Friday, January 31st 2014

How Will the PC Gaming Markets Do In 2014?

The old year has passed by us now, that would be 2013 for those not keeping track, and now the gaming analysts are setting their sights on exactly how they think that the PC gaming market will perform in 2014. It's a pretty foregone conclusion that PC gaming is dead. Wait! That must have been a Freudian slip, I meant to say PC gaming is doing very well, it's just that no one can seem to pin down exactly how well it will do in the coming year. Let's take a look at some of the numbers that the people who get paid to try and forecast these things are putting out, and then see what you think.

In a recent chat with GamesIndustry, research firm DFC Intelligence has given them their projections in advance of their filing a brief on the matter. They state that they forecast substantial growth across all platforms, but have now raised their initial estimates for the global PC gaming market from $22 billion to $25 billion dollars for 2014. They state that the Asian market is a large contributing factor, but surprisingly, the West showed an increase from 2012 to 2013, and they are forecasting 2014 to show good growth as well.

Last October, Gartner published a report that estimates the worldwide PC market for 2014 to be in the range of about $20 billion and a longer projection for 2015 at a little over $21 million. This is still in the ballpark of the DFC report, and given it was compiled about three months earlier may account for the variation in numbers for 2014 considering sales for big games in the last three months of 2013. While the numbers for all segments were not available from DFC yet, Gartner pegs the 2014 total gaming market at over $101 billion.

Back in May of last year, Microsoft dropped some numbers in their analysis as well. They showed a worldwide spend of $65 billion, with a PC gaming share of $12 billion. Given that this was approximately a half-year snapshot, if you do a little projection it still falls in line with a $20 billion plus PC market for 2014.

There is no argument that the growth in overall gaming revenue is substantial, and appears to be outpacing all other forms of revenue growth in other entertainment vectors (i.e. film, music, radio), but what exactly is spurring the growth of the PC gaming market? It's certainly not PC exclusive AAA games as there have been … well, none. There are only the indie, or niche, markets that cater exclusively to PCs. While the indie market is going extremely well and will continue to flourish, it does not generate the revenue that the big name AAA, multi-platform titles do by a long shot.

Some are positing that the new consoles are playing a big part in the upward trend of the PC market. With many of the games making a truckload of money in the console space, and with the fact that many games are being released for both consoles and PCs, AND allowing cross-platform play, that this is fueling the upsurge in the market.

Another is that as the technology of PCs marches onward, we are seeing lower cost PCs that are able to play more games than their counterparts just a couple of years ago. Tie this with the fact that developers are doing their best to optimize the games, in various ways, to run on less than enthusiast level PCs in order to garner a greater market in which to sell their products, and you now bring in millions of PC owners purchasing games that were unplayable for them before.

Thirdly, there is more information coming out as to the levels of the sales of PC games on digital distribution services than there was in the past. With the rapidly declining retail (boxed) sales of games, which is most of the numbers that we have seen in the past to indicate the health of the PC gaming market, it sheds new light on how well it's going. With the continued rise in the popularity of services like Steam, this comes as no real surprise, but given that people can now download games on virtually any platform it does not seem like it would be the definitive factor in the growth of the PC segment.

So, PC gaming, as always, is doing just fine. But inquiring minds want to know what YOU think are the factors in fueling the upswing in the PC gaming market and how far will it go in 2014. Feel free to join in the discussion at any time.
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42 Comments on How Will the PC Gaming Markets Do In 2014?

#1
siki
by: Blue-Knight

And in my opinion keyboard and mouse combination is far better than joysticks... For any game, all games, no exception (I've played many).
I think fighting games and even fifa like games would disagree with you :)
Posted on Reply
#2
Lunat!c
well then buy a fking gamepad, but u cant buy a mouse for a xbox
Posted on Reply
#3
Blue-Knight
by: siki
I think fighting games and even fifa like games would disagree with you
Not me. I can play all these types of games very well with keyboard+mouse.
Posted on Reply
#4
suraswami
Many said PC market is dying, but in the last few months I have seen lot of my friends finally dump their 10 yr old dinosaur and bought new PCs. I have built few too. Lot of web/app developers prefer desktop to a laptop. Graphics card prices were reasonable before the coin mining boom came in. I think this year is a good year for this industry.
Posted on Reply
#5
john_
by: Frick
this makes no sense. The PS3 was new when it was new and that didn't help.

The issue have nothing to do with consoles, it's people. And now, not casual gamers, I put the real blame on Bethsoft and Bioware.
With developers focusing more on consoles the latest years, what we show in PC gaming was a few steps back with most titles. Developers where making games for consoles and then port them on PCs with the final results looking old and medium quality.
With the new consoles we are moving at least to DirectX 11.2. Also with the new consoles being PCs, the developers can come back to develop games for PCs mainly and then just lower the quality as much as needed so that the same games can play on consoles. We had DX10 and DX11 for many years but we didn't really see huge improvements on screen compared for example with Crysis from 2007. This is going to change now.
Posted on Reply
#6
tacosRcool
I see pc gaming increase due to two reasons: Steam Sales and the fact that you have better "backwards compatibility" than the consoles. If I wanted to, I could install C&C Gold Edition on my PC right now and play it - and I got that game in '95. If you wanted to play a console game from that era, you got to find and whip out that console praying that it still works.
Posted on Reply
#7
lilhasselhoffer
An editorial piece, backed by numbers, which all seem to agree with the authors conclusion. I'll bite, I'm impressed. Editorials generally are the place to spurt what an author feels, but this I can appreciate very much given that it aligns itself better with the whole proving ones conjectures point.


