The PC platform evolves in 2011

By on January 2, 2011 3:12:23 PM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

Draginol

Join Date 03/2001
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Twenty years ago, if you wanted to make a real game you made it for the PC.  The toughest choice was to support either an Adlib card or a Sound Blaster card.

Now, game developers have to decide between PC, High End Consoles (Xbox/Playstation), Family consoles Wii), Handhelds, iOS, Android, or Web. 

My answer remains the same: It depends on the type of game you want to make. And the type of game you want to make should also consider how much money you have available to you.

The answer, however, is not good news for PC gamers.

If you’re a lone developer or maybe are a developer with an artist friend, the iOS devices look promising.  Big studios will continue to target the big consoles while up and coming studios are increasingly targeting Xbox Live Arcade. Where does that leave the PC? I don’t have an answer for that.

I’ve read so many “The PC is d0med” articles that no one really knows what it means. The PC isn’t doomed. But its piece of the growing slice will continue to decrease and fragment on genre and business model.

Piracy, or more accurately, the perception that piracy is a massive sales killer, continues to be a driving force in the PC development community. While piracy exists on all platforms, there is no doubt that the PC remains the platform with the highest % of people playing games who haven’t actually paid for them. Whether this really tangibly affects profits will be a subject for debate forever. The argument, however, is irrelevant because the people who make the budget decisions are convinced that piracy is a major revenue killer on the PC. This is giving rise to new revenue models (Free to Play, subscriptions, always online, etc.) that are much more difficult to pirate than the traditional models.

The biggest loss to traditional PC gamers is going to be felt from the games that just won’t be made anymore for the PC. Those games made by indies who migrate to greener pastures. This is largely a distribution issue more than anything. There is no PC equivalent to Xbox Live or the iPhone App Store (and no, Steam and Impulse don’t even remotely come close right now, though hopefully that will change in time as these services become more widely spread and provide much MUCH better streamlining for indies).

Another tough area for 2011 for PC gamers is going to be the loss of retail shelf space. Expect to see the major retailers chop their PC game sections even further. This will make it even tougher for the bigger studios to justify PC versions because, despite what some may lead you to believe, major titles still mostly sell at retail and not digitally.

On the other hand, the free to play model works best on the PC right now and that is an area that I think may become very exciting in the next couple of years. As a big believer of making games and supporting them long-term, I like this idea if you can actually make a sustainable living supporting these games long-term. It requires a significant logistical investment to do free to play.

All in all, 2011 is likely to be a pretty decent year for PC games. Better than 2010 I believe.

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January 2, 2011 4:04:17 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I just had a thought, and it may be silly, but what if console makers created a "PC-Like" version of their consoles that came with keyboard and mouse. In other words, a console with more memory and connectivity (and whatever else is missing), that still plays all the regular console games, but also allows for developers to make games that normally would fit better on PCs and would attract PC gamers.

The PC-Console would still run a current OS like Windows 7 (dual-boot if need be), and would otherwise function in much the same way, but would come hardware standardised (making development infinitely easier), and would only allow supported driver updates of the core drivers and system files if dual-booting is not used (meaning if the same OS is used for gaming).

The three major potential killers of this idea are that firstly it would take away somewhat from the flexibility and customisability of the PC, secondly that it would cost a packet, and thirdly, OS compatibility with the hardware would almost definitely be an issue.

There's probably a whole lot more wrong with this, though also probably some brilliant unthoughtof solutions. At any rate, one can dream no?

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January 2, 2011 5:17:43 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

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January 2, 2011 6:36:53 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

I think you just gave me cancer, Winter.

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January 2, 2011 6:42:14 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

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January 2, 2011 11:19:40 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I did have the thought today of Sony allying with Valve and Apple to make a PS4-compatible Mac using a Mac OS and Steamworks for their PSN.

 

No idea if that would make any business sense whatsoever though, and I know Sony couldn't use Windows, so Mac was the next best choice.

 

I expect the end of free-to-play online next console gen (I doubt the PS4 has free online) does it for me with consoles.

 

I don't think the situation is as bleak as you think.

 

a) I think on the high-end you're right.  The major publishers are going to try to shove consoles down people's throats.  If they go PC, it will be Steamworks DRM ports.  That said, I expect the next gen of consoles to bomb.  I think people are getting tired of getting hosed by consoles.

 

I think the mid-majors like the Stardocks and the Paradoxes of the world will continue on PC.

