Crytek Say The PC Is A Generation Ahead

By John Walker on November 25th, 2010 at 3:22 pm.

The PC version will surely outshine the competition.

There’s never been any doubt that the PC has always been at the forefront of gaming technology. But it comes in waves. There’s a reason why many companies didn’t touch the consoles until the most recent generation, the PC always too far ahead in terms of graphics and tech for their ambitions to be realised elsewhere. Although for quite a few years now it’s become an equal race. Not realistically – the PC has been artificially held back as a consequence of cross-platform development, its current capabilities barely realised by this generation of developers. As has been the case previously, there comes a point where developers start to see the possibilities away from the plastic boxes, and the PC once more has its day. It’s my opinion that that time is coming, and it feels rather validated by Crytek recently telling EDGE that the PC is a generation ahead of the consoles.

CVG reports the story, stating that Crytek’s boss, Cervat Yerli, believes that the focus on 360 and PS3 is “holding back game quality on PC.”

There’s a reason to listen to Yerli and Crytek. Their November 2007 game, Crysis, is still used as a benchmark for PC graphics. (That it’s three years old is perhaps strong evidence for Yerli’s statement, PC games not seeing any significant steps forward in a long time.) And Crysis 2 shall inevitably replace it, perhaps in competition with id’s idTech 5 engine.

Of course, Crytek are just as much a part of the cross-platform bonanza. While they’ve been exclusively PC in the past, Crysis 2 is being developed across all three platforms. But Yerli says to EDGE that the creative expression of the developer is “limited” by Sony and Microsoft. He said,

“PC is easily a generation ahead right now. With 360 and PS3, we believe the quality of the games beyond Crysis 2 and other CryEngine developments will be pretty much limited to what their creative expressions is, what the content is. You won’t be able to squeeze more juice from these rocks.”

However, he also identifies the issue that developers aren’t taking the PC seriously at the moment. He explains that sales expectations are set so low that they don’t consider the PC a “big issue”. Which of course is a self-fulfilling prophecy. He adds, “Until the PC market creates comparable revenues, companies are not going to spend enough on the PC SKU of a game.”

Which means it’s perhaps time that the digital distribution services stopped being such massive idiots, and started publicising their sales figures. The secrecy around the subject is possibly causing the PC immeasurable harm. And we know some of those numbers are very large. Otherwise Valve wouldn’t be working in that floating platinum castle, paying their employees in diamonds.

Crysis alone sold over one million copies on PC in four months. The myth that the PC sku doesn’t sell needs to be overcome.

Like Yerli says, one more year and the consoles will be looking especially primitive. PC versions of games are already outshining the console equivalents when the developers make the effort. When a Crytek or an id or an Epic is looking at building their next major engine, they’re going to have to rely on the PC to go anywhere new. Clearly Microsoft and Sony are already working very hard on their next-next generation console, and that gap will likely be smaller than ever. But I really think a time is coming for the PC to get its nose out ahead once more.

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220 Comments »

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  1. Craig says:

    What else is new? :P

    • qrter says:

      Yerli certainly has changed his tune, hasn’t he? And aren’t we all extremely happy to now push him forward as some kind of spokesperson in favour of PC gaming – it’s a bit disconcerting.

  2. strange headache says:

    Hear Hear!

    It’s absolutely true what that guys say, cross-platforming is holding back the true potential of my beloved gaming box. Never before was I able to keep on gaming for such a long time with the same graphics card. It is time for that to change, TO INFINITY AND BEYOND!

    • Benny says:

      Indeed. I’ve been going for 18 months on a ati 4850 which is well over 2 years out of date, yet i can play most new games on high without even a struggle. Something is wrong here.

    • K says:

      I didn’t realize that until I read your comment, but I am in the exact same* boat. On the other hand, I have been playing Alpha Protocol (steam sale, aaarg!) and I was appalled at the controls. “4 Weapons, 3 Special abilities, 1 Button for jumping, taking cover, opening doors, talking to people and doing everything else” is just horrible.
      That doesn’t have anything to do with GPUs though.

      *Well, 4870, so my boat has an extra 0.4% or so, judging by the numbers.

    • Sam says:

      Yup, GTX280 here for 2+ years and still playing games on high at 1920×1080.

    • Sic says:

      Benny:

      I’m playing Crysis (a game that arguably still looks better than any other game) on my studio PC. I made it for recording acoustic instruments, so it’s completely silent. I have a graphics card without a fan.

      I think that says it all.

  3. Simon Dufour says:

    I love Crytek, they’re awesome.

    • Hmm says:

      I don’t love them anymore, they’re sellouts. Crysis 2 looks like a dumbed down, consolized corridor shooter devoid of things that made the original Crysis and Far Cry fun – so, it sucks until proven otherwise.

    • Brumisator says:

      No love here. Cervat Yerli has a bad habit of saying completely inane things in interviews.
      This is the first reasonable thing I’ve read from him in years.

    • TheLordHimself says:

      Wow talk about guilty until proven innocent.

    • DrGonzo says:

      I don’t understand what they have sold out exactly? They make games. This will make them more money. They weren’t a charity when they made Crysis 1.

    • NightKid says:

      @TheLordHimself

      Isn’t that phrase supposed to be the other way around?

    • Ubiquitous says:

      @NightKid

      That was the funny part.

      XD

    • Hmm says:

      @DrGonzo
      Maybe if you actually bothered to READ – they dumbed Crysis 2 down to make it fit the console instead of making the PC version first and then cutting the console version to bit. Instead, the PC version is crippled.

    • Sardaukar says:

      @Hmm, Interesting that you know so much about the Crysis 2 singleplayer experience so far ahead of release.

      You know, Crysis Warhead was much more linear than Crysis itself, and yet it was much more fun without compromising freedom of action? I loved the bigness of some Crysis levels, but let’s cut out the bullshit here. Most of the open space was nothing but trees; There wasn’t much you could meaningfully do if you strayed too far from the general path.

    • cov says:

      @Hmm

      How can you accuse them of “selling out”? Thats bizarre.

      They are not an underground rock band, or over-paid footballers. Crytek is a company. They are not obliged to stick with any one format at any time. They can develop for whomever they please and for any system.

      Crytek SHOULD be making games for the 360, the ps3, and anything else they can get their hands on. That way them and companies like them will be bringing to those consoles new benchmarks for console gaming, as they have done with PC gaming. This will improve gaming for everyone, which may not be what people develop games for now, but you can be damn sure it was the desire of those developers when they first plied their craft.

      The end result can often be excellent, they make alot of money to keep decent programmers in the work they love to be doing, and everyone gets to play games.

    • Hmm says:

      Not only are you full of bullshit, but also didn’t bother to read earlier replies, where I explained what selling out means in this case. Sheesh.

    • washaa says:

      @Sardaukar I agree, Warhead was a much smoother, even-paced experience. I feel Crytek got a good feel for how do build their levels to play well in the cryengine and I expect the same stuff out of Crysis 2.

  4. Nemon says:

    I see the linked article has had its share of argument already…

  5. mlaskus says:

    I for one appreciate the fact that I don’t have to upgrade my PC all the time to be able to play new games.

    • Random Stranger #46 says:

      @mlaskus

      Yeah, I do agree with you. That’s the only thing consoles are good for. And Tekken.

    • riadsala says:

      Same here, several times over.

    • Bioptic says:

      Yeah, it’s actually really refreshing to have a 2 year-old PC, that cost less than £400 to put together, just demolishing anything thrown at it (apart from the odd porting horror like GTA IV). Likewise, it’s nice that game sizes haven’t exploded but hard drives have – having 200 games installed at once is no longer a madman’s dream.

      I mean, I’d love to see the envelope pushed graphically, but I genuinely don’t think that most publishers can afford it – it’s already insane that a game has to be a multi-million seller just to break even nowadays. I think that increased power will lead to better post-processing, physics simulation and scale (thousands of entities on screen at once), but sharper textures and more detailed polygon models will just be too costly for many.

    • Jonathan says:

      Yep — I’ve not upgraded my PC for years and it still plays pretty much anything I throw at it perfectly well. It’s struggling with some of the latest releases, but I can live with that — there’s not been a PC-exclusive game I’ve been terribly excited about for some time anyway.

    • D says:

      I totally agree. But I also found that once I did upgrade (VRAM burnt itself), there was a hole of sadness where a spanky new game should have been. But besides this, I think its also about time we stopped worrying about these graphics alltogether. I mean, it looks fine Crytek, don’t worry about it. I’d much rather developers started putting equal cpu/gpu/programmer-time into other work, better game systems (AI comes to mind, looking at you TW), replayability and less bugs. Pipe dreams!

    • Jonathan says:

      @Bioptic, re: disk sizes

      I remember deleting pretty much everything on my 2Gb hard drive in order to install Shogun and the Mongol Invasion expansion, which came to about 1.7Gb iirc. Jeez, old times.

    • Sander Bos says:

      @mlaskus
      +1
      This is exactly what I thought when I read this.