Back to the article, why is this news to anyone? Those that play games have seen that Valve is releasing what is unabashedly a set-top gaming PC. Those people who are unaware of this can see that two new consoles have launched. Finally, those people who are completely unaware of gaming, but read the financial news, have seen the rise of entirely new monetization streams which are ripe for exploitation.


I'd like to throw my completely unsupported opinion at this, and say that 2014 will be a bouying year between failures. As much as we hate to admit it, the Xbox One and PS4 releases are covering up a stagnating industry. But I already hear angry responses being typed, so allow me to clarify. The very top of the console industry is stagnating, which means that all game studios are becoming risk averse. If you've got any doubt about this look back to Mojang canceling 0x10c. He wanted to work on a project that was allowed to fail, and 0x10c was being hyped so badly that it could not possibly succeed but had too many resources to fail. That drive not to fail is making sure that successes are copied until they are doomed to fail beneath their own weight.

Not only is the industry now risk averse, but development is now getting unreasonably expensive. To put out a game that pushes graphical limits now requires large teams, and larger budgets. People are still pushing for greater graphical fidelity, as that is what used to move games. Now the resources to continue to push graphics are cannibalizing the mechanics of games. The end result is that a game with 80% of the graphical fidelity and 100% working mechanics is deemed unacceptable, so we get games that are 100% graphically beautiful but only 60% mechanically sound. The budget has to be met, so compromises are made.



Short story, because Kreij did a better job of it than I, the state of the gaming market eludes even financial analysists. They wildly change yearly fiscal projections, and they can rarely get the big picture accurately (let alone the details). 2014 will be interesting because of the indie developers, as yet the AAA studios haven't found themselves a reasonable set of goals. It's hard to put it concisely, but I think EA did a great job. They ran a games jam, with the prize being a free trip to somewhere they had to pay to get to in the first place, they made entry requirements state that EA owned anything you did and retained the monetization rights in perpetuity, and then stated that they were "The best company..." in the FAQ to their contest. Beyond simply bashing EA, this gets to the heart of why the games industry is a fickle thing. Traditional business models are being destroyed, and no proven new model exists. The Developers and Publishers are wandering around in the dark, making huge blunders, then wildly trying to fix thing in the most tone deaf manner possible. Hopefully (for both consumers and the industry) there will be some sort of coherent plan in 2014, because if one isn't found 2015 will be a crushing year due to oversaturation of the same crap that required a new console cycle to come and wash away. Yay indies...?
Posted on Reply
#8
mhadina
by: Kreij
In my opinion, this will have no effect whatsoever on the market revenue of PC games in 2014. The prices of display devices that are over 1920x1080 are still high enough to prevent a mass migration to them, and 4K is going to be virtually useless to the vast majority of gamers. I think that the coming of age of virtual reality, such as the Oculus Rift headset, will have more of an impact in the near term.
If you ask me, I'd love to go one step forward with 2560x1440 panel first, and one day when the 4K prices will be acceptable, I'll go 4 the 4K. What do you say?
Posted on Reply
#9
Blue-Knight
by: mhadina
What do you say?
In my opinion, those resolutions are simply overkill and unnecessary for most applications... Watching movies on PC at resolution of 960x540 is more than enough for me, but I usually watch at 432 height resolution because that's good enough. And for gaming, 1024 to 1280 pixels wide is more than enough... If you play on TV or CRT monitor, you can use even lower resolutions and be happy...

One of the few things big resolutions will help you do more is for screen resolution, as you will be able to fit more information in more pixels (and working more comfortably).

That's my opinion! Happy New Year!
Posted on Reply
#10
maarty
by: Deadlyraver
The community doesn't know the biggest perk of new consoles impacting PCs. They are now at Direct X 11.2, the latest API, and with many reasons to create games that will work on the PC too. Get that with new APIs like AMD Mantle and I am sure games will come out fast enough to be purchased by all platforms.
I have to agree on that. Old consoles were running DX9 and were slowing development/porting to PC. With new DX11 consoles we can expect even bigger growth on PC market. I hear "PC gaming is dead" for last 10 years and its still growing ... its just PR. Sale numbers say opposite.
Posted on Reply
#11
Deadlyraver
by: maarty
I have to agree on that. Old consoles were running DX9 and were slowing development/porting to PC. With new DX11 consoles we can expect even bigger growth on PC market. I hear "PC gaming is dead" for last 10 years and its still growing ... its just PR. Sale numbers say opposite.
It was never dead anyways, because even if the PC gaming season had a building drought the 3rd party vendors (ASUS,MSI,GIGABYTE) will still get big bux from Workstation parties anyways!
Posted on Reply
#12
Etsudo
Kind of a long response, I guess I over-engaged myself, but I believe it deals properly with all the worries from Lilhasselhoffer's message. Ok, let's get to it :)

"As much as we hate to admit it, the Xbox One and PS4 releases are covering up a stagnating industry"


GTAV is the most successful entertainment product in entertainment history. This year, video game industry has surpassed the movie industry. In other words, for the first time in history, it's a better business to make a game than to make a movie. Games are the big deal now. Despite the top AAA games being made on consoles, the biggest PC market is in China, where consoles practically don't exist. It's all PC, tablet and phone market, with PC holding a very dominant position. In USA, there are more PC gamers than console gamers. Most developers still make more money on consoles than on PC, but that's if you put all of them together. PC profits surpass Xbox profits and Playstation profits almost everywhere. Here in Poland (where I live), 60% of games are sold on PC, the 40% is split between consoles, tablets and phones. In other words, gaming industry is the strongest it has ever been for consoles, and on top of that the PC gaming is in extremely good condition as well. No worries!