 

c) The low end, I think we're going to see a rise in indies.  We already have.  Some of those indies will go to PC.  Some more will make PC ports.

 

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January 3, 2011 12:42:01 AM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

I've heard that eventually, most of the electronics one uses in their home will become computer based. Television, stereo, telephone, fax, etc. will be peripherals with the computer being the central control. Maybe all these will be part of one system, with different companies developing their own, with their own programing, with each different company's system being required to be able to interface with the others for the basic communication aspects. They have their own games, software, etc., but phone, TV radio, internet and other similar communications would be all compatible between the different systems. Perhaps game consoles will be a peripheral that allows games from the central computer to be played upon the TV instead of at a computer station? That would seem to be the logical progression of the technology. But things change with new discoveries and ultimately, logic isn't the driving force behind big business, market control is. So who knows what will be around 10-20 years from now. Those developers and publishers who keep an interest in computer gaming and don't go completely over to consoles I would think will have an advantage, at any rate.

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January 3, 2011 12:48:03 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Frogboy,
I think you just gave me cancer, Winter.

 

Wait... Cancer? Whaa??

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January 3, 2011 1:10:19 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

I expect the end of free-to-play online next console gen (I doubt the PS4 has free online) does it for me with consoles.

To an extent it already is over; Xbox Live Gold and PSN Plus (PSN Plus is optional and isn't required for online multiplayer, but it is a step in that direction). Still, I will bet you just about anything that the next generation of Nintendo console will have free online, partly because it won't be as extensive as the other two, but still free.

a) I think on the high-end you're right. The major publishers are going to try to shove consoles down people's throats. If they go PC, it will be Steamworks DRM ports. That said, I expect the next gen of consoles to bomb. I think people are getting tired of getting hosed by consoles.

How exactly are people getting hosed by consoles, if you don't mind my asking? And how can you tell they are getting tired of it? Short of massive hardware failures on release or overly high prices (see the release of the PS3) I don't see the next gen bombing.

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January 3, 2011 1:26:17 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

i will be sticking with PC until modding and complex games/innovative thought  and upgradeable hardware move to the consoles. Apart from the PC doubling as an office platform.

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January 3, 2011 2:33:28 AM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums

I chose the wrong night to peruse the forums, I see.  I guess my new year's resolution to finally learn Visual C++ etc. will be one that I actually keep.  As I doubt that modding can be accomplished on the WII, PS(# whatever) or XBox, although I have to admit that the PC has never been utilized to it's fullest potential (which is probably Microsoft's fault)!

Microsoft might wake up one day and realize that they are in the process of putting themselve's out of business.  Every time they upgrade they make more and more games unplayable!

I guess the point I'm getting at is that I fear that Greed will lead to the downfall of truly great gaming.  My wife has spent almost as much on farmville (in the last six months) as I did on (two years of) Ultima Online.

I miss my TI-99/4A and my C-128D!  At least, back then, I could write my own programs in Basic and Extended Basic and had plenty of examples to learn from!  Gone are the days when you could buy books like "Basic PC Games" and "More Basic Games" (or whatever the titles were).

You don't see any titled "Visual Basic Games" and "More Visual Basic Games" or "Visual C++ Games" and "More Visual C++ Games".

So, conceptualists like me, who think way above the nuts and bolts, simply end up dreaming because even though we immediatley grasp the concept(s) we tend to learn by example(s) when you get down to the details.  Said examples are becoming fewer and further between.

Thus, for many of us, if the PC is doomed; so are we.  

SK 

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January 3, 2011 3:19:53 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting kyogre12,

I expect the end of free-to-play online next console gen (I doubt the PS4 has free online) does it for me with consoles.
To an extent it already is over; Xbox Live Gold and PSN Plus (PSN Plus is optional and isn't required for online multiplayer, but it is a step in that direction). Still, I will bet you just about anything that the next generation of Nintendo console will have free online, partly because it won't be as extensive as the other two, but still free.


a) I think on the high-end you're right. The major publishers are going to try to shove consoles down people's throats. If they go PC, it will be Steamworks DRM ports. That said, I expect the next gen of consoles to bomb. I think people are getting tired of getting hosed by consoles.
How exactly are people getting hosed by consoles, if you don't mind my asking? And how can you tell they are getting tired of it? Short of massive hardware failures on release or overly high prices (see the release of the PS3) I don't see the next gen bombing.

