David Braben on all things PC. Including the P Word

I do like those Staring Eyes

Towards the end of July, at the Develop conference, we took a much-needed break from listening to design paradigm analysis to have a coffee with Frontier DevelopmentsDavid Braben. He’s one of the living legends of the industry – one word:Elite – and it was a welcome chance to casually pick over the issues of the day. So, yes, the P-word features strongly.

RPS: Develop seems like a good opportunity to talk about where you see things at the moment? What have you been paying attention to?

Braben: What I’ve been looking at is PC sales compared to those on other formats. Online games, such as World Of Warcraft, are selling well and making money, and then you have almost all other PC games: they’re not selling very well at all. It’s difficult to know quite what conclusions to draw from that, other than people aren’t buying retail copies of PC games unless there’s some kind of online component. The real question for me is whether the PC is going the way of the Amiga, with piracy killing off sales. Our last game, ThrillVille: Off The Rails, sold almost nothing on PC, but did sell on other platforms.

RPS: If I were ever to make a game – which I hope not to do, since everyone involved would be doomed – I’d be looking at making an online component intrinsic to the game, even if it were just glorified copy protection.

Braben: EA were suggesting something really draconian for Spore [this interview conducted well before Spore’s release, obviously – Ed] and that would drive me round the bend, because I often game on a laptop, away from my internet connection.

RPS: Yes, I just moved house and found myself dragging a PC downstairs to get online to activate Mass Effect code

Braben: We need to find a suitable solution for the PC.

RPS: The solution we need is for the traditional PC middle ground, specifically. Casual games are doing okay, and the ultra-budget MMOs are doing okay, but the middle-ground is really having trouble. What people seem to be doing is embracing digital downloads – Tilted Mill for example with their games – Hinterland is being done on a budget, so it’ll make money from the people who want that kind of game. What do you make of those kind of very specific approaches on PC?

Braben: Well yes it’s interesting that the market is so fragmented, and so you’ve got small areas of it that are doing okay, particularly online games. Certain types of games, however, are going to die out, and the rate of piracy is a big factor. I mean the Amiga lived on for a very long time in certain areas, but the main stream of development died off. What that meant was that people didn’t renew their Amigas, they just kept them as they were. At the moment people renew PCs every two or three years, and that used to mean it led gaming. Now developers want to lead on console to get away from piracy, and that’s a real shame for the format.

RPS: Stardock’s approach is interesting that way – they’ve noticed that the piracy for certain sorts of games is much lower than for other sorts of games. I did that research too: Even a really terribly marked FPS – say Turning Point – gets downloaded enormously on torrents, but something more cerebral like Sins Of A Solar Empire didn’t get pirated much, and sold a fair bit.

Braben: I thought the idea for Turning Point was really interesting! Surely the bad mark doesn’t justify piracy.

RPS: Sorry: what I meant was that first-person shooters are more prone to be pirated, because the pirate audience is more interested in that kind of game.

Braben: Well yes, that is interesting. It’s always been the case that certain kinds of people have quite distinct tastes for certain kinds of games. But FPS gamers are likely to be young, poor, and very savvy about how to get these games online. There’s nothing more sinister to it than that – but it is an interesting point. I find that looking at who buys games is fascinating – almost everyone at the company is a gamer, and they’re all rather different people.

RPS: Going back to your point about the PC no longer leading game design – where it’s pushing now is in alternate business models, isn’t it? In the free to play stuff, the micropayments and ad-funded things…

Braben: That’s because there’s no choice?

RPS: Yes, but the thing we don’t think about with relation to the industry is that the biggest games are all free-to-play MMOs that are filled with teenagers. There’s that thing about the US teenager playing browser games until he’s eighteen and can afford a 360 and the games…

Braben: Runequest! My nephews played Runequest until they upgraded to a paid account. They thought they’d get a lot more from that, and when they didn’t they lost interest. What’s more interesting about that, perhaps, is it’s their education. And it’s becoming an education for that generation, giving them the expectation that online stuff is free. That’s something we need to look at. People’s expectations of what games look like demand huge art assets, and to make something people will want to pay for you need a huge team. When it’s something that can be so easily pirated on PC that leaves you with only one realistic choice: something online where the account can be verified by a server. Like the Amiga, it will be slow, but it will slide that way. We’re looking at ways round that. Online advertising is a possibility, but not at the moment: the revenue isn’t enough. What we need is online functionality to make the game both appealing, but necessarily paid for.

