be so ridiculously backwards it’s utterly pathetic to even think about. Private property is the only incentive we’ve ever managed to cobble together that’s makes every individual work for everybody else whilst working for himself. And you want to take it away. Absolutely mental.

    • jalf says:

      @cliffski: Not quite: As much as I agree with the rest of your post, the reason DRM exists isn’t pirates. It is the belief that “if we prevent piracy, we’ll get more sales”. The reason DRM exists rests on the other side of the fence, with the executives and publishers and IP holders.

      Piracy doesn’t automatically lead to DRM. That only happens if people get the rather naive idea that “these people would certainly fork over $50 to me if I prevented them from playing my game for free”

      The rest of your post is spot on though. :)

    • TenjouUtena says:

      This is kind of like the argument that the Police causes criminals. Because if no one was out catching criminals in the act, there would be no criminals. Criminals wouldn’t take people hostage if the police wasn’t after them. etc. etc. etc.

      In a technical sense, you are correct. Pirates don’t actually write the DRM. Just like alarm systems aren’t designed and installed by criminals. But Criminals are the primary cause of Alarm Systems, just like pirates are the primary cause of DRM.

      Many types of DRM are effective against piracy, either directly or indirectly. Look at online games, such as Starcraft 2, where sure, I know you can pirate it for the single player, and maybe to hack it to connect to a free battle.net where you might even not get a virus. But I’ll bet a ton of people bought it just for the code that lets you play online, officially, with everyone else.

    • Xercies says:

      @Barefoot

      I pirate games but have to say your argument is frankly redicolous to be honest…I don’t think its even an argument really its just a ridicolous statement to make. Things even digital things take money to create…some people want to get back this money so they can live a decent life or even live doing what they love best making games/film/whatever.

      Sure the big companies are a little bit horrible sometimes but I just don’t buy from them and complain about them. uness they have DRM and I truly want the game i will not pirate the game simple as that. Some people say theres no morality in it I like to say that i have a system whether i pirate games or whatever. But people like you who think everything digital should be free because of a silly argument are totally insane. And actually not helping!

    • ReV_VAdAUL says:

      The IP argument is an interesting one because in a lot of cases with entertainment media the people who are creative don’t get the long term royalties, in the article we saw yesterday iron lore had ceased to exist and THQ was still making money form Titan Quest. With films you get extreme examples with Hollywood Accounting http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hollywood_accounting where New Line are refusing to pay actors their cut of the profits because apparently the LOTR films weren’t successful.

      Of course one can then argue that that money still goes (at least in part) to funding new stuff but this stuff is generally profit lead rather than creative lead content. Look at the Infinity Ward guys, they the most financially successful game ever made, were denied the money they were owed from the project and in the end heading back to EA who they’d left in the first place due to disagreement. If creative and successful people on their scale can’t branch off on their own but simply have to switch between one faceless corp and another one has to wonder what the benefits of current IP laws to creativity are.

      Also @cliffski please stop pretending piracy and theft are the same thing. Say I steal a DVD copy of GSB from the shop, I have deprived the shop of not only the profit of the sale but also the ability to make a sale with that physical copy because it no longer exists. However if I were to pirate GSB via bit torrent say then I would have only deprived you of (your rightfully owed) payment for the product, I haven’t prevented you from selling a unit, I haven’t cost you bandwidth or anything else.

      Neither piracy nor theft are good things but they are different things.

    • StormTec says:

      I’m with the Pirate Party. And my goal is, to make asking money for non-physical objects illegal, and punishable as fraud.

      You know, I’m fairly sure that isn’t what that particular party stands for…

    • TenjouUtena says:

      People really need to stop pretending that piracy and theft aren’t the same thing. Much of what we buy is the information contained within the designs of whatever it is. If you have a car, would you be just as happy as if I melted it all into metal and plastic slag? I haven’t stolen anything from you, but you’d still be pretty hot. People don’t steal cars for the metal (usually). They steal them because it’s a car. Or a TV, or a computer.

      A DVD costs like $0.30 or something to actually manufacture, and probably another dollar to distribute and shelf The majority of what you are buy or stealing is the expert information contained within. Just because you haven’t deprived someone of raw materials doesn’t make anything less theft.

      Sure, we can invent a different word if you like. But in the end, it’s more or less the same action.

    • Archonsod says:

      “@cliffski please stop pretending piracy and theft are the same thing. Say I steal a DVD copy of GSB from the shop, I have deprived the shop of not only the profit of the sale but also the ability to make a sale with that physical copy because it no longer exists. However if I were to pirate GSB via bit torrent say then I would have only deprived you of (your rightfully owed) payment for the product, I haven’t prevented you from selling a unit, I haven’t cost you bandwidth or anything else.”

      So by your argument, I can steal your car for the night and just leave it somewhere when I’m finished with it, and that’s perfectly fine because I haven’t actually stopped you using your car.

      There’s a reason they define theft as taking something to which you are not entitled rather than by the effect on the victim …

    • RobF says:

      “People really need to stop pretending that piracy and theft aren’t the same thing.”

      No-one is pretending. They’re simply not the same thing and no amount of terrible analogies will make them the same thing.

    • Wulf says:

      Really liked ReV’s comment, quite level-headed.

      Also: “No-one is pretending. They’re simply not the same thing and no amount of terrible analogies will make them the same thing.”

      This is true, and I always find it baffling how people manage to confuse the two. The prime factor of theft is scarcity, if a thief removes something, it’s physically gone. However, in this age of digital distribution, cheap bandwidth, and almost endless data storage, everyone can take a copy of something. And the data will always be there for someone else to take a copy of, too.

      This is not the same, to say, as breaking into someone’s house and taking the family heirlooms, or even the same as clearing out a supermarket of all of its food under the cover of night. To reverse the angles here a bit, I’d even say that the true theft is charging £40-50 for a digital download, since money is scarce. Or at least my money is. That’s real theft right there.

      Thank goodness for Steam sales.

      Not condoning piracy, I haven’t pirated anything for a good decade, as these days I understand that if I desire to own something, it’s worth making my donation of monetary funds to the creators in order to encourage them to create more, which I am more than happy to do so long as they aren’t price-gouging. In that case I’m more than happy to walk away and completely forget about the game.

      Wisdom of age, I suppose.

    • ReV_VAdAUL says:

      @TenjouUtena and @Archonsod Deliberate obtuseness aside your arguments do not even address the assertion I was making. Piracy is making a copy of a thing so the owner still has it. If you had a super futuristic 3D printer and made a copy of my car and drove off that would be piracy. In your examples you are stealing and dumping my car or stealing and committing vandalism upon my car.

      Also you are referring to theft of personal property which is entirely different from the nature of the piracy = theft debate. Copying my car from me would like sharing your MP3 collection with a friend. To use your terrible analogy in terms of cars then the people losing out from you copying of my car would be the designers and distributors whose Intellectual Property had been acquired without then being given recompense.

      Physical products and Intellectual products are inherently different. To pirate you deprive the creator (well usually the company that owns trademark over a device someone else created) of payment for the use of the fruits of their labours. To steal is to deprive someone of a physical product so all the money invested in them (be it a few pounds getting a DVD made and then distributed to stores which adds up over thousands of units) is lost, in this case the ability to profit from IP is directly tied into the physical product being sold.

      So just to make it especially clear, only use a car analogy if you can create an example where a) the original vehicle still exists in the condition it always did with the original owner and b) addresses a scenario in which retail rather than personal property is involved.

    • Wulf says:

      Completely agree, ReV. The argument is silly, and it makes the people who propose the argument look even sillier. Acquiring a digital copy of something is the equivalent of stealing someone’s bottle of wine (cliffski’s example)? That’s ludicrous.

      Now, they could instead make this argument: It’s not the taking that’s the issue, it’s the not paying. What I provide is a service, my time and effort coding. What I provide is the fruits of my labour, and in exchange for those fruits, I expect monetary compensation. If you take, then I would like you to leave me the requested payment, quid pro quo, for my work. If you don’t do that then you’re not allowing me the funds I require in order to live and develop further games.

