Epic Fa… Oh, You Know.

Epic's new DRM involves releasing a mutagen to horrifically warp the bodies who infringe upon their IP, tooling up in power-arm and then shooting and/or giving their neck a nice hug.

Alec sighs and points at Blues News who points at The Sixth Axis who points at Edge magazine who points at Epic President Mike Capps in an interview situation who points at Piracy for Epic’s pointing away from the PC. He says things like “We still do PC, we still love the PC, but we already saw the impact of piracy: it killed a lot of great independent developers and completely changed our business model.” and “So, maybe Facebook will save PC gaming… but it’s not going to look like Gears of War.”. More here. I’m sure everyone agrees, so I’m tempted to just close the comments thread because there’s nothing to say, but maybe I’m wrong.


  1. pupsikaso says:

    F* you Epic. I don’t even want to play UT after that any more.

  2. DuckSauce says:

    Humble Indie Bundle
    Enough said.

    • Suprore says:

      Touche, all of those unreal engine licenses bought by the humble indie bundle developers will make back epic’s losses.

    • Gabbo says:

      To be fair, Epic has what, 50-80 people working there? It’s much easier to get by on PWYW sales when you only have to cover a handful of people.

      That said, if Epic wants to stick to consoles and drag their feet on the PC, fine. There are more than enough companies who make entertaining games for the PC as it is who seem to be making off well enough. Not getting an Unreal or UT game from Epic (or console ports) is no big loss to me. I’d rather they simply continue to show their support through efforts like MSU and releasing the UDK. Other people can use those tools to make up the ground Epic doesn’t want to cover any longer.

  3. Suprore says:

    Okay, honestly guys? Epic can see their sales numbers. You cannot. Epic feels they are losing money on PC with their current business model. Seeing as epic has access to the data they are [i]probably right[/i].

    Is it because of piracy? Who cares! The company Epic Games can make more money on consoles, quit acting like you know better than they do because you read the newspaper occasionally and pirated business tycoon.

    • Mr_Day says:

      Mike Capps said that piracy is killing the PC industry. I personally feel that to be a load of balls, but there you go. People here are citing alternative business models and arguing over their merits. Seems to be a useful way of debating the point, not arguing over where the money is.

      Is it because of pirates? Who cares! I mean, apart from Epic as it was the point of what he said, but apart from them!

      Right, I am being a dick, I’ll stop.

    • Mr_Day says:

      Er, where the money is between consoles and PCs, is what I meant. I realise that alternative business models is in fact arguing over where money is.

      See what dickery gets you, me.

    • DuckSauce says:

      How much does it cost to support PC though, surely they can still get profits, regardless of dropping sales, put in a little extra effort like some Indie developers and for example Valve do and win the PC gamers for them.

      Things must be pretty bad if they can’t make a profit at all of PC games anymore. It seems like a loss of profits to me…

      And “Because of piracy” well. It doesn’t matter what’s the cause, but they’re claiming the cause to be people that are mostly lost sales anyway. So what reason could there be else that sales dropped so much that they have to shy away from PC gaming.

  4. Nimic says:

    I can’t remember the last time I pirated a game, and I used to pirate almost everything. I genuinely believe that most cases of pirating games is more a case of “can’t afford” than “won’t pay for it”. Now I can afford games, I buy them.

    Of course, I only buy good games, which might be where Epic is going wrong. For that matter, even back when I was pirating left and right, I always used to buy certain games and games from certain developers. Like Valve. And Paradox Interactive. And the Civilization games (Alpha Centauri included).

    So really, I think the best way to avoid piracy is to make a good game. You wouldn’t think it’d need to be said.

  5. teo says:

    Yes cover systems.

    Like them or don’t; it’s undeniably a hugely influential piece of game design regardless.

    There were games with regenerating health before Halo too but Halo popularized it, just as GoW popularized cover systems. Nobody cares about Kill Switch other than to link it like you just did, it doesn’t matter if it was technically first because it wasn’t the game that executed it properly.

  6. Radiant says:

    Playing games on xbox live = good.
    I just spent 4 hours playing super street fighter 4.
    It’s a good way to play on an even playing field: same hardware, same specs, relatively the same gear.

    Playing “AAA” on the pc is a nightmare of spec matching and shitty ports.
    Playing GREAT games on the pc on the other hand is relatively easy thing to do.

  7. GT3000 says:

    Virtually impossible may have been a little much. It is MUCH more difficult to pirate a console game because of the hardware involved. This does much to ease the minds of those who are convinced that piracy is the Devil. Is there still piracy on the console market? Yep! Is it as bad as the PC market? No. Everyone here has pirated a PC game, maybe those who sit on their high horses of ethics and morality haven’t (I suspect even they have too) but those are far and few in between. Not many can say they successfully pirated a console but honestly, why would you risk turning a 300 dollar piece hardware into a paperweight anyway by either bricking it or getting it shitcanned from the proprietary multiplayer services. We run no such risks on the PC market and thus why I can understand the love for the consoles from a publisher’s perspective. It ensures the product is getting sold.

    • GT3000 says:

      Reply fail

      Naturally I was responding to my first post.

    • Mr_Day says:

      A lot of people seem to think that pirates, like sisters, are doing it for themselves.

      At our local computer store the biggest seller was DVD-R and Blu Ray recordable media, most of it going to people who would regale us (customers and staff) with details of a fantastic business as a seller of pirate movies and console games to people. The pirated copies don’t always, it seems, have to be free – just significantly cheaper than buying a new game at retail.

      The shock of losing access to a special multiplayer environment is also not a huge deal – most of them, strangely*, don’t pay for Live gold membership, so losing their account is hardly a problem.

      *by strangely I mean ‘not very strange at all, if you think about it’.

