EA & Intel Say PC Could Be “Biggest”

By Jim Rossignol on March 9th, 2011 at 11:14 am.

You're seeing what I did there, right?
There are two different stories here, really. The first is Intel’s presentation at GDC last week, in which Intel’s Matt Ployar (the new PCGA president) stood up to talk about the growth in PC game sales. In addition to what we’ve already heard about growth in the last year, he predicted that the PC would be a bigger market than “all the consoles combined” by 2012. This is partly due to massive growth in Asia, and a shrinking of sales in North America, where people can’t quite afford their $60 PS3 games anymore.

The second story is from this interview with EA’s Frank Gibeau (via GI) who says that PC downloads are “awesome”. Continuing with that line of thought he explained: “The margins are much better and we don’t have any rules in terms of first party approvals. From our perspective, it’s an extremely healthy platform. It’s totally conceivable it will become our biggest platform.”

So that’s the news about bigness.

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62 Comments »

  1. Hoaxfish says:

    Can we be both big and dying at the same time? Which way to the elephant graveyard?

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      Maltose says:

      Clearly, PC is the herd of Skeletal Elephants waiting outside of your Dwarf Fortress.

    • bob_d says:

      Yeah, the traditional part of the industry can be dying while Facebook games, free-to-play MMOs and the like are thriving.

    • Muzman says:

      That which is not living can eternal lie.
      And with strange aeons even death may die.

    • Det says:

      I’m pretty sure there are more zombie games on consoles than PCs, muzman.

  2. juandemarco says:

    Of course the margins are much better for the downloads, they have way less expenses and they often sell the digital version at a higher price than the retail version. I paid Dragon Age 2 retail 35€ shipping and handling included, and I get both PC and Mac version. If I went with the digital download, that would have costed me 50€ Mac OR Pc.

    • Giant, fussy whingebag says:

      Yes, “the margins are better” really is just “we can get away with charging the same or more, with a lower cost outlet”.

      This is the sort of thinking which has made the growth of digital sales much slower and much less of a good thing for consumers than it should have been.

    • phertiker says:

      Yeah, this is great. They’ve slowly released games at US$60 until now, when most of them are that price. Now this guy is mentioning the better profit margin? Publishers have no shame.

    • BAReFOOt says:

      Actually, the margins aren’t better. As for them to be better, someone would have to actually pay the higher price. For getting less. Which I don’t see happening in times where people try to save every penny (but strangely don’t tell their boss that because of higher living costs, their price of doing work now goes up).

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      Cinek says:

      Profit is better partially cause they don’t have to make version for each console separately, which saves cash not only in development but also QA. There’s one platform, more difficult to debug due to different configurations of units than any console, but only one platform. There’s also matter of digital download which brings almost no costs at all to developer. And finally – PC games can be advertised more easily and cheaply as PC users browse net more actively.
      So on, so on….

    • wrath says:

      @BAReFOOt errr… You realise that there are overheads when you try to publish and ship a game at retail that just don’t exist at digital, hence larger margins for the devs. Like for example manufacturing and shipping.

    • Cryo says:

      Well you can tell your boss that, and get fired.

  3. Novotny says:

    Just playing to the gallery. When the audience is composed of fans of item A, claim that you love item A.

    • subedii says:

      I don’t see how, he wasn’t speaking to RPS. He was speaking in general terms and about the necessity of diversity in the industry, and covering all those revenue streams. The PC was a part of that, so he went on to talk about how he felt it was expanding due to DD.

      I meanthe article was also about how Angry Birds was a ginormous profit maker, but it’s not like anyone ever played THAT on a PC. When he talks about the PC being “conceivable” as their biggest platform, he’s not just talking about the standard retail model games, he’s also talking about things like Facebook and social networking games, stuff that isn’t all that relevant to most people on the hardcore PC side.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      It sorta feels like a fun idea would be to phone them up each week claiming to be from different platform-centric magazines, and then print all their responses as they claim PC/Mac/XBox/PS3/NDS are all their “biggest”.

