PCGA Says PC Games Made $18.6 Billion In 2011

Industry PC gaming advocacy group, The PC Gaming Alliance, reports a sunny outlook for PC gaming in 2011. No surprise there, of course, especially with continued excitement over free-to-play, and the multi-billion dollar IPOs raised by Zynga and Nexon for their F2P businesses, but that’s not the whole story: “While much of the growth in 2011 came from the growing F2P space, there were also some notable big budget game launches that enjoyed very strong sales, driven by the growing acceptance of digital distribution. These included the large subscription online games Rift, from Trion World Network, and Star Wars: The Old Republic from Electronic Arts… Sports games led by soccer titles from Electronic Arts and Konami also showed surprisingly strong sales on the PC.” More below.

Really? Sports, eh? That is surprising. Also all this stuff does make me wonder how “dead” subscription-based models for MMOs really are, too. I am still paying at least one sub. Anyone else?

The focus for reports from folks like the PCGA continues to be the rapid shift towards everyone buying their games digitally, as their Intel-based bossman explained:

“The PC Gaming juggernaut continues unabated, across the industry and geographic boundaries. While reports of Gaming sales at Retail show signs of struggle, the impact hasn’t been as great for PC Gaming, which had an earlier adoption of newer formats, business-models & delivery with: Digital Distribution, Free to Play, and Subscriptions fueling PC Gaming’s strong global growth. For example: Valve’s market-leading Steam digital distribution service now reports over 40 million users, and traditional retailers are following suit by investing in this space more heavily such as GameStop’s acquisition of the Impulse digital distribution service,” said Matt Ployhar, PCGA president and Intel analyst. “Not only investment dollars, but real revenue and profits, are now being generated solely from purely digital business models, formats, and delivery.”

Still, interviews like this one still suggest that retail for the PC is not yet dead in territories other than the US and the UK, which is where I suspect the PCGA is focusing its marketing research. Nor should their numbers be taken as totally accurate. They’re able to get some of the picture, with Steam not releasing figures, and thousands of indies untracked, we’re still looking at guesswork. The true size of the PC as a market will probably always be unknown.


  1. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    Dead Can Sell.

    • Gap Gen says:

      Yeah, PC gaming is like Elvis, who while dead is still capable of making craploads of money. Or maybe PC gaming has just been abducted by aliens.

      You know what’s dead? The console release cycle.

    • povu says:

      That’s the way it always goes. Someone/something is announced as dead, resulting in it suddenly selling a massive amount of copies. And PC gaming is announced dead every other month, so…

    • Shuck says:

      The “death” of PC gaming was all about the death of “PC gaming as we knew it”. The markets and development models are very different now, but profitable in new ways, most particularly online/social games (Long live the new PC gaming), but for a while it looked pretty dire.
      Also, for context, in 2009 the total game industry revenue was, by some estimations, over $60 billion, and last year the console portion was about $25 billion and the mobile game market (which is mostly phone games) was worth $3.3 billion dollars and growing.

  2. Duffin says:

    PC gaming is deeeeeeed.

  3. subedii says:

    I… had all but forgotten these guys existed to be honest.

    I mean does anyone really care what they say, either in or outside of the PC Games industry? Because as far as I’m aware they still haven’t really achieved, well, anything.

    • ReV_VAdAUL says:

      To play devil’s advocate organisations like this tend to exist to benefit the companies themselves rather than the consumer so their achievements may be hidden but yeah, I don’t think they’ve achieved much business wise either.

    • MasterDex says:

      Yeah, they’re an alliance for themselves, rather than for PC gaming. I recall sending them an email back when all the crap with Activision and MW2 was hitting the fan to see if they had an opinion on the matter – as any group concerned with the health of PC gaming would have – but the response was a resounding “We’re sorry, we don’t give a fuck”, in much nicer terms, of course.

  4. Drayk says:

    If your subscription is to EVE it’s not a subscription anymore, it’s a Tithe.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      It’s not. I’ve been out of Eve for a few years.