  8. Novotny says:

    Home Taping is Killing Music!

    Poor Bono & Bruce, Bowie and the Beatles only got by on welfare – just about – during the 80s.

    Oh wait, it’s 2010. What’s changed? Nothing. They still charge obscene amounts of money for their entertainment products.

  9. stormbringer951 says:

    They’ve said that PC gaming was dying since 1985. Drama queens.

    • FunkyBadger says:

      PC unit sales have stayed at a similar level (source, err, Molyneux… does that count?) – unit cost has increased ~5x, production costs have increased ~2-x, therefore profits go down…

    • Thants says:

      Why would unit costs be 5x more? I would think that they’ve gone down hugely. Especially with digital downloads. Bandwidth isn’t free but it’s cheaper than having to ship out an actually box.

    • FunkyBadger says:

      I meant cost to buy, erm sale price might have been a bit less, err, rubbish…

  10. LionsPhil says:

    @Mithrandir0x: Probably because ID’s engines haven’t ruled for a while; it’s all been Source and UnrealEngine.

    Of course, if Epic go “meh” at the PC, they’re just begging for ID or Valve to eat their big, fat, engine-licensing lunch. Which would be kind of a shame, because Tim Sweeny is a smart guy who put some serious thought into language design for UnrealScript.

    Also, lol piracy, UT99 and UT2003/4 were officially patched no-CD not that long after release and were huge sellers. What’s it like living in denial that UT3 sold terribly because it was, in fact, crap?

  11. jonfitt says:

    I am going to ignore this one and instead sigh, and post an:

  12. Eric says:

    Why are these people never caught saying these things to someone who can call them out on their bullshit? Or perhaps a better question, why doesn’t anyone ever do it, right then and there, rather than later in snarky blog posts? Obviously somebody from Edge interviewing the president of Epic should know their stuff well enough to be able to mock that position at least as effectively as we do. So why doesn’t it happen?

    For those of us who already know it’s crap to call it crap in the corner of the internet where everybody knows it’s crap doesn’t help the situation. The people he’s actually speaking to, the general audience of Edge (or whatever interview the crap is being repeated in), just hears “oh, the PC isn’t profitable” and goes back to waiting for Halo: Reach.

    • FunkyBadger says:

      “as effectively as we do” – your havin’ a giraffe, incha?

      You could sum up this thread – and many like it I’m sure – as:
      70% – Gears suX0r!
      20% – Cliffy sucks!
      10% – Uninformed debate around the issue at hand.

      Way to go, internets.

    • Lilliput King says:

      The general audience of Edge hate the PC anyway. When hearing of its alleged upcoming death they reply “but of course” before disappearing into the Nintendo shrine in their attic to wank themselves silly over the Zelda/Mario slash fiction they spent the afternoon writing.

      The Edge audience can’t be won or lost. It isn’t helpful to think of them in those terms.

    • D says:

      “10% – Uninformed debate around the issue at hand.”
      – Oh there FunkyBadger, I don’t think you’ve made that many posts yet.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      I read the actual article being referenced in my copy of EDGE about an hour ago during my lunch break.

      The last consoles I bought were my PS2 & Gamecube, neither of which have even been unpacked since I moved into my new flat last July. I do however do a fair bit of PC gaming as you can see from my Steam profile.

  13. Mr_Day says:

    Several people have mentioned now that Epic’s big contribution to the PC has been the Unreal Engine.

    Here’s a thought.

    Source, by being a viable alternative, has cut into their once proud profit margin. Does that seem unreasonable?

    Their pc output of late has been practically non existant – even in this fantasy realm of 6 years ago, what did they have out and on the boil? Unreal Tournament. That seems to be their only PC output until GoW some considerable time after the Box version*, and Shadow Complex by Chair – which sold, if I recall, pretty poorly on both PC and X Box.

    What if they had been sustaining themselves on the Unreal Engine, and Valve scuppered them? Just a random firing of craziness in my head.

    * A year! It was a whole year! I didn’t realise that.

    • Lilliput King says:

      That’s part of it, I imagine. Seems to me it’s been something of a general decline anyway. UT 2004 was met with general acclaim from fps fans and modders alike. UT3 met with no real acclaim from anyone. Not terrible, but not ground breaking or particularly interesting in any way. I’m not suggesting I don’t care that they’re going (I’d prefer if they didn’t) but UT3 wasn’t killed so much as stillborn.

    • Mr_Day says:

      I got UT3 at release, and it never particularly grabbed me. For some reason I always loaded up 2004 to have a quick go on one of the many onslaught maps – was it onslaught? Where you bridged your base to the enemy one and blew it up? – but despite those same modes being in UT3, it just didn’t seem as interesting.

      Even when they were set in some dystopian city, there was something vaguely clinical about everything. Very off putting.

    • Urthman says:

      Shadow Complex bombed on PC. Hasn’t sold a single copy.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      Err… I thought the argument was about the Unreal Engine, not Unreal Tournament. Why are you talking about Unreal Tournament?

      The list of Unreal Engine games is huge. But I think the most significant feature of the engine is the ability of programmers to greatly modify it and derive their own engines from there. This has been a near de facto standard engine for modern games for a very long time. So, yes the Unreal Engine has been the greatest Epic contribution to the gaming community. I don’t see why this recognition should removed from them.

      The Valve Engine is no real substitute (neither I think Epic will abandon its overly profitable UE market just because they wish to stop doing games for the PC). If, and when, Valve deals with the scripting issues with the Source engine and fully introduces them on the SDK, then yes! UE will probably have a strong contender. Possibly even become outdated. But for now, you will get a large percentage of AAA (and not so AAA titles) being developed with the Unreal Engine or with their own engines derived from UE, while non AAA titles will keep being developed with the more direct alternatives like Torque.