      And to add, while I occasionally replay the first half of Crysis (so I really like the game, I hardly replay anything), it still runs quite poorly on my HD4670 compared to later games that I think are a lot prettier (for instance Far Cry 2, Dirt 2). Crytek, making your ‘rig’ look bad since 2004 (actually, Far Cry was much more well behaved performance wise).

    • mandrill says:

      I remember when the first 1gb drives came out, people were like “You’ll never be able to fill that!”

    • Kadayi says:

      I hear what you are saying, however the fact that every AAA game is now having to squeeze through the eye of the needle that constitutes the 360s hardware limitations (No guaranteed hard drive, No HD format, and developer unfriendly multi-disc licensing charges) means developers are constantly running up against asset repetition (see Mass Effect/Borderlands/Fallout 3/Dragon Age/Mafia 2 etc, etc) which really detracts from immersion.

    • Evil Otto says:

      Crysis being unplayable on low-spec pc’s is a myth. I could run it perfectly smooth on medium settings, on a 2008 aluminium Macbook.

    • battles_atlas says:

      I don’t really understand you guys’ sentiments. Your happy because there is no reason to upgrade your hardware now? Surely if you want a locked in hardware cycle you can buy a console? The PC-only games are almost all niche titles that never test hardware anyway, and the only exceptions to that, like Arma and TW, come with things that look like sliders, called ‘sliders’, in the options menu that lets you lower the requirements.

      I hate the current state of affairs. I want a reason to buy some sexy new slab of silicon. Admittedly this may have something to do with the fact that in the last two years, for the first time in my decade and a half of PC gaming, I actually have the money to afford new hardware, but the point stands. Your argument is throughly un-PC.

    • dlcl says:

      As much as the PC platform is and forever will be my one true love (disclaimer: not saying this to pre-empt the stoning I might/will receive for the following comments), but am I alone in thinking that the maturation of the PS3 and X360 consoles has been nothing but a boon for PC gaming?

      – With developers targeting standardised hardware specs, PC ports have never been more reliable. I know, it’s not perfect – but I can remember the days when even PC exclusives suffered from horrible, crippling bugs (Vampire TM: Bloodlines? STALKER?), without the aid of having porting as a scapegoat. This may be anecdotal, but one only needs to look at any and all of Capcom’s latest PC releases to see the benefits – they all look awesome and run smooth as silk, because…

      – PC gamers are no longer slaves to Moore’s Law and can power the latest releases without compromising on visual fidelity – often exceeding what consoles can output by dint of resolution settings. Matched with historically lower prices on PC multi-platform releases, it’s never been more affordable to get stuck into PC gaming. And we are just talking about “triple-A” releases by the big publishers, not taking into account…

      – today’s up and coming (and, in my humble opinion, most exciting) developers are taking the PC by storm. You know who. This *is* RPS, after all, right? More and more devs are grasping the fact that great art direction *does not* necessarily equal photorealism. Let the publishers bankroll enormous projects for the consoles. Indie devs can then juxtapose themselves to these types of games, and are carve themselves a nice niche in this PC space. For the first time in a veeeery long while, us PC gamers can pride ourselves on our ‘exclusives’ being lauded for awesome and unique gameplay, not just, “Oh, we have the same game that you guys play, just with more pixels and AA – nyeah, take that consoles!”.

      – Microsoft, upon entering the console free-for-all, gave with one hand and took with another. We now know the Beast’s name to be GFWL, but oh, the sheer *ease* of running any PC game worth playing with an Xbox gamepad! Standardisation FTW! Never has it been easier to turn our beige little boxes into Xbox 360s.

      I kinda loathe thinking of PC gaming returning to the bad old days (yeah, I said it) where the only reason to game on the PC was to play Manshoot 20(insert yearly update figure here) – Got A Spare $2000 For An Upgrade? edition.

      As irrefutable proof of my ironclad statements above – is it just a coincidence that Steam and PC digital distribution sales gaining strength is lock & step with the wider popularity and success of the big consoles? Do we have Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft to thank for our PC bounties? Or the Illuminati?

    • Grinnbarr says:

      I agree that it’s good that I don’t have to upgrade my PC much anymore since all the games have to run on the consolemachines, but why do we need this mad drive for better graphics anyway? Things like Dirt2 and Assassins Creed already look amazing, and while I admit certain things could be done better if the graphics improve (foliage, I’m looking at you) why don’t developers turn some of their graphics budget into story/gameplay budget and come out with something different instead of a remake with added prettiness?

      Case in point – Amnesia:tDD. Fairly simple graphics for today’s standards but my God does it make me want to poo myself.

    • strange headache says:

      @dlcl: Sorry but I must disagree here.

      – Console ports are still crappy and very often not optimized for PC hardware. This means that most games run very poorly even on much better hardware than their console counterparts. Besides most console ports do not take advantage of the many strengths that the PC has over consoles and to be honest, I’m getting tired of this.

      – PC hardware has become dirt cheap nowadays. Upgrading your System only costs a fraction of what it did 15 years ago, so that financial argument is simply not true anymore. Consoles games, DLC, services and peripherals are much more expensive on the console than on the PC and I’d even say that in the end, consoles require more money than PC.

      – Consoles still have many more exclusives that we as PC gamers will never have a chance to play. Yes the indie scene grew strong, but that is not a recent phenomenon. Indie games have always been there, they just were not quite so mainstream.

      – I absolutely loathe the fact that most console ports *ONLY* support official Microsoft gamepads. I have a trustworthy Trustmaster gamepad that I hugely prefer over the Microsoft products that I cannot use simply because of driver restrictions in said games. It would be very easy to offer support for *ANY* kind of gamepad, so why are we forced to buy microsoft products?

    • strange headache says:

      <blockquote cite="but why do we need this mad drive for better graphics anyway?"

      Better hardware not only offers better graphics, but more often better gameplay. Bigger, more immersive worlds, slower load times, more complex player-npc interactions for example.

    • battles_atlas says:

      @ dldc

      The problem with your post is a lot of it is incorrect.

      – re: bugs, there are still plenty of releases in terrible states, I see no evidence that this has reduced, the opposite if anything. PC exclusives still ship in beta state (Empires, Elemental etc). GTA IV was a port that was in a sucky state, as was codblops, at least for a few days. Besides, screw ports – they’re another sign of what is undesirable about the current situation. And Res Evil 5 and Streetfighter might have looked ok, but nothing special by the standards of what the PC is capable of.

      – Re: moore’s law. Again, makes no sense. We all are compromising on visual fidelity, its just that its being forced upon us by the dominance of consoles, rather than being our choice on what hardware we want/can afford.

      – I’ll conceed the point on indie devs being encouraged to not get hung up on graphics, but at best the consoles’ stalling big budget title’s ambitions is only part of the reason for it.

      – “oh, the sheer *ease* of running any PC game worth playing with an Xbox gamepad!”

      Proposterous statement.

      – “Never has it been easier to turn our beige little boxes into Xbox 360s.”

      Did anyone ever tell you that you have a victimisation mindset? You’re celebrating the fact that we can turn our infinitely flexible, near-infinitely power machines into a rusting 5 year old locked down chunk of obsolence?

      – “As irrefutable proof of my ironclad statements above – is it just a coincidence that Steam and PC digital distribution sales gaining strength is lock & step with the wider popularity and success of the big consoles? Do we have Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft to thank for our PC bounties? Or the Illuminati?”

      oh… just got that you’re being ironic. The whole post was irony right?

    • Archonsod says:

      “Consoles games, DLC, services and peripherals are much more expensive on the console than on the PC and I’d even say that in the end, consoles require more money than PC.”

      Yup. Most new release console games sell for £10 more than the PC version, so before taking anything else into account you’re saving £10 per game. Based on that alone, if you buy three games a month over a five year period you save £1800 over a console. More than enough to cover a new PC and a few upgrades. Or a damn sight more games if you’re being realistic.

    • dlcl says:

      @ strange headache:

      – I guess each person’s experience of the state of PC porting will vary depending on what games they play. Yes, we have the farce that was GTA4 on release, but in turn we get Capcom turning in stellar PC porting jobs for all their big releases for this-gen consoles. C’mon, downloadable PC benchmark tests, before you even buy the game? *That’s* how you do a PC port. Ubisoft’s PC releases have been pretty stable too (bar their inane choice of DRM, but that’s a different kettle of fish…).

      – $0 (no) upgrade > cheap upgrade.

      – IMO, most console exclusives aren’t must-plays anyway. Well, X360 exclusives, that is. I don’t own an X360 and am not in want for any specific game genre. My PC + other alternatives keep me nicely covered, thanks. Once again, IMO.

      – good point about the controller. Okay, I guess the main point I wanted to raise is that the barrier to entry for PC games is less daunting for the average gamer to get stuck in. WinXP and old PC games definitely weren’t plug n’ play as far as third party controllers went – you can now pick up an Xbox controller from any retailer and be 99% sure it’ll play nice with your game by just ripping it out of the box and plugging it into your USB drive.

