Taylor: “PC is where all the opportunity is”

By Kieron Gillen on September 7th, 2010 at 12:00 pm.

CRUSH PUNY CONSOLE MARKET OR SOMETHING

Eurogamer has found Gas Powered Games’ Chris Taylor in characteristically bullish mood arguing that thanks to the enormous explosion in Steam, he thinks the PC version of Dungeon Siege III will compete with the console ones, noting that “every major player in the world buying a PC gaming company” and leading to an exciting future. Example quote…

It’s a matter of time before you’re playing a game of the quality of a triple-A game that we know and love, like a Supreme Commander 2 or a StarCraft II, in a browser experience,” Taylor said. “There’s no reason that won’t happen within five to eight years. That’s one of the reasons PC gaming breaks out in that space. No installation. No grief. No reading the box and wondering if you have a 7000 or 8000 series video card and DirectX what? It just plays. It works. Wait till that happens full on.

Lots more excitement here. We’ve got our own Chris Taylor interview forthcoming soon. Soon-ish. Whenever Quinns transcribes it, anyway.

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50 Comments »

  1. Baboonanza says:

    “It’s a matter of time before you’re playing a game of the quality of a triple-A game that we know and love, like a Supreme Commander 2 or a StarCraft II, in a browser experience,”
    There are whole lot of reasons why that won’t happen actually.

    • ExplosiveCoot says:

      Care to elaborate on why you think so?

    • Kommissar Nicko says:

      They don’t make Intertubes wide enough?

    • Bremze says:

      @ExplosiveCoot: Because browser based games still have hardware requirements? Because browser-based game lose the usual upsides of pc gaming like mods and scalability?

    • DrGonzo says:

      There is absolutely no reason that Browser based games have to stop mods working.

    • DrGonzo says:

      I don’t see why browser games stop scalability either. Sorry for double post.

    • ScubaMonster says:

      Bremze is right. Just because you fit a game into a browser doesn’t mean you can have AAA quality without hardware requirements. I don’t really see where Chris Taylor is coming from on that one. Unless he’s thinking more of an OnLive style game where you aren’t running it locally on your computer but essentially watching video streaming. But there’s a whole host of reasons why I would never want OnLive style gaming to be the norm.

  2. Rinox says:

    Doesn’t that already kind of exist? Like Onlive?

    • Kamisama says:

      The issue is that Onlive is actually crap, except if you like playing with a blurry image in 480×320 on your TV.

      And please don’t do Browser based games, i like owning a game and playing to it ten years after it’s release . Do you really think if the game is dependent on a online service they will let it run for that long ? (outstanding successes like starcraft excepted)

  3. subedii says:

    Is an online future inevitable? Where the “standalone” product that you operate independently doesn’t really exist anymore? At least as the major model?

    Between streaming things like OnLive, browser gaming, and even Gabe Newell now talking about “thin client” gaming (basically the same thing as the above two) it’s really starting to seem that way.

    The internet infrastructure isn’t quite there yet, but I’m guessing the next generation’s going to see gaming become about the streamed experience.

    Part of me misses the idea of a standalone product and worries about dependency on third parties to play a game that I’ve purchased. I also worry about the implications for pricing, with subscription models likely becoming more common. At the same time, I’ve become more pragmatic about those things since biting the bullet on Steam years ago and finding that in general, it’s improved gaming for me instead of being a detriment. Subscription models make more sense for online focussed games (assuming they have a ridiculous amount of content to justify it), but I can see most games sticking with a standard one off purchase / DLC model, at least for the coming generation.

    Questions questions questions.

  4. ExplosiveCoot says:

    I remember having mixed feelings about Steam when Half-Life 2 came out, but what Valve has done with the service is remarkable. No one really worries about Valve turning the servers off (thereby cutting off access to the games people have purchased) anymore, and with the amazing sales they offer regularly I’ve been able to play and enjoy many games I would’ve otherwise overlooked. It is now the preferred way to buy games for nearly every PC gamer I know.

    • subedii says:

      I worry about it, or at least I used to. But the thing is, between the convenience of actually using the service, and the fact that their prices are ridiculously competitive on most sales, it mitigates concerns I have. If Steam was shut down tomorrow, I could still largely look at my catalogue on Steam and say “you know what? for value for money, I still got a lot out of Steam.”

      In theory a standalone product I buy in the store can be used for ten or even twenty years until it becomes completely unviable to run. But apart from some rather extreme examples (like Planescape: Torment), the vast vast majority of games I play are only ever going to be for a limited amount of time. Maybe a couple of years. Then I move on to the next big thing.