"(...) That drive not to fail is making sure that successes are copied until they are doomed to fail beneath their own weight."

This sums up one of the problems with consoles very well. Everyone is playing safe with hundreds of first-person shooters, with Call of Duties coming every year and absurd decisions like making Syndicate into an FPS. But there is a good solution to that: buy a PC, where all the innovation is happening and game diversity is greater than ever.

"Not only is the industry now risk averse, but development is now getting unreasonably expensive."

For consoles, that's a serious concern. But again, for PC it is not. Developing a game on PC is cheaper than on consoles (no licensing etc.), which has the good side (more games, more diversity of games) and bad side (statisticaly lower quality of an average PC game compared to console games). Kickstarter is making things a lot easier, which ie. makes Peter Molyneaux go independent and do a game that he wants to do instead of falling under numerous restrictions by fat execs who don't understand the gaming culture and are interested only in cold marketing (the Electronic Arts approach). This would never happen before Kickstarter, so obviousy thanks to crowdfunding, PC developers (and console developers to some extent) are now in a much better position than ever.

Another thing to consider is Steam's Early Access which is taking gaming development by storm (only PC though). This makes it very cheap to develop a game once it gains traction and introduces a completely new philosophy, which can even create new game genres - who knows what kind of game Rust will be in a few years time, hands up!

In other words, the problems you are talking about are partially console problems, but the PC market deals with them in those two innovative ways that nicely cover the growing expenses of making a game (larger studios growing to complete a decently looking title). In this department, PC gaming has never been better, so a considerable part of gaming world is very strong. New consoles have almost a medium quality PC specs and with Steam machines coming out to fill the gap between the two sources of entertainment, the problem with the rest of the market may be over sooner than we think.

To be honest, there are less and less reasons every year to deal with different platforms and exclusives. Every game should be available to everyone instead of keeping up with those false borders. But then Sony and Microsoft would have to find themselves a new way to make money instead of doing what they paid absurd amounts of money to established themselves in, so it's not that simple obviousy.


"To put out a game that pushes graphical limits now requires large teams, and larger budgets. People are still pushing for greater graphical fidelity, as that is what used to move games. Now the resources to continue to push graphics are cannibalizing the mechanics of games."

That's why things like Unreal Engine have gained traction - now a considerable amount of games are made with it and although they look a bit too samey, you can't blame their creators for doing so. They're saving a lot of money and are immune to the problem you're mentioning. The problem is that there are only few popular engines and there should be more. There is only one logical solution: game developers have to split from engine developers and there needs to be more competition in the engine department. In the short term, it will save lots of money, improve average graphics quality in games and drastically reduce the average number of bugs (as it's easier to work on bugs when the feedback comes from hundreds of developers than when the engine is fresh and specifically made for one game). In the long run, it will reduce engine creators mass-scale earnings because of competition, but will open new ways of smaller earnings, like licensing for companies that work on "game creators" that deliver an environment to work with the engine to create games. This, in turn, could empower the ever-growing PC mod community. All those people would stop making mods and instead would make low-costing games which would swarm the market and reverse the problem you were talking about - everyone would be able to create a game, even single-handedly. This would fit well with the trending micro-transaction mode (like buying object packs to make more interesting games). The downside here is for the PC industry - optimized engines work well on older computers, and that would damage PC component sales further. But that's bad for corporations and better for us, gamers.


"Traditional business models are being destroyed, and no proven new model exists."

Early Access, F2P and crowdsourcing are proven existing models that work. Dayz standalone sold 1 milion "copies" in its first months as alpha and the sales are not slowing since then. Rust made the same amount in two months. Early access has proven insanely successful to companies that made those games. So we got 3 new models to potentially take the pace of 1 you are talking about. Even though each comes with a set of problems that need to be challenged, they all work and they all work well. There will always be a place for pre-paid complete final version games in my opinion though. The market is diversifying rather than looking for the new medium.


"The Developers and Publishers are wandering around in the dark, making huge blunders, then wildly trying to fix thing in the most tone deaf manner possible."

The description si exacty the opposite of what every developer in Early Access does :) Or at least has the opportunity to not do.
Posted on Reply
#13
lilhasselhoffer
by: Etsudo
Kind of a long response, I guess I over-engaged myself, but I believe it deals properly with all the worries from Lilhasselhoffer's message. Ok, let's get to it :)
"As much as we hate to admit it, the Xbox One and PS4 releases are covering up a stagnating industry"

GTAV is the most successful entertainment product in entertainment history. This year, video game industry has surpassed the movie industry. In other words, for the first time in history, it's a better business to make a game than to make a movie. Games are the big deal now. Despite the top AAA games being made on consoles, the biggest PC market is in China, where consoles practically don't exist. It's all PC, tablet and phone market, with PC holding a very dominant position. In USA, there are more PC gamers than console gamers. Most developers still make more money on consoles than on PC, but that's if you put all of them together. PC profits surpass Xbox profits and Playstation profits almost everywhere. Here in Poland (where I live), 60% of games are sold on PC, the 40% is split between consoles, tablets and phones. In other words, gaming industry is the strongest it has ever been for consoles, and on top of that the PC gaming is in extremely good condition as well. No worries!

"(...) That drive not to fail is making sure that successes are copied until they are doomed to fail beneath their own weight."

This sums up one of the problems with consoles very well. Everyone is playing safe with hundreds of first-person shooters, with Call of Duties coming every year and absurd decisions like making Syndicate into an FPS. But there is a good solution to that: buy a PC, where all the innovation is happening and game diversity is greater than ever.

"Not only is the industry now risk averse, but development is now getting unreasonably expensive."

For consoles, that's a serious concern. But again, for PC it is not. Developing a game on PC is cheaper than on consoles (no licensing etc.), which has the good side (more games, more diversity of games) and bad side (statisticaly lower quality of an average PC game compared to console games). Kickstarter is making things a lot easier, which ie. makes Peter Molyneaux go independent and do a game that he wants to do instead of falling under numerous restrictions by fat execs who don't understand the gaming culture and are interested only in cold marketing (the Electronic Arts approach). This would never happen before Kickstarter, so obviousy thanks to crowdfunding, PC developers (and console developers to some extent) are now in a much better position than ever.

Another thing to consider is Steam's Early Access which is taking gaming development by storm (only PC though). This makes it very cheap to develop a game once it gains traction and introduces a completely new philosophy, which can even create new game genres - who knows what kind of game Rust will be in a few years time, hands up!

In other words, the problems you are talking about are partially console problems, but the PC market deals with them in those two innovative ways that nicely cover the growing expenses of making a game (larger studios growing to complete a decently looking title). In this department, PC gaming has never been better, so a considerable part of gaming world is very strong. New consoles have almost a medium quality PC specs and with Steam machines coming out to fill the gap between the two sources of entertainment, the problem with the rest of the market may be over sooner than we think.

To be honest, there are less and less reasons every year to deal with different platforms and exclusives. Every game should be available to everyone instead of keeping up with those false borders. But then Sony and Microsoft would have to find themselves a new way to make money instead of doing what they paid absurd amounts of money to established themselves in, so it's not that simple obviousy.


"To put out a game that pushes graphical limits now requires large teams, and larger budgets. People are still pushing for greater graphical fidelity, as that is what used to move games. Now the resources to continue to push graphics are cannibalizing the mechanics of games."

That's why things like Unreal Engine have gained traction - now a considerable amount of games are made with it and although they look a bit too samey, you can't blame their creators for doing so. They're saving a lot of money and are immune to the problem you're mentioning. The problem is that there are only few popular engines and there should be more. There is only one logical solution: game developers have to split from engine developers and there needs to be more competition in the engine department. In the short term, it will save lots of money, improve average graphics quality in games and drastically reduce the average number of bugs (as it's easier to work on bugs when the feedback comes from hundreds of developers than when the engine is fresh and specifically made for one game). In the long run, it will reduce engine creators mass-scale earnings because of competition, but will open new ways of smaller earnings, like licensing for companies that work on "game creators" that deliver an environment to work with the engine to create games. This, in turn, could empower the ever-growing PC mod community. All those people would stop making mods and instead would make low-costing games which would swarm the market and reverse the problem you were talking about - everyone would be able to create a game, even single-handedly. This would fit well with the trending micro-transaction mode (like buying object packs to make more interesting games). The downside here is for the PC industry - optimized engines work well on older computers, and that would damage PC component sales further. But that's bad for corporations and better for us, gamers.


"Traditional business models are being destroyed, and no proven new model exists."

Early Access, F2P and crowdsourcing are proven existing models that work. Dayz standalone sold 1 milion "copies" in its first months as alpha and the sales are not slowing since then. Rust made the same amount in two months. Early access has proven insanely successful to companies that made those games. So we got 3 new models to potentially take the pace of 1 you are talking about. Even though each comes with a set of problems that need to be challenged, they all work and they all work well. There will always be a place for pre-paid complete final version games in my opinion though. The market is diversifying rather than looking for the new medium.


"The Developers and Publishers are wandering around in the dark, making huge blunders, then wildly trying to fix thing in the most tone deaf manner possible."

The description si exacty the opposite of what every developer in Early Access does :) Or at least has the opportunity to not do.
I will try to keep this brief, because some of your points are valid. If taken out of context, the outlook for the PC gaming industry is relatively good. Our point of differentiation is how detached from the main gaming market PC gaming is.

PC gaming and console gaming are the same thing. You seem to separate them, but I see them as one. Developers in the current generation are basically developing for a PC, that happens to have some quirks. No cell processors, no bizarre media, no major differences between them and a gaming PC. A generation ago the opposite argument might have been made, but APUs at the core of the PS4 and One mean that destinction has vanished. The games that are being developed now have barriers to being cross platform, but these barriers are almost insignificant when you look at the barriers from one generation ago.

Steam is great, but greenlight is crap. If you wanted to buy Halflife 3, there was a time when there were about 8 versions of it up on Steam... When consumers have to wade through crap like Gary's Incident and Guise of the Wolf, the quality control for these systems has failed. Even mega publishers like EA have screwed up relatively simple things like Sim City. When the quality controls on the gaming industry vanish, in favor of a glut of mediocre or bad titles, the industry is damaged. There are outliers, but having the most sales means nothing when someone buys a game, plays once, then regrets their irreversible decision (no trade-ins on Steam or Origin 3rd party titles, remember?) is not the sign of a healthy market.