      That is, by far, a more valid argument. If a person isn’t capable of paying then the argument is redundant, whether they took or not, but if a person enjoyed the fruits of the developer’s labour and could pay, but chose not to, then they are in the wrong.

    • TenjouUtena says:

      I love how you can call my analogy terrible by fiat. (Haha car pun)

      How about I steal your car, then I leave you an equal amount of metal, plastic, etc. in it’s place? I haven’t actually taken anything from you. You still have all the material! All I have taken is the information contained within the unit! Surely you won’t get mad over that?

      I do see a difference, I will admit. But pretending like it is _less bad_ to copy an MP3 or game than it is to steal a car is wrong. You are in both cases interested in the information contained within a unit, and denying sales. I did give a retail example, the DVD.. The retailer can get another DVD to sell. Retailers get a loss allowance from distributors.. the idea that things will be damaged or stolen is built into the contract. You have effectively cost the retailer nothing (or next to nothing) by lifting the DVD. Except in the narrow case where a person five second later was going to buy it, and you lifted the last one.

      Most people who make this argument are simply trying to justify stealing. And if you think both are bad, why even defend the pirates? Sitting here and arguing pure semantics is just pointless. My point, as cliff’s was, is that it is (at least) _as bad as theft_. You are stealing.

      People use the term stealing in a lot of ways. People who say their livelyhood has been stolen, or that taxation is theft. My trying to defend this really narrow def’n where physical goods are physically lifted from someone seems silly to me.

      Besides, by what you are saying we are at least in violent agreement on some things. piracy is wrong, and it’s mostly as wrong as theft. You are still hurting people and denying them things in both instances.

    • Inno says:

      @Barefoot :: I admit I lol’d when I read your last line about reality because it’s clear from everything you wrote before it that you’re not living in it. I’m not gonna refute your claims though because where you’re coming from they kinda make sense. A little sense anyway because alot of is pretty contradictory. Though considering the wider implications of your view it actually might not be that bad of a reality, probably even an improvement. Maybe some day in the far far future..

    • Carra says:

      My Troll Alert flag is blood red.

      But in any case, I’ll just point out that if you and everyone else refuses to pay for software there won’t be much created. Why would I spend 40 hours a week programming when I’m not paid?

    • Dean says:

      @Archonsod

      The taking a car and then returning it is a brilliant example. For completely undermining your own point. In the UK, it’s obviously illegal to do that. But it’s not theft. Were you to report it to the police, and they caught the guy, he’d be charged with “taking without consent”. He would not be charged with theft, as to so the prosecution would have to show “intent to permanently deprive the owner”.

      There’s more here if you want references: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TWOC

      As for the reason this “piracy is/is not theft” thing keeps cropping up. It’s because people are taking a word and using it to describe something else. And annoyingly, the big companies keep pushing “piracy as theft” as a slogan, even though it’s a false claim. It’s all there in the Theft Act.

      Not a single person who pirated something has been convicted for theft in this country, for that offence. Because that’s not the crime. And it’s hugely important, especially in legal matters, to use the right words. So people can understand. The same way if someone feels a girl up in a public place: it’s awful, she’ll feel violated but at the same time she can’t say “I was raped” and argue “well it’s nearly the same thing”.

      Words have definitions for a reason. Stop trying to co-opt them and make them mean something else, just so you can equate two different crimes.

    • sinister agent says:

      I just have to add to this, because, basically, Lewie is pretty much right. I used to pirate games – not heavily, perhaps a few a year, maybe a dozen or twenty altogether since about 2005. I also got a pile of games from abandonware sites years back (admittedly, I never really played the majority of them, instead spending hours trying to get them to work, and then moving on to the next one after an hour or two of play. It was a weird time).

      The main reason I did this was price. Games were badly overpriced, even when quite old (and believe me, I’ve always been patient enough to wait for prices to drop naturally). Nowadays, that’s simply not the issue it was for most games, and with particular thanks to gog.com, I really can’t justify pirating games anymore. I’ve pirated one game since 2008, and I bought it two days later (I was basically waiting for payday). I’ve since bought almost every game I downloaded for free in the past (thanks, gog!), and for the one or two remaining, considered my historic grievances against various publishers settled.

      There’s very little justification left for PC piracy, plain and simple. Some of the attitudes of various publishers are still insulting and deeply stupid (only recently I spent six hours trying to play a legitimately bought copy of a game with broken DRM, and then gave up and searched for a crack that fixed it in under 3 minutes), but for those games you can just cross them off and play something else without the DRM if it’s an issue for you – there are plenty of alternatives now, and chances are that within a year or two, the game will be re-released somewhere else for cheaper, without the DRM.

      There are loads of issues around copyright and ‘intellectual property’ that need to be addressed by our society, and many laws and attitudes in need of reform. This isn’t limited to games at all. The idea that ideas should be free is compelling, but the notion that nothing digital should ever be paid for, ever, is so ridiculously absurd and unfair to apply to our society and our economy as it stands now, that I frankly object to any suggestion that it justifies piracy. It doesn’t.

      Games cost money to make. Even quite simple indie games require skills, equipment and time that cost money, and most people can’t afford to distribute games without covering their costs. It’s great that some can, and I love them for it, but for most it’s a dream. I am a dedicated cheapskate, but even I will not begrudge even a huge, bastardly publisher like EA a few quid to cover their costs and make them a small profit. Having ideals and radical ideas is excellent and I applaud that spirit, but applying those principles in a way that simply rips people off is, bluntly, shit. When the revolution comes, sure, I’ll consider the ‘free everything’ idea. It’s intriguing. But until then, I’ll risk a fiver for a game that someone worked their balls off for, then advertised, tech-supported and distributed/hosted. It’s hardly much for them to ask.

    • Archonsod says:

      @Rev “Also you are referring to theft of personal property which is entirely different from the nature of the piracy = theft debate”

      I know exactly what piracy is, the point of my analogy is that it makes no difference if you’re pirating a game, stealing a single penny off Bill Gates or murdering your neighbour, you are still breaking the law however you choose to rationalise it, and should be punished accordingly.

    • HawksOfSavilleRow says:

      @BAReFOOt
      Pirating has a great deal to answer for in the current state of the games industry, and has done at least as much as greed to destroy creativity and experimental/interesting output. I usually respect someones opinion that varies from mine, but frankly your view are nothing but destructive and harmful to decent people and serve no positive purpose. Utterly disgusting.

    • HawksOfSavilleRow says:

      Also @ the piracy/thievery argument. The act of piracy is to download a product without paying which the producer of said product intended to sell for money to feed and cloth himself and his family, and to have more money to make more and better products which make his costumers happy and him of the street.
      Arguing semantics and physical/digital legalese bullshit is irrelevant. If you steal a dvd from a shop, youre fucking over two parties, if you pirate a game, youre fucking over one party. I fail to see a difference.

    • randomindividual says:

      Okay, here’s the simple version that gets around all this BS and cuts to the actual core:

      If I had enough money so that I could afford everything I ever wanted in my life, I would not care about price tags nor even visit any “pirate site” even once. I’d just buy whatever I wanted, as I COULD.

      Flip this: However, if I do NOT have the means to buy whatever I want or AM MADE TO WANT (What is advertising? What is marketing? There’s never any discussion about whole industry branches existing solely for creating demand where there might naturally not be any or not as much. Where does this ethically reside? Not where in capitalistic logic, where in ETHICS.), but I can find a way to educate, entertain and fill my life further than a bleak emptyness while not damaging someone else in the process and with a risk/reward scenario that to me seems tilted to a beneficial outcome, then I will do so.

      That does not in turn mean one should increase punishment (piracy already gets harsher punishment than some actual people getting harmed physically crimes) until the risk/reward barrier keels over to infinity risk..it should mean that we need to recognize the consumption of cultural artefacts as something beneficial to an individual, and inside of a society, a furtherment of society as a whole.

      As a student, nobody can afford Maya, Photoshop et al. Yet some people pirate it, become proficient, and 5 years later become professionals solely BECAUSE they were excellent when working with these applications. Now they have an income, now they need it for their job, now they buy it.
      Where is the sodding problem?
      Or: someone listens to thousands of pirated songs in his young life, then ironically becomes a radio DJ, DJ, music critic, A&R person, band member, etc pp, i.e. a productive member of society due to it.
      Is this a 100% rule? Of course not. Education never is. But without EXPOSURE to culture and knowledge, you will never even have a chance at all of any positive development from this.

