Remember that one time when PC gaming was dead? According to its critics, the PC gaming space has been a floundering mess for decades.
They’re wrong, of course. They cite the price, complications, horrible ports and missing console exclusives as the reason for digging the platform’s grave, but these problems have hardly lead PC gaming down to the gallows.
I’ve been gaming on all platforms for the better part of a decade now. Once I hit college and worked enough part time jobs, I was able to get enough scratch together to dip my toes into every gaming system I could.
The PC was a part of that lunge, too. Although, back then, all I played was Counter-Strike and the original Call of Duty. I loved it, mind you, but the platform wasn’t quite as robust as it is today.
The simple fact of the matter is that gaming on PC is no longer challenging or absurdly expensive. Anyone can build a computer, thanks mostly to common sense guides on places like YouTube, and digital storefronts like Steam, GOG and Humble make gaming cheap and accessible.
Why, then, do publishers still keep PC gaming out of their platform targets? If you’re releasing a game on any combination of the Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3 and Wii U, it needs to be on the PC at the same time.
Anything else is slowly becoming unacceptable.
Some of the world’s biggest developers and publishers have been skipping or mismanaging the PC platform for ages. They either release horrible ports (I’m looking at you, Dark Souls), delay PC schedules by months and years or ignore the customer base altogether.
Several of the biggest games released in the last few years and on the horizon still don’t have PC plans. Red Dead Redemption, which sits at the head of this section, is one title that fans of Rockstar have been clamoring for since its announcement. The game released to exceptional praise, did wonderfully in the arena of sales and then received an awesome round of multiplayer and story-driven DLC. It’s one of my favorite games of the previous generation; yet, it’s likely never coming to the PC platform.
Rockstar’s in the process of ignoring that market right now with the likes of Grand Theft Auto V, too. Grand Theft Auto IV did really, really well on PC. It still performs well in regular Steam sales, and it boasts one of the best modding communities around. That all comes in spite of a horrendous use of Games for Windows LIVE that made playing it a real pain. Where’s Grand Theft Auto V, Rockstar? We’re waiting with money in hand, and some of us who grabbed it on consoles even want to buy it again on the PC.
How about upcoming and recently released games? Look at Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes and Destiny, for instance. There is an argument to be made for not porting Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 games over to the PC. Those consoles use proprietary architectures, and getting games to work on both them and PC is a monumental task. The Xbox One and PlayStation 4, though, have PC architectures. They were created with them in mind specifically so that developers could leverage the ease of making games on all platforms. Heck, the Octodad: Dadliest Catch folks got the PlayStation 4 version of their game running on the PC in only a month.
Here we have Destiny and Metal Gear, games out now and coming soon for platforms that use PC architectures, and there isn’t a PC announcement in sight. In fact, in the case of Destiny, the PC version has been flat out denied.
Then there are sports games from EA. PC gamers have gamepads, folks. Sure, some prefer keyboard and mouse play, but we’re willing and able to make use of gamepads in order to get the most out of specific genres. Why, oh why, has EA elected to skip the PC entirely for the likes of Madden, NHL and the rest of their lineup?
The “Good” Guys
A change has been coming for years now. Some publishers and developers are picking up on the fact that the PC market has become incredibly viable thanks to the reasons I outlined briefly in my intro. PC gaming is growing by the day, and storefronts like Steam are demonstrating a constant and high demand for products.
Publishers like Deep Silver recognize that AAA efforts have a huge shot at success on PCs. Look at Saints Row IV or Metro. These games shine on proper rigs; maybe not in the land of graphics in the case of Saints Row, though it shines commercially. Money is made because a market gets what’s due.
Ubisoft and EA tend to release their efforts on PC alongside consoles. They might come with delays, though they typically don’t extend beyond a month or two. EA still doesn’t do their sports titles on PC, and I know a lot of folks are waiting for the announced but not achieved arrival of Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare on PC. The port work can be a bit shoddy, too, but it’s coming along.
Now, I’m glad that Ubisoft generally launches their titles on PC at the same time as on consoles. That’s awesome. I’m not a fan of Uplay, though, and often find it extremely cumbersome. I played Anno 2070 recently after picking it up during a Steam Sale. I spent two hours installing it, opening Uplay, patching it, firing up in Steam and then firing it up in Uplay again. So annoying.
I’m also ignoring Origin’s wealth of problems here. I’d rather play Titanfall on Steam, yes, but having the option to play it on PC at all is huge. EA and Ubisoft aren’t ignoring the market, is the nature of my point. They have odd platforms and weird regulations, but at least they’re making a go at creating PC titles instead of focusing on mass marketing console software only.
Indie developers are keen to drop their games on as many platforms as possible, too. Now, they have a vested interesting in selling their efforts to as many markets as possible, but any game that can and should have a go on consoles in addition to PCs seems to be going that way. Developers like Gaijin Games, Dennaton, Supergiant Games, Drinkbox and more are all very reliant on the PC marketplace. They still spread their games elsewhere. It makes good business sense, so why not?
Recognize The Demand
It’s time to recognize the demand for PC versions of today’s games. The excuse that porting them over is to tough and costly doesn’t cut it anymore.
If we look at platforms like Steam alone, the money spent bringing big and successful games over to the service will almost definitely be made back and beyond. That fact comes thanks to the active user base. Steam has a ton of members.
How many? In January of this year, it was announced that Steam is now home to more than 75,000,000 active users. That number has since grown. At the time of drafting this post, at 11:30am EST on a Friday, 5,000,000 gamers were online. 5. Million. Gamers.
These gamers are hungry for great games. The PC gaming market has an insatiable lust for the latest and greatest titles. Sure, not everything will work on the platform, but the likes of Red Dead, GTA and the EA Sports titles? Come on. These would sell exceptionally well.
Which brings in the bit about piracy. I understand that publishers are wary of the platform because of piracy. It’s not going away, folks. Piracy is a real problem. Its biggest rival? Consumer friendly practices. Make your game easy to install, deliver it with a good demo, offer regular discounts and sales and most gamers will pay real money. Piracy is dumb, I get it, but the best medicine is being really great to those who want to buy your game.
PC gaming isn’t dead. It isn’t dying. It’s growing. It’s burgeoning. It’s bursting at the seams. Making games and ignoring the platform is a terrible idea. Just terrible.
Multiplatform games need to release on PC, too. Anything else is unacceptable today.