    • Novotny says:

      Well, it was at GDC.

  4. Tatourmi says:

    Weird, in france retail is much more expensive 90% of the time, especially when considering the steam prices politic.

    • iniudan says:

      Same here in Canada, retail tend to be more expensive or same price, even on amazon. (But here it is partially due to some store thinking that we still have a dollar under the value of the US one)

  5. Premium User Badge

    sonofsanta says:

    Looking at that picture, it’s amazing what processor die shrinks have done for laptops over the last decade isn’t it.

    • Thants says:

      “I predict that within 100 years, computers will be twice as powerful, 10,000 times larger, and so expensive that only the five richest kings of Europe will own them.”
      -Prof. Frink

  6. Nemon says:

    Is that an epic portable laptop pictured there? Want!

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      Gap Gen says:

      Yeah, I read this story and thought it was about Intel making a giant novelty PC the size of a house.

  7. Premium User Badge

    Carra says:

    “The margins are much better”.

    Please make online games cheaper than retail version. It makes no sense that my retail version is €15 cheaper than the steam version.

    • kael13 says:

      This is pretty much the reason why I only buy indie games as digital downloads. Plus, lots of online retailers will mail you a pre-order before the official release date.

      Publishers are doing a massive herp-derp with this.

    • BAReFOOt says:

      Uuum, you are making those prices. By actually paying them. Can’t blame them, if you do that. If it’s too expensive, just tell them: You either offer it at my price, or I will download it. Your choice!
      They *will* follow. And when you look at Valve with cutting their Steam prices, they also should… economically…

    • Tokamak says:

      I assumed you meant to say “or I won’t download it.” Else, shame on you.

  8. Inigo says:

    The second story is from this interview with EA’s Frank Gibeau (via GI) who says that charging people for PC downloads is “awesome”.
    Fixed that for you.

  9. Baboonanza says:

    While I guess this in good news in general, if most of the growth is confined to the Asian market it won’t translate into more or bigger Western style games, or even more games at all if they don’t get translated.

  10. mbp says:

    How does this gel with the fact that the idea of having a desktop PC at home seems to be dying? First Laptops, the netbooks and now increasingly tablets have pushed gaming capable PCs off the shelves of high street retailers.

    If the PC gaming market is going to grow then it needs in influx of new gamers and I just don’t see how that is going to happen if people no longer buy gaming capable PCs.

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      FhnuZoag says:

      Well, this just means developers will have to work with the specs people have, instead of continuing to push the upper end. Which is a good thing, IMHO.

    • BAReFOOt says:

      Nah, the whole thing was only allowed to start, *because* people bought consoles and stopped being interested in PC games. Now companies will market the hell out of their new hardware again, and games will require it. So you either buy some shiny new graphics turbine^Wcard, or you won’t be able to play any recent game.

    • bob_d says:

      The growth we’ve seen in the PC games market is things like Facebook games that have the most minimal specs possible; the high-end PC game market has shrunk. I frankly don’t see a comeback for high-end PC games, because everything is still going in the opposite direction. The high-spec game market is too small to support modern dev costs, anyways, so I don’t see that changing, even if there was a reversal of hardware sales trends.

      @BAReFOOt: The kind of games you’re talking about still do most of their sales on the console side, so game-makers really still need to do releases for all available platforms, not just PCs, to stay afloat.

  11. Daniel Klein says:

    *puts on hipster glasses* I liked PC games before they were mainstream.

    And while they were mainstream.

    And when they were no longer mainstream.

    And now they’re going to be mainstream again? Sellouts.

    • kael13 says:

      I’ll do you one better…

      *dons glasses* I liked Macs and gamed on them before they were mainstream.
      Then I switched to PC games when they were no longer mainstream.
      Now they’re going mainstream again? I guess I’ll have to switch to.. *gulp* ..Linux?

    • subedii says:

      This year will be the year of Ubuntu for sure.