      All the piracy haters are so disturbingly narrowminded, it’s haunting. Their viewpoints seem to be strictly capitalistic: If you can’t afford knowledge or information due to your age, stage in life, social status or geolocation, well THEN YOU DON’T DESERVE TO BE CIVILIZED AND INFORMED AND THAT’S THAT.
      That’s the very factor that keeps on widening the social scissor between those that have and those that have not(there’s a proven correlation between educated parents having their children also getting same education degrees and vice versa and parallel to this between higher education and less likely and less prolonged unemployment), and all the anti-piracy shouters are doing is saying “We want the rich to stay rich and the poor to stay poor goshdarnit”.

      That may be a bit over the top socialist, but the basic logic elements(exposure to information leads to more skillsets with said information whereas restriction leads to lack thereof) holds true.
      And it’s of course about entitlement. Every human should be allowed to partake in the most basic elements of a society. Of knowledge, joy, arts and enjoying life.
      This doesn’t mean we should de-incentivise creating all this culture.

      It just means we shouldn’t ferociously fight for withholding it from those that cannot afford it so that they stay dumb.
      Because if they eventually DO hop their social hurdle and make it to the next step, they suddenly can contribute where they could not.

      All the anti-piracy rampaging is doing is putting more spikes on the hurdles and glaring down on those people to stay where they are.

      I for one know for sure that if it weren’t for pirated high-end application availability I would never have gotten to the PC / IT skills I possess today and never have been able to work some of the jobs I did, nor help the friends with PC troubles I did, etc pp.

      So this is my personal opinion.

    • Xercies says:

      @Randomindividual

      /clap

      Just beutiful that is great entirly agree and nothing more to eb said really. i wouldn’t be able to do my work without my pirated copy of the really overpriced Maya…so i wouldn’t get a job. That piracy actually is benfiting THE WHOLE FRIKING DAMN COUNTRY!

      Also now i want to get into my thing.

      Second Hand Gaming=Stealing. yes your not physically stealing ti since your paying mone but none of that money is going to the devloper so yeah it is stealing. Its exactly the same as piracy..it really is your getting a product and no money is going to the devloper..the money may go somewhere but the store doesn’t care about that game they only see the profit.

      Yet we hold second hand gaming as more ethical then piracy…why? No really i want to know why. Many publishers hate second hand gaming for good reason…there not being paid for there livlyhoods while people are getting there game. Yet its not as big as piracy. Why?

    • DrGonzo says:

      I’m not agreeing with him here at all. BUT people seem to be very opposed to the idea that one day we may progress past ownership and money. I’m all for that, Star Trek future FTW!

      But again, he is wrong and it is perfectly justified to charge for what you have created and want ownership of it.

    • DrGonzo says:

      I hadn’t read randomindividuals post before I posted. He summed it up rather nicely.

      Also, someone previously stated that breaking the law should be punished or something along those lines. I could not disagree more, but it’s probably easy to believe that when most of your favourite hobbies/past-times aren’t illegal.

      I believe that if something harms another individual it should be punished. As our society is currently set up piracy harms others. However, taking drugs does not harm another individual. The only reason it possibly could is because it is illegal therefore proper standards cannot be applied to the producing, shipping and distribution of those drugs.

    • sinister agent says:

      @ randomindividual

      Just to say, I appreciate and basically agree with everything you just said. I’d add that both the “Piracy is brilliant and always right, boo evil games/music people forever” and “all piracy is always wrong, evil crime, you monstrous scum” camps are equally tiresome.

      I’m also pretty much living proof of the concept that over time, at least some people who pirate games will give the industry a significant net profit.

  15. jalf says:

    @John Peat: Are you seriously suggesting that games should never be discounted?
    Why would people be upset that they paid more for the game? It happens with virtually every game: it is released at one price, and then X months later, they announce a sale, and you can get it much cheaper. I don’t think there’s anything earth-shattering in that, and if this upsets people, I can’t really say I have much sympathy. Maybe they just need to grow up then.

    You may even have noticed that these so-called “sales” aren’t exclusive to games. Every industry has them. Buy two, pay for one, 20% off, 50% off this week, it happens everywhere.

    Face it. Deal with it.

    About the “implication that everyone who buys now is a pirate”, they already said in the comments on their announcement page that this deal is for *everyone*, whether or not you’re a pirate. They’re not implying anything (although I agree the name is badly chosen)

    • trjp says:

      I’m not suggesting games aren’t discounted – I’m suggesting that they’re discounted for honest reasons (we don’t think anyone else is paying full price so here’s a game for less) and not bogus or even insulting reasons (here’s a game for you cheapskate thieves).

      Seriously – developers HAVE to get over the piracy thing, take the chip off their shoulder and move along.

      A lot of people buy games and if your game is something they like and the price is right they will do just that. Later, when you make it cheaper, more people will leap in (hell some people leap in AGAIN!!) and so on.

      Stop trying to tease blood from stones – 1p is infinetely more than 0p

    • Thermal Ions says:

      @trjp
      It’s just a discount and they’ve used the “pirate amnesty” angle to generate a bit of free coverage they otherwise wouldn’t have gotten – good on them I say. I can’t imagine that they seriously expect a whole heap of people who pirated the game to now buy it. Those who pirated a $20 game in most cases aren’t the sort to suddenly grow a conscience even at $5.

    • RobF says:

      I’d argue that Machinarium is big enough to not have to resort to cheap shots like holding a “pirate amnesty”.

      Aside from being a bit too easy, it brings with it far too much negativity which would have been easily avoided just by doing something a little bit more celebratory.

      There’d be little to no discussion of the rights or wrongs of piracy surrounding it – which lets face it, as an argument it ends up in massive silly every single time no matter what the intentions, there’d be little snideness around the sale and et voila, they come out smelling lovely, (almost) everyone is happy and they get to make some extra cash from people who wouldn’t have punted over under normal circumstances.

      As it stands, with the pirate amnesty – the whole “LOOK! CHEAP MACHINARIUM!” gets overshadowed by massive amounts of stupid being flung around.

      For that reason alone, I’d argue it’s an utterly daft thing to do.

  16. jalf says:

    Their piracy rate probably is around 90%, but someone on another forum (I think it was Ars Technica) brought up a fairly good point: how do they know?

    If the game doesn’t have an online component, no online registration or activation, no leaderboard, how do the developers have the faintest idea whether the piracy rate is 8% or 99%?

    Are they just making up a number that’s close to what other games have reported, and then using it for the publicity? That’s kind of tasteless, even if the number is probably not far from the truth. Or what are they basing their numbers on?

    There’s not really much reason to pirate PC games these days, pretty much anyone who can afford a computer can afford to take part in the international network of shared experiences that make up PC gaming

    That’s an easy assumption to make when you yourself can afford it.
    What about someone who bought his PC three years ago, when he could afford it. And now he is unemployed, and don’t really have money to spare? He’s still got a PC, and he’s still got his internet, but he can’t spend much money on games.

    What about kids who use their parents computer, but whose monthly allowance doesn’t really have much room for SC2 at $60? What about people in Romania where the average monthly wage is around $600?

    What about people in countries where it is even lower?
    Many of these people still have PC’s and internet connections, but to them, ten US dollars is no trivial amount.

    • Auspex says:

      How did those “people in Romania” afford their PC in the first place?

      #missingthepoint

    • cliffski says:

      “What about someone who bought his PC three years ago, when he could afford it. And now he is unemployed, and don’t really have money to spare? He’s still got a PC, and he’s still got his internet, but he can’t spend much money on games.”

      Well that guy probably cant spend money on champagne either, but thats no justification for him shoplifting champagne…
      Maybe this is the whole ‘we or our parents never knew any hardship’ generattion, but people really need to get used to the idea that sometimes, there is stuff in life you cannot afford, and until you can afford it, you cannot have that stuff.
      I would love a Toyota Prius. Guess what? I can’t have one.

