Mouse & Keyboard Still A Major Player In FPS Market

Those remarks seemingly made by Bungie yesterday, that no one plays FPS games with a mouse and keyboard any more, have led to some pretty silly debate. But it’s hard to get more peculiar than an article that recently appeared on Ars Technica. Titled, “Sorry to say it, but keyboard and mouse are losing the FPS market”, it not only rather helpfully highlights all the most common misconceptions about the PC’s place in the market, but rather brilliantly provides some compelling data to show just how significant a player the PC actually is. Let’s take a look.

The article states,

“But [Jason Jones – Bungie dude’s] general point is clear: keyboard-and-mouse players are getting less and less important, from a business perspective, in the console-dominated first-person shooter market that Halo spawned. On this point, it’s really hard to argue with Jones.”

We know two things for sure:

1) As a rule, for cross-platform releases, console games sell more copies than PC games.
2) We don’t know how many copies of PC games are sold.

The first of these is generally where people fall into the silly trap when it comes to the PC. The PC, as a gaming platform, is stronger than ever. Just the enormous success of digital distribution is evidence of this, let alone the explosion in the indie community over the last decade, the vast fortunes being made through bundles, and the fact that if PC versions weren’t profitable, then every major publisher wouldn’t be putting their biggest titles onto the platform. Meanwhile consoles have become a phenomenon, something found in almost every home, pushing gaming into the mainstream alongside film. Consoles are way more popular than PCs for gamers these days, the PS3 and 360 having created a market that we’ve never seen before. The PC hasn’t gotten smaller – it’s just the rest of the gaming industry has gotten bigger around it. PC has never stopped being a significant factor, but consoles have become a more significant one. It’s the confusion here that causes us to grind our teeth every time someone types the d-word on the subject.

Of course, the second of those known things makes the discussion incredibly difficult to move forward in any useful direction. Steam is obviously astonishingly successful. Occupying an estimated 70% of the industry, it still proves profitable for the rest who make up the remaining 30% to run their own distribution channels. While we can see the transparently explained profits of the bundles, and indeed see the tens of millions that have been raised for PC-only Kickstarter ventures, we still don’t have any real idea of the scale of things. But I’ve heard from publishers that they estimate PC to represent about 10% of their overall sales of cross-platform games, and when that’s 10% of hundreds of millions of dollars, you can see why they’d make sure they’re keeping their thumbs in that pie. And of course that’s completely ignoring the games that are uniquely for PC, such as the forthcoming SimCity, the major MMOs, most RTS games, and so many more besides. Whatever the real numbers are, the PC is big business.

It’s mean to pick on the very lovely Kyle Orland, but he’s provided the perfect springboard for me to write this. In the Ars article, he says,

“Let’s start with the current best-selling franchise in all of gaming: Call of Duty. The best console-specific data I could find for the series of late was first-month sales statistics for Black Ops released by NPD back in 2010. Apparently the game sold 8 million copies on the PS3 and Xbox 360 combined and less than 400,000 on the PC. Even if the unreported digital sales on the PC were ten times as strong as those at retail, and assuming that PC piracy added another 50 percent on top of legitimate downloads, that would still mean there were roughly four console players using a controller for every three playing the PC version in the game’s first month. That adds up to a deficit of millions of people for the mouse-and-keyboard crowd, and one that’s likely compounded by other Call of Duty games.”

Obviously Orland’s maths here is entirely fictional. But let’s play long with it. It’s critical to understand that the stated 400,000 really is just those sold at retail, into a PC market in the US and UK that’s strongly dominated by online sales (either by design or necessity, since finding a PC copy of a game in a shop is quite the trial). It’s reasonable to imagine it represents just a fraction of the real sales, so let’s go along with the guesses. Without piracy, we’ve got the PC representing, er, half the sales of the consoles combined. So that would be a roughly even split, a third each. (I’m sure that’s not realistic, but hey, these are the numbers being used to prove the PC is irrelevant to shooters!) Tack on our piracy and we’ve now got a huge majority of FPS players choosing the PC over either the 360 or the PS3. Even allow the two consoles to be added together, to truly get a representation of the methods of controls, and the estimate here is that 3 out of every 7 players is on mouse/keyboard. 43%. Almost half. And that’s despite everything mentioned above regarding the mainstream explosion of the console. Good grief, the PC is a massive force in FPS, and the Bungie comments couldn’t be more wrong! I’d say with this information, it’s pretty damned hard not to argue with Jones.

Orland continues with Battlefield 3. 8 million on the consoles, “just” 3.1m on the PC. So, once again, barely any difference between the PC and either console, and again, a massive portion of sales going to the keyboard brigade. But it seems we’re being told that the only sensible message for EA to take from this is that should just write off 28% of their overall sales of the game, and abandon this lost cause. Next is BioShock. A million on PC. 2.2m on consoles. Yup, same again then. And apparently both Left 4 Deads selling 5 million on PC, and 6 million on both consoles, means “the PC version lost out yet again.”

I’m bemused by this! Outselling either console by a couple of million (assuming an even split) is a failure. It’s proof that Jason Jones is correct to say that no one plays on mouse/keyboard any more (if indeed he actually said that). It’s… huh? Things get rather more ridiculous when it’s attempted to demonstrate that platform specific games are doing so much worse on PC, because only 70,000 were playing TF2 yesterday, but Halo 4 had 75,000. Um, Team Fortress 2 (as well as being a cross-platform game, but never mind) came out on PC five and a half years ago. Halo 4 came out three months ago. And the PC’s TF2 is still basically matching it for concurrent players?! Orland then goes even more bonkers, and compares an average day on Steam for Counter-Strike and CS:GO with the launch days of Gears Of War 2 and 3.

“Yes, these games are “third-person” shooters,” he adds in parentheses, “and may have dropped off significantly post launch, but the data argues a similar point.” The point that this is a hatchet job against PC? Counter-Strike has 100,000 on an average day, and Gears Of War only managed triple that on its launch day, and has dropped off significantly – and that argues a similar point? Buh!

The article concludes by stating that this is proof that the PC has been overtaken by consoles for FPS. Um, everyone already knew that. What with the Call Of Duty franchises on consoles shifting more boxes than DHL. The argument made at the beginning was that the PC is getting “less and less important”. But the figures dredged for this argument seemed to only demonstrate it to be on par with either console, and representing a massively larger force in the industry than even we had assumed. This data argues that not only is the mouse/keyboard offering a third of all FPS controls, but in fact demonstrates far more longevity as a way to play than the console can offer.

So yes, Orland’s closing arguments are completely true. “The PC is no longer automatically the most lucrative platform for a serious first-person shooter.” But no one had suggested otherwise, nor suggested otherwise for many years. Activision’s billions from CoD haven’t left anyone in any doubt about where the FPS makes the most money. That wasn’t the argument being made by Jones, it wasn’t the contention people had taken with his words, and it certainly doesn’t demonstrate some terrible decline for the PC that means it’s no longer a significant factor in the FPS market. If Bungie wants to sacrifice 30% of the total money it could make from Destiny, it’s welcome to. PC gamers have coped without a number of series that would have made publishers vastly more rich if they’d not been so stupid as to be console only. They’ll carry on doing so. But let’s stop pretending that the PC’s in some sort of trouble, or that nonsense like Jones’s statement carries any validity. It’s very, very easy to argue with his words, as rather helpfully the numbers found by Ars so neatly demonstrate. The PC certainly isn’t “losing the market”.


  1. Flukie says:

    The big issue is revenue made in these games, if someone can capture the revenue steam of a game like League of Legends in an FPS then they could make more than any console game.

    • SelfEsteemFund says:

      The only way that would happen is if there was a F2P Call of Duty/Halo, which won’t ever happen.

      LoL is popular because It’s free, it’s ridiculously easy, you can play with friends and it runs on a toaster.

      • rockman29 says:

        I thought that was what FaceWar was about…

        God dammit, RPS, I can’t even remember the actual name… that Crysis f2p game…

        • Cuddlefish says:

          Because this is literally the only situation where it is actually on topic: WARFACE!
          Is the title you are looking for.
          It is silly.

      • BockoPower says:

        Tell “ridiculously easy” to all the players with less than 1k games who have no idea what to do at times, please.

        • jrodman says:

          Incompetence rises to meet demand.

          • Domino says:

            Just like all the LoL players coming over to DOTA2 then nerd raging because the game is ‘too hard’ when playing vs Easy Bots. Most expect DOTA2 to be as watered down as LoL then complain to the ends of the earth about it – because they cannot be bothered to ‘learn’ new skills.

        • Boozebeard says:

          Some of the worst players I have ever seen have had a ridiculous number of games.

          • Domino says:

            Amount of time played does not always show competence of skill. For example If you are a bad player and refuse to change tactics/learn new ways then you will always be a bad player now matter how much you play.

            Take the battlerank in DOTA2 for example, it means absolutely nothing other than show how much you’ve played the game and your ‘progress’ to the next ‘reward’ of a cosmetic item. Would you rather take someone that is rank 50 with only 10 wins, or someone who is only rank 30 with 600wins (spitting numbers here)

      • Premium User Badge

        phuzz says:

        I’ve not played it, but doesn’t LoL have tens of different heroes to play with, all different? That’s not my idea of ridiculously easy, which would be a game that you can learn to play by the end of one game (whilst still taking a while to master natch).

        • DerNebel says:

          It does. And it’s not even easy at all, it’s just that the devil is in the detail more so for this game than any other I’ve experienced. For every single character there is, there are new skills to learn, new movement to practice and new lane matchups to learn. You can not only learn how to use your character in broad strokes, but also the thousand details about the character, the map and the opponents. It’s the details, the small finesses, that differentiates the players. There is a reason you almost never see TPA_Toys lose the middle lane as Oriana.

          Yes, there are redundancies between champions, but Riot are careful never to have to skills that are exactly the same, so there are nuances to abuse for every character.

          The reason League of Legends players feel like Dota2 is “too hard” is not because the game is harder, it’s that it looks the same but actually is very different. When a LoL player starts playing dota he will be ganked, out maneuvered, constantly find himself out of mana and generally feel useless. LoL looks like Dota, but actually is something very, very different. I love both, so I’m in a good spot.

      • Eclipse says:

        I’m quite sure it was called Facebook… no wait.. Wardiary? ( link to )


        no.. damn, I’m sure I’m close…

      • cyrenic says:

        People calling any MOBA easy will never stop being amusing.

    • Lemming says:

      Doesn’t TF2 do that?

    • darkChozo says:

      The issue with that is that no one seems to be able to apply the LoL model to multiplayer FPS successfully. FPS gamers are much less willing to spend the same amount of time unlocking a gun than LoL players are willing to spend unlocking a champion (I did the math at some point with PS2 and T:A, both take significantly less time to unlock a thing than LoL does in spite of their P2W complaints), and player skins are typically both less complex than LoL skins and less visible in-game. No one wants to spend seven bucks on a model recolor that’s gonna be lost in a crowd of explosions and bullets.

      TF2 is probably the only game that’s even gotten close, and it’s always going to be a rather suspect example, given that it was P2P for four years before it went F2P, and because Valve can afford to be a loss leader (doubt that TF2 is there, but DOTA 2 arguably is. Hard to say without numbers). That, and because that skin (HATZ) model works in TF2 because of the cartoony art style, which doesn’t really work as well in a “serious” shooter.

      Not saying it can’t happen, but the market doesn’t seem to be right for what’s out there right now. Who knows, maybe all the F2P shooters are missing something obvious in their business models.

      • Kitsunin says:

        The main thing with FPS is, you don’t see your own skin! In LoL you buy a skin because you want to look cool, but you can actually watch yourself look cool. In an FPS, if anything, you should be buying skins for the other players!

        • innociv says:

          Tell that to people spending $2500 on TF2 hats.

          • Kitsunin says:

            Oh sure, that doesn’t mean people won’t buy cosmetics for FPS, but I posit that TF2’s hats would not be something people care particularly about if there wasn’t such a complex and serious economy built around them. If it was just “Pay X money, get Y hat” we would see TF2 being much less successful than LoL, I’m quite certain.

            People who spend over $50 on a single cosmetic piece don’t even count, really, because you’re talking about people with absolutely no sense of frugality. Attracting them certainly counts for something, but they are in extremely low supply.

      • PopeRatzo says:

        I would totally wear a goofy hat in Planetside 2.

        Hell, I’m already walking around with a target on my head, it seems.

      • solidsquid says:

        There’s a third person shooter called S4 League which offers gear and weapons for micropayments. Like LoL though, you can unlock them with in-game currency too if you play it often enough and there’s temporary licences if you can’t afford a permanent purchase. Also the game is fast paced and balanced enough that having a bigger gun doesn’t really mean automatically winning (hell, the default gun you get when you don’t have anything else was one of my favourites in-game)

        Obviously there’s risks involved in this, as you’ll quickly see any unbalanced weapons breaking the game, but by letting players buy with in-game currency as well as real money you does mitigate the impact of this somewhat, and if nothing else it gives you a little time to re-balance it.

      • ZeDestructor says:

        Actually, I’d say TF2 is one of the most serious shooters you can find in terms of mechanics and balance, although I only play MvM myself. For “serious” shooting, I much prefer Blacklight Retribution because that’s even better balanced.

        • darkChozo says:

          Oh, don’t worry, serious is in quotes in my post for a reason. I meant “serious” (ie. gritty and realistic-ish) in terms of visual design, though I may not have been entirely serious (there it is again!) in my terminology. In terms of mechanics, TF2 is plenty serious.

      • grenadeh says:

        Are you daft? You just actually said that Planetside skins are less complex than LoL. LoL hero models are 5 polygons at best. It has WC3 graphics. Wow….I’m speechless at your stupidity.

        • dE says:

          So, given that polygones in videogames are generally triangles, what you are saying is that LoL uses floating pyramids with one extra polygone to spare. I agree, that’s really not efficient design. What are you gonna do with that one polygone?
          In all honesty though, you really, really might want to lookup how 3D models actually work before you toss around those big words. For starters, you haven’t understood textures and 3D models, like at all.

  2. Eraysor says:

    I play every PC game I can with a controller. The only ones I don’t play with a controller are online shooters due to the obvious control disadvantage vs. mouse/keyboard players.

    It just feels a lot nicer to recline in my chair to play a shooter than be hunched over my desk.

    • John Walker says:

      You are a dangerous madman and you need to be stopped.

      • Lekker says:

        You show them John!

      • tigershuffle says:

        Best mouse n keyboard combination EVER!!

        take it away maestro……link to

        Thank you Monty Python :)

      • Vorphalack says:

        ….or he needs to buy a better chair. Why hunch when you can slouch?

      • Phantoon says:

        Well, Dark Souls IS better with a controller. But that’s because, like fightin’ games, it benefits from the analog.

        Metroid Prime would’ve been perfectly fine as a PC game. Better, even.

    • SelfEsteemFund says:

      I’ve never understood this ‘hunched over my desk’ phrase, no one is forcing you to sit that way.

      • subedii says:

        Oh thure, you’d LIKE thath to be throo woudn’th you? Freaking Elithisthstsh *Sputter*.

        -Signed: Igor

      • darkChozo says:

        I think I hunch more with a controller than with a M&K, if anything. Something about being more concerned with proper posture while typing than while relaxing with a game.

      • Jools says:

        Because it’s never enough to say you prefer doing one thing, when you can also imply that everyone who prefers another thing is wrong and degenerate and gross.

    • mouton says:

      I tried to play console TPS (note, not even FPS) like Spec Ops and Binary Domain with my Xbox controller and It felt as if I had a stroke. Only “shooters” that I found good with pad is stuff like Just Cause 2, where you only need to point the gun at the same continent your target is.

      • Mr. Mister says:

        You’re still trading slightly better car handling for crazy tricks you can pull with the hook using a mouse.

        • MattM says:

          I played both Just Cause 2 and GTA IV with kb/m when on foot and x360 pad when in a vehicle. I suppose it seems a bit clunky to keep switching , but it didn’t really bother me when playing and the onscreen prompts automatically adjust whenever you switch.

          • lamwbdua12 says:

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      • The Random One says:

        Wow, really? Spec Ops was really made to be played with a controller, and honestly I couldn’t get around JC2’s controls with K&M, it was a bloody mess.

        • PsychoWedge says:

          Well, if you mean that the difficulty was adjusted to clunky pad controlling then you are probably right because you kinda get bored playing it with a kb/m. If you refer to the game being a perfectly normal TPS then you couldn’t be more wrong because it is designed to be played with a pad or kb/m, whatever you like more. ^^

          • Malibu Stacey says:

            Finished Just Cause 2 on Hard on PC using Keyboard & Mouse. That game was fun with a capital FUN.
            When I say “Finished” I don’t mean just the story missions. I got 99% completion (bugs stop you getting 100%).
            Then did the campaign on Very Hard because why the hell not?

      • grenadeh says:

        I tried Spec Ops with MKB and it was no bueno. I had to use my controller. Had to.
        Viking battle for asgard, not even a shooter, same way. The controls for that game blow ass though even with a controller, on PC. Creative Assembly should stick to RTS games.

    • sinister agent says:

      I often play with a controller, too. Depends on the game, but I prefer a 360 controller for many shooters, too – mouse and keyboard can too easily feel like you’re just clicking on floating head icons rather than aiming a weapon.

      The whole rabid frothing over one or the other thing is even more tedious and embarassing than most puerile format wars, to be honest.

      • Ragnar says:

        I have the opposite problem – the mouse feels like a natural extension of my arm, while aiming on a gamepad feels like I’m herding a pig.

        Besides, the argument here isn’t that one is inherently better than the other, but that dismissing one as not relevant is a mistake that will cost the company making such mistake significantly in lost revenue.

      • Ginga121 says:

        Anyone who uses a controller more often than a Mouse and Keyboard shouldn’t be allowed the right to call themselves a PC gamer. It’s like saying… I dunno… “I’m a golfer but I use snooker cue’s to pot the balls down the course because it’s more comfortable to lie down a poke the ball rather than having to do all that swinging and twisting of the body”

        Bad example but you get the idea

        I only use a Controller for games that are ported so badly that the only way to play well is with a controller.

        • sinister agent says:

          Oh, grow up. No true Scotsman would be such a bloody whinger.

        • welverin says:

          I think one of the biggest advantages the PC has over consoles is the wide range of control options and not being forced to use one thing.

          Every type of game has a style of control that just plain works better, M&K for FPS, gamepad for third person action games, flight stick for flight/space sims, arcade sticks for fighting games and the PC lets me use all of them.

        • Phantoon says:

          The glory of PC is that you can do both.

        • DeepSpace69 says:

          Isn’t one of the great advantages of PC as a gaming platform the flexibility of the thing? To then condemn people for making use of this advantage just seems silly.

        • MajorManiac says:

          @ Ginga121: You’re not a true PC Gamer as you’ve used a controller.

          I’m the truest form of PC Gamer as I’ve not even seen a controller. I have no idea what they look like. Plus I use mouse and keyboard to eat my dinner and shave.

      • zakihashi says:

        Pointing and clicking on heads? You use your wrist and arm if you have a high sensitivty.
        With a controlller you sit there bearly moving your tumbs. And one feels more like using a gun? :P
        I think the controller looses there.

        • Twilitlord says:

          High sensitivity? Did you mean low sensitvity? High sensitivity would send you spinning at the smallest movement.

          • Asurmen says:

            No, he means high sensitivity. You only need low for precise long distance aiming.

          • Twilitlord says:

            Eh, not necessarily. I can think of situations where I use low sensitivity for something other than long-range aim. TF2 scout, for one. You’re moving so fast that high sensitivity can really throw off your aim. I turned down my sensitivity quite a bit, and my play improved a whole lot. And before you say that I just can’t aim, I know for a fact that a lot of competitive players use lower sensitivities for that exact reason.

            And let me tell you, there are a lot of full-arm movements then. It’s tough to turn around quickly without swinging your whole arm on lower sensitivities.

    • HadToLogin says:

      This comment just destroyed whole long text John wrote, since he made up lot of numbers saying “PC=mouse”.

      • Cuddlefish says:

        Only if you assume that one poster is representative of the majority of PC FPS gamers. Given the response, it would seem that is probably not the case.

      • Narzhul says:

        Doesn’t much destroy anything. He even said gamepads isn’t viable for online-shooters, which is exactly what most FPS games these days are.

      • JabbleWok says:

        No, because this is challenging Bungie’s original argument that they won’t do a PC version because nobody uses a KB+M. If use of controllers were common for PC, they would hardly have made such an claim in the first place, no?

    • mrmalodor says:

      Someone needs to teach this silly man proper posture.

    • John Connor says:

      Controllers are just better for some games. Nothing wrong with using them.

      Consoles are shit for plenty of reasons, but the controllers (except that nasty PS3 one) aren’t one of them.

      • Archonsod says:

        Can’t say I’d agree. I’ve got an Xbox controller, and it seems to combine all the comfort and handling of a breeze block with the precision usually associated with the Royal Institute for the Blind’s annual darts night. About the only games I find it useful for is those where the analogue sticks aren’t heavily used (Street Fighter for example).

    • D3xter says:

      You know, there’s this thing called science, and they quantified the shittyness of controllers quite well several times, one rather convincing case would be this, upon which they set a KB+M setup, Xbox 360 Controller and WiiMote to compete against one another, and they did this with test-people persons and calculated the average: link to
      The important bits being on page 34: link to

      You are just deliberately gimping yourself on a lot of games.

      • pancakes says:

        That’s assuming he’s playing a game he can be gimped on. Who cares if he sucks with a controller or not as long as fun is being had?

        • Phantoon says:

          Considering that’s the point of the kerfuffle, yes. That is what we care about right now. Now, if he tried to quantify fun, and said that controllers were more fun, we’d be having the discussion about that. But he said it was better.

          • Henke says:

            No, he did not actually say it was better. He said it “feels a lot nicer”. He also pointed out that he uses kb+m if he’s playing a MP game.

          • bjohndooh says:

            No, he said it was better and he had science.
            Did you miss the science?
            They use the word fun exactly ‘0’ times and are concerned with speed and accuracy.

      • frosty2oo2 says:

        so it could be said that “Kyle Orland’s statement was as accurate as someone playing an FPS with an gamepad?”

        KBM FTW ^^

    • Lionmaruu says:

      I agree with you, I even play minecraft with a controller sometimes, its way less strain on your arms and hands than mouse and keyboard. I only play champions online with a controller and could even play more than the 100h on torchlight 2 if it had controller suport like the xbox arcade version of the first game.

      I love pc games, it is my primary form of entertainment, I just love some of them more with a xbox360 controller.

      • Phantoon says:

        Too much strain? What? Seriously? All you have to do is lift your arms.

        • animlboogy says:

          Sometimes I get cramps in my hands doing WASD for hours on end, that I don’t get when I use my 360 controller. That might just be an issue with my keyboard setup/layout, though, because I get pain like a botched acupuncture session if I play with a 3DS or a PSP for more than 30 minutes. So it really depends.

          Anyway, I sympathize with the desire to reach for a controller sometimes for this reason. I just played through The Witcher 2 entirely with one because I knew each time I sat down with it that I wasn’t going to stand back up for a very long time.

      • grenadeh says:

        IF using mouse/kb is a strain on your anything, your proper place in life is among the false scientists of the ergonomics field who send their time making unnecessary garbage to perpetuate a science attributed originally to Aristotle, which turns out uncomfortable chairs and moronic posture guidelines – among other things.

    • Calistarius says:

      I also use my controller for my PC games where possible with a few exceptions. Its comfortable and just… Nicer. More immersive I think. A lot of games are made with them in mind, and a controller is a thing that is actually made to play games on. A keyboard is not. Obviously you can use it for that, and its optimal using a m+kb when playing strategy games and all that, or really PC-focused shooters with lots of commands requiring loads of buttons. But those are kind of rare these days. What I think of that is another question.

      As for the guy who said playing with a controller is “gimping yourself”, uhm… Maybe a little worse on the twitch-aiming, but not too much, when you’re used to playing with one. And thats mostly important in multiplayer. But for singleplayer, having played games for as long as I have (a little more than twenty years), for me most of them are really kind of easy. I can afford to gimp myself a little, I’ll blast through any action game on hard anyway. Totally worth it for the comfort of sitting back with a controller.

    • Eraysor says:

      Just so you know…”hunched” was an exaggeration :D

      And using a keyboard has certainly never put me off using a game! I just like the choice.

    • aliksy says:

      I’m normally very much mouse+keyboard, but I’ll concede that gamepad wins when you’re playing something on a laptop on the bus. Yep, I beat about half of dark souls on a bus ride once.

      But for normal circumstances, I like having many buttons to map and an interface that doesn’t suck goats.

    • SuicideKing says:

      Only played Batman AA and Sleeping Dogs with a controller, though for all the shooty sequences in Sleeping Dogs i switched to mouse & KB.

    • psepho says:

      I originally got a controller to play Bastion, because I sensed that movement would flow better on a thumbstick. I am now a total convert! There are so many great games that I just can’t imagine approaching with m&kb: Hotline Miami, Rayman Origins, Mark of the Ninja, Crusader Kings II (okay, maybe not that one), the list goes on.

      In fact, I would say that overcoming controllerphobia has been one of the most significant forces in broadening my gaming experience over the last couple of years.

    • lijenstina says:

      Even nicer is having 3-4 beers instead of a controller. It makes the pain go away.

    • aepervius says:

      I play my PC games in a recliner too… Mouse at arm level on a table to my right, keyboard on my lap/stomach… And if i want to hunch over my desk i just change the chair angle to be more like a normal chair. The only inconvenience was that I had to buy a bigger screen lately due to my changing eyesight with aging. Recliner chair is not “exclusive” to gamepad you know.

    • mollemannen says:

      i play all my pc games with a mouse and keyboard in my recliner without any problem what so ever so this is entirely subjective.

    • Lev Astov says:

      I play reclined on my couch with a keyboard and mouse. For years I used a cutting board for my mouse pad and just set it on the couch next to me. Now I have a nice couch with a center console and the cup holder area fits a mouse pad brilliantly.

    • Baf says:

      I typically game reclining on a chaise longue, with my left hand on the wireless keyboard on my lap and my right hand on the wireless trackball by my side. No desk necessary.

      And yeah, there are a lot of games that are totally designed for a gamepad, and I gladly switch to a gamepad when playing one. But there are a lot of games that are better with a mouse and keyboard, too. For starters, there’s every FPS, and the vast majority of roguelikes. Also, text adventures.

  3. SelfEsteemFund says:

    Why are you falling for obvious bait? There is no need to try and validate unsubstantiated, utterly idiotic claims.

    • frightlever says:

      It’s link bait designed to stir up comments. Just watch and see. You don’t need to care about this stuff to write about it.

      I mean it sure is a shame that those developers and publishers never find out how many of their games sell on PC via download. Someone should leak the figures to them.

      • welverin says:

        I’m quite certain that publishers, developers, and the online retailers know EXACTLY how many copies are sold, none of them are telling us how many however.

      • Phantoon says:

        I really don’t think John click-baits. I might’ve accused Quinns of such a thing, but I think John just gets excitable over these things. Since, you know, he’s been here since the beginning. Which was in 1873.

    • mouton says:

      Isn’t there? If you leave the discussion entirely to your misguided opponents, people might think they are right. What’s wrong with refuting them with sensible argumentation?

      • subedii says:

        It is a bit of a pickle certainly.

        It was the constant, constant refrain at the start of this generation. However today a lot of devs are saying “Oh the PC market’s changed, it’s viable again!”, and are actually releasing decent ports, on time. Developers that were previously saying that they’d never touch the platform again, that it wasn’t worth bothering with… well… are now.

        Did it really change that much? Or is it just that perceptions changed?

  4. povu says:

    Even if PC versions of games sold only 1/10th of that of a console version, does it matter? As long as the expected revenue exceed the costs of porting it to PC and releasing it, why wouldn’t you do that?

    Why Red Dead Redemption didn’t make it to PC I will never understand. Even Alan Wake made its porting cost back in no time, 2 years after the console release.

    • InternetBatman says:

      Rumors are that the source code for RDR is a complete and total nightmare that would have made porting far more expensive.

      • povu says:

        That bad eh? A real shame. The PC port of Alan Wake had a lot of effort put into it, and it’s not exactly a super famous franchise, and it still made its costs back in 48 hours.

        • Cuddlefish says:

          Giving a new market segment the ability to buy your stuff tends to be a good investment. Funny, that.

    • HadToLogin says:

      Opportunity cost appears. If porting game to PC would give me $1, I’d rather make few more DLCs. Less effort, more money.

      • jrodman says:

        Or possibly another game.

      • MattM says:

        You can outsource most of the porting job to other companies allowing the internal team to spend much less time on it. If you don’t cheapout on the port budget then some of the porting specialists actually do a better job than the original team. I found the outsourced Mass Effect 1 port to be better than the internal ME 2 port.

    • HyenaGrin says:

      A) People will just bitch and complain about the game being a bad console port basically no matter what you do. Don’t get me wrong, there are some super bad console ports, but it’s pretty rare that you see any console-designed game that doesn’t get slapped with the ‘bad console port’ title. If you are concerned with metacritic scores (as some publishers apparently are), console games ported to PC almost invariably end up getting a lower average score, sometimes whether they deserve it or not.

      B) At this point, for some daft reason, many publishers (and some developers) are so afraid their product will be pirated that they will forego selling games on the PC at all. It’s as if they saw the numbers predicting that 40% (random number) of their projected profits will be lost to piracy, and they decided that in order to prevent that from happening, they will sacrifice 100% of their PC profits and hope that those 60% of Real Legitimate Fans will just buy it on console instead. Either that, or they are worried that there will be people who have consoles but will pirate the game on PC if they could only get the chance!!!!

      Basically, I think a lot of developers and publishers view the PC market as being hostile and uncaring, a den of evil where profits are lost to the high seas and the distant threat of pirate flags on yonder horizon.

      Doublefine abandoned the PC market out of terror (they received therapy and are feeling better, evidently). Ubisoft refuses to enter these tumultuous waters without a full suit of armour (they seem to be finally realizing that you can’t swim very well in armour), and Microsoft, a company that built itself on a PC operating system, virtually refuses to take part in the PC game market (which we should be grateful for, because I tremble to think of what built-in Windows DRM would result if they stood to gain much from such a thing).

      It is unsurprising that a developer like Bungie would view the situation with more than a little confirmation bias, pitting the United Console Front against the Evil PC Empire. Even though developing for any given platform is equally challenging, whether it is X-Box + PC or X-Box + PS3 (Arguably it should be easier to cross-develop for the PC and X-Box than anything else). Nonsense like this just shows how much disdain some developers are harbouring for the PC market.

      • grenadeh says:

        The reason for that being, of course, that almost all games are designed for console first, and PC as an afterthought, and it has been that way for years. The PC and console are different beasts. These console games are designed for one unchanging set of gimped, low quality hardware, and are very rigid – so much so that there is little to be done when the game is ported to PC, to improve it. Take the god awful RE4 PC port. Spec Ops port sucked too. Awesomenauts was a good port. RE5 port also sucked. Most of them do. RE4 had worse graphics than the PS2 version, horrible controls, and overall ran and looked like crap. GTA4, GTA:SA, GTA:VA, look at those ports.

        GTA4 port seriously runs like absolute shit on a good computer, which by default already has several times the processing power and overall ability and available resources of any console. If you don’t believe me go suffer through 3 minutes of PC gameplay.

  5. mouton says:


    • Alexander says:

      This will actually become chic again since the new consoles are on the way. Prepare for 3-4 years of PC gaming dying.

    • subedii says:

      Jokes aside, with the new generation of console hardware coming in, I was expecting these articles to start doing the rounds again.

      Although personally I was expecting them to start hitting after the new consoles released, but I guess hype for the next generation has already hit a high enough point that we can start the procession a little early.

      • Dances to Podcasts says:

        Does that mean he’s ahead of the curve or behind?

        • RedWurm says:

          It’s more like a sine wave, you can be both at the same time.

    • D3xter says:

      It sure is brother, we barely have anything to play this year at all: link to

  6. InternetBatman says:

    I read ars daily, and I wasn’t surprised to see this come from Orland. He’s a bit of a bombast, and far below the rest of his peers on the site. Also, assuming that retail is 30% and digital is 70% (which might give retail a bit too much), that’s 1.33m copies on PC.

    Also, he can think what he wants to think. The size of the market is less important than whether or not it’s profitable. If it is, then it will eventually be served. They can make Halo, we can have Tribes Ascend & TF2 and everyone wins.

    • Xorkrik says:

      Well if Nvidia is to be believed it’s more like 15% and shrinking.

      link to

      from link to

      • InternetBatman says:

        That kicks it up to 2.6m copies. Considering the far lower cost of distribution, that has to be approaching price parity of an individual platform.

    • Arglebargle says:

      I was kinda hoping that Orland was paid big bucks to spew this stuff, as that would at least make some sense. The guy seems to lack a certain amount of critical thinking, especially as his statistics pretty much support the opposite of his position. Not exactly clever.

      The sad thing, for me, is that this guy has a podium to deliver poorly thought through BS. Dumb as a box of rocks, as we say around here.

  7. DK says:

    Counterstrike ONLY beats Halo 4, which just came out. Counterstrike. If Counterstrike, which has more concurrent players than HALO 4, was a console game, the servers would have been turned off several years ago. Like they did with Halo 1.

    Ars Technica is 100% idiotic – and frankly arfter publishing such an astonishingly stupid article should be collectively shunned. They have just shown they have no journalistic integrity, much less an understanding of basic math.

    • Lowbrow says:

      You’re thinking of Halo 2, Halo 1 didn’t have servers, just LAN. I have found memories of the wires we had running around our barracks in the Corps to play Halo during lunch.

      • HKZ says:

        Same here in Iwakuni. 3rd deck to 2nd deck common room made for awesome drunken Halo tournaments. Never had that much fun with any other game online/LAN.

    • grenadeh says:

      Counterstrike GO… a console game. Counterstrike was on original Xbox as well. And, there was no online play in Halo 1, only local multiplayer.

      Counter-strike on console doesn’t dominate the market because the kids playing CoD on consoles were sperm’s when Counter-Strike was the Overlord of all Gaming. CoD took that success and changed from WW2 into a modern shooter. Then they removed balance from CS, where people competed based on skill, and turned those into perks, so people could feel like they had some sense of creativity and individuality. The people playing CoD and perpetuating the state of the FPS market either weren’t around or are too young, or too stupid, to remember what the FPS environment was like back then. That is why CoD and the console market itself succeeds.

  8. serioussgtstu says:

    I’m willing to bet that Halo 4 won’t even have servers running in five and a half years time.

    • Lekker says:

      Five years? Make it more like “until Destiny comes out”, then it should be acceptable.

  9. CaspianRoach says:

    Gamepads are like, ew, for FPS and stuff.

  10. The Sombrero Kid says:

    the text of the ars article should really have read “click bait, psych sucker, apples to oranges etc.”
    EDIT: phone typing fail

  11. Hoaxfish says:

    I think there’s one angle that isn’t being looked at here.

    Consoles until recently had a relatively unified control-scheme… the controller. The early generations had a couple of buttons (and a joystick), and gradually gained buttons before roughly stabilising on the current models (PS3 controller is fairly similar to PS2, Xbox 360 to XBox, etc)

    However, there’s also a sudden divergence on consoles as well.. Wii gave us the wii-mote, which in turn spawned Kinect and PS Move. NDS gave us dual-screen wth stylus, Wii-U gives us the tablet-controller thing, Kinect 2 has better “kinect”, PS Vita has rear-touch. Then there’s 3rd-party 100% touch-devices acting as additional input (MS’ project glass, etc).

    The controller is no longer a “solid ground” for cross-platform compatibility, any more than the kb&m is isolated to PCs.

    That’s before you get the obvious use of controllers on PC, Kinect on PC, and completely new ballgames like Occulus Rift (head-mounted directionality), Leap Motion (close-field Kinect-like/touch-less gesturing), or voice-recognition (Kinect again in a way).

    • InternetBatman says:

      And quite honestly I believe those efforts will pay off with a better controller than dual-analogs or mouse and keyboards. The wiimote is one of my favorite controllers ever, add a more pointer accuracy to it and you have a potent FPS controller.

      • malkav11 says:

        And I think you’re a dangerous madman. I rapidly stopped playing my Wii because most games on it were dragooned into the use of the Wiimote as a controller and it never, ever was remotely as responsive, accurate, or intuitive as gamepad or M&K (though it is admittedly better than the former for point and click and/or shooter aiming – the lightgun games were the only non-classic controller titles for that system I could tolerate. Still inferior to a mouse, though.)

        • Dances to Podcasts says:

          He’s a businessman who beats up people on the internet at night. What do you expect?

        • MattM says:

          I really liked the wii pointer functionality. Typing and aiming were so fast and fluid compared to a standard controller. The motion sensing and tilt control were not so great and turning the wiimote sideways to use as a controller was awful. So I guess I would like to see all of the next gen consoles have some kind of pointer functionality.

    • Stochastic says:

      Great point. I think designing cross-platform games in the coming decade will be a challenge as there is now not just fragmentation in terms of hardware prowess, but also input. Just to rattle off a few classes of input devices we’ll probably be seeing: Mouse + keyboard, controller, biometrics, virtual reality, camera and/or sensor based motion controls, touch input.

  12. The Dark One says:

    Some of his arguments are dumb and made up, but the worst are the ones that aren’t even wrong- they’re just so unconnected to his argument that you wonder if he even understands the things he’s typing.

  13. captain nemo says:

    journo-trolls on ars-technica – wow … what next ?

  14. MrTambourineMan says:

    I don’t want to sound like a douche, but I owned X360 for about 3 years and only game I really enjoyed was Red Dead Redemption and then I went and sold the console because it was pretty much gathering dust. I played Halo 3 as well(admittedly SP only) and you know what? In my experience – speaking as a veteran FPS player since the time of Wolfenstein 3D shareware – this shooter was actually subpar when you take it in comparison with PC FPSs. I’d much rather play Half Life 2 or even 1 or even Doom 1/2 than Halo, there’s nothing in it we haven’t seen done better in FPSs that are primarily PC oriented. I mean you can easily play console fpss with controller – no doubt about that, but it’s nowhere near as intuitive as KB+M. Another AAA X360 exclusive – GOW was meeeh – testosterone filled space marines in game for adolescents. Another thing is that PC FPS games have long living communities (hint: Doom 1/2 is still quite alive, as is CS 1.6, CS:S, HL2 etc etc) when on consoles games are somewhat popular for about a year after their release.

  15. RDG says:

    If the rumours hold water then the next generation of consoles will require a constant internet connection and carry overpriced DRM riddled games you can’t sell and require you to wave your arms at the television like some obscene retard.

    Valve releases the Steambox in around the same period. Should be interesting.

    • subedii says:

      I’m fairly sceptical about the DRM rumours.

      Being “the console that doesn’t allow you to lend to your friends” is a great way to be the console that loses that generation.

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        There won’t be any losers in the DRM category if they all do it.

    • ZephyrSB says:

      Which is why I’m saying the handhelds will win this console generation. Again.

      • Koozer says:

        I bloody well hope so. I’ve always loved my Gameboys and DSs.

  16. SirKicksalot says:

    Far Cry 3 sold one million copies on PC. Total across all platforms is 4.5 million copies.

    You can find this info here: link to (last question, 4.5 mil is the figure in the documents)

  17. arccos says:

    Statistics: You shouldn’t be able to use it without a license.

    • Stochastic says:

      I’m taking a course on behavioral decision theory right now, and one of the things we’re looking at are the various ways in which humans reason about statistics and probability incorrectly (well, at least incorrectly according to normative models). The scary thing is that even if you’re aware of the many different cognitive biases we’re all prone to, unless you are very vigilant of them you’re still likely to reason incorrectly from time to time. Interpreting statistics correctly is deceptively tricky IMO.

      • captain nemo says:

        Have a look at the books of Nassim Nicholas Taleb [Fooled by Randomness, Black Swan]
        (if you have’nt done so already)

        We are a far from rational species. As anyone who buys games from Ubisoft will attest

  18. Universal Quitter says:

    I like how many of those sales statistics that supposedly showed the PC being irrelevant looked like this: “Console sales for X game: 6 million; PC Sales: 5 million.”

    How can data like that possibly point to the PC being fringe or niche?

    Did anyone ever stop and think that maybe there is no dominant market? Maybe we don’t need one? Maybe different genres, and different games with the same genre, just might fit one platform better than others, but that it doesn’t mean anything?

    How did the article jump from Keyboard and Mouse vs Controller to PC vs Console, anyway? Why does everything have to be about winning some pointless contest that no one is actually participating in? Do other countries suffer from this, or is this mainly an American thing?

    • RDG says:

      It’s like saying: Halo 4 sold 3.1 million copies in the first weekend, 60% of which in the US, 40% in Europe. Clearly Europe is an inferior market, lets not sell in Europe.

      Gold business plan, that.

  19. SirKicksalot says:

    Aren’t the console versions of Battlefield 3 tradeable? That would make the unique players count irrelevant since the same copy can go through several people.

    • darkChozo says:

      I believe that console BF3 has an online pass system, so it should be possible to get a total multiplayer sales count at the very least. Of course, video game sales numbers are really hard to get right in general, so who knows. And if we’re counting piracy on PC we could also count resales on consoles, I suppose.

  20. elmuerte says:

    I just played some Spec Ops: The Line, on my PC, using mouse and keyboard. Having played similar games on the console,… I’m glad I can aim at heads and hit them rather than spamming ammo around hoping to be like Rambo.

  21. Jip says:

    I wouldn’t credit Kyle Orland with anything apart from writing sensationalist drivel. He’s also a major console fanboi, but I guess that’s pretty obvious. I really liked Ben Kuchera’s game reviews but I don’t waste my time on Ars for games any more since he left.

  22. Lemming says:

    Couple of points, John:

    1. Left 4 Dead is only available on one console, not both, so at least on that point the numbers are a little more significant.

    2. Kyle’s Call of Duty figures also miss out something else crucial: we are talking about a series that releases regular iterations yearly. The most played FPSs on PC are probably TF2 and CS:S, aren’t they? So how does his CoD data compare when you factor in it can’t really compete with a game (TF2) that came out years ago and is still going strong, so much so that Valve were able to change the business model to F2P?

    People like Bungie can claim all the bollocks they want, but we all know the truth: They’d kill to have a game like TF2 giving them constant revenue, so which market is the real ‘loser’, here?

    • Jenks says:

      CoD costs $60 (every year), TF2 is free and pretty much always has been (packed in with Episode 2 and Portal). You’re saying CoD can’t compete with TF2 for making publishers money? Or do you think publishers are concerned about how many concurrent freeloaders there are playing old games and want to capture that market?

      • malkav11 says:

        TF2’s hat revenue stream is insane. Better than $60/player/year? I dunno, but it would be interesting to see.

      • Narzhul says:

        Gabe has said that *employees from other game companies* are making more money on making hats than they are from their own salary. The hat market itself is so big they’ve crashed paypal and had to work things out with them because they were moving so much money to so many people that it looked almost like a drugring.

        Valve takes a cut from all of this. TF2 is an insane cashcow, and anyone who thinks otherwise is kidding themselves.

    • strangeloup says:

      I suspect a lot of people have the same attitude towards TF2’s cash store as I do: given that it’s a really good game, constantly updated with new stuff, and you can find a server to play on any time of any day, just about, it doesn’t feel unreasonable to give them a few quid for a new silly hat now and again.

      The crate system is basically digital scratchcards, but you’re guaranteed to at least get -something- out of it every time you open one, even if it’s not the item you were hoping for.

      Some people complain that the hats and new weapons “ruined the game” (sometimes they even complain about new maps…) but if they hadn’t added these things in, I’m pretty sure the game would be dead by now. I think it’s difficult, if not impossible, for a multiplayer game to remain popular if it’s static. Perhaps the only exception is something like CS 1.6, which has been pretty much the same for what, 10 years now. And even then you have server mods.

  23. Stochastic says:


    I’m pretty surprised Kyle Orland posted this. I mean, anyone who’s taken stats 101 and/or knows how to think critically about things would never make this argument. Thanks for exposing the bogus reasoning behind this article.

  24. Mungrul says:

    Did he mention the fact that publishers have to pay for the privilege of releasing games on the consoles thanks to licensing?
    Sure, one could counter-argue that Steam takes a slice of the pie too, but here’s the counter-counterpoint: Steam isn’t the only way of publishing on the PC.
    Any game published on a console shares some of its earnings with the console manufacturer.

  25. byteCrunch says:

    In addition the numbers quoted are almost always the sum total of PS3 and 360 sales, which shockingly skews the data in favor of the consoles, when in fact if viewed independently as John points out its mostly a 3 way split.

    • Squirly says:

      Something I thought of as well, but the point here isn’t the platform, but the control method. When it comes to compensating for controls the developer doesn’t have to do much when it comes to PS3 vs Xbox whereas PC requires a bit of a re-think. That’s why they compare the PC to both consoles in these examples.

      Doesn’t change the fact that the numbers and conclusions pulled from that are mostly horse-shit.

  26. The Sombrero Kid says:

    I’m not sure whether my favourite part is that he called destiny the wrong name all the way through the article or when he feels compelled to add pirates to the PC figures but not the consoles implying it is a problem unique to the platform despite the fact you can play pirate versions of any console months before release when you have to wait to the release date or later to play the PC version illegally

  27. insaneferret says:

    Something very interesting is going to happen in a year or so. The PS4 and new Xbox will both be out, Every single game in this generation of consoles will be unplayable, will get shuffled off the shelves and never make another dime again and new games will only be playable on a comparatively small installed base of early adopters.

    Meanwhile System Shock 2 – A game from 1999, just had a huge sales event and made a ton of money on PC. Almost every game ever made for the platform can still be bought and played online. Digital publishing costs almost nothing. A PC release, if properly managed through sales events can make money forever.

    • Lenderz says:

      I think this is a very strong point actually,I believe the long tail of sales on PC might be vastly underestimated.

      I frequently pick up older games I’d heard about in Steam sales and the like, at some point this is effectively free turnover that consoles just don’t seem to provide.

      Also on a slightly different note the comparison the Ars article had of Gears of War 3 launch day player numbers vs counterstrike was truly laughable, I could just as easily point out World of Tanks PCU of around 1 million players, thus consoles are irrelevant.

    • malkav11 says:

      You know for a fact that neither the PS4 nor the new Xbox will offer backwards compatibility? That would be a neat trick considering neither has even been announced yet. I mean, the 360 kind of gave up on backwards compatibility before it got anywhere near 100% and the PS3 got less and less backcompatible as it went on (though they’re offering downloadable PS1 titles and are starting to offer a few downloadable PS2 releases even if you don’t have a PS2-compatible PS3), so it’s certainly possible they’ll write it off for the coming generation.

      On the other hand, the Wii U is compatible with almost the entire history of Nintendo games, the Vita will play PSP games (albeit not ones on UMD) and PS1 games, and the 3DS supports DS and some NES and Gameboy games (with room for expansion). So I think there’s some evidence supporting the idea that console manufacturers are aware or becoming aware that this long tail business is a thing.

      • Lemming says:

        Are they going to offer it in the same way a PC is backwards compatible? I can say with 100% certainty: No

        Call me Mystic Meg.

        • malkav11 says:

          Well, no, what with them being locked down platforms that typically have massive internal and software differences from the previous generation because they don’t -have- to support legacy users the way Windows and PC manufacturers do. PC is always going to be the hands down best option for breadth of gaming access. But I think the idea that the next console generation will completely displace all previous console gaming without any access to the long tail is ill-founded at best, especially without knowing anything about Sony or Microsoft’s plans for said console generation.

      • Lenderz says:

        malkav11, I’m not entirely sure that you understood what I meant by a “long tail” I wasn’t specifically meaning backwards compatibility, whilst you do raise a valid concern (videogames as art with little in the way of preservation for future generations).

        I was more referring to the fact that I buy a 1-4 year old PC game on steam or alternative store for £1-£20 years after it was made, it sells absolutely tons, extra money for Devs/Publishers.

        I am of the impression that the sales cycle of console games is much shorter, perhaps due to the distribution method, you rarely see such frequent deep discounts in bricks and mortar than you do on Steam.

        Another example would be ARMA 2, which has probably sold more since the release of DayZ than it ever did in its first year on sale. Thats one hell of a long tail.

        • malkav11 says:

          Steam wasn’t always a mecca of constant bargains. For years one of my biggest complaints about digital distribution (and the reason I bought everything retail) was that the prices were fixed at the highest point they would ever go and retail would discount things while the digital distributors never did. Then they figured out they could make more money operating the way they do now, and everything changed. Consoles are running behind, partly because they have to keep retail happy so that their hardware gets sold, partly because each console has a single, manufacturer-controlled digital market. But I wouldn’t be surprised if they get there eventually.

      • Mario Figueiredo says:

        You may want to take a look at this and think of how happy PS3 players (some with a >50 games investment) will feel like: link to

  28. bigjig says:

    Following this and the recent round of DICE talks it’s almost depressing how much stupid there is among game developers and supposed journalists. How people manage to get their jobs I’ll never know.

    • Stochastic says:

      Yes, but don’t forget about the many other incredibly brilliant and talented gaming journalists and developers out there! This article goes to show that bogus reasoning like this won’t be tolerated by sites like RPS.

  29. Christo4 says:

    Sometimes i don’t understand developers. I mean they already have the game, the only thing that they need is to port it, since everything else is there. The textures, the gameplay, the story is already there. Why not pay, let’s say 1 mil dolars to port halo 3 and if you sell 100000 copies at a price of 25 $ (even though it may be more) you already have a profit of 1.25 mil dollars. I don’t know about you guys, but to ME 1 million dollars is a lot of profit and if even if it’s not much for them it’s still profit! so why wouldn’t you do it? I can never understand this…

    • Stochastic says:

      I’m guessing it has to do with exclusivity deals. And also the fact that a lot of exclusive games are probably more difficult to port to PC since they are made bespoke for a particular system’s architecture. If the spec rumors are true about the next-gen systems, hopefully this will be less of an issue in the future since consoles will have PC-based hardware.

      • Christo4 says:

        I don’t really understand the whole exclusivity deal. And why is it so hard to port a game? I mean yeah if you were doing it for free it would have been a problem, but you are PAID to do it. For example i bought dark souls for PC and while i needed to use the resolution fix, i had a really great time with it. I can’t really play it with mouse+keyboard so a controller is necessary, but for FPS games how hard can it be to code the game for M+K? I think most developers are lazy and afraid of piracy to do it. Also because they are lazy their ports will come out half-arsed and they will be bashed in the reviews.

        • RobF says:

          If it was a simple matter of -just- coding for mouse and keyboard then “not very much effort” as you can well and rightly imagine. However, it’s invariably taking something from a fixed specification where you know the capability and limits of the hardware and where things can and will break and throwing it out into the wild west of multiple PC configurations. What’s the -minimum- spec you’d support? How much do you have to take out, change and adjust to get that to work? Will it work on an ATI card *and* an nVidia card? Will it work on a 5700 or a Beeble9090 the same? Will it work with onboard sound? All the onboard sounds?

          You go from fixed, single case to a complete ‘mare of different hardware issues and that’s potentially a lot of work, more so if you’re coding is fixed around 360 or PS3 specific hacks.

          OBVIOUSLY it’s now nowhere near the nightmare it used to be and I’m honestly not arguing that people shouldn’t bring games to the PC (christ, someone give me Crackdown I don’t have to turn the airplaneinawindtunneldevice on to play and I’ll be a very happy bunny) but it’s not a simple and quick “just put mouse and keyboard” in job, sadly.

          And exclusivity is invariably at the behest of platform holders. If you just take the default stance that they’re a bunch of grabbing wankers who’ll try and fuck things up to make things look better for them, you’re not far off the mark. When they control the release slots or when they’re pumping money into development or when they’re doing both, the developers aren’t really left with that much choice. Accept the exclusivity or you do not get your release slot. And yes, as everyone is fully aware one platform holder is drastically and massively worse for this than the other.

          • Christo4 says:

            Hmm yes maybe it is hard to do it, but since consoles are pretty old now even my mid laptop which is 2 years old can take almost any game that was made for consoles to high, except if it was poorly optimized, but still i can go at medium graphics settings.
            And i would agree with you that it’s hard IF THEY DIDN’T GET PAID. FCOL (For Crying Out Loud) it’s not like their doing it for free. And to me it seems like a bad practice honestly.
            So you make consoles with hardware that is more expensive than the price your selling them at and then you release games for it exclusive just to get a part of that money back, when you could just make it for PC and get all the money instead of trying to support the developing and hardware of a console.

      • Stochastic says:

        Yeah, I don’t really know. It would be interesting to hear a developer chime in on this.

    • Lemming says:

      They are lobbied by console developers (or, as I suspect, one particular console developer) through either exclusivity or pressured into making things appear as if the console is the best way to play (by gimping graphical settings on PC ports), or they won’t be getting as much money or even access that console customer base. They have the money and means to effectively shut lesser developers down if they don’t play by their rules.

    • jalf says:

      You mean, if I invent a number, and I then invent a bigger number, and subtract the two, and get a positive number, then it means I’ve made a profit?

      Yeah, I’m not entirely sure it works like that… ;)

      First, there are a lot of other costs when selling a game. Steam takes their 30%, if you sell a boxed copy, a lot goes to distribution and other overhead. And you’ll be taking developers off some other project to do it, which might push the deadlines on *those* projects back. And if your next big flagship game is late to the market, maybe it’ll create less of a buzz, it’ll look less impressive, it’ll sell less. And even if it sells just as well, the delay on *that* projects means that you’ll be eating into the profits from porting your old game, in order to pay you team’s wages.

      And yes, porting is still a lot of work.
      It does not just mean “adding support for mouse and keyboard”. You have to rip out the rendering code and replace it with DirectX. You have to write different input handling code, and you might have to radically change the underlying architecture to work with different numbers of CPU cores; you need to test on dozens and dozens of hardware configurations (and find and fix alll the things that break on this GPU or with that driver installed on this OS), rather than just “test on XBox, test on PS3, if it works on both, we’re done”. You need to test and optimize and tweak and rewrite the game to run smoothly on a huge range of PCs with vastly different specs.

      I don’t work in game development, but I am a software developer. Recently, we spent around a year porting our product from Linux to Windows. No hardware changes, just a change of OS, and it took our team of 10 just over a year. Now try doing the same, except you’re coming from a console which practically doesn’t *have* an OS, which doesn’t use mouse and keyboard, and which has vastly different hardware characteristics. And do it with a game that wasn’t coded with porting in mind, and was probably developed under considerable time pressure.

      Of course, there might also be exclusivity deals, but even without those, it’s not always obvious that a port is a good idea.

      • Christo4 says:

        I’m not taking numbers out of my ass. I read that the Dark Souls porting to PC costed under 1 million and they were inexperienced. Can’t find the thread now, but i know it’s there. And maybe it took your team 1 year, but you guys only had 10 people and even so maybe your not used to porting software on other OS’s.

    • PedroBraz says:

      Thats 1 million lost in potential income..of a NEW game that could have been made instead for the same amount. I think its thinking along those lines that are responsible.