  14. Fazer says:

    Another failure of Epic is right here – link to phoronix.com

    There will be no UT3 for Linux.

  15. Snuffy (the Evil) says:

    Ignoring the PC market is a terrible idea. If the PC has one advantage over the consoles, it’s modability, and I’m fairly certain a sizable chunk of developers are hired either directly or indirectly through their modding efforts.

    Now, releasing the UDK for free was a marvelously grand idea from them, but if they’re not going to continue to focus on building talent then all of those efforts are wasted.

    • oceanclub says:

      “If the PC has one advantage over the consoles, it’s modability, and I’m fairly certain a sizable chunk of developers are hired either directly or indirectly through their modding efforts. ”

      This is a good point; if the industry went console-only or or mainly console only, where do they think they’d get their developers from? I’m sure there are games courses, but there’s not that many of them, and I doubt the best ones pick up their skills in a 3 year window.


  16. ZeeKat says:

    Whole thing about independent developers being killed by piracy looks funny in context of that recent indie “pay what you want” bundle that scored over million bucks in a week. Yeah, looks like total failure.

    • FunkyBadger says:

      So one counter-example disproves the theorem?

    • redrain85 says:

      Capps really undermined any credibility he had with his “piracy killed indie developers” statement. Can anyone think of a single developer that went out of business, citing piracy as the reason? I sure can’t. (Okay, scratch that. Perhaps one. Iron Lore.)

      But I can certainly name a lot of console-focused or mutliplatform developers that have gone out of business lately, and none of them named piracy as the reason for shutting down. Usually the concensus as to the reason they shut down was because – wait for it – they made bad games that simply didn’t sell.

    • Jimbo says:

      I think he’s talking about companies with employees and so on, selling games; not a handful of guys holding out a begging bowl every so often.

  17. Frosty says:

    Mike Capps just instigated a M-M-MONSTER KILL to his reputation. He is purely GODLIKE for his stupidity.

    That was the stupidest joke I’ve ever made.

  18. Jad says:

    While I agree with all that Epic’s excuse is bullshit and all that, I’m really annoyed at all the people on here saying essentially “I don’t like the Gears of War series, so I’m glad its console exclusive now. PCs are for indie games and the occasional game from our small number of big devs, like Valve and Blizzard.”

    I love indie games, I love Valve games, I love Stalker, I love turn-based strategy games, etc.

    But I also like to play big mainstream games. (I like dumb action movies and burgers too!) I like my PC, I do not want to buy a console, I feel more comfortable on my PC, and I’m not made of money. So *any* game that was formerly on PC and is now a console exclusive is a game I can no longer play, even if I want to.

    Don’t like Gears of War? That’s fine. But taking that dislike to mean that its totally okay for Gears to not be available for those who want to play it? Seriously, screw you.

    Again, Epic’s argument here is garbage. But “the PC is better off without them” is garbage too.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      You do have a point there, Jad. And I made a remark of the kind you criticize. And I’m sorry for that.

      You are right of course. And to make matters worse, it’s not that I haven’t think of that before (or have never suffered in the past of the exact same feeling you are having).

    • drewski says:

      No, you just disagree with the argument. Just as you feel blockbuster games should be on PC for your own personal enjoyment, so do many others feel blockbuster games shouldn’t be, for their own personal enjoyment.

      You’re making the same error they’re making, just on the other side of the argument. PC gaming may be better or worse of or neither for the lack of Epic Games, but whether or not individuals like playing blockbuster games on their PCs isn’t relevant. That’s simply a question of taste.

    • Jad says:

      Just as you feel blockbuster games should be on PC for your own personal enjoyment, so do many others feel blockbuster games shouldn’t be, for their own personal enjoyment.

      What? Who has the kind of monstrous arrogance to gain personal enjoyment from denying other people the opportunity to participate in a leisure-time activity on their own terms? Who is that big of a dick?

      I don’t particularly like competitive multiplayer games. I don’t play much multiplayer at all, and when I do it’s usually co-op. As a result, I don’t have much interest in PC darling Team Fortress 2. Which is fine.

      However, if I went on each TF2 patch thread and said “I wish Valve would stop clogging up my gaming news and just stop making updates for this game I don’t like”, I would be shouted off the forum. I’d also feel like an asshole, because who am I to deny other people fun?

      Furthermore, if I said that I would gain personal enjoyment if Valve stopped selling TF2 for PC and moved entirely to Xbox development, I would be told to shut the fuck up, go die in a fire, get off the internet. And rightly so.

      If you don’t like a game, don’t play it.

      If you do like a game, do play it.

      That’s all anyone needs to do.

  19. FluffyM says:

    Epic have never released a game relevant to my interests. Good riddance.

  20. Jimbo says:

    Come on, Gears of War is the consoliest console game I can even imagine. They aren’t poaching a beloved PC franchise that we’ve nurtured from infancy here. If you really want to play it just get a 360, they cost about £3.50 or something.

    Valve and Blizzard really aren’t great examples of why this guy might be wrong, with each having exceptional and massive vested interests in the platform (Steam, WoW + Korea). I feel a better response would be “WTF about Bulletstorm?!”.

  21. LeChuck says:

    I didn’t know piracy was killing the “game engine” business. Sorry :(

  22. GameOverMan says:

    Excuses, excuses…

    I think the problem here is that the typical console owner is “happy” to pay 60-70 € for a (overhyped) game. On PC is more difficult convincing people to fork out that much since there are more games (including the indie scene), good sales (on Steam, direct2drive and the like), even wonderful initiatives such as the recent Humble Indie Bundle AKA “pay whatever you want in exchange for a handful of DRM free games”, so 70 € for another sequel wouldn’t seem very good value for money.