    • jalf says:

      @cliffski: I’m not justifying anything. I’m saying that the “I can’t afford it” reason people use to justify it themselves still exists. LewieP made it sound like “anyone who has a computer can afford to buy games”, and that is not true.
      What people *do* when they can’t afford to buy the games they want isn’t any of my business, and I don’t want to be held accountable for their piracy.

      @Auspex: maybe because hardware prices better adjust to the local economies? A gaming rig in Taiwan doesn’t cost as much as it does in Sweden. But if you try to buy, say, World of Goo from 2DBoy’s website, it’s the same price no matter where you live.

      I don’t know exactly how all these people afford computers, just that they do.

    • bill says:

      Yes! Poor people should be miserable like they used to be in my day!

    • LewieP says:

      I guess I mean that there is more amazing dirt cheap/free PC gaming now then there has ever been.

      Even spending no money now there is a wealth of amazing games being produced for free, more then ever before.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      You’ve got to admit though – with the prices the Bargain Bucket shows every week, you can totally play games legally for a handful of pennies. When I was on the dole, I know I spent about three quid on stuff which wasn’t basic needs.

      KG

    • MedO says:

      > Well that guy probably cant spend money on champagne either, but thats no justification for him shoplifting champagne…

      I’m not saying piracy is a good thing. Developers deserve to get money for their effort, and it’s only fair that this is provided by everyone who plays the game. However, your comparisons are, in my opinion, not valid.

      When you shoplift champagne or steal a Prius, someone else (the shop owner) is off worse for it. If you pirate a game you couldn’t otherwise afford nobody is off worse than before, but you are off better.

      > Own your house? Says who? A piece of paper? thats just information too. Your salary is just information too, unelss you get paid in gold bullion.

      True, but misses the point. The point is not that information is worthless or has no real meaning, but that it can be copied without effort and without damaging the original.

      Again, I don’t want to defend piracy here, but I don’t like bad analogies either. They tend to stand in the way of factual discussion.

    • bill says:

      But people on the dole shouldn’t be using that money for fun! That’s like stealing from taxpayers!

      (ok – i’ll stop now. sorry).

    • Dean says:

      “What about someone who bought his PC three years ago, when he could afford it. And now he is unemployed, and don’t really have money to spare?”

      Well this week that guy can pick up Immortal Defense for a quid. I mean what is that? It’s skipping lunch one day, I do it all the time. And that game is huge. Seriously I’ll spend more on the electricity to power the computer while playing it than on the game.

      Some months ago he could have got the Humble Indie Bundle for a similar price. He can pick up Cliffski’s GSB for what must be at most, half of what he pays for his internet connection per month. Or he can go out and play many of the thousands of freeware games on places like Armor Games and so on.

      I think that was Lewie’s point, no? That even at the so-poor-I-can-barely-afford-to-eat level there’s some awesome stuff out there. Sure, you can’t play Starcraft 2 or the latest games, but you can play some stuff, and that stuff is good. It’s like how you can listen to the radio even if you can’t afford CDs, or watch TV even if you can can’t afford DVDs or the cinema.

    • dadioflex says:

      Gold bullion, like diamonds, doesn’t have a value that reflects any intrinsic worth, any more than one’s hypothetical bank balance.

      There’s an AWFUL lot of gold just sitting about doing nothing because it isn’t particularly useful.

      Most gold mined is hoarded. Most silver mined is used. Yet gold is more valuable than silver.

      Makes no sense.

      You don’t want to get paid in gold bullion.

      Will wear your pockets out.

    • jalf says:

      I guess I mean that there is more amazing dirt cheap/free PC gaming now then there has ever been.

      In that case, I agree. :)

    • Wulf says:

      Hm.

      As controversial as it might be, I have no problem with piracy. Nope, not even slightly. I don’t even believe that piracy is a problem, I don’t think it ever was, and it’s definitely not theft.

      Put the torch down. :p This isn’t going to end up the way you think it will.

      The only problem is that if a person has money, and they’ve enjoyed pirated stuff, I think they should use their money toward the stuff they believe is most deserving of it. Someone might have limited funds, but consider, there are three possible outcomes, here.

      Outcome 1 – “I’m a filthy pirate, why bother with morality if the developers think I’m scum anyway?”: With this outcome, the funds-challenged pirate pays for nothing. He doesn’t get to feel good about ever devoting his money to developers.

      Outcome 2 – “I’m broke. Everyone tells me piracy is wrong, so I keep to cheaper hobbies, like books. All games are expensive, right?”: Here we have someone who doesn’t pirate, has some amount of money, and doesn’t put any of it into the games industry.

      Outcome 3 – “I pirate, but I want to support developers. I only pirate to find out what’s good, then I spread my money around as best I can.”: And this is a good thing, this means that some profit is gained even from people who’re absolutely skint, they enjoyed the game and felt they should pay something.

      Naive as I might be, I think that outcome 3 is the best. And I’m not trying to justify anything, I just think that piracy isn’t a problem. It might even be turned toward something better.

      I wouldn’t mind seeing a return to the way games of old did things, for those of you that remember the old Id screens and such. What would happen is that every fifth launch of the game, you’d see a screen upon closing the game, and you could opt to never see it again. This screen could also be accessed via the options. It would say something like this…

      Hi! I’m [name] and this is my game, I hope you enjoyed it. If you bought my game then thank you, I love you, you’re awesome!

      I’m an indie developer, what that means is that I’m reliant on people just like you. Whenever someone buys one of my games, that’s money that goes into covering my living costs and funds so that I can make more and better games.

      Now, you might be broke, and I understand that. Not everyone is a great financial situation. I’m hardly rich myself. I’ll no doubt have sales on my games where you can pick this and others up for a bit cheaper! All I ask is that you keep an eye on these sites, and if you see a price that appeals to you, consider picking up my game.

      (Links.)

      If you want, you can contact me (email) and we’ll see if we can’t work something out! Or if you’d rather not, and you can’t afford the game but want to toss something my way, then you can donate some money to me here.

      If you bought the game, then thanks again! If you haven’t, then all I can ask is that you consider it. Remember, any future games I make are reliant on you! If you’d like to talk to me about my games and provide feedback, you can do so at the forums on my site, which I read and post on.

      Not exactly that, but still, something like that.

      That way, no money could be turned into some money.

      I’m not condoning piracy or justifying it. I’m just saying that it’s there, and even if it wasn’t, broke people would still be broke, and corrupt people would still be corrupt. But broke people aren’t always corrupt.

    • Wulf says:

      Oh, and I imagine that approach would be good PR, too. The developer who’s nice to everyone angle and all that.

    • sinister agent says:

      I’m with Wulf, here. I don’t pirate anymore, but when I did I was very discriminating in how and why I did, and I’ve since bought almost every game I downloaded, and spread a little cash around for some developers I wanted to support (or in one case, as he asked, donated money to a charity instead. That guy was pretty cool).

      Also, with KG, too. I’ve had times where I’ve been so miserably poor I was probably single-handedly lowering the GDP. But if, say, gog.com had been around then? Or one of those massive steam D2D/indie publisher sales? Well, I’m pretty sure I could have missed an extra meal or two and got tens of hours of entertainment for it.

    • Xercies says:

      @Wulf

      Are you some kind of mouth to my mind or something because everythign you seem to say I’m thinking lol :)

      That really is a great way to do it to be honest…you won’t ever fight piracy. Deal with it you can’t stop it its to big now…you try to DRM stuff it will piss people off…you try to shut down these sights a new one will come, you try to make sure that you can spy on people people will revolt and get there privacy back.

      So use it to your advantage. In my mind piracy is free advertising for your product really. Any product just put at the beginning or end the link to your website and say if you have enjoyed this please go to here and maybe buy it or donate. Not to heavy handed but put the suggestion there.

      Piracy isn’t inherintly good or bad its how you use it really. Take Dawn of war i pirated that and bought the Anthology giving about £30 to the makers and making me feel quite proub. I watched Sweeney Todd and went to the cinema and bought the two disc DVD because i liked it so much. In fact my piracy has actually helped them twice in the form of sweeney todd then most people would just do once.