RPS: It’s just a technical limitation though isn’t it? I mean I’m playing Devil’s Advocate here, but games have always, and will always, face technical challenges, and piracy is just that…

Braben: Yes – it’s just so easy to remove software protection from PC games. People will crack something you put on within an hour of release. You simply can’t assume software protection will work. And as I said, people expect to get stuff for free. They don’t have that expectation when they’re buying stuff for their console.

RPS: Gamer entitlement is interesting. Why are gamers like that?

Braben: Even within a development house we’re never quite satisfied with a game. You always get the “what about this idea!” One of the ways that people justify piracy to themselves: “Oh well it isn’t exactly like I wanted, so I wouldn’t pay for it.” They can always imagine how it would be improved, because they’re intelligent people! And it’s only when they can’t access something, or need something from the retail version that they’ll consider buying the game.

RPS: To be honest, when I was a kid we spent all the money we had on games and pirated the rest. I think that’s still the case to an extent, but I think now piracy is easier, that money just goes somewhere else. If you wiped it out, just how much of it would come back to the PC is hard to say, of course.

Braben: I remember Virus was hugely pirated because it was on one disc. Just that simple logistical fact made it much more popular. There was no correlation to quality or anything else, it was just about practicality of piracy.

RPS: The PC crowd really hate DRM too, and that’s a big issue for them.

Braben: I hate DRM! That “you wouldn’t steal a car” thing at the start of DVDs, that drives me mad. I’d rather put games out without DRM, and just find a way to encourage people to buy it.

RPS: Going back to Stardock, they have a way: they make the patcher heavily protected and get people to log on for that. They’ve had some success with that.

Braben: Again it demands some online support… the people who play it again might well be the people who pirate it. Something I learned in the US is that are still some areas with painfully slow internet access, and people in those areas still buy boxed games! It’s those kinds of sales which best support the things that best on the PC: high-quality single player games with great story-telling. Games that you might love, but only play through once, because that’s it. I think we’ll see less and less of those games, or find them awkwardly shoehorned online, with strange justifications for their online component.

RPS: They’re games I really care about, yes. The kind of games you’re talking about are what interest me most about the PC, and they are in decline.

Braben: We’re a creative industry, we need to find creative ways to encourage people to buy these games – without pissing them off with restrictive copy protection!


  1. Nick says:

    Eh, I know it’s not as rife, but consoles aren’t exactly piracy free like he is seemingly under the impression they are. Yet again I have to mention the massive second hand/trade in market which is bound to be costing a lot of sales too.

  2. subedii says:

    Something I learned in the US is that are still some areas with painfully slow internet access, and people in those areas still buy boxed games!

    Get outta town!

    Also, I can appreciate his sentiment that there needs to be a solution to piracy, but that crazy DRM isn’t it.

    In the end I think he’s right, the mainstream big budget blockbuster is going to be increasingly console led, whilst the more niche titles like Sins of a Solar Empire and King’s Bounty that the PC can cater for will still be able to do fine with their audience. Anything beyond that is probably going to have an online component of some sort, whether it’s via multiplayer, or a Steam like verification system.

    @ Nick: Gosh yes. Devs are forever complaining about the second hand market as well these days. Sorry guys, I’ve got sympathy for you on the piracy front, but when you start talking about how people shouldn’t even be able to sell their old games you’re talking a whole other level of crap.

  3. Snarf says:

    As someone who works for a company that deals with second hand/Trade in PC market I can see what impact if any that has on my PC sales. Around 97% of my current second hand PC stock are games over a year old and ones that we don’t even have new. Think I’ve seen around 2 copies of COD 4 traded in in the last 4 months. The previous store I worked in was roughly the same, we rarely see new games traded in, but see a huge amount of budget old releases.

  4. JonFitt says:

    I guess copy protection for online games can be solved fairly easily. Just make online play dependant on a tightly controlled login, and only loosely protect the client software.

    Shady servers could be run which don’t check logins, and the client could be hacked to not check, but when you tie in persistent stats, ranks and unlocks like Battlefield 2+, people want to be in the legal club otherwise you miss out on a lot of the point.

    Single player games should not be protected by any form of online copy protection though. It’s just unconscionable.

