PC Most Popular Format For Euro Gamers


Who’s the most popular gaming format, eh? Who is? Who is? Is it you? Is it? Awwwww, yes, you ARE the most popular gaming format! You big, loveable thing you…

Oh, I’m sorry, you’ve caught me having a chat with my PC. Because my beautiful little boy is the most popular kid in school. According to an MCV report, as I’ve been saying for the last four hundred million years, the PC is by far the most popular means of playing games in the UK.

ELSPA and ISFE (Interactive Software Federation of Europe) have conducted a survey of British gamers that finds 33% of all sentient gaming humans are playing their chosen distractions on the big grey box. For mysterious reasons the Wii and the 360’s popularity was combined, accounting for 36% of the gaming audience together. In other words, unable to defeat the PC alone.

55% of those surveyed reported playing ‘mini-games’, by which we’re sure they mean Flash and Java games, etc.

Of the surveyed masses, a third described themselves as “a gamer”. 74% of 16 to 19 year olds labelled themselves such, while an almost equally impressive 60% of 20 to 24 year olds used the term.

So the next time someone says to you, “What can we do about the decline of the PC as a gaming platform?” or when you next year a publisher say, “The PC just isn’t a viable format for us any more,” do free free to print out this story and use it to papercut their nuts.


  1. Danny says:

    Remember though, the likes of Farmville and co count as PC games *shudders*

    Now excuse me while I try to forget about Farmville through some Team Fortress 2.

    • Arthur Barnhouse says:

      Speaking of Farmville, I saw this link over at daring fireball:

      link to mediacommons.futureofthebook.org

      The terrifying truth of Farmville is that people play Farmville because people play Farmville.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      Arthur: the ‘playing because others play it’ is a factor of note in many games with a multiplayer component, especially MMOs. Whether it’s a reason to start playing (friends playing it) or to keep playing (online contacts, guilds/clans).

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      Addendum: Although farmville, more than anything, makes me think of a pyramid-scheme combined with the compulsion from, say, gambling. An MMO like WoW doesn’t even come close. That can be seen by the fact that it can easily be played casually.

      Farmville is a plague upon mankind, I say.

  2. Brulleks says:

    Yes! We win!

    And soon we’ll rule the world. mwahahahaha.



    (Although I feel a slight chill of fear at the thought that a significant proportion of that percentage might well tout Farmville as the one PC game they’ve played…)

    • Brulleks says:

      @ Danny

      Lol. Hadn’t seen your post when I wrote that. Share the fear!

  3. DK says:

    Since when has fact or common sense influenced Publisher decisions or statements? They’ll just keep spouting “PC is dead” and “Pirates are hurting us” no matter what’s actually true.

    • Aemony says:

      True. I think Swedish game developers (not publishers) Massive Entertainment (or Ubisoft Massive as they are now called) kept whining about 99% of all players playing World in Conflict was playing a pirated copy, which is by far the most exaggerated number I’ve seen yet. Publishers, and some developers, seems to have the same misconception as the music and movie industries has; one downloaded copy equals one lost sale… Oh god, at least Valve and Gabe knows what’s true and not.

    • frymaster says:

      for all people moan at publishers for only being interested in the bottom line, it’s always the gamers who trot out the “but you don’t actually lose as money as you think!” line. Maybe developers (less so publishers, I’d have thought) object to (very large proportion of your choice) players not having paid not because of the monetary implications, but because it pisses them off?

      being told (very large proportion) of all people playing your game (and consuming resources on your master server browser) had ripped me off would be pretty hurtful to me regardless of the amount of money I lost on the deal

    • fitz says:

      Whereas I’ve bought World In Conflict but never played it. So there!

    • monkeybreadman says:

      100 quadrabazillion and 1 is the most exaggerated number i’ve seen.

      That is the number of pirated copies of Assassin’s Creed btw. The entire universe pirated that game

    • rocketman71 says:

      @Aemony: that is high. Never thought anyone would surpass Cevat Yerli’s idiotic comments about Crysis’ “20-to-1 piracy ratio”

  4. Drexer says:

    Who’s my wittle wittle PC, who’s who’s?