  23. getter77 says:

    I’m pulling for UNITY3D myself—they just strike me as more “with it” in terms of wanting to do right by everybody.

  24. El_MUERkO says:

    So long, thanks for the Unreal engine, homogenising gaming into a dull soup since 2000.

    • jaheira says:

      Batman:AA wasn’t homogeneous. Or soupy.

    • El_MUERkO says:

      Fair point.

      I just wonder how many games would have stuck to the four-highly-detailed-enemies-on-screen model that the UT engine favours if there was greater competition in the engine market.

  25. Kevbo says:

    Heheh some good comments.
    Glad to see most people on the same page :)

  26. Nobody Important says:

    Epic complaining about piracy on the PC is much like a farmer complaining about the spot of land he didn’t plant any seeds on.

  27. Shalrath says:

    “Valve own their own store. I question how successful they’d be if they were still just a ‘dev.”

    Bioware is doing fine with PC gaming. DICE has had a huge success in the PC version of Bad Company 2. Take Two? (Civilization). GSC Gameworld (of stalker fame)? Relic (Dawn of War?) There are tonnes more; I think it’s sad people look at Valve (and Blizzard too though) and think “Wow, that’s it” for PC gaming. Jesus, people, there are HUNDREDS of studios out there.

    I also want to know which game of theirs was pirated so badly they turned from the platform… because I can’t think of a game they’ve made for the PC in years that people actually liked.

  28. bill says:

    Facebook games might not look like unreal 3 now, but they’re INCREDIBLY dumb if they don’t see that they could do pretty soon.
    Mobile phone games have already gone from being sub-NES graphics to being close to PS2 levels on the iphone. Browser wise we have things like InstantAction, QuakeLive, Unity, etc.. and with the rise of netbooks, ipads and other devices we’re gonna see pretty darn good graphics in facebook games pretty soon.
    If I was them I’d want to make sure all the facebook devs were using my engine for their games. But then again, if I was them I’d have wanted to have Wii devs using my engine too.

    Gonna skip all the piracy stuff as that was covered quite well by wolfire. (90%piracy = very few lost sales).

  29. ChampionHyena says:

    Oh, Epic. You used to be my favorite.

    Of course, all of this is hardly news. Epic was pretty much done with us in the Gears 2 days back when CliffyB was saying crap like “if you’re savvy enough to plug in a video card, you’re savvy enough to be a pirate” or whatever. And honestly, they can decide however they want to approach their business model and game design. I don’t have to be happy about it.

    Regardless of how boring Gears can be, regardless of how uninteresting UT3 was, regardless of the ridiculous crap we hear from their talking heads, having Epic say they’re going to deliberately ignore a chunk of their audience is a loss. Maybe they’re in Microsoft’s pocket, maybe (definitely) they are misunderstanding the nature of piracy, but we’re doing ourselves a disservice by casually tossing aside what Epic’s done for video games.

    I bought the super-fancy version of Gears 2 for the Xbox (and have the chainsaw gun to show for it), and guess what? I got to eat blurry, grey, poorly written, stop-and-pop monotonous shit. So no, I can’t say I care if we see games like Gears on the PC. But these are the people who brought us Make Something Unreal and UDK and–for God’s sake–Unreal Tournament. Say what you like about ID being the granddaddy of the FPS, but then think of just how many games you play today that look like UT99’s Assault mode.

    The thing is that Epic could be doing so much good for the platform if they weren’t being nearsighted. They already are doing good for the platform: look at how many Make Something Unreal winners are actually development studios now, or how many Unreal mappers have a job in the industry today. But to drop the PC ’cause it’s not where the money is? That is lazy as hell. Never mind that the people making the biggest money on PC are making some of the biggest money in gaming, but the PC is still the place to find the clever sorts that I know Epic must still have on staff.

    Again, the nebulous nature of digital distribution means that we laypersons really have no clue about how games are actually selling–hell, NPD definitely doesn’t. But when you hear tell of people paying what they want for indie games and the developers sucking up tons of cash, or someone like DICE putting out a whizbang shooty AAA game like BFBC2 and having it sell more on PC than anywhere else… there’s got to be a way to do it right, hasn’t there? I know I’ll pay for anything that keeps me entertained. I don’t pirate games, and–as has been pointed out plenty of times–the people who do pirate games just want stuff for free, no matter the platform or even necessarily the content. That tons of people get pissed off when news like this comes around proves that there is still a huge PC gaming audience, and they want to keep playing games.

    I barely recognize Epic anymore. They used to thrive on the openness of the platform–remember when CliffyB himself would review user-made maps?–and now they’re making bland games and finding lazy excuses to ignore a bunch of their fans. What happened to all the character they used to have? They used to be a band of nerds like us who were in it to make cool games, and they did. Now they’re some strange, faceless entity who are in it to make easy money. And they are. But money and PC development are not mutually exclusive, and plenty of studios will tell you so. Hell, who thought that we’d be playing our Resident Evils and our Street Fighters on PC?

    So yeah. “Good riddance,” I guess. I couldn’t care less if we got more Gears-ey sameyness on the PC. What I want is the cleverness that made Epic a rising star to begin with. In all their concern over “where the money is,” that creative spark can’t ALL be gone, can it?

    • DMJ says:

      A malfunctioning neuron dropped this into my consciousness after reading that:

      15 years from now the massive corporate behemoth that is 2DBoy will abandon the PC quoting “laser space piracy” as the main culprit. Rock Paper Holographic Shotgun comment threads diss the one-time darlings of the PC gaming scene, saying they hadn’t produced anything worthwhile since Universe of Goo 8 – Squish Me Harder.

    • MD says:


  30. Snooglebum says:

    You were incorrect, Kieron. There are 194 things to say, it seems.

