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More id on PC Gaming

GamesIndustry.biz has more quotes on the state of PC gaming, this time from Steve Nix, id Software Director of Business Development. Nix feels some of the hardcore PC gaming audience is shifting to consoles, something id cannot ignore:

"There are plenty of people who are diehard mouse and keyboard guys that may never go to console, and also right now, if you have the highest of high-end PCs, you're generally going to get a better visual experience," Nix said. "There's no console out there that's as powerful as a God machine right now, with a Quad-Core and a GeForce 8800 - it's very hard for any console to compete with that."

"So you still have PC players, and some players are just console guys, but have players moved over? Absolutely. We love PC gaming, and we continue to support PC gaming - but you can't ignore the market realities and the size of the console market these days."

View
104. Re: No subject Mar 21, 2008, 05:30 >U
 
http://kotaku.com/gaming/npd/npd-how-it-works-229825.php
That article is over a year old, and that statement about the lack of Wal-Mart tracking is no longer true.

Except neither of those are Europe, where PC games sell best.
I agree it's a significant omission when considering the global market for PC games, but that doesn't make the NPD sales figures irrelevant. North America is still the primary target market for the overwhelming majority of American game developers and publishers, and it is certainly an important secondary market if not the primary market of most foreign game companies.

How long ago was this and in reference to what games?
I admit it is a couple of years old, but it was in reference to all of his company's MMO games such as Lineage II, City of Heroes, etc. Things haven't changed that much in the MMO space since he made that statement. NCSoft's titles are still offered through both retail and direct digital distribution. And, WOW is still the predominate player, and customers still purchase and acquire WOW through retail rather than digital distribution.

It's the cost.
Microsoft and Sony will drop the cost of the drives significantly if the demand for digital downloads develops because they will make a lot more money from the content purchases than they would from keeping prices of the drives inflated. It's the same strategy they currently use for the console hardware.

Except that would be a hassle for the user. If the user can't/doesn't want to spend $200 on a new HD, they'll have to delete games off their existing drive.
Well that would still be an improvement over the current situation since redownloads aren't allowed at least on XBOX Live (I don't know Sony's policy on that).

If they ever want to replay those games, they'll have to redownload the whole 8 gigs.
That's the same problem I mentioned below that affects similar PC game downloads. Yes, PC hard drives are currently cheaper than consoles' drives, but that could certainly change with prices being lowered. The problem with console game downloads compared to PC downloads is an artificial economic one. It's not technological or some fundamental flaw that can't be corrected. Lowering drive prices and/or increasing broadband speed solves the problem, and both are possible.

Except you leave out the key difference between the two groups: PC gamers are used to downloading big files, checking/making free space, installing games on hard drives, etc. Console gamers are used to just popping in a disc and playing.
It's not a long-term difference because console gamers are already becoming accustomed to digital game downloads. The only significant difference in the experience between the smaller games available today and the larger games that could be offered is the size. Many if not most of the console gamers who already use digital downloads will become accustomed to the longer download times just as PC users have. Game downloads sizes on the PC for AAA titles have ballooned as well in the years since digital distribution became available. And, over time broadband speeds should improve to lessen the wait.

I just don't think it'll be as popular as it is on the PC.
I do because I don't think digital distribution is currently that popular on the PC. Looking from the outside such sales figures are impossible to come by, but the fact that many of the bestselling games at retail like Bioshock and Call of Duty 4 are also available via digital distribution suggests that most consumers still acquire their games at retail because those games are still showing up on the NPD lists. Given the increased profit margins that come from digital distribution, if game developers and publishers thought they could cut out retailers without it significantly undercutting sales, they wouldn't bother with retail distribution.

I'm sure The Orange Box also made a hefty amount of sales off Steam.
That opens up an additional can of worms, but since you brought it up here, I will address it. Although the public will never know for sure unless Valve becomes a public company or someone leaks Valve's internal financial data, I strongly suspect that the number of game subscriptions sold through Steam pales in comparison to the number of boxed copies of the same games sold at retail. This is based upon several observations. First, Valve wouldn't bother with the trouble and expense of retail sales such as having to give a cut of its retail sales to EA if it didn't know that it would be losing much if not most of its sales if it didn't do it. Valve would simply skip retail altogether and make customers purchase through Steam if Steam were the main source of its sales. In addition it certainly wouldn't be breaking up the Orange Box for individual retail sale (especially after falsely claiming last year that it couldn't do that due to it being too many SKU's) if it didn't KNOW that there were a significant number of potential customers who didn't and wouldn't purchase the games individually through Steam instead. If any game company could possibly be in a position to forego retail sales it would be Valve since it owns and controls Steam. And, yet it hasn't done that. That speaks volumes about its dependence upon the retail market for revenue. Finally, Valve's public statement that purchases on Steam for 2007 were up ~150% from 2006 indicates that purchases through Steam were pretty low prior to 2007 and still are since such large percentage jumps are far more likely to occur when the previous point is low. For example a sales jump from 300K units to 750K units is far more likely than one from 5 million to 13 million especially without significantly impacting sales in another channel. And, since the Orange Box has shown up in NPD sales figures for the bestselling PC games at various points since its release, that suggests that its direct sales through Steam haven't been large enough to significantly cut into its retail sales and keep the game off the NPD sales charts. Sure, it's not conclusive proof, but it is certainly a plausible interpretation.

This comment was edited on Mar 21, 08:28.
 
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