F2P is not a sustainable business model. Kickstarters are not a sustainable business model. Anyone who says they are cites a couple of anectdotal situations, which lack the ability to be reproduced. Guild Wars 2 was a great F2P MMO. Kickstarter has delivered me a couple of projects already. These examples aren't the norm. Why do I say this? Over 50% of games that were funded on Kickstarter and promised to be done prior to 2014 have not been delivered. Kickstarter project have never delivered to me on time. F2P often crosses the border into pay to win, making it fail miserably. If you'd honestly like to prove me wrong on this front you can spend 10 minutes on the Google Play store, or Apple store. There are hundreds of Flappy Bird clones, Angry Bird clones, and Dungeon Keeper 2. All of these games are technically F2P, but only Angry Birds delivers a complete play experience without nickle and diming the player to death. If you can get through the Startrek Trexel game without understanding how bad of a model F2P is, then you're absolutely blind to the issues.

Early Access is stupid. I don't think I'm unreasonable in asserting this, and I don't see why people like the idea. In my youth, being a beta tester was a paid job. You played games, and identified the problems so when people who paid for the game got it it worked. This was assumed as a reasonable expense, because a $50 game was supposed to work. Now you've got people paying $50 to be an alpha tester, and actually saying it is a good thing. No. I don't pay to test your game, and nobody should find it acceptable to pay $50 for an incomplete game that may never be delivered upon. These are models that will work for a small time, but will eventually reach the tipping point where people recognize that the model does not offer more or better service to consumers.

To summarize the points here, none of the new "revolutions" offer a real sustainable path to the future. F2P fails frequently by becoming pay to win. Beta access and Greenlight offer no quality assurances. Kickstarter is full of people who have ambition but no acumen in getting real results. Reality sucks. I'd like to believe otherwise, but I don't see why I should. Each potential improvement to the game industry has an immediate and substantial drawback. I'd love to be proven incorrect, but I can't see any viable path toward a genuinely great couple of years for gaming's future.
Posted on Reply
#14
Etsudo
Sorry for an even longer post, I talk too much today :)


"If taken out of context, the outlook for the PC gaming industry is relatively good. Our point of differentiation is how detached from the main gaming market PC gaming is."


But you have to admit, when sales are top notch, companies report best years in their history and the market expands on so many levels, saying that the market is about to die takes a pessimist to do :) Take PS4 for example. A console with parameters so weak relative to PC, with absolutely shitter of a starting lineup and with no great promise to bring more than 2 or 3 titles of any potential value for each "next-gen" and all the sales records have been broken. I know that we are talking more about outlook than the current situation, but when without anything to back things up the next-gens still sell so well, it speaks volumes about the appetite for gaming and shows that there is a lot of enthusiasm to burn before we enter the danger zone, even if the shit will start raining tomorrow morning.


"PC gaming and console gaming are the same thing. You seem to separate them, but I see them as one."

They are the same things generally, but not in some departments. Some game genres are exclusive to consoles (ie. fighting), some to PC (ie. rts). Game financing is often different thanks to the new modes reaching PC much deeper than console. The development used to play to different tune too, but I agree that since now the architecture is so close, porting will be cheaper and since consoles are getting closer to PC (architecture) and PC is getting closer to consoles (Steam machines), the boundaries are melting.

AMD is making a playground out of next-gen consoles to test-run their APUs. As this technology gets more usable for gaming, the significant amount of non-gaming and even some gaming PCs will shift towards APU. So this one thing that separates consoles from PCs may also vanish.

This is why exclusives are a pain in the ass in my opinion. Back in time, when a new game came to a console, it was exclusive because the developer didn't have money to cross-develop and there were lots of monopolies, so often it was pointless. Now everyone can develop and profit for everything, so paying extra bucks to keep exclusives and lure customers is an artificial road that's very costly to Sony and Microsoft (well, Microsoft doesn't mind).



"Even mega publishers like EA have screwed up relatively simple things like Sim City."

EA doesn't win the title of the worst company in United States every year for no reason. Their understanding of the market is only in numbers and tables, they rarely have intention to create a game for a good game's sake (latest Dungeon Keeper game being the best example). They are predators that do more bad than good, constantly buying out and closing studios with good developers who would produce great games if not for EA, which takes the patents and throws them in the bin or makes a complete mess of them. Or blocks their creative processes in other ways. You seem to be a well-informed consumer, but since you're surprised about Sim City, I'll tell you that anyway in case you don't know about their market moves: if you want to support gaming, do not buy anything from them. They are the gaming version of banks that ruined Greece for profit and the market suffers more than profits from few good games they actually make :)


"When the quality controls on the gaming industry vanish, in favor of a glut of mediocre or bad titles, the industry is damaged."

Fair assumption to make, but I don't believe it has anything to do with Greenlight. They could choose the games themselves, but bring users into that process. The idea is cool, but even if the end result is poor, every bigger game is going to get through anyway and only some smaller titles will unjustly suffer. Many poor games will get through Steam anyway, since like I wrote in the previous post: lower minimal costs of development = lower average game quality. The fact that some minor crappy games that nobody will buy anyway will go through on Steam and some few minor that are actually good won't doesn't speak anything about the condition of the PC market, it's just a minor nuissance.