      @ battles_atlas:

      Haha, though it would be fun to retroactively claim that my post was all in irony, I have to be honest and say, well, not really.

      Some of the best designs are borne out of constraints. An old maxim in the field of design, and I see the games of this generation bearing such wisdom to fruition. The problem with ‘blue sky’ (infinite) expectations is that they’ll never be met.

      To use an example you raised – Street Fighter 4. How does a game from the long-dead 2D fighting game genre end up being one of the most pirated games during the year of its release, on a platform that is perceived as not being conducive to that kind of gameplay? It’s unique visual style and vibrant palette *will* ensure that this game outlasts the most photorealistic, pixel pushing title released this year. Or next year. Or the year after even. Mark my words. Prior to SF4’s release, the EVO series of tournaments drew thousands of players annually to play Street Fighter 2. Released in 1992. SF4 has just as bright a future ahead of it, if the record breaking EVO attendance this year is any indication.

    • strange headache says:

      cheap upgrade.”>

      Fine then, stick with your Commodore 64 :P

    • Tom says:

      i can remember a time when a new pc was only really good for about a year.
      my current pc’s almost 4 years old now and i’m only just getting the upgrade itch.

      System Shock. Grim Fandango. Penumbra. Thief 2… no gpu-multi-parallax-shaded-threaded-tessellation in any of those.

    • battles_atlas says:

      @ dlcl

      No argument here about devs needing to get past their hard on for photorealism and starting to make games that are actually clever, or moving, or surprising, or – in the case of codblops – actually interactive. But has the rise of the console achieved that? Has it? Hmmmm?

      Obviously not, because the mythical console player is conceived as being every bit as limited as the hardware he is using. And devs design their games appropriately. If, however, games were designed with the mythical PC gamer in mind, I’d be playing New York Trilogy 3D at 8400*5250 right now. And that’s a fact for which there is no evidence.

    • Nick says:

      I agree with this actually, I don’t really give a flying monkey about graphical fidelity as long as I can play a game at a reasonable framerate.

  6. Irish Al says:

    The 360 is definitely showing its age GFX-wise now. The PS3 possibly has more legs in that area but few devs seem able to realise its potential. Thing is though – they’re good enough for almost all gamers and with all the new toys like Kinect and DLC they will be for another 2 years or so. So us PC-centric gamers shouldn’t start sucking each other off just yet.

    • DrGonzo says:

      You say that, but I don’t see how the PS3s graphics are any better. You may notice the only games that look better on PS3 are Sonys games and they pump an insane amount of money into them to make them look that way. I think the main difference between them is budget rather than power.

    • battles_atlas says:

      Why is sucking each other off always the option of last resort when it comes to PC gaming?

      A question I’ve asked myself many times.

    • skurmedel says:

      Don’t ask, start sucking!

    • Optimaximal says:

      @DrGonzo The key to the PS3 is to develop for it. Microsoft beat them to market so everyone started developing for the 360, hence port jobs from the old school x86 architecture to Cell didn’t work too well.

      Everyone who lead on PS3 and ported to the 360 has had more success.

    • Nightbringer says:

      @Optimaximal The 360 is actually a fair bit different than a PC… I reckon that developers primarily note some similarities due to the use of DirectX creating a familiar development feel.

  7. President Weasel says:

    Yeah the lack of Steam (and other digital download platforms are available, and some of those do decent business too) sales figures is an embuggerance.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Is it though? We don’t see the sales figures, but I would presume they tell the publishers themselves. In which case I don’t see how it makes a bit of difference.

    • battles_atlas says:

      Yeah I’m afraid John is talking total cockandballs on that. Just because we don’t know how many units Steam sells, clearly the publishers do. Maybe it hurts media coverage of the PC, which in turn hurts its profile, which in turn hurts its esteem in the eyes of publishers, but no more than that.

    • DrazharLn says:

      Sure, publishers will know how well their own games are doing, but how can we know if steam tells anyone what its total sales are?

  8. Brumisator says:

    So Cervat Yerli is saying something sensible for a change? How novel.

  9. Xercies says:

    I actually think this new era of no upgrading, could if they wanted to and had enough power get new people into PC gaming. the problem as I see it is that people think its to complicated, but when £300 machines can play crysis very well on medium then there is room to expand people to PC gaming so the audience goes up.

    • Bhazor says:

      Second that.

      For the first time in years minimum specs have leveled off and reached a nice plateau whilst hardware continues to drop in price. For the first time a high end gaming PC is comparable in price to a console. This is a good thing.

    • Nethlem says:

      No it’s not an good thing…
      A good thing would be if companies would actually push the new tech and optimize the game for mid-range hardware. See that’s one of the beauties of PC gaming: OPTIONS

      It doesn’t need to be “insane graphics with insane hardware requirements!” OR “good graphics with hardware requirements from 3 years ago”. PC gaming can and should do both, that’s why we have graphics settings for PC games.

      Basicly something that crysis tried to do but failed at because it had mostly been an unoptimized mess and not “pushing tech”. So it ended up with high specs but not even on low/medium settings really playable on mid range PC’s.

  10. Evil Otto says:

    … and they are one hundred percent right.

  11. Arglebargle says:

    Obvious fact is obvious?

    For me, the worst thing about the consolitus issue is the awful GUI and controls.

    I can deal with less than stellar graphics, but having to fight the controls to play the game gets that game deleted more often than not. Though setting the bar at the five year old graphics level is kinda irritating as well.

    • Heliosicle says:

      That’s my main gripe with ports at the moment, having to use keys and the UI being HUGE, with current resolutions as they are, there’s no need to make every button massive…

    • DrGonzo says:

      Well then Kinect should be just for you. With it the Xbox has arguably the best and easiest UI to use.

  12. MrMud says:

    “Which means it’s perhaps time that the digital distribution services stopped being such massive idiots, and started publicising their sales figures.”

    Why?
    If EA looks at their sales figures (and they have access to all sales figures, both retail and digital) and decides that its not worth putting money towards a PC SKU then that decision is taken with perfect information. Its us and the journos who are stuck without knowing how much the games actually sell, this is not a problem for the people actually taking the decisions.

    • Archonsod says:

      It’s not perfect. If you can only see your own sales figures you know how much you’ve sold. You don’t know how much you could be selling unless you can see everyone else’s. Without knowing the shape of the market you can’t begin to guess at whether there is room for something to perform better, let alone how to do so.

  13. apricotsoup says:

    Wasn’t the PS3 supposed to have a 10 year life-span starting from 2006?

    I’m sure we’ll see the PS4 a long time before 2016 but sony don’t seem to be in any rush to move things forward.

    • TheLordHimself says:

      Yes. In fact, the PS2 has only just stopped having games released for it. My flatmate has the PS2 copy of Pro Evo 2010!! The PS3 will be around for a long time yet. Plus GT5 actually looks really good on it.

    • skurmedel says:

      Sadly, having just played Gran Turismo 5, I must say it’s got nothing on a PC game graphic wise. The screenshots released must be grandiose bullshots. It’s not ugly, and certainly not for a console game where it probably is just as good as any console racing game. But it doesn’t look anything like the screenshots, except when you are in photo mode but it is hardly gameplay either. It’s a 5 second render.

  14. Bhazor says:

    You say that like it’s a good thing.

    Games are already so costly and time intensive to make that publishers can only fund the dead certs. The engines are already so bloated that day one patches are becoming the norm even on the consoles. The graphix already take so long to make that theres no development time left for the actual game parts.

    If a game sucks then being able to have 12x AA and HDR lightning won’t make it much better.

  15. ZIGS says:

    Wrong, the consoles are a generation behind

  16. Premium User Badge

    Schaulustiger says:

    The “Steam sales figures are not public, so we don’t see the whole PC revenues” argument always seems a bit confusing to me, to be honest.

    Whenever a big publisher like Activision or Electronic Arts makes its annual investor report, they also include PC sales figures and they are – as expected – relatively low compared to the consoles figures (I remember from looking at the mentioned publishers reports a while ago). Now, the publisher *does* include numbers from the Steam sales, right? I mean, Valve can’t hold back these numbers from the respective publishers, can they?

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      You might want to look again. Publisher by publisher the PC is generally ahead of the Wii and comparable to the PS3. The real issue is that the big console exclusives and single titles like Modern Warfare 2 massively skew the market toward the 360.

    • MrMud says:

      But how would steam showing their sales numbers fix this?

    • subedii says:

      More to the point, those sales statistics aren’t the property of Valve, they’re the property of their respective companies. At the most, Valve can choose to release their own sales stats for Steam if they want, but even that wouldn’t really tell the whole picture without an idea of how much extra profit is made per unit sold on steam compared to at B&M retail (which probably varies depending on contract). I know for Valve themselves it’s something in the region of 90%+ of the sold price, compared to maybe 50% or less at retail. For other companies, who knows.