    • juandemarco says:

      “This year will be the year of Ubuntu for sure.”
      People have been saying that for years :D

    • BAReFOOt says:

      I played games on Linux (primary lots and lots of Quake 3 CPMA and Defrag), it’s STILL not mainstream, and it will never be! (Otherwise it wouldn’t be Linux anymore.) ^^
      And I played my very first game Digger on a Mac too, before there was Windows, but I’m ashamed of it and don’t want people to know.
      What I’m even more ashamed of, is that my first own computer I played on was a *Commodore*. But NOT a C64! (No, also not a C128.) No… a PC 10! With a 8088 CPU!!! In a time when 386s were new. *snivels* And only after *two* years of using it did I notice, that you could switch its AGA card (CGA6+Monochrome+Hercules) into a *graphics mode* too!! *bursts into tears* :’(

  12. Premium User Badge

    Lars Westergren says:

    >It’s totally conceivable it will become our biggest platform.

    Yay!

    >”If you look at the way people play in Asia, PC is the model,” he says. “I think that free to play model is coming to the west in a big way.”

    Argh. PC gaming without a doubt growing again both in quantity and quality, after a couple of rocky years. But I keep forgetting that the most gung-ho business announcements come from people who actually *want* the games to move in the direction of Facebook games, and Asian MMOs where constant micropurchases are needed to experience more content, or even to prevent your items from decaying.

    • bob_d says:

      But that’s where the PC games market is already. MMOs and social games dominate everything else. It’s only going to become more like that, since it’s harder to make a living making AAA games for simultaneous console and PC release, as those markets have shrunk while dev costs have risen, so more and more developers are being forced into online/social games, whether they want to be there or not.

    • Shagittarius says:

      It’s really quite like how there’s nothing but a bunch of cheap crap reality shows on TV now. We will deliver entertainment at the margin we desire , and you will have no choice if you want to play.

    • phenom_x8 says:

      Actually, asian love this free to play model because of the ignorance of game publisher and developer towards our market. They tend to keep their western pricing policy to asian market and we have to import it directly from US or Europe so it will cost us more. Steam wont help here due to the lack of fast internet connection adoption(it’s exist, but only for the have or online game cafe owner who can pay for it ).
      So, why dont try asian market as the next AAA game retail market? Of course with a better pricing and payment method (majority of asian people dont have credit card, we’d love to pay through bank transfer or another payment method that dont make us in debt at the end of the month like credit card)

  13. Buceph says:

    If PC games are going to be biggest, then give us back our sports games EA!

  14. Dinger says:

    Microsoft Says PC Can’t Be “Biggest”: that would cannibalize their Xbox 360 sales.

    Of course, games are practically the only reason I still run Windows at home.

    • phertiker says:

      Amen. ARCH 4 LIFE

    • BAReFOOt says:

      What about design and music software. I’ve tried getting Cubase and Reason to work on Linux, and it’s a no-go with a big mess (the audio stack is a nightmare, add a realtime patch to your preferred kernel, fix alsa’s strange default setup, add jack, and pray it doesn’t get buffer underruns) attached to it.
      And Photoshop is also just missing the extra edge under Wine.

      But luckily, Ardour is getting very nice lately. If only Gimp could be un-gimped.

    • Dinger says:

      I said practically the only reason I still use Windows.

      I agree about The Gimp (I can’t even sort how to run a batch process in that mess, and the menus are just spaghetti), and haven’t had much experience with linux audio, but am willing to believe it.
      And Open/LibreOffice has some weird things as well. Then again, the MSOffice interface has become so counterintuitive with their partial menu system (so you can never predict what options you’ll be presented with), that the gap is actually closing.

      But the point stands: Windows Gaming can never get the support it needs from Microsoft, because the Windows devs can’t compete with the Xbox. So GFWL could have some Xbox Live interactivity, but not too much.

