February 26, 2008
Cliffy B, the man behind Epic Games’ Gears of War was recently quoted as saying:
“I think people would rather make a game that sells 4.5 million copies than a million and “Gears” is at 4.5 million right now on the 360. I think the PC is just in disarray… what’s driving the PC right now is ‘Sims’-type games and ‘WoW‘ and a lot of stuff that’s in a web-based interface. You just click on it and play it. That’s the direction PC is evolving into So for me, the PC is kind of the secondary part of what we’re doing. It’s important for us, but right now making AAA games on consoles is where we’re at.”
To which Mark Rein
CliffyB has a point, pretty much all of the big hits have been on consoles in the last few years. The reason for this is pretty self explanitory, consoles have a much larger install base. There are WAY more consoles sitting in living rooms across the world, then there are high end gaming PC’s. This is completely understandable, considering a high-end PC needed to play games as they are released can cost a few thousand dollars. Whereas a console sells for around $600 to $400, depending on which one you want.
As a PC Gamer at heart, I always hate hearing this kind of thing. But there has been a trend of late, for games to be released on all consoles including the PC. The reason for this is obvious, release a game on as many consoles as possible, and this raises the potential number of buyers, as obviously not every one has a high-end gaming PC, a Wii, an Xbox 360 and a PS3. Most people just have one or the other. To me this is another indication that PC gaming may be in decline, because the biggest numbers are always generated by the consoles. Halo 3, when it was released for the Xbox 360 late last year sold millions, yes MILLIONS on launch day. This is why PC gaming is dying, No PC Game has ever done that, I don’t think it will be dead any time soon, but it there is certainly a downward trend. Its all in the numbers, publishers won’t want to invest money if they aren’t guaranteed a return on their investment.
But at the same time, this is why I love hearing quotes like this. The following is a quote from Marc Rein, VP of Epic Games. They give me faith that PC gaming may just survive.
“NPD numbers are an estimate. We don’t know what they are exactly but if you sell 80,000 a month for 10 months that’s a multi-million seller worldwide. Who’s going to complain about that? We’re in the internet age and people react to numbers they don’t understand. It’s funny, after that I spent a lot of time going through long-term NPD numbers. I actually went and looked all the way back to 1995 and I dissected all the shooters. The path we’re on right now isn’t going to make it the fastest selling game but PC games have a potentially much longer tail than console games. There’s a good chance to sell that game for a much longer period of time than the more hit-oriented console games”
PC games typically last longer, in that they are played, and purchased at retail much longer after their initial release then console games. There are a few reasons for this, but I think mostly its because of user created content. PC games have had a long history of letting players get in and create content, such as new levels, or sometimes users will take the game and completely change it, adding new functions or game play mechanics, essentially creating a new game. This kind of customization is what PC Gamers have going for them.
The announcement of Microsoft’s XNA Arcade is bad news, because it will allow console gamers the same kind of customizations. But I’ll get into that in later posts.
Finally, Mark Rein was quoted:
“MR: Oh he’s an idiot [laughing]. No, he’s a great guy. Cliff makes console games though, right? He’s on a console team that makes what is primarily a console game.”
I’m sure its all in good fun, but in the end I am a gamer above all else, and it doesn’t matter where good games are released, because I’ll play them anyway.