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Duraska
2007-03-13, 08:39 PM
From the Game Developers Conference:

http://www.1up.com/do/newsStory?cId=3157879

A panel of respectable game developers from companies like Firaxis (Civilization IV) and Obsidian (Neverwinter Nights 2) came to the general conclusion that "hardcore" PC gaming is on the decline. They note the expense involved for getting gamers onboard (expensive video cards), the expense of making the actual games themselves, and rampant PC game piracy.

They do note that MMORPGs and "social" games will likely still stick around, along with a plethora of "casual" games... whatever that means. Aparently, even First Person Shooters sell better on consoles than they do on PC's.

What do you guys think? I can see RTS, FPS, and MMORPGS still being produced for PCs, but I do agree that PC gaming as we know (knew?) it is dying.

On an unrelated note, I'm not really bothered by this news because I've decided that this is my final gaming PC (all future upgrades or PC's will be built around a utilitarian perspective, rather than gaming). However, as someone who has been a PC gamer for many years, I can't help but feel a little sad (although not all that surprised).

Elliot Kane
2007-03-13, 09:30 PM
When developers keep releasing beta-in-a-box games for the PC and there is a lack of replayability on many titles even if they aren't buggy as heck, it's no surprise that sales drop.

I think the decline in the PC market probably owes more to bug-ridden product that is almost unplayable than anything else.

If you buy a console game, it will work straight out of the box without crashing, freezing at odd moments or flat out refusing to work. You won't have to spend ages finding and downloading patches, or waiting a few weeks before you can download a patch to allow you to play the game you just spent serious money getting.

I own and regularly play a fair number of PC games, and the general rule is that the older the game is the less likely it is to have bugs. I wonder if the panel considered this when looking for a reason why sales are declining...

Erloas
2007-03-13, 10:04 PM
I think it depends a lot on what they define as "hardcore" gamers. Considering that on the WAR boards we've had threads on the topic and have came up with at least 10 different definitions.

If they mean "number of players that insist on having a new PC every year and upgrading constantly" which is required to play every single game then I think they are right.
*having read the story I'm not even sure what they are actually trying to say.
The problem with deveoping "cutting edge" games on the PC is that it is always changing and it takes considerable more effort for developers to push that high end. The biggest difference was that what a top end computer could do was well ahead of what a console could do and the visual difference was very big. Now even if a computer can do considerable more then a console, the visual differences are fairly minor. What this means is that even "casual gamers PCs" can run the newest games. The cost of the developers to push the envelope on the PCis too great and limits the audience considerably. A top end PS3 or Xbox 360 game can run on most casual gamers PCs if they are ported over. Porting is becoming a lot easier, although it is not yet common.
WAR for example was able to run on a 360 with little modification durning the last E3. The only real thing stopping them from crossplatforming the game is the fact that the interface would need to be changed between the 360 and the PC and that gamers on the PC would have a decisive advantage in controls over the 360 simply due to the number of keys needs to play an MMO. Having players at a considerable disadvantage simply because they play on another system is not something that would work in a RvR game like WAR.

So if a hardcore PS3 or 360 game can run fairly easily on most PCs, but not all PC games will run on a PS3 or 360 then the only way PC hardcore gamers can go away is if they stop making "hardcore" games or if developers simply refuse to put them on the PC.

DeathQuaker
2007-03-13, 10:40 PM
I agree PC games are in decline, and it is sad.

The reasons listed by the OP are a factor (unfortunately I couldn't get the link to work, so I'm going by his summary), but I think it's also a little more complicated than that. And I think there are problems in the publishing in marketing end of things that is no one's fault but the publishers and marketers.

Some more specific, if not particularly well organized thoughts:

I find it odd that they cite "the players need to buy expensive graphic cards" when they're the ones that feel the need to develop for these expensive graphic cards that no one but a relative few seem to own. Why not simply develop for the graphic cards most PC owners already have? Most gamers, even console gamers, are still going to own PCs. Most people in the age and wealth demographics for buying games are going to own PCs. If you made a game for something all these people already own, it would seem like it would at least have the potential to do well.
So, possible solution: develop for what most people have, not for what only a much smaller demographic is capable of possessing (and you can do amazing stuff with graphics if you focus on performance efficiency. I've played gorgeous games that require half the software I have, and lousy looking games that max out the utility of my graphics card just because it's programmed inefficiently).

EliotKane notes the bug problems. It's a good point, but it's a little more complicated than that. One of the reasons: once upon a time, when PC games were king, there were a lot fewer different kinds of hardware on the scene--therefore it was much easier to write software for them. Today, there are endless variations on PC builds, and it is nearly impossible to develop software that works perfectly on all of them; even if you playtest a game to death, it's likely that someone somewhere will encounter a bug that will completely be unknown before release, just because they had the "perfect" combination of software and hardware that caused a problem. The advantage of the console platform is that you are developing software for one particular set of static hardware--therefore accounting for potential problems is much easier and playtesting is much more likely to find most bugs before release.
This issue is much more difficult to address--how can we homogenize certain software, OS, and hardware development and still allow for proper competition in the computer technology world? On the other hand, PCs aren't going to go away--even if games are less popular, the machines themselves are being used more and more--so it seems like that if PCs can be made functional universally for most other applications, there must be some way to apply that to game development.

Another problem is not so much POOR development, but decisions elsewhere elsewhere in the production of a game. Let's take a look at Neverwinter Nights 2. An eagerly awaited game, with loads of potential both in the department of gameplay as well as the whole toolset spin: not only being able to play the game out of the box, but make your own or play other games created by fellow players using the same software. It was a complex idea though, and a sequel to an already complex forerunner. It needed all the time it could to be properly developed and therefore fill its potential as much as possible. But rather than allow that, its publisher Atari forced the developer to release the game before they had finished getting the bugs out. Why? They wanted it out for winter quarter sales. But overall, the sales will suffer because of on-release problems.

And I think Atari made a major error simply by announcing NWN2 too soon. They announced it coming out extremely early in development--like, as soon as they started, when there was plenty of time for something to go wrong--and plenty of time to get avid gamers impatient about release. If they had waited on announcement, there would have been less pressure to release the game--and therefore they could have given Obsidian more time to release the game and therefore when it came out it would have been much huger than it is now (though I think sales are still in the millions).

And behavior like this is more and more common. People commonly say we won't get games like Baldur's Gate II ever again because no one will give devs the time they need to put out something that ambitious. This attitude has created a vicious cycle of putting out cheap, half-finished games that PC gamers who remember what a PC game could be like feel like something's definitely lacking.

Another issue: a lot of games aren't developed to take advantage of PC format. I've always wondered, why the heck are FPSs so equated with PCs anyway? They seem to me far better suited for something with a simple controller and large screen to play them on. Something like an RPG, where more complex commands can come in very handy, seem more suited to PCs, and yet more and more RPGs are associated with consoles. It doesn't make any sense to me. Certain strategy games also suit PC format better--make them!

Also, anything that involves creativity and interaction excels on PC. The Sims--where you can play multiple ways and make custom content easily. CUSTOMIZATION--that's a big key for what should be done for PC games. Though console hardware is becoming more and more advanced, stuff like customization is still hard to do. You can't download mods for Final Fantasy. But Neverwinter Nights is meant for endless mod implementation.

But of course allowing for customization and creativity and complex interface means ample time for development and responsible publishing and marketing strategies and creating for hardware that is commonly used, not commonly desired.... which brings us back to the beginning of the problem.

It's a sad thing. Everyone in the luxury buying demographic owns a PC. I love my PC. I use it for many things. Games are just one, but they are a favorite. I feel silly buying a machine that JUST plays games when I already have a machine that not only plays games but does much much more. Yet somehow, publishers, marketers, and developers have no idea what to do with this idea.

It really is a shame.

Elliot Kane
2007-03-14, 12:11 AM
I think replayability is huge, too.

Some of the best selling games ever (Diablo 2, The Sims etc) have a vast amount of replayability, and the game will be different every time. Even where the gameplay itself can be quite repetitive, gamers who love the type of game will keep playing.

The other thing is genuine innovation. Sure, not every great idea takes off, but most of the really top sellers are also original in their ideas and approach.

As DeathQuaker says, though, a lot of the problem lies not with the developers but with the distributors who demand finished product to often unrealistic timetables from which they will not budge.

Duraska
2007-03-14, 01:13 AM
I agree with everyone's assessment so far. I believe that PC gaming is at a crossroads: Developers can either re-invent the medium, establishing new ideas that take full advantage of the strengths of the PC platform, or they can continue to churn out 'proven' money-makers that are easily ported across the various hardware platforms.

As DeathQuaker has pointed out, custom content is still, for the most part, a PC-exclusive trait; but I think even that is changing. While I don't forsee a complicated user "toolset" (like in NWN) being included with console games within this generation, I don't think it's far off. After all, the Xbox 360 already contains extra functionality with Windows Vista-based computers. Would it be that difficult to have developers release a toolset for the PC that sync's up with your Xbox 360, allowing you to design new mods for your console games?

Well, here's the cynical side of me coming out: "Gaming" is a very big business these days. While there are still some young and independant developers out there, the costs of releasing a mainstream game are astronomical when compared to how it used to be. 15-20 years ago, it was not at all uncommon to have a team of 5 to 10 people develop a full game in their basement. Today, games costs millions of dollars to make and globally distribute. Each development company survives on a title-by-title basis. One bad (non-selling) title is enough to sink a company. Therefore, it's "bad business" to mess with the way things are too much. Sure, you might spark a revolution in gaming, but you're more likely to end up going bankrupt, and losing both your business and your entire staff.

Do I think PC gaming is dead? No. I believe that mainstream titles will continue to come out on the PC (eventually I think 90% of PC games will be primarily released on consoles and then ported over to the PC platform).

Do I think the golden age of PC gaming is dead? Absolutely.

Wehrkind
2007-03-14, 01:23 AM
I agree with a lot of DeathQuaker says, but I think there are two main points to consider, one she bonks nicely, and one no one has mentioned (oddly). The two really go hand in hand I think.
1. "What system are they designing for, anyway?" It is a very good point that designing games for top end systems only limits your audience, and makes your product look bad when it is played on the average pc. I was much freer in my purchases of games 2-6 years ago when my pc could handle anything (wow... I am old...) than in the past year when everything I get I have to neck down the graphics to 0. The last game I bought, Medieval 2, I can't even run on my machine, I have to use my fiance's. I want to get NWN2, but there is no reason till I upgrade. Those had better be some great graphics to justify that.
In a similar vein, ever see the system specs on Vanguard? They are nuts. My roommate bought it, and even his machine that cost more than my engagement ring a year ago can't run it prettily. For what? Ok graphics, and essentially WoW with a diplomacy minigame bolted on.
Which segues nicely to...

2: "Didn't I buy this game, like 4 times already?" The complete lack of innovation, not in "oooh pretty" but actual game play, is what is killing PC gaming. When was the last time you saw a game in the stores other than a RTS that is exactly like C&C or WC3, an MMO such as WoW or EQ, or Sims435^c:Test Results?
Now, I am not saying that tried and true genres shouldn't exist. They spawn clones because they are good games. But how many new games really are different? Shogun/Medieval/Rome were a completely different take on the RTS game, fusing it with a turn based strategy game. Great fun. When was the last time you saw a Japanese style turn based strategy/RPG on PC? NWN was a huge deviation, and is incredibly popular. Yet such games a rare pinnacles in the piles of derivative crap that gets forced out. I think that is what really killed the PC gaming industry. You can't make an industry out of selling Chess with different shaped pieces and calling it "Cutting Edge!!" without relegating yourself to the pages of those catalogues that sell "Nude Yoga" videos and poorly painted porceline statues of mermaids holding globes with wizards riding unicorns in them.

In fact, I was wrong. The last game I purchased was Bookworm Adventures from PopCap. Speaking of games that are different and fun.

Cybren
2007-03-14, 01:26 AM
It sounds like baseless doomsaying. People have been saying it's too expensive since the 3DFX. They should get over themselves.

Wehrkind
2007-03-14, 01:34 AM
You know Duraska, I think the solution might actually be the opposite: we need MORE giant developer companies, but on the contingency that they focus less on flash and more on substance. I will elaborate.

I think the big advantage console gaming has is the ossification of the platform. You just can not improve upon graphics and wiz-bang bells past a certain point. So the only thing left to differentiate yourself is game play.
PC games seem to be written with the idea of "Let's build this engine based on ridiculously high specs, so it looks more impressive than anything else." All well and good, except all sorts of money is forced into expensive developement of coding, and less into "fun game."

Now, the problem with small companies is that they are necessarily dependant on titles being successful. If you have no other income other than your game selling well, you are sol. If you are a big company with many games in the works, you can likely afford 3-4 misses so long as you have a few hits. Think of the pharmacuetical industry. They have hundreds of expensive drugs that go nowhere, all supported by a few drugs that actually make lots of money.
The trouble with the big games company is the "Ok, be careful and just improve the looks of the last game we made" mentality you so correctly pillory. I think a different model, one that focuses more on "Ok, screw looks. Let's make a really fun game" would be a lot more succesful. Less money spent on any one game, and more total game output.