    • Tei says:

      I would be more happy using something like Ubuntu at home. But game devs are adicted to use Direct-X, and direct-x only works without problems on windows, so the only way to run Windows games properly is having a windows OS yourself. I tried Wine and Cedega and these things, and while may work for some games, don’t work for all games and can be a complicated affair.
      I feel bad, and a bit angry, I feel forced to use a OS (Windows) that is bad and ugly, is made by stupid people for people even more stupid. I remember the comments of the IE6 team about tabs “No one want to browse the Internet with Tabs, we will use tabs wen people ask for tabs”*. Windows feels to me like a browser that don’t support tabs. It lacks basic elements that make a OS great.

  15. poop says:

    its a shame pc gaming has died several times over the last decade :’(

    • Urael says:

      This would explain our current zombie game fetish quite neatly. PC Gaming IS zombie!

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    dangermouse76 says:

    Hooray if it happens but isn’t the issue still one of consumer access to the PC gaming market ie hardware knowledge. When I do use the console at present it is out of convenience and having some friends on Xbox.
    When I PC game it’s for the same reasons ( except convenience ) but I had to research the hardware a lot more before buying. Also keeping the PC fit and healthy makes access seem more difficult ( cause it is ) to the general public. The market needs some pretty looking and affordable ( £400-500 ) under the TV PC for the living room that has an easy upgrade path then you will see growing PC numbers.
    Unless of course games companies start moving their strategies away from walled garden eco- systems on a large scale.
    It may be a sin to say it but could casual gaming be one way that people are being lured to non console systems.

  17. int says:

    Cool, I am interested in this new consoled called, PC was it?

    I wonder if I can watch films or browse websites on it.

  18. Astalano says:

    I’m not sure what to think anymore. You have people saying PC represents 8% of the market, people saying it represents 40-50%, people saying it’s booming, people saying it’s dying, come on guys, make up your fucking minds already.

    • Daryl says:

      I’d say just don’t worry about it and play the games you like. These talking heads are just trying to make themselves and their companies look good.

    • Swiss says:

      I’m pretty sure I read an article last month the quoted the massive drop in sales of PC retail (shelfed only). It quoted a load of statistics and then claimed PC gaming was in danger of… DYING!?

      I would say ignore it, people can come up with statistics for anything they want to argue.

    • bob_d says:

      People are all talking about different things. The boxed-copy AAA game? That’s pretty well dead. AAA PC games in general? Also not doing so well. Facebook games and MMOs? They’re doing great – that’s where we’ve seen all the growth, and at this point they dominate the PC games market. This particular , quoted talking head is mostly referencing the free-to-play MMO market specifically (that’s the Asian market).
      So if you talk to the traditional PC game companies then, from their perspective, the PC is a dying or dead platform; if you talk to social game companies or look at the total amount of revenue being made through the PC, then things are looking up. If you like freemium online games, this is great news; if you like traditional PC games, not so much.

  19. man-eater chimp says:

    Is that borrower controlled laptop running Linux?

  20. godkingemperor says:

    One thing that seems to be overlooked is that PC gaming is quickly becoming more accessible as laptop computing is becoming more potent. When a $500 laptop can run the latest PC games, it opens up a wide avenue for new PC gamers. The old cliche of PC gaming requiring a $2000 monolith is slowly fading and people are realising “hey, I CAN play this”

    Coupled with Apple making their Speak and Spell’s capable of gaming, I can definitely see it happening.

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    Gabbo says:

    Put money where mouth is, or just don’t talk.

  22. UK_John says:

    Obviously not EA, but what else are Intel going to say? No need to upgrade your PC?
    Also, what Intel doesn’t say is that with most AA and AAA games from companies like EA being console conversions, they are automatically 7 years old! (The age of the consoles), so no upgrade needed!
    EA are the CAUSE of PC gamings decline as far as I can tell, due to them being the first to dumb down a game for the console and then releasing that dumb game on PC. Look at the influence they had with Dragon Age II for example!

  23. dsi1 says:

    It should be noted that the EA guy is talking about F2P games.