 

Hosed= poor value for the dollar.  $80-$90 games when you count the DLC.  Income effect says that will result in fewer game sales, pushing the smaller folks out (it already has somewhat).  Once Japanese devs learn how to make games for PCs, there goes most of your mid-major console devs.  Consoles are rapidly developing an unsustainable business model - Moore's Law doesn't factor in development costs.

 

Either early prices will have to be high, or the next console generation will have to wait until 2013-2014 or so.  Either one of those isn't going to be that profitable.  PC gaming is also getting cheaper, due to people realizing what Brad did years ago- that high specs just mean you price people out of the market.  With more games being made to run well on reasonable rigs, PC gaming should be in good shape, provided broadband caps don't ruin things.  The traditional brick and mortar is being phased out among gamers- though it will take longer for casuals. 

 

Let's put it this way, I would not be shocked if Steam or another service renders the traditional gaming console obsolete by the end of this decade.  Handhelds in some form will thrive though.

 

I just think the consoles will price themselves out of business- look how long the PS2 lasted after the PS3 came out.  If the PS4 charges for online, we may see the PS3 live for 3-4 years after the PS4 comes out.

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January 3, 2011 3:55:06 AM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Galactic Civilizations III: Free to Play Edition

lolz.  Thanks for the laugh (not for giving frogboy cancer though - that was rude). 

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January 3, 2011 9:55:00 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Given the sheer number of indy games on Steam, I think it's a bit weird to say that Steam is not a good indy platform. Impulse may not be, but then Impulse doesn't doesn't have a comprehensive free package offering for indy developers that includes all the bells and whistles that are popular these days (achievements, mp, etc). I'm not a Steam fanboy (before I get flamed ), but really, facts are facts. XBLA has its own SDK that might make development easier, but as far as publishing?

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January 3, 2011 1:38:55 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Quoting Alstein,



Quoting kyogre12,
reply 8

I expect the end of free-to-play online next console gen (I doubt the PS4 has free online) does it for me with consoles.
To an extent it already is over; Xbox Live Gold and PSN Plus (PSN Plus is optional and isn't required for online multiplayer, but it is a step in that direction). Still, I will bet you just about anything that the next generation of Nintendo console will have free online, partly because it won't be as extensive as the other two, but still free.


a) I think on the high-end you're right. The major publishers are going to try to shove consoles down people's throats. If they go PC, it will be Steamworks DRM ports. That said, I expect the next gen of consoles to bomb. I think people are getting tired of getting hosed by consoles.
How exactly are people getting hosed by consoles, if you don't mind my asking? And how can you tell they are getting tired of it? Short of massive hardware failures on release or overly high prices (see the release of the PS3) I don't see the next gen bombing.


 

Hosed= poor value for the dollar.  $80-$90 games when you count the DLC.  Income effect says that will result in fewer game sales, pushing the smaller folks out (it already has somewhat).  Once Japanese devs learn how to make games for PCs, there goes most of your mid-major console devs.  Consoles are rapidly developing an unsustainable business model - Moore's Law doesn't factor in development costs.

 

Either early prices will have to be high, or the next console generation will have to wait until 2013-2014 or so.  Either one of those isn't going to be that profitable.  PC gaming is also getting cheaper, due to people realizing what Brad did years ago- that high specs just mean you price people out of the market.  With more games being made to run well on reasonable rigs, PC gaming should be in good shape, provided broadband caps don't ruin things.  The traditional brick and mortar is being phased out among gamers- though it will take longer for casuals. 

 

Let's put it this way, I would not be shocked if Steam or another service renders the traditional gaming console obsolete by the end of this decade.  Handhelds in some form will thrive though.

 

I just think the consoles will price themselves out of business- look how long the PS2 lasted after the PS3 came out.  If the PS4 charges for online, we may see the PS3 live for 3-4 years after the PS4 comes out.

When was the last time you bought a console game? Most don't have $20-$30 DLC. Most don't even have DLC at all. Even if they do, most people don't take it into account when they buy a game; by the time they do start to think about it, the game itself is a sunk cost and no longer relevant anyway. It's not like PC games aren't expensive either (Starcraft 2 was $60) and they have DLC too. Sure, PC games go on sale more often, but most people buy games around when they're released. Most people aren't willing to wait months (or years) for a particular game to go on sale.

Why would the Japanese developers switch to PC? They've had literally decades to learn how to make PC games, and they haven't yet.

