GamesIndustry International offers an interesting article expanding on the negative press Windows 8 has been getting from several high profile development studios including Mojang, Blizzard, and Valve. The article asks other developers in the PC game space what they think of Windows 8 forcing software makers to sell their products in a customized marketplace.
The PC Gaming Alliance published a preliminary part of its third annual Horizons research reports, revealing the state of the PC gaming industry in 2010. Prepared by research firm DFC Intelligence, the report covers 2010 and offers projections for the market worldwide through 2014. The full report will be shared with PCGA members a week after GDC - going on this week in San Francisco.
According to data from the report, the worldwide PC games market reached a record $16.2 billion in 2010 - a 20 percent jump from 2009.
China was the largest and fastest growing market in 2010, with record revenue of around $4.8 billion. Korea, Japan, the US, UK and Germany also all showed growth in 2010. Together these markets increased revenue by 19 percent in 2010 to $7.3 billion.
PCGA president and Intel analyst Matt Ployhar says the 2010 numbers show that the focus has returned to the PC.
PCGA, a nonprofit, charges itself with driving the continued growth of gaming on personal computers. PCGA President Randy Stude commented on the group’s additions, “By joining our rapidly growing organization, they are demonstrating their support for expanding the PC Gaming industry and their commitment to improving the PC gaming experience.”
Logitech and Razer are peripheral manufacturers, while Corsair is known most for its memory, but also markets power supplies, USB drives, harddrives and PC cases. Arxan specializes in software application security.
The ranks of the PC Gaming Alliance have expanded with the addition of eight new member companies, reports gamesindustry.biz.
Leading retailer GameStop and famed designer Chris Taylor's Gas Powered Games studio are the biggest names among those joining the PCGA, which aims to foster PC gaming as a viable business. Others include GameTap, Howie's Game Shack and Bigfoot Networks.
GPG's Taylor (left) explained his decision to join:
I've spent most of my career fully immersed in the world of PC gaming. It's where many of the world's biggest gaming franchises were born and where much of the industry's innovation continues to this day.
By joining the PCGA, Gas Powered Games hopes to make contributions that keep PC gaming at the forefront of the industry, help it to overcome its challenges, and continue to fulfil its amazing potential.
GP: Gotta put this out there - Chris Taylor's late-90's RTS Total Annihilation is on my all-time Top 10 list of games...
Activision Blizzard has bailed from the PC Gaming Alliance, the trade group devoted to promoting the PC side of the video game biz.
Joining the organization, however, is Sony DADC. You might know them better by their widely-reviled SecuROM software, the DRM that famously sullied last year's Spore launch.
GP: As a longtime PC gamer who has been frustrated by the game industry's shabby treatment of computer players in recent years, I've been enthused by the concept of the PCGA. But the decidely consumer-unfriendly SecuROM is a major part of the problem, not part of the solution.
UPDATE: Game Biz Blog spoke with PCGA Program Manager John Ehrig, who offered the organization's view on SecuROM's Sony DADC's participation:
PCGA doesn’t have any ability at all to limit its membership. Anyone that’s in the PC gaming arena who’s willing to pay their dues and sign a member agreement can become members. We’re not in a position to prevent people from joining our group.
We get [complaints] a lot, people saying ‘oh why are they a member, they shouldn’t be a member, they don’t really believe in PC gaming’. It’s not unusual at all... The impression that somebody in the general public might have in [a member’s] commitment to PC gaming can be completely biased by some rumour or false impressions they’ve picked up.
Big Download is the latest beneficiary of Randy's insights. The site has posted a fascinating interview in which the PCGA head talks about the issue of piracy and PC games.
Most notably, Randy points out that, back in the day, piracy actually helped grow the PC industry:
I don't think that [those who protested Spore's DRM scheme] is anti-DRM as much as they are anti-Spore's approach to DRM. Their protest has been echoed many times on many gaming forums and the PCGA is listening...
If you ask [Valve and Stardock] about the rate of piracy for their games you may find that one has rampant piracy and the other has almost none. The PC Gaming Industry's history is littered with examples of startups (including Stardock and Valve) that actually benefitted from wide spread piracy to grow a market for their future titles.
Don't get me wrong, I am not advocating piracy... However, how would Quake, Doom, Starcraft, Counter-Strike, or Half-Life have been able to grow widespread brand recognition without a widespread network of gamers openly sharing these games. These titles (and many more) defined the industry. Personally, my first experience with a first person shooter was with Doom (back in the day) and I did not pay for it. Id Software turned the corner and has a very successful business built on the back of the early free/open source exchange of their games...
The updated PCGA home page is definitely an improvement over the original. Randy Stude, PCGA president, commented on the transition:
Visitors... will see that the PCGA is the place that PC Gaming companies of all types can come together to collaborate to help solve problems that plague our industry. Our membership remains steadfast in the belief that this is vital to ensuring the continued growth and health of PC Gaming globally.
Not best known for their computer games, Resident Evil publisher Capcom is a somewhat surprising addition to the PC Gaming Alliance.
The news comes via a PCGA press release which mentions that The Guildhall at Southern Methodist University (SMU) has come on board as well.
Capcom exec Christian Svensson commented on the decision to join the nonprofit corporation which is dedicated to fostering computer gaming:
Capcom believes strongly in the value and strength of the PC gaming market as a global platform for our entertainment brands. Our participation in the PCGA’s activities over the past year has greatly improved our understanding of the market, provided us great business opportunities and allowed us to participate in improving the field of PC gaming. We’re pleased to have a representative on the board in order to directly help shape the future of the PC gaming environment.
PCGA president Randy Stude added:
Since the PCGA was formed, the organization and its member companies have spread the word that PC gaming is a thriving $54 billion a year industry. With the recent addition of Sony DADC and Howie’s Game Shack to our membership roll, we are already seeing proof that our new structure will provide the right mix of benefits for a greater number of industry players, while also better serving our current members and the overall PC gaming community.
As a gamer who made his bones on the PC, one of the most encouraging developments of 2008 has been the launch of the PC Gaming Alliance, an association comprised of companies with a stake in the computer games market.
Beyond the formation of the PCGA, however, I'm encouraged by the outspokenness of its president, Randy Stude. In his day job Randy is the Director of Intel's Gaming Program Office. His love of PC gaming is evident and his eminently reasonable voice has given cheer to millions of PC gamers who sometimes feel like outcasts in an increasingly console-centric world.
Randy spoke with GP at length recently on a number of topics, including piracy, where PC gaming is heading and why you can't really play strategy games on an Xbox 360 or PS3.
GP: Randy, what's the outlook for PC gaming?
RS:The PC is leading the way when it comes to hardware innovation and business model innovation. When we released our Horizons research [in Leipzig] which shows the software revenues being generated for PC gaming, I think a lot of people were stunned to see how much revenue is being generated out of Asiain particular.
It shouldn’t be too stunning, I mean this trend has been underway of quite some time. Almost half of the $10.7 billion that are being generated in PC gaming software revenues are coming out of Asia. And this is a trend that obviously many of us who sell hardware are very well aware of because there’s a huge appetite for our technology in the Asian region - anywhere from Vietnam to Korea to China. Even Japan is taking off at this point for PCs and PC gaming.
The usual perception that the West has [is that the Asian market is primarily subscription-based] but it’s more like what Battlefield Heroes is going to be. Its more either pay-to-play, time-on-wire or micro- transactionsgaming where the game client itself is free but in order to advance and level up you need the assistance of certain in-game merchandise that you have to acquire. It’s the acquire vs. accumulate business model. Accumulating takes a lot longer, so most gamers will go for the acquire model.
A lot of these games are finding their way to the U.S. as well. I think the first AAA U.S. title will be the Battlefield Heroes game. Of course there’s Maple Story that’s already here as well as several other similar titles. I think Battlefield Heroes will blow it out for us in the West.
GP: So, will packaged games go away in favor of online distribution and browser-based games?
RS: I don’t think the PCGA is in a position to predict [whether the packaged titles will go away] necessarily, because there are those in the PCGA who rely on packaged goods as their primary source of revenue… I think it’s an important trend and one that several analysts are predicting that the consoles will follow shortly in terms of more content being distributed through the online stores for Nintendo, and Microsoft and Sony, direct to the hard drive of the console. (Hit the jump for more with PCGA's Randy Stude)
Leigh Alexander takes a look at piracy from the industry side in a two-parter for Gamasutra.
In the first installment, Leigh speaks with Ric Hirsch, the top IP enforcement guy for game publisher's trade group the Entertainment Software Association. Hirsch talks about the ESA's efforts to combat piracy, but points out that its work is undertaken only on behalf of its member (i.e., not on behalf of Activision and the six other publishers which left the organization in 2008):
Part of the problem is [that piracy is] vast... And that's exacerbated by the internet, which has the effect of anonymizing a lot of activity... We use an outside vendor through which we monitor instances of infringing activity involving our members' game product. Based on the reports... we send takedown notices to ISPs all over the world.
We are trying to pursue some of the principal players... at the top of the piracy food chain, members of warez groups who within days of a game's release and sometimes before, manage to get pirate versions of games available out there on the internet for download.
Over the last eight to 10 years, the U.S. government has stepped up its efforts in addressing IP piracy, in which game piracy is a small but growing part... Part of our mission is to make law enforcement understand better the problems that game piracy creates for the development of local game markets and how it impacts businesses and tax revenues from the game sector...
Meanwhile, in part two, Bo Svensson, a spokesman for the fledgling PC Gaming Alliance, discusses the controversy surrounding digital rights management (DRM):
[Stardock CEO] Brad [Wardell]'s approach is very hands-off. I think that if the PCGA as an organization is going to be all-embracing, if Stardock were to become a member and EA were to become a member, I think there are very obvious differences in their strategy as pertains to DRM. As a PC gaming organization, we probably need to be able to embrace both approaches, and still be able to make recommendations.
I think it's fair to say that, along the continuum of what is the best experience for the consumer and what provides the highest level of protection for developers and publishers, there's a whole realm of grays in there. I don't think that anyone has the right answer today.
GP: Hirsch also discusses the ESA's efforts to get the anti-piracy message into elementary schools. While I don't disagree with the message, as a parent and a taxpayer, I find the idea of permitting a corporate lobbying group to waste valuable educational time to be fairly outrageous. It's surprising that watchdog group the Campaign for a Commercial-free Childhood hasn't weighed in on this one.
There's much more to Leigh Alexander's story than we can summarize here. If the topic interests you, be sure to check it out.
In the current environment, game publishers seem perfectly willing to push their customers around, especially when it comes to gaming on the PC.
That's why - as a long time PC gamer - the more I hear about the PC Gaming Alliance, the more enthusiastic I become.
While publishers like Electronic Arts need a lawsuit or three, along with a wave of bad publicity, to clue them into the fact that computer gamers don't want restrictive DRM on their games, the people at the PCGA are studying the piracy issue with an eye toward balancing the needs of publishers to turn a profit and consumers to enjoy a positive gaming experience on their PC.
Ben Kuchera of Ars Technica interviews outspoken PCGA head Randy Stude:
I don't think [piracy is] getting worse, as much as it's getting easier. As broadband has gotten more prolific the issue has been exacerbated... The PCGA will take up the challenge of piracy, not to assume the responsibility that [game publishers lobby] the ESA has taken on... rather the PCGA would like to address the methodology that publishers might be able to take to solve, or to do a better job trying to solve, the piracy challenge for their substantial investments in content.
I think [in the Spore DRM revolt] gamers wanted to make their voices known; it was the equivalent of the Boston tea party... [PC Gamers] don't buy one machine, stick it in the corner, hook it up to the TV, and play it forever. We play on multitudes of machines, and we want the same rights an Xbox 360 purchaser has, to move the game to whatever machine we want to play on.
We [at PCGA] are the guardians of the PC as a platform for gaming. We need to make sure there is an environment where publishers are not afraid to invest tens of millions of dollars in developing great gaming experiences.
PCGA members include hardware types like Dell, INtel, nvidea, AMD, Acer and Antec, as well as Microsoft and Activision.
The [online game] revenues being generated [in China and Korea] just blow the mind. You're talking almost 5 billion dollars. Almost half the world's PC software revenues are coming from marketplaces that have almost no retail at all...
You look at a game like Spore… despite the fact it's pirated out there on torrent networks, its selling great by any standard... it sort of bucks the notion that all games are going to be destroyed because of piracy. That's not the case...
I'm not saying that the [PC gaming] industry needs to accept piracy. I'm saying that if there’s nothing that can be done, the assumption that gaming will die on a platform is ridiculous.
LucasArts was taken to task over a producer's comment that Star Wars: The Force Unleashed wouldn't be ported to PC due to the challenge of developing for a broard range of PC configurations. Stude told gamesindustry.biz:
That's not an educated answer. In the last several years there have been at least 100 million PCs sold that have the capabilities or better of an Xbox 360. It's ridiculous to say that there's not enough audience for that game potentially and that it falls into this enthusiast extreme category when ported over to the PC. That's an uneducated response...
LucasArts hasn't made a good PC game in a long time. That's my opinion... I think the last good PC game they made was probably Jedi Knight 2... So I can understand why they would make that call.
You hear it a lot: PC gaming is dead. Or, at least, terminally ill.
However, the PC Gaming Alliance, a trade group formed to boost the PC end of the game business, maintains that the future is bright for those who prefer to game on computers.
Speaking at GCDC in Leipzig, PCGA president Randy Stude (left) cited key findings from the group's first Horizons Report. Among the more noteworthy points:
PC gaming was a $10.7 billion industry during the year of 2007
Retail sales accounted for just 30 percent of total revenues
Growth was largely driven by online revenues from Asia, the world’s largest market, which is approaching half of total worldwide sales.
Online PC gaming revenue led the way in 2007 with $4.8 billion, nearly double the worldwide retail sales numbers for PC games.
Digital distribution sales approached $2 billion
Advertising revenues from websites, portals, and in-game ads accounted for $800 million.
Commenting on the findings, Stude said:
Our analysis clearly shows incredible growth in online PC gaming, proof that this industry is far stronger than anyone has reported. Today’s consumers shop where they live - online.
David Cole, DFC Intelligence analyst, added:
The real key has been the rapid growth in penetration of broadband-connected PCs in all markets around the world. Broadband-connected PCs are the key driver of growth for PC gaming. DFC Intelligence estimated that by the end of 2007 less than one-third of households in the top 20 markets for games had a high-speed Internet connection. That clearly indicates that there is still plenty of growth to come.
As a longtime computer gamer, I was cheered earlier this year to learn of the formation of the PC Gaming Alliance, a group of industry types who have banded together to promote the PC as a game platform.
Last week, Cnet's Crave blog posted a terrific interview with Intel's Randy Stude, president of the PCGA. Among Stude's comments:
You have [a PC gaming] industry that's being beat up in the Western press in terms of... its perceived lack of health, so we in the industry... didn't really like the perception that we were hearing that PC gaming is on a decline. When in fact while certain markets of the PC gaming industry might be in a decline, others are sky-rocketing like never before.
The PCGA chief also downplayed discouraging NPD numbers:
I chuckle when I read through the articles or opinion that say that PC gaming is in a decline and they continue to quote NPD's North American retail sales figures... NPD decided in the first quarter of 2008 to attempt to quantify North American MMO subscription revenues. And lo and behold... they found--under a rock that they hadn't looked at before--a billion dollars...
In fact, Stude says that PC gaming generates a quarter of all video game revenues:
So if you add the billion dollars [NPD] claim to have found in annual subscription revenues on top of the $920 million that they were previously reporting in retail, suddenly the PC game piece of the pie is closer to a quarter of all software revenues generated in North America. That's one platform out of eight that's generating a quarter of all the revenues. There isn't another platform generating that big of a share of the pie. And that is woefully underreported at a billion dollars. That's why we're here.
Stude also mentioned that the PCGA is looking into piracy issues:
We're collecting research on PC game piracy... trying to have some understanding of how big it is, and then hopefully quantify the economic impact... We don't intend to become the police force for PC game piracy. We're not the RIAA, we're not going to become the RIAA. Rather we're a group that's trying to look out for PC gaming, and if there's a problem with it, we're going to make industry recommendations...
ZippyDSMlee: Something I did by hand on my convertiable laptop, http://zippydsmlee.deviantart.com/art/Cotlop-zelda-unfinished-sketch-WIP-finish-373937163 forgot if I posted it befor.06/19/2013 - 7:44pm
Conster: Also, I guess The War Z changed its name so they can scam some more people?06/19/2013 - 7:44pm
Conster: AE: when even HuffPo makes the same joke, it's not something you want to take credit for. :P06/19/2013 - 7:43pm
Andrew Eisen: Hey look! The War Z changed its name to Infestation: Survivor Stories. http://infestationmmo.com/06/19/2013 - 7:23pm
Andrew Eisen: You're going to have a lot of company in prison, RedMage. Most of the internet has stolen MY joke. Bastards!06/19/2013 - 7:06pm
RedMage: The cover art thing points to an industry trend of only wanting to appeal to teen boys despite the talk of "broadening the appealz"06/19/2013 - 6:17pm
RedMage: I'd like to turn myself in for unintentional theft of a joke. Ignorance of the law is no excuse :o06/19/2013 - 6:17pm
Andrew Eisen: Remember the fight to get Last of Us's Ellie on the game cover? Check this out: http://cheezburger.com/758618624006/19/2013 - 6:12pm
Andrew Eisen: RedMage - Thief! You stole my joke! You're a horrible, loathesome person! Or you simply had the same idea and didn't read my earlier shout!06/19/2013 - 5:35pm
RedMage: Maybe they're going to rename it the Xbox 18006/19/2013 - 5:26pm
IanC: Bet EA are pissed.06/19/2013 - 5:17pm
Andrew Eisen: Ah, James is just a little quicker on the keyboard than I!06/19/2013 - 5:07pm
Craig R.: Too little, too late.06/19/2013 - 4:52pm
DorthLous: PWAHAHAHAH, the MS spinning sound woke me up :)06/19/2013 - 4:27pm
Andrew Eisen: Microsoft's new console shall now be known as the Xbox One-Eighty.06/19/2013 - 4:17pm
Andrew Eisen: I imagine we were typing our respective shouts at the same time.06/19/2013 - 4:14pm
MaskedPixelante: So Andrew... is there going to be a new poll now? I mean, the one about the XBO DRM is kinda no longer relevant.06/19/2013 - 4:13pm
Andrew Eisen: In light of Xbox One's furious backpeddling on its DRM policies, I'm closing the poll for now. I'll probably write a new one later today or tomorrow.06/19/2013 - 4:11pm
IanC: Found three people whining about this so far. Saying that its because of cheapasses and that its going to be horrible online now. W T and indeed F.06/19/2013 - 4:09pm
Andrew Eisen: Technogeek - I agree but: "After a one-time system set-up with a new Xbox One, you can play any disc based game without ever connecting online again." Why do I need to connect online to set up a system I'm not going to use online?06/19/2013 - 4:07pm