"There are outliers, but having the most sales means nothing when someone buys a game, plays once, then regrets their irreversible decision (no trade-ins on Steam or Origin 3rd party titles, remember?) is not the sign of a healthy market."

Who's to blame for that? Best read those reviews and watch them gameplay videos before buying then. Just like with everything else. Greenlight has no impact over at least 95% of gaming time people spend with their Steam on and the PC market is not only Steam anyway (at least for now hehe), so what are we even talking about? There is no drunken sailor in the gaming jury that says "Splinter Cell: Division? Yargh! No!". Good and popular titles sell.


"F2P is not a sustainable business model."

League of Legends and Dota2 are two of the most successful games in the 21st century. Never before have so many people been playing one game online (in fact, previous records were probably at best at 30% average daily MOBA players for those games). These titles are the main catalyst that makes the e-sports grow with insane pace too. If Free to Play is not a sustainable business model, why are Electronic Arts execs regularly saying that they want to switch to F2P mode ENTIRELY in the next few years (that's right, include all them Fifas and NBAs)? They do so, because there is money in f2p and there is money, because the business model works. And since we don't live in China, we haven't seen shit when it comes to f2p, which is the main game monetizing model there (which means it is quite sustainable considering we are talking about the largest gaming market). For example, the most profitable of all f2p games of 2013 is Crossfire (Asia's sort-of version of Counter Strike) with almost $1 billion dollars profit that year. How is that not sustainable?


"Kickstarters are not a sustainable business model. (...)"

I agree that Kickstarter has more disappointments than it has success stories. I didn't mention it as a reliable future-proof model of developing games, but just to mention that it is another potential source of money for developers that wasn't available before.


"Anyone who says they are cites a couple of anectdotal situations"

With Kickstarter, I would really have to dig deep into some game database to find a Kickstarter game that I really thought was great. Still, that has nothing to do with the subject. Sustainable is when numerous developers can go there and get funded to make a game. Numerous developers did and Kickstarter is still there, financing more games. What comes out of it is a topic for another day. As for f2p, no anecdotal situations needed, the markets speak for itself. Waves of money speak clearly where the money is and where it's not.


"F2P often crosses the border into pay to win, making it fail miserably."

Pointing to a solution's drawback in some cases doesn't mean the model is unsustainable, it means the titles that fell to the trap and didn't bring home the bacon were unsuccessful. As this is a new financing model, companies fall into traps they didn't know exist and learn from their mistakes. Customers fall into pay-to-win traps that they will be more cautious about in the future. Still, considerabe amount of pay-2-win games are con artists like Electronic Arts that try to set up a system that would milk us of our money. But this is extreme and as every model, there are negative sides to it. Surprise, surprise: the most successful f2p games are not pay-2-win (on the PC market, Android is full of junk). You can't judge the sustainability of a free-2-play model on some random crappy Android games for 14-year old spoilt kids, you base it on the overall profit. Most of it is on PC and the most successful games are making an absolute killing and sit at the top of the PC games popularity ranking. You must have no insight into how surreal skill-ceiling and the how huge the amount of depth is involved in Dota and LoL (hence millions of people watching pros on Twitch every week), or haven't played Path of Exile - absolutely free hack'n'slash that takes its hat off only to Diablo 2 in the genre. Frankly, I don't even know what's there to pay for, as I haven't noticed anything. Team Fortress 2 is one of the most popular FPSes in the last few years and the payment system is.... hats - you pay for them. That's it. Not exactly ruining gamepay, isn't it? Check this article to see how sustainable f2p model was for Valve, regarding just Team Fortress 2:

http://uk.ign.com/articles/2012/03/08/how-and-why-team-fortress-2-made-valve-super-rich

Some Valve employees interviews suggest that the company has already made more money on f2p than on traditional gaming model. And since Valve is the king of PC, this means a very serious chunk of the segment is f2p (which makes for an argument from the beginning of the this post - there are some serious differences between consoles and PC that just can't be swept under the rug and trivialized). Did you know that Team Fortress modders earn up to six digits a year for their submissions to TF2? Quite an amount for people not directly involved with the company producing a game in unsustainabe mode :)



"Early Access is stupid. I don't think I'm unreasonable in asserting this, and I don't see why people like the idea. (...)"

What you wrote about it is the most serious argument against this system and it needs to be taken into consideration. However, there are few arguments that tip the scale in favor of this model in my opinion.

First of all, the feedback a company gets from developers in theory can drastically improve the end result. "In theory" doesn't mean we're lucid dreaming, it means that the possibility is there and whether the method will grow and adapt for good, depends on whether developers of the most popular titles do a good job once they start taking money. If they do, we can have some phenomenal games in the near future. Period. Spending tons of money and producing a game that in the end is still a shot in the dark can prove deadly, but when customers tell you what's what, in the end they can get the game they want. Instead of tweaking minor cosmetic functions of the end product carved in stone, everything is more plastic. Better feedback, better product. If the ears are willing to listen and the hands are willing to work.

Another thing is that this may completely alter the way the game works. Take Rust for example. It started with zombies, now there are no zombies. The game gives players the tools and sees what players do with it. Depending on how many people do what, the rules may change. It can leave a bad impression (we're supposed to tell the developer what his game is supposed to be about?), but this is when unknown new gaming worlds are explored and Rust is already proving that, despite its short life. If you haven't played the game, trust me, you wouldn't believe what is happening on those servers :D Certainly nothing that you've seen before anywhere else.

