All About mboettcher
Let me start by saying I am a PC gamer and a console gamer, but I am definitely not a PC elitist. It seems I cant get through a single message board on Gamespot without someone complaining about how PCs have superior graphics capabilities and consoles are holding game developers back. I have to admit, this is a fact. However, its also not relevant because of the simple fact the concerns of PCs gamers do not carry enough monetary weight.
It should go without saying that game developers are businesses and that every business should seek to maximize profit. Irresponsible businesses do this in a myriad of inappropriate ways that I will not discuss here. A responsible business, however, really just needs to focus on a few things: an excellent product, efficient production, and effective marketing. Marketing is essentially equal between platforms, as commercials are not platform specific, so lets focus on the interplay between an excellent product and efficient production as it relates to PC elitism.
Video games simply look their best with a cutting-edge GPU. However, the compromise a developer has to strike is between excellence and efficiency. The question is, are the needs of PC gamers worth the investment. Lets look at some simple numbers from the past generation of consoles.
Modern Warfare 3, Elder Scrolls 5, Fifa 13, and Assassins Creed are the best selling titles from their respective genres and all are cross platform. I chose a wide range of games so no one could suggest that one genre or another simply doesn't appeal to PC gamers. I also left the Wii out as it is not really a direct competitor.
MW3 sold 14.9 million copies worldwide for Xbox 360, 12.7 million copies worldwide for PS3, and 1.6 million copies worldwide on PC. Thats right, nearly ten times less copies were sold on the PC than either console. But what about a game that has a dedicated PC modding community like Elder Scrolls 5? 7.1 million copies on Xbox 360, 4.5 million copies on PS3, and 2.8 million copies on PC. Some improvement there, more than half of what was sold on PS3 and a little over 1/3 of what was sold on the Xbox 360, but still, only 1/4 of what both consoles sold put together. Fifa 13 is even worse. 4.5 million copies on Xbox 360, 6.2 million copies on PS3, and 300,000 copies on PC, thats 5% of what just the PS3 sold. Finally, Assassins Creed. 5.3 million copies on Xbox 360, 4.5 million copies on PS3, and 800,000 copies on PC, thats 15% of what just the Xbox 360 sold. Now you could say people are just pirating the game and that there are in fact many more people playing these games, but if they arent getting paid for then why would any developer care how many people are playing the game.
Maybe Im not being fair, maybe the reason the numbers are bad for PCs is that these are shoddy ports of console games repackaged for PCs. Perhaps the real numbers can be found in PC exclusives. If developers would just stop all this cross-platform nonsense and just make cutting-edge games for cutting-edge PC users they would get their money. Okay, lets compare the top exclusive title from each system in the past generation.
Xbox 360s was Halo 3, which sold 11.8 million units. PS3 had Gran Turismo 5, which sold 8.83 million units, and PC had Word of Warcraft: Burning Crusade, which sold 4 million units. Not fair because its just one add-on. Fine, but if you want to add up all of World of Warcraft from the past generation , by the same token youd have to add up all the Halo franchise from the past generation (Halo 3, Reach, and ODST). The truth of the matter is that the highest selling PC game of all time (that we have records for anyway) is The Sims, which sold 11.23 million copies and after that the numbers drop dramatically. Developers focus on where they can make the most money and it just is not on the PC.
Game developers could probably survive even if they didnt sell to the PC at all. Any developer kind enough to put time and money into making a great PC game or releasing developers toolkits is quite frankly being more kind than they need to be. Arguably the only reason these games get released at all is because they were developed on PCs and selling them on the same platform is relatively inexpensive even if it does only bring a small increase in sales.
The second half of this blog will focus on debunking three articles of faith for PC elitists as it relates to developers: superior graphics, superior controls, and customization.
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Apr 4, 2013 8:28 pm GMTmboettcher posted a new blog entry entitