Ken Levine Hearts The PC

Blessim. As part of Kotaku’s ‘PC gaming week’ (so does that make it okay for them to largely ignore the PC for the other 51 weeks of the year?), BioShock/System Shock 2/SWAT 4-brain Ken Levine has penned an impassioned paean to the humble IBM compatible. The source of the greatest developers, the undying home of innovation, the bright, ever-changing future of videogames: that sort of thing. “Magic can happen when there are no middle men, no marketers, and no naysayers,” quoth he. He’s absolutely right, y’know.

Plus he name-checks this cool PC gaming site you might have heard of, which is very sweet of him. And means he might be reading this. Hmm. Hi Ken! Please make sure Infinite’s PC version is the best version!


  1. Tetragrammaton says:

    Why no staring eyes!!!!! ragerageragerage

  2. jon_hill987 says:

    “Please make sure Infinite’s PC version is the best version!”

    It will be exactly the same as the other versions. Well OK, to be fair I expect they will give it mouse support.

    • Phinor says:

      Mouse support would be an upgrade from Bioshock 1&2 though. In those games you had to manually add the support through the ini files. Same with FOV.

    • suibhne says:

      True enough on the question of FOV, which was quite disappointing – especially when Bioshock 2 repeated the same obvious failings as the original. But it’s utter rubbish to claim that Bioshock 1 and 2 didn’t support mouse input without some ini-fiddling.

    • drewski says:

      I finished Bioshock on PC without ever realising there was anything “wrong” with the mouse, to the point that I’m somewhat dubious as to your intentions with this comment.

    • A-Scale says:

      That’s an outright lie, Phenor. I played both 1 and 2 on the PC with my mouse and never did any ini editing.

    • Psychopomp says:

      I believe he was being facetious.

  3. Mithrandir0x says:

    Ooh I didn’t know Levine was behind SWAT4.

    • subedii says:

      One of my favourite games ever released. Seriously.

      IIRC Sierra came to him with the proposal for doing SWAT 5 after that, but he turned it down because he felt there wasn’t really anything else creatively they could do with the series.

      I think that was also part of the reason behind the whole zombie SWAT prototype thing.

    • Heliocentric says:

      I like bioshock, but i’d rather have had more swat.

    • PureUncut says:

      Oh more SWAT please please please.

    • The Hammer says:

      A large part of the gaming press liked to make out, during Bioshock’s development, that Levine was somehow a new kid on the block, where in fact he had been involved with the seminal SWAT series, and even Freedom Force, which is cast-iron proof that Irrational are capable of stuff other than Bioshock!

      As to the article, it’s nice and all, but Levine mentioning that the PC is the arena for unmitigated creativity serves to highlight that his studio could certainly do more to take advantage of that. It would be nice to see games from them of lesser scope, ala what Double Fine are doing with their own spread of games. Downloadable stuff, mainly. Why just focus on the huge, blockbuster projects?

  4. Choca says:

    Ken Levine looks tired

  5. Wahngrok says:

    I like the Ultima Underworld screenshot. Great memories come back to mind…

    • Dominus says:

      haha, exactly what I wanted to reply to this post :D

    • Dominus says:

      I really wish that someone capable will someday create Underworld 3 with strong atmosphere, simulation and interactivity implemented in the gameplay, because this is what defines the first two games.

    • Crazyguy says:

      lol, i loved that game sooooooo much……. the first one at least. never could get into the second one all that much, though i did steal everything in the castle floor….did you guys ever plant the silver sapling by the grey goblin place and murder them all? ahhh, memories……..

  6. Amun says:

    But that means I would have to visit ko-(groan)-taku…

  7. Mac says:

    For all the crying about how PC games are dying, take a look at page 106 of the EA annual report.

    PC games were almost 700 million revenue in 2010 fiscal, compared with PS3 of 771 million, and Wii of 570 million. Even the XBox 360 was “only” 868 million, within shooting range of the PC. If you look at any of the consoles individually as a platform, most of them are similar to the PC as a platform. The DS/PSP/mobile platforms TOGETHER did not even touch the PC platform.

    The problem seems to come from most charts only recording sales as retail sales, and ignoring the digital sales. Therefore, people see that the PC version appears to be drastically underselling compared to consoles – which quite clearly isn’t true.

    In fact, I am very surprised at EA’s figures – given that most people probably buy the sports titles on console, rather than the half arsed PC versions, then I would have expected a greater disparity between the PC and console revenue.

    It also demonstrates that the “so called” prevalence and ease of piracy on PC has little impact on revenue ….

    • Baboonanza says:

      Not at all, it simply shows that you can generate very respectable revenue inspite of piracy. Whether that revenue would be significantly higher without piracy is another question entirely.

    • jgtg32a says:

      Can you link that?

  8. Baboonanza says:

    After reading that article the one burning question I have is:

    Ken Levine, how did you persuade your wife to let you play on the PC all evening, every evening?

    • subedii says:

      I was wondering the same thing. Is she just hooked on House or something?

      Jokes aside, he’s probably just exaggerating for the article.

      Also, I suspect at least part of the reason the Kotaku article was posted here was because he had a little nod to RPS in there as well. :P

  9. Jonathan says:

    Man, I think of myself as a PC fanboy, but I totaly hadn’t appreciated that Levine was involved with SS2 and SWAT 4 (and, I see, Thief). <3 Ken!

    Also, I would like Baboonanza's question answered too.

  10. Gnarf says:

    (so does that make it okay for them to largely ignore the PC for the other 51 weeks of the year?)

    No. Ignoring certain platforms most of the time is just not okay.

    • BooleanBob says:

      In fairness they would ignore the wii, 360 and ps3 too if there was a steady enough stream of gamercakes and space invader shoes.

  11. Brumisator says:

    Oh man, now I want a T-shirt that says “I’m an alt-tab kind of guy”

    …The more obscure a joke is, the funnier it gets, right guy?…right?…someone? :'(

    • Heliocentric says:

      Alt tab is for casuals, real hardcore gamers have 2 pc’s or a dual screen setup.

      Me? I just have a second ethernet cable inserted in my nervous system.

    • Brumisator says:

      “I have three PCs and 5 screens but I still need to alt-tab to get from my game to IRC” won’t fit on a T-shirt.

      I need to get fatter so I can wear bigger shirts with more text on them.

    • Heliocentric says:

      Thats one thing the far east has one thing going for it, one word per character.

  12. SirKicksalot says:

    Obligatory “then why is he making dumbed down consolised trash?” post.

  13. Ricc says:

    Did you read the Zynga-guy post? (They also have one from Cevat Yerli.)

    link to

    Mark Skaggs says:
    “The future may also bring a new form of digital family board game night. Why play Monopoly with your Mom and Dad, when you can play a game with your entire extended family across the world, at any time?”

    This man doesn’t even know what the word “social” means anymore, does he?

    • Brumisator says:

      I hate Cervat Yerli so much.
      He has such a narrow point of view it’s kind of sad.

      /FOV is 20
      /set FOV 90

    • michaelar says:

      +10 internets for you, Brumisator. Brilliant.

      If only more people/places/things had console mode.

  14. JohnnyMaverik says:

    We heart him too…

  15. MultiVaC says:

    Have to say, I still think Ken Levine is a brilliant guy, no matter how badly I felt burned by BioShock. His article is by far the smartest of those on Kotaku this week so far, too. Cevat Yerli and that douchey Zynga guy have their somewhat credible predictions, but “Fuck if I know” is probably the wisest stance to take on the question, and is also exactly the reason PC gaming remains so exciting. I know plenty of people are tired of hearing about Minecraft, but it’s a perfect example of this sort of thing. Nobody could have ever seen that one coming, and there’s not a chance in hell it could have come from anywhere other than PC gaming.

  16. Boris says:

    LIES! No one who does that to X-Com is hearting the PC.
    (Where is that game, anyways?)

  17. kamal says:

    Levine is great! And PC gaming is awesome!

  18. frags says:

    The man’s right! Viva Le PC Revolution!!!

  19. blah says:

    FFS Levine give us back all the things that make PC games great and not those for games catered for consoles…

  20. megaman says:

    This image alone just made me want to play Ultima again. A shame this posting is not about some Oblivion-goes-Ultima-Mod or something :/

  21. lurk says:

    I really wish he said the future of gaming was Freedom Force 3

  22. Fredrik Wester, CEO of Paradox says:


  23. edosan says:

    “As part of Kotaku’s ‘PC gaming week’ (so does that make it okay for them to largely ignore the PC for the other 51 weeks of the year?)”

    Don’t worry. They’re pretty much ignoring it this week too.

  24. Popish Frenzy says:

    Agree with him that one of the PCs main strengths is the low entry barrier for new ideas but the problem with this at the moment is many interesting indie games start development on pc, show proof of concept, do the indie expo circuit, draw some attention and then get ‘poached’ by xbla or psn only showing up on the pc months or years later. This happened with braid, limbo and recently super meatboy (only a months wait thankfuly). Now while the pc gamer in me gnashes his teeth at how ‘ungrateful’ and ‘two faced’ this behaviour is, I recognise its just that xbla and psn have platform holders that can provide major support to indie devs trying to ship their first game and the pc doesnt really have a good answer to that. Hopefully this will change once people realise steam is to big a market to ignore.

    Still, really nice to see someone in the industry that can so forcefully articulate the strengths of the format:)

  25. Gabbo says:

    Talk is cheap Levine. Put your Money/games where your mouth is [again] and I’ll start listening more intently. Ports don’t cut it.

    • Trousers says:

      I agree. I couldn’t play bioshock 2 without editing the mouse settings in the .ini, it would move way too fast. FOV and Blurry textures galore etc etc

  26. Zenith says:

    Freedom Force 3 needs to be all up in this bitch.

    Bioshock Infinite looks mighty wicked though :)

  27. Wrigleyvillain says:

    Ken Levine always looks like he hearts himself a bit too much.