    I’m starting to lean towards the Trusted Platform Module though. Maybe Nvidia and ATI could be convinced to add one to future graphics cards?

  5. teo says:

    “Braben: We’re a creative industry, we need to find creative ways to encourage people to buy these games – without pissing them off with restrictive copy protection!”

    This is what publishers need to realize.
    They’re making games and enough people aren’t buying them. They can’t just keep making the same products blame it on someone else, they have to change their product and business model so that people do buy them

  6. Charlie says:

    I’m really not sold on the PC is dead thing. Last time I remember seeing any sales figures they didn’t include any online sales and had only dropped a bit which I would have thought would be made up for by Steam etc.

    I really don’t want all things to go 360, I have one but I would hate to have to play Half Life 3 on it rather than PC.

  7. subedii says:

    As long as Valve control Steam, Half-Life 3 is going to be PC led. In the end they make FAR more profit selling their titles through Steam than for units shipped in-store.

    I’m glad that DD is starting to take off in a big way, and not just Steam. Most indie devs have no qualms about selling directly through their website now, and you’ve also got services like Impulse and GoG starting off. I can see it really becoming a huge factor in the years to come, if it isn’t already.

  8. Pace says:

    What about that whole Steamworks thing? Has anybody outside of Valve given that a try? (that had some sort of online verification aka piracy prevention right? That method clearly doesn’t seem to hurt Valve’s business much.)

  9. slang says:

    Yep, as Nick already mentioned…consoles are heavily pirated (R4 flashcards for the ds, chipped 360s and wiis). There are however certain reasons why the level of piracy on consoles isn’t that high like it is on the PC.
    1. Many console gamers simply lack the know-how to pirate. They use the console like they use their dvd player – insert disc, push play. This is especially true when it comes to parents buying consoles for their kids.

    2. Many FPS games on 360 and PS3 sell much better than their PC ports because they’re a relatively “fresh” concept on consoles. How can you expect something like Turok to sell on PC if your competition are games like Crysis, Stalker and budget priced Half Life 2?! Console gamers are in a whole different situation – 360 and PS3 is the first generation of consoles that actually have fps games of proper PC-like quality. I wouldn’t be too surprised to see a similar situation as now on PC happening on the next generation of consoles.

    3. PC gamers do pirate more because the platform lacks diversity when it comes to genres. Seriously, how many fps games or rpgs do they expect me to buy? Where are the Beat em ups for example? PC gamers usually sample a lot and then decide which product from a certain genre to spend their money on. This is especially true when it comes to lengty rpgs!
    Again, the situation in console land is quite different. Many people who get a box usually also get a game (beat em up, sports or puzzle) to play with their buddies NEXT to their beloved rpg/fps experience. The diversity of genres and flavours results in people buying more games in general.

  10. Nick says:

    When I mentioned second hand/trade in, I was referring solely to consoles.


    To clarify, the second hand/trade in market is massive for consoles and the only people profiting are stores like Game (UK).

  11. Shadowmancer says:

    The solution for piracy needs to be able to accomodate ppl without the internet or low internet, I remember the first game that had drm had some sort of mini game were you had a unique colored pattern in the manual and you had to match it or something, the idea about limited installs is another idea that is bad in effect we are renting the game to counter this why dont the publishers put on the box that there are x amount of installs and give the game a lower price tag.

  12. KP says:

    Thanks for linking that Hinterland. I think that game’s problem is lack of publicity, never heard of it before.

  13. RichPowers says:

    Does anyone have a link to the interview where Gabe said that the PC version of The Orange Box outsold the console versions several times over? I know he said it, dammit, but I need some proof! :)

  14. Ben Abraham says:

    * stands and applauds a reasoned and thoughtful approach to DRM, Piracy, et al *

  15. Pit Lord says:

    slang –
    disagree with point 2 – previous generation consoles had HL2, Doom 3, Halo, Unreal, CS, TimeSplitters… FPS on console is old news, and I don’t think you can claim much quality gap when a lot of games were on PC too.
    However, I do think there are somehow lower standards on a console; perhaps because the back catalogue of the PC is much stronger.

  16. Dot says:

    @RichPowers: Somewhere in here: link to ve3d.ign.com

  17. RichPowers says:

    Thanks, Dot. I knew some RPS chap would have the link!

