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PC market in danger?


Romier S
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Posted at Gamespot:

 

PC gaming in danger

 

PC games have come in for their share of bad press recently. In the current issue of Game Developer magazine, respected game designer Feargus Urquhart commented on "the lack of support for the PC as a gaming platform." Of course, the game conference circuit just wouldn?t be the same without the requisite "Is PC Gaming Dying?" panel.

 

Recently, the hot topic took a decidedly darker turn. Last week, a number of widely read game forums posted entries suggesting that EBgames and GameStop, two of the nation's biggest specialty retailers, would remove all PC games from their inventories as soon as the holidays passed.

 

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Recently, the hot topic took a decidedly darker turn. Last week, a number of widely read game forums posted entries suggesting that EBgames and GameStop, two of the nation's biggest specialty retailers, would remove all PC games from their inventories as soon as the holidays passed.

 

Do people buy pc games in specialty stores anymore? They are usually a lot more expensive than best buy or online.

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Originally posted by MrMike@Dec 16 2003, 10:20 AM

Recently, the hot topic took a decidedly darker turn. Last week, a number of widely read game forums posted entries suggesting that EBgames and GameStop, two of the nation's biggest specialty retailers, would remove all PC games from their inventories as soon as the holidays passed.

 

Do people buy pc games in specialty stores anymore? They are usually a lot more expensive than best buy or online.

If they want them on release day, they do. The EB's I've patronized over the years have always been good about pricematching the Big Box stores, too.

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The EB's I've patronized over the years have always been good about pricematching the Big Box stores, too.

Hell, if you patronized me in that Batman outfit, I'd pricematch any price for you too just to get you the hell out of my store and as far away from my customers as I possibly could. :D

 

-Dean-

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The EB that I work in does very well with PC games actually. It's actually a fairly large segment of our sales.

 

But whoever our buyers are must be crazy. Way too often we get way too many copies of new PC games while console games we tend to only get a few unless it's a big release.

 

For example, a game like Top Spin Tennis we were getting 4 copies at a time, selling out of them quickly and then having to wait for more. PGR2 we got about 8 copies initially, POP for GC we got 2, Fifa 04 for GC we got a single copy. All of those games we needed more.

 

With PC games, even if it's not a huge title, it's not unusual for us to get 30+ copies and then be stuck with a bunch of them until they're cleared out or finally recalled. We still have stacks of Shadowbane, Eve Online, and Enter The Matrix that we can't get rid of. We had some 400 copies of Frozen Throne at one point and while that sold very well, it has slowed recently and we still have a few unopened cartons of the game with the "Do Not Open Before July 1st" stickers on them.

 

Just recently we got stuck with a crapload of copies of War of the Ring (and we were supposed to get more since one of the cartons got lost in shipping) and Horizons.

 

If EB and the like are not so warm on PC games, I would think that part of it might be that they get stuck with all this inventory that they have to continously mark down to get rid of it. Of course, if they stopped buying so much, then it wouldn't be such a big problem. They seem to be able to get it right most of the time with console games, but with PC games it seems like we only get either 1, 2, 30, or 60 copies of a game.

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Of course, if they stopped buying so much, then it wouldn't be such a big problem.

 

And I suspect that's whats actually going to happen rather than "all PC Games" getting ditched. They'll ship less of each title to each shop, and the "boutique" titles - the obscure, small releases - may not get shipped at all.

 

I saw the posts that sparked that GameSpot story, and the original poster has kind of "gone back" on what he originally said after being put under a lot of pressure to back it up with cold hard facts. Changes are afoot by all accounts, one way or another.

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I know I'm going to attract flames like flys, but if MS would just sanction a release of a USB keyboard and mouse for XBox, I'd never upgrade my PC again (except maybe HDD for more storage.) PC gaming is a blast, but the costs and constant updating is just getting out of control.

 

Sure it can display better graphics and online is more robust, but $600-1000 to upgrade my PC every 2 years for the next great thing (HL2 or D3 right now) compared to ~$250 over 4 years for an Xbox. Well, you understand what I'm saying here...

 

Then I could put Linux on the PC and use it for web browsing, email, and office stuff with a PIII chip in there forever.

 

Back to you Johnny Torch... :green:

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Originally posted by Snakefish@Dec 16 2003, 07:17 PM

I know I'm going to attract flames like flys, but if MS would just sanction a release of a USB keyboard and mouse for XBox, I'd never upgrade my PC again (except maybe HDD for more storage.) PC gaming is a blast, but the costs and constant updating is just getting out of control.

 

Sure it can display better graphics and online is more robust, but $600-1000 to upgrade my PC every 2 years for the next great thing (HL2 or D3 right now) compared to ~$250 over 4 years for an Xbox. Well, you understand what I'm saying here...

 

Then I could put Linux on the PC and use it for web browsing, email, and office stuff with a PIII chip in there forever.

 

Back to you Johnny Torch... :green:

Noone's gonna flame you, Snake. :-)

 

If anything, I agree with you about the constant upgrading being a hassle. For that reason primarily, I no longer play many games on PC, if at all.

