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PC Game Market 'Becoming A Niche'? 169

simoniker writes "Gamasutra has quizzed game analysts from Wedbush Morgan, Screen Digest and DFC Intelligence on the state of the PC game biz, with thought-provoking results. From Michael Pachter's comments: 'The PC games market is becoming a niche, substantial in size, but a niche nonetheless.' David Cole also notes: 'When I first started covering the game industry back in 1994, the general consensus was PC games would dominate the market and console systems were doomed.' What changed?" How do you think Microsoft's recent push to treat the PC as the 'fourth console' will affect things?
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PC Game Market 'Becoming A Niche'?

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  • by popeguilty (961923) <popeguilty@@@gmail...com> on Monday September 11, 2006 @01:17PM (#16082172)
    In the gaming industry, the platform that hosts World of Warcraft and its seven million subscribers is a niche market?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by interiot (50685)

      I've got two friends who spend almost all their free time gaming. Both of them recently gave up PC gaming, citing HD, surround sound, and the ability to plop down on their couch while gaming as benefits of consoles, and having to spend $500+ every year to keep up with the latest games (and be competitive in multiplayer games) as downsides of PC gaming.

      Personally, I've moved my PC to my living room, and I think PC's will always be where the most innovative games come out, so I'm sticking with the PC. But

      • by richdun (672214) on Monday September 11, 2006 @01:37PM (#16082377)
        HD? Surround sound? Do you friends realize PC gaming has been pushing high res and surround sound for years? Sure, poly counts aren't always enough to make things look like real life, but my two year old machine can still crank out just about anything on my 20" wide monitor (1680 x 1050...so 10 lines short of HD, whatever) and optically connected DTS/Dolby Digital surround sound.
        • by ClamIAm (926466)
          High definition, as defined by ATSC [wikipedia.org] (successor to NTSC), does not require 1080 vertical pixels. The lowest resolution/refresh rate considered "HD" (according to the Wikipedia article) is 1280x720 at 23.976 frames per second (non-interlaced). I'm pretty sure your monitor can handle that.
          • by richdun (672214)
            Ah right. I was using the Sony definition (you know, the whole "The HD era begins with the 1080p PS3 that kinda sorta will support 1080p out of some boxes and only with an added cord"). Damn you Sony!
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        I've got to say that if your friends have to spend $500+ (I'm assuming CAD) per year just to stay competitive in multiplayer games they are either doing something wrong or aren't very good at them. I spent $1500 a year ago and I can still compete in all the latest games, and will still be able to (as I ramp details down) compete probably for the next 2 years atleast. My last machine before this one was a PIII 450mhz machine, and had only missed out on a year or two of PC games with only about $400 worth of
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          've got to say that if your friends have to spend $500+ (I'm assuming CAD) per year just to stay competitive in multiplayer games they are either doing something wrong or aren't very good at them. I spent $1500 a year ago and I can still compete in all the latest games, and will still be able to (as I ramp details down) compete probably for the next 2 years atleast.

          Let's see. $1500, and you're set for 3 years. $1500 / 3 = $500, which is what the GP claimed.

          Fascinating.
          • . . .at which point I spend another $200-$300 and extend it for another 2 or 3 years. If you had chosen to read the rest of my response, I stated that my last system lasted from 1998 until approximately 2004, with about $300 in upgrades. Also, the GP said $500 every year, implying that was above and beyond the initial purchase price. Once again, I've been hoisted by my own (unclear, I'll give you that) implications.
            • . . .at which point I spend another $200-$300 and extend it for another 2 or 3 years. If you had chosen to read the rest of my response...

              You must be new here.
      • and having to spend $500+ every year to keep up with the latest games (and be competitive in multiplayer games) as downsides of PC gaming.

        WTF; I assume they compete in the "get maximum fps on the fps of the week" category. Otherwise they'd only have to upgrade (perhaps) their PCs when switching to a new game in which they try to be competitive which shouldn't happen all that often because if you really love a game and want to be the best in it you don't change games every 3 months.

        And this whole cost arg

    • by twistedsymphony (956982) on Monday September 11, 2006 @01:26PM (#16082271) Homepage
      Yeah, I don't think it's so much a niche market as it's a SILENT market. Meaning a whole lot of the people who game on PC don't really consider themselves gamers, they don't camp out at Best Buy for the latest releases, they don't bombard message boards about their hobby. They'll pickup something that looks fun while they're out shopping for other things, or download something and play it in their spare time.