    • apocraphyn says:

      Then TOR or WoW are the only sensible conclusions to come to.

      Resubbed to WoW last month, intending to play co-op with my girlfriend – but we never got round to it. As such, sub ran out, £7 or however much wasted…eh. It’s probably for the best.

    • Drayk says:

      Cancelled my sub to TOR some days ago. Too bad cause i really want to play the story missions but all that running and grinding is boring. I am to tired to play a game that lacks excitment.

    • Aardvarkk says:

      I just re-upped another 6 months for Rift. The constant updates and new material make it worthwhile for me.

  5. Joshua says:

    I think the reason that sports games are so popular on PC is because the people who buy sports games tend to be the people that do not game all that much, and thus do not want to buy a dedicated rig (a console or gaming pc) just because they want a bit of relaxation in the evening.

    • Diogo Ribeiro says:

      I’m not sure how this goes for the UK or US, but you’d be surprised at the number of folks in Portugal who buy a PS2 or PS3 just for FIFA and PES (what some people thought was a meme turned out to be horribly true). It’s like 300+ euros for… a game. It’s silly, but seems to work alright for Sony ’round these parts.

    • N1kolas says:

      I do not own a console toy, and if I ever do, I’ll never own a sports game on it.

      I know what you mean about people buying a console just to play PES, it is very common here in Greece too, or used to be before the recent financial crisis.

      But for the people I know that did so, how exactly is spending 300+ € on “one game” that you then proceed to play with your buddies for 500+ hours, never getting bored, silly?

      It certainly isn’t as silly as spending 300+ euros a year on 5-10 games that you then lose interest in halfway through, around the five hour mark that is, like 90% of even hardcore PC gamers do.

    • anduin1 says:

      only sports game I ever get into are FIFA games and I only buy a new one every 3rd or so year since Im not really that into it. The rest put me to sleep.

  6. Jams O'Donnell says:

    “At least one sub”

    You don’t know the real number? Your banker/accountant/missus must love that :P

  7. deanb says:

    Never mind PC gaming being dead, I was under the impression the PCGA was. Didn’t they dissolve last year? I swear I heard something along those lines.

    If they hadn’t said sports games specifically from EA I would have guessed at Football Manager, seems to be a fairly popular PC game.

    • matnym says:

      Nah, it was just Nvidia and Microsoft leaving the alliance.

    • Khemm says:

      The funniest thing: Epic is a member of PCGA. EPIC.
      I used to like those guys, after they spat in the faces of all PC gamers I’m not sure I do anymore.

    • marlin says:

      Slightly off-topic but Khemm! In a post that doesn’t mention Steam! World turned upside-down…

    • InternetBatman says:

      Except Epic makes the Unreal engines, which run a huge number of PC games. AMD is also a member (I think), and what games have they made for the PC?

  8. PC-GAMER-4LIFE says:

    Wonder what the MS board members feel when they see this $18.6b figure & realise they have a minute part of that pie & their GFWL services are being quietly retired before the end of 2012 so its not like they do not know how much failure they have had in the PC gaming markets despite making the OS. Any other business would be asking why they can get so little of the overall PC games market when they control the OS you would think the opposite was true & they could get the lionshare!!

    • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

      Quietly retired?

      Nah, this is just the scene in the movie where everyone thinks the monster is dead.

  9. InternetBatman says:

    These numbers don’t include Steam sales right? Or are they estimated? Because I think at this point they’re about a third of sales for core games.

    Also, Gabe said that Russia was the second biggest market for Steam, so that really is making a mistake. In many countries the consoles are years behind the times, so PC gaming or importing is the only alternative if you want to play new games.

  10. RakeShark says:

    In response to “PC sports games?”…


    I knew there was a part of my gaming rotation missing. Seems that beyond foot-to-ball games, all other major league sports (especially the American ones) are depressingly absent.

  11. sidhellfire says:


  12. Jason Moyer says:

    Glad to hear FIFA sold well. Now bring us NHL and NCAA Football please.