  17. Diziet says:

    You know what… I bought GSB at the start but have none of the expansion backs so following advice on savygamer, I’m buying it again on steam. YAY! My gloriousgratuitous space battles awate. Tally ho!

  18. pupsikaso says:

    If you read the Russian letters you used for “bucket”, it reads as “bisket”. Mmm, now I’m hungry.

  19. postx says:

    Machinarium is a piece of art. point & click adventure that works also as a great animation. Good soundtrack. Like a good film, art on every level. I rarely see a talent like this and after I played the demo I just couldn’t bring myself to pirate it.

    Because I’m skint. I was waiting for the christmas sale… but today RPS makes me a happy man:)
    (I still feel a bit guilty for not paying the full price, because Amanita deserve it)

  20. Chris Hansen says:

    Seconded, FunkyBadger.
    Though his second reason, to my mind, sucks too.

    • FunkyBadger says:

      The second one is at least arguable, especially if you “pay for what you keep”*

      *assuming all these reasons are honestly held and not post-hoc rationalisations for being theiving little pieces of shit.

    • Chris Hansen says:

      @FunkyBadger
      I think they do seem like rationalisations to me though. However, your view is respectable, heh

  21. xtal says:

    @BAReFOOt: what you just wrote is definitely the most ridiculous thing I have ever read on the internet.

  22. Vinraith says:

    Not technically a sale but certainly a bargain: The new micro-expansion for AI Fleet Command, Children of Neinzul, is up for preorder and beta testing from Arcen games. It’s $4, packs a ridiculous load of content, and all the proceeds go to Child’s Play, so it’s pretty much win-win-win. It’s looking like a fantastic expansion for what is easily the best strategy game I’ve played this year (and by far one of the most strategic games I’ve ever played, period).

    Features and purchase link here: http://arcengames.com/aiwar_childrenofneinzul.php

    Incidentally, codes for AI War and its expansions register on both Steam and Impulse and unlock copies direct from the developer no matter where you buy them from.

    • jaheira says:

      Yo Vinraith, is AI War a great single player game or just a great co-op game? I hate all humans you see, therefore I don’t do co-op.

    • Dominic White says:

      Thanks for the heads-up on the expansion, Vinraith! Giving to charity and getting more AI-War are two things I like doing. I just ordered the new expansion, although I won’t be able to play it for a while – my PC blew up (power supply and graphics card signed a suicide pact), but it’ll be waiting for me when the replacement bits arrived.

      As for whether the game is playable solo? Yeah, it works singleplayer just fine. It’s geared towards cooperative play.

    • Archonsod says:

      I wouldn’t say it’s particularly geared to either really. The AI follows it’s plans irrespective of the number of players, plus you don’t have to worry about the idiot you’re co-operating with jumping the AI level a few hundred points because he clicked the wrong thing :P

    • mlaskus says:

      Thanks for the heads-up Vinraith.

      @jaheira:
      AI War scales down nicely to singleplayer and you can configure pretty much any aspect of the game that affects difficulty, so it’s not a problem to play alone.

      Oh and if someday your stone heart warms to other people a bit, you can invite them to an ongoing campaign. When you decide that you have had it with damn mongrels it is no more a hassle to kick them out and claim their fleets for yourself.

    • jaheira says:

      @mlaskus, Archonsod, Dominic

      Ok thanks for the info guys. I’m gonna get this. It looks very interesting.

    • Vinraith says:

      @jaheira

      I have been playing it both solo and co-op and honestly, I find it every bit as satisfying by myself as I do with friends (which is a rarity with co-opable games IMO). In fact, it even allows you to “simulate” the co-op experience in SP if you want to, as you can choose more than one starting world and the AI will scale as it would with multiple players. I would, without question, recommend it for any strategy fan whether they intend to play it with others or not.

      If you’re planning to get it, I heartily recommend buying direct from the developer. The codes you’ll get register on Steam and Impulse as well as working with the DRM-free version direct from the developer, so it’s about as flexible as digital gaming gets. :)

    • Vinraith says:

      @Dominic

      I’m always happy to give Arcen some free advertising, they really are an amazing little development house. Glad you got the expansion, sorry to hear about your computer though. On the up side, at the rate they’re going, it’ll be even more brilliant by the time you can play it. In the course of yesterday they put out three(!) beta patches for the expansion, tweaking and gradually adding in the new features.

    • jaheira says:

      @Vinraith

      Thanks for the info. So many co-op games don’t feel right single-player but now I’m sold on this one.

  23. Random Stranger #46 says:

    Lmaoing so hard at: “PC gaming is in such a fantastic state at the moment”

    Seriously? WTF???

    Did you mean “MAC gaming”?

    • Commissar says:

      Have you ever herped so hard you derped?

      Mac gaming is nowhere near anything else, although with Steam, Valve is betting it’s going to catch on. Even though I dislike Apple and the pretentious users it attracts I hope it does take off.

  24. jaheira says:

    @trjp

    “in fact it would probably be best if you ignored piracy in the way pirates ignore your attempts to sell games, really.”

    Why should they ignore people stealing their stuff instead of paying for it? This deal seems like a reasonable way of using guilt to recoup some of that lost revenue. Good luck to ‘em.

    • John Peat says:

      Can we have a sinbin where people who use the term ‘steal’ or ‘thief’ in relation to piracy and put, unable to speak, for a week or so.

      Piracy is copyright violation – it is NOT theft or stealing and anyone who uses those terms is either ignorant or attempting to paint something as worse that it really is.

    • jaheira says:

      Words change their meanings all the time. I choose to use “steal” in this context, so do many others. If it happens often enough the definition of the word will change. Don’t think we need a sinbin (hey a neologism!) for that.

    • ReV_VAdAUL says:

      While the meaning of words do change over time the meanings of legal definitions are much less mutable. In a discussion such as this using a word that has one legal meaning to describe a completely different act is deeply unhelpful.

    • trjp says:

      As Rev-Vadaul says, ‘steal’ has a legal connotation and you don’t get to change those as you see fit.

      The ridiculousness of anti-piracy measures makes it hard to be sympathetic to their cause too – DVD trailers which compare it to stealing from a shop or even stealing a car are massively and enormously idiotic and exist only to try to make something seem worse than it actually is.

      Piracy is morally wrong for sure – but there’s no theft of physical goods, no-one’s property is dimished etc. etc.

      Calling pirates ‘thieves’ or accusing them of ‘stealing’ is just plain-wrong – but it does demonstrate that people clearly don’t see “copyright violation” in the same way and there’s a reason for that.

    • FunkyBadger says:

      Would “fraudulent taking” be better?

      Christ knows we wouldn’t want to offend any pirate sensibilities, the delicate little flowers.

    • Dean says:

      Yes. That would be much better, as it’s using the proper words.

      Seriously, all people that use ‘theft’ as a descriptor for ‘piracy’ are paedophiles. And by ‘paedophiles’ I mean aren’t that good at grammar. But let’s call them paedophiles, I mean it’s just a word, we can make it mean that.

    • plugmonkey says:

      Doesn’t the word ‘piracy’ have a specific legal definition according to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) of 1982? You’ve quite happily altered the meaning of that one, but we can’t have “copyright theft”?

      Presumably you have the same issues with “identity theft”? After all, you cannot actually ‘steal’ someone’s identity.

  25. Brian says:

    I really didn’t think games journalists understood the allure of piracy but Lewie’s words ring true. Between the convenience of Steam and the low prices of so many incredible games I have been converted from an occasional casual pirate to a diehard legitimate purchaser. Plus, the fact that the PC platform is so backward-compatible ensures that there’s 30 years of games I can buy if nothing current strikes my fancy.

    • Mr Lizard says:

      And 30 years of “abandonware” to pirate guilt-free if the IP holders no longer exist or don’t want to sell it any more.

  26. Mr Lizard says:

    This house believes that heavily discounted games are killing the PC and that people who wait for discounts are just as bad as pirates because every budget sale is a lost full-price sale. Discuss.

    • LewieP says:

      2D Boy have a MASSIVE BAG OF MONEY that disagrees with you.