      You can't track sales of PCs that get used for gaming like you can consoles that get used for gaming... and the number of games available for the PC dilutes the market so you don't get clear winners like you do on a console with only a fraction of the library. PC games have a lot more staying power too. PC gamers are likely to buy WoW or EVE and be good for the next 6 months to a year, unlike console gamers who buy a gamer or two every month (because that's about how long most of them last). Not to mention the mod community adds to the longevity of a PC game's life.

      I wouldn't call PC games a niche market... PC gamers are just a DIFFERENT market, the gamers who play there have different tastes and attitudes towards gaming and the machines are good at running different types of games. The back and forth is pretty pointless because neither platform is going anywhere anytime soon.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by badboy_tw2002 (524611)
        So you're saying its a different, smaller market that you can't make as many sales to and you need customize how you make your product because the gamers have different tastes and attitudes. ...

        Yep, not a niche!
      • by master_p (608214)
        Let's also not forget all the pirated games that float around...there is a large percentage of the PC gamers' population that has bought very few games.

        No matter what official statistics say, the PC is the cornerstone of gaming. The PC is the easiest way that one can play all the PC hits of previous decades, all the hits of other machines via emulation, arcades via MAME and others, and of course the latest and greatest in sound and graphics (with the right hw of course).

        The PC is also the only medium that o
    • by Duds (100634)
      That's precisely WHY it's a niche market. The PC gamers spend their money on WOW, not on buying games.

      Therefore to EB and the like it becomes irrelevent.
    • by mrsbrisby (60242)
      In the gaming industry, the platform that hosts World of Warcraft and its seven million subscribers is a niche market?
      No, of course not.

      The platform that hosts World of Warcraft and it's 7 subscribers with a million accounts each is a niche market.
  • Some people look at graphics and CPU and note that consoles seem kilomteres ahead. Consider RAM--consoles will never have tons of gigabytes of space. Or hard disk space--for that matter. And despite all the cell's cores, we'll have more cores with PC's. SLI will never go into consoles as well. For the top end (yes, some gamers do have money), it's PC.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MustardMan (52102)
      That's the point though... the top end is almost always a niche market. Ferarris cater to a niche market of people want the highest-end sports car, 65" plasma HDTVs cater to the niche high-end home theater market, and PC games cater to the niche high-end hardcore gamer market.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Consoles only seem ahead for most games. But take a look at Oblivion, which clearly looks better on PC than the 360, even though it still looks pretty good on the 360.

      The main difference here, thus my preference for the PC version, is the modding. There's so many worthwhile mods out there now that there is no way i could play the vanilla game ever again. If more games were to value the aftermarket effect of moddable games, they'd certainly see sales a year or more after the game first came out. Just loo
    • I haven't seen anything on consoles that even compairs to a decent gaming PC setup in terms of graphics. People must be comparing $400 bare bone Dell systems when they come to that conclusion...
      • by SharpFang (651121)
        The problem is people are comparing the $400 bare bones Dell PC with a $399 "extended version" XBOX 360. Dollar for dollar, consoles are better.
    • by BlahMatt (931052)
      You just said it: "Some gamers do have money" . That's the niche that it will fit into. Gaming on a PC is just becoming too expensive. People can't afford to buy an Dual SLI system unless they want to spend two months worth of paychecks.

      Also, why would you say that consoles will never have hard disk space. They are using hard drives. It isn't too much of a hassle to throw in a larger one, or even a disk array. Same with "cores" as you put it. Also, why will consoles never have Gigs of ram?

      Sure, currentl
      • People can't afford to buy an Dual SLI system unless they want to spend two months worth of paychecks.

        BUT YOU DON'T NEED A SODDING EXPENSIVE DUAL-THINGY MACHINE TO HAVE FUN PLAYING PC GAMES!

        Almost any halfway-decent modern PC will do a halfway-decent job of playing most computer games at more than acceptable visual quality levels. Yes, you can spend ridiculous amounts of money on something that'll let you run a stupid resolutions and framerates, but the games themselves are the same. Take Half-Life 2, for i
    • When you're working for PC, you, at the very least, have to take into account the quirks of ATI and nVidia, of Intel and AMD, and more often than not also different additional problems that might arise when manufacturer build shoddy Graphics Cards and/or MoBos around them. Or you can simply forgo any optimization for CPU/GPU and go with DX, which, in turn, means currently that you'll have to dev for DX9 and DXX.

      This means that you have less time to optimize for PCs, because you have to optimize for differen
    • While your point is somewhat true, the things you mention are embarrassingly wrong.

      Consider RAM--consoles will never have tons of gigabytes of space.

      Maybe not, but they don't have that much less right now. Perhaps they will never have as much space as PCs, but then, consoles will also never have the spyware to fill it. In any case, saying that they will never have gigabytes of RAM is just stupid. The N64 had an upgrade that gave you 4 megs more RAM, which was a huge improvement. Compare that to the sp

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by SharpFang (651121)
      PC offers a wider range of choice.
      The problem is that consoles offer better bang for the buck.

      You can spend $4000 and get an incredible PC capable of absolutely wonderful graphics. You can spend $200 and get something barely capable of running an average game. Or you spend $800 for an average setup that allows you to play at very nice, acceptable though not incredible level. Or you spend $400 and get a console capable of the same level as your $800 setup. PC is a pretty smooth performance-price curve. The c
  • It is just another "Death is coming to the PC gaming market" article in the guise of "niche market is coming to the pc gaming market". Just ignore it.
  • Market (Score:3, Interesting)

    by the computer guy nex (916959) on Monday September 11, 2006 @01:23PM (#16082243)
    "In the gaming industry, the platform that hosts World of Warcraft and its seven million subscribers is a niche market?"

    You do know 7 million subscribers is less than the number of copies Blizzard has sold with Diablo2 and with Starcraft right?

    PC's are becoming a niche market - for MMORPG's. Everything else to this point seems better fit for a console.

    The number of dollars saved from having to test and develop for endless combinations of CPU/GPU/OS/etc is enormous. That extra time/money is spent enhancing the game rather than just making it work.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Aladrin (926209)
      You are assuming that # of subs = # of copies sold. This is not true.

      I don't know the numbers, but I'm guessing there were a LOT more copies sold than current subscriptions.
      • by drsquare (530038)
        Actually when you consider all the Orientals playing in internet cafes, the number of subscriptions is probably a lot higher than copies sold.
    • PC's are becoming a niche market - for MMORPG's. Everything else to this point seems better fit for a console.

      I'm sure there will be a ton of replies to mention that FPS and RTS games are also still better suited for PCs, because of the controllers. However this could quickly change if the Wii's controller does the job well.

    • Re:Market (Score:5, Informative)

      by thebdj (768618) on Monday September 11, 2006 @01:43PM (#16082427) Journal
      You do know 7 million subscribers is less than the number of copies Blizzard has sold with Diablo2 and with Starcraft right?
      I call partial BS. I will give you Starcraft and the 9 million copies. The numbers [wikipedia.org] here may be a bit old, but you will have a hard time, without a valid updated sales number, proving that they managed to sell another 3 million copies of D2. Don't forget this platform also has The Sims at nearly 20 million. I would hardly call this a niche market yet.

      The number of dollars saved from having to test and develop for endless combinations of CPU/GPU/OS/etc is enormous. That extra time/money is spent enhancing the game rather than just making it work.
      I call BIG BS on this one. I do not think there is nearly as much combination testing as you think. Also, this notion they are spending more time and money to enhance the game is laughable. One of the biggest complaints about the industry has been a repetition of gameplay with only graphics getting better. Don't forget your PC has more storage for a) better graphics, b) more levels, and c) more gameplay/extras. I do not buy this notion that less testing somehow equals more work on the game. Remeber for PC, you have an unlimited beta community. You can do pre-release betas and thanks to the patching (which apparently consoles are slowly catching onto) you can fix the bugs you didn't catch in Betas.
      • by kafka47 (801886)

        I would hardly call this a niche market yet.

        Good point. And also the games that are not on this list. Millions of people playing casual games or web-based casual. Also there are plenty of games overseas that never see the light of day in North America, yet are vastly more popular in terms of subscribership than many of the games listed there.

        I call BIG BS on this one. I do not think there is nearly as much combination testing as you think.

        Ouch. :-)

        Well unfortunately for us, it's pretty true in any

        • I don't have AOE3 installed at the moment, but I know that it ran (albeit slowly) on my 6 or so year old Radeon 9000 Pro card.

          While I really need to upgrade my video card, that's not the point I'm trying to make. The point is... how old are the cards on that list?
      • by timeOday (582209)
        Remeber for PC, you have an unlimited beta community.
        Yup, even after you go gold. "Sell now, patch later." That's part of why I quit PC gaming.

        Online cheating didn't help either, but neither am I willing to let Steam take over my computer. But I don't so much mind DRM in a console, because it doesn't interfere with more important applications.