      Some companies choose to release their Steam sales stats (like Runic and highlighting Torchlight selling over 600,000 and continuing to sell), but in general, most companies seem to keep quiet on those numbers unless they’re truly ultra huge sellers and can drive stock prices up. I remember one dev mentioning that this was because those statistics tend to be used for things like contract and company negotiations, so I’m not sure how likely we are to see such things in future.

    • Premium User Badge

      Schaulustiger says:

      @Jim Rossignol:

      I took a second look and the reports show a not-so-PC-favorable picture:

      From Activisions 2009 report:

      PC: 164 million $
      360: 857 million $
      PS3: 584 million $
      Wii: 584 million $
      MMOs (WoW, obviously): 1248 million $ (that is just insane)

      (source, p. 27)

      From Electronic Arts 2010 report:

      PC: 687 million $
      360: 868 million $
      PS3: 771 million $
      Wii: 570 million $

      (source, p. 184)

      From THQ’s 2010 report:

      PC: 72 million $
      360: 236 million $
      PS3: 199 million $
      Wii: 137 million $

      (source, p. 86)

      From Ubisoft’s 2010 report:

      PC: 8% (of total revenue)
      360: 22%
      PS3: 23%
      Wii: 26%

      (source, p. 16)

      EA aside, those numbers are pretty disappointing, to be honest.

    • battles_atlas says:

      You can’t really not count console exclusives, as they are among the most desirable games on the format. Otherwise they wouldn’t be made exclusives.

      Besides which aren’t Total War and Football Manager both PC exclusives? they must be amongst our biggest sellers.

    • rei says:

      Actually, those numbers are amazingly high considering that those publishers seem for the most part to go out of their way to not make money on the PC. We can only imagine what it’d look like if the PC didn’t get lazy ports 6 to 18 months after everyone’s bought the game on the consoles and publishers weren’t roped into exclusives by platform holders.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Doesn’t read all that disappointing to me. The PC has two significant exclusive in there – WoW and The Sims – and oh look WoW cleans up and EA’s PC figures are good.

      Are you saying RDR wouldn’t have sold anything on PC? And Ubisoft’s popularity with PC gamers is unsurprising.

    • bob_d says:

      The problem with one PC game skewing the figures is that it says nothing about the reality of every other publisher and every other game. WoW has the MMO market locked up, and MMOs are the only way you can really afford to release a big-budget game PC-only.
      So the irony is that while the PC may be an attractive platform for game development because it’s so far ahead, the cost of developing a current-gen game that makes use of all that power is so huge that it requires cross-platform release (and the targeting of lower-spec PCs as well) to be economically viable.

    • Archonsod says:

      “MMOs are the only way you can really afford to release a big-budget game PC-only.”

      Right. That’d be why The Sims is still the biggest franchise in gaming. Have the consoles got Sims 3 yet?

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      EDIT: Re last post, yes the 360 version of The Sims just turned up.

    • Premium User Badge

      Schaulustiger says:

      Just to make this clear, I am merely being the devil’s advocate here.

      So, MMOs are still a PC-only domain, but I often wonder what would happen if a console-exclusive MMO(FPS?) would hit the market and how its subscriber figures would look. Pretty good, I’d guess.
      And aside from EA, the numbers are not insignificant, but – especially in the case of Ubisoft and THQ – a good reason for the suits to not invest heavily in the PC market. Plus, those numbers are falling, too.

      I, personally, seldomly buy a game from those publishers, since my gaming interests are mainly catered by the independent PC developers. And I’m perfectly happy with it. I do own a 360, though, for very few exclusive titles (Red Dead Redemption comes to mind, a great game that I’d love to see on the PC in the future) and some XBLA game, but the lack of strategy and good RPGs on the console always drive me back to the PC.

    • bob_d says:

      @ Archonsod: Cross-platform Sims 3 aside, the Sims games weren’t hugely expensive to produce, either (i.e. not console-level development budget). You mistake revenue for production costs. The Sims sales numbers are a freakish exception, and developers who expect their games to be freakish exceptions when setting budgets aren’t going to be around for long (e.g. Hellgate, APB).
      That said, it’s true that the other possible way (besides being an MMO) of sustainably releasing expensive PC-exclusive games is to sell lots and lots of content add-ons that don’t cost much to produce. But the PC market is small enough that only the top-selling game with many successful expansions could manage it. Again, not a great strategy.

    • subedii says:

      I think the bigger issue is what happens if/when consoles starting coming with keyboards and mice as standard. The PS3 allows for it already, but it’s not considered a standard feature of a console so they’re not packaged or sold in by default.

      There may very well be a push for that in the coming generation. And if keyboards and mice are there, things like web browsers probably won’t be far behind.

      When that happens, do they effectively become game specific PC’s?

    • Archonsod says:

      EA haven’t released the development costs, but it’s not cheap. In fact the marketing portion alone probably accounts for more than some development teams get in total.

      Point being, there are plenty of PC exclusive non-MMO high budget games which are highly successful. From pretty much 90% of Paradox’s catalogue to Dawn of War or Civ V.

      They’re lower budget than the consoles, but a large part of that is because you’re not paying for licensing. The average single platform game, on any platform, runs to around $10 million development. The average cross-platform game runs to around $25 million. The vast majority of the additional cost isn’t anything to do with the game, it’s paying Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo what amounts to a fee for releasing your game on their console.

      And it’s not a format exclusive thing. If you put any unreasonable expectation on sales when you decide a budget you’re going to go bust, whether you’re selling it on a Playstation or Android. That’s not a format thing, that’s an incompetency in management thing, and not confined solely to the gaming industry for that matter.

    • subedii says:

      IIRC the cost of AAA titles these days an awful lot to do with the rise of marketing in the games industry. We’re at a stage where the marketing budgets for some of these games literally meet or exceed the production budgets.

    • Droniac says:

      Schaulustiger, you do realize that those revenue figures avoid a very crucial factor in properly breaking down the revenue potential of each platform, right? All of those reports mention the revenue figures per platform, but none of them mention the amount of games published for each platform.

      Activision, for example, clearly publishes far more console than PC games. In fact, the vast majority of their PC releases (StarCraft 2 being the only recent exception to my knowledge) are poorly handled and overpriced console ports like Call of Duty: Black Ops or BioShock 2. It’s astounding then to see the PC platform do so well for them with only 1 exclusive title and a bunch of halfhearted ports versus console exclusives that sell dozens of millions of copies like the Guitar Hero franchise.

      THQ is very similar to Activision when it comes to publishing practices on the PC. Their only recent PC releases are Dawn of War 2: Chaos Rising, Metro 2033, DarkSiders and Red Faction: Guerrilla. Two out of those four games were made for consoles first and foremost and one is a relatively obscure eastern European shooter. Their PC revenue figures are surprisingly strong considering the fact that they publish practically nothing on the platform or only do so about a year after the console release – case in point: DarkSiders.

      Ubisoft is a slightly different beast in that it tends to have a larger amount of PC releases, but handles them more poorly than both Activision and THQ. The new U-Play DRM has been a disaster that has scared off most informed PC gamers from buying otherwise stellar games like Assassin’s Creed 2 or Settlers 7. And even more importantly a majority of their PC games take the shape of long overdue console ports, like Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood. The fact that their PC sales are abysmal is not surprising at all and is entirely their own fault.

      Electronic Arts has a fair amount of PC exclusives and tends to handle PC versions of its multi platform titles quite well (e.g.: Mass Effect 2). I’m also quite certain that they release more PC games then all three of those other publishers combined. It’s not so surprising then to see that EA is the only publisher that sees the PC platform rival or exceed the three major console platforms in terms of revenue.

      I haven’t really done more than look at the recent releases for each company on Steam, but those do clearly illustrate a severe lack of activity on the parts of Activision and THQ. And EA clearly decimates even Ubisoft with tons of new PC releases, even if most of them are just properly handled multi platform games. This makes me wonder whether Activision, THQ and Ubisoft’s poor PC revenue are really a result of a small PC gaming market or simply down to ridiculously low game publishing activity from these companies on the PC platform.

    • bob_d says:

      @ Archonsod: $10 million for a game? Sure, if you license or already own an engine that you don’t add to in any significant way, you outsource a good deal of the graphics work to reliable companies located in areas with really cheap labor costs, and you manage to get the entire game finished in only two years (so a crack team with good management, which is sadly rare in the game industry). You want to do a AAA game that’s new or ambitious for $10 million? Forget it. I’m talking about games that push the technology, not the “average” production cost games; I’m talking the $50-$100 million range (which is what a game with contemporary graphics and ambitious gameplay will cost). And no, that cost isn’t due to console licensing fees – sure, the console development kit is a not insignificant development cost, but the licensing fees are added to the price of the game: they aren’t actual development costs per se.
      Development costs are higher than in previous years precisely because of what the technology is now capable of: higher resolution models, textures, more complex shader effects, larger environments, more complex animation systems, physics and particle effects, etc. All these things mean more work, more specialized workers and more time to make a game, i.e. more money. If you increase your computing power, and actually develop games that make use of that, your costs are going to go up.
      You’re missing my point about development costs versus returns: the problem is, to develop a really cutting edge, ground-breaking (i.e. competitive) game now costs so much that even if the game is number one in the sales charts, you aren’t guaranteed to even make your development and marketing costs back. This is new for the industry. Development costs weren’t high enough in the past for this to happen, and sales numbers were about the same. Higher power computers + game that uses that power = development costs so large that there isn’t a total market large enough to support it, much less a high-end-PC-only market.
      One of the major reasons why this console generation is twice as long as previous console generations is because the cost of developing a game for the next gen is expected to be double what it is now. Console makers know that game developers can’t sustainably make games at that cost. All the developers are freaking out about it and suddenly developing interests in Facebook and phone games.