Which brings me to another point. I'm not totally sold on Early Access globally, but I know for sure that for online games where there are mainly interactions with other players, this is the best financing model possible, far surpassing traditional methods. You play an evolving beast, are on a ride to the unknown and may very well play 5 different games for the price of one before the lava solidifies.

Also, you don't pay $60 for game that will sell for $60 when the final version comes. Dayz, for example, is for half the price. So you don't get a half-product for full, but for half-price and while you're testing the features for the developers (still a different experience being desynced from time to time than intentionally running into walls 12 hours a day to check for errors), you're having the fun of your life. At least in Rust and Dayz you do. A bug or two once in a while don't ruin a game if it's already so much fun.
Posted on Reply
#15
lilhasselhoffer
by: Etsudo
Sorry for an even longer post, I talk too much today :)

"If taken out of context, the outlook for the PC gaming industry is relatively good. Our point of differentiation is how detached from the main gaming market PC gaming is."


But you have to admit, when sales are top notch, companies report best years in their history and the market expands on so many levels, saying that the market is about to die takes a pessimist to do :) Take PS4 for example. A console with parameters so weak relative to PC, with absolutely shitter of a starting lineup and with no great promise to bring more than 2 or 3 titles of any potential value for each "next-gen" and all the sales records have been broken. I know that we are talking more about outlook than the current situation, but when without anything to back things up the next-gens still sell so well, it speaks volumes about the appetite for gaming and shows that there is a lot of enthusiasm to burn before we enter the danger zone, even if the shit will start raining tomorrow morning.


"PC gaming and console gaming are the same thing. You seem to separate them, but I see them as one."

They are the same things generally, but not in some departments. Some game genres are exclusive to consoles (ie. fighting), some to PC (ie. rts). Game financing is often different thanks to the new modes reaching PC much deeper than console. The development used to play to different tune too, but I agree that since now the architecture is so close, porting will be cheaper and since consoles are getting closer to PC (architecture) and PC is getting closer to consoles (Steam machines), the boundaries are melting.

AMD is making a playground out of next-gen consoles to test-run their APUs. As this technology gets more usable for gaming, the significant amount of non-gaming and even some gaming PCs will shift towards APU. So this one thing that separates consoles from PCs may also vanish.

This is why exclusives are a pain in the ass in my opinion. Back in time, when a new game came to a console, it was exclusive because the developer didn't have money to cross-develop and there were lots of monopolies, so often it was pointless. Now everyone can develop and profit for everything, so paying extra bucks to keep exclusives and lure customers is an artificial road that's very costly to Sony and Microsoft (well, Microsoft doesn't mind).



"Even mega publishers like EA have screwed up relatively simple things like Sim City."

EA doesn't win the title of the worst company in United States every year for no reason. Their understanding of the market is only in numbers and tables, they rarely have intention to create a game for a good game's sake (latest Dungeon Keeper game being the best example). They are predators that do more bad than good, constantly buying out and closing studios with good developers who would produce great games if not for EA, which takes the patents and throws them in the bin or makes a complete mess of them. Or blocks their creative processes in other ways. You seem to be a well-informed consumer, but since you're surprised about Sim City, I'll tell you that anyway in case you don't know about their market moves: if you want to support gaming, do not buy anything from them. They are the gaming version of banks that ruined Greece for profit and the market suffers more than profits from few good games they actually make :)


"When the quality controls on the gaming industry vanish, in favor of a glut of mediocre or bad titles, the industry is damaged."

Fair assumption to make, but I don't believe it has anything to do with Greenlight. They could choose the games themselves, but bring users into that process. The idea is cool, but even if the end result is poor, every bigger game is going to get through anyway and only some smaller titles will unjustly suffer. Many poor games will get through Steam anyway, since like I wrote in the previous post: lower minimal costs of development = lower average game quality. The fact that some minor crappy games that nobody will buy anyway will go through on Steam and some few minor that are actually good won't doesn't speak anything about the condition of the PC market, it's just a minor nuissance.


"There are outliers, but having the most sales means nothing when someone buys a game, plays once, then regrets their irreversible decision (no trade-ins on Steam or Origin 3rd party titles, remember?) is not the sign of a healthy market."

Who's to blame for that? Best read those reviews and watch them gameplay videos before buying then. Just like with everything else. Greenlight has no impact over at least 95% of gaming time people spend with their Steam on and the PC market is not only Steam anyway (at least for now hehe), so what are we even talking about? There is no drunken sailor in the gaming jury that says "Splinter Cell: Division? Yargh! No!". Good and popular titles sell.


"F2P is not a sustainable business model."

League of Legends and Dota2 are two of the most successful games in the 21st century. Never before have so many people been playing one game online (in fact, previous records were probably at best at 30% average daily MOBA players for those games). These titles are the main catalyst that makes the e-sports grow with insane pace too. If Free to Play is not a sustainable business model, why are Electronic Arts execs regularly saying that they want to switch to F2P mode ENTIRELY in the next few years (that's right, include all them Fifas and NBAs)? They do so, because there is money in f2p and there is money, because the business model works. And since we don't live in China, we haven't seen shit when it comes to f2p, which is the main game monetizing model there (which means it is quite sustainable considering we are talking about the largest gaming market). For example, the most profitable of all f2p games of 2013 is Crossfire (Asia's sort-of version of Counter Strike) with almost $1 billion dollars profit that year. How is that not sustainable?


"Kickstarters are not a sustainable business model. (...)"