    • by VJ42 (860241)
      Everything else to this point seems better fit for a console.

      What console is a "better fit" FOR Civ 4, Rome total War, the C&C series or any other RTS game and most decent FPS games (COD, Battlefield & Steam all play best on the PC)? PC gaming is far from dead in any of the afore mentioned generes; and they certainly arn't "better fit" to console gaming.
      • I almost feel dirty saying it, as Nintendo fanboyism is so rampant around these parts, but the Wii probably will be.

    • Re:Market (Score:4, Insightful)

      by rwven (663186) on Monday September 11, 2006 @01:54PM (#16082542)
      The funny thing about your statement is that you fail to realize that 99% of all top-end, ground-breaking First/Third Person Shooters are released on the PC long before they make it to any consoles...

      Same with RTS games...and adventure games...and flight simulators...(and MMORPG's)...I could go on and on.

      It seems to me like Consoles are a just niche for sports, fighting and racing games...and a lot of those are even released at the same time or slightly earlier on the PC...

      There was an article on /. on the recent past talking about how all the "PC's are dying" doomsdayers were all wrong and how PC gaming is making a large comeback.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by advocate_one (662832)

        There was an article on /. on the recent past talking about how all the "PC's are dying" doomsdayers were all wrong and how PC gaming is making a large comeback.

        kindly explain to me then just why it is that shelf space for PC games is shrinking in the shops... you're lucky these days if you have two racks... most of the shops in my city just have the one cabinet and most of that is devoted to budget games and pre-owned.

        The entire rest of the shelfspace in the shops is devoted to console games and consoles.

        • by rwven (663186)
          Ever heard of best buy? Walmart? Target? These and plenty of other retailers that have PC game sections far larger than any single console section.

          The Target I go to often carries about 30 games for each console...and then has an entire aisle featuring PC games.

          The Walmart I go to has one whole aisle for PC games and one whole aisle for all brands of console games...

          The best buy I go to has 2 aisles for console games and 6 aisles for PC games.

          The only major retailer who's done anything in the way of maki
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by npsimons (32752)

          kindly explain to me then just why it is that shelf space for PC games is shrinking in the shops

          Since I'm all out of mod points, and you're a friend of mine, I'll "kindly" explain it to you: PC games have moved on. They've already hit the next generation of distribution and are leading the way with online games and online content like Valve's Steam. Heck, I buy all my Linux games online! Who needs shelf space when you can skip the long line of losers waiting outside Best Buy at 3AM and order your game

          • by drsquare (530038)
            I think you vastly underestimate the number of people downloading their games. Remember most people are still on dialup or heavily-capped broadband.

            PC shelves are shrinking because the PC game marking consists of Wow, the Sims, and a couple of FPSes.
        • I game almost 100% on the PC and I've bought two boxes in the past two years, both from a non-gaming store. PC games have a greater lifespan due to modding, they're available for digital download, etc, etc. With digital downloads, lots of times you keep the key pretty much indefinitely, too, so you don't have to worry about scratching a CD or losing an install. The current crop of games-dedicated stores that are all owned by that one conglomerate (I forget which, exactly) also have their PC games jacked up
      • by xenocide2 (231786)
        I must be confused, I'm pretty sure tons of PC games get released simultaneously with the Xbox (if not before). Really, about the only things I see on store shelves for PC of any merit are first person shooters and MMORPGs. Any "PC gaming ISNT dying" article would have to square with the miniscule shelf space given to PC games in stores.
        • by rwven (663186)
          Miniscule? Read my previous reply. You need to shop around before you form some biased opinion against PC gaming. I own a gaming PC and two consoles. It was three consoles until last weekend when I sold one of them. There's nothing "biased" about what I'm saying. I'm dealing with logic. The article at hand is dealing with emotion and worthless conjecture.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        Consoles are for games that have been tried out and refined on a PC first. PCs are for anything new and inventive comes out first for a really simple, obvious, reason: there's no financial barrier. Way back in 94 when PCs were dominating, was about the time consoles were in a rut because there wasn't enough innovation, but PCs had some pretty different, entertaining games. 3D graphics were just being demonstrated as viable in real time (although computers had been doing it a while, it really lept forward ar
    • PC's are becoming a niche market - for MMORPG's. Everything else to this point seems better fit for a console.

      FPS. I like the mouse.

      RTS. And the genre isn't dead, there are still interesting things being done with games like Natural Selection and Tremulous.

      Mods. Free games. Everything on a console seems to have a price tag these days. While Steam is leading the PC in that same general direction, it's still possible to find a huge number of very interesting, very fun games that you can download and p

    • by RingDev (879105)
      So 14 million copies at $40 = $560 million.

      7 million copies at $40 = $280 million.

      3 million subscribers paying $13.95/month for a full year = $502 million per year.

      Even if that number drops off dramatically after three years, they're still set to gross well over a billion dollars on the WoW franchise. With expansions and a continued fan base, they'll have have no problem pulling down billions more.

      Calling PC Gaming "niche" is like calling Microsoft "niche". Like whys, calling console gaming "niche" is just
    • by CAIMLAS (41445)
      You're kidding, right?

      Name one non-PC/console gaming franchise, aside from the (arguably exceptional) NES-derived Nintendo titles (Zelda, Metroid, etc.) which are shackled to the console itself, that have taken off under their own power?

      The only one I can think of is Halo, and that was arguably a huge success solely because of Microsoft's marketing empire. Meanwhile, there have been many PC game franchises which have made game after game - Mechwarrior/Battletech universe, "Sim" whatever, Quake/Doom, Duke Nu
  • different focus (Score:4, Interesting)

    by EggyToast (858951) on Monday September 11, 2006 @01:23PM (#16082246) Homepage
    I think PC games will have to stop focusing on having the most whiz-bang graphics and actually try to be innovative. The recent spat of high quality FPSs have explored new ways of story telling... but are still, very obviously, FPSs.

    With the constant push for fancier and fancier graphics, the push for new hardware keeps people from really getting into gaming on PCs. There are PC gamers, and then there's people who play old games and puzzle games. Sure, you can drop your graphics down a notch and play some of the newest games, but even then they don't often work (and often the graphics that are reduced truly affect the gameplay or ambience, making the game no longer all that fun).

    We just had a super-cheesy "article" about why consoles are better, but regardless of subjectivity, it's very true that with consoles people only need to buy one thing, and then are free to play any game for that system. People aren't afraid of gaming on consoles. If Microsoft succeeds in making Vista a "stable target" for game development, with any game that's "Vista-approved" playable to high standards, then I think it could come back. But playing with a mouse/kb is limiting as well, and the gamepad market is all but extinct. If nothing major changes, then PC gaming will likely remain a niche for the forseeable future.

  • by gorbachev (512743) on Monday September 11, 2006 @01:23PM (#16082247) Homepage
    I swear every time this clown opens his moouth, I feel the urge to punch things.

    As clueless as he always is, I'm sure he is bound to have heard of World of Warcraft, the most successful video game on any platform, ever.

    Niche my ass.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by AndyG314 (760442)
      World of Warcraft, the most successful video game on any platform, ever.
      By what criteria do you declare WoW to be the most successful video game ever? If you were going by total units sold, wikipedia gives that to the sims for the pc at over 16 million, and original mario borthers sold over 40 million (though it was bundled with the NES so that number is kinda skewed). WoW isn't the top grossing game of all time eather.
      • WoW has 7,000,000 active subscribers.

        That's roughly $100M every single month. That's $1.2B per year.

        And since it's subscriptions revenue, it's ALL going to Blizzard/Vivendi unlike revenue from copies sold, where the publisher/developer has to give a cut to the retailers and others involved in selling the game.

        Mario might've sold 40 million copies. At $30 a pop that's about the same amount of money WoW makes in a year. At $40 a pop, 15 months worth of revenue. At $50 a pop 20 months.

        I'd love to have a positi
      • 7 million subscribers @ $50 for game = $350 million
        7 million subscribers @ $15 / month = $1260 million / year
        Total: $1.6 billion + $1.2 billion/year

        Box office totals for the top grossing movies:
        Titanic: $600 million
        Star Wars: $461 million
        Shrek 2: $436 million
        Total: $1.5 billion

