"We do not see the PC as the leading platform for games," my sweet patootie

Subject: General Tech | October 25, 2011 - 02:08 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, jon peddie

When the senior gaming analyst from Jon Peddie Research notices that smartphone and tablet gaming is resulting in a direct increase in gaming on laptops and desktops you really have to wonder where Carmack formed his belief that the days of PC gaming are kaput.  As well a growing trend in Asia where you can go to a boutique style PC store, purchase your components and build your machine in store with the assistance of employees there is obviously a growing market of PC gamers.  DigiTimes does point out that the actual estimated growth for PC gaming hardware did shrink from $22 billion to $19 billion, but any industry seeing 11% growth in market is not dying.  From the sounds of JPR's research, mobile gaming grows the PC gaming market, not the console market.

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"Jon Peddie Research (JPR) has announced its latest figures on the PC gaming hardware market for the second half of 2011 and forecast to 2014.

In 2011, over 250 million game capable home and personal use PCs will ship. To get a sense of perspective, only 220 million PS3, the Wii, and Xbox 360 consoles have shipped since the era of the modern console began in 2005.

PC gaming hardware will grow at a rate of 11% through 2014. However, the ongoing economic recession is having its effect on even the gaming market. Taking the reality into consideration, JPR has reduced its 2011 global PC Gaming hardware market estimate to US$19 billion from US$22 billion.

Nevertheless PC gaming activity (as opposed to sales) has increased in 2011 as evidenced by ongoing game sales and online activity. JPR has raised estimates of the number of people playing PC games from their previous forecast by 3% for 2011. With a base of about a half billion people who regularly engage in PC gaming, gaming is an attractive market for hardware manufacturers, many of whom consider gamers in their product design and marketing."

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Source: DigiTimes

Battlefield 3 Has Optional High Resolution Texture Pack Install On Xbox 360

Subject: General Tech | October 10, 2011 - 03:46 AM |
Tagged: pc gaming, ea, dice, bf3, battlefield 3

The Battlefield 3 beta is almost at a close, and the Xbox 360 version of the game will come on two discs, one for the single player and one for the multiplayer modes. It is not all bad news, however. DICE has revealed that the Xbox 360 version will have an optional high resolution texture pack available on the second game disc that will bump up the graphical quality.

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GamerZines has quoted Battlefield 3 producer Patrick Liu as stating “There's a voluntary install on the 360. I think Rage did it as well where you can install content to stream higher res textures.” Further, he believes that Battlefield 3 is the best looking game (on the console).

The PC will have graphical settings (far) surpassing those of the Xbox 360 and PS3; however, it is not clear how the hierarchy will stack up from there. The PS3 may well also receive the high resolution texture pack included on the Blu-ray disc that will not need to be installed, but this has not yet been confirmed; therefore, how the Xbox 360 and PS3 will compare graphically remains to be seen.

Did you manage to get onto the Caspian Border map over the weekend? What are your thoughts on the graphics of Battlefield 3 on the PC and/or consoles?

Source: Gamer Zines

PC Gaming to Surpass Console Gaming in Revenue by 2015

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards | September 22, 2011 - 02:26 PM |
Tagged: skyrim, rage, pc gaming, diablo iii, consoles, battlefield 3, batman

During a conference call with NVIDIA this week some interesting information from DFC Intelligence, "a strategic market research and consulting firm focused on interactive entertainment and the emerging video game, online game, interactive entertainment and portable game markets" according to their webiste, was revealed that paints the world of PC gaming in a much more positive light than previously expected.  By anyone's account, the coming fall and winter release schedules are going to be packed with fantastic releases:

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Courtesy NVIDIA

Several of these games, including DOTA 2, Diablo III and The Old Republic are going to be PC-only titles with others (like Battlefield 3, RAGE and Skyrim) that will without question look better and play better on the PC.  This sets up a great time for hardware companies like NVIDIA and AMD to sell system upgrades in order to maximize user experience in these titles.  

And while most gaming pundits have been telling us for years that PC gaming is dying, the report from DFC tells a different story:

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Courtesy NVIDIA

Based on revenue alone, estimates show PC gaming to surpass the sales of console games by 2014 with steady growth.  How can this be?  Have you stopped by your local Gamestop or Best Buy and seen the shelf space devoted to PC games compared to that devoted to the Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and Wii?

