November 3rd, 2010
After playing second fiddle to trendy consoles recently, PC gaming has regained significant momentum, if not the spotlight. Even insiders say so. "Over the last couple of years, there has been a rebirth of PC gaming, with solid hardcore sales and a whole new breed of social gamers," analyst Michael Pachter told me last month.
Don't believe him? Let us count the ways:
- Steam. Not only is it the most popular way to buy PC games now, the downloadable store made by Valve doubled its users by nearly 200% this year, to a "Wow, it's that big?" 30 million, five million more than Xbox Live, the most popular console membership.
- Facebook games. Zynga, makers of Farmville and Mafia Wars, are bigger than Electronic Arts now. Incredible. Only on PC.
- Aggressive pricing. Developers and consumers have for years been calling for lower sticker prices. The PC has them at an exceeding rate, thanks to deep discounts, freemium games, free online multiplayer, and no console surcharges. Said one recent PC enthusiast, "I haven't paid more than $30 for a new game in years."
- Big investments. After a long console honeymoon, Microsoft recommitted itself to the PC gaming this year, announcing several new games, and launching a new online game store to rival the aformentioned Steam. Long story short, investment into PC games (from multiple investors) is bigger than it's been in a decades.
- Console fatigue. We love video games no matter what they're played on. But five year old modern consoles striving for longer shelf life have become a little stale, especially in light of recent technological advances.
- Creative safe haven. Indie games and odd-ball titles are increasingly calling the PC home.
- Designers talking it up. As one so elequently said it recently, "If you want to know the future of gaming, buy a PC." He's not the only one praising this system's strengths.
- Minecraft. Incredible fun, and incredibly profitable, giving hope to other single-man development teams and large development shops looking to make their foturnes on the platform (i.e. encouraging them to make better games for the platform).
- Big wheels keep on turning. The staying power of World of Warcraft, Call of Duty, Left 4 Dead, Civilization, StarCraft, Sims, Counter-Strike, etc isn't going anyware. In fact, they're getting better.
- Action games. Although shooters, simulation games, RPGs, and MMOs still dominate, an increasing number of action games are making their way to PC, resulting in added poaching of console players.
- From the living room with love. PC games have historically dominated gaming dens. But a new breed of hardware, development specs, and consumer interest are also making PC gaming in the living room an alternate reality.
- E3 presence. PC won more "best in show" awards this year than any other platform, and was called the platform of the show.
- GoG.com. Retro download site getting big. Like a mini-Steam of classic games.
- Streaming games. Cloud-based gaming isn't entirely there. But it's really freaking close, and has the backing of two major companies to get it all the way.
- Huge audience. Remember, an estimated 150-300 million people actively play video games on PC. How can you not find momentum in an audience that size?
I'll stop at 15. Momentum, anyone?
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