      I guess I’ve become more pragmatic about gaming over the years. I don’t worry so much about losing access to old classics, since I don’t have time to play everything, and there’s always something new and interesting coming out. That and with major classics, they tend to get re-released anyway. If someone could sort out the IP issues surrounding Black Isle games, they’d be up on the major DD sites tomorrow. As it stands, I’m playing games like X-Com on a system that shouldn’t in theory be able to because it’s not running DOS.

    • Urthman says:

      I still don’t think of Steam games as purchases. I think of them as super-cheap long-term rentals. If the service were to die, the games I genuinely want to own I’d buy “for real” on a disc.

    • Javier-de-Ass says:

      that’s how valve think of it aswell. as a subscription service

  5. Rich says:

    Two reasons that I can think of that will stop this, at least for now.

    1. Subscription models. This is really a personal thing, but I’m not going to buy a PC, pay for a net connection, pay a one-off fee to get the game added to my list of ‘rentals’ and then have to pay a monthly fee for access to said rentals. All of which is pretty much the model of OnLive.

    More importantly:
    2. Infrastructure. The UK is country of ‘up to’ net connections, which translates to “we’ll charge you for 2mb/s, but you won’t actually get more that 0.9mb/s, and you’d better not try to use it in peak times ‘cos we’ll be throttling your connection if you do.” Also, ‘fair use’, which means you’re only allowed to use your connection in a way that is fair to the ISP, i.e. never, providing you keep paying.* All of this does not lend itself well to streaming games for hours on end. I’m pretty sure the UK isn’t unique in the state of it’s telecoms infrastructure.

    *After all that, I can still be thankful I don’t live in Hull.

    • Jimmy says:

      Unless you move to South Korea for their 1GB connections. Oh, wait…

      Still with a cable fibre optic connection in major urban centres like London, Manchester, Birmingham, you can get a fairly decent connection (considered to be 10 mbs, but in fact just enough to watch iPlayer). It is just a matter of ten years or so, and then local-based OnLive-type services will really take off.

    • Archonsod says:

      IIRC the UK’s infrastructure comes just under Cambodia in terms of modernisation.

      Payment model will be a real problem though. It might be possible if you got the ISP’s on board, so you bundle up the game access into the bill for the internet and then you have access to X games provided from your ISP, which also mitigates a lot of the latency problems too.

  6. coldwave says:

    I’d like to hear this from someone a little more credible.

    I mean, aside from Total Annihilation, what did Taylor ever did right?

    • subedii says:

      Aside from Dungeon Siege 1 and 2 And Supreme Commander 1 and 2?

      Nothing, the hack!

    • pipman3000 says:

      yeah besides the things he’s done right he has never done anything right.

      rps is a pretty credible site unless your name is elemental and some rowdy fellow from another forum is picking a fight with you.

    • Johnny says:

      I’m not even sure he got Total Annihilation right, don’t get me started on Dungeon Siege and SupCom.

    • Matt says:

      In my personal opinion GPG is neck and neck with Obsidian for the most over-rated/hyped developer making games today (case in point: subedii touting the DS games as examples of “quality” games they’ve made). Anyone else here role their eyes at the part where Taylor tries to lump SuCom2 in with SC2 as examples of AAA games?

    • subedii says:

      I agree it’s thoroughly horrendous that I enjoyed the Dungeon Siege games. Completely unacceptable, just like the good reviews it got as well. I’m not sure anyone really liked that game.

      Since we’re getting this out there, I may as well add in that I feel SupCom 2 is very definitely a much better game than SupCom 1, or TA for that matter. They made a lot of good design decisions with that game and the shift from SupCom 1 to 2.

      Still, I really enjoyed Fallout 3 too, so I guess I must just submit to hype.

    • Javier-de-Ass says:

      I was kind of agreeing until the supcom2 part, get the fuck out

    • subedii says:

      Hey, if I’m going to be strawmanned as a person that plays games on hype as opposed to quality, I ought to at least give the guy something to work with.

      To clarify on SupCom 2 (this isn’t really the topic at hand, so I’ll be brief):

      - The singleplayer sucked, but then so did the SP in most of Chris Taylors games.
      - Some of the changes they made to the game weren’t good ideas
      - However I believe most of them were, and helped the gameplay

      The specifics are debatable, but that’s probably for another time.

    • Thants says:

      The changes being to remove everything that makes Supreme Commander unique and interesting.

    • subedii says:

      Which you don’t particularly feel inclined to elucidate on at the moment it seems.

