PC Games, Once Down, Show Signs of Rebound
(registration required) is a New York Times article
(thanks PHJF and Matthew & Pauline) suggesting that sales of PC games are
resurging on the back of a strong MMORPG market:
Not so long ago, PC
titles were the mainstay of video gaming, but they have slumped in recent years,
overshadowed by a new generation of game consoles. Now they are showing signs of
Most prominent has been the strength of one of the most popular video games ever
for PCs, World of Warcraft, a role-playing online adventure game that now has
more than eight million subscribers.
But retail sales of other titles are on the rebound as well. PC manufacturers
and chipmakers are promoting the game-playing prowess of ever more powerful
computers. And Microsoft has inaugurated a program aimed at making PC gaming
more attractive, incorporating console-like features and easier online play.
There is also considerable buzz about Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, a
long-awaited game due in June from id Software, the creator of the blockbuster
hits Doom and Quake in the 1990s.
Anita Frazier, an industry analyst for the NPD Group, a market research firm,
noted that in the first two months of 2007, domestic retail sales of PC games
reached $203 million, a 48 percent increase over the $136.8 million in the
period a year earlier. She noted that these figures do not include revenue
generated by PC game sales online, or online subscriptions to play PC games.
“Yes, it does look like a fluke, doesn’t it?” Ms. Frazier said. “Rest assured
She said the bulk of this surge in sales is rooted in the role-playing video
game genre that, itself, grew 43 percent over the same period last year. “The
robust performance we’re seeing in PC game sales can be tied to several key
titles across several genres,” she said, “but we’d be remiss not to address the
continued success of World of Warcraft.”
The upsurge comes after some recent reversals. Over all, retail sales of
PC-based games in the United States exceeded $970 million in 2006, an increase
of about 1 percent of sales the previous year of $953 million, which represented
about a 14 percent drop from $1.1 billion in 2004.
By contrast, according to the NPD Group, retail sales for console games in 2006
were $4.8 billion; another $1.7 billion was spent on games for hand-held devices
like Sony’s PlayStation Portable.