  18. Pheonix K says:

    @ Shadowmancer: Remember ‘Alone in the Dark’ from way-back-when? I think that game was my first experience with any sort of copy protection. For those not in the know, you had to input a word from a specific location in the manual, “1st word, 6th line, page 41”. If I were to revisit the game now, I bet that would be obscenely easy to hack around, considering the level of sophistication of the time.

    The real failure of that in the modern age is how easy it would be to include a PDF of the manual with the torrent. However, that would require some brave soul to scan the manual himself, and how would such a system interact with DD?

  19. araczynski says:

    i think the pc=easy to pirate thing is kinda old/retarded.

    last i checked you can easily pirate games on the 360/wii/ds/psp. only the ps3 seems to be ‘safe’ and i think that’s only due to the fact that those huge images would take much longer to download and the cost to burn a bluray would make the effort not worth the hassle.

    i suspect if/after pc gaming dies, the pirates will turn their efforts onto the consoles full force, since that’s where the games will be.

    what’s the excuse going to be then?

  20. A-Scale says:

    I know this is hard for game producers to fathom, but you’re charging too damn much for a video game, particularly for those games which have only a single player component. It isn’t just a matter of ease of piracy, but rather it is a cost benefit analysis of how much enjoyment over time they will get for their 50 dollars. Even a tremendous game like Bioshock may deliver only 5 or 10 hours or less of gameplay, and because it is story driven that is all the content you really want out of it. I purchase books for ten dollars, and they give me many more hours of enjoyment. Movies often have a better price point per hours of enjoyment, particularly with multiple viewings.

    And yet I am expected to throw down a VERY large sum of money, 50 dollars, for a game which may entertain me for less than 5 hours, and which I may hate due to poor game mechanics or bugs. Ridiculous! And don’t give me any crap about demos, which often run well into the gigabytes these days, take forever to download, and are often not representative of the quality of the rest of the game.

    I am much more likely to buy an online game because that game, if it is any good at all, will provide me with countless hours of fun. I have clocked well over 100 hours of play on TF2 since its release, yet after one play through of Bioshock I was satisfied and done with it.

    As a college student, I work and go to school in order to pull in some personal scratch. I make 10 dollars an hour here in Michigan, which is several dollars more than most of my peers. At 50 dollars, I have to work for almost one entire day to pay off a game purchase. How can I possibly justify that to myself, particularly after spending so much on my gaming pc? Were I to play two new games per month, a very reasonable number, I would spend 1200 dollars on games per year. That is almost exactly the cost of my (near) top of the line PC tower, with all new components.

    Times are hard. Single player games give us very little content for our dollar, even if that content is damn good. The price of PC games needs to come down to a competitive level, and sales will increase astronomically. I only hope that companies which create PC games catch on to this fact before they go out of business.

  21. Esha says:

    There’s one interesting point I haven’t seen brought up in the intervieiw or in the demos, and I’m actually going to cover that in a moment.

    First of all, I’ll admit it – I’m a pirate with scruples. I pirated Mass Effect, then I bought it and cracked it, the same was true with BioShock, Spore, even Mask of the Betrayer. But the fact is that all of those games are now sitting in my recently-played pile right behind me.

    Why do I pirate before buying a game?

    I didn’t always, not long ago. I’m going to be old fashioned now (get off my yard, new-fangled ideas!) and say that when the PC was young, and pirating was the easiest, I never pirated. I want to examine that, and I want everyone to understand why that is.

    In the early days of PC gaming, there were two very clear-cut facts:

    1) A demo/shareware was almost always pretty big and indicative of the final product.
    2) There was no DRM.

    Isn’t it funny how what I do today harks back to that? I create my own demos, I try a part of the games out myself and I’ll know whether they’re worthy of my money or not. I won’t have the money to buy everything, so anything that doesn’t catch my attention or simply doesn’t seem like something I’m going to pay for is gone quickly. The ones that get completed or almost-completed end up on my list of games to buy, and those games are always purchased.

    So there are problems I see with the market, today. And it’s funny because it’s a mirror of when the PC started:

    1) There are no demos (Fallout 3, I’m looking at you).
    2) If there are demos, they’re tiny demos from the start of the game and not indicative of the game. A demo should either represent a sizable chunk of the game, or should be taken from some point after the start so people know what they’re expecting. Multiple demos can help, too.
    3) DRM coming out the damned wazoo. I trust cracking teams more than I would ever trust SecuROM or the likes. I’ve never encountered any malware in the cracks, and if you can see my point of view here – DRM is a virus. It behaves in much the same way as any malware does, who’s behind the malware and what their motives are is irrelevant.