Now, I am probably biased. Most of my favorite games have relatively basic graphics with very involved stories or rule systems. I think most everyone's favorite games are usually those older games, with less flash and glitz, but clever gameplay. Pokemon made c^2$ but it had crap graphics by most standards. Man was it addicting though.

Wehrkind
2007-03-14, 01:36 AM
Oh, just to spread some love, some fun little games I found great fun (and free when I got them) were mentioned on PA a year or so back. Might still be able to get them.

flOw (told it will be on PS3 soon. Fun though.)

Zen Bondage (not like THAT. You wrap string around blocks to color them. SO much fun it is unreasonable.)

And the other I can't remember because I am the oldest 25 year old ever created. Sorry :(

Duraska
2007-03-14, 01:48 AM
Wehrkind, I can see your logic, and I believe that in a perfect world this could be the saving grace for PC gaming. However, as I stated before, I'm a bit of a cynic. :smallfrown: I tend to view corporations as conservative and slow-moving entities that take very few chances unless forced to. I am a full supporter of the "games don't need cutting edge graphics to be great," but unfortunately I don't believe that enough "gamers" feel that way to bring about a massive change in the game-development mindset. Again... I'm cynical... Oddly enough, right now the biggest leaders in gameplay over graphics seems to be Nintendo. By choosing to upgrade the control system of their console over the graphics capabilities, they're sort of "fighting the good fight" in my opinion. Ironically enough, it's a console system that is trying to revolutionize the mainstream gaming industry.

Cybren, I'm quite aware that forcasting doom is the second oldest profession on Earth, but I do tend to trust a panel of A+ PC game developers. A lot has changed over the years, and console games are leaps and bounds above what they used to be. Heck, just by implimenting online multiplayer support consoles have stolen a lot of the exclusivity that PC games once had.

("Exclusivity" ...is that a word? :smallsmile: )

Cybren
2007-03-14, 02:00 AM
Cybren, I'm quite aware that forcasting doom is the second oldest profession on Earth, but I do tend to trust a panel of A+ PC game developers. A lot has changed over the years, and console games are leaps and bounds above what they used to be. Heck, just by implimenting online multiplayer support consoles have stolen a lot of the exclusivity that PC games once had.
("Exclusivity" ...is that a word? :smallsmile: )

Console games are still a vastly differnt animal than PC games.
unti things like homebrew devving for consoles is more widespread, the mod community alone seperates them.

Duraska
2007-03-14, 02:19 AM
Console games are still a vastly differnt animal than PC games.
unti things like homebrew devving for consoles is more widespread, the mod community alone seperates them.

Fair enough. But developers don't generally make money off of modders. Obviously having an active modding community for your games might draw in a few more fans who are interested in trying out the different user mods, but I would wager that on a whole, only a very small percentage of game buying customers actually take the time to get into mods. A new trend among developers seems to be charging a small fee for extra or episodic additional content, but this can just as easily be done on consoles as it can on PC games.

I believe that the current view of the average "gamer" (the target consumer that most producers wish to attract) is the "play it once and move on" type of gamer. These are the people who go out and buy a game based on word of mouth, TV commercials, and/or mainstream game review websites/magazines. They buy the game, play through it once, and uninstall it and move on to the next best thing. They're not interested in joining the diehard modding communities that surround many niche games. Heck, I'd wager that most of them aren't overly computer saavy, (another big reason for people to embrace consoles over PC gaming).

While I have no doubt that the modding community is still a major factor in the popularity of PC gaming, I don't think it's a prime concern from a game producer's point of view. You have to remember, at the end of the day it's the bottom line that matters. Games that don't have an ongoing subscription model are only profitable during the initial buy. Excluding any officially sold add-ons or expansion packs, it doesn't benefit a company all that much to design a game that keeps people busy for years on end. It's far more profitable to quickly roll out a new title for people to spend their money on, or to jump on the subscription (MMOG) bandwagon that just about every major developer is embracing. Heck... even Bioware is making a MMORPG now...

Tekar
2007-03-14, 03:47 AM
I think the main reason why serious gamming is dying is because of consoles. Who wants to play a game in which he needs to think and read and such things when they can just bypass all brain activity and play those console reflex games. I do not want to turn this thread into a console - PC war but that is just what I think of it. I think that everyone has to agree that the console games have always been more reflex based/arcade than PC games (generally speaking)

Apart from that it's the need for high end graphics that's driving the game industry to it's doom. I estimate that around 70% of all effort put into a game goes into graphics and this goes at the cost of depth. Developping a game in 3D just demands that much more work.

Wehrkind
2007-03-14, 04:18 AM
Tekar: See, if that were the case PCs would have a rock solid niche of "thinking man's games." That used to be the case in fact, back in the days of the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis. I remember laughing at porting StarCraft to a console. Once was a time where you played consoles for fighting games, racing games, jumpers and the occaisional tile RPG, and PCs for turn based strategy, more open RPGs and simulations of various things (not to mention FPS.) Now it seems that consoles have bled into PCs to the point that the PC only formats have largely been bled down to RTS and MMO, with the afore mentioned genres largely being put on the back burner.
To restate, since I don't think that was clear enough, consoles didn't kill the PC, the decline of "thinking man's game" production for the PC did. Settlers of Catan is coming out for the 360, for god's sake... what is wrong with the world? (Though I am happy it is coming out at all.)

I wonder if part of the problem is exactly the casual gamer. Those who are not interested in figuring out systems and intricate solutions, but just want to blow away their buddies with an anti-tank gun for a while. I suppose that one could make an argument that the very popularity of gaming has led to the downfall of it's more involved, perhaps more intelligent, games, as it becomes evident that the same people who buy less than one book a year and partake in the "main stream culture" are a huge market for games, but are not inclined to spend the time to learn a system like D&D, or deal with the intricacies of FFX's sphere grid etc. I suppose it stands to reason that most of the game market owns games like Smash Brothers, Halo, Need For Speed and not much else because they just want a game to play against their friends for a few hours, then not think about until later, while games you might have to spend 2-3 hours playing to feel like you accomplished anything like Medieval or FF just don't appeal as much.

The more I think of it, the more I think that might be the case. While the "high minded" video game's original market, those who play board/PnP/war games, were at one point mostly their entire market other than children, those children have grown up and widened the market to the extent that it now resembles nearly the national demographic, those core consumers who demanded complex games once again in the minority. It may well be that for the games that appeal to a smaller audience to do well, they must either develope a strong following (as the Final Fantasy and Total War series) or be made with such low production costs that they make their mark by game play instead of production values.

In essence, perhaps video games have moved into more of the movie business catagory. Which might not be bad, for as much crap as Hollywood puts out, there are enough gems to keep us watching.

Ladoran
2007-03-14, 05:21 AM
I agree completely with the sentiment expressed earlier, that the most damaging thing to PC gaming is the small amount of variability. For my own sake the games I try now can't keep my attention as long as they used to because I quickly get the feeling that I've done it all before - and way too many times at that. Even games like civilization quickly loses my interest because there is simply not enough innovation in them. It's mostly small tweaks in the gameplay, not enough to make them stand out from the previous games.

Additionally I think this is driving a lot of people away from buying games and perhaps towards piracy (Arrrr!), as they do not want to spend money on games that will not occupy their attention for long enough to feel that it's worth it.

On the other hand - as someone mentioned here as well - the big companies do not want to deviate to strongly from the standard template for games for fear that it will not be a big seller and they will lose money.

The games I'm looking forward to is either MMO's or something like Spore which to me sounds like something new. I don't know if it will be something new, but I hope so. And even in the MMO's there is already some standard template that the companies do not want to deviate from. I hope that Conan or WAR will be able to do it, but only time will tell.

BunBunBot
2007-03-14, 06:04 AM
I have felt that PC games have lagged behind console games for several years now. A typical console is just a PC with an OS dedicated to just running games. In my experience, consoles tend to run 6-18 months behind the "cutting edge" for PC's, but with much less overhead, and cheaper in addition. Console gaming is just more accessible to the masses -- compare $300-$1,000 or so for a top-of-the-line game machine to ~$5,000 for a high-end gaming PC that will depreciate 70% of its value in half a year.

Now that I think about it, this has been pretty-much true since the early 80s. (Atari 2600 vs Apple ][e). Am I showing my age?

Om
2007-03-14, 08:25 AM
To my mind Erloas has made the key point here. Developers are defining the "hardcore gamers" as those willing to upgrade their system at least once a year to keep up with the latest games. If this is the "hardcore" then it is very small following indeed.

There was a time when a "casual gamer" was someone who'd pick up a game and play for an hour or so before leaving it. Not someone who'd put hours upon hours into covering every last pixel on every last level. But apparently now if you can't afford to keep up then you are no longer considered "hardcore". Remember this version of the "casual gamer" - the one that companies tried to attract by dumbing down? What ever happened to that?

How did it come to pass that dedicated gamers changed from those who lived and breathed games to those that could afford to keep up with the ever changing technology? I play some amount of games but it has been years since I bought the latest new release… all because my hardware is usually a year or two behind the curve. Now I pick up my games in bargain bins or discounted online stores.

To illustrate: I was a NWN fan and, more importantly, an Obsidian worshipper*. As such its safe to say that I was eagerly looking forward to NWN2. Problem is that my PC can't run it and I can't afford to upgrade. The end result -Obsidian have lost a customer. I wouldn't even dream of buying the likes of FEAR. Is it any wonder that the "hardcore", ie those that buy on release, is shrinking?

This is a problem that the PC industry has known about for years. I recall that Valve were surprised when they did a survey and found out that they had grossly over-estimated the platform that the average user was running HL2 on (credit to Valve though, HL2 runs well on older systems). In the end developers are pushing the graphical limit and thus cutting their own market. The sooner that this is realised the better.

Incidentally I don't feel that PC gaming is anywhere near dead. The games are still as good as always, of not better, but people simply can't afford to buy them. We have some great development teams with great ideas that are being let down by great visuals. Of course they're aided by the simple fact that the PC is vastly more conductive towards "hardcore gaming" than any console.


*Chris Avelloneis God

The Prince of Cats
2007-03-14, 08:59 AM
As a gamer and a dev, I would say that the industry has a lot of potential but the future does not lie in flashier graphics (something I keep pointing out to my co-workers, with little success) but in better gaming. The Wii is kind of the test of my theory.

What are the games that people really like right now? I mean, I see people getting excited about games like Halo 2 or Red Steel, but it is flOw that seems to hook people. The game I keep playing is Guitar Hero, not Splinter Cell. In fact, I only really play my consoles with friends. Thinking about my Gamecube, I have played Bomber Man and Super Smash Brothers more in the past three or four years than I have played even Zelda or Eternal Darkness.

I know one person who bought a Wii with Zelda and has yet to even play it more than once since the UK release date becase Wii Sports is too much fun.

The future is in social play, not solo play. That is why we play Guitar Hero; we can all get together and play it as a group, swapping out. The sequel's co-op mode is probably going to extend its half-life exponentially. Even Lionhead are working on making NPCs a substitute for humans.

For the record, I work for a studio who are making an MMORPG. As such, my perspective may be skewed by my experiences.

Erloas
2007-03-14, 10:12 AM
WoW is a very successful game, even with 8 million subs, the box sales is even greater then that. It has relatively low system requirements though, so most of those people with PCs (almost everyone) have a system that will run the game without too much trouble. The most an "average" non gamer PC (what most people have, and pretty much a "necessity" these days) to run the game is a decent video card, not even a top of the line one, something in the 50-150 range which is cheaper then even a Wii. WoW however is a great game for "hardcore" gamers, if its defined by people that get up early to get the expansion release on the first day, or if you define it as people that spend 40+ hours a week playing games, or if you define it as people that follow the game outside the game, research the game when they aren't playing it and talking about the game with their friends. Are these possible definitions of "hardcore" gamer as they used it?

One other trap people fall into is believing they need a $3000 PC to run games on. Sure some people do it, but not a lot. Several years ago when I upgraded my PC I didn't spend too much on it, I bought a little below the technology curve which had a small decrease in preformance for a large decrease in price. Right now I haven't bought any game that my PC still won't run, but there are a few that don't run great, though I'm sure if I tried I could find games that wouldn't run but there aren't any that really interest me. Even games like FEAR that are demanding, if you look on the processor and graphics comparisions charts (they use FEAR in a couple benchmarks I sometimes follow) all of the reasonably new processors and cards (not 3+ years old) are a battle between 60 and 160 frames per second, numbers so high that no one can possible tell a real difference between them, they mean nothing beyond the statistic itself.