 

However, why would you want a KB and Mouse for your Xbox? You even said yourself the Linux PC would take care of the web and other tasks...

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Then I could put Linux on the PC and use it for web browsing, email, and office stuff with a PIII chip in there forever.

 

Except for the Linux part, this is the route I decided to take when I got my Dreamcast way back in the old days. I grew weary of constant upgrades and fighting with drivers and patches.

 

I wonder how many people with XP machines plan to upgrade the machine significantly? I'd say "XP machines and Macs," but my friends will remind me that no one buys a Mac for games anyway.

 

And I can see why "ca[t" doesn't like keyboards; look at the trouble he has with them! ;)

 

-"j["

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I think the phrase "constant upgrades" isn't really true. You can buy a top of the line PC today and it will last you for 3-5 years without problems. Around year 4 you will probably encounter games that don't run as well as they could but are still completely playable. Whats the lifespan of a console? 4-5 years? So its about the same. The only people who constantly upgrade are more concerned about increasing their benchmark numbers than actually playing games and using the machine.

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Being an FPS purist myself. I agree 100% with you Snakefish. Give me a keyboard and mouse for FPS!

 

MrMike,

I'm going to beg to differ with that statement. Around 3 years ago I had a 1Ghz Athlon with a Geforce 2 Ultra, top of the line and a smoking machine at the time. With that machine could I play Knights of the Old Republic today......nope. Would that machine play DOOM3 or even Half-Life 2.....nope probably not, or atleast not anyway that I would want to play them.

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I think Snakefish is a FPS purist.

 

yup :D That and for RPG or MMORPG type games, you want that keyboard to really hit all the hotkeys you need quick enough. I must admit when I typed that post I was specifically thinking of the automated buy scripts you could assign to keys in PC Counterstrike. I really miss that feature on Xbox (but otherwise I love the XBox version over the PC.)

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Originally posted by MrMike@Dec 17 2003, 12:31 PM

I think the phrase "constant upgrades" isn't really true ... The only people who constantly upgrade are more concerned about increasing their benchmark numbers than actually playing games and using the machine.

I don't think you're being fair here, Mike. Maybe you don't go for constant upgrades or maybe you have a different view on "constant." Either way, you'll note that I didn't comment on whether everyone feels this way; only that I did.

 

I found that it wasn't rare to upgrade something new every 4-6 months. It didn't have anything to do with benchmarks (come to think of it, I haven't run one since the DOS days!). It had everything to do with 1) some new feature that appealed to me at the time or 2) wanting to see a something pretty like the back of the box.

 

I might also add that my laptop was absolute state-of-the-art two years ago and I can think of many games that will barely run on it or not at all. The same goes for my three-year old PC. I'm not talking about resource-hungry stuff like America's Army (although that won't run either), I'm talking about innocuous stuff like Temple of Elemental Evil.

 

It's become a guessing game -- I have to buy a game and install it to find out whether it will work. Minimum or recommended requirements don't tell me anything. Apparently the PC world doesn't have to worry about consumer protection or fraud laws.

 

Finally, I'd point out that even if someone waited 4-5 years to upgrade their PC, they will spend considerably more than the $300-400 I'll spend on Xbox2, PS3 or whatever.

 

Look, I don't hate PC gaming. I was almost exclusively a PC gamer. There are still certain types of games that I vastly prefer on a PC.

 

-j

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Originally posted by gigapower@Dec 17 2003, 06:03 PM

Around 3 years ago I had a 1Ghz Athlon with a Geforce 2 Ultra, top of the line and a smoking machine at the time. With that machine could I play Knights of the Old Republic today......nope. Would that machine play DOOM3 or even Half-Life 2.....nope probably not, or atleast not anyway that I would want to play them.

Apart from you having an extra 100MHz in the CPU over me, that is my current spec, actually. Although I've gone up to 384Mb of memory to get XP running without swapping in that time, I have no problems playing either Max Payne 2 or Call Of Duty at a decent enough framerate to enjoy them. While some games may want a bit more oomph in the CPU department (I can't really manage more than about 4 cars in Live For Speed without the physics engine grinding to a crawl), I'm pretty happy, actually.

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Basically what Robot Monkey said.

 

When I talk about constant upgrades I am comparing it to other electronics. We buy a new TV every 10 years or so, same for washers/dryers/etc, but the PC requires a new (insert component here) every 9-18 months. Sure you can hang in there and make do, but really if you want to play games at a respectable level you are talking a whole new PC every 3 years (and that's being patient.)

 

Compared to spending $179 to buy either an Xbox or PS2 (or the uber low price of $99 GC) that lasts 4-5 years and always runs the software with no driver problems, I'm just saying in terms of value it's a better deal.

 

I'm still a PC gamer (although much less due to family needs not consoles), but in my eyes consoles are very quickly closing the gaps and dismissing my arguements for a dedicated PC gaming machine. Halo slapped me in the face that a console FPS was not only possible, but maybe even preferrable (when done right). Counterstrike took it further with zero cheating, even playing field for all, and real-time voicechat. If Xbox had a keyboard/mouse combo, I would be a total convert.

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