    The solution is simple: A company needs to either be okay with people sharing their product as long as the person does pay-up their bill afterwards, or they need to provide multiple playable demonstrations with which the player can judge the quality of the game. They also need to remove the DRM, because DRM is quite honestly an offensive slight. It feels like someone handing me an entertainment ticket for an evening’s fun but they don’t quite want to let go, and they keep looking at me in shifty ways and muttering under their breath about the dregs of society. That’s not fun.

    And from there, they need an open base of communication, they need to build a community. The devs and designers, and the reative designers and those heading the project especially need to be with that community and actively talking to players. A player may stop by and cite numerous problems with the demos, problems which they think doesn’t make the game a worthy purchase. Then these things have to be discussed and worked on, that’ll go towards a more saleable product.

    This has worked in the past, and it has worked recently (thank you, Stardock). Could the main problem be the publishers? It might even be better if the developers all decided to publish via online methods, and obtained funding loans instead of publishing contracts. I don’t know how that would work, but it seems like it might be for the best. A lot of publishers these days view customers as so many pigs in a pen, rather than people, and that too is part of the problem.

    These are just my opinions, anyway. I spend a hell of a lot of money on gaming on a monthly basis, and I feel that all the purchases I make deserved to have the cash. Though to be honest… I yearn for simpler times, when we had better connections with developers and when we all trusted each other. But I’m like that, damn hippie, et cetera.

    (Edit: I forgot to mention that one example that I like is the new Homestar Runner games, the demos are basically almost half of the game and that’s absolutely bloody fabulous.

    If Telltale would also just get rid of their DRM and simply just remove the extra content from their demos, then they’d be a real poster-child company for the kind of golden era nonsense I like to talk about. I bought the first SBAG4CP after playing the demo, and the only thing that would have made that experience better is if the full first episode had had no DRM.

    Telltale even have a huge community, and they talk with the people who play their games too… they’re so close to doing what’s needed, and I hope they get decent sales because of that, too.)

  22. SofS says:

    My permanent residence is in a rural area. Dialup internet is the only real option at that place for the time being. It’s not so bad, but it steers one away from trying anything that has any inherent online content. You don’t want to download from a service for fear of the server timing out or the line disconnecting, multiplayer is out of the question, you can’t go online if the phone needs to be open, etc.

    Now, this isn’t a problem for single-player games unless they have online verification. The fact that online verification is now the order of the day leaves a bitter taste in one’s mouth. It means that though I wanted to go and buy the Orange Box from a store, I didn’t because the cashier told me about the online verification matter and I realized that I was getting no real advantage from getting in a box. Thus, I am simply waiting until I have a permanent accomodation that includes broadband.

    My point is that Valve, in my specific and statistically insignificant case, lost a sale (for now) and did not stop piracy. I couldn’t have pirated that game if I had wanted to. Torrents and P2P are basically useless over a dialup connection. Even if the files were hosted somewhere and I used a download manager, it would have taken me well over a month to get even one game. Why have the same protection for the game in a box as for the game online? Wouldn’t a CD key or something have sufficed, rather than making me check in every so often just to use a single-player game?

  23. Esha says:

    @My previous post.

    I just wanted to provide an example of what I’d see as the perfect scenario:

    – A big name game releases a demo which is at least a 30 per cent chunk of the content of the game.
    – If the demo runs from the start of the game, the savegames within the demo should be compatible with the end product.
    – The demo should be out before or at the very least on the same day as the release of the full product.
    – The demo/full product contains a link to an online community, and players are encouraged to share their thoughts there as to what could be improved.
    – When the demo is completed, the player is told that they can buy and download the game, or purchase it retail, that their saves will still work (if applicable), and that there’ll be no draconian security schemes in the product, no hidden nasties, and that they’ll be able to install the product on every PC in their house.

    All we need is just for one major title this year, or even next year, to have the balls to try something like this. I really want to see how sales would compare. If they were still bad then I’d realise I was wrong and I’d be quiet, but for now, the problem and the solution both seem all too obvious.