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Courtesy NVIDIA

Here is the key and it is something we have always suspected but haven't really been able to nail down: packaged sales are dying while digital distribution methods and new monetary game mechanics are increasing.  Because the industry's most prolific digital sales platform is notoriously tight with sales numbers (Valve's Steam), we have to depend on third party reports from DFC and others.  According to this chart, the digital sales of gaming on the PC are skyrocketing and will take PC revenues past consoles in just a few years time.  

One note here: this does NOT just include downloaded games in the traditional sense.  Instead, new pay models like the monthly subscriptions of World of Warcraft and "free to play" models that charge for upgrades and additional features are really going to be pushing the industry forward.  Looking at titles like League of Legends that claims 15 million PC gamers worldwide and others like World of Tanks and World of Planes, this trend is growing and though it differs from the "traditional" PC gaming mentality, it appears to be dominating our future.

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Courtesy NVIDIA

Many a PC gamer has lamented about the "console port" generation of games and this graph demonstrates how the power of the PC and the power of the current generation of consoles have diverged over the years.  By NVIDIA's estimates we are now about 8-9x the performance level of the Xbox 360 when compared to the GTX 580 that currently sells for about $450.  But if you look at the quality difference between something like Deus Ex: Human Revolution on the PC and the consoles, you do NOT see anything close to that kind of improvement.  Game developers have always had their hands tied by having to develop for the lowest common platform and while the PC market (when dominant) meant an upgrade cycle of 2-3 years we are now hitting a 6th year of static console gaming power.

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Unreal Engine

If we want to see games that look like THIS, a screenshot from the Unreal Engine Samaritan demo, then we need to boost the baseline and soon. 

But the numbers that DFC Intelligence provided give hope to those die-hards in the enthusiast and PC gaming community that with the expanding reach and positive growth of the PC market as a whole, developers will see this as their chance to move the medium forward beyond the status quo. 

Source: PCPer

If the reset doesn't work the first time ... do it harder! Hard Reset Demo available

Subject: General Tech | September 7, 2011 - 03:50 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, gaming, hard reset, demo

Hard Reset has been described as an Old School Shooter, which you can read as similar to the original Doom.  Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN would like you to know that the demo has arrived on Steam as well as several other locations and that you should try to find time in between Space Marine and Deus Ex to play it.  The only real difference between this game and the predecessors it honours is your weapon.  Instead of starting out against the legions of Hell with a pop gun and hoping to find better weapons before you die, you start with a standard bullet-firing machine gun, and an electricity-firing plasma gun.  Through exploration and bloody killing sprees you gain XP which can be spent to upgrade your two weapons and eventually evolve them into completely different weapons. 

Enough reading, get out there and start blazing away.

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"The first mirror I’ve found for the demo of this “old school” PC-only shooter is here. The second is here. And it’s also on Steam. If you want something to read about what is in store for you while it downloads, you can go here. John says: “That’s mostly what Hard Reset is about. Having some weapons, and shooting at the enemies. Also, shooting at the scenery to make stuff blow up to destroy the enemies. And it’s no more sophisticated than that."

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Let us do some math, shall we? The cost of consoles

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | August 7, 2011 - 04:11 AM |
Tagged: pc gaming, consoles

There is a lot of discussion over how expensive the PC is compared to the consoles. I have heard from a number of former PC gamers who switched to the console to escape the large cost of ownership. I have also heard from a number of console gamers who claim that they cannot afford a three-thousand dollar gaming behemoth to just launch the typical PC game. Suffices to say, my head has exploded more times than causality allows for.

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Is your PC bleeding gushes of money?

Let us clarify something straight out of the gate before tl;dr kicks in: the true cost of a console is not the price you pay for the box itself. For proof, look at Sony: the cost of the $499 PS3 at launch was $805.85 according to CNET. That means that for each PS3 they sold they lost $306.85. You may think, “Pfft, that’s fine. They’ll make it up later.” Nope, it was mid-2010 before Sony made any money on each PS3 sales. They were bleeding for 3 years.