    Of course I’ll be replacing him fully in the next month, so I probably shouldn’t toss him aside after such a tender display of affection…

  5. subedii says:

    So a third of a third then?

  6. Shagittarius says:

    I want to send a shout out to my 4 PCs:

    My current rig: Dual 280’s and an i7 running Windows 7.

    My XP Rig: (For the few games that don’t like Vista/7, like Railroads) Core 2 duo 7200 and an ATI 4850.

    My Windows 98 Rig: AMD Sempron 2600+ and a Ti 4200.

    My Vintage Rig: Pentium 90 with an STB lightspeed and a Voodoo 2. This one multi-boots everything; DOS, Windows 3.11, Windows ’95, and 98.

    I find it hard to visit sites where the reviews have no understanding of PC gaming and the past. I’m thrilled to be here amongst the enlightened. I’ve been playing games on PCs for 30 years and its always been my platform of choice.

  7. Jeremy says:

    We still don’t admit that we even play games in the US anymore, unless it’s Modern Warfare 2 or Halo, or other “cool” games. Even though like 1 in 3 people plays WoW. The nerds.

    • colinmarc says:

      I agree, it seems like gaming is still weird and taboo (for the most part) here in the US. At least outside of cod wars.

  8. Colthor says:

    But MMOs and flash games and social games and downloaded games and free games and indie games don’t count!

  9. Navagon says:

    Two floppy drives?! And a monitor, the front of which is almost 50% screen? Who wouldn’t love that? But sadly so few have such gaming behemoths, which is why they turn to drugs. I mean consoles.

  10. Cooper says:

    The correct line is now:

    “The PC is no longer a viable option for publishers who do not want to change their developing habits which are more at home on the console. Due to publishers having the willies scared out of them by the modern day tape recorder and because the majority of people who use the PC to play games are becomming increasingly aware that it is possible to get great, excellent, innovative and amazing games for free or very cheap. Games built on 50p and a family bucket of KFC instead of the millionsquid large publishers belive they have to throw at a game in a market dominated by closed hardware and limited avenues of distribution.”

    PC gaming isn’t declining. The audience and market terrain is changing.

  11. Jeremy says:

    I mean, let’s be fair though, PC is infinitely more difficult to develop software for than a console. You have a rigid set of “what works” on a console, and you have clear lines to develop within. For PC you’re looking at N x N! hardware differentials.

    • colinmarc says:

      Speaking as a developer… no way. You get your choice of language/lib/engine on the PC. If nothing else, that makes prototyping 100x easier. DirectX, OpenGL et al abstract most hardware permutations, and often it’s easy to find something to abstract OS permutations as well.

    • colinmarc says:

      (disclaimer: I’ve never tried to write something for a console)

    • Jeremy says:

      Well, it’s a similar concept to Mac v. PC. In general a Mac has a longer life because everything is created in a vacuum of sorts, there isn’t too much variability to worry about when dealing with the machine. In the same way, you don’t have to worry nearly as much when developing on a console because it has, essentially, uniform hardware and software (aka drivers) across the board.

  12. John says:

    Even the floppy drives gasp at this finding.

    In any case, yep, PC is the predominant platform in my country too. Somewhat expected, as well. But i’m not sure how genres native to the PC are doing,

  13. pkt-zer0 says:

    So, Farmville is ridiculously popular, or something. Yay, I guess?

    I can’t say I’d be excited about the next X-COM/Fallout no longer being a console FPS but a Facebook app.

  14. Sobric says:

    I’d love to see these statistics before 2005

  15. Durns says:

    For some reason my mind read that whole post in the same “oochie coochie coo” speech that the first paragraph evoked.

    Got a bit disturbing around the “papercut their nuts” point…..

    • Shadowcat says:

      > Got a bit disturbing around the “papercut their nuts” point…..

      Well the alternatives were to assail their nuts with either rocks or shotguns, so all things considered those nuts are getting off lightly!

