January 17th, 2011
How exactly is the non-profit consortium helping to promote better PC games? What does the organization hope to accomplish this year? And can we expect a PC gaming press conference at E3 this year?
Find out below in an interview with alliance president Matt Ployhar:
Alienware: Was 2010 an improvement for PC gaming?
Ployhar: Yes, for several reasons. First, PC gaming software sales grew 10% globally last year. Secondly, gaming continuum. What this means in terms of gaming unveils some very interesting directions and possibilities for PC gaming. We’re seeing game engines increasingly moving in this direction where you develop the game once and it’s easier to port, compile, etc from one screen to another. Microsoft’s Eric Rudder discussed this at WinHEC for development in the Windows environment. Other companies want to build on that concept and take it even further. The end goal becomes where you buy the game once and it simply just works regardless of what platform you the consumer want to play it on. Mileage of course will vary from platform to platform but it ultimately translates into being able to keep your users engaged, connected, and happy. We’re seeing this concept also emerge in the movie industry already. We just need to start formalizing what this would look like for PC gaming scaling across different platforms.
What’s more, PC gaming consumers are having to compromise less when it comes to their graphics. And there’s a strong undercurrent and desire to bring gesture based game controls to the PC market. We’re seeing the tip of the iceberg with announcements of this nature at CES already. Also, the Kinect hacks that seem to be cropping up everywhere helps to corroborate at least some of the desire to bust this open to the entire PC market. One would assume that Apple also has something up their sleeves as well.
On another front we have the Facebook gaming front. We’re also seeing PC Games being streamed via solutions such as GaiKai or Onlive. That said, it’s getting increasingly difficult to know where to draw the PC gaming line.
What specific objectives does the PC Gaming Alliance have for 2011; what do you hope to accomplish?
Better external communication. We have plans to divulge and share more with our PC Gaming Ecosystem moving forward.
Formation of a Technical PC Gaming Advisory Board. Vast majority, but not all, of our members requested this. For 2011, this will primarily be focused on scoping out the biggest priorities of things to address over the next several years and this group will help guide the PCGA in our decisions and priorities moving forward.
I really want the community to understand that in the grand scheme of things we’re still relatively young. The PCGA is a marathon, not a sprint, and getting consensus to move the ball forward is not always an easy thing to do. I would much prefer perceptions to be at a point where we start under promising and over delivering. As opposed to the industry thinking that we can turn things around in say a few years. believe that just sets us up for failure, bad perceptions, or unhappy membership.
Membership expansion and stickiness. Some members come and go, come back, etc. Ideally we want them to come and stay. We plan on doing that by expanding our world class PC gaming research. (Keep in mind, we’re simpley a non-profit trying to promote PC gaming across the board.)
Increased emphasis towards independent software vendors. At the end of the day, this is about better PC Games. This helps everyone up and down the stack and to that end our new membership drive will be much more aggressively targeting independent developers.
What do you think of cloud gaming services like OnLive?
I love the idea of cloud gaming for several reasons. First; I believe that this gets us to what I believe is the next level for gaming in general and that’s towards the notion of a gaming continuum which I already mentioned.
Second; I believe that as broadband becomes better, latency rates get better, and so on that this only becomes more viable over time.
Thirdly; I don’t see this replacing client side PC gaming but perhaps enhancing it. For example it’d be interesting to see what can be shared in terms of the client and server to provide an even better PC Gaming experience than what we have today.
Lastly; I believe that cloud gaming coupled with client PC Gaming helps to largely diminish, or possibly eliminate piracy. We’re already seeing some instances of this happening.
Do you think developers are less fearful of PC piracy now than they were 1-3 years ago?
Yes, for several reasons. In our PCGA research we’re seeing quite a shift in game development towards business models that really help combat piracy. Let’s start with a free to play game that incorporates micro-transactions. There’s really not much point in pirating a free to play game that comes to mind.
Next we have game design that’s shifted towards a persistent online model. This is typically thought of as a massively multiplayer online game (MMO). However; we’re seeing various shades of gray crop of everywhere in practically all genres of games.
Last but not least we have the impact of digital distribution. There are game design considerations that are best made up front on how best to take advantage of digital distribution. These can range from releasing the beta of your game, to try and buy, to full download, to buy and sell. There are several convenience factors here. Downloads can be fast. This also levels the playing field in terms of the Install experience with consoles that also provide games online. Digital distribution also goes a long way in saving on Cost of Goods such as packaging, shipping, and so forth. Dare I say that it’s more green?
Can PC gamers expect a collaborative PC media briefing at E3 this year, much like the big three console press briefings?
At the moment we haven’t made any official E3 plans or announcements. However; I’ll be attending E3 in any event and am prepared to address the press as appropriate. Typically the PCGA has a supper club event at E3 and we may or may not expand on that. Personally; I’d like to hold off on any major announcements until E3 2012.
Anything else you'd like to share with PC gaming enthusiasts?
Take heart. I’m extremely committed towards bettering PC Gaming across the board. I truly believe that we PC Gaming enthusiasts are the tip of the spear. We have a far bigger voice and clout that you can imagine. PC gaming enthusiasts in aggregate are the single most important voice in the entire PC Gaming Ecosystem period. PC Gaming is dawning on a new age and the pendulum is indeed swinging back into our favor.
PS: I absolutely LOVE the Alienware M11x. I purchased a few weeks back. It totally rocks! (Editor’s note: I made Ployhar say that so we can sell more rigs. Just kidding. It’s an authentic endorsement.)