      Since people appear to get so angry about it, design changes which I felt were good and benefited the gameplay:

      - Differentiating the sides: There was far too much similarity between the three in SupCom 1, and SupCom 2 did a much better job of making them more unique. Cybran have more options, UEF are more directly confrontational, Aeon have the best mobility. Then you’ve got other side delineations that were enhanced. Previously only one Cybran naval vessel was capable of moving on land, now they all are, which makes it not so much a random one off feature on an OK vessel, but a race defining element. Similarly Aeon don’t have a Navy, but that’s because almost all their land units are hovercraft, so they depend more on speed and numbers to see off Naval attacks.

      - Swapping Tech Levels for the Research tree: SupCom 1 had a ridiculous number of redundant units as you moved up the technology levels. Nobody ever built T1 tanks once they had access to T3. And sending T1 tanks into T2 or T3 point defences was only going to give your opponent free scrap (TA was a bit better with this, largely helped because it had two tech levels instead, but we’re not talking about TA here). Instead, your T1 tanks are also your T3 tanks, as long as you develop them, the units remain relevant throughout. Slightly fewer units, but they all have a purpose to them. Unit roles in general were much better defined as well for that matter.

      - Streamlining the economy model: People whined about this (about as much as with the tech levels), but the actual effect from a gameplay standpoint is minimal. The most important thing it achieved though was preventing the stupidly frequent economy stall, where a momentary lapse in power could literally see your entire economy model go into a spiralling nosedive. Economy model now is more accessible, whilst still keeping what makes it unique (infinite resources and the dependency of defending them in the field if you’re expansionist. Option to completely turtle up instead if that’s how you want to play).

      - Making the experimentals an actual PART of the gameplay: In Vanilla SupCom, experimentals almost never saw the light of day, they were simply impractical to build during a regular multiplayer game. Largely owing to the fact that they cost crazy resources and could take 20-30 minutes to build. For their limited effectiveness and frequently slow speed on the maps, they just weren’t cost effective in time or opportunity cost, let alone actual resources. FA tried to fix this by changing some of the experimentals, drastically reducing their effectiveness and also reducing their cost by an order or magnitude, but really it was a half measure. Experimentals in SupCom 2 are far more frequent, and you regularly see them in multiplayer now. More importantly, they’re still game changers when they hit the field, even the minor ones. A Fatboy or Megalith still wrecks land armies and forces a complete re-think of strategy if you didn’t anticipate it. A Noah Cannon or some well placed Aeon PullnSmash’s can wreck someone’s day. Major experimentals are rarer, but you still at least get the chance to see them, unlike the ones in SupCom 1.

      So huge armies of around 500 units? Yeah. Resource model? Intact. Huge Experimentals? Good to go.

      I could go into points where I felt they went wrong with the game design, but realistically, I doubt you’re interested since I’m guessing you probably disagreed with my post from the start of it.

    • subedii says:

      Edit button would be nice to sort out those italics. Oh well.

    • Thants says:

      They were certainly problems with the first game. It just seemed like instead of just fixing certain mechanics they took them out entirely and replaced them with much more conventional ones (resources, aircraft movement). And it’s probably knee-jerk but seeing aircraft just hovering there like in Starcraft just feels so wrong in a Supreme Commander game.

      Still, you make a very convincing argument. Maybe I’ll have to give it another try.

    • subedii says:

      Well I apologise for getting snippy. But I did literally just get off of a decent game of SupCom 2 before that post.

      Comparing to something like DoW2 or Starcraft 2, SupCom’s still pretty unique. The singleplayer’s still pretty bad, but the multiplayer’s a lot more fun than I initially would have given it credit for. Starcraft 2 has a very heavy focus on micromanagement (which its fans will always deny, but it is), and DoW2 requires a lot of split second decision making. Not necessarily bad in themselves, but SupCom still takes a larger scale view of RTS’s, and focus more on strategic level decisions.

    • A says:

      Bill Gates, “The Road Ahead”, published in the 1990s.

      Had the concept of the iPhone in it (you walk around with a mobile that can act as your ticket for a show, find the nearest pizza place, etc) and that of PCs becoming terminals again / clouds.

      Ironically, this wasn’t the first time Gates realized something and then failed to capitalize on it.
      The iPhone was Apple, despite his book.

  7. zipdrive says:

    Can I plug my own audio interview with Mr. Taylor, done a month or so ago?
    It’s right here.

    There is more stuff here.

  8. Tei says:

    Theres only one Amazon, and one Steam, and one Google. And only one WoW, and only one FarmVille.

    Maybe tryiing to enter these markets where a single title saturate the market is a bad idea.