        I would not be the least bit surprised if World of Warcraft was the most successful entertainment venture of all time.
        • by snuf23 (182335)
          Except of course that WoW in Asia is not sold the same way. In most cases they are not paying for the boxed game. Usually payment is on a pay for play type of arrangement via a gaming cafe. Also they pay a lot less in places like China because it has to be affordable for the Chinese market. Distribution in Asian countries is not directly done through Blizzard/Vivendi but rather in conjunction with local MMO companies - so all of that cash doesn't flow straight back to Blizzard.
          I'm just saying your numbers a
    • by drsquare (530038)
      World of Warcraft is just one game. That's why PC gaming is a niche, it has a few big titles, and the rest isn't even on the radar. There is no depth to the market at all.
  • It seems like people are saying this every two hours and thirteen minutes. That's how long it took from the last story on games.slashdot, that said pretty much the exact same thing.
  • by Rhys (96510)
    Until MMOs die out (not looking likely) and voice chat takes the place of MMO text chat (yes just what I want to hear the oriental gold farmer spam-yelling "GOLD LOVEBUY SIXTY FOR ONE THOUSAND" in a bad accent), you can bet that PC gaming isn't going anywhere. Or until consoles get keyboards, I suppose, but those aren't usually standard equipment even if they are available.

    Blizzard is claiming 7 mil subscribers right now. They're paying them $15 a month, which is about 3-4 games a year. Plus the expansion (
    • by Babbster (107076)
      It may not "go anywhere," but that still doesn't make it any less "niche." Even Civilization 4 (since you mentioned it) virtually requires a graphics upgrade for someone 2-3 years behind to run, and it's a turn-based strategy game!

      I don't think anyone with PC gaming experience could contend that PC gaming isn't fun, but compared to console gaming it's absolutely a niche market. It has fewer games with high production values, it requires more work and money to keep up with technology and PC games are ha
      • by Rhys (96510)
        Actually I'm pretty sure my 2-3 year old PC would run Civ4 just fine, but I'll admit my machines are probably well above the "average" PC, especially in the memory and graphics memory. Heck, I can run Civ4 on my 3 year old laptop -- now I'll admit the terrain doesn't render on screen ("show tile production", units, and cities show up fine, which is most of what you need anyway) but c'mon. It is a ultra-portable laptop. The fact I got half a game played in on it while on the road (just after Civ4 came out) s
  • the general consensus was PC games would dominate the market and console systems were doomed."What changed?"

    Um a decent video card costs as much as an entire console... PC games with a few notable exceptions, have gone from being able to play them on almost any PC, to now only being truely playable on top of the line machines. Once you reach the pint where The point of entry for a PC game is 1GB of RAM, and a $200 video card it becomes hard to compete with a $200 - $300 console.

    Blizzard has done one thing v
    • the general consensus was PC games would dominate the market and console systems were doomed."What changed?"

      Um a decent video card costs as much as an entire console... PC games with a few notable exceptions, have gone from being able to play them on almost any PC, to now only being truely playable on top of the line machines. Once you reach the pint where The point of entry for a PC game is 1GB of RAM, and a $200 video card it becomes hard to compete with a $200 - $300 console.

      So, you're saying that they

      • by CAIMLAS (41445)
        Yep. I've not paid more than about $150 for a graphic card in ages - hell, I've not even bought any new yardware for probably 2.5+ years now. I've not bene playing many of the newer games, but I can play HL2 and Doom 3 just fine.
    • by CAIMLAS (41445)
      What are you, 12?

      There was a period of time, a very brief period of time - maybe a year? - prior to Doom 4's release, where this was the case. Everyone was waiting for Doom 4 and HL2 to expand the software side of PC gaming, and the video card and processor companies were both pumping out hardware which was above and beyond what games needed to operate optimally - a system to play "top of the line" games really could have bene made for almost the cost of a pre-discount X-box.*

      PC gaming has always cost more
  • Show me a decent beat-em-up for a PC. Anyone? Ok, well, then show me a decent MMORPG or flight sim on a console. Well?

    In a nutshell, both platforms have their benefits and shortcomings. Mostly, interesting enough, not because of their computing hardware or their capabilities, but because of their controllers. Yes, of course, there are gamepads for PCs and for some consoles there are ways to attach a mouse or steering wheel, but they are few and far between, and it's not what people are looking for when they
  • I don't think PCs are only good for MMO's. I have 7.1 surround for my PC (cheaper than 5.1 surround for my living room, too) and I like the graphics and mouse/kb better for more than just MMOs. First-person games, of which shooters may be the best known but not the only kind, are much easier and more fun for me at my PC. In fact, I only like consoles better for having people over and playing multiplayer - all other games that I play, even if it's multiplayer, I prefer on the PC.
    • by CAIMLAS (41445)
      Yep. I do NOT understand how someone can prefer a joystick (or set of joysticks, really) over a mouse and keyboard when you're dealing with fluid movements. Especially when I see the "good" players with such crude instruments - a good CS:S console player would get his ass handed to him quickly if he were saddled with the controler against PC players (just as an example).
  • I agree with most of the other comment posters in this thread - PC games are by no means a niche market - but the article headline says 'Becoming a niche', and I think that's key.
    I think we're starting to see more and more developers putting their main focus behind consoles, then just doing a lazy port over to PC (Ubisoft's XIII and Beyond Good & Evil spring to mind). When this happens PC game quality suffers, and does in fact become a niche.
    We're not there yet, certainly not for at least 3 or 4 more ye
  • by Kirin Fenrir (1001780) on Monday September 11, 2006 @01:44PM (#16082442)
    What I find funny is that every time I hear a report that "PC is a smaller gaming market than consoles", they are comparing the PC gaming market to all the current-gen consoles combined. That's hardly fair, since consoles are completely incompatable with each other and shouldn't be lumped into the same market.