  16. Starky says:

    PC gaming is kind of the de facto “most popular” simply due to it being so common for OTHER reasons.
    I’d wager more than half of the PC gamers in that survey primarily use their PC for other things, and just happen to play games on it because they can.

    Really it is a silly thing for us PC gamers boast about, and not really true at all.

    Lets face it guys and gals, with a few exceptions (that prove the rule) any game* of medium plus** budget will sell more on consoles than on windows PCs, often by a order of magnitude.
    PC gaming isn’t dead, far from it – but lets not pretend that it is the popular choice, or even close to the most profitable for developers (which is what really matters).
    * Excluding RTS, Sim and Strategy games, which have always being PC mainstays, and probably always will be.
    ** Medium defined roughly as a team of a dozen or so, and a budget of 1 million USD or more.

    The PC (windows) platform may make more money than any single console, may make more money than all the consoles combined when it comes to gaming (we just don’t have the figures – only guesses)…
    The point is that it just doesn’t matter for the vast majority of Developers and publishers given most of that money is generated by social networking games and MMO’s.
    Dev’s looking to make medium+ budget games in other genre’s (with the possible exception of 2D, and lowfi 3D indie titles) will look to the console first, and are right to do so because that is where the money is.

    I love the PC as a gaming platform, and 90% of my gaming time is on the PC (the final 10% on handhelds) but lets not kid ourselves that popular equals superior.

    • Sic says:

      What I fail to grasp is why on earth publishers/developers either make expensive “blockbusters”, or very small indie or some sort of flash/facebook/iphone games.

      I’m pretty confident the money is in the middle; and I’m sure we’re going to see a lot of smaller games, that are more focused on artistic and design qualities, rather than just commercial presence and genre-specific flair. I mean, very small indie teams are churning out games that are quite popular. There’s just a matter of time before some of the zombies in suits picks up on this and diverts the flow of money in the direction of smaller projects. Just look at what happened with movies after Sundance of 89.

      Things will change, I’m sure of it.

    • Fumarole says:

      Didn’t the recent numbers posted for… Dragon Age, I think it was… show this to be untrue? I’m going by what I read somewhere on RPS in the recent past.

    • Psychopomp says:

      According to Wikipedia, Dragon Age sold around 3 million copies on PC.

  17. pilouuuu says:

    I guess it’s just a matter of time before consoles start to decline again and PC gets to be king again (not that it ever stopped being the undisputed king).

  18. Jimbo says:

    I don’t think popularity has ever really been the issue has it? The issue is turning that popularity into sales.

    I’m also assuming that these figures include the rise in popularity of facebook games and so on.

  19. Tei says:

    I kind of like how easy is to install games on the PC.
    You type apt-get install openarena, and in 12 seconds you have that game installed automatically. If you are tired of the game, you type apt-get remove openarena, and It go away. It don’t degrade the system any bit.

    Steam works much like that, with the paywall (you have to pay to adquire a game), and the installation take much longer ( Steam games tend to be 2~3 gigs in size, some more than that).

    Microsoft created a system to make installing apps in windows easier, the MSI package system. In theory it works much like a debian package, so installing in theory could be as easy as apt-get, minus the steam or sinaptic thing. But since Windows dev’s are new to this type of concept (package systems), theres not much difference betwen a setup.exe and a setup.msi.

    Having the MSI package system, Microsoft just need to create something like iTunes or the App Shop that everyone and my dog is creating for phones… on Windows. ( I herd Microsoft has programmers that can do code ). So theres not reason that can stop Microsoft building a system mutch like the Debian system, the Apple system, the Steam system or Google App Store system.

    Other people is making the “web standards” stronger, more reliable and more powerfull. So the future of webgames is to become more like flash, but better. There are new ideas, like node.js, that will make web games more like true “mmofps” games and less like turn based ms-dos games.

    • Samuel Bigos says:

      “I kind of like how easy is to install games on the PC.
      You type apt-get install openarena, and in 12 seconds you have that game installed automatically. If you are tired of the game, you type apt-get remove openarena, and It go away. It don’t degrade the system any bit.”