  24. piphil says:

    The real question for me is whether the PC is going the way of the Amiga, with piracy killing off sales. Our last game, ThrillVille: Off The Rails, sold almost nothing on PC, but did sell on other platforms.

    Erm…because Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 had come out long before, and T: OTR was a more console-orientated experience that didn’t appeal to the PC audience? I certainly didn’t buy it, but I’ve got RCT3 with add-ons.

  25. RichPowers says:

    @A-Scale: Completely agree. As a student in a similar situation, I can’t afford to spend more than $150/year on videogames. I can buy 3 new games or a dozen games from the bargain bin.

    At this point, only Valve and Blizzard consistently deliver gaming experiences worth $50. Hell, The Orange Box is probably the best gaming deal of all time.

  26. c-Row says:

    Who cares – when is Elite 4 coming?

  27. LEEDER KRENON says:

    i was going to say the same thing. i have no interest in anything braben has to say (and it doesn’t appear that he has much at that) unless it is about elite 4.

  28. Heliocentric says:

    Jesus that guy depressed me. Not saying he is right or wrong. But if closed platforms own mainstream gaming indie will take over on the pc. Pc cant die like amiga did because of the internet. Platforms don’t die anymore they are killed by their owners.

  29. AbyssUK says:

    So Elite IV no DRM online accounts or anything.. I’ll believe it when I see it.

  30. Duoae says:

    Urk… he’s a pretty poor interviewee… Needs to put some experience points in elaboration :)

  31. maxmcg says:

    I wonder how much of this PC sales decline is true. Are there any proper statistics on how much digital sales there are.

    In the last year, I have bought maybe 20-30 games. Only one or two have been boxed copies. All the rest from Steam, Direct2Drive, EA Store etc.

  32. Mogs says:

    Piracy is a scapegoat. If I’m confident that a game will provide me with decent value, I’ll buy it – which is why I buy all Valve games without hesitation. If I’m not as confident about that (which happens quite a lot in this increasingly cynical & corporate industry) then I’m not going to be willing to part with my cash.

    I think there’s a lot to be said for the arguement that people that pirate games 9 times out of 10 wouldn’t have bought them anyway, be it because they can’t afford it or that they only have a mild interest in the game in the first place.

    But it remains a fact that retail sales in shops are going down. Rather than hiding in your little console bunker like COWARDS whining about piracy, why don’t you ask yourselves why this is?

    Personally, I think it’s down to 3 things:

    1)PC gamers expect to be able to download games now. They don’t want the hassle of actually going out to a shop to get something. That’s why digital distribution MUST be embraced.

    2)A fair few people have ran out of patience with the hassle that has been intrinsic to PC gaming since the start, including setting up and maintaining the system, trawling through forums to figure out why your sound card isn’t working etc. They put up with it in the past because PCs offered the awesome graphics & functionality that consoles could only dream of. That deficit of quality & functionality has been greatly reduced with the newest console generation and a lot of people will look at the consoles & say “That’s good enough for me!”

    3)PC hardware is still a fucking rip off. I’ve just bought a new PSU which costs more than the arcade version of the 360! Given the closing gap between what consoles can do compared to PCs, the cost simply isn’t justified anymore.

    Essentially, it is the responsibility of hardware manufacturers to make their hardware more robust & compatible and not forgetting CHEAPER. They must also provide decent drivers and MS must make sure they help them in anyway possible to reduce the risk of incompatibilities in their OS. MS have a lot to answer for really…

    Hassle is the key thing. Cost is the second. Sort out these two problems that PCs have always had and games will sell like hotcakes.

  33. spd from Russia says:

    PC gamiing going the way of Amiga? Less story-driven SP games and more casual MMOS with microtransactions? NOOOO this story made me cry.

  34. Ginger Yellow says:

    “That “you wouldn’t steal a car” thing at the start of DVDs, that drives me mad. ”

    Damn right. I wouldn’t steal a car, so why the fuck do I have to sit through an skippalbe lecture every time I want to watch a DVD, on top of copyright notices in five different languages for Fox DVDs?

  35. Chis says:

    Ian Bell must be chortling over his corn flakes. Braben gets a little too much credit. However, when Elite 4 (or whatever) is released, it is done so without DRM… well, I’ll certainly have more respect for David. Perhaps I’m still sore over the fiasco that was First Encounters.

  36. mjhoward says:

    Ah, that P-word. I thought it was going to be about the other P-word, “Pre-owned”.

  37. LEEDER KRENNON says:

    “)PC hardware is still a fucking rip off. I’ve just bought a new PSU which costs more than the arcade version of the 360!”

    i am sure you are aware of just how much money that console manufacturers lose on their machines. they underprice them and make the money off the games. because PC component manufacturers do not make money off games, they can’t lose money on their products. simple.

  38. LEEDER KRENNON says:

    “Damn right. I wouldn’t steal a car, so why the fuck do I have to sit through an skippalbe lecture every time I want to watch a DVD, on top of copyright notices in five different languages for Fox DVDs?”

    one time i stole a DVD, saw this bit, and then took it back to the shop in shame. then i downloaded it off some private torrent site instead. so i didn’t have to watch that patronising diatribe.

  39. gaijin says:

    didn’t the original elite on the BBC have some system where you had to type in a word from the manual (or possibly the accompanying novella – remember *that*?) to start it up? Or was that the Arch version? Or am I just conflating it with Exile? Hmmm. Age maps directly to memory loss…

  40. Evangel says:

    @JonFitt, wrt TPM: Nobody, NOBODY, has any right to fuck around with my computer without my permission. If I buy something, I am going to use it, how I want, when I want, where I want.

    Not to mention that TPM can’t possibly work. Once the game is released, someone with a TPM based computer will decrypt it legitimately, get a dump of the unencrypted data and release the unencrypted stuff. Eventually, the TPM encryption scheme will be cracked and the key for all TPM vX chips will be out in the open, meaning if companies still want to use TPM to “protect” their data, they’ll have to move to a new scheme, making all old TPM boards unable to decrypt it.

  41. Gap Gen says:

    Didn’t someone say that if Halo 3 were released on PC and 360 at the same time, the PC version would outsell the 360 one? Can’t remember the source, sadly. Might have been one of the PCG min-quote boxes “Say What” or something.

  42. crozon says:

    Explain this amazon sales charts

    far cry 2
    Amazon.co.uk Sales Rank: 280 in PC & Video Games
    Amazon.co.uk Sales Rank: 452 in PC & Video Games

    Amazon.co.uk Sales Rank: 92 in PC & Video Games

    Go figure at the moment the PC version of an FPS is out selling (preorder) on amazon in the UK!!!! Thought console FPS sell more than the PC.
    Either PC gamers preorder games more than console gamers, or this will sell better than the console versions

  43. Downloads_Plz says:

    I think if more companies would just look towards Blizzard as their model, a lot of the piracy issues would be resolved.

    Excluding WoW since it’s an MMO, their “Big Three” (Diablo, Warcraft, Starcraft) all feature lengthy single player campaigns, and are easily pirate-able. However, they rarely are, at least in comparison of their sales. Why?

    Because while the single player options for all three are very good, they’re just the tip of the iceberg, and in order to play online, you have to buy the game (or at least a CD-Key).

    If anything, piracy might even help Blizzard games, as you could look at the single player options as just being extended demos for the real games.

    Obviously not every game can be designed to have a huge part of it be online, but as was said at the end, single player games are in decline, as most people (I think) want their PC games to at least have an online option, if not for it to be the main feature.

  44. Mogs says:

    ‘i am sure you are aware of just how much money that console manufacturers lose on their machines. they underprice them and make the money off the games. because PC component manufacturers do not make money off games, they can’t lose money on their products. simple.’

    I don’t care, and neither do most gamers.

  45. Gap Gen says:

    crozon: Yeah, that’s not a direct comparison of sales figures, but a ranking comparison. It does imply that it’s done better on the PC than console, but it’s also possible that, as you say, less PC games are sold on Amazon than console games.

  46. Pod says:

    Piracy didn’t kill of the Amiga. Amiga Power did

  47. kapitan says:

    Esha – Prey did exactly what you describe (a long, representative demo with compatible saves and even some of the multiplayer component I believe, minimal DRM). It didn’t really set the world on fire sales-wise.

  48. Diogo Ribeiro says:


    That’s probably more to do with Prey, albeit some good set pieces, not being that good of a game as opposed to doing a nice effort in terms of endearing itself towards consumers.

  49. Ginger Yellow says:

    Obviously, “skippalbe” in my previous post should be “unskippable”.