    Now, compare the PC market to just the XBox 360 market, or to just the PS2 market...and suddenly it's not a niche at all. It's an alternative.
  • Today's consoles are capable of pushing much more pixels that are comparable to current computers, than consoles 10 years ago compared to comptuers 10 years ago. And think of the price difference as well for consoles to computers back then as well. Not everybody is going to spend thousands of dollars so they can get the latest GeForce2 (!) to play quake or halflife.

    That said, I beleive the PC Game Market has always been a niche. Yes, including the Sims despite the huge market penetration (that's more a

  • Except for servers, for all generations of PCs, PC games were the major driver for increased PC processor speed and video display requirements. New versions of Windows helped cause the increase in processor speed and memory requirements, but new versions of Windows were introduced must less often than games were introduced. Most PCs and video cards released in the past 5 years will run Windows 2000 or XP and normal user applications just fine, and there has been no reason to upgrade hardware -- unless yo
    • by nologin (256407)
      I personally think that the hardware manufacturers are a part of the problem rather than the unfortunate victims here...

      What makes consoles attractive is that the upgrade cycle is measured in periods of years. If your only purpose is to play games, the low price (discounted hardware recouped through game licensing) and the idea that the game platform will still be the same in a few years means that the cost of having a gaming platform is relatively cheap in comparison to...

      PC gaming, which has been trying t
  • by kafka47 (801886) on Monday September 11, 2006 @02:21PM (#16082844) Homepage

    Which pretty much sums up the console versus PC debate. But that's not what this article was about.

    They asked three industry analysts, three questions:

    • Is the PC Game industry being marginalized?
    • Are consoles an alternative to Piracy?
    • Will Microsoft help PC Gaming? Will Vista help PC gaming?
    They all seem to agree that spending on PC games will experience decline. Yet none of them seem to reliably explain why. One of them completely fudged all three of the questions.

    The Realities of Online Digital Media

    iTunes. People were "obtaining" mp3's back in 1996. But it wasn't until last year that a storefront was erected, with the necessary legal and contractual agreements, to actually go and purchase a piece of digital music online. Media organizations are among the most stolidly conservative entities in the business world, the reason is because they are shit-scared. Why? Well, it's like how Esther Dyson put it : "The gatekeepers...which are dependant on putting content into inefficient containers...are going to lose."

    Big game companies are no different than other big media, having built their entire businesses around the processes and tools that made their products yesterday. New stuff (ie innovation), makes them nervous. Which is why we don't see a lot of radical entertainment coming into mainstream gaming.

    Contrary to doomsayers, I've noticed that there is a literal explosion in gaming (particularly online), in which the PC is the central delivery platform. MMOGs. Simple, easy-to-run downloadable casual games. Browser-based games. Digital distribution (from Game Tunnel to Manifesto to Steam and everything in between). The consoles can not do any of these things (they will one day, but right now they're not stealing anyones cake when speaking about online games).

    Even WoW has greatly expanded the online gaming market to include people who have literally never played a game online before in their lives. The trend is now unstoppable. Where are they going to go when the lustre of Epic grinding has faded away? They'll try new games. What about the casual gamers (meaning, your grandma)? Is the ad revenue generated by casual gaming portal sites added into the spreadsheets of the PC gaming industry?

    Note that not one of the above examples spells monetary goodness for retail stores. But that's the nature of digital media - the suppliers who put stuff on shelves are eventually going to lose and will smartly move to service-based and value-added outlets.

    Not Piracy, it's Standardization

    Yes modded consoles really stop piracy. Prepare for DEATH when the latest consoles get hacked.