One thing I see a decent amount in PC gaming is that most people that aren't willing to spend all their money on games will wait a little while after release before they pick up a game. Since there are so many games coming out the price of PC games drops pretty soon after the initial impulse buys after release, where as console games generally take much longer to change in price. So its not hard as a PC gamer to stay a few games behind the release curve and get 2 games (that are just as good, if not better then when they initial released) for the price of 1 new game. This is a great decrease in "hardcore" PC gamers if you define it simply as the number of people that buy a game within a week or a month of release, but it doesn't change it if you define "hardcore" gaming in terms of what people play and how much.

I think a lot of the disappearance of hardcore gamers, at least as they seem to define it, just has to do with the fact that there are so many games out there that people spread out in what they buy so much that you don't see huge right after release purchases. It is because people are looking for all sorts of games now and even if you are a hardcore RPG player you aren't going to be out picking up every new RPG as they are released and are much more likely to wait for reviews to start coming out to say which RPG is following the RPG gametype that you enjoy the most. It is a case of high competition and plenty of indepth reviews that come out very quickly that make PC gamers more selective in what they try. Even 5 years ago the number of online review sites were much fewer and slower to get out reviews for many games, and many people still looked to monthly magazines for information. So if you wanted to find out about a game you were almost forced to buy it yourself.

Logos7
2007-03-14, 10:37 AM
I definitelyl think that the hard hard core gamer has been reduced to the soft hard core gamer.

I love games and computer games all kinds of games.

My PC cost 700 bux

and runs most of the newest games

but it does run lots of games ( esspecially since about 2000 to now) that i still have a hard on for. Why would i play the newest games which cost money to buy and money to play for the cutting edge, when i can get just as much fun out of games slightly down the tech curve. Hard core gaming has never been about being at the head of the tech curve, that's hard core teching, see the continued popularity of CS, Team Death Match, starcraft and diablo and others. That's hard core gaming

I think the problem is they mis identified/labeled their market and got out of tune with it. Tech's kewl and i want my games to look progressively better, but if you think that games are not an elastic good well your just bonkers, and from the begining , not just now

neriana
2007-03-14, 10:47 AM
PC gamers are more selective than people who exclusively play on consoles, as well. Make a horrifically bad console game, and it could very well become a megahit if you have the right license. I don't know how many times I've told people that Jaws: Unleashed or the new Sonic the Hedgehog is a horrible game that they should not waste their money on -- it doesn't usually work, they want it anyway. And I don't know how many times I've told people to buy Okami, as it is great, but they'd rather get 50 Cent: Bulletproof, or Spyhunter because it has Rock on the cover. So you can churn out flashy garbage cheap for consoles and still rake in cash.

It's the complete opposite with PC games. Consumers want to know everything I know about the game. Have I played it, how does it run, what are the reviews on it. Developers need talent to make games for PC gamers and make money on them. However, if you do make a great PC game, it is unlikely to be ignored by the consumer; whereas making a great console game, like Okami or Beyond Good and Evil or Viva Pinata, doesn't necessarily mean a thing to the bottom line.

If my game store is anything to go by, console gamers want the same old junk that's been churned out year after year. Sequels, licensed garbage, names they recognize. The DS is, oddly, an exception to this, and don't ask me why. PC gamers are significantly more discerning.

atteSmythe
2007-03-14, 03:56 PM
It's funny - I've heard this for years and years, and I'll admit that for the last few years, it felt true. This year feels like a Renaissance for me, though - lots of great games out and on the release list, some pretty innovative stuff, and the new releases I've gotten, anyway, haven't been buggy at all. I can't remember the last game that I played that was seriously broken.

Interestingly, I think that part of this is because of everything neriana was just writing about - I don't necessarily wait until the first patch to buy, like many PC gamers do, but I do try to wait a week or so and read up reviews to make sure that the game's up to snuff.

I think this is going to be the first year in a long time that I won't be able to get around to playing everything that I want to.

Elidyr
2007-03-14, 05:55 PM
It needed all the time it could to be properly developed and therefore fill its potential as much as possible. But rather than allow that, its publisher Atari forced the developer to release the game before they had finished getting the bugs out. Why? They wanted it out for winter quarter sales. But overall, the sales will suffer because of on-release problems.

I don't understand why people seem to excuse a gaming company for releasing beta software then blame it on the publisher. The game itself was finished 3 months before it was released after all. Troika with its buggy releases played the publisher card too many times, it seems Obsidian will continue where Troika ended (boohoo Kotor 2 buggy because of publishers, boohoo NWN2 buggy, not our fault, really..).

Take a look at Blizzard, they have one of the worst publishers around (almost as bad as EA), and they never release buggy games.

Sticking to the topic at hand, I think it's no wonder PC games are on the decline. PC gamers are growing up. getting older and less and less excited over games. Releasing shoddy games the gaming companies do nowadays isnt working out so well.

It seems developers think pretty graphics and sound is all there is to a game, nevermind most games nowadays are nearly unplayable and pretty much boring (one bazillion polygons vs replayability... hummm).

Orzel
2007-03-14, 06:18 PM
With almost most genres and online available on console, I like everyone else don't wonder why serious PC gaming is declining. Boring major games, heavy and costly specs, and constant bugs encourages no one. At the omoment if you don't play a game that requires a mouse or keyboard (MMORPG, RTS, life/city sim), there's little reason to play games on gaming specced PCs.

Neon Knight
2007-03-14, 09:45 PM
I don't understand why people seem to excuse a gaming company for releasing beta software then blame it on the publisher. The game itself was finished 3 months before it was released after all. Troika with its buggy releases played the publisher card too many times, it seems Obsidian will continue where Troika ended (boohoo Kotor 2 buggy because of publishers, boohoo NWN2 buggy, not our fault, really..).

Take a look at Blizzard, they have one of the worst publishers around (almost as bad as EA), and they never release buggy games.

Sticking to the topic at hand, I think it's no wonder PC games are on the decline. PC gamers are growing up. getting older and less and less excited over games. Releasing shoddy games the gaming companies do nowadays isnt working out so well.

It seems developers think pretty graphics and sound is all there is to a game, nevermind most games nowadays are nearly unplayable and pretty much boring (one bazillion polygons vs replayability... hummm).

Blizzard takes like frakkin forever to release a game. They have massive development cycles. Warcraft 3 took something like 2-5 years to finish. I don't think they could pull that kinda development cycle off if they didn't have a proven name. A new development company may not be give as much leeway as a big trusted developer.

Note that however slow Blizzard is, hey're still faster than Duke Nukem Fornever.

purple gelatinous cube o' Doom
2007-03-15, 12:55 AM
to me, if you know anything about what are the top of the line parts for a computer, and get those, no matter if you buy a PC for gaming or not, it can still handle games quite easily, even though you didn't get it specifically for gaming. My laptop is perfect example of this. I didn't get it soley for gaming, but got top of the line parts such as my processor, graphics and sound cards (I do a lot of movie and tv watching on my computer). So, even though I didn't get it for the purpose of gaming, it can handle it easily.

Wehrkind
2007-03-15, 01:53 AM
I really respect Blizzard for their long developement times. To me, that is exactly what developers should be doing: taking as long as it takes to get it right and make it good. WoW had some issues, but I don't know any MMO that is ever 100% at any point. Just too big to fix. But other than balance tweeks with Warcraft 3, it worked right out of the box. All the way back to Warcraft: Orcs vs Humans Blizzard has done it right.

But then Troika, as mentioned. What the hell happens with them? All their games have that "finished the night before an exam in an all nighter" feel. Temple of Elemental Evil had all sorts of great aspects, except for the fact it didn't work, and they hardly seemed to care to fix it. That rubs me the wrong way something fierce.

Om
2007-03-15, 09:49 AM
I really respect Blizzard for their long developement times.Long development runs are a luxury that most companies simply can't afford. Only the likes of Blizzard can sit back and take years to to churn out a sequel.

I agree that some blame must fall on the developers, especially when the game is simply unfinished on release, but only pressure from large publishers can really explain the likes of KotOR II being released without an actual ending.

That Lanky Bugger
2007-03-15, 11:15 AM
Developers need to realize that the number of PC owners does not equal the size of their market. Their potential market is anyone capable of running their game. It shrinks from there based on individual tastes, etc.

It would be far better for these developers to sit back and develop games with a much lower baseline in mind. Allow the people with crappy computers to run the game well at a decent resolution and such (instead of forcing us into the smallest resolution possible, lacking any effects whatsoever) and allow those with the big, beefy vid cards to scale up the effects of the game. I don't need 5000 individual particles blasting from the barrel of my gun for a plasma effect, though I'm sure it's pretty. Give me the option of a 500 polygon mass of bright textures and I'll be happy.

Pokemaster
2007-03-15, 12:15 PM
System requirements are probably one of the big reasons why PC gaming has been going downhill for me.

For the money it would cost me to upgrade my RAM, processor and graphic card, I could just buy a PS3 and never have to worry about upgrading it until the PS4 came along. If you can't afford a PS3, the Wii and the X-Box 360 are both cheaper, or you can just get a handheld.

And then there's the games themselves. Older games like Baldur's Gate and Planescape: Torment don't have great graphics compared to some of the stuff that's out these days, but they're better than more recent RPGs like Neverwinter Nights or Knights of the Old Republic, in spite of the fact that they're (basically kinda sorta) made by the same company. I happen to like games that can take up to 60+ hours to complete.

That Lanky Bugger
2007-03-15, 01:19 PM
Agreed, Pokemaster.

If I hadn't picked up Jade Empire as a Platinum Hit on the Xbox, I would have been quite angry with how short it was. All the time they spent developing the piss-poor flight game would have been better spent lengthening the game.

Ronsian
2007-03-15, 02:21 PM
I've been gaming all my life. I play consoles as well, and consider myself an avid gamer. Will I ever stop getting new games? No, unless they are REALLY bad. I just played BG2, one of the greatest games I have ever played. The main problem I see, stated here, is time. Blizzard is a very good company. They kept pushing back their games, but when they come out, they ROCK.

Mebrade
2007-03-15, 03:21 PM
As a CS student who's looking towards video games as a career choice (and having interned at a major game designer last summer on-project), from a software design point of view there's a bit of personal interest with the idea that PC games are on the decline to "bugs" - or, frankly, declining due to some idea of failure.

The bug hypothesis, as ElliotKane brought up, is a common enough argument. Why are PC games so "buggy" compared to console games? Well, as Death was quick to point out, there are issues related to hardware that make it difficult to develop games. But this is far beyond the interaction between you and your video card - everything from low-level system API calls to simply sketchy engine/driver issues, it's damn difficult to code something that simply works on even a small percentage of PC platforms out there. Windows Vista is a great example of this - new security on the OS restricts 3rd party software in the way they call elements of the API, thus invoking deep levels of the system, in order to protect against malware. The result is that programs like Punkbuster and other anti-cheating software take a huge hit because they're unable to monitor system processes, thus turning the system into an instantly-labeled "cheating machine." This is just a simple instance of a contemporary problem: what about graphics glitches due to problems with interfacing with the integrated shader model in upcoming DX10 games? It's going to be something of a whore trying to garbage collect and manage a solid mass of data, hoping to perceive that the individual elements of your data that regulate shader levels, geometry, and physics are read properly. You think this is "beta to box" as it is? Try things at alpha.

It's not like console games aren't buggy - they're just so heavily watchdogged that the obvious bugs are hidden or removed. Software on consoles has to be certified by Compliance elements of the console's manufacturer. These requirements are very strict, with over 166 for Microsoft's TCR list, similar levels for Sony's TRC, and a boatload of awkward hard requirements for Nintendo. Plainly put, all elements of user control are reviewed so heavily, because if in Manufacturer's test it fails a single "major" infraction (such as a crash, blatant artifacts, or heavy frame drop) the game will be rejected and have to be edited. These rejections lead to the game being potentially delayed, which can be a huge monetary storm for the developer and publisher.

So, bugs? Bugs aren't "not" there in consoles, they're just hidden. PC Games simply aren't as dogged as the consoles usually, though the patching system that's in place ensures that the product will reach a generally high level of polish after it's release with enough effort. Cry all you want about this, but this is the way of software engineering - you can butcher yourself in the waterfall model to produce a final product with luster, or you can patch and maintain a product to true brilliance. Furthermore, no console will ever be as on the cutting edge of technology as a PC - you can't upgrade an Xbox360's RAM, overclock, or slap in a new graphics card without voiding the warranty long before you set the damn thing on fire. The PC's still got it, it's just that the powerful nature of modern consoles is making people seriously question their throne of metal and silicon known as PC game dedication.

PC gaming may be in a slight decline, but it's far from "dying". Crysis, Spore, Hellgate: London, and a few other non-mmorpg games that demand a lot of time have a few things to say to that. And even still, from the ideas being circulated about how to use the new DX10 shader model and upcoming increases to processing / new integrated graphics and processing pipeline architectures, you'll be bound to see creativity fused with some of the slickest tech you'll ever see...

..for the next 6 months, of course.

That Lanky Bugger
2007-03-15, 03:59 PM
Still goes towards proving the end-point, Mebrade.

The simple fact of the matter is that I can take pretty much ANY given console game, pop it in the appropriate console, and it works out of the box from start to finish. I don't have to worry about random crashes, hardware incompatabilities and other problems.