      @subdeii: Marketing costs are a whole other ball of wax, and yes, they often exceed development costs. Marketing costs have gone up because development costs have gone up. The bigger your game, the more money you have to spend on marketing if you hope to recover any of that investment.

    • dorn says:

      The info you get from investor reports is totally useless for the kind of marketing analysis that needs to be done. Take sports for instance. That is a genre that’s profitable on both PC and Console obviously but it’s no doubt very skewed towards the console side. The question is how much? Even EA probably can’t fully answer that question despite owning a very large chunk of that market.

      Then there’s another angle. Take RPG’s. RPG’s are traditionally very big on the PC. Yet for decades console RPG’s have all but ignored the PC. When they did get ports (FF7 for instance) they were horrible and so poorly made that it’s a given they’d sell badly. So it’s not very surprising when PC sales are low. When big name games like FF13 don’t even get ported it’s actually quite amazing how high PC sales are.

    • Zacqary Adam Green says:

      @Schaulustiger

      There is a console-exclusive MMOFPS. It’s called MAG.

      It’s doing…okay.

  17. rocketman71 says:

    In other news today, the sky is blue.

  18. Starky says:

    Actually the lack of steam sales figures is a non issue really, given that every major publisher knows EXACTLY how many copies they sell when they release a game through steam – and it is clearly still not enough for them to begin shifting focus away from consoles.

    They may not be public, but they are shared with the developers for their own games.

    • Thants says:

      On the other hand, it could be that publishers only put out a buggy, half-assed PC port because their last buggy, half-assed PC port didn’t sell well.

  19. DiamondDog says:

    So we want to boast about having the most powerful platform, but when faced with AAA console titles we look down our noses and play our indie flash games. Right?

    I like both, I have to say. I just thought the PC had finally moved on from all this.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      I don’t think it’s boasting – it’s pointing out that the PC has loads of potential that is currently not being exploited.

    • Premium User Badge

      The Sombrero Kid says:

      There is no Platform Holder to evangelise the PC to developers it’s up to consumers & the media to do that, that’s what this is, without it microsoft and sony would see the platform ground into dust, it’s an elephant in the room for them.

  20. Lobotomist says:

    I say BAH!

    Enough with the quest for perfect hyper realistic graphic.

    Return to creating good gameplay.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      This stuff isn’t just about realism – it’s about other things like level sizes and so on. That most cross-platform games are designed to function with a tiny amount of RAM is a big deal in terms of limiting the experiences we are seeing.

    • James says:

      The RAM thing is actually very relevant. There is a lot that can be done “outside of graphics” but there are other considerations when titles are forced to co-exist “equally” on consoles and PCs.

    • noobnob says:

      That’s exactly what I was thinking, Jim. Say, as an example, STALKER Call of Pripyat on a console. You’d probably have a bunch of split areas and lots of loading times instead of the 3 huge areas to explore.

      Or as an even more ridiculous example, a game like Minecraft with procedural generation of terrain (even if blocky). On a console.

    • Starky says:

      That’s not exactly true – it all depends on design, consoles with hard drives are fast enough now to steam level data – loading can be a bitch, but it is a problem developers can overcome.

      GTA4 is a prime example.

      Granted the PC could look better over longer view distances (less texture compression, less detail scaling so on so forth, have more stuff going on at once (enemies, etc)… but not so much more than consoles as to be a whole different game.

      Look at Dead Rising 2 for example, if that game was a PC exclusive using all the power of a decent spec gaming PC (middle to upper spec current generation PC – say i5 750 and a 5850 with 4GB ram) it would be the exact same game. It would just look a bit better – less cloning on the zombies, better texture resolution at range. More detailing on the models (tessellation etc), better shadows (ambient occlusion), higher possible resolution and Anti-Aliasing… but the gameplay improvements would be minor.

    • koalfaik says:

      Well, in a DR2 Super PC Only Edition you’d probably have fewer or none of those incredibly annoying transitions between areas, and you could do, say, 8-player free-roaming co-op. I’d absolutely prefer that version.

    • Kadayi says:

      @Starky

      360s don’t have guaranteed hard drives though. The developers always have to cater for the weakest link in the chain.

    • Nova says:

      @Starky

      Plus the bigger the “level” the crappier the graphics and textures on consoles, see GTA4.

  21. Archonsod says:

    I expect the big publishers are well aware of the sales figures from online distribution; presumably said distributors have to kick some money back to the publishers at some point. The problem is the market rather than the revenue. If you look at the games which have been successful on the PC over the past five years you’ve got a rather eclectic mix from Minecraft to Farmville sitting alongside Mass Effect and Battlefield. The consoles tend to be slightly more homogeneous, you get the occasional oddball entry but for the most part they tend to be established ‘genre’ games; even if they’re particularly well done games. So for your prospective publisher looking at the market, it’s obvious some form of shooter, possibly third person, with shouty men and big guns will do well on the consoles. On the PC on the other hand you’re looking at a shouty man shooter with added mining and crop rearing levels which connects in to facebook if you want to capture market share.

    Which is pretty much what’s holding gaming back. Not the hardware of the consoles, it’s hard to see exactly how much a modern title would tax better hardware beyond making the brown browner and the shouty man shoutier.

  22. clownst0pper says:

    It’s an awful cycle on the PC though.

    Publishers don’t invest as they say there is no money to be made.
    There is no money to be made because good publishers don’t invest.

    Evidently there is money to be made (Steam, Valve, Crytek, Blizzard) the problem is there are so few good Publishers ands developers.

    In the good words of the Lord: “Make Ye Great Games and They Shalt Come”.

  23. icupnimpn2 says:

    Maybe the world’s greatest PC is a generation ahead of the consoles, but with a mid-line graphics card, My PC probably is not. Yeah I can get higher resolutions on some titles.

  24. Starky says:

    Also, the problem with PC gaming has never, ever been one of raw power – but usability.

    I’m a nerd, I can work around a game that hits a bug wall… I can deal with driver issues, comparability errors, and mod/tweaks. I’m perfectly comfortable opening up a .ini in notepad++ and editing away, or spending an hour googling and reading support forums for a fix.

    Most gamers are not.

    Consoles are king because they allow the 80%+ of average gamers to just play games. It’s been that way since the NES, if not before.

    PC’s have always been more powerful, and those hardcore gamers looking for the most advanced tech automatically gravitated to them, because technology was increasing so fast that even a year after a console generation the PC was clearly leagues ahead.
    The problem is consoles are now powerful enough – maybe not enough for Crytek level graphical wankery, but good enough that any game can look good.

    Graphical improvement vs’s processing power required is on a logarithmic scale, so doubling the graphical horsepower isn’ta huge deal.
    It’s the difference between 2xAA and 8xAA – something most people will NEVER notice.

    Maybe now after what, 6 years? the PC is now clearly more powerful, so much so that even a non-gamer could notice and appreciate the graphical difference between a xbox and decent gaming windows box – but what the first playstation came out that noticeable difference took maybe a year, if not less to achieve convincingly.

    Were there another console generation now – it would probably* take 10 years or more for PCs to be clearly and undeniably a “generation” ahead (so much that average bloke on the street could notice it and be amazed).
    *Unless there is some massive and unexpected breakthrough in processing technology – which to be fair their might be with optical based processors.

    • Premium User Badge

      The Sombrero Kid says:

      consoles aren’t like that anymore, they’re getting buggier and buggier and more and more people are having to tinker, they are essentially becoming closed platform PC’s which is of course what the platform holder wants, it’s all a huge ruse to get developers and consumers to pay for stuff they used to get for free.

  25. Cinnamon says:

    PC is a generation ahead of consoles but since console devs mostly refuse to make games that run properly on console hardware the ports of these games are just about appropriate for the performance expected from a PC game on current hardware.

    Rising development costs would kill any chances for lots of top end games being made to “next generation” standards anyway. Current gen costs are like 100 million dollars for a top end game so what would it cost to make a next gen game. 250 million? 500 million? I’m sure we are not going to get a lot of cool experimental titles that appeals only to us PC gaming nerds for that budget.

    • Heliosicle says:

      suprisingly low really, if Steam is 80% of all DD sales as speculated.

      One thing to note is that there were no uber sales on in October, I’d like to see the sales for June or January when they had a couple of huge sale weeks.