  31. Kantong says:

    My opinion:
    – Make games that are good and entertaining, no more shovelware
    – Make reasonable demos. XBLA games and Burnout Paradise PC are good examples, get the full game but limited if you like it and you can continue playing from your demo save. One of the reasons I stopped buying games is because I cant try them first. Hence why I think a-lot of people pirate. They cant try out a game before they decide to spend their hard earned money, so they skip it or pirate it.
    – Cheaper games, I will happily buy a game if there is a demo and it is sub ~$70 aus. Sorry Activision you lost a sale because you were trying to sell COD:MW2 for $110.
    – Stop milking consumers, remember the days when cheat codes were free? Having to buy an unlock to get all cars just because I want to mess around with the game is BS. Also Publishers seem to think it is a great idea to charge the same for retail as they do digital distribution, where I remember someone from Valve was saying the whole point of Steam is to be cheaper and more accessible.

  32. Jayt says:

    Mike Capps can suck my dick.

  33. bhlaab says:

    Yeah, their great strides into the PC market were Gears of War and Unreal Tournament 3. Maybe piracy wasn’t the problem.

  34. Muckbeast says:

    Why is it that consoles have less piracy?

    Simple. Console owners have OPTIONS.

    1) Rent games.

    2) Buy used games.

    3) Sell back their games.

    4) Subscription systems like Gamefly and others.

    PC game devs clamped down on used game sales and rentals, and so they left people with only ONE option other than paying full price, all the time: piracy.

    Tons of people pirate games to “try them out” and admittedly, often don’t bother to buy it even if they enjoyed it. Imagine if they could have rented it, and then known they had to buy it to keep playing? Or imagine if they knew they could always sell back a game for about half their money back if they hated it or if it was really short?

    Console gamers have options. PC gamers don’t. There’s your problem.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      FYI he bitches about used game sales in the article too.
      Direct quote from the last section of the interview since I have this months EDGE on my desk (probably shouldn’t do this but bugger it, RPS can delete if necessary):

      “Piracy hurt, subscription is the answer. Used game sales are really, really hurting console – how many players never paid us for Gears</em? – and the response to that is people are putting more and more into DLC, retail-only download codes and those kinds of thing. And it makes sense. Dragon Age is a good example, focusing efforts on the people who paid for it.”

      That was in reply to being asked if people are going to be frightened by the metamorphosis from current PC-gaming to Facebook gaming (follow on from the end of the quote on the linked page).

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      buggered up closing an em tag as you can see. That whole section shouldn’t be italic only the words “Gears” & “Dragon Age”.

  35. Wulf says:

    I’m beginning to wonder if the problem with PC games isn’t piracy at all but simply too much effort for not as much money. I’ll explain.

    The thing is, I don’t doubt that any RPS regulars are the sort who’d pirate something and not pay for it, and I believe that we are generally representative of the PC market, at least in the UK. I think the problem lies elsewhere, and it’s an intrinsically PC-centric problem. When developing for platforms, the PS3 is sometimes left out because it’s more difficult to develop for, and people keep coming up with excuses for that. The fun part is is that the PS3 has been cracked and all ready has custom firmware (no, really, look it up), but it can’t run backups yet.

    Now, eventually, the PS3 is going to gain the ability to run ISO files natively, similar to how the PSP can (and wish it wouldn’t, since it hurts the homebrew scene, and people would probably damn me for wanting to play my legally owned copy of Ultima VII* on my PSP). The thing is is that not many people are going to be able to do it, buuut… this will become an excuse for the PS3, soon piracy will be “rampant” on the PS3 because it’s more difficult to develop for. You might be able to see where I’m going with this.

    The thing is, Microsoft rewards people for learning how to use the 360 and provides tools for the 360 that make it easy to code for. Similar tools exist for the PC, sure, but we have as much of a problem as the PS3, because a developer has to keep PC specs in mind. It has to be scalable down and up. This means that a developer (see DiRT 2) usually has to put a little more effort into a PC game than a thrown-together console game, otherwise they’re rightly called on a shitty port. Moreover, it takes a different sort of marketing to appeal to PC gamers, and (perhaps most significantly) we’re used to lower prices.

    Activision hiked up the price of Modern Warfare 2 and console gamers didn’t care, PC gamers–on the other hand–are very shrewd and savvy, we bought it when/where it was cheaper for a price we thought was reasonable, we’re not as cattle-like from my observations and we don’t run out and buy the latest AAA title regardless of its price. So they have to develop it specifically for the PC, they have to market it to PC users, and they can’t price-hike in the same way as they can with the consoles because they know we’ll find a way around a high-price anyway, and if we can’t we’ll just wait for a Steam sale.

    I’m not done yet, either. Due to the high range of quality we have on the PC currently, we often want a demo to see what a game is like before we drop money on it, otherwise we’ll keep waiting until it drops in price or shows up in a sale before we eventually plump for it. So they need to convince us more than console gamers that something is actually worth it, and if they don’t put out a PC demo then it’s at their own peril. Furthermore, a demo will show if a developer hasn’t quite completed the PC port yet, and whether there are glaring issues. Since I imagine that there are times where a dev just has to bite the bullet with a deadline and ship the PC version, sorely incomplete and badly ported, and pledge to fix it all up with patches later. Something we may or may not believe.

    So, while there is ever the ongoing “OMG PC PIRATES!” excuse, I really don’t believe that’s the reason. I think that anyone who uses that reason is just covering their arse. I think the real reason is that big publishers are just deciding that the PC isn’t worth it for their profit margins, since they have to put in more work for a less insane price. What I’m getting at is that the PC market is almost fair compared to the console market (and I own a console or two, so I’ve seen this first hand, which is why I rarely ever buy console games), and fair does not compute with shareholders.

