High level Night Elf druid saves PC gaming
3.4 million unwashed nerds really can make a difference
A level 60 druid seeking l33t blue drops in the Hellfire Ramparts may have saved PC gaming, according to The New York Times. The paper reports that US retailers sold $203m worth of PC games in the first two months of 2007 — a 48 per cent increase on floundering sales the past few years.
Market analyst NPD Group attributes the retail boost (from $137m the same time last year) to expanding sales of online games on the PC platform; most notably lead by the glorious exploits of adventurers in the war-ravaged lands of Azeroth (that's lonely nerds to the layman).
“The robust performance we’re seeing in PC game sales can be tied to several key titles across several genres,” NPD analyst Anita Frazier told The Times, “but we’d be remiss not to address the continued success of World of Warcraft.”
Blizzard Entertainment has been enormously successful with its online successor to the Warcraft series. WoW currently has over eight million subscribers — whom not only paid the initial retail cost, but continue to shell-out monthly subscriber fees to play online. The game's first expansion, retailed mid-January, sold nearly 2.4 million copies worldwide in the first 24 hours. Since then the number has reached over 3.5 million.
WoW's popularity has remained unusually steady despite the fickle interests of gamers.
Perception of the once-mighty PC game market is now a möbius strip of waxing and waning confidence. The console makers roll out their new boxes; gamers stare in awe at the impressive graphics, fancy controllers and worry-free compatibility and ask that old chestnut, "Is PC gaming dead?"
That is, until PC graphics start to outstrip consoles again. Computer gaming may survive each console cycle, but the market loss can sound an awful lot like nails being driven through a coffin.
Things have gotten worrisome for the PC game market as consoles start to act more like computers and increased online support makes it easier for developers to take the console plunge.
NPD research shows the PC game market suffered a 14 per cent hit in 2005, falling from $1.1bn down to $953m in revenue. In 2006, the retail market increased just one per cent to $970m. But assuming the numbers hold steady, retail sales for PC games could reach $1.2bn this year.
It's still a long way off from console game sales, which totaled about $4.8bn last year. Portable game sales were at $1.7bn, according to NPD.
Lower prices, a stable platform, and ease of use continue to lure PC gamers to the console market. Even at the PlayStation 3's whopping $599 price tag, it's chump change compared to the copious coin-purse required to meet the $3,000-5,000 necessary to get the latest and greatest out of a PC.
Microsoft (which double-dips as a major player in the console market) has put a little effort into promoting the little beige boxes that could. The company is now promoting titles under the "Games for Windows" line. The push, however, seems more like an advertisement for Vista than anything else — and is nigh unnoticeable when compared to its Xbox 360 campaign.
The result of years of decline have hurt the variety, not the quality of PC games. Developers are sticking to what they know will sell. A once flourishing smörgåsbord of game variety has turned to a trickle of first-person shooters, sims and the latest flight of fancy (thanks largely to Blizzard's success) - massive multiplayer online RPGs.
But perhaps the latest sales upswing will return PC gaming to a shadow of what it once was.
In the meantime: World of Warcraft reigns supreme.
LF1M DPS class 4 Auch. ®
"The traditional area of expertise for consoles has been arcade. Driving, racing and flying are pure joys on consoles, and consoles are made for it.
Fight games are another segment that typically shine on consoles. Both categories have one thing in common : they don't need many buttons."
On a console maybe. But try Falcon 4.0 or any other real flying game with less than a fully programmed Top Gun Thrustmaster AND 20 some odd keyboard keys mapped and you'd be dead in seconds.
Yeah, Ace Combat and Top Gun don't require many buttons :P
I speced up a PC the other day, (E4300,Gigabyte S3,AS5,Scythe Infinity,19"Lcd,320mb 8800gts,2gb C4 pc5300 ram, decent speced other parts + vista + S&H) and it came up under £1k. Assuming you can OC that e4300 to 3ghz... you sure as hell could play anything on the market at full or almost full 1280x1024.
Please bare in mind its $2 to £1 atm. With £6k you could get the latest of almost everything... bad power:cost ratio at that.
Only a nutjob or someone who's filthy rich
The other guy is absolutely right. Maybe in the past you had to have the latest and greatest to play modern PC games, but right now the average new PC people are buying from Dell or Best Buy for $500 is plenty good enough to play all the most popular games. So the *real* difference between PC gaming expense and console gaming expense is that most households already have a PC for other things like web-browsing, email, and word processing while a console is an entirely new purchase, solely for gaming. Oh, and console games typically cost more as well.
The only reason anyone would spend $3000-$5000 on a gaming PC is if they absolutely HAVE to have that new 28" widescreen monitor, and at the same time have all possible graphics options enabled, as well as having an extra 750GB drive they won't use for at least 5 years (which is in addition to the main 750GB drive). Oh, and don't forget the Blu-Ray and HD drives that this includes, which are also not used for gaming.
One of us
For those who took offense to the "unwashed nerds" comment; I'd just like the record to show that I am a huge nerd myself. I'm a console and PC gamer, and an avid WoW player.
TLA: Five points for catching that.
They forgot to count...
...those of us who used to subscribe to WoW but had to stop and don't dare re-up because we know it'll suck up our lives again!
Since i never went for power-levelling, but for roleplaying and trying out different variations of characters and personalities, i never got bored. What helped was that i'm not an expert on fighting, so i often died. ;)
As a rule i prefer logic and one-person games (i loved 7th Guest!), but someone gave me WoW for a gift and addicted me hard. The one complaint i had was that there were scenarios only available to groups/teams, and solos couldn't do those.
i really doubt consoles will ever replace full computers for gaming. i like being able to pause, flip a window and check email, etc., and resume without having to get up and go to a different machine.