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Dealing With Change: PC Gaming's "Demise"

Recently, I noticed that the PC Demo quantity had been drastically cut and thought that it was finally the PC gaming end times. After all, I had noticed earlier that there's few-to-no PC games in many games stores, much like how it was before my Amiga went south. However, these are largely subjective observations, and I only decided to blog about after seeing a Tom's Games dialogue on the matter.

The 2007 PC gaming sales were actually very poor. For example, Call of Duty 4 sold millions of XBox 360 titles in the first week while the PC version of the same game sold a few hundred thousand total. The developers attribute this gap to piracy.

The PC hardware differs from consoles in that they have the means to replicate software included. Software crackers are very good at what they do and there's insufficient enforcement measures to stop them. The path of least resistance dictates that most people would rather get something for free than pay for it. Certainly, piracy is a contributing factor to the gap between PC and console sales.

However, I'm not so sure piracy alone is responsible for the PC gaming slump. I think PC gamers are bored of all the clones. Not too many big-name PC games have unique and interesting concepts. It's reached the point where a game like Portal causes us to ooh and aah in amazement and it's actually a very simple concept. Under such conditions, it's not unreasonable to believe that the user base has been so bored that many have moved on to the more interesting waters of consoles. This failure on an artistic level likely had far more of an impact than piracy.

There's not much the big-name PC gaming industry can do but hope that their investors will suddenly start risking money on more innovative projects. Sure, you might not make as much money, but at least your user base doesn't abandon your platform entirely. There's not much chance of that happening, however, as the corporate suits have likely invested enough in consoles as to not see it worrisome if PC gaming dies.

Optimistically, I'm thinking that maybe PC gaming isn't dying, but rather the existing corporate footprint is moving out and the indy game developers have a chance to move in. Swapping the likes of Electronic Arts for Spiderweb Software or Moonpod is a pretty good trade in terms of thought-provoking game quality. You can open up that Independant Gaming Blog link on the left and find lots of links to games that give you hope as a PC gamer again, not the least being this list of 50 really good indy games.
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