    Eventually Microsoft is probably going to have the console monopoly on AAA games, and the PC will mostly have people making games for it who are dedicated to making PC games. But there’ll always be money here for anyone who wants it, maybe not as much money, but still money. And the undisputed success of some independent developers shows that this will always be true, and it also reveals the truth that there’s a far bigger divide between PC and the consoles than there is between any two consoles, because of our exotic hardware and the ethos of the users.

    So, Epic can call piracy all they like, but I’ll always read it as: “Sorry guys, we’re just too lazy and greedy, the grass is sooo much greener on the 360 side. You just don’t pay us enough to cover CliffyB’s ongoing plastic surgery.”

    • squirrel says:

      To begin with, PC is a computing machine for general computing purposes, and gaming is just one of them. Game developers are all crazy to expect PC gamers to invest a lot in their PC for hardware upgrading just to play games. The developers are just so stupid to refuse to invest in optimizing with some mid-range and even low end hardware. They keep make PC games that can only be played on some very high-end hardware. If I can play those games with gorgeous graphics on a USD300 game console, I definitely wont go for the version that can only be play with merely satisfactory graphics on a USD1000 machine. As simply as that.

  36. Sarlix says:

    Apparently we’re all no-good eye patch wearing pirates. Which is why we just gave over 1 Million Dollars to people who asked for nothing more than 1 cent. What scum we are. Aye! har! shiver-me-timbers!

    • Wulf says:

      I think we just look out for our own. Our own being anyone who understands and respects us. I feel that developers like Wolfire do, and I never get anything cynical from them. In their announcements and in their forums they’re some of the nicest people you could hope to know, and they come over as very genuine. That’s why I think that Wolfire is a model for future businesses. The base rule is: be awesome to people, treat people like people, and don’t take yourself seriously.
      Honestly though, have you seen their Meebo chat logs? John has the patience of a saint!

  37. Drac says:

    You know what it is, I think?

    Developing for the PC is like golf…no getting a sprained ankle, sitting out for a few games, and still getting a million dollars.

    You have to show up, play, and do well to get paid well.

    These companies have two problems:
    1. They love control and power…they’re so neurotic and the word of the day is always “MINE.” They can’t handle the thought of something not being under their thumb, and so they go nuts with the DRM thing. They can’t fathom that, just maybe, it is them that is the problem…which brings me to point #2, the salient point for this discussion.

    2. They’re unwilling to do art…or maybe they say/think they’re willing, but deep down, they’re not.
    I would say confidently that most piracy does not represent a lost sale in the slightest. If piracy was the plague these guys make it out to be, EXPLAIN THE SUCCESS OF STARDOCK. Explain how they got from being barely a blip on the radar to a major name in the industry. (NOTE: it’s not that piracy isn’t hurting…but it’s like going nuts over a flesh wound when there’s a guy who just got blown apart by a mortar standing right beside you…but you won’t acknowledge him because you’re so convinced that the fact that you got hurt, even a little, is the end of the world.)

    All without one shred of DRM…great games with grand artistry about them, and doing it for their audience.

    That’s my sub-problem under this problem, many of these big companies go the way of most “singers” I see: they’re not doing it toward or for the audience. They’re not entertaining you…they’re showing off how good they are. They’re on-stage masturbating and we lap it up.

    On consoles it’s really easy to sell this stuff…it’s easy to train people to love the soulless “same ol’, same ol’.” This isn’t even restricted to gaming…this is us at large. *see what I like to call the “Disney Effect”…the people it sells to us are all the same, and all made shells to project marketing to us…to gain money. That’s it: power and gain.*

    Right now the gaming industry is run on fear and greed…and it’ll probably continue that way.
    The PC is anti-that…it is an open platform where the innovation happens (by the way, this is not a console bash, nor am I saying innovation can’t happen on consoles. I’m just saying that the nature of the console is toward the current state of things, while the nature of the PC is against); indeed, innovation MUST happen, or you won’t sell. PC gamers are something of a spoiled lot…but a good spoiled; we can’t accept the status quo that is going on in the industry, and due to the PC’s nature (it is NOT a gaming platform, it is “simply” itself…and that makes it unlimited…and scary) any who hold to PC gaming cannot be so “tamed.”

    Unless the PC is turned into a closed platform.

    See: Valve.
    Valve is good, but I dislike its nature…and how it must be intertwined with everything. That is a console right there.
    We’re just lucky Valve puts out fantastic games…but, let me not start a Valve-bash; such is not my aim. I will just mention that I don’t like it’s trends and move on.

    I would say that my point is that there is a box around the industry…it is a tiny box we have been trained to love…but the industry fears the outside, and that is where the PC dwells. Indeed, I would call the PC the “champion” of that outside

    …and that is why it is hated so, I think. To approach, these companies must cast their surefire deals to make money out of the same old thing to the wayside and embrace what they so fear.
    …but the life of an artist is never about the money anyway, and a grand fallacy of all this is that money=success.
    Yes, you need money to run, but if it is what your focus on, then it will shape all your efforts — you will only do what you see as necessary for the money. You become a slave, chained up in that little cave of a box as you produce more of the same and more DRM to keep other kids out of your yard…but it only keeps the nice ones out; the bad ones just jump the fence.

    The games industry is showing up, but is the same half-hearted performance time and time again good enough? What if a small side organization started to give the interesting performances, started to step out and do well?
    Then we get a pay-what-you-want indie pack making a lot of money.
    Then we get rave reviews of indie games.
    Then, all of a sudden, the indie games are on the front pages long after our Assassin’s Creed 2s and Gears of War 2s and God of War 3s have faded from the forefront.

    The indie wave is countering this stagnation that is trying to infect the PC…as I see the Darkspawn Chronicles are coming up today. Yeah, paying for a mod…and a simple mod at that. That’s not gonna happen.

