PC gaming sales continue to slide

Retail PC sales dropEvery few months, like clock work, console fanboys declare PC gaming dead and the console the future of electronic gaming. The traditional reaction from PC gamers has been something similar to "poppycock," but this time those fanboys might be on to something.

Now I’m not saying that PC gaming is dead, Crysis has already sold 1 million copies, but it is in a spot of bother at the moment and it could get a lot worse, very fast. With recent NPD numbers showing that retail PC games sales only made up around 14% of total 2007 sales in North America, even the staunchest, one-eyed PC gamer would have to step back and think for a moment.

It’s simply getting much cheaper and quite a lot easier to play games on console. With set ups like Xbox Live it is incredibly easy to follow a friend straight into an online match and be playing within minutes. Yes, this can be done with PC games, but with the console systems every game goes through the same friends list and the whole process is streamlined and just great to use.

Then there’s modding, one of PC gamings greatest assets. Mods are often cited as one of the major differences between PC gaming and console gaming, but now developers like Epic are offering the ability to use mods and custom maps on the console releases of their games.

When you have all these great features available on consoles, as well as the same games available on console and PC, it’s not surprising that more people are turning to consoles for their gaming fix.

Another aspect of the sales drop is the fact that more and more PC gamers are happily getting pirated versions of games instead of buying them. It is extremely easy nowadays to go along to a LAN or hop on the net, browse through someones FTP and then download a bunch of games you heard were good but didn’t feel like paying for. With illegal music and movie downloads being almost acceptable amongst gamers and internet users, a lot of people wouldn’t see their actions as being wrong or having much of an impact. Of course, when you take that single persons actions and multiply them a few hundred thousand times you start to see the problem.

Now of course there are still a lot of PC gamers out there and a lot of developers who have games planned for the next 5-10 years so PC gaming isn’t going anywhere fast. Some gamers, myself included, love building their computer, then over the years adding new componenets. There’s just something great about cracking open the box on your new video card and slotting in to the computer that you put together. You didn’t just go down to Best Buy and grab a 360 or PS3, you hand picked all of the components, put them together and then tweak them to squeeze every last frame out of the latest games. Makes you feel all warm inside ^_^

Another thing to remember is NPD numbers don’t take into account digital downloads from services such as Steam or Direct2Drive so there are a lot of sales figures from those channels that are not being released. Maybe this is the way of the future for PC games — digital downloads. Steam has already proven a hit and maybe if the games were at the right price, that person just downloaded the games might instead decide to buy the games. Maybe it’s another idea, something nobody has even thought of yet.

It doesn’t really matter what it is, but something has to be done. Publishers and developers need to start experimenting more and taking chances with both the games and the way we get them. If nothing is done these sales figures could get much worse.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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