    • SirKicksalot says:

      1 in 5 customers get their order free on Direct2Drive.
      They have a counter of the winners.
      In three days, it only reached 404: http://www.direct2drive.com/d2d-gives-back-2010/

      So they registered a bit above 2000 orders in three days. It’s depressing, really.

    • MrMud says:

      They also say it was one of their best months of the year.

      This doesnt really suprise me, I think alot of people here are grossly overestimating how much Digital Distribution factors in in PC sales.

    • Starky says:

      Remember though PC games traditionally have a much longer sales period than console games – which after the first month or 2 drop off sharply, as most sales by that point are pre-owned copies.

      Where as as those stats show (along with other stats from many other sources over the years), with steady development, and occasional promotion/sales, PC titles can keep selling respectably monthly units year after year.

      I’d like to see any console game sell almost 200k units after over a year since launch – it may happen with a platinum release, but again that would be a short 1-2 month deal.
      Then you have PC titles selling noticeable (not insignificant) numbers 5+ years after release (Counter-Strike, Diablo 2, etc.).

    • Archonsod says:

      Erm, you might want to read that article again:

      “sales via digital gaming destination Steam grossed an estimated $73.1 million USD during October.”

      They’re guessing based on the data available, not from actual sales figures. Hence why the word “estimate” appears quite regularly before they give most figures.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      @SirKicksalot

      Read a bit closer. Nothing was revealed there. That’s an *estimated* top ten by a third party analytics company.

    • Brumisator says:

      Those figures are all estimated, and probably way off.

      EDIT: DOH! beaten to the punch yet again.

    • ektraina says:

      Those numbers can’t be right. It says HL2DM sold 80k at $5 when it’s actually free for (very nearly) everyone.

      http://www.steampowered.com/ati_offer1a/
      http://www.steampowered.com/nvidia/

    • mqzpla says:

      @SirKicksalot
      It’s 1 in 5 CREDIT CARD purchases. And it seems that D2D only accepts credit cards from EU, UK and North America (I know it did not accept my card, while steam did).
      They do have price matching with some other digital distributors, but it requires some work, so anyone should wait (and probably many do) to see what the current sales will bring. If the counter will not rise higher during the last day, I am obviously wrong about it.

    • Premium User Badge

      The Sombrero Kid says:

      please note that the analysts make a lot of money of off organisations who’s agenda is directly opposed to the existence of the PC.

  26. BobbyB says:

    All you have to do now is walk into a Game store to be confronted by wall to wall console’s and games with PC games only commanding a center stand with a couple of copies of each game to see how little resellers see the PC market.

    I agree that download sites need to be more transparent in the numbers of games they sell to help leviate this stigma that pc gaming is dead.

    • subedii says:

      Last time I walked into my local gamestore it was full of wall-to-wall used console games. Funnily enough, even shelf space for “new” console titles seems to be shrinking. The stores are devoting a ridiculous amount of shelf space to used games since it nets them much more money.

      Naturally this ends up upsetting a lot of people in the game industry.

  27. Hmm says:

    PC might be ahead, but because it doesn’t get exclusive games, none takes advantage of what it can do.
    We’re soo lucky if we get console ports. :(

    • mep says:

      Blizzard…

    • CMaster says:

      The PC doesn’t get exclusive games?
      I’d dare say that the PC gets more exclusives than any other platform, with the possible exception of iOS.

    • Hmm says:

      @mep – Blizzard? Yeah, one game every half a decade, woohoo. And Diablo 3 will be on consoles, too, so so much for an exclusive, eh?

      @CMaster – how many of those exclusive are AAA? When was the last time we got an exclusive shooter (TPS, FPS, doesn’t matter)? STALKER and ArmA II and that’s it.
      PC does not have a parent company to make games of Gears of War, Halo, Uncharted, God of War, Gran Turismo- caliber for PC and PC alone. Which sucks, because AAA games is what makes people buy hardware. Niche genres, while awesome, are just that – niche. :(

      There was a time when games like Quake, Unreal were PC exclusive and soo ahead of everything at the time.

  28. subedii says:

    Crysis alone sold over one million copies on PC in four months. The myth that the PC sku doesn’t sell needs to be overcome.

    That’s part of the problem. Cervat Yerli said that it should have sold 4-5 times that (at the time, that would’ve put it in Gears of War territory), and basically said it was all down to piracy that it didn’t. Hence the issue.

    The problem is also unrealistic expectations here. Crysis was a game that priced itself out of the majority of the market by being too far ahead of the technology curve (yes you could turn down the graphics settings, but that was arguably one of the key appeals of the game), more complex than the majority of FPS’s (which always cuts down your market), and crucially, was released in the same period as Modern Warfare, Orange Box, Halo 3 and Bioshock. It did really freaking well to make 1 million (and likely, quite a bit more by now considering it was a consistent seller for a long time) in the face of competition from such juggernauts. Crytek certainly made enough not just to make a stand-alone expansion and a sequel, but to also buy up Free Radical on the side.

    Meanwhile multiplatform titles like Dead Space and Mirror’s Edge, with their ginormous marketing budgets, fail to crack 1 million themselves. Heck, Capcom released their lifetime sales stats some time ago for their platinum titles. Apart from one or two outliers, most of them barely make it outside the range of 1-2 million, and this is for one of the biggest games companies in the world with arguably the biggest franchises. Their biggest seller is still Street Fighter 2 on the SNES at 6 million units, and that was a freak occurrence that happened two decades ago.

    http://kotaku.com/393197/anyone-for-the-lifetime-sales-of-some-capcom-games

    And yet, Yerli states that Crysis would have sold 5 million copies if it was released on the 360 instead at the time.

    Like I said, there’s some serious expectation issues there. When games like Modern Warfare or Halo sell in the bajillions, they somehow becomes the expected norm to shoot for instead of being recognised as freak outliers. The PC games market isn’t ever really likely to be as large as the console market, but those kinds of expectations are purely unrealistic. Even now, Crytek continue touting how Crysis 2 is going to be challenging Call of Duty and Halo as major franchises, and that kind of presumption is just insane.

    • DrGonzo says:

      They didn’t just buy out Free Radical. They bought some new offices which I walk past on the way into town and they look very expensive and fancy. Unfortunately you can’t see in. Though I did catch a glimpse of some of what looked like the new Crysis through the front door the other day.

    • Starky says:

      Indeed, the problem was with Crysis is at release it took a baby soul eating death machine to run it with any level of framerate and graphics – it took a year and a couple of patches for a affordable and reasonable spec PC to be able to do it justice

      So much so that Crysis Warhead’s ad campaign actually focused on showing people that you could get a medium price PC that could run it on med-high settings.

      The Crysis engine scales amazingly well, but the problem was back then when you scaled it down to run on a low spec machine (low for Crysis was what most games at the time viewed as med-high spec), it didn’t look like the graphical god all the screenshots and video’s made it out to be.

      It still looked good, but I, like most people I’d wager, did not bother buying Crysis until they had a machine capable of doing it justice.
      I like many gamers I know, pirated it just to see what it looked like – but making it look amazing made it unplayable on my machine at the time, so I didn’t bother buying it until 8-9 months later (in a sale).

    • Archonsod says:

      “Apart from one or two outliers, most of them barely make it outside the range of 1-2 million, and this is for one of the biggest games companies in the world with arguably the biggest franchises”

      Yes, but note their main strength was in the ancient, long forgotten art of the arcade. Capcom games were ported from them in a similar way to how DVD’s are ports from the cinema.

    • subedii says:

      I had a comment here, but Ajax just ate it as spam. Weird.

  29. Vae Victus says:

    I haven’t been bothered by the development cycle so much lately. I’ve been stuck on this here laptop whilst studying abroad for over a year and I can still max out pretty much everything that comes along because all of the new titles are console friendly. Everything on the Source engine, Civ 5, Mount & Blade, Red Orchestra and others run fine as well. The only thing that really makes it chug is ARMA 2 and BF:BC2 because of the dual core bottleneck. It’s nice not to be left in the technological dust every 6 months.

    I’m skeptical toward the argument that publishers make regarding the “low” sales on PC. Perhaps I betray my ignorance of Steam’s business model, but surely a publisher that puts its game on Steam receives some sort of feedback regarding sales unless Valve just buys a one off licence to sell or something.

    Sounds like a bunch of bullcrap to me and the piracy argument is getting old. Several recent multiplatform games have seen their console version leaked online well before their PC counterpart.

  30. Shakey-Lo says:

    But Yerli says to EDGE that the creative expression of the developer is “limited” by Sony and Microsoft. He said,

    “PC is easily a generation ahead right now. With 360 and PS3, we believe the quality of the games beyond Crysis 2 and other CryEngine developments will be pretty much limited to what their creative expressions is, what the content is. You won’t be able to squeeze more juice from these rocks.”

    Seems to me that you are misinterpreting that. He is not saying their creative expression is limited, he is saying that as the quality of graphics on consoles are now the best they can be, the relative quality of games is determined solely by their creative expression, or the content. Which sounds fine to me, to be honest, and the dismissive way he says it reflects poorly on Crytek in my opinion.