      I don’t quite understand, you can’t just type in ‘apt-get install half life 2’, or ‘apt-get install battlefield bad company 2’ can you? If you can I would assume some sort of piracy. Oh and what is openarena, must be quite small considering it takes 12 seconds to download.

    • sfury says:

      @Tei – link to downloadsquad.com

      Interesting, did you read this today, or that’s some weird synchronicity? :)

      Any way, if it comes tied with GFWL (and they still haven’t totally overhauled it by Win8…) – fuck that.

      I hope the Google App store will not disappoint – they’ll want to cater to all those incoming Chrome OS devices.

    • Tei says:

      @Samuel Bigos.

      If you can’t do “apt-get install halflife2”, you can probably do “dpkg -i steam.deb”, once (and IF) Steam released such file. And from Steam, do exactly what I said you can do: adquire games with zero mantenance.
      Adquiring games with zero wait, is also posible, thanks to the webgames, that will become better with HTML5, CSS3, and other bits.


      I think I have read about that. So I don’t read minds, and I don’t see the future. Anyway what Microsoft has show is just a mockup. By the time it release, maybe will be obsolete.
      Microsoft must hire a few good designers, and fire a million of talentless “director of departament”. Stuff like GFWL is horrible, and feel “designed by commite”.

  20. Samuel Bigos says:

    When you rule out the 55% who play flash games (including Farmville and such), and the people who play Modern Warfare 2, you’re probably left with about 10%.

    • SF Legend says:

      That’s 55% of those surveyed, not 55% of the pc gamers.

  21. westyfield says:

    I love PC gaming.

  22. Frankle says:

    I love lamp….I mean PC Gaming………..also Lamp.

    • Jeremy says:

      Frankle, are you just looking at things in the post and saying that you love them?

    • sfury says:


    • colinmarc says:

      I’m a PC! (no, you’re brick.) I’m a pc.

    • colinmarc says:

      also. I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure PC gaming is an old, old, wooden ship. used in the civil war era.

  23. jamesworkshop says:

    link to software.intel.com

    Intel got there first

  24. TheSombreroKid says:

    John is the best author of this post! Mainly because he said nuts, which none of the other contenders were brave enough to use and i normally wouldn’t expect it from him.

    Also the steam user numbers proved that it’s the most popular gaming format the owrld over too, given that steam alone beat the 360 for install base and number of concurrent users online and any other metric you feel the need to throw at it.

  25. _Nocturnal says:

    I love you guys for those hearts.

  26. Dozer says:

    I love you guys for those lamps.

    I made an awesome thing once. I took a dead blender, and installed a lamp inside it. Thus, BlenderLamp! It’s in Reading now, somewhere. Maybe I’ll see it again someday.

  27. Rosti says:

    But I was at PC Gaming’s funeral; I consoled his parents. :'(

  28. Player1 says:

    The title of this post should have been “PC Most Popular Format For UK Gamers”. Even though the UK market is the biggest in Europe, it’s not the only one and many earlier studies have shown that other markets (like the german one) don’t work like that. Plus, as others already mentioned: I think we should rule out all the people playing flash games just because they have the Internet Explorer installed on their laptop. Meaning: I’m not impressed at all by this survey.

  29. mbp says:

    There is something quite wonderful going on here. Big name publishers have been doing their best to kill off the PC game for many years and yet the format keeps re-inventing itself and continues to grow. I know the current resurgence owes a lot to Farmville and similarly trivial games but there is a whole lot of other stuff going on too. The whole digital distribution thing is really taking off and to date Valve is the only major publisher who seems to realise what it can achieve.

    By the way that’s a nice rig in the top photo. Two 5.25″ floppy drives! That must have set you back a pretty penny. How much RAM you got: 128k? 256k?

  30. Dawngreeter says:

    Home blogging is killing the review industry.

  31. John Peat says:

    On the Farmville thing – people also play MW2, TF2, CS and CS:S because people play those games, there’s nothing like a community of people to make a game more appealing.

    The sheer range of online games means most will never get any level of uptake to elevate them to the status of those titles – not because they’re worse games, just because you need a lot of people playing to get a lot of people playing…