      • Christo4 says:

        Yeah man because games like Halo 4 and Dead Space 3 only take 1 million to make, not 50, 100 or more…

  30. popedoo says:

    i like teh pc b-cos it has better gfx and modding and you can use a pad if you like using a pad and i do like using a pad sometimes but mostly this mouse and keys i find you can turn around quicker when someone behind you and easier to point at his head to die with clicking

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      You have the grammar, spelling, and punctuation of a console gamer, yet you talk about the mouse and keyboard like a PC gamer. I am confused.

      • popedoo says:

        Wonderful, then my ruse was a success!

        Were there a ship’s wheel chandelier nearby attached to the ceiling by a rope, I would chop it down with a sword and exclaim ‘Ahah!’ in the most swashbuckling way feasible.

  31. GernauMorat says:

    While the article is clearly correct in it’s analysis, I feel it is harder to argue that games can be an art when the unit of measurement is sales and nothing else. By this standard we would exclude an enormous amount of classical art.

    • Skabooga says:

      If it makes you feel any better, I just learned that System Shock 2 had terrible sales when it came out, which surprised me, considering how much of a paragon of our medium it is. It’s pleasant to see that how fondly we regard a game now is not always correlated to how well it was received or sold at the time.

    • psepho says:

      Michaelangelo’s David — sales figures: 1. CoD (its just one game, right?) — sales figures: a bazillion. Funny how our value systems shift in light of technological and cultural change.

  32. ScatheZombie says:

    Oh Ars Technica, how far you have fallen.

    To say that mouse-and-keyboard, and by extension the PC, are “losing the market”, you’d have to show they *had* the market in the first place. I’m sure if you went as far back as say … Doom, when the FPS market was literally 100% mouse-and-keyboard and drew a comparison from there it might seem that way. But, consoles have always been between about 40-80% of the market – ever since consoles released (like, early Atari) – in terms of game sales. It has fluctuated greatly over the years; directly affected by strong console generations (PS2, for example) and software version releases (DirectX, OpenGL). That said, PC sales and market share has actually been going *up*, not down, in the past 5 or so years.

    So, actually, even though PC is still even with individual consoles (about 1/3rd of the market and sales – excluding the Wii and handhelds); it actually *gained* market-share to get there, not lost it.

    • SirMarth01 says:

      The gaming section on Ars Technica has been complete and utter crap since Ben Kuchera left and Kyle Orland replaced him. Everything else seems to still be quality, though.

      • InternetBatman says:

        Not that Ben is doing great right now either.

        link to

        • Acorino says:

          Oh, Kuchera is doing his job just fine, but otherwise he’s a douche, no doubt about it.

      • GreatGreyBeast says:

        I never liked Kuchera, actually. He’s always been a tad pretentious, or prudish, and we don’t seem to like gaming for the same reasons. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, just not my cup of tea.

        Still, I didn’t realize he’d left (haven’t been to Ars much since their godawful, trendy redesign ‘sploded all over itself), and this new guy doesn’t seem to be an improvement, to say the least.

      • Mario Figueiredo says:

        Oh, c’mon. Ben is prone to the exact same uninformed and biased diatribes. It just so happens that more often then not they were working in your favor. Ben’s been a champion at pissing off Ars readers since pretty much he started there and he’s doing a fine mighty job at the exact same thing at Penny Arcade.

        If there is one thing I will never be able to question is RPS staff proven competence talking about games. But Ben… he never actually landed himself a job at a gaming news website. You don’t have to wonder why…

        He is passionate about games. I’ll give him that. But it’s impossible to trust him on anything more than gaming review. Did you read about his latest accusations of piracy against another journalist? And the backlash he got after being proven wrong and demonstrated he did the exact thing he was accusing the other of doing? You probably should.

  33. HisMastersVoice says:

    I wonder how many players are currently shooting each other in Planetside 2 right now…

  34. Vinraith says:

    I’d honestly just abandon the genre before I’d start playing FPS’s (or even TPS’s, honestly) with a controller. I have nothing against gamepads in general, for racing games, platformers, and most action games I prefer them, but aiming with thumbsticks is an exercise in utterly needless frustration.

    • subedii says:

      I’m OK with gamepads for the most part, even with a lot of FPS’s.

      But at the same time I just got off a long session of CTF on Tribes: Ascend.

      Let’s just say the idea doesn’t even warrant thinking about.

    • Drake Sigar says:

      The right tool for the right job. When it comes to an FPS the mouse is a fine precision scalpel, while the gamepad is a clumsy jackhammer. There are also games out on the PC where the roles are reversed, and the gamepad is better suited.

  35. Jenks says:

    “If Bungie wants to sacrifice 39% of the total money it could make from Destiny, it’s welcome to”

    Thanks PC Gaming Pope John Walker, I’m sure they appreciate your permission!

    By the way, with minimal amounts of critical thinking, your 39% figure doesn’t even come close to holding up.
    Hint since I suspect you might need it: Not everyone is a fanboy of any particular gaming platform.

  36. tnzk says:

    I actually thought this could be a post for Mr. Walker to re-evaulate his position on what he believed Jason Jones had said, because in light of greater evidence, the quote was taken quite a bit out of context. I mean, even Kotaku went on the record to say that Jones did not state what the irate minority think he stated.

    Now, not only has Mr. Walker not attempted to correct or justify his repercussive opinion on the Jones’ statement, he’s continued on some mighty brigade about how The Evil Ones are conspiring together to talk about the death of PC gaming as we know it.

    I thought the people discussing John’s crusade on sexism was a peculiar angle. Now I’m not so sure.

    Up until today, I did automatically click on every article John has written here on RPS, and read every post on his own blog. In light of what I’m seeing, however, it won’t be happening anymore. It’s irresponsible journalism. I’m not sure how long it has been going on for, but if it is the modus operandi, I only just saw it now.

    If I am wrong in anything in my statement above, I’m willing to stand corrected. In fact, at this point, I’m kinda hoping to stand corrected!

    • Christo4 says:

      Have you actually read the article on Ars? I don’t see John making any mistake. I first read it on ars and then the article on RPS and everything he says it’s correct. I came back with the same ideas as he did.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      This would have been better framed as an analysis of bad journalism. Now all we get is just another entry in the keyboard/pc vs controller/consoles flamewar. I don’t need a journalist for that.

    • RobF says:

      Hang on, you see irresponsible journalism when someone is addressing bogus claims? How does that work?

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      “If I am wrong in anything in my statement above, I’m willing to stand corrected. In fact, at this point, I’m kinda hoping to stand corrected”

      Kotaku hasn’t actually said that Jason Jones wasn’t saying what everyone understood. Source: link to

      Luke Plunkett actually says he’s not sure what Jason Jones meant. Read it again. And even then he may have misguided himself into a position of uncertainty because he chose to snip out the Jason Jones statement. Here’s a part of what Luke said:

      “Interviews are funny things. You could argue that the “nobody plays shooters the way they used to play them” bit applies to the design changes made, and he just threw the mouse & keyboard comment in there at an inopportune time.”

      The bit he quotes is actually what misleads him. The complete quote is: “nobody plays shooters the way they used to play them before Halo” That’s what Jason Jones said. Makes a big difference and clearly indicates Jason Jones was talking about changes they made to the Halo games that made nobody want to play FPS games as they did before Halo came in. What Luke should have realized is that you never snip out a full stop.

      Kotaku just 7 hours ago posted a reference to this very debate between Ars Technica and RPS. Source:–keyboard-dying-or-is-it-not

      The author? Luke. He goes on to actually recommend people to read it. He sees more value in what is being discussed than you do.

  37. ukpanik says:

    Gamepads to me are like something designed for those with disabilities. Either physical or mental.
    Much like the stick on the forehead that allows typing.
    A gamepad enables them to play with the rest of us. Albeit clumsier and slower.

  38. captain nemo says:

    Ars Technica – now with 47% more than 26% percent rate of statistics annually

  39. zehooo says:

    How sad that Ars must resort to trolling to get site hits. I knew the quality of their articles had been steadily going downhill these past few months but this appears to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

  40. Umbert says:

    I used to play shooters on my PS3. Uncharted 1-3, Resident Evil 5, Killzone 2&3, Red Dead Redemption, Dead Space 1&2 etc. But I also play shooters on my PC: Battlefield 3, Borderlands 2, Chivalry (:3) etc. Maybe I’m getting too old but I ordered Resident Evil 6 for PC and am looking forward to play Dead Space on PC. I just can’t be bothered with the clunky joypad controls anymore. I’m abaout to finish Uncharted 3 and it was just infuriating during the shooting parts. I was fighting the controls, just trying to get the crosshair near the enemy, it used to be easier, somehow. Maybe it’s the training, muscle memory or something else.
    I played Quake 1 with Mouse and Keyboard and Super Mario 3 with Joypad. I never knew why they brought shooters to consoles. It always felt off. And the biggest question, why isn’t there a viable option for mouse and keyboard on consoles? Maybe Logitech or Sharkoon (or so. else) could think of something that would work comfortably on a couch. I had this one Mouse which emulated a joypad, but it was rubbish. Why does no one do this? The ThisGen consoles all have USB. I hope NextGen will have mouse support.
    But then I also think playing mouse/keyboard vs. joypad will be somewhat unfair. I, from personal experience think aiming with a joypad takes way more practice and concentration. Like someone mentioned: driving a car with a screwdriver for a steering wheel.
    TL;DR: NextGen consoles with KB/M pls!

  41. derella says:

    Marry me, John Walker. Now Ars needs to post a link to this article.