    The last thing PC gaming needs right now is another Crysis.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Are you serious? That’s exactly what PC gaming needs right now.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      I don’t think anyone could sensibly complain about a truly high-spec shooter being released on the PC about now.

    • GoodPatton says:

      Absolutely not, I’ve been waiting for another Crysis or FarCry 2 since I finished each game for the 3 time round!!!

    • Tei says:

      Speed and everything else is related in a videogame much more than anything else in a way that is very hard to describe.

      Speed limit what you can and you can’t do with computer games? absolutelly. A slow language, engine or computer can make so a lot of things are just imposible.

      There are a lot of new gameplay types that are just waiting for enough horsepower to be possible.

      You can say that once these new gameplay types are invented, these gameplays willl be “demaked” to system with less resoures, and this is true… but withouth the extra horsepower, I tell you that will never ben invented. Trust me here.

    • subedii says:

      I think what Shakey-Lo’s saying (and I’d tend to agree) is that Crysis was far, far too high spec a game for the market it was entering. It did effectively price itself out of the majority of the market simply by dint of its nutty hardware specs.

      This might be me, but actually one of the more favourable aspects of this generation is how even PC dedicated devs and games specifically haven’t been pushing system specs like they used to. We might not see as many wide-open expanses, but in general, we’ve reached a stage where you can achieve far more with a well thought out art design than you can with brute force technical graphical effects. A lot of the previous generation, and the earliest parts of this one, was characterised by devs pushing system specs purely because they could. And in the case of games like Crysis, it did come back to bite them.

      I remember a podcast a while ago about Company of Heroes where they were talking about its less than stellar sales. Piracy was naturally a big part of the discussion, but there was a surprising mea culpa from one of the devs that they had simply pushed CoH’s production values and system requirements too high for the game they were doing. They had to hold themselves at least partly responsible because they spent too much on the game and made it too system intensive for the majority of their audience.

    • dlcl says:

      From Chris Hecker’s (of SpyParty fame) website, butchered by me for the relevant bits (do read the whole article though, for context and wordthinks in general):

      http://chrishecker.com/Me_and_the_Wii

      “Computation Power is Not Orthogonal to Gameplay

      This is a technical statement, and the words are chosen carefully, especially orthogonal. This statement says the speed of the machine and the gameplay you can create on the machine are coupled. The faster the machine, the more options you have for developing the algorithms that make up the interactive systems of the game, including the AI and controls.

      I am saying performance matters, and not just for graphics, but also for gameplay…

      … one can make good games on slow platforms, that’s prima facie obvious, just look at history, but that has nothing to do with whether or not it’s easier and more fruitful to try to advance the state of the art of gameplay when you have more memory and horsepower.

      … If aliens came down and said we could only develop on the Wii from now until the end of time, I would still make games for the rest of my life, but I would rather the aliens not do that, just like it would have been a bummer if the aliens had stopped hardware at the Sega Genesis. I want games to fulfill their potential as the preeminent art and entertainment form of the 21st century…

      … The faster the hardware, the more software developers can concentrate on the higher level algorithms, and the more advanced interactive algorithms are possible, it’s that simple.”

      I couldn’t agree more with Chris’s sentiment, but historically (correct me if I’m wrong), PC gaming’s technological leaps have had an undue focus on pushing photorealistic graphics. I’ve yet to see a PC dev talk about how they are going to leverage next-gen tech to really push things like AI behaviours or talking to the human condition to the next level. In fact, the last time I saw any dev spend time pimping new technology with a paradigm shift in AI behaviour was Kojima’s MGS2 guard AI presentation at an E3 yonks ago – and that was for the PS2’s ‘Emotion Engine’…

      @John: Have pity on the poor folk-wallets that must bankroll the holiday presents of family-people! Tis *not* the season for another Doom 3. Or Crysis.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      And yet it sold in excess of a million copies. By which reasoning, another Crysis is *exactly* what we need, even if it delivers 2007 level of graphical fidelity.

    • subedii says:

      Yeah but that’s not really the same situation. Because when he says “Another Crysis”, he means a game that’s going to really punish systems and be way too far ahead of the technology curve. At least, that’s my interpretation of it

      Crysis did well partly because it pushed system specs, and largely in-spite of them. But I’m guessing Crysis 2 isn’t going to be the same situation as Crysis 1, and is probably going to be staying within the realm of the first game in terms of system requirements, which can run on most PC’s today. A Crysis 1 level game is very playable at high settings for most of the market right now, at least at a rough glance of the Steam hardware stats.

      I genuinely loved Crysis and still think it and Warhead are two of the best FPS’s of recent years, certainly more interesting in gameplay than glorified tunnels like Call of Duty. But I really feel that Crysis pushed things farther than it had to. Crysis 2 isn’t likely to be doing the same.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Okay, fair enough. But a genuinely good high spec shooter? Would anyone really not want that? Even if it didn’t play fantastically on your PC? I don’t think I would be pissed off. Right now I would be thinking “at last, tech boundaries pushed”.

    • subedii says:

      I’m sure graphics cards manufacturers will be whooping with joy when it happens. :P

      Right now, I think that’s actually starting to happen again. Preview of footage of games like the Witcher and Shogun 2 definitely look a lot more impressive than most of the stuff I’ve ever seen running today. Assuming they do well, a shooter that pushes those boundaries probably isn’t far behind either.

    • dlcl says:

      Hmm, genuine question Jim:

      Which would be better for the future of PC gaming (and why):

      A) We get a new PC exclusive game with never-before-seen features, leveraging the power of the next wave of technological advancement. You *will* have to upgrade. You can’t fight the future.

      B) We get a new PC exclusive game with never-before-seen features, running off a decidedly contemporary setup. PC devs milk what little (ha!) resources we have now and optimise, optimise, optimise to give us more bang than we ever expected for our buck.

      C) ?

      I pose this question, as we constantly hear console devs talking about ‘squeezing as much performance’ out of their paltry machines. Yet we get treated to sumptuous feasts like Uncharted 2, Gran Turismo 5 and (speculatory) The Lost Guardian. Have PC devs *really* plumbed the depths of what a mediocre PC setup can really achieve yet? Is it really time for them to move on to new technology?

    • Frye says:

      Yep, first thing I thought was : damn, that will cost me.

      Playing with a 9800gtx on an i7 here. Not quite from the same generation but there simply was no point upgrading. Graphics cards are expensive and everything runs smooth enough for my taste.

    • Daniel Carvalho says:

      Sign me up, I want another high-spec shooter. Crysis was awesome. Bring it on, there’s not enough of them anymore.

    • Muzman says:

      This may get addressed later in the thread, I dunno. But it might be worth chucking in for the record one more time that Crysis was nowhere near the upgrade-requirer it is made out to be. It’s mostly a victim of its own wanky PR in that regard and ran great on middle of the road systems of the time (I should know).

      It is partly Crytek’s own fault there. They had one of the most remarkably good looking and scalable engines ever and the high end gear head talk about it ruled the day.

      There was some good conversation on some podcast I heard once as well. I can’t remember for the life of me which one, but they went into the psychology of graphics sliders and PC gamers (not in great clinical depth or anything). Even if it looks great with everything on ten, we can’t stand knowing they could go to eleven.

    • Shakey-Lo says:

      Just coming back here to say that yes, subedii’s interpretation was correct. In the early 00’s PC gaming had a terrible reputation for the ‘upgrade treadmill’, but Crysis was like the denouement of that whole movement, taking it to its extreme, selling lower than expected, and since then the ‘upgrade treadmill’ has all but stopped. I bought my current PC to play Bioshock when it came out, have not upgraded since then, and can still play any new game I want like Civ 5 or RUSE perfectly fine. I don’t want to see a return to the days of the upgrade treadmill, where EVERY new game was trying to push the boundaries and needed newer and newer parts to run.

      I want to see developers pushing the boundaries of the “creative expression” as he puts it, not the graphics. I was irked by the fact he says consoles are limited by “only” being able to innovate in creative expression, and not graphics.

  31. Frosty says:

    Cervat Yerli confuses me, but not nearly as much as Crysis 2 does. It seems like a possibly strange decision to move from that beautiful semi-open approach to a more linear city environment. It might turn out really well and I really hope it does but I am not quite as excited about it as I thought I would be.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      I’ve not seen the game first hand, but it really doesn’t sound any different to Crysis to me. The levels are still “linear but wide open”, which is all Crysis did.

    • GoodPatton says:

      I must profess concern over Crysis 2 having seen some footage of PS3 and 360 gameplay, but then, thats sort of besides the point of this article isn’t it. Also, that would be putting doubt into Crytek and Cervat, and that’s just not something I want to be doing. I’m sure it will shine through phenomenally as Crysis did! I think I’m just concerned about choice of New York as a setting. Feeling it’s a bit played out maybe. But then, Crytek and Cervat, they’re sooo dreamy! Maintaining high hopes…engaged.

    • KingCathcart says:

      I played the two levels they had at the Eurogamer Expo (played one on Xbox and one on the PC).