It used to be that PC games were much better, graphically, than any console game could ever be. With recent developments in hardware engineering, this is no longer quite the issue. Compare Gears of War to any PC game on the market and it does NOT fare that badly.

Tekar
2007-03-15, 04:43 PM
Sure but you can't deny that console games give a more arcade feel than your avarage pc game. So that is in my eyes still a great plus for which I gladly sacrifice the plug and play easiness.

Mebrade
2007-03-15, 04:43 PM
There are a score of console games that get approved by manufacturer that still are horribly buggy. Operation Flashpoint, Battlefield ports, etc - these all show some of the threadbare "beta to box" effects of what you attribute to PC games. It's true that the rigorous nature of review from manufacturing helps to galvanize console titles, but they're far from invulnerable. Instead, a similar level of review is required for PC games, but it's not like gaming companies don't sift their content through QA as any software product.

Though a nice use of litotes, you're not thinking about the bleeding edge of PC gaming with Gears of War. What're you comparing to - CS:Source? Yeah sure, Gears will hold strong and even dominate there. But current-gen PC games are switching to the unified shader architecture, which means stuff like the Crytek engine are being used to its full effect.

The following are some of the things that a PC with a unified shader card can do that any console on the market now cannot:

- Volumetric clouds (realistic skies including water molecules)
- Subsurface scattered-light (hues for skin and complexions)
- Extremely advanced water physics (damn better water than anything on the market)
- Dynamic, advanced differential physics (shoot a can filled with oil, and have the oil spray out dynamically based on the point of entry, velocity of the projectile, and ambient effects)
- Dynamic, high-resolution shading (unified geometry + shading = on-the-fly shadows that're fast and beautiful)

Unless you come up with some mad hacks like megatexturing, you cannot get the 360's hardware to pull off stuff like this - much less the PS3.

atteSmythe
2007-03-15, 05:00 PM
It used to be that PC games were much better, graphically, than any console game could ever be. With recent developments in hardware engineering, this is no longer quite the issue. Compare Gears of War to any PC game on the market and it does NOT fare that badly.

Personally, I don't think that's a ringing endorsement. Sure, the Xbox360 may look as good as the graphics from an equivalently-priced PC today (I just built my wife a $500 rig that's no slow-poke), but 5 years from now, the 360 will look exactly like it does today. I'll certainly be on to better things, and I'm willing to upgrade occasionally to make that happen.

Heck, I've been running 1600x1200 for years, whereas you have to have a 1080p HDTV to run that resolution from a console.

Neon Knight
2007-03-15, 09:12 PM
The following are some of the things that a PC with a unified shader card can do that any console on the market now cannot:

- Volumetric clouds (realistic skies including water molecules)
- Subsurface scattered-light (hues for skin and complexions)
- Extremely advanced water physics (damn better water than anything on the market)
- Dynamic, advanced differential physics (shoot a can filled with oil, and have the oil spray out dynamically based on the point of entry, velocity of the projectile, and ambient effects)
- Dynamic, high-resolution shading (unified geometry + shading = on-the-fly shadows that're fast and beautiful)


All things I don't care one iota about. I haven't seen a PC game in years that has really grabbed my interest in what really matters- gameplay.

Mebrade
2007-03-15, 09:30 PM
All things I don't care one iota about. I haven't seen a PC game in years that has really grabbed my interest in what really matters- gameplay.

Now this is a serious concern - gameplay and concept. These are definitely things that need to be changed immediately, but these are far from problems isolated to the PC alone. All over, some new blood's gotta trickle into gaming to renew ingenuity.

Artanis
2007-03-15, 09:37 PM
- Volumetric clouds (realistic skies including water molecules)
- Subsurface scattered-light (hues for skin and complexions)
- Extremely advanced water physics (damn better water than anything on the market)
- Dynamic, advanced differential physics (shoot a can filled with oil, and have the oil spray out dynamically based on the point of entry, velocity of the projectile, and ambient effects)
- Dynamic, high-resolution shading (unified geometry + shading = on-the-fly shadows that're fast and beautiful)
I'm with Kasrkin on this one. If I'm given a choice between playing an ugly game that's actually FUN vs. playing a pretty piece of c***, I'll play the fun one.

Gameplay comes first. Period. As far as I'm concerned, companies that forget that deserve to die, and it looks to me like that may very well be exactly what's happening.

That Lanky Bugger
2007-03-15, 09:45 PM
Kasrkin's nailed it on the head...

It's nice that a new game might have the most realistic water ever. Does me no good if the developer spent all his time making the water look pretty and the virtual clouds simulate real clouds when the gameplay's crap. I'd rather they spent all that time developing better gameplay, better AI, or any number of other improvements to the game which will mean something on a computer which doesn't require the latest videocard to run.

Om
2007-03-16, 05:35 AM
All things I don't care one iota about. I haven't seen a PC game in years that has really grabbed my interest in what really matters- gameplay.Bingo. The "hardcore gamers" on PC don't give a damn about graphics. Only reviewers can afford to constantly upgrade their PC to produce beautiful screenshots. What everyone else wants is simple gameplay - enough to engross us and bring us back to the game. What this whole thread illustrates is that people are increasingly getting fed up with the eye-candy and the associated expense.

With regards bugs, I don't feel that this is an issue. Sure it may deflate the big "opening weekend" slightly but eventually people will buy a game. What counts here is the support that the company gives the game. The likes of Paradox and Bioware have built solid reputations through dedicated support that lasts years.

Ronsian
2007-03-16, 05:57 AM
Graphics, I don't really care about. To really demonstrate this, try playing a roguelike. Adom, Nethack, Angband, and some others are textbased. So no graphics, but they are some of the funnest games I have ever played. If they had cost me money, I would gladly shell out 50$. It is possible to do both, gameplay and graphics (Company of Heroes is good, WoW, Battlefield 2). I don't have to upgrade my rig, and thats one of the reasons I'm not getting NWN2. I might get a new computer soon, but that's just because my new one is falling apart. This keeps bringing my thoughts to dating. Do you go for the ugly nice girl? Or the pretty b****? Here's a hint, it's the first one,.

Falkus
2007-03-16, 05:59 AM
All things I don't care one iota about. I haven't seen a PC game in years that has really grabbed my interest in what really matters- gameplay.

Now there's a statement that's pure hyperbole. I've played a lot of games in the past few years on the PC with damn good gameplay.

Pokemaster
2007-03-16, 09:10 AM
Five years from now, the X-Box 360 probably won't be anywhere near as powerful as the PCs of the time. It will, however, run all X-Box 360 games regardless of when you buy it, and you'll never need to upgrade it. However, if you buy a top of the line PC now, it probably won't run the games that'll come out in five years.

That's one of the major advantages that the consoles have.

Erloas
2007-03-16, 09:46 AM
The question then becomes how do the new PC games compare to the new 360 games. There could easily be another big breakthroughs that change gaming that PC gamers can take advantage of but 360 gamers will be stuck without. I have no idea what that might be, but it is the sort of thing that happens and the point is that you can't see it coming much ahead of time.

It also depends on what the lifecylce of the 360 is. It used to be that the console systems had very long lifecycles so you could expect to keep using them for 5 years or more, but like everything in the world the lifecycles on products is getting much faster now. Chances are actually fairly high that all 3 of the main console makers are already starting work on their next gen consoles, they almost have to be since its not like they can improve the current generation anymore, because if they did then it would get to the point in the future where new 360 games wouldn't run on old 360s and they would have to upgrade and be in the exact same situation PCs are in. The other option is just for the companies to pay all their hardware and system designers to do nothing or let them go for a couple years until they are ready for the next system. I would almost be willing to bet that if you bought a mid-range PC now it would play the vast majority of games coming out for the PC until the time when the next "next-gen" consoles are announced. Barring any "huge game changing technology advancement" in the next couple of years.

That Lanky Bugger
2007-03-16, 10:08 AM
It also depends on what the lifecylce of the 360 is. It used to be that the console systems had very long lifecycles so you could expect to keep using them for 5 years or more, but like everything in the world the lifecycles on products is getting much faster now.

Not true.

Last generation, the system with the shortest life cycle was the Xbox and even that one lasted four years. The Gamecube lasted over five, and the PS2 lasted six years.

This is assuming that the life cycle is instantly terminated when the next console produced by a manufacturer is launched, which is patently untrue. The PS2 still sees strong sales of the console itself, as well as plenty of upcoming games. Even the Gamecube and Xbox are still getting decent releases.

If we take it beyond releases... Well, Halo 2 is going to see a lot of play on the Xbox Live network until the release of Halo 3. I imagine even when Halo 3 comes out, there's going to be a divide of people playing the Halo 2 because they don't yet have an Xbox 360. If we count the lifecycle based on that, even the Xbox would meet that five year mark you quoted even if it didn't see another release.


Chances are actually fairly high that all 3 of the main console makers are already starting work on their next gen consoles, they almost have to be since its not like they can improve the current generation anymore, because if they did then it would get to the point in the future where new 360 games wouldn't run on old 360s and they would have to upgrade and be in the exact same situation PCs are in. The other option is just for the companies to pay all their hardware and system designers to do nothing or let them go for a couple years until they are ready for the next system. I would almost be willing to bet that if you bought a mid-range PC now it would play the vast majority of games coming out for the PC until the time when the next "next-gen" consoles are announced. Barring any "huge game changing technology advancement" in the next couple of years.

I doubt it. Microsoft has probably leveraged most of their development staff into working on something to compete with the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP. Nintendo's crew is probably experimenting with new ways to use the Wii's controls, and no doubt they're going to look towards their next portable console as the DS is beginning to show it's age. Sony... Well, they've got their hands full just trying to push the PS3 into consumer hands.

Erloas
2007-03-16, 10:57 AM
What you are overlooking is the fact that those aren't going to be the same people working on the new console as the other issues the companies have.
The guy that developed the hardware on the PS3 isn't going to have anything to do with the marketing of the PS3, he isn't going to have anything to do with making games for it. The hardware development people at Nintendo are done with their job on the Wii controllers, its up to software developers to take full advantage of the technology now. Personally I would think we've got about 1-2 years before the wave of next gen hand-held game systems and then another 2 years after that before we start hearing about the next gen consoles.

The point with the lifecycles is that they are getting shorter. If the last gen consoles lasted an average of 5 years (4-6) then chances are the new ones will probably be more like 4 years. The entire technology industry is doing that, I don't see why consoles would be drastically different. Even cars which last 10yrs plus used to take 5-6 years in development and now they are down around a 2 year lifecycle in development.

And yes, the old consoles are still getting releases, but the same thing is true for old PCs too. You can't get the newest and greatest PS games on the PS2, you need a PS3, there are still good games on the PS2 though. Same with the PC, mine is 3-4 years old (I think, hard to remember for sure) and there might be a hand full of new games I can't run but the majority of games I can and I will be able to for at least another year or two.

jjpickar
2007-03-16, 11:29 AM
I miss 2004, that was the year of PC games. That was when a sweet game called HL2 hit the market. Since that year, I haven't found a PC title that could hold me for hours. Even Civilizations 4 wasn't that fun (Civ2 Gold is still awesome). On the other hand, consoles have yet to disappoint me. I still can't find a good reason to stop playing Rayman for the Wii. I know its just a bunch of minigames but the bunnies...the bunnies are genius.:smallbiggrin:

Swordguy
2007-03-16, 11:31 AM
When I can play a console flight sim with my Joystick/throttle/rudder pedal combo, THEN I'll consider dropping PC games. Get rid of gamepads. That's all I ask.

Penguinizer
2007-03-16, 11:56 AM
I miss 2004, that was the year of PC games. That was when a sweet game called HL2 hit the market. Since that year, I haven't found a PC title that could hold me for hours. Even Civilizations 4 wasn't that fun (Civ2 Gold is still awesome). On the other hand, consoles have yet to disappoint me. I still can't find a good reason to stop playing Rayman for the Wii. I know its just a bunch of minigames but the bunnies...the bunnies are genius.:smallbiggrin:


Rayman Raving Rabbids is pure comic genious squished into a nice package.

Deed down inside, Bunnies are rockers :P

That Lanky Bugger
2007-03-16, 12:58 PM
What you are overlooking is the fact that those aren't going to be the same people working on the new console as the other issues the companies have.
The guy that developed the hardware on the PS3 isn't going to have anything to do with the marketing of the PS3, he isn't going to have anything to do with making games for it. The hardware development people at Nintendo are done with their job on the Wii controllers, its up to software developers to take full advantage of the technology now. Personally I would think we've got about 1-2 years before the wave of next gen hand-held game systems and then another 2 years after that before we start hearing about the next gen consoles.

"Start hearing about" does not equal "on the market". Marketing and releases for the 360, Revolution (now Wii), and PS3 had a lead up time of at least a year or two.

Sony is still pushing the PSP hard, and I predict the system is simply going to drop down in price so that when Nintendo drops their new system (which will probably rival the PSP in power) the PSP will have to compete, but will have the advantage of an in-built library of games.


The point with the lifecycles is that they are getting shorter. If the last gen consoles lasted an average of 5 years (4-6) then chances are the new ones will probably be more like 4 years. The entire technology industry is doing that, I don't see why consoles would be drastically different. Even cars which last 10yrs plus used to take 5-6 years in development and now they are down around a 2 year lifecycle in development.

Please see the following table:

{table]Manufacturer|3rd Gen|4th Gen|5th Gen|6th Gen
Nintendo|6|5|5|5
Sega|3|6|4|2*
Sony|n/a|n/a|5|6
Microsoft|n/a|n/a|n/a|4[/table]
*Sega no longer supported consoles and decided to stop production, effectively killing the market for Dreamcast games.

This details the release cycles for consoles from the above four manufacturers dating back to the NES. Nintendo shows a remarkable consistency towards the duration of their own system cycles, and the trend for Sony's systems (by both the example above AND stated initiatives) means that Sony's PS3 is probably going to be around for some time. The only unknown is Microsoft, and even they won't try to push thigns along too quickly for fear of scaring off their market.

Console manufacturers have learned from Sega's mistake. Sega bankrupted themselves through poor marketing and an attempt to buck the trend of a five-year development cycle. I very much doubt you'll see Sony or Nintendo try to out-flash one another by pushing for an early release.


And yes, the old consoles are still getting releases, but the same thing is true for old PCs too. You can't get the newest and greatest PS games on the PS2, you need a PS3, there are still good games on the PS2 though. Same with the PC, mine is 3-4 years old (I think, hard to remember for sure) and there might be a hand full of new games I can't run but the majority of games I can and I will be able to for at least another year or two.

Yeah, you can get the newest and greatest games on the PS2. Sure as the sun is yellow I'll take God of War II over Genji any day of the week, and I'm sure most other PS3 owners would as well. Despite the fact that the game was released on the PS2, I'll add.

Truwar
2007-03-16, 03:23 PM
All things I don't care one iota about. I haven't seen a PC game in years that has really grabbed my interest in what really matters- gameplay.


I think this is really the coffee the developers need to wake up and smell. Bugs can be annoying but they can be fixed by patches, I think most PC gamers are really tolerant of this aspect of the games but simply bad design (especially when you have to shell out LOADS of cash for better graphics) is what infuriates them.

NWN2 is a prime example of this. It is not the bugs that will make NWN2 < NWN, it is the ridiculous graphics requirements (I have several friends that are still playing NWN instead of NWN2 for that very reason) and the generally inferior design.

The interface for NWN2 is much clunkier that NWN (who was the genius that decided shift-click was better than radial menus?) and the toolset, the thing that made NWN such a revolutionary game, was actually made LESS user friendly.

Until the industry pulls their collective heads out of their backsides, they are going to continue to lose market share to consoles.

Elidyr
2007-03-16, 03:44 PM
Funny enough, NWN 2 was supposed to focus on single player aspect of it. Besides the UI and the camera driving me crazy, the story was really bad for a game that wanted to focus on the single player aspect. Not to mention NWN 2's graphics arent really that wonderful compared to some FPS games - I guess bad programming and memory leaks slowed the game down a lot more then the graphics itself.

All the games I played in the past few years, I seriously wonder if the developers actually play their own games. All the seriously unfriendly UIs, major bugs and zero replayability all contributes to poor sales. Plus PC gamers are usually less zealous over games, havent seen anyone standing in line to a computer shop over some PC game like the console people do.

I'll just mention Blizzard again, they have a bad publisher but did get a lot of freedom regarding games. They may take ages to release a game, but all of their games have been sold in the millions. I guess more companies need to follow their lead.

Take a year more to polish the game up, get a good multiplayer mode for it, make the game friendlier to the average gamer's PC spec and voila, 7 million games sold per game, plus your company gets a good reputation, which means added sales for your next game. Beats releasing games every 6 months that dont sell and making a horrible reputation for yourself, which will hurt you overtime (eg. Troika).

Erloas
2007-03-16, 04:01 PM
"Start hearing about" does not equal "on the market". Marketing and releases for the 360, Revolution (now Wii), and PS3 had a lead up time of at least a year or two.

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Yeah, you can get the newest and greatest games on the PS2. Sure as the sun is yellow I'll take God of War II over Genji any day of the week, and I'm sure most other PS3 owners would as well. Despite the fact that the game was released on the PS2, I'll add.

For the first part I mean we will start hearing about actual specs and start seeing demos of the machines. When we first started hearing about the next gen consoles may have been 1-2 years ago but a good portion of their development was already well underway and it was mostly the finalization that still needed to be finished. It will probably be about 4 years between the release of the last of the this next-gen consoles and the first of the next next-gen consoles.

As for the second part, it is still the same. Right now a last gen console will still run some of the best games, but the next gens haven't been out long at all. Given it more then a couple months and you will start to see fewer for the last gens. The same situation as with the PCs, the release of the next gen of PCs won't immediately make the previous obsolete but it will start them down that path. Even with quad core processors out I can't think of a single game that requires a dual core processor, not even a 1st gen dual core, let alone a 2nd gen dual core. If there are PC games that require greater then a 3GHz single core processor then I haven't seen it yet. There are a number that recommend it but the mins are usually 2.4-2.8GHz range and the single cores went up to about 3.6-3.8GHz (or the AMD equivelent since its not all just clock speed). It was late 02/early 03 that we saw 3GHz+ processors and that is 4-5 years ago.

DeathQuaker
2007-03-16, 10:58 PM
Sorry, replying to a buncha people at once.


A typical console is just a PC with an OS dedicated to just running games. In my experience, consoles tend to run 6-18 months behind the "cutting edge" for PC's, but with much less overhead, and cheaper in addition. Console gaming is just more accessible to the masses -- compare $300-$1,000 or so for a top-of-the-line game machine to ~$5,000 for a high-end gaming PC that will depreciate 70% of its value in half a year.

Most top-end systems are usually no more than $2000 (yes $5,000 for one of the really schmancy new processors), including monitor and speakers. Yes, that is a lot of money, and that's only IF you want to spend it (a smart shopper can purchase a system for much less and still run most of the newest games). However, even assuming a large cost of a PC, I feel the need to point out a few things:

1. While the $500 console is cheap, it doesn't include the tv/sound system to hook up to it (and I have a friend who, all the while complaining about having to spend $1500 to have a "halfway decent" PC, spent $5,000 on a flat panel TV and surround sound so when he played 360 and Playstation games he would have the "full immersive experience."). Yes, we usually all have a TV to hook a console up to still. But it's not a self-contained system (unlike a PC).

2. Your $500 console just plays games. Your $2000 computer system not only plays games but gets you to this message board, allows you to check email, watch movies, word process, edit graphics, balance your checkbook, play music, edit music and movies, and even, if you are talented enough, make your own games to play. You can even do a number of these tasks all at once. And even if they stop making games for your $2000 computer, you will still find it useful for lots of other things, making it still useful. Once they stop making games for your console, it's a useless hunk of parts.

3. I bet you a chocolate chip cookie that most folks who own and play games on consoles regularly ALSO own a PC, and probably a fairly decent system at that. So they've spent a monkeyload of money on their PC PLUS their game console, and so they're not exactly saving money, are they?

In other words, comparing monetary value makes little sense.


I don't understand why people seem to excuse a gaming company for releasing beta software then blame it on the publisher.

Because the publisher holds the purse strings. Because the publisher HIRES the dev, and is responsible therefore for hiring good people. Because the publisher sets the schedule based on what they want their sales to be, not based on what is adequate time to properly program a good game.

You pay the bills, you set the schedule, you're responsible. That's it.

Yes, devs have a responsibility to deliver what the publisher hires them to do. They absolutely do. But if a publisher becomes unreasonable about it, it's no reason to blame the devs.



The game itself was finished 3 months before it was released after all.

.... to give them time to print and package it. It's not like they could keep programming up till release day.



Troika with its buggy releases played the publisher card too many times,

Troika made a lot of mistakes, some of which had to do with publisher issues and some which didin't.



it seems Obsidian will continue where Troika ended (boohoo Kotor 2 buggy because of publishers, boohoo NWN2 buggy, not our fault, really..).

To be fair, it's mostly players I've heard doing the "boo hooing." Obsidian's not been making excuses for the most part. I read their posts frequently on the NWN2 boards and most of them focus on getting it right, not on covering their rears for what's already happened.



Take a look at Blizzard, they have one of the worst publishers around (almost as bad as EA), and they never release buggy games.

That's weird... I was always under the impression Blizzard published themselves and that's why they could control their own schedule and playtest thoroughly. I could very well be wrong, but I just looked at their Website and couldn't find a separate publisher listed for any of their games. Who is it then?

And that said, other posters have made a good point that Blizzard has been around long enough to push for the schedules they need, not the ones a publisher wants. Other devs don't have that luxury.

And as for "never producing buggy games" -- I distinctly recall downloading several patches for Blizzard games. They make LESS buggy games and they are certainly excellent for producing games without CRITICAL bugs. But "non-buggy" games? That's pretty much impossible, actually.



Sticking to the topic at hand, I think it's no wonder PC games are on the decline. PC gamers are growing up.

Younger and younger people are learning to use PCs. Why aren't they marketing new games to that age group?



It seems developers think pretty graphics and sound is all there is to a game, nevermind most games nowadays are nearly unplayable and pretty much boring (one bazillion polygons vs replayability... hummm).

Quoth the representative from Atari, "You want to look the orc in the eye when you hit him with your broadsword, don't you?" Again it's the marketers and the people doing the production that often (but not always) demand high graphics, over in-depth game play. Devs do this too, agreed, but the problem stems from multiple sources. One wonders if hardware manufacturers also stick their fingers in, trying to push devs and publishers to make software for their hardware.


There are a score of console games that get approved by manufacturer that still are horribly buggy. Operation Flashpoint, Battlefield ports, etc - these all show some of the threadbare "beta to box" effects of what you attribute to PC games. It's true that the rigorous nature of review from manufacturing helps to galvanize console titles, but they're far from invulnerable.

Good point. And unlike PC games, a buggy console game is a lot harder to fix. Patching a PC game is pretty easy. Newer console technology can allow for patching but it's still not quite the same.

At the same time, I agree, PC games still need stricter regulations themselves.

Beleriphon
2007-03-16, 11:57 PM
Good point. And unlike PC games, a buggy console game is a lot harder to fix. Patching a PC game is pretty easy. Newer console technology can allow for patching but it's still not quite the same.

At the same time, I agree, PC games still need stricter regulations themselves.

The 360 is pretty good for patching games if you have an internet connection, what with the 360 OS being a modified version of XP, heck even the XBox ran using a modified version of Windows 2000.

Pilum
2007-03-17, 11:31 AM
For what it's worth, my two penn'orth. And this is not, perhaps, strictly relevant in that I'm going to moan not so much about "non-casual" PC gaming, but the PC gaming scene as a whole.

Bugs, system requirements, the appalling (and at best unprofessional in my view) attitude of "No problems, we'll sort that out in the patch." have all been covered, and all have their points.

The real problem for me is the astonishing lack of diversity in the current market. I walk into my local shop... well for one thing the PC shelves have long been relegated to the rear, a post typically occupied by unpopular/dying consoles it should be noted (though I'm not claiming the death of the PC here), and what's on those shelves? Hordes of identikit RTS and FPS. The MMORPG has lately joined the fun and with the mind-boggling success of WoW will remain very well-represented for the foreseeable. I'll pass over the deviants who like non-combat flight sims :smallwink:

And yet look what we had 10 or more years ago... the point and click. The classic wargame. God games. The occasional platformer. The military simulation. Just about every genre you can think of was represented on the PC, with the possible exception of the really hardcore arcade type of game. And to a point, I pin this on the online explosion. I think it's fair to say that the genres that work best online are the RTS and the FPS (and yes, MMO's, but seeing at that's their raison d'etre...) and as the concept and popularity of online gaming increased, so did the numbers of these games. Alas, there is only so much development time and money in this world, so the other genres largely fell by the wayside, barring small niche teams (e.g. Combat Mission), the occasional spark of inspiration (e.g. Sims, Total War) or the continuation of successful series (Civ and Sim City I'm thinking of here, and even they seemed to have petered out and to concentrate more on online matters).

The short version? I'm bored and jaded. With a few exceptions it seems like the whole concept of offline gaming has been almost entirely surrendered to the console market (in which conflict I am neutral for what it's worth. I like 'em both). I'm seeing some hopeful signs of a reversal of this, but I do not remain too optimistic.

Duraska
2007-03-17, 01:04 PM
1. While the $500 console is cheap, it doesn't include the tv/sound system to hook up to it (and I have a friend who, all the while complaining about having to spend $1500 to have a "halfway decent" PC, spent $5,000 on a flat panel TV and surround sound so when he played 360 and Playstation games he would have the "full immersive experience."). Yes, we usually all have a TV to hook a console up to still. But it's not a self-contained system (unlike a PC).


