In my many years spent posting/trolling on the forums, one question that appears a lot is the legitimacy of the death of PC gaming. Is PC game dying out?
Yes, and no. What?
Well, before I elaborate, it will probably be better for everyone if I went into some history. Dead Space 2 is not coming out for PC [check GameSpot for the article]. Grand Theft Auto IV (a very well respected game) is poorly optimized for the PC and released as an afterthought. Empire: Total War is given a very half-hearted release and has an expansion coming out. Do I really need to go into all the woes of the modern PC gaming industry? Piracy is at an all time high, even for relatively solid and bug-free games such as Call of Duty 4 and more and more companies are screwing over PC gamers.
On the other hand, a company like EA, known to give PC gamers the short stick, are doing very well well after realizing that actually listening to their customers is a good thing. Even a game hit hard by piracy like Demigod has made the publishers "happy" . Many blockbuster games have done well, including Fallout 3 . Also, if you are ever bummed on the year 2009 for PC gaming, there is a very nice site for you.
So is PC gaming dead? Yes and no. Most of the biggest games aren't coming out for PC anymore and more attention is given to the console exclusives. If gamers are going to look back on this era, they are going to see a PC gaming industry that is not as strong and not as exclusive. Games that use to be made with the PC in mind are made instead on the consoles and then given a port to the PC as an afterthought. Series that have made the PC industry strong are now being released for the consoles. But despite this, PC gaming lives on and even thrives. PC gaming is living as healthy as ever, but you have to find where to look. Finding where PC gaming is thriving is going to lead us to find where PC gaming is headed. One thing is clear however, PC gaming is certainly not headed in the same direction as the consoles no matter how consoles try to emulate the PC.
The thing is, PC gamers are not console gamers. Yes, consoles have been becoming more and more like PCs and historically strong PC developers have been starting projects on the consoles, but the audience and creators are not the same. If the endless forum threads are any indication, many features we take for granted as PC gamers are quite foreign to consoles gamers. Features such as dedicated servers, command consoles, and fan-made maps and mods are alien to console gamers and often tossed away as insignificant. The depth and and expansiveness of PC games are rarely attempted at on consoles because there isn't an audience for them.
PC gamers have grown up. They have grown up and learned new tricks. Networking? Building your own PC? Easy. Setting up your own dedicated server? Pshh. In order to appease these people, games need to become more and more complicated which is going to require more and more money. From a business standpoint, however, spending more and more money to appease a small group is not going to get you as much as, say, trying to appeal to a mass market who isn't interested enough to learn more than how to hook up their 360.
In fact, spending money to make a great game is absolutely a horrible business practice. If FreeSpace 2 and System Shock 2 shows us anything, it is that great games does not automatically equal great sales. I chose these two games because of their indisputable greatness. Labelling modern games as "classics" is often easily disputable, but there are a lot of modern maybe-classic games that have received the bad end of business.
On the reverse side, many mediocre games have achieved great sales. Games like Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, which failed to do its series any justice, have found success. TFU rose up only on a venerable title (Star Wars) and a great advertisement campaign.
THAT IS THE KEY TO WHY PC GAMING IS PERCEIVED TO BE DYING.
Making a great game is not necessarily the key to success now. Success can be found more easily in a great marketing campaign than appeasing finicky hardcore gamers.
But do not blame the console gamers. Console games, for the most part, have evolved. Multiplayer (surprisingly unheard of last generation) is not a very key component in games. WRPGs, FPS, and even RTS can now be translated to the consoles with a greater degree of success. And all that WITHOUT forcing the player to mess with complicated computer jargon. Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo, pat yourselves on the back.
So now, there IS a market for games with less depth and lesser gameplay because most of its budget spent on marketing. But there is also a market for PC gaming, and that is where the truth is revealed.
PC gaming is not dying, it has never left its true home: games by gamers for gamers. When Richard Garriot, id Software, Will Wright, and the legends started developing, they started small. They started in their garage. When the classics of yesteryear was made, they were often made by small groups who were so dedicated to gaming that they were willing to put up with a risk of unemployment or small pay to make games. The spirit of those people still continue on, and today, some of the best games are the "indie" games.
These indie developers don't have a good series to ride the coattails of, they don't have a massive budget for marketing. All they have is their will and their fans. It is people like those that make the best games. Some of the mods and the $20 games are absolutely amazing. They don't push the graphics and they don't have a cool commercial. What they do have however, is the whole reason why we play games: entertainment.
(yes, I just did cite Wikipedia)