    • Okami says:

      There’s might only be one Steam, but that doesn’t mean that other digital games distribution services aren’t making any money. And eventhough Farmville’s success is legendary it’s not the only facebook game making absolutely ridiculous amounts of money. Just because there’s one major player in a business model that everbody thinks of first, because they get so much coverage doesn’t mean that nobody else can make any profit from it.

    • Urthman says:

      Guild Wars 2 is not a bad idea.

  9. Langman says:

    Adequate* net infrastructure won’t exist in the UK for 20 years, maybe longer depending on which sources you decide to listen to. It’s going to be a long, slow, messy process for many of us over here, with endless traffic-shaping concerns, depending on your location/ISP.

    Good luck to them!

    * As in: acceptable upload/download speeds/ping/etc consistently at all times of day for the majority of the public.

    • Archonsod says:

      Adequate infrastructure is unlikely to exist until someone figures out how we can make BT upgrade all of those lines we paid for them to have in the first place.

  10. ReV_VAdAUL says:

    Yeah all this streaming gaming talk is very worrying to me because it will seemingly be the deathknell of mods which is one of the best thngs about PC Gaming. Not just the big mods but also the ability make small tweaks to games or minor alterations so they fit your play style. Browser games will be akin to consoles in the sense you’re stuck with the product as is, if you don’t like it? Well f*** you the focus group did so thats what you get.

  11. neothoron says:

    Browser games are easy to setup because they rely on the lowest common denominator.

    You want to make AAA games with that? Performance and hardware considerations will be back in half a second.

    Want to stream games remotely? At best, you successfully replaced performance considerations with bandwidth and response time considerations.

    Also, you seem to have the weird idea that getting AAA games in a browser experience would be a victory for the PC platform – but the point, the real strong point, of the Web is its universality – you can browse it from a mobile phone, a console, your coffee machine (in five to eight years, remember).

    But no matter how you slice it, that universality is not compatible with AAA games. You can make very good games for that platform – but they cannot compete with AAA games on the latter’s strong points.

  12. bonjovi says:

    This will happen on the day we all drop our PCs in favour of ‘terminals’ that will only receive processed data from the ‘server’ and will not need any computing power save for enough to communicate efficiently with the server. And you will subscribe to the server that will be maintained and upgraded by some company, instead of buying PC.

    Like this will ever happen.

  13. StingingVelvet says:

    Call me old fashioned and irrelevant, but I will just stop gaming if it all goes browser-based and streaming. I know people say that all the time, “activation DRM means I stop gaming!” and such. Seriously though, there is a point at which games are way more of a service than a product and we’re already getting to close to that for my taste… playing everything in a browser at the behest of a company for almost surely a subscription fee is not going to fly with me, no sire.

    I got plenty of old games to play, many for the first time. I don’t need that garbage, and more importantly I don’t consider it real PC gaming as it cuts out mods, tweaks, settings and other open-platform loveliness.

  14. Dableo says:

    But I don’t _want_ it all to “just work.” I love knowing about and assembling the hardware in my PC, I love tweaking everything to get the experience “just right,” and perhaps most importantly, (if a bit pretentiously), this barrier of entry keeps all the idiots out. The day you take the “PC” out of “PC gaming” is the day I give up and buy a console (which, what with inclusions of browsers and all that, would still be able to play these games anyway). It doesn’t really matter though, AAA games will never completely move to browser based or cloud solutions for a long time (if ever).

  15. Dude says:

    Baboonanza said: “There are whole lot of reasons why that won’t happen actually.”

    Wrong! It is already happening: Unity3D is a 3D game engine wich allows output to the browser via a plugin. This is full blown 3D + physics.

    EA is doing this with Tiger Woods online. Fully 3D golf game played from within the browser.

    And it will happen even more as this engine is becoming more and more popular in the gaming industry.

    Taylor is spot on when it comes to this.

  16. Retribution says:

    Taylor needs to go back in time and stop SupCom 2 from ever happening before i listen to his opinion again

    • Thants says:

      But it was Supreme Commander playable on a console controller, with all the distinctive gameplay mechanics removed. And more focus on story. How could that have possibly gone wrong?

  17. Ted says:

    Why make another Dungeon Siege game as thoroughly mediocre as the first two were? Who the hell wants to play that? So lazy on his part.

  18. A says:

    I would rather that crap NOT happen.

    People are being stripped of actually “having” any part of the game they paid for more and more as it is; all this stream-down nonsense is just wresting more and more control from the user and transfering it into the hands of folks who feel that monitoring every of your playseconds is a great idea.

    Very not cool.

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