I agree that Kickstarter has more disappointments than it has success stories. I didn't mention it as a reliable future-proof model of developing games, but just to mention that it is another potential source of money for developers that wasn't available before.


"Anyone who says they are cites a couple of anectdotal situations"

With Kickstarter, I would really have to dig deep into some game database to find a Kickstarter game that I really thought was great. Still, that has nothing to do with the subject. Sustainable is when numerous developers can go there and get funded to make a game. Numerous developers did and Kickstarter is still there, financing more games. What comes out of it is a topic for another day. As for f2p, no anecdotal situations needed, the markets speak for itself. Waves of money speak clearly where the money is and where it's not.


"F2P often crosses the border into pay to win, making it fail miserably."

Pointing to a solution's drawback in some cases doesn't mean the model is unsustainable, it means the titles that fell to the trap and didn't bring home the bacon were unsuccessful. As this is a new financing model, companies fall into traps they didn't know exist and learn from their mistakes. Customers fall into pay-to-win traps that they will be more cautious about in the future. Still, considerabe amount of pay-2-win games are con artists like Electronic Arts that try to set up a system that would milk us of our money. But this is extreme and as every model, there are negative sides to it. Surprise, surprise: the most successful f2p games are not pay-2-win (on the PC market, Android is full of junk). You can't judge the sustainability of a free-2-play model on some random crappy Android games for 14-year old spoilt kids, you base it on the overall profit. Most of it is on PC and the most successful games are making an absolute killing and sit at the top of the PC games popularity ranking. You must have no insight into how surreal skill-ceiling and the how huge the amount of depth is involved in Dota and LoL (hence millions of people watching pros on Twitch every week), or haven't played Path of Exile - absolutely free hack'n'slash that takes its hat off only to Diablo 2 in the genre. Frankly, I don't even know what's there to pay for, as I haven't noticed anything. Team Fortress 2 is one of the most popular FPSes in the last few years and the payment system is.... hats - you pay for them. That's it. Not exactly ruining gamepay, isn't it? Check this article to see how sustainable f2p model was for Valve, regarding just Team Fortress 2:

http://uk.ign.com/articles/2012/03/08/how-and-why-team-fortress-2-made-valve-super-rich

Some Valve employees interviews suggest that the company has already made more money on f2p than on traditional gaming model. And since Valve is the king of PC, this means a very serious chunk of the segment is f2p (which makes for an argument from the beginning of the this post - there are some serious differences between consoles and PC that just can't be swept under the rug and trivialized). Did you know that Team Fortress modders earn up to six digits a year for their submissions to TF2? Quite an amount for people not directly involved with the company producing a game in unsustainabe mode :)



"Early Access is stupid. I don't think I'm unreasonable in asserting this, and I don't see why people like the idea. (...)"

What you wrote about it is the most serious argument against this system and it needs to be taken into consideration. However, there are few arguments that tip the scale in favor of this model in my opinion.

First of all, the feedback a company gets from developers in theory can drastically improve the end result. "In theory" doesn't mean we're lucid dreaming, it means that the possibility is there and whether the method will grow and adapt for good, depends on whether developers of the most popular titles do a good job once they start taking money. If they do, we can have some phenomenal games in the near future. Period. Spending tons of money and producing a game that in the end is still a shot in the dark can prove deadly, but when customers tell you what's what, in the end they can get the game they want. Instead of tweaking minor cosmetic functions of the end product carved in stone, everything is more plastic. Better feedback, better product. If the ears are willing to listen and the hands are willing to work.

Another thing is that this may completely alter the way the game works. Take Rust for example. It started with zombies, now there are no zombies. The game gives players the tools and sees what players do with it. Depending on how many people do what, the rules may change. It can leave a bad impression (we're supposed to tell the developer what his game is supposed to be about?), but this is when unknown new gaming worlds are explored and Rust is already proving that, despite its short life. If you haven't played the game, trust me, you wouldn't believe what is happening on those servers :D Certainly nothing that you've seen before anywhere else.

Which brings me to another point. I'm not totally sold on Early Access globally, but I know for sure that for online games where there are mainly interactions with other players, this is the best financing model possible, far surpassing traditional methods. You play an evolving beast, are on a ride to the unknown and may very well play 5 different games for the price of one before the lava solidifies.

Also, you don't pay $60 for game that will sell for $60 when the final version comes. Dayz, for example, is for half the price. So you don't get a half-product for full, but for half-price and while you're testing the features for the developers (still a different experience being desynced from time to time than intentionally running into walls 12 hours a day to check for errors), you're having the fun of your life. At least in Rust and Dayz you do. A bug or two once in a while don't ruin a game if it's already so much fun.
I'll keep it simple this time. I respect that we disagree, and concede that you have some points. While I don't agree with your analysis, you've done a good job supporting it. To that end, my comments stop here. Thank you for a reasonable and reasoned discussion.
Posted on Reply
#16
rtwjunkie
@ Etsudo and lilhasselhoffer: I truly enjoyed both of your seasoned, well-thought out and intelligent disagreement, and just wanted to say I appreciate it! It is very nice to be able to look at two different viewpoints that are discussed so in depth, and give me something to ruminate on!!
Posted on Reply
#17
Etsudo
Thanks for the exchange Lilhasselhoffer, I didn't write posts so long for God knows how long :) Rtwunkie, you should get a medal for getting through all that text :D
Posted on Reply
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