Feeds

High level Night Elf druid saves PC gaming

3.4 million unwashed nerds really can make a difference

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

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?"

A noble priest stands before Honor Hold in World of Warcraft.

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. ®

Website security in corporate America

More from The Register

next story
Bono: Apple will sort out monetising music where the labels failed
Remastered so hard it would be difficult or impossible to master it again
Oi, Tim Cook. Apple Watch. I DARE you to tell me, IN PERSON, that it's secure
State attorney demands Apple CEO bows the knee to him
Your chance to WIN the WORLD'S ONLY HANDHELD ZX SPECTRUM
Reg staff not allowed to enter, god dammit
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Monitors monitor's monitoring finds touch screens have 0.4% market share
Not four. Point four. Count yer booty again, Microsoft
Getting to the BOTTOM of the great office seating debate
Belay that toil, me hearty, and park your scurvy backside
Hey, Mac fanbois. HGST wants you drooling over its HUGE desktop RACK
What vast digital media repository could possibly need 64 TERABYTES?
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.