    Come on guys…come on Ubisoft, come on Epic, come on you many others. Get your stuff together(and stop taking yourselves so seriously); start actually playing your sport instead of maintaining the safe status quo that is presented to you.

    Dang that was dramatic…I hope it was also lucid. YEAH for post-midnight…err…posts.

  38. Pod says:

    “Alec sighs and points at Blues News who points at The Sixth Axis who points at Edge magazine who points at Epic President Mike Capps in an interview situation ”

    Sod ’em and just link straight to the interview.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      It’s in this months EDGE magazine. Bit difficult for RPS to link to something printed on actual paper (and I doubt RPS are the type to link to magazine scans especially when it’s the issue currently on sale).

  39. Dawngreeter says:

    So this is the gaming equivalent of Steve Jobs saying iPad gives you freedom from porn?

  40. redpanda says:

    I seriously don’t get all this “internet piracy is killing the industry”. Seriously? I mean, Is it really worse than it was in the 90’s? I mean, when I was a teenager I don’t think I bought more than a couple of games a year. But I copied everything that anybody around me had. I had a box full of copied floppies… I think the ratio was something like 10 or 15 ‘pirated’ games for each original… And everybody around me, my friends, my schoolmates, were the same. And the industry managed to survive. Is it seriously worse now, the days of multiplayer gaming and draconian DRM systems?

    • GameOverMan says:

      No, it isn’t, but today they think that the videogame industry is the new Hollywood so they want to make hundreds of millions.

    • Dawngreeter says:

      Not having grown up in “the West”, I generally abstain from commenting on how it used to be back before the Internet. I generally assume that my childhood experience with everyone copying games from each other might not be representative. But it really seems to be, as reading RPS has shown me. And if that’s the case, piracy can’t really be the issue.

      Control is the only issue I can see. Just like Apple, consoles have full control over what you’re allowed to do on their gaming system. There you’re just a rent-paying tenant, not a home owner. Waiting for the next generation of actual computer users to create something new and then bug your kids to set it up for you because you have no idea what’s going on.

    • Tei says:

      Theres already a comment that explain that.
      Piracy is slighty worse, but the main change is that budgets are x5 now, so the profit is failling down.
      Is idiotic to blame the piracy, because has not changed, and is idiotic to expect the pirates to magically start buying games, all the games that pirate, but most managers on the industry seems to have this magicall ideas.

  41. Teo says:

    Do not confuse a game engine with a game’s art. If you see dead eyes on a character, that’s usually the art department’s “fault”. Maybe it’s the other way around. They are so realistic, that the only thing that’s missing is life itself.

  42. mbp says:

    Please Kieron don’t just leave this out for us the masses to discuss. I would really love to hear your considered thoughts on the whole future of PC Gaming.

    Of course piracy is a problem but I believe the cost and complexity of maintaining a decent gaming PC is a much bigger one. A considerable investment of time, expertise and money is required to play high end games on a PC whle console gamign has brought high end gaming to the mass market. It is no accident that the growth in PC gaming at present seems to be driven by casual games than can be played on very low end hardware.

    So the centre of commercial mass has long since moved to consoles and yet there is an explosion of creativity in indie and casual gaming on the PC. Can this withstand the assault of the IPhone and the Ipod?

    MMORPG are the other pillar of PC gaming at present but I have a feeling that phenomenon has shot its bolt. Games like WoW will continue to be cash cows for many year syet but mmorpgs dont seem to be able to attract and hold onto the same numbers of subscribers.

    One hugely interesting thing in PC gaming at present is the pricing. While console gaming get more expensive al lthe time PC gaming is gettig cheaper and cheaper. The gaming value to be had on the PC these days is nigh unbelievable.

  43. XM says:

    Everything Epic did after UT2004 sucked that’s why they didn’t sell. They always point to the failure of UT3 and Gears of War PC on pirates. But in fact as we all know UT3 was too clumsy and Gears of war everyone already got on the 360 if they liked it plus it was broken with GFWL.

    They need to wake up and stop putting their balls in one court. the only way to survive in this day is get as many customers as possible. So multi platform is the way to get most money this is what Crytek are doing and Epic have a dig at them saying Unreal Engine 4 is the future. But they are waiting for next gen consoles. That’s like making a big TV no one can buy until their houses are bigger.

    They are getting one thing right and that’s living up to their nick name “Epic Fail”.

    Now they got some other company to do their dirty work and make a multi platform game all because they signed their studio away to Microsoft. Now they are stuck with making their games for the 360 only, great move if your worried about getting as much money as possible.

  44. DiamondDog says:

    The level of ignorance and snobbery directed towards console gaming in some of these comments is truly staggering.

    Well done.

    • Dominic White says:

      Those who label themselves as ‘PC gamers’ (as opposed to gamers who own a PC – and don’t call me a console kiddie, I started out with an 8086) often end up ten times worse than the console owners they complain about so vehemently. I’ve never been told that I’m a retard by a Wii owner.

      Paranoid, insular and fuelled by hate. It’s depressing to see.

    • Wulf says:

      Yep. The PC audience is very likely the worst, no doubt. But to think the console audience is innocent is to be fooling oneself. To say that console gamers don’t have their own share of ignorance (even the big names) is also fooling oneself.

      Some of the best examples I can think of are: Penny Arcade painting all PC gamers as pirates, simply because they own a PC, and lamenting the horrid creatures we are compared to console gamers, who are supposedly saints. And the nonsense that goes on in console wars, just take a look at the rows that erupt about PS3 versus 360 stuff on the VG247 comments threads. They can be every bit as bad as what we see here.