      The PC version felt far and away the smoother experience. However it also didn’t feel anyware near like the original Crysis. It was all tight nit hectic action (no bad thing) but I didn’t get any sense of the possible mutliple approaches to each ‘action bubble’ that you get in the first game/s. Its worth noting that I had spent the previous few days playing through warhead again after a new graphics card purchase so it was very much in my mind.

      Of course it is very unfair to judge a game well away from release and on the basis of 2 demo levels. That said I can shake the suspicion that they’ve taken the city level design route as a way of helping the console cope with the CryEngine tech rather than.

      Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

    • subedii says:

      Personally I’m going to be disappointed if there isn’t another level on the scale of Assault (the harbour level).

      That was probably the best level in the whole game. They basically dump you into the map with plenty of tools scattered around, tell you where your objectives are, and let you approach it how you see fit. It was an awesome example of freeform sandbox gameplay.

  32. GoodPatton says:

    Oh Cervat, he’s my fav! Please keep your standards high!

  33. CMaster says:

    My thoughts about the consoles and limiting gameplay are this – things like Dwarf Fortress, Minecraft, etc etc are really hard to ever make work on the current console hardware. Why? Because of limited memory. Any console game that will actually sell is going to need graphics that are on par with what is out there, something of UE3 bent. After you’ve filled up the puny 512MB of the 360’s ram with that, there’ no space left for holding the parameters of 1000s of objects like you need to run a simulation. The PS3 splits memory into 256mb of video and 256mb of system – again, not enough to run a detailed simulation. And hell, Valve can’t even make all the TF2 textures, models and sounds (as of the Scout update, never mind today) fit in the 360’s memory.

    We don’t desperatley need higher fideltity graphics to make better games (in fact, if asset creation takes more time, it can be dangerous for developers). But we do need the hardware to be able to do decent graphics and something interesting.

    • subedii says:

      People like to joke about games like Dward Fortress, and even Civ, and how basic they look. But there’s simply so much going on in the background that even heavy duty systems can start slowing down when the games start getting large.

    • Archonsod says:

      It’s not the specs. It’s thanks to the open market. How far do you think Notch would have got with Minecraft if he had to pay £300 for the development kit before he started, then had to pay again for every update, with release and pricing subject to Microsoft approval?

  34. Urael says:

    So Cervat’s made some nice comments about the PC, albeit only now that it’s superior capabilities are more easily recognised – this is A Good Thing. Hopefully it can be used as the shiny red crowbar to lever open those all-important digital sales figures, so we can put this despicable era of PC Gaming’s apparent, imminent doom well behind us.

  35. toni says:

    i upgrade my pc every time a new STALKER game comes out.

  36. dave says:

    Crysis is a pretty cool guy and doesnt afraid of anything…

    (did i do that right?)

  37. T says:

    1) Yerly states the obvious, its been true for the last 2 years (any 2 year top-end Gphx card runs every PC game maxed)

    2) Is conclusion is wrong. PC titles will only get better (gphx & physics) when the next console wave comes. Then Console titles will look better for some years.

    IMO the problem with cross-platform developing his not so much because of the engine capability’s but rather the design discrepancy’s between Console and PC – the interface, the PC ability to change the game, moding, mapping etc.. closed VS open

  38. Vodka & Cookies says:

    Not gonna happen. Most PC devs cannot afford that level of graphical fidelity, Crytek is a rare exception as they have alternate revenue sources selling their game engine to non-game markets (industrial/military) where their is demand for more advanced graphics engines.

    There is no incentive for cross platform AAA developers to spend more money on a PC version when it will almost certainly be their lowest selling SKU regardless if it has better graphics or not.

  39. Tei says:

    Indies are important now, because number of polygons is not a quality metter anymore. You will have a hard time finding even only one person that care about number of polygons on the whole internet. Even if you check asylums with crazy people connected to the internet.

    Everyone, even consoles, is tryiing to improve games in different directions. So everyone has left Crytek alone. Crytek could have been the next Unreal/Quake, but has ben left alone, because making games more realism, is too expensive.

    Or at least this is the “internet wisdow thinking”. Maybe is wrong? maybe, but is what most right mind people think now.

  40. Archonsod says:

    Consoles weren’t invented until what, late sixties/early seventies?

  41. rebb says:

    Well thanks, controller-flinging couch potatoes !

  42. Demiath says:

    Despite my love of the PC, I fail to see how Yerli provides an actual coherent argument about what the “next generation-ness” of current PCs amounts to. Because if it’s all just about, say, how many polygons you can squeeze into each second of gameplay (which seems to be what he is vaguely referring to), then the consoles got nothing to fear from PC, ever. For as is evident from market shares, gamers and publishers – if not the more Carmackian of developers – are perfectly happy with 5-year old technology of the Xbox or the roughly equivalent processor power of the PS3…and why shouldn’t they? It’s not the technical aspect which needs fixing in today’s games, it’s the gameplay itself that may not be as solid and/or innovative as we would like. Thus, as tired as it may seem, that age-old question of whether consoles are “dumbing-down” games is a lot more relevant to the discussion than whether there’s anything inherently “next-geny” about the PC from a purely technical standpoint.

  43. Premium User Badge

    oceanclub says:

    “The secrecy around the subject is possibly causing the PC immeasurable harm. ”

    I’m just curious – have you asked Valve etc why they don’t release the figures, and what was their answer(s)?

    P.

    • subedii says:

      I’d be interested in finding that out as well. I can understand why they can’t for other companies, but even when Valve released their own lifetime sales statistics, they pointedly left out Steam stats.

      I mean is it just concern over the B&M Retail market’s reaction? As it stands they’re currently to push devs to abandon Steamworks and even Steam itself, so I’d guess that would be at least part of the reasoning. I was surprised when they actually went as far as calling Valve a “monopoly” now, that shows some straight up angst right there.

    • Tei says:

      Maybe Valve don’t want to be loud and make crows like Microsoft and other come here to try to vandalize the PC market with crappy services and crappy products.

  44. Goomich says:

    Here’s some data on Steam sales:

    http://fadellc.com/Press.html

    • subedii says:

      That’s been linked a few times already. But Valve doesn’t release any sales stats. Those numbers are pretty much guesses. Everything’s preceded with “Estimated”.

    • Hmm says:

      They pulled those numbers out of their asses. This company is related to VGChartz, which is as reliable as your average dude on the street selling magic amulets bound to make you rich.

    • subedii says:

      I wasn’t aware anyone was associated with VG Chartz.

      As you say, they pretty much just make stuff up over there. I’ve seen major websites quote VG Chartz from time to time and for the life of me I can’t understand why. They don’t have access to any more information than anyone else, they just throw numbers out that they think “sound about right”.

  45. Jim Reaper says:

    Hear, hear. I’ve lost count of the number of games I’ve played over the last few years and thought to myself “if only this had been made properly for the PC.” So many wasted opportunities. So many games with such limited scope (probably due to the limited resources of the consoles). I think it speaks volumes that the deepest game I can think of is Dwarf Fortress, and that game’s made by one guy!

    • qrter says:

      Plus, you don’t need a monster PC to run it – wait, that’s exactly not what is being talked about in this post..

  46. MeestaNob says:

    I reckon Gabe N will be sending Cervat an email with just ‘$$$!’ in large bold letters shortly.

  47. TheOx says:

    While I agree with the general (and obvious) sentiment being expressed in this post, I’m going to play devil’s advocate for a second and propose something that I’ve heard before. Keep in mind that I may not necessarily agree, but I see where it’s coming from.

    Advances in computer technology have, in fact, hurt games – especially those on the PC – rather than helped them. Back in the day, to distinguish your game from the others, considering the limited technology of the time (especially on the graphical side of things), you had to have unique gameplay or at least SOMETHING (or multiple things) that made your game stand out. For example, I’ve been replaying Ultima IV recently, and it still wows me today, especially considering it was released in 1985. It completely broke with “traditional” RPG conventions: no big bad evil to defeat, completely non-linear, etc. And now? Well, who cares about making your game stand out from a gameplay perspective when you can make Call of Duty 27 and make millions just by having flashy graphics and a “cinematic” experience?

    In other words, who cares about all this extra power if it just means the end result is flashier graphics or more NPCs on screen? If there isn’t solid gameplay to back it up, it means nothing – to me, at least. As others have pointed out, I think indies like Dwarf Fortress or Minecraft are what PC developers should be looking at for inspiration at this moment in time. I’d take more games like those (in the sense of originality) over a PC-exclusive AAA shooter any day.

  48. Premium User Badge

    VelvetFistIronGlove says:

    “PC is easily a generation ahead right now. With 360 and PS3, we believe the quality of the games beyond Crysis 2 and other CryEngine developments will be pretty much limited to what their creative expressions is, what the content is.”

    That says two things to me: one, that instead of pushing technical boundaries, more games will push creative boundaries, which is great. And two, from the evidence of their games so far, in this race Crytek is fucked. ;-)