Microsoft and Sony already plan for the Xbox 360 and the PS3 to last until 2015 or so. It's also common business practice for both of those companies to take a hit on hardware sales, but make up for it rather easily with software sales. Nintendo's plans for the Wii's lifespan are unknown, but they always make a profit on their hardware.

If Xbox Live prooves anything, it's that people are willing to pay for online services. It's not really any different from a PC MMO. You buy the base game, and then you have to pay a monthly subscription fee.

The fact that the PS2 has lasted so long is due to a number of things. Part of it is because the PS3 was $600 at release. Part of it is because the PS3 didn't have any good games for a while. Part of it was because the Slim models removed the PS2 backwards compatibilty, and the PS2 still has a number of great games. But you'll also notice that Xbox and Gamecube did not last very long after their respective successors came out. One of the "Big Three" screwing up does not mean that the other two will screw up.

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January 3, 2011 4:00:54 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Most AAA console games have massive amounts of DLC.  It's becoming more and more common.  Some is good DLC, some is bad.  I got no problem with DLC if it's a legitimate value, and don't gimp the experience for people who don't want it.  It makes sense for publishers also, as people are increasingly buying games used due to the extra cost.  DLC ensures that they at least get some money out of it.  (If they were smart, they'd lower the sale price and have more/make it up in DLC)

 

DLC is heading to PC, though PC consumers tend to resent it more.

 

As for the Japanese developers, it will be adapt, move to handhelds, or die if consoles go down.  Capcom has done some stuff with PC this gen.

 

XBL proves some people are willing to pay.  I think if XBL hadn't charged, the PS3 would have had a much, much smaller base.  the 360 (and I say this as an owner of a PS3) is a better console with a slightly better games selection to me outside of pay-to-play online.

 

You're right on the PS2 lasting so long.  The high cost was my point.  the Xbox 1 and GC died early since they weren't that competitive, so support died quickly.  The PS2 was the last gen , just like the PS1 was the gen before that in the US (even if I loved my Saturn at the time)

 

I apologize if that sounds console fanboyish, not my intent.

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January 4, 2011 12:31:18 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

In my opinion, we're going to see the evolution of the current fringe markets: Digitial Distribution and Browser Based games.  Facebook games are already worth billions; it won't be too long before we see something like Quake Live - a 'real game' - on the platform.

Digitial Distribution, however, is going to head further down the wrong direction.  Instead of providing lower cost games, we're seeing companies already abuse them; EA restricts access to it's titles on Impulse to apease Retailers, Activision Blizzard charges more for the digitial version of it's games than the retail versions because it makes far more profit off of them, and Steam continues to force PC Users to sign up for it's service when they buy major PC Titles like Call of Duty or Civilisation.  Monopolisation is on it's way.

We see a little light with the Indie Scene, and it's slowing growing.  Independant Developers have a multitude of options - however none of them are as powerful as the PC.  Inventive and unique titles will always find their niche; Dwarf Fortress, Rogue Survivor and many other games are simply not possible on other platforms.  However, the biggest supporter thus far on Indie Development is... Microsoft?  It's XNA Framework continues to lead by example: development for Xbox 360, Windows Vista/7 and Windows Phone 7 all in a single package and it's extremely powerful.  And it's all free.

For me, 2011-2020 is going to be the years when the PC and the Internet itself is reigned in and controlled - the ACTA, Apple, Steam; the time of the 'Free Internet' is coming to an end.  People have seen just how many billions is in a controlled platform like the Xbox 360 or Wii; the PC is the largest most diverse platform in the world - it's only a matter of time.

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January 4, 2011 12:49:11 AM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

ZehDon - January 3, 2011 9:31:18 PM

 

It need not necessarily be so bleak, there is always The Crimson Permanent Assurance

 

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=2498206364209961454#

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January 10, 2011 2:51:50 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

As usual, i enjoy reading these posts by Draginol, interesting to have a developers' thoughts on the different new distribution methods available for old and new developers.  I'd like to know, though, why he doesnt consider services like Steam or Impulse to be an equivalent to the iphone appstore or the xbox live. 

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January 10, 2011 6:15:34 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Market penetration, I'm guessing.  Xbox Live is on every single Xbox, and the App Store is on every single iPhone and iPad.  I don't think either Impulse or Steam has anywhere close to the same number of potential purchasers for indie titles.

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January 10, 2011 6:27:09 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

Yeah, but for example the xbox live isnt available in all countries, and how many people that have iphones often buy apps from the appstore.  I get your reply, but i thought it was about something the services themselves had, not their market expansion.

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