The UK game retail charts are about as relevant to PC gaming - and indeed gaming as a whole - as Mars Bars are to the red planet, knickers are to a fish or kindness is to the Murdoch dynasty. Nonethless, I feel compelled to mention this week's, purely because they suggest that even the most mainstream field of games isn't as resistent to new ideas and thoughtfulness as the moneymen who think Call of Honor is the only profitable game in town might believe.
While the deathless Fédération Internationale de Foot-to-ball Association retained the number one spot, Dishonored snuck straight in to 2 and XCOM to 7. Hurrah for new things doing well!
These are ostensibly new IPs, at least as far as the high street is concerned (while XCOM's obviously a sequel, the near-20 year gap between it and the last proper X-COM game probably negates that in terms of high street sales), so that is some good going. This would imply Dishonored is the year's biggest new IP in fact, snatching that trophy from Sleeping Dogs.
As always, the UK charts don't include digital sales, thus are entirely useless, irrelevant and nonsensical, but hey ho - Dishonored and XCOM's relative success in them might still mean that couple of more ambitious projects are greenlit by publishers. Also: a turn-based strategy game making 7 in a chart that represents the mainiest of mainstream? By golly.
It's not a given that big new releases make the top ten, by the way - spare a thought for Kinect spin-off Fable: The Journey stumbling in at 37.
Those numbers refer to all formats, by the way, with the rest of that top ten largely occupied by console mainstays such as Pokemon, Resident Evil and Just Dance. Let's look at PC-specific instead now. Again, this is retail/etail only, and does not include download sales in the slightest:
2. XCOM: Enemy Unknown
3. World of Warcraft: Fog of Koalaland
4. Guild Wars 2
5. The Sims 3
6. The Sims 3: Some Manner Of Expansion Pack
7. Borderlands 2
8. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
9. Diablo III
10. Command & Conquer: Ultimate Collection
Only two Sims titles in there? Truly, this is a changed world. The big question for me is where XCOM and Dishonored would have placed in the all-formats chart had download sales been included. I suspect those games are doing rather well with the PC faithful on Steam.
In fact, here's the top ten for Steam over the last week:
1. XCOM: Enemy Unknown
3. Borderlands 2
4. Borderlands 2 Season Pass
5. Torchlight II
6. Counter-Strike Global Offensive
7. Arma II: Combined Operations
8. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Collection 4: Final Assault
9. Borderlands 2 Mechromancer Pack
10. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Hearthfire
Dishonored's great and all, but how good is it to see a turn-based strategy game, let alone one bearing the name of one of the PC's most revered games, sitting right at the top there? (Plus, I think XCOM will probably edge out Dishonored for my personal game of the year, although FTL's very much up there too).
I do hope publishers are looking very carefully at combined sales for XCOM, Dishonored and Borderlands right now, and also at their PC sales. A few market expectations could well be shifting.
The comments thread below will now be filled by joyless people moaning about Dishonored and XCOM.