True, but you can use your TV for more than just playing games. If you're the type of person who buys a TV solely for the reason of playing a console system, then I think it's safe to say that you're a hardcore gamer, and money isn't a major issue with you. I think going with a console because it's cheaper is definitely more prevalent among casual gamers than it is with hardcore gamers.



2. Your $500 console just plays games. Your $2000 computer system not only plays games but gets you to this message board, allows you to check email, watch movies, word process, edit graphics, balance your checkbook, play music, edit music and movies, and even, if you are talented enough, make your own games to play. You can even do a number of these tasks all at once. And even if they stop making games for your $2000 computer, you will still find it useful for lots of other things, making it still useful. Once they stop making games for your console, it's a useless hunk of parts.


As noted above, your TV can also be used for more than just playing video games as well. I do agree with what you're saying here; but with the exception of playing top-end computer games (and programming new games), you don't really need a $2000 computer to do any of these actions (balancing your checkbook, typing a letter, etc). It's a pretty safe bet that if a person is spending $2000 on a personal home computer, they're doing it to play games (or maybe compress video).



3. I bet you a chocolate chip cookie that most folks who own and play games on consoles regularly ALSO own a PC, and probably a fairly decent system at that. So they've spent a monkeyload of money on their PC PLUS their game console, and so they're not exactly saving money, are they?


I agree 100% with you on this point. I think rather than seperating gamers into "PC gaming" and "console gaming" groups, it's more appropriate to divide them into "hardcore gamer" and "casual gamer" groups.

Here's how I will define them:

Hardcore gamers are people who live for the latest games. They buy the newest consoles and keep their computers upgraded. For these people, money isn't a deciding factor when it comes to what games they'll play. Casual gamers are the ones who generally like to play consoles because they're "easier." Just pop a game in and go.
Casual gamers are people who do no play video games every day. They might be lucky to play for more than 4 hours a week. And a lot of this play time is done with friends over.

In other words, comparing monetary value makes little sense.


I disagree with you here, though. I think it's the value of expense that seperates the hardcore gamer from the casual gamer. As much as I would likely to believe that the gaming industry is driven by the hardcore gamer, I do not think this is so. The gaming industry has blossomed, very much in thanks to the casual console gamer. They play consoles because they're easy, and cheaper than playing on a super-computer. They buy games because they might be fun to play with their friends, or they look cool. In that way, I think it's completely fair to compare the difference between PC gaming and console gaming on a monetary basis. There's just more money in making popular console games than there is in PC titles.

DeathQuaker
2007-03-17, 03:25 PM
True, but you can use your TV for more than just playing games. If you're the type of person who buys a TV solely for the reason of playing a console system, then I think it's safe to say that you're a hardcore gamer, and money isn't a major issue with you. I think going with a console because it's cheaper is definitely more prevalent among casual gamers than it is with hardcore gamers.

I was more getting at the point that the $500 console itself isn't a self-contained unit, like the PC. For a PC you're playing something self-contained, for a console you're buying something that is an accessory to something you already have.

And yes, a hardcore gamer is likely to spend several thousand dollars on their gaming system, regardless of whether they are console gamers or PC gamers. Hence, my opinion that the cost of the system is moot, in that case.

Most people who can afford a console probably likely have a PC. Even if they're not a hardcore gamer, their PC will probably still run games--maybe not the latest and greatest, but they still have stuff to choose from. So the console is still an additional expense to a bunch of stuff they already own.



As noted above, your TV can also be used for more than just playing video games as well.

Which has absolutely nothing to do with the console. The $500 value of that still depreciates (yes, as does the value of a PC, but the PC's utility declines far less).


I do agree with what you're saying here; but with the exception of playing top-end computer games (and programming new games), you don't really need a $2000 computer to do any of these actions (balancing your checkbook, typing a letter, etc). It's a pretty safe bet that if a person is spending $2000 on a personal home computer, they're doing it to play games (or maybe compress video).

A lot of programmers, graphic designers, video editors, etc. etc. etc. are going to own high end systems. Not just gamers. Purplegelatinouscube (I think) noted he bought a system primarily for watching movies and downloading music, but it will also run games.

[quote]
Here's how I will define them:

Hardcore gamers are people who live for the latest games. They buy the newest consoles and keep their computers upgraded. For these people, money isn't a deciding factor when it comes to what games they'll play. Casual gamers are the ones who generally like to play consoles because they're "easier." Just pop a game in and go.
Casual gamers are people who do no play video games every day. They might be lucky to play for more than 4 hours a week. And a lot of this play time is done with friends over.[quote]

Huh. What about the person who purchases a high-end computer, but then does not replace it for several years, except for minimal upgrades? Who purchases maybe only 1-5 games a year, but plays those games, plus older games they've purchased in previous years, in as much spare time as they can muster?

The person I'm describing is myself. Two years ago, I splurged on a $3000 gaming laptop (which I also use for some graphic work and video watching), and I plan to use it for at least another three years before even considering replacing it, and I may well use it until the hardware dies--it was expensive after all, so I plan to get the most out of it. I plan to upgrade the RAM but that's it. I bought two PC games last year (Neverwinter Nights 2 and Civilization IV), plus a couple expansion packs/modules for Neverwinter Nights and the Sims 2, games I've owned for several years and keep playing/replaying. I also bought 2 games for my Playstation 2, Guitar Hero and Suikoden V. Including gift cards and discounts, I probably spent no more than $200 on games, which isn't a lot compared to what some gamers spend on games per year, and I spent nothing on hardware this year (my computer and console were both purchased two years ago). This coming year I anticipate buying any possible expansions for NWN2 and maybe another Playstation game (from a couple games that have already come out), and again no new hardware (with the possible exception of the aforementioned RAM, which will put me back about $35).

[I'll also note that before my laptop, my previous machines were a $1100 machine bought in '98 that was decent for its time; 2 years later I upgraded the hard drive and got a new monitor for free; and then 4 years later I bought for $500 a new CPU tower, motherboard, processor and video card and put my old harddrive into it, using my old monitor and other attached bits. I only replaced the frankenstein because the motherboard fried. ]

I play games, more often on the PC than the console, probably 5 out of 7 days a week. These include new games I've purchased as well as replays of other older games I own (anything from Nethack to Torment to Monster Rancher). Hours do vary, depending on other projects and hobbies--sometimes I do nothing but play video games all week, sometimes I don't play any for several days because I'm focusing on my writing or music--or I could even be out socializing:smallbiggrin: . It does take a notable amount of my free time, however.

I'll also note I do not play online, and I rarely ever play video games with my friends--it's mostly something I enjoy as a solo activity, and I only buy games I can play and enjoy single player.

So am I hardcore gamer or a casual gamer? Just wondering how I fit in to the discussion here.

Erloas
2007-03-17, 03:40 PM
Huh. What about the person who purchases a high-end computer, but then does not replace it for several years, except for minimal upgrades? Who purchases maybe only 1-5 games a year, but plays those games, plus older games they've purchased in previous years, in as much spare time as they can muster?

The person I'm describing is myself. Two years ago, I splurged on a $3000 gaming laptop (which I also use for some graphic work and video watching), and I plan to use it for at least another three years before even considering replacing it, and I may well use it until the hardware dies--it was expensive after all, so I plan to get the most out of it....

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So am I hardcore gamer or a casual gamer? Just wondering how I fit in to the discussion here.

Ah, you are the often overlooked but most common gamer there is, the normal gamer. People seem to forget about them even though that makes up the bulk of gamers. I too fit into this group. Casual and Hardcore are the two opposite ends of the spectrum and generally actually the minority, they are however the only ones people seem to think about.

I also fit into this group of normal gamers.

Ronsian
2007-03-17, 05:12 PM
I have a good computer. It was fast a few years ago, but is starting to wear down. I'm considering buying a new one, but I'm not considering spending over 2000$. Or 1500$, something preferablly less then 1 thousand. I have spent a good amount of games, and own a console. I play several hours a day, and don't do much else. Am I a hardcore gamer? I prefer to think of myself as a normal gamer, as I can't spend thousands.

Setra
2007-03-18, 08:26 AM
To put it simply, my thoughts on the whole graphics discussion.

Graphics may not be important, but if you have two games with the exact same gameplay, but one has better graphics, which would you prefer? Now my favorite game is FFVI, but if that game were ever upgraded to the PS2 or PS3, I'd get it again in a heartbeat.

Graphics and sound (especially the latter) add a lot to a game, especially in RPGs, where I like to immerse myself.

Also, from what I've seen, a majority of people DO care about good graphics, thus why developers tend to create games with better graphics.


But if a developer updates the graphics of a game, and only the graphics, I say that it wouldn't be worth it.
True, which is why I also mentioned sound.

Though this brings up one point, though not exact, from what I can tell, the Madden games have been almost exactly the same for.. quite some time. Though I refuse to play sport games, because I'd rather play the sport itself (of which I only play a Tennis). So I this is just heresay.

Ps. A lot of why some games require more, is how much it is handling at once. Guild Wars has to worry about only so much, whereas I think NWN2 has more things being done at once, that places a higher strain on your computer. Though I could be wrong.

adanedhel9
2007-03-18, 08:53 AM
@Setra: I agree, for the most part. But if a developer updates the graphics of a game, and only the graphics, I say that it wouldn't be worth it.

I have something else to add to the graphics discussion. There's a difference between technical graphical quality and aesthetic graphical quality. Two examples of this that come off the top of my head are Guild Wars and Neverwinter Nights 2.

Guild Wars has relatively lower techical graphical quality. If you have a computer built within the last 5 years, you shouldn't have any problems playing, even on some of the higher settings. And, yet, this low technical graphical quality doesn't prevent the game from looking gorgeous.

Neverwinter Nights 2, on the other hand, has extremely high technical graphical quality. One can only hope to play at all on a recent machine, and you need a damn good machine to play on the higher settings. But what do all those polygons and hi-res textures and dynamic lighting and shadows add up to? To me, it doesn't add up to much: the game looks like garbage.

Closet_Skeleton
2007-03-18, 10:59 AM
The problem with Graphics is that they used to suck. Therefore when a game came out with better graphics it felt like a completely differant game. The problem now is that graphics aren't bad anymore. It is (as much as I hate to misuse the term) a paradigm shift that almost nobody has noticed. When you jump from Super Mario Brothers to Doom you feel like there's a major graphics increase. Change from Doom to F.E.A.R. and there's a major graphics increase. Change from Final Fantasy VIII to IX and you can barely notice it. Graphics advances might not even have slowed down, it's just a case that they don't need to get any better. To be honest if I was designing a game I wouldn't mind the graphical quality of the original version of Metal Gear Solid. The problem is that developers are still trying to advance graphics therefore every developer has to compete on the graphics department despite the fact that in truth they've already won, they just haven't noticed it yet. For me the only advancement that's needed on the graphics front is scale. I'd rather see the graphics that work for tiny environments in Doom 3 adapted for bigger environments than graphics that are like F.E.A.R.'s in the same tiny environments.

One great advantage of PC games is patching. Sure taking "we can always release a patch if it sucks" for granted is bad policy but look at Never Winter Nights. Bioware continously released patches containing new monsters and scripting functions. That doesn't work on Consoles that expect the game to run off the disk. Ports of PC games' Expansion packs are awful on consoles because they invalidate the original game. Fable: The lost Chapters was particularly bad on that front.

I hate how games are getting shorter. I enjoyed Jade Empire but I'll forget it eventually. I can't really mentally associate it as being from the developers of Baldur's Gate. I'm unlikely to forget Baldur's Gate II. I remember laughing when I found out that Metal Gear Solid only had 1 mission. I like long games, otherwise I'll rent them and forget about them. I find it odd when people active criticise long games like Doom 3. I wouldn't mind playing another game with 3 chapters each containing 12 levels. It would be worth the money as opposed to Fable which I can beat in an afternoon. Apparently the problem with long games is that they're too expensive to do voice acting on.

The main problem with computer games is industry pressure. Every games developer feels pressured to increase their graphics, release their game quickly and include voice acting because every other games developer is doing that and nobody will but a game without "the essentials" and nobody will buy a game that comes out at the wrong time. Nobody has time to work on long games because they don't want to lose to the other developers who aren't making long stories. "comes out at the wrong time" is a terrible idea. Once they released a film in a time when nobody released films because they had no chance. That film was called Jaws and completely changed when films were released. Publishers need to stop wanting instant money mills and realise that people are prepared to buy games because they want the game and plenty of people buy games months after they're released.


Neverwinter Nights 2, on the other hand, has extremely high technical graphical quality. One can only hope to play at all on a recent machine, and you need a damn good machine to play on the higher settings. But what do all those polygons and hi-res textures and dynamic lighting and shadows add up to? To me, it doesn't add up to much: the game looks like garbage.