    • John Peat says:

      I love that one – it’s the same mentality that says shoplifting and piracy are the same thing (a retarded idea) only it’s entirely self-inflicted.

      I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been to the forum for a new game on Steam and someone has said “It’s OK but I’d wait for a deal/sale if I were you” :)

    • Babs says:

      I rarely buy full price games, the times I do are usually when I want to be in on the excitment of a the first release when everyone on forums is talking about it, but I still spend more-or-less the same amount of money on that I would do. I just get much more for it, and per-item costs are essentially zero this doesn’t scew anybody over.

      The heavy discounting seen on steam is IMO in the interests of both developers AND consumers, though I do still feel illogically guilty sometimes.

      And PC gaming is still good providing you have limited game time, like 95% of PC gamers. I’ve got a backlog of Steam games that would take me 3-4 months to finish and there are plenty more I haven’t bought yet. I wish that more people would make the sort of mid-budget unconventional games that I loved about the late 90s/early 00s but as someone else pointed out the middle ground seems to get the shaft these days.

    • Babs says:

      Please excuse my typing, I appear to be retarded today.

    • Uhm says:

      Man, if only we had a recent RPS article on long-term sales and bargain bin games that might be vaguely related to this!

      Fiddlesticks!

  27. John Peat says:

    I don’t know if anyone here listened to the recent series of Heresy on BBC Radio (Victoria Coren – yum yum!) but there was a rather stilted debate on piracy as one of the topics which proceeded rather boringly until they asked someone in the audience, who’d admitted to downloading music, why he thought it was different to stealing.

    “Because after I download it – it’s still there” was his reply – not a solid argument but it reduced 3 people who’d been arguing that piracy was 100% wrong into total silence.

    When another audience member was asked why they thought piracy was 100% bad she replied “Because it seemed to be until he said what he just said”.

    It was aces – I’m not pro-piracy but I AM a realist and it WILL happen. I’ve written software which has been pirated and it doesn’t feel nice but people who paid for it DID feel nice and I honestly think you shouldn’t dwell on the things which didn’t happen in life :)

  28. A-Scale says:

    Soviet propaganda style images are ALWAYS the right way to go. All glory to the new bargain bucket image!

  29. DrGonzo says:

    Could we maybe get bargain bin without the opinions and just links to reviews?

  30. stevehatesyou says:

    I’ve never seen anybody come up with so much pretentious bullshit to justify being greedy and not wanting to pay for stuff.

  31. Kevbo says:

    Hmmm interesting article that I guess shows RPS has more faith in the gaming scene and enjoys the games of late. I’ll have to agree with others that I find the whole state of the gaming industry going down hill very quickly. With all these shady business practices becoming common and accepted like fake ‘betas’, stripped out features that get sold back to you as paid DLC, complete focus on graphics and not gameplay, complete focus on profits and not fun. If it wasn’t for the modding and indie scene, I probably would have lost ALL faith in the industry but at least good innovation and creativity are happening in those scenes. There are a few good AAA devs but watching some of them drown in mediocrity and greed is getting sad :(

    Ever since gaming moved from a passionate hobby to a major profit industry, the gameplay has taken a back seat to everything else….. sigh

  32. LewieP says:

    I don’t speak for the fivemind, just myself.

  33. Matzerath says:

    It is a glorious time for PC gaming. The downright frightening amount of games I’ve acquired in the last year or so will attest. And Jesus, a major company (Valve) just released a fully realized, awesome FREE game. How often has that happened in the history of PC gaming?
    People’s happy memories of times past seem to be an aggregate of the last twenty years or so. I unfortunately can also recall the mountains of crap those shining jewels people reminisce about were buried in.
    If you can’t find something fun to play, you must have a very narrow purview.

  34. Uhm says:

    As Wulf and others have said:

    If PC gaming is so great then: Why is a frightening amount of PC games just byproduct of a console game or at the very least a console-PC bastard with no proper development towards PC anymore?
    Where is Evil Genius 2?
    Where is Dungeon Keeper 3?
    Where is the next, fun god / evil game?

    Where are the REAL, cool, fun, unique, innovative, winkwink, exploiting the potential we have as PC users games?

    Also, buying ten bargains or bundles still amounts to 2-3+ weeks of food and drink for some people, thank you very much.

    • John Peat says:

      Evil Genius was far too frustrating/poorly paced to make a sequel desirable or likely IMO

      DK2 was inferior to DK in every way so why would you want a DK3?

      To blame lack of sequels or games on piracy is silly because there are other platforms you could have developed them for and clearly a great many PC games make a solid profit regardless.

      All this nonsense about 90% piracy and suchlike is just that – nonsense. If the idea that someone will play your game without paying for it offends you, I suggest you try a different career entirely.

      Otherwise there appears to be a healthy market into which you CAN sell games and you could try focussing on that instead!?

    • mlaskus says:

      @John Peat
      I have only played DK2 so I cannot argue it’s superiority towards the first one but it was an incredibly good game and I had plenty of fun with it. I would love to see a sequel.

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      I think you typoed there. You see, DK2 is superior to DK1 in every way.

    • Freud says:

      I am a bit worried that the next, for example, game in the style of Little Big Adventure would be console exclusive. In the 90s it came out on PC. Then again, it is possible no one will make a game like that because of the budget involved and the need to sell a million or whatever.

    • FunkyBadger says:

      Re: Consolitis – production costs have rocketed, even discoounting priacy there’s a much better return on investment from console games than PC games (i.e. they cost more and are easier to support) – hence most AAA development leads on console.

      I think most of the really interesting stuff is happening on PC though – and, oddly, the DS – but this is probably due to the relatively low barriers to entry.

    • Commissar says:

      I’m sure there would be sequels if the rights weren’t owned by publishers that are scared of not making the next Brownan and Blooman Generic FPS #104472823 for the consoles.

      I’m pretty sure Evil Genius, Dungeon Keeper and the like would translate very well across the platforms without being dumbed down.

    • vodkarn says:

      “there’s a much better return on investment from console games than PC games (i.e. they cost more and are easier to support) – hence most AAA development leads on console.”

      This is only true in the short term. In the long term PC games have a much more stable sales rate.

    • FunkyBadger says:

      @Vodkarm: the thing about the long tail – if that’s what you’re intimating at – is, its bollocks.

      I’ll grant that a PC game has a “potential” lifetime for sales of longer than a console genration but I’m guessing the effect is miniscule – and given the prevalence of XBLA etc nowadays lessened anyway – heck, I even bought an old xbox game for my 360 the other day…

  35. Kid A says:

    Cogs is £3.74 on Impulse – pretty sure it’s been a fair chunk cheaper than that in the Steam sales before though.

  36. Inno says:

    Nice read. I agree there are certainly things to be optimistic about, particularly the rise of digital downloads and indie games. This is unmistakable. When it comes to AAA games (particularly the FPS genre) the story isn’t that positive unfortunately and yeah this is a direct consequence of traditional corporate culture and big business moving into the gaming industry.

  37. Moth Bones says:

    Just tried out the Machinarium demo and it’s lovely, thanks for the recommendations.

  38. CharmingCharlie says:

    I was tempted by Machinarium I like to support devs that do games at reasonable prices. Unfortunately they had to go and ruin it with their “piracy amnesty” rubbish. I have never pirated Machinarium (hell didn’t even know it existed till now). Now since they have so “cleverly” decided to make a point about Piracy I will make a point to keep my money in my wallet. Since the sale is a “piracy amnesty” and I didn’t pirate the game I won’t take advantage of the offer.

    We all know that piracy is a problem on nearly all platforms and the PC most certainly does not need developers pulling dick moves like “piracy amnesties” to draw attention to the issue. So well done to the developers of Machinarium you actually talked yourself out of a sale.

    As for the comments on the state of “PC gaming” personally the state of gaming in general is in a bit of a mess. With each passing year I find myself spending less and less on games, purely because no one is prepared to make the gaming experiences I want to pay for.

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      This is perhaps the dumbest reasoning I’ve ever heard.