  42. Yosharian says:

    It’s quite simple, controller-oriented FPS games are designed to sell to the masses, while kb+mouse-oriented FPS games are designed to sell to the enthusiast. It’s no question at all that there is less and less of the latter and more and more of the former, what else do you expect in a market, and an economic climate no less, that is steadily ignoring its hardcore fanbase in favour of attracting casuals.

    Talking about ‘what the players want’ is misdirection, the player of games attempting sleight of hand to lead the debate into murky waters. The hardcore players will always want kb+mouse, and the casuals will always want simplified controller-friendly schemes. The real question is what developers are willing to give us.

    • Christo4 says:

      There’s nothing simple with aiming with a controller. It just feels clunky and wrong to me. If you remove auto-aim from games like Halo or Boredomlands on consoles i think 90% of people will toss their controllers out the window. I’m not saying that the controller isn’t good, it’s great for other games like fighting, side-scroller, racing etc. But if there wasn’t auto-aim even the most seasoned player with a controller would lose to a casual that uses M+K.

    • malkav11 says:

      I don’t think people particularly want to play these games with a gamepad. I think they want an easy prebuilt pop-in-the-game and go gaming solution that’s hooked up to a 60″ flatscreen in their living room, and those things have pretty much all opted for the gamepad form factor because a mouse and keyboard setup that works on the couch in your living room is a much tougher design challenge than the same setup on a desk in the office. And since Halo made a workable (if still deeply suboptimal) compromise for FPSes on console, they can have those games in that format.

      I’m not saying there aren’t some weirdos out there who have tried both and actively prefer a gamepad for the genre even on PC, but I’m pretty sure they’re in the minority.

  43. fezmonkey says:

    This really highlights one of the big problems when comparing the number of sales on PC vs. console. The people comparing the numbers don’t usually think of the PC as just another platform. It’s not 360 sales vs. PS3 vs. Wii vs. PC or whatever combination it is depending on the game. For some reason, all of the console sales get lumped together and the comparison is PC vs. everything else, as if the consoles all decide to cooperate instead of compete when it comes to the PC.

    Of course, stating that the PC is “losing the market” is not the same as saying “the PC is dying” or “the PC doesn’t matter anymore.” It just means that there are less sales on one as opposed to the other.

    • Christo4 says:

      I am opinionating too much today as it seems… I have another opinion!
      I concur!
      I don’t understand why they make PC vs consoles. I mean most people will have only one console not 2 and even if the had they will only buy one copy. Most of the times it will be 1 house-1 console or PC. So the consoles are also competing between themselves to get the most sales. Making that comparison is pretty stupid, it’s like comparing BMW sales to Porsche and Aston Martin and saying that BMW is a thing of the past because P+AM had more sales.

    • darkChozo says:

      To be fair, there is some rationale in comparing PCs and consoles from a development standpoint. As a developer, porting a game from 360 to PS3 is easier in terms of game and UI design, because the two are essentially identical in terms of player input and display and such. If you only had money for two platforms, PS3 and 360 would be the two to choose (assuming equal technical difficulty, equal player bases for each platform, etc).

      Of course, saying “it’s better for us financially to stick to consoles” and “no one plays on PCs anymore” are far from being the same argument, and this is all coming from a developer that’s been very console focused for the last decade, so everyone should be digging into their salt grain repositories for this one.

    • D3xter says:

      The worst thing about it is that even if you look at it like that it still wouldn’t be true.
      Here are some revenue numbers from a market research firm that also supplies a lot of publishers with their numbers: link to and if anything has been happening for the last few years it is that consoles had decreased revenue, while PC revenue gradually increased over time.

      In certain markets like Russia, Germany, Poland, Turkey, Brazil PC gaming has always been (and still is) the dominating platform. Unfortunately they don’t have numbers for South Korea or China, which are both huge PC markets. Especially in China, where selling consoles was expressly forbidden until very recently (I think they wanted to reconsider that soon) PC gaming is likely the main and only choice. If developers/publishers want to reach people in those markets, they better also have a PC version of their games.

      But even in the US (depending on how you look at it): link to the PC market is still incredibly strong.
      $8.4 Billion revenue for all console devices (including handhelds) counted together, while only the PC Retail and Digital market is estimated at $4 Billion. If you count MMOs, which apparently sit at a comfortable $2.9 Billion revenue by themselves and Casual/Social with $2.4 and $1.7 Billion, which are also essentially PC gaming (Flash portals and Social Networks) that’s $11 Billion total.
      If the likes of NVIDIA and Intel are to be believed, even the total Retail/Digital sales might overtake consoles within a few years, but I think the new console generation might influence that in one way or another.

      What should also not be overlooked is the total amount of money being made by digital sales compared to retail sales. In the retail market, publishers/developers get ~30% of the proceeds from a sale. On a Digital Distribution platform that is about ~70% of the proceeds, so one sale on say Steam is worth more than two retail sales in the way of profit. If they have their own Digital Distribution platform (like Steam for Valve, GoG for CDProjekt, Origin for EA, UPlay for UbiSoft or whatnot) they can even get ~90% of the proceeds from a digital sale directly, making a sale on those platforms 3x as valuable as a retail sale in terms of profit.

      • HadToLogin says:

        Your digital store point would be good if it weren’t for PC gamers being Steam-fanboys (yes, we all are fanboys, with few exceptions who hate steam for changing term “buying game” to “lending game” and being able to take all your games away with one button – neither sony nor ms can do that, but valve can send you “you were bad, we disable your account” mail at any time), which means most of those digital stores aren’t bringing that much money.

  44. kwyjibo says:

    Kyle is being willfully ignorant of the Free2Play space in order to drive flamehits to Ars, I’m guessing he’s paid per hit. He prefaces his hit piece with an apology, he isn’t apologising to you, he’s apologising to himself.

    He knows that Tribes, Planetside 2, WARFACE are things that exist. He ignores this. It is done on purpose.

    • Screamer says:

      He couldn’t even get the name of Bungie’s new game right, apparently its “Defiance”



  45. Paul says:

    Every PC game copy sold digitally gives much greater revenue to developer/publisher than every console game. So even if you sell twice as many copies on consoles, PC can still be equally or more profitable.
    Just a thought.

  46. Baal_Sagoth says:

    That was a very enjoyable article. A little cathartic too, I’ll have to admit, even though that’s a little silly. After years of having marvelous amounts of fun with a “dead” platform I mostly just don’t give a shit about claims like these anymore. On really bad days it still gets under my skin a little but I’d rather play some more PC games than bother with prophecies that have been falsified over and over again.
    To think that all this talk about PC games being dead or dying once scared me quite a bit years ago just seems embarrassing now.

    • Bob says:

      Yeah, that was my feelings, as in annoyed and maybe a little concerned. The last two years though have produced some big sellers for the PC. Add the Indies and Kickstarters that John mentioned, and things look pretty sweet.

      A couple of my Steam buddies will play third person on their consoles but stick to the computer (with kb and mouse) for FPS. Now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to play Borderlands 2….with my Razer mouse and ZBoard.

  47. Jimbo says:

    You’re both arguing positions based on numbers you don’t have. Pointless. The suggestion that Steam ‘maybe’ accounts for 70% of the entire PC market is especially ludicrous. You might as well have said a million percent.

    Bottom line for me is the PC used to support a reasonably healthy ‘AAA’ side of its own and now it doesn’t. It used to be capable of forcing the industry forward and now it isn’t, which is why we’ve been on these shitty old consoles for what feels like forever.

    You’re gonna tell me a PC FPS could come out tomorrow and still potentially sell as many copies as Half Life or Half Life 2? Even half(life) that many? Of course not. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to suggest the PC has declined in this regard; I think it’s obvious that it has. The selling potential of the PC for FPS has declined because console has aggressively undermined it (and because piracy went from requiring a tiny bit of effort to requiring no effort at all).

    • johnnyan says:

      You are exaggerating things dude. Lets just imagine Blizzard gets some Starcraft FPS on the market tomorrow, with ZERO marketing. Will it sell ?

      And PC gaming still moves the industry forward, too bad the consoles limit that movement…

    • Jenks says:

      How dare you post from outside the RPS Land of Make Believe!

    • grenadeh says:

      It’s common knowledge Steam owns the pc market. The only other ways to get games are Origin, which is a miserable piece of shit – worse than even steam was a decade ago – or uplay, or digital download/physical purchase from Amazon. Retail sales account for a practically non-existent percentage of PC game sales in America and I’m willing to bet everywhere else too.

  48. Jake says:

    Has anyone referred to this Bungie quote as ‘the ballad of Halo Jones’ yet?

  49. welverin says:

    What I’d like to know is why people are equating the platform people play a game on as a preference for control.

    A lot, and I’d guess most people simply have one platform to play games on and use the controls that it has. I have a gaming PC and a PS3, so I have a choice and when it comes to shooters I choose the PC version because I can’t aim with an analog stick (at all, I’m that bad).

    I played the Uncharted games, Resistance 3, and Killzone 3 with a control pad because I had no choice. Everyone playing Halo 4 right now is using a pad, because they have no other option. All of the people playing CoD on a console are using a pad, again because they have too and I bet many of them only have one platform available to them to play the game on. To extrapolate that from all of this that people now prefer to use a gamepad over a keyboard and mouse is just plain stupid.

    Familiarity will lead to someone saying they prefer what they’re used to so you can’t just sit someone down in front of the other option for five minutes and and declare a winner, no matter how often people like to do so.

  50. Skabooga says:

    Great article, John. A nice and level-headed response to rather spurious claims.