Yes. There's all this emphasise on graphics yet games aren't getting any prettier. I agree that so many games have high quality graphics but terrible aesthetics. Neverwinter Nights 2 is unplayable in my opinion and the toolset is practically useless. That horrible multiple choice properties box that they use for everything from a sword to a dragon to a house would be a lot more easier to work with if they'd bothered with a Wizard like in the original. The armour designing part of the toolset doesn't even let you change the gender of the sample as far as I know. The weird thing is that the game feels more like Baldur's Gate from an aesthetic perspective, especially with the torch effects. That's probably what Obsidian was going for. Pity nobody played Baldur's Gate because it looked good.


Graphics may not be important, but if you have two games with the exact same gameplay, but one has better graphics, which would you prefer? Now my favorite game is FFVI, but if that game were ever upgraded to the PS2 or PS3, I'd get it again in a heartbeat.

I'd play the one that had a better story, better character design or more interesting characters.

Interestingly I find the original Pokemon games unplayable now due to their graphics (because I'm spoiled now, I had great fun with them at the time) but I can still play the much older Doom. Might just be a handheld thing.

Setra
2007-03-18, 08:59 PM
I'd play the one that had a better story, better character design or more interesting characters.
Sadly, the one with the worse graphics would be more likely to have the better story.

At least it seems that way. Also, am I the only one dissapointed by FFXII? Off topic

Om
2007-03-19, 06:49 AM
Sadly, the one with the worse graphics would be more likely to have the better story.Not always but I can certainly think of some cases where you are right. But is that surprising? Devs have a certain budget that they can expend on a project. If they are devoting time and money to developing great graphics then that's less resources being spent on the plot and writing.

Setra
2007-03-19, 06:54 AM
Not always but I can certainly think of some cases where you are right. But is that surprising? Devs have a certain budget that they can expend on a project. If they are devoting time and money to developing great graphics then that's less resources being spent on the plot and writing.
They should just hire my ex, she is a great story writer. And she'd work for cheap, mostly 'cause she just likes to write.

Of course she probably wouldn't write the story unless the main character was female.

DeathQuaker
2007-03-19, 08:36 AM
Ah, you are the often overlooked but most common gamer there is, the normal gamer. People seem to forget about them even though that makes up the bulk of gamers. I too fit into this group. Casual and Hardcore are the two opposite ends of the spectrum and generally actually the minority, they are however the only ones people seem to think about.

I think you bring up a very good point. Maybe that is one of the main problems. Those who produce and sell video games are either focusing on "hardcore" -- a wealthy and obsessed but very minor percentage of the population -- or "casual" -- far greater in number but not likely to be committed.

We don't spend the money hardcore gamers do, but we are a lot more reliable and loyal than the casual gamer, as long as there is product for us to buy. No one is making any effort to bring in and keep the "normal gamer" these days, with a few exceptions. On, in my opinion, the console or PC side.

I think PC game producers could market to and be successful by courting the "normal gamer" again--but it would require resisting forces that urge them to produce for only the latest and greatest hardware, and ensuring certain quality standards exist.

I don't know anything near enough about marketing to suggest how it could ever happen though. But somehow I still feel like I'm ahead of those who actually are in charge of marketing PC games. Sad, isn't it?

elliott20
2007-03-19, 10:05 AM
I feel that the gaming industry is slowly evolving into a merchandizing industry much like movies and TV shows are. and with increasing emphasis of gaming companies becoming more and more corporate in it's structure to developing games, a lot of games are driven not by the vision of the game, but by the marketting sales.

That's all well and good because we'd have to be idiots to think that the old games from the "good ol' days" were not directed along the similar path.

The problem, however, is the marketting methodology.

Let's take one of my biggest pet peeves with the gaming industry marketting - game review sites and magazines.

To this date, most game review publications uses the classic graphics/sounds/replayibility/fun factor paradigm. (with the occasional "innovation" category thrown in for good measure) So, if you don't have good graphics and sound because you developed your game for less powerful machine? you might have already lost about 20-40% of your maximum score.

Say what you will, but considering the pervasiveness of these kinds of publications, any game that decides to create a vision game and sacrifice on the looks department is going to take a hit in their sales. Hence, the need to pressure on better graphics.

Fundamentally, the model that a lot of games use for marketing their games is a flawed one. When marketting teams want "innovation", they want an innovation that doesn't rock the boat but is still different. Well, this usually means their idea of innovation is a new graphics engine or a new rendering technology, while Nintendo's idea of innovation is stuff like "power gloves" or the Wii controller.

And just by siting nintendo's past history on innovation, you'll know exactly why most companies much rather not go that path. Innovation is risky and expensive affairs. Nintendo was lucky that they already have a number of huge hits earning them enough profit to allow them for a couple "power glove" failures.

But most companies don't have that luxury. They don't have any safety net to fall on should their innovative concept fail. So the solution? Spend the first several projects on developing works that are "safe" to earn a modest but definite profit, further sapping upon the optimism of the remaining gaming industry, and then when they've gathered enough resources, feed it into their pet project.

Unfortunately, this business plan has been produced a million times over and often the execution of it kills most companies... and that, in my opinion, is totally acceptable.

The gaming industry has turned into like any other merchandizing industry today, where only the talented or the strong can survive. And that's fine by me. If all a gaming company can do is churn out derivative crap that's already been done a million times with no vision, they deserve to wither and die. Let the daring innovators with the vision and the skills to stay afloat survive. This is a business, after all, people who run it should be accountable for it just like everybody else. And if their methodology or concept is flawed, they should get backhanded for it just like everybody else.

Duraska
2007-03-19, 11:47 AM
The gaming industry has turned into like any other merchandizing industry today, where only the talented or the strong can survive. And that's fine by me. If all a gaming company can do is churn out derivative crap that's already been done a million times with no vision, they deserve to wither and die. Let the daring innovators with the vision and the skills to stay afloat survive. This is a business, after all, people who run it should be accountable for it just like everybody else. And if their methodology or concept is flawed, they should get backhanded for it just like everybody else.

I agree 100%. Thank the gods we don't have to see every crappy movie released as an even crappier game, because only the "daring innovators with the vision and skills stay afloat" in this industry.

Oh wait... That's right. Success in the gaming industry has nothing to do with innovation, but rather marketing. I agreed with almost everything in your post up until this last paragraph - it's almost like you changed your mind. "If all a gaming company can do is churn out derivative crap that's already been done a million times with no vision, they deserve to wither and die." Is that so? Then why are games like "50 Cent Bulletproof: G Unit Edition" being released? Why are some great franchises, like Rainbow 6 and the Elder Scrolls becoming more and more watered-down with each new release? "Derivative crap" drives this industry. Innovation is seen as a liability.

...To be fair, most of that is the consumers' fault.

elliott20
2007-03-19, 11:54 AM
you got me there. Marketting is always going to trump innovation as a more sure fire way of making profit. After all, between 20% chance of making 100 bucks or a 85% of making 10 bucks, most companies are going to go for the 85% because it's just safer.

That Lanky Bugger
2007-03-19, 01:32 PM
A large problem with developing innovative titles is the cost. Not for the developer, but for the consumer.

Let's face facts, here. A typical new release game, PC or Console, is going to be at least $49.99. $59.99 if it's a next-gen title (like Gears of War). At that price, it's not an impulse buy for the average gamer. Someone with a relatively small disposable income isn't going to spend $50-$60 on something that "looks good". They want something they're pretty sure they're going to enjoy.

A game like Loco Roco or Katamari Damacy might look interesting enough to try, but at the cost of a new PS2 or PSP game they're going to be passed over for the latest iteration of the GTA series because the customer is just browsing and knows he enjoyed GTAIII. You can't sell a puzzle game or a quirky game these days because the enjoyment of those games is greatly varied from person to person, and nobody wants to risk $60 on a game they've heard is a blast but they may not enjoy.

elliott20
2007-03-19, 02:08 PM
actually, the cost is a function of the business surrounding it, therefore it still IS the problem with the developer.

The really important question with that line of thought is WHY games are so damn expensive.

atteSmythe
2007-03-19, 02:31 PM
Much like anything else in the PC world, the high price of games is primarily an early-adopter issue only. Games fall in price pretty darned quickly - I can't remember the last time I payed more that $39.99 for a game, and get most of my titles off of the $19.99 year-old rack. (or the within-a-month-of-release sale at BestBuy or CompUSA)

elliott20
2007-03-19, 03:44 PM
I wonder if game companies usually use the eventual drop down price to project their sales profits or if they use their initial release price tag to calculate.

DeathQuaker
2007-03-19, 03:58 PM
A game like Loco Roco or Katamari Damacy might look interesting enough to try, but at the cost of a new PS2 or PSP game they're going to be passed over for the latest iteration of the GTA series because the customer is just browsing and knows he enjoyed GTAIII. You can't sell a puzzle game or a quirky game these days because the enjoyment of those games is greatly varied from person to person, and nobody wants to risk $60 on a game they've heard is a blast but they may not enjoy.

The original Katamari Damacy was never more than $20 retail, IIRC--it was actually priced low because it didn't cost a lot to make and they weren't sure how well it was going to do. :smallsmile: So you're kinda right and you're kinda wrong... games do get priced for what they think players will pay for them.

But for that matter, I remember back in the 80s and early 90s games being $40-50. The price actually hasn't gone up very much in a few decades, and as atteSmythe points out many games lower in retail price after a few months of initial release. Only a few very high-selling games (e.g., the Sims) keep their higher retail value for a long time. I only pay full price for a game when I really, really, really can't wait (Neverwinter Nights 2 I bought within a week of release, and I knew full well what I was getting into).

I agree with the earlier sentiment that the bigger issue is the sense that we need to keep up with the latest PC hardware to play certain games--even when we really don't. People feel they can pay for a few games a year, especially if they do wait for retail price to drop, but it's the ever-increasingly expensive processors and video cards that feel like they hurt. And they're not necessary. Once upon a time, developers stretched existing graphics engines to their limits to produce brilliant stuff on a relatively limited framework, but the pace of tech is advancing too quickly, and devs/publishers are for some reason feeling forced to keep up.

elliott20
2007-03-19, 04:06 PM
when it comes to graphics, I'm a big proponent of aesthetics over details. Unless the game you're making is SUPPOSED to mimic reality so such an intense degree that you can practically slap a VR kit on the guy and make him feel real, all the awesome rendering is worth squat.

How much photo realism do you really need? On the other hand, lighting, texture, smoothness, these while all have to do with video card prowess, a lot of it also has to do with design and aesthetic concepts.

And in games that are heavily action oriented, aesthetics IS important to suppliment the gameplay.

Truwar
2007-03-23, 09:59 AM
2
. Your $500 console just plays games. Your $2000 computer system not only plays games but gets you to this message board, allows you to check email, watch movies, word process, edit graphics, balance your checkbook, play music, edit music and movies, and even, if you are talented enough, make your own games to play. You can even do a number of these tasks all at once. And even if they stop making games for your $2000 computer, you will still find it useful for lots of other things, making it still useful. Once they stop making games for your console, it's a useless hunk of parts.

By the time they stop making games for a console, the computer hardware that is just as old will be worthless for playing new games as well. In fact, the computer hardware will become obsolete long before the console will. I think that is the most frustrating factor in this situation. The way the PC game market currently functions requires you to upgrade much to often.

They are producing games that require graphics that are to close to requiring the cutting edge in current hardware for players to be able to easily keep up when what they SHOULD be focusing on is making games people want to play. Some of the best games I have palyeed recently (i.e. Galactic Civ 2) do not require cutting edge graphics at all but still deliver a very enjoyable (and replayable) gaming experience.

Duraska
2007-03-23, 10:43 AM
Hey everyone,

I was just reading this article (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17753137/) on MSNBC about the Nintendo Wii. I think it fits our "graphics don't always = fun" discussion pretty well.



Nintendo Wii bowling over U.S. retirees
Seniors take to $250 video game console in large numbers

LOS ANGELES - Until two weeks ago, Ruth Ebert never had the slightest interest in the video games favored by her one and only granddaughter.

"I'm 82 years old, so I missed that part of our culture. Soap operas, yes. Video games, no," chirped Ebert, who recently started playing a tennis game on Nintendo Co. Ltd.'s new Wii video game console at the Virginia retirement community she calls home.

"It was funny, because normally I would not be someone who would do that," said Ebert, who picked up the console's motion-sensing Wiimote and challenged the machine to a match.

"I played tennis, if you can call it that, as a high school student. I had such fun doing it," she said.

Ebert swung the Wiimote just like a tennis racquet and said playing the game reminded her of the feeling she had all those years ago.
While she took the early on-court lead, the Wii beat her in the end. Still, it hurt less than her real-world losses: "I didn't mind losing to a video game. It couldn't rub it in."

Underdog delivers
Japan's Nintendo has been on a mission to expand the $30 billion global video game market far beyond the children and young males who make up its core consumers.

And the company, a former underdog best known for fun, high-quality games based on off-beat characters like plumbers — think Mario Bros. — has sent shock waves through game industry with the unexpected and runaway success of the Wii.