      “Hey, here’s this awesome game that’s 75% off! They even made a new music track and art piece and are giving out the soundtrack to the game. WHAT IS THIS, THEY MENTIONED THE BULLSHIT PRACTICE THAT IS HAVING A LARGE IMPACT ON THEIR INCOME?! THEY DARED MAKE FRIENDLY JEST?! BACK INTO MY POCKET MY WALLET GOES, GOOD DAY SIR!”

      Requesting you change your username to InsufferableIan.

    • CharmingCharlie says:

      @ TotalBiscuit – I certainly don’t consider it a “FRIENDLY JEST” I consider it insulting to discount a game and call it a “pirate amnesty”. We do not need developers doing dick moves like this regarding piracy on the PC platform. I think we can safely say every man and their dog knows about the problem of PC piracy.

      So like I said the devs can keep their game and I will keep my money, see everyone is happy then.

    • FunkyBadger says:

      Dunce, go and stand in the corner.

    • Oak says:

      I’m still not sure what his actual point is.

  39. jaheira says:

    @Rev and trjp

    Hmmmm … interesting point about immutable legal definitions. I hadn’t considered that. I’ll consider it now. Back in 5 , 4, 3, 2, 1. Okay I’ve considered it. We’re not in a court of law. I’ll continue to change what “steal” means, you guys continue to keep it the same and we’ll see who wins in a couple of hundred years. Deal?

    • jaheira says:

      no wai! Reply fail. I thought that had stopped happening.

    • Dean says:

      Okay. Just be careful where you use it, as if you publicly accused someone of theft, when they had only committed piracy, they’d have a libel case.

    • plugmonkey says:

      But ‘piracy’ has a legal definition as well. If you accused someone of piracy when all they had committed was copyright fraud, would they not have a libel case? You’re accusing them of having committed criminal acts of violence, rape or detention on the high seas!

  40. byjimini says:

    Moral of the story? Pirate the game to get the price down. Where’s the loyalty to people like me who paid £15 the day it came out?

    • Navagon says:

      While I feel that the promotion was very poorly marketed, the idea that a game released a year ago isn’t going to come down in price or have the occasional sale is asinine. If you want to be frugal then neither buying on day one nor pre-ordering are options.

    • John Peat says:

      Whilst I agree games should get cheaper and cheaper, the rate some games drop could easily cause people to avoid the next new/full price title as a result.

      Machinarium was £15 IIRC (released October 16 2009) – a drop to <£4 WELL within a year is quite steep – I'm not knocking it but people WILL learn that games drop in price rapidly and that sales are always just around the corner and they will hold-off no all but their most must-have purchases.

    • Archonsod says:

      Prices have been dropping rapidly throughout the two and a half decades I’ve been gaming. I’m sure people will eventually learn this and adjust spending habits accordingly, but I’m also thinking said people may be referred to as “archaeologists”.

      I mean I remember buying Skool Daze for £2.99, and within a couple of months it was down to the £1.99 budget bin. All this were fields back then btw.

    • Navagon says:

      @ John Peat
      Which is why I seldom spend more than a tenner on a game. Sometimes I will if I’m really interested in a game. But given my backlog it’s not like I can’t wait a year for most titles. I’d Imagine that I’m not the only one to have adjusted to price drops / sales like this.

  41. bookwormat says:

    For anyone who’s interested in buying Gratuitous Space Battles, I strongly recommend not rushing into the game but reading the manual first before playing.

    I guess this is good advice with most strategy games, but I want to point this out here because when I tried the demo a few month ago, I did not really get the dept of the game and what I had to consider when preparing for a battle. As a result I concluded that this was a 0815 tower defense game and planning and watching the battles would become boring fast.

    This time I loaded the manual on my android and read it on my couch, over a cup of coffee. The result was a much more pleasant experience, with me redesigning my fleet and battle orders a couple of times until I was finally victorious.

    • geldonyetich says:

      Hmm, I can’t seem to find the manual in the Steam installation. I’ll keep hunting.

      I’m glad I finally got to pick up the game for a bargain price – I’ve been holding out for a package deal that included the 3 expansions for a long time, and that I got the whole shindig for 75% off doesn’t hurt!

  42. mbp says:

    Is the best time to be a pc gamer or the worst time? I have thought long and hard about this and I have worked through a black depression about the state of my hobby. In the end though I agree with Lewie. This is a golden age. A different type of golden age but a golden age none the less. It is no longer about games which test the limits of your hardware. This golden age is built upon two pillars:tremendous value(from digital downloads) and tremendous creativity(from the indies). Yes the pc lags behind when it comes to big budget new releases but there is a huge choice of recent AAA titles available for next to nothing.

    • Dominic White says:

      It is, at the very least, something of a silver age. I do find it funny that not too long ago, it was rarer than a blue moon to get a decent console or arcade port. Nowadays, PC gamers get uppity if they have to pay half the price for a smoother-running, better-looking version of a console game with ‘only’ a new playmode or detail level added.

    • Vinraith says:

      At the end of the day, there are more PC games both in my “owned” pile (both physical and digital) and out there in the world that I want to play than I can ever recall before. Are there problems with the industry? Sure. The DRM situation is bad and getting worse, control over our games seems to be slowly eroding, and the “big budget” stuff is definitely moving towards consoles, but that doesn’t change the fact that I’m absolutely drowning in games I want to play. I have neither the time to play all of them, nor the money to buy all of them, even at the absurd discounts they’re being offered at in some cases. It’s hard to see a bleak future when I can’t even keep up with all the good stuff in the present, let along the flood of new stuff coming down the pipe.

    • subedii says:

      I’ll agree to that. It’s hard for me to complain when I’m buying awesome games and simply not playing them because other awesome games are getting in the way.

      And the fact that this isn’t as rare an occurrence as I’d like it to be.

    • Arathain says:

      The difference in perception between those who believe that this is a great time for PC games and those who don’t is very odd. I think it’s fantastic, and I have a hard time seeing otherwise. There have been and will continue to be some pretty cool AAA stuff. There are some really interesting AAA franchises coming up, in particular (SC2 (just out) Civ V, Deus Ex 3, XCOM, Diablo 3). Indie devs of all sizes are well established and doing interesting things in lots of genres that had more or less petered out, as well as pushing innovation in lots of big and small ways, as well as allowing fans to be closer to the development process that ever.

      And, as Lewie points out, with these constant sales, it’s never been cheaper. I can spend a very reasonable amount of money for more games than I will likely ever get around to. In fact, I have done. It’s super wonderful. Oo, and the combination of digital distribution across competing platforms and high speed internet means it’s more convenient than it’s ever been.

      I’m a happy gamer.

  43. Alex Bakke says:

    “In criminal law, theft is the illegal taking of another person’s property without that person’s freely-given consent.”

    • Starky says:

      Quoting wikipedia without context, you sir fail hard.

      Here allow me to rebut by posting a quote from the same page you did…

      “A person is guilty of theft, if he dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it”.

      Bold added by me.

    • SF Legend says:

      Key word there is “taking”. Note how it doesn’t say “creating an unauthorised copy leaving the original in place”.

    • HawksOfSavilleRow says:

      Wow, so that is the argument, is it? Your personal morality boils down to semantics and legal definitions? Well, if the majority of the PC gaming community follows this logic, we’re all fucked.

    • RobF says:

      I’d say it’s more that if you want to tackle a problem and do it effectively, it really helps to identify and discuss the problem in actual terms rather than throwing around random emotive terms that may/may not be applicable.

      Also, considering we’re discussing something that’s in part a legal issue, yes, it’s really important to discuss it in that manner.

    • HawksOfSavilleRow says:

      Discussion is needed to solve the wider issue, yes. However what saddens me is this strange argument of many that piracy is not equal to theft.
      Legality is frankly not the issue here. And I am speaking from an entirely pragmatic stance. You can debate the minutiae of legal issue till the cows come home. Can we agree that pirating is a destructive and ab-decent thing to do? Can we agree that is deprives a producer of income due to the selfish nature of the pirate? Can we agree that it has a detrimental impact on the hobby? Can we agree it serves no positive purpose?

      Apologies for excessive vitriol.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Hawks

      Can we agree that is deprives a producer of income due to the selfish nature of the pirate?

