Skip to main content

The Death Strangulation Migration of PC gaming


Now that I have a PC fast enough to run modern games, a startling thing that I noticed is just how few of them there are.  I have not bought that many games over the past few years – I was busy with school.   Even so, I somehow owned over half of the (worthwhile) games the local BestBuy had in stock (most of which were mentioned in yesterday’s entry).

In some BestBuys, this would be your Windows Game section.
In some BestBuys, this would be your Windows Game section.

A times like this, my first reaction is to wonder if PC gaming is dying, or even dead.  However, I have a hard time believing that’s truly the case when we’ve awesome games coming out soon: Spore, Warhammer Online, and Fallout 3 among them.   And yet, it seems clear to me that the release rate has decreased over PC gaming’s prime.

I don’t have to take the reduced shelf space at the local computer game stores as the only indicator, consider GameSpot’s New Release List.  On a week-by-week basis, the PC has more or less the same number of releases as a console, but the list is now being heavily padded by obscure indy games, Korean MMORPGs, and even the occasional hentai dating sim. When did listing those games become neccessary?


Perhaps it’s more like PC gaming is strangled.
  • Strangled by the tired old procession of clones.  So many games, so little creativity between them.
  • Strangled by excessive competition from consoles: PC is competing for your gaming dollar versus the likes of the Sony, Nintendo, and even Microsoft (talk about a conflict of interest).  Even your cell phone is playing for your gaming time.
  • Strangled by excessive software piracy: it’s hard for big-name companies to take the PC game market seriously when so many people are adept at stealing their products.
  • Perhaps even strangled by MMORPG player retention mechanics, steadily bleeding $15/mo out of every involved gamers’ budget.
It’s not that difficult to imagine a number of reasons why the PC gaming industry would be strangled, but then what?

Perhaps a strangled PC market is a good thing.  Less cluttered shelf space certainly makes finding the gems easier.   Having to buy less games now means having more money around to buy games later.  Most importantly, it leaves the door open to indies, who can sometimes produce something quite exceptional.  In a way, my recent BYOND dabbling is very much the work of an indy, and I wouldn’t have a chance of dazzling anyone with a tile-based 2D engine if they weren’t pretty desperate by now.


Perhaps what’s really going on is that PC gaming is neither dead nor particularly strangled, but rather migrated. Maybe the place to look for PC games these days is not at the shelves of BestBuy.  Maybe the place to look for PC games these days is online.  There’s quite a few online services that make getting games easy and affordable without ripping off the developers and/or publishers.

For example:

Direct2Drive – Services like Direct2Drive are becoming increasingly more common.  Simply browse their online game catalog, buy one you like with your credit card, and download.   No fear of losing your download: Direct2Drive saves purchased game information to the individual accounts, so you can simply redownload as neccessary.  They often have big-name games available on a same-day basis – why walk all the way down to the store or struggle with reservations?

Steam – Through Steam, Valve has expanded the mechanism for securely selling the Half-Life series to interested third parties.  There’s considerable debate as to what qualifies as a Steam-powered game (it seems to be an arbitrary Valve employee decision) but the nice thing about Steam is that a healthy majority of the PC gaming public has it installed and running.

GameTap – This subscription-based PC game library includes both a wide number of proven classics and “GameTap Originals” such as the Grimm series.  Many games (currently 143)  are completely free: simply download the software, create an account, and play.  These are simply the hook to unlock complete access to all (currently 1043) games, at a very reasonable $60/year price.  GameTap is essentially a season’s pass to the bargain bin, and there’s quite a few good games of yesteryear you may have missed.

Indeed, it seems the Internet has been around long enough that the problem with PC gaming is not availability of games so much as simply finding them.  The Internet is an undeniably collosal pile of hay in which to dig for needles. I begin to understand the appeal of a dedicated gaming gem hunter, as I certainly don’t have the patience for it.
Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Resonant Induction Really Grinds My Gears... In A Good Way

From about 2pm yesterday until 8pm today, I've been dabbling with my latest custom mod mix for Minecraft 1.6.4, which is this time very much Universal Electricity focused.
Aside from the usual GUI enhancers and Somnia, the primary contenders in this mix were:
Calclavia Core - Of course: this is the base of the Universal Electricity system.Resonant Induction - This seems to be largely focused on increasingly more advanced methods of refining ores divided across 4 ages of technological progression.  It also includes some really cool things such as assembly lines.  I'll primarily be talking about just a few blocks out of this mod today.Atomic Science - A mod dedicated to generating more of those lovely universal electricity volts via the power of splitting the atom.  Build your own nuclear reactor!  Deal with nuclear meltdowns!  You maniac!ICBM - A mod dedicated to generating more destruction using those lovely universal electricity volts (and more than a little gunpowder), it cer…

Empyrion Vrs Space Engineers: A Different Kind Of Space Race

In my quest for more compelling virtual worlds, I have been watching Empyrion: Galactic Survival a lot this bizarro weekend, mostly via the Angry Joe Show twitch stream.  What I have concluded from my observations is Empyrion is following in Space Engineers' shadow, but it is nevertheless threatening the elder game due to a greater feature set (the modding scene notwithstanding).

Empyrion is made in Unity, whereas Space Engineers is built on a custom engine.  While this does put Empyrion at a disadvantage when it comes to conceptual flexibility, its developers nevertheless have a substantial advantage when it comes to adding features due to a savings of time spent that would have gone into developing their own engine.  Examples include:
Planets.  Empyrion already has planets and space to explore between them, whereas in Space Engineers planets are in the works but still awhile away (so you just have asteroid fields to scavenge).Enemies.  Space Engineers' survival mode boasts onl…

Ancient Warfare - What Is It Good For?

The Ancient Warfare mod for Minecraft threw me for a loop.  I was looking for "villagers" that would perform useful tasks while simultaneously resolving the glut of food with a need to eat, thereby turning Minecraft into a bit of 4X game you can play from the inside.  Millenaire wasn't quite there, partly because recent updates to Forge had broken its compatibility with Minecraft 1.7.10, and Minecolony's development is not quite fast enough to keep up with the state of mods in general (they probably need to make a core API).
In comes Ancient Warfare, which does indeed provide workers and soldiers who need to eat, you can even order around a little army of them to defeat your enemies.  It has working waterwheels and windmills, something I thought was awesome in Resonant Induction.  It has a warehouse with a built-in sorting system, as well as courier NPCs that can move things from building to building, and crafting NPCs that can create things for you automatically - w…