That $250 console has been stealing the show from Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox 360 and Sony Corp.'s PlayStation 3, higher-powered consoles that are much more expensive than the Wii.

While those rivals focused on cutting-edge graphics and high-tech bells and whistles, Nintendo focused on making game play easier, more intuitive and more appealing to a mass market.

That bet paid off. The Wii outsold the new Microsoft and Sony consoles in January and February and is generating its own buzz with everyone from nuns to cancer patients to toddlers.

There are Wii parties and Wii bowling contests. Players, who often look quite silly and occasionally injure themselves in fits of overzealous play, upload video of their Wii antics to a variety of technology Web sites like GameTrailers.com and Google's YouTube.

"I thought it was tremendous," said Ted Campbell, 77.

Last week he played the Wii for the first time at Springfield, Virginia's Greenspring Retirement Community, where Ebert is also a resident.
The community hasn't yet decided where to keep the Wii, although Ebert has volunteered her one-bedroom apartment, with its big-screen TV.

Wii wave
Flora Dierbach, 72, chairs the entertainment committee at a sister facility owned by Erickson Retirement Communities in Chicago and helped arrange a Wii bowling tournament -- the latest Wii craze.

"It's a very social thing and it's good exercise ... and you don't have to throw a 16-pound (7.25-kg) bowling ball to get results," said Dierbach, who added the competition had people who hardly knew each other cheering and hugging in the span of a few hours.

"We just had a ball with it. You think it's your grandkids' game and it's not," she said, noting that Erickson paid for the Wiis in its facilities.

Greenspring resident and long-time bowler Sim Taylor said his grandchildren are also great fans of video games.

"I never could understand it," said Taylor, who at 81 has surprised himself by adding video games to his list of hobbies.
That isn't the case with Millicent, his wife of 55 years. "She sticks with bridge," Taylor said.

2007 MSNBC.com (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/)


This is an interesting phenomenon. Demographics that normally don't play video games are starting to enjoy the Wii. These people are definitely not your average gamer. They don't care about graphics -they care about fun.

I don't own any of the "next gen" consoles (yet). But there's a big part of me that really hopes Nintendo wipes the floor with Microsoft and Sony. Forcing innovation across the market would be a breath of fresh air (and a necessary kick in the butt), I think.

That Lanky Bugger
2007-03-23, 08:43 PM
Hey everyone,

I don't own any of the "next gen" consoles (yet). But there's a big part of me that really hopes Nintendo wipes the floor with Microsoft and Sony. Forcing innovation across the market would be a breath of fresh air (and a necessary kick in the butt), I think.

Microsoft Xbox360 Sales, worldwide: 10.4 million (but has had a year extra to saturate the market)
Sony Playstation 3 Sales, worldwide: 1.65 million
Nintendo Wii Sales, worldwide: 4.62 million

You've pretty much gotten your wish already. Give it another three months (at this rate), and Nintendo will match the Microsoft marketshare. Give it another six months, and Nintendo will be dominant.

Rainspattered
2007-03-23, 10:12 PM
I don't disagree with their postulation, as I've always been of the opinion that playing a game is a casual activity.

DeathQuaker
2007-03-24, 08:08 AM
2

By the time they stop making games for a console, the computer hardware that is just as old will be worthless for playing new games as well.

That's not what I was saying. Go re-read what you just quoted -- what I said was that when your PC is no longer able to run new games it is still useful in other areas. It still runs its OS and runs other kinds of software that won't require the fancy latest stuff. Importantly, you can still play Nethack. :smallwink: Anyway, the value of a PC is not just in its ability to run game software; it is one of many features and often not even its primary function. Thus, I was saying that while you pay more for a PC, you get more usage out of it, and therefore it's worth what you pay for.

A console is purely for entertainment, and a very comparatively limited form of entertainment at that.

All that said, I agree with your reiteration of what's been discussed here already, that PC Gaming's problem is that they do produce too much for the "latest and greatest" hardware rather than create software for the hardware most people actually possess.

Erloas
2007-03-25, 11:35 PM
Microsoft Xbox360 Sales, worldwide: 10.4 million (but has had a year extra to saturate the market)
Sony Playstation 3 Sales, worldwide: 1.65 million
Nintendo Wii Sales, worldwide: 4.62 million

You've pretty much gotten your wish already. Give it another three months (at this rate), and Nintendo will match the Microsoft marketshare. Give it another six months, and Nintendo will be dominant.

Those are hardly numbers worth claiming a system will have the majority of sales, let alone "dominate" the market. Considering that the last generation consoles sold about 160 million units alogether I think less then 20 million units is hard to call anything decisively.
Also I would hardly call the Xbox and Gamecube failures despite the fact that the PS2 sold 2x more units then both of them combined.
You also can't count the rate of sales of first 3-4 months of the Wii release as a known rate of sales for the rest of the year since the highest rate of sale is always right at release and the system will slow down from there. If you could compare the first 3 months of the 360 with the first three months of the Wii you could get a better idea.

Also if the systems are going to last 5 years there is a lot of time for buyers to be decided by what games come out for the system. That is what "won" it for the PS2 and as of yet we can't know how things will actually end up later.

Also, as great as it is to read stories about non-gamers playing the Wii, its not going to be in the numbers to influence a lot of developers. Especially since what most developers are making and want to make are not the things that will be strong in the non-gamer market. All of the stories have to do with people playing basic games like bowling, or tennis or golf and things like that. Things that the people are already familiar with in other areas, there are only so many of those games to go around. We aren't going to see huge compition between developers to make the best bowling game. It will help the industry along but its not going to define the industry and its not going to change the industry.

Wehrkind
2007-03-26, 04:03 AM
I am inclined to wonder what forms innovation might take in PC games.

1: Nintendo's model of interface devices and party games: Will PC's get a slew of not only game pads and sticks (which seem to have become less important since I was a lad) but also motion sensing devices? Will they focus more on LAN party games?
The latter seems unlikely since people still are not as comfortable lugging around 45lbs of gear, or at least no more than currently. The former though... it seems that PCs would be a great platform for alternate devices. The trouble seems to be that the level of customization that allows for so many gadgets also means one can not really design for them as effectively. Still, I should like to see the day when I can play Rome:TW on a giant table of a screen, moving armies with a quill shaped stylus. *sigh*

2: Revamping and inventing genres: The RTS shook up the market pretty seriously, then became a line of clones. Then we saw the Total War series come out, and war gaming got a nice boost for those who like more strategy with their tactics. The first FPS was mind boggling when it hit (I still remember seeing Wolfenstein played for the first time in a local computer/game store, on a school field trip no less...)
But what has come since? We probably all agree that most of the (PC) genres are getting stale. What sort of genres/changes to genres would you like to see?

3: Realism of output: I think this is where all the efforts will be focused for the most part. Eventually we will get photo realistic effects, like walking around in a LoTR film. We will also probably be using a mouse cursor or WASD to move around, however.

Personally though, I would trade all of the graphics developement from here on out for better AI. A computer that can beat me without cheating, or the expedient of "I can control all my units simultaniously, can you?" clickery would be wonderful *sniff*

Arlanthe
2007-03-26, 04:14 AM
I have three things to comment on in this great conversation-

I would personally prefer a smaller number of games released, but of much higher quality. The "benchmark" games like Civilization, Elder Scrolls, Neverwinter Nights, and Half-Life will always draw big crowds. I would prefer ten of these types of games per year than seventy mediocre titles and five decent ones.

The second thing that strikes me about these games (and other succesful games such as The Sims), is that they either come with toolsets or are immensely replayable (I nod to the earlier posts about such). Oblivion, NWN, and such all have long legs due to constant player made content.

I also think in the end, consoles and computers will merge. As our phones become cameras, our cameras become video recorders, home entertainment centers becomes consoles, and consoles become computers I wouldn't be surprised if in twenty years it all gets merged somehow.

Gaming might just be that bridge.

Thervold
2007-03-27, 07:03 PM
I'll also note I do not play online, and I rarely ever play video games with my friends--it's mostly something I enjoy as a solo activity, and I only buy games I can play and enjoy single player.

So am I hardcore gamer or a casual gamer? Just wondering how I fit in to the discussion here.

Yep, that's me too. I upgraded my PC last year for $1,000 to the point where it can at least handle Oblivion, and I probably won't upgrade again for a number of years. Meanwhile, I've only spent a few hundred on new games (with a few more given to me as gifts), but I play almost daily. I call myself a casual gamer although I spend probably about 20 hours/week playing something or another. But I never buy the latest and greatest. It's not that I don't want to buy anything new, but as stated numerous times above, why should I spend my hard-earned money on a slightly prettier version of a game I already own? Heck, when friends come over for LAN fun, we still almost always revert down to games like Age of Empires 2 or Unreal Tournament (the first one!) for the simple reason that we enjoy them. Sure, we can get a much newer, prettier RTS or FPS to play, but we have no incentive.



This is an interesting phenomenon. Demographics that normally don't play video games are starting to enjoy the Wii. These people are definitely not your average gamer. They don't care about graphics -they care about fun.


Yep, it's disruptive innovation like this that the industry needs. We already have so many re-hashes of the old, that the industry needs something entirely new to rekindle the creativity. As stated before, most companies will only stick with continuing proven successes because it makes business sense. New, innovative ideas are often deformed and homogonized (not just in gaming, but everywhere) because of how business works. Smaller businesses often can take more risks, but they often attract a relatively small (compared to the market share) following of devoted fans, but little more. I'm glad to see Nintendo is still willing to try risky endevours, and I think this time, it will pay off for them immensely.

That Lanky Bugger
2007-04-01, 12:17 AM
Those are hardly numbers worth claiming a system will have the majority of sales, let alone "dominate" the market. Considering that the last generation consoles sold about 160 million units alogether I think less then 20 million units is hard to call anything decisively.
Also I would hardly call the Xbox and Gamecube failures despite the fact that the PS2 sold 2x more units then both of them combined.
You also can't count the rate of sales of first 3-4 months of the Wii release as a known rate of sales for the rest of the year since the highest rate of sale is always right at release and the system will slow down from there. If you could compare the first 3 months of the 360 with the first three months of the Wii you could get a better idea.

I'm not claiming this is definitive, but I'm saying that the current trend indicates that Nintendo is going to establish a large home audience the fastest. The current demand for PS3 and XBox360 consoles is relatively low. One can enter most electronics retail shops and find a PS3 or XBox360 with ease. A Nintendo Wii? Just try it. Those things are impossible to find.

By bringing up those numbers, I was demonstrating the Nintendo Wii's dominance. Any console which can sell half as many units in a third of the time (especially when their current sales are still limited only by their ability to supply them) is a force to be reckoned with. PS3 is hardly raising a blip on radars anywhere.

This can all change with how companies decide to drop their prices, but odds are not in Sony's favor on that front. The XBox360 is sold for a small profit, and so is the Wii. The last reports I saw indicated that Sony is still taking a $200 hit for every PS3 they put into a consumer's hands. Microsoft and Nintendo could both afford to drop the price of their consoles to drive up demand (though Nintendo won't bother until their ability to supply starts to beat demand), and Sony really can't.


Also if the systems are going to last 5 years there is a lot of time for buyers to be decided by what games come out for the system. That is what "won" it for the PS2 and as of yet we can't know how things will actually end up later.

Sony also had a number of advantages they don't possess this time, including:

No real competition: By the time the PS2 launched the only other 6th generation console was on it's last legs, and that console was released by a then-distrusted system manufacturer. It pretty much gained dominance by default by launching a year ahead of the Gamecube and XBox.

Price: At launch, the PS2 was only $299. As a price increases, the number of people willing to purchase it shrinks rapidly. Hence why the PS3 has, since Christmas, been readily available to anyone who wants to buy one.

Developer Support: Developers trusted Sony a lot more during the PS2's lifetime. Xbox could barely snag ports and the 'cube was lucky if it got any attention at all.


Also, as great as it is to read stories about non-gamers playing the Wii, its not going to be in the numbers to influence a lot of developers. Especially since what most developers are making and want to make are not the things that will be strong in the non-gamer market. All of the stories have to do with people playing basic games like bowling, or tennis or golf and things like that. Things that the people are already familiar with in other areas, there are only so many of those games to go around. We aren't going to see huge compition between developers to make the best bowling game. It will help the industry along but its not going to define the industry and its not going to change the industry.

I think you're wrong in this case. The demand for the Wii is staggering. Nintendo has managed to sell more Wiis in a six month time frame than they managed to sell of Gamecubes in a year. That's going to make any developer sit up and take notice. While I don't think we're going to see a surge of non-gaming oriented titles from third party developers, I do think we're going to see a lot of titles which use the wiimote in new and effective ways.

The wiimote-nunchuck combo simply BEGS for a good sword and shield first person RPG, not to mention the fact that about a million Star Wars fans would have a joygasm at the thought of being able to wield the wiimote like a lightsaber in online play. Even the re-released Dragonball Z: Budokai 2 showcases an interesting control scheme for what's essentially an old game ported to the Wii.