So where does Sony and Microsoft make their money? Firstly, Microsoft has that cash-cow Xbox Live that they have been milking for a substantial time now. You may consider $60 per year to be chump change however after 4 years that tallies up to 240$. I want you to consider the following: Xbox Live every 4 years, or a Radeon HD 6950 (Bundled with Dirt 3) for four years without paying a cent more? (Actually, okay -- you pay 3 cents more at $59.99-per-month{{edit: year, typo}}). It is also pretty much given that not only will your games look better than on a 360 by a long shot, you will also still be able to physically play games in four years’ time. You might be turning the quality settings to medium or low near the end of your card’s life cycle, but hey: at least you have the option for quality settings. Also, just because a console claims to run a game at a specific resolution does not mean it actually is. For instance, most Call of Duty games on the consoles are actually rendered at approximately 600p but are up-scaled to their listed resolutions.  To claim an upscaled 600p is 1080p would be like claiming a DVD upscaled is the same thing as a BluRay.

And this leads to our next point: You can buy a three-thousand dollar computer. You can also buy a Porsche. You do not need a Porsche to drive to work, but there are some distinct advantages to owning one that make it viable for a portion of the market. The rest of us can be perfectly happy driving to work with a Hyundai or a Chevy. Besides, it’s cheaper than paying a taxi. For good examples of cost efficient PCs, check out our constantly updated Hardware Leaderboard. Technically a license of Windows is not included, which is the one kink in PC gaming openness. Ideally we would be all running Linux or a similarly licensed OS not just for cost but also for longevity. Videogames will struggle as timeless art so long as the platforms they run on are not timeless. Unfortunately even in the PC gaming sphere there is no guarantee that the platform will just be torn out from under your dependent art. But, at least the PC platform is not designed to be disposable like the consoles. It is the lesser of two evils, and baby-steps to an ideal future.

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A moment of silence for your wallet.

So how much money are we talking about? I personally summed up how much I spent on the first Xbox in $10 per game license fees and $60 per year Xbox Live fees which came to $520 excluding the cost of the system itself and accessories which need to be replaced each generation for no sensible reason. Keep in mind; I was not a very extreme gamer purchasing only five games per year on average. Had I been PC exclusive, however, that would have been $500-some-odd dollars over the price of the system and accessories itself that I would not have needed to pay. The truth of the matter is over the long run you pay more to be a console gamer than a PC gamer unless you physically choose to pay more for your PC. Also, do not forget: due to the existence of proprietary platforms, if you own multiple systems because your games are only available on one or another, you are even further worse off.

There will be a follow-up article to this in the near future discussing what you are paying for with consoles – spoiler: it is, in general, not desirable.

PC: for all your Xbox gaming needs

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems | July 11, 2011 - 05:57 PM |
Tagged: xbox, pc gaming

Last week we reported on Microsoft rolling their Games for Windows initiative into Xbox.com and I essentially said that unless Microsoft is trying to roll their now established Xbox brand into Windows that they are missing the point of PC gaming. This week we hear rumors that, in fact, Microsoft may be trying to roll their now established Xbox brand into Windows. According to Insideris, Windows 8 will allow you to play Xbox 360 games on your PC. That said, despite speculation as a result of this news, it does not state whether it will be the complete catalog or a subset of 360 games that are compatible with the PC.

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Which came first? The console or the Newegg?

What does this mean for PC gaming? I am unsure at this point. A reasonable outcome would be that Xbox becomes a user-friendly brand for Microsoft’s home theatre PC initiatives which adds a whole lot more sense to the Windows 8 interface outside of the tablet PC space. This is a very positive outcome for the videogame industry as a whole since it offers the best of Xbox for those who desire it and the choice of the PC platform.

This however opposes Microsoft’s excessively strict stance on closed and proprietary video gaming platforms. Could Microsoft have been pushing their proprietary platform to gut the industry norms knowing that at some point they would roll back into their long-standing more-open nature of Windows? Could Microsoft be attempting to lock down PCs, meeting somewhere in the middle? We will see, but my hopes are that proprietary industry will finally move away from art. After all, why have a timeless classic if your platform will end-of-life in a half-dozen years at best?

Source: Insideris