    Consoles are less about piracy than they are about a standardized implementation base, which reduces the headaches of supporting a divergent hardware base. This is where the console is vastly superior to the PC. This is where costs are lowered in the release phase of a game (meaning, technical support and patching), and filtered back into the development phase of the game.

    Vista

    Perhaps, Microsoft will help PC gaming. A greater emphasis on the OS-level can do nothing but achieve this. I don't think the XNA-XBLA route will be particularly significant for AAA, but the casual space should benefit.

    A good reason that Microsoft just recently pushed XBLA + XNA for indies is because they control the tools, the media and the channel. They can afford to grab the mindshare because they'll profit from it any way you slice it up. More developers mean more games. More games mean more consoles. It's win-win for them.

    Six years ago people were ringing the bell for the PC's demise. Three years ago, yet again. Two...One...oh whoops, the PC is still here. It's all about the games, and how we want to play them. Right now, consoles and PCs seem to make their respective audiences very happy.

  • Actually, loads of normal people play loads of games on PCs. However, virtually none of them are the slightest bit interested in paying for insanely expensive kit and the latest games. Get real - the number of people playing Solitaire and MahJongg (the two top games in my house) is astronomical. Most of the world is not going to go out and buy a new game while they are having fun with the one they play now.

    Fanatics may be in short supply, and the market for new games, console or otherwise may be drying up,

  • One major difference between the PC segment and the console segment is that console makers have an incentive to promote their platform. The PC gaming platform has no advocate spending $$speech$$ and tracking ROI.

    Come to think of it, if I wanted to promote my console, it would help immensely if the PC platform were declared a "niche."
  • Another interesting difference between the PC platform and a console platform is a dictated controller. A platform company can design and mandate a new controller while PC games must write to a the controllers (mouse, keyboard, joystick) that the marketplace has accepted. It's a real case of the Cathedral v the tragic commons.
  • With consoles slowly turning into PCs themselves, especially in terms of cost, I don't see how the PC gaming market will become marginalized. At some point consoles will become so expensive that people will get more value just spending a few hundred more on a decent PC. This is already the case in most of Europe and parts of Asia.

    In the meantime, despite all the nonsense "experts" like to claim the market isn't going to change at all. The market is going to continue as it has the past 10-15 years. Every so
    • The only reason educational software sells at all is because parents look at the alternatives and think that the educational games are somehow better. Children don't typically want to learn. Buying a game isn't going to change that. Educational games are boring.

      Those who played Carmen Sandiego or the ripoff Mario is Missing aren't going to remember anything from it. I suppose the nerds like me will, but that's about it.

      Melissa
  • I kind of want to be like "duh." PC gamers bring up good points about not needing to run top of the line anything to have fun playing games, but that doesn't change the fact that if you're, lets say, an average gamer with a modest income, you will get much a much better looking (and more importantly: smoother looking) frame rate on new games for far less money, even if I were to buy a PS3.

    Additionally, installing, playing new pc games and worrying about hardware is pretty much just as much a pain in the bu
  • It's impossible for a platform with a base that large to be considered a niche. What PC gaming is is a collection of niches supplemented by big-name FPSes, RTSes, and casual games. People go to the PC to create games with a small audience because PCs are cheaper to develop and distribute for, and the keyboard-and-mouse setup allow for a wider variety of control configurations than the console controllers do. There's no way you're going to see grognard war games, 4X strategy games, or Myst-like adventure
  • by rabbot (740825) on Monday September 11, 2006 @04:59PM (#16084419)
    I must of been too busy playing FPS, RTS, and MMO's to realize that PC gaming is now a niche market.
  • I do not think that word means what you think it means.

    Seriously...a lot of people consider gaming a niche market in general. Now PC's are a niche market compared to consoles?

    Let me break it down slowly for all these game "journalists". There are certain types of games that are better on PCs. These tend to be games that require more complexity than what you can play with a controller. I would not want to play Civ IV on a console controller, for example. These games are very popular. As long as there
  • I mean, it must be a niche if EVERY GAME I AND EVERYONE ELSE I KNOW plays is on the computer. With everything from stepmania, urban terror, civilization, chess, EVERY NINTENDO 64 GAME, EVERY NINTENDO GAME, EVERY PLAYSTATION GAME, EVERY SUPER NINTENDO GAME, EVERY GENESIS GAME, AND LOADS of old DOS games, windows games, and of course all the best FPS, driving simulators, flight simulators, MySpace (kind of a game?), and Hot or Not on a 12 foot projected screen (1024x768 ~ $500), I don't know anybody who's re

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