      No, we really can’t. It’s a crappy thing to do, it damages the hobby and drives this invasive DRM plague that’s gripping the industry, and it’s generally selfish and asinine, but piracy does not equal a lost sale. It’s worth having a look at Wolfire’s insightful analysis on the subject:

      http://blog.wolfire.com/2010/05/Another-view-of-game-piracy

      The short version is that pirates are hoarders, and pirate far more games than they could ever buy or ever play. They also don’t represent a huge percentage of the gaming population, it’s just that someone that pirates one game is likely to have pirated just about any game you’d think of (ie all the piracy you’re seeing is concentrated in a specific “hardcore” group of people, rather than being a cross-hobby dalliance). None of this is to make excuses for their behavior, of course, but it’s best to understand the nature, numbers, and behaviors of the enemy if one is going to find a way to deal with them. Most of the industry solutions we’re seeing now are completely blind to the nature of these people, and in their fervor to recover phantom lost sales they drive real lost sales by punishing their paying customers.

    • RobF says:

      “Discussion is needed to solve the wider issue, yes. However what saddens me is this strange argument of many that piracy is not equal to theft.”

      It might, on your moral compass, be equal to theft but it is not theft. Not in any way is it theft. That’s what people are trying to point out. There’s nothing strange about it. The two things are not directly comparable. I really don’t understand why this is so hard to grasp. It’s not about semantics, it is about absolutes.

      “Can we agree that pirating is a destructive and ab-decent thing to do?”

      Not across the board no.

      As has been oft repeated, if someone simply doesn’t have the money to give in the first place, regardless of whether piracy is morally correct or not or whether you consider this a lost sale or not, it cannot under any stretch of the imagination be considered “destructive”. Annoying to the person who isn’t getting paid, perhaps. Annoying to people who have paid, perhaps. Destructive though? No.

      Not at all.

      On the extreme end of the scale there’s also software preservation to consider, which is something that as we move more and more into the digital age will come to the fore. A number of titles only exist today because of piracy and that amount will no doubt increase as time goes by and due to the nature of DRM, we’ll likely find ourselves having to rely on the work of some naughty people in order to be able to access this stuff in the future.

      There’s just too many different contexts to be taken into account. As for “ab-decent”, I assume you mean we agree it is morally wrong. Clearly, not. Not in all cases and circumstances.

      “Can we agree that is deprives a producer of income due to the selfish nature of the pirate?”

      No. Not necessarily. See above. If there’s no money going to exchange hands in the first place then the producer has not lost anything. He’s not gained. But that’s a massive difference there. No-one has been deprived of anything.

      “Can we agree that it has a detrimental impact on the hobby?”

      It can do. In part this is also down to publishers and content producers who only deal with copyright theft on a surface level and not at any of the root causes and are far too willing to conflate copyright infringement with theft or one download from a torrent=one guaranteed lost sale.

      That’s not to absolve those who do copy games from any blame but certainly, it’s not -entirely- their fault it has a detrimental impact on how I get to play games. People can be idiots on both sides of the divide.

      “Can we agree it serves no positive purpose?”

      No. We cannot.

    • bill says:

      Piracy is listening to a busker play his music and then not giving him any change.
      – a wise man

    • HawksOfSavilleRow says:

      @Vinraith & Rob, Firstly, thanks for the level headed replys to an antagonistic post, too much coffee makes I a dull boy.
      Granted, I see where both of you are coming from. (Btw thanks for the article Vin) And verily bringing morality into it was a lax move (Who can argue such a subjective concept?)
      Yes, a large part of the issue is the Inability of the industry to perceive and act on the relevant issues.
      This does not excuse those individuals who pirate. My hackles are raised as many abuse the confusion generated by the rise of such an unknown situation in copyright law. Equally I doubt that 100% of pirated games wouldn’t have been purchased legitimately had pirating not been available. Therefore the argument that producers are losing out rings true (Though I understand not to a 1:1 ratio)
      I have personal experience of people who are not hoarders, as Vinr describes, but pirate when they want something, be it games, Apps, TV series or films . (In fact I would list my entire workplace as an example)
      The destruction I refer to is the health of the Industry in the long term. But I agree that there are multiple solutions to this, and some may well include piracy.

  44. rinkuhero says:

    thanks for the mention of my game (immortal defense) and the kind words in the comments section about it.

    also, @wulf, you say there are no new interesting pc games on the horizon, but that you enjoyed vvvvvv and machinarium, but could it be that the interesting games on the horizon just aren’t being reported on in places you read? did you read previews of machinarium and vvvvvv anywhere? there weren’t many, aside from an indie game blog. so there could be great games in production that you just never heard about because nobody reports on them. it’s like, the makers of vvvvvv and machinarium aren’t going to stop making games, you know. aren’t you looking forward to their future games?

    • Heliocentric says:

      Hello, your game left wavey lines in my vision for days.

      The nothing new forever pessimism blows my mind. By all means look back and say 2010 was rubbish. Don’t tell me that in august.

    • Wulf says:

      I think I accidentally stepped on an ego, here. That too was unintentional.

      I follow the Indie Games blog, TIG Source, RPS, and occasionally even poke my nose around JIG. So I’m aware of what’s going on. I have to say though that mostly what’s covered by non-RPS sites these days are either console only (Journey D:<) or passing bits of entertainment which are over in a few minutes.

      When I see something the length of VVVVVV (or longer!) and as interesting as that game (or more so!), then I'll be sure to look forward to it and snap it up. I'm aware Terry is still making games, but they're of the aforementioned 'short' variety, they're fun for a few moments, but they're gone all too quickly. I look forward to Terry's next lengthy game, if he decides to make another; which he might not, as I've heard that developing VVVVVV took its toll.

      Amanita I believe don't have anything on the horizon either, but I follow them too, yes. Really, if you're familiar with me then this should be no surprise at all. I know that there have been non-game related Amanita things, which I'm interested in, but I've heard no game news.

      If I see something I like, I'll talk it up.

    • Wulf says:

      Addendum:

      “The nothing new forever pessimism blows my mind. By all means look back and say 2010 was rubbish. Don’t tell me that in august.”

      Carefully reading my posts in their entirety will reveal that this applies to me about as much as wellies apply to a seagull. I have plenty of faith in the potential of gaming.

  45. Cooper says:

    Re: immortal defense. I enjoyed the demo, I liked what they were trying to do. I was not convinced, on the strength of the demo, that it was worth the full price. I later just forgot about it’s existence.

    This pwyl deal got me to part with a fiver, buy the game I would not have otherwise bought, and remind me of it. It did it’s job. As an ongoing model I heavily support it. maybe not from release, but I think for any small developer game maybe 12 months after release, this is a great way to a) remind people of the game (who maybe were thinking about it but didn’t buy it to begin with) and b) get new customers who hadn’t heard about it before.

  46. drewski says:

    PC gaming is awesome.

    AWESOME I TELL YOU

  47. MadMatty says:

    Hows Immortal Defence?

  48. vodkarn says:

    ““PC gaming is in such a fantastic state at the moment”

    I don’t know what it is you’re smoking, but please can I have some?”

    I just glanced over at my shelf (and my steam list) and tallied up the following games I’ve played in the past few years that I love:

    Mass Effect 1 + 2
    Stalker (1, 2, 3 – yeah I liked two, it wasn’t as good as 1 or 3 but I still enjoyed it)
    Metro 2033
    Starcraft 2 (I like it, I realise there are problems)
    Dawn of War 2
    Battlefield: Bad Company 2
    Alien Swarm
    Civilization (anything, really)
    Dragon Age

    There are probably more but that was my immediate list.

  49. MadMatty says:

    As for the triple-A market, its true, costs have gone up because of need for more detailed graphics. This causes storylines and such to be streamlined for maximized target audiences (story dumbed down for more general hits).
    And there you go: your average-Joe Hollywood flic, or triple-A game:
    Sweet to look at, and about as deep as a cardboard cut-out.

    Pop Music Will Eat Itself
    In a Democratic Country, People Usually Get the Goverment They Deserve

  50. Ishy says:

    What! Knights and Merchants TPR can be found legally online. In english! MUST HAVEEE.

    Thanks rps, for haunting me with nostalgia.

    Also Machinarium. yay!