      Considering the first example, it’d be easier to not treat the console owners as outcasts if large numbers of them weren’t doing the same to us. Really, no one’s innocent in this. But I’ll give you that we are bad.

    • Lilliput King says:

      “Some of the best examples I can think of are: Penny Arcade painting all PC gamers as pirates, simply because they own a PC, and lamenting the horrid creatures we are compared to console gamers, who are supposedly saints.”

      Link, please?

    • Dominic White says:

      Yes.. I’m sure Penny Arcade hate the PC and everything it stands for. They’re also the biggest Blizzard fans on the face of the planet. Not sure how that adds up, to be honest.

      In all seriousness, they just seem to stick to the ‘We’re above all this silly jibber-jabber’ line, while trying to avoid pissing off their multitude of sponsors. They’re in the awkward position of hosting a major convention on a regular basis, and trying to be satirical about games. If they tell a major company to go fuck themselves, they end up losing a lot of business.

    • Dominic White says:

      Oh, and I’m going to be a little preemptive here and say that citing this strip as evidence of their PC-hate is retarded:

      link to penny-arcade.com

      Why? Because that’s Gabe (who is portrayed as being about as smart as a dog in the comic) arguing with a literal strawman. In circles.

    • DiamondDog says:

      I don’t think anyone has said that console gamers are immune to displays of ignorance. All I’m saying is I find it a bit depressing that a PC community such as this still trots out the same old stereotypes.

      Although with stories like this I can see why some resort to that “fuck you” kind of attitude.

    • Lilliput King says:


      I was thinking that might be the strip Wulf was thinking of. Which would be to entirely miss the point of that strip and associated blog post, to be honest.

  45. The Great Wayne says:

    This is all bullshit. And trying to theorize upon “why consoles sells more yadda yadda” is BS as well. Consoles and PCs have different audiences for a huge part. Piracy has nothing to do with that, given consoles being cracked is always a matter of time and success of said console.

    Thinking otherwise is just underestimating what a bunch of young men can do with enough motivation and time. Which games publishing corporations don’t do, they aren’t that dumb, it’s all PR and smoke, most often toward the shareholders.

    Most of the companies that once were ok and fell in the trap of eager capitalism are now doing crappy games, therefore doing crappy benefits while at the same having to cope with increasing results demand. They have to blame something for it, and piracy is as good as it comes, it rings some bells even into people that doesn’t understand a word about computer gaming.

    When people in suits will awake to consoles being hacked into oblivion, it’ll be something else. Yeah it is that stupid, they’re just monkeys, y’know.

  46. int says:

    I loved Epic Games when they were fairly new, with Jazz Jackrabbit and Jill of the Jungle and of course Unreal. I am sad that they have pretty much abandoned the PC.

    Founder Tim Sweeney has really lost it. Interview from 2008:

    link to tgdaily.com

  47. squirrel says:

    He does have the gust to ban us PC gamers for their commercial failure of their PC games. How fail they are? Make a few USD million less? My heart is breaking for him.

    Why Gears of War failed? Can Mr Capps justify the decision of not implementing interplay between XBOX and PC players? You think that pathetically short add-on to the campaign section could compensate this loss?! To gamers, the only difference between an XBOX and a PC for a shooter game, is that one use mostly gamepad while another one use mouse and keyboard. And I can tell you there are so many XBOX gamers actually use mouse and keyboard to play. To them, since there is absolutely no difference between XBOX and PC for the very same game, why would one stupidly choose the PC version while there is no guarantee a satisfactorily large community could be established for it? Even for those good boys and girls who stick to gamepad, shooter games on XBOX are mostly very fine tuned for gamepad (I used to play Halo 2 a lot, it worked so unbelievably great that I am so amazed how shooter games can be played so well with gamepad). You dont even have to blame DRM for its failure (someone at reclaimyourgame.com caught Epics games implement activation limits on PC version of Gears of War, I never uninstall my game so I dont know if this claim is correct). It’s the shortcoming of the game itself that leads to its “commercial failure”.

  48. Malibu Stacey says:

    Because VALVe set the prices, discounts & release dates for all games in every region on Steam.
    Of course the actual games developers and/or publishers have no say in it, it’s all VALVe being omnipotent overlords orchestrating everything. Right?

    • jalf says:

      Er no, because Valve sets the default exchange rates, and does not have a suggested regional pricing policy. Because prices doubled overnight when Valve enabled European prices.

      Of course Valve doesn’t dictate prices on the games they sell. But you’re kidding yourself if you think they’re innocent or helpless in the matter. Prices are outrageous on their platform because Valve allow them to be outrageous.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      My first ever reply fail (was reply to the last comment on page 1)!

      jalf isn’t it funny how VALVe’s own games seem to be priced pretty competitively in all 3 currencies? Especially when they do sales of their own stuff too? Wonder how that works.

      I like how you’re blaming VALVe for allowing people to price their goods how they see fit. Perhaps they should be more dictatorial & tell people how much they’re allowed to charge for stuff? It seems to work really well for Microsoft right? No complaints there?

  49. Myros says:

    Hardly any point adding to everything that has already been said, but what the hell …

    Crappy company makes crappy games blames pirates, pretends companies that do make it work don’t exist.

  50. Lavitz says:

    Okay, we have been over this before when they said NO GEARS OF WAR 2 . I wrote samething before and ill do it again, this applies to all console ports. NO ONE WILL BUY A GAME 8 MONTHS AFTER ITS BEEN OUT ON ANOTHER PLATFORM THIS WILL EVEN HAPPEN ON CONSOLES. If they wants gears to be successful include some pc features, and make sure the controls work well on PC and people will buy there game. UT3 was free on STEAM NO ONE PLAY BECAUSE THE GAME SUCKS. So epic should stfu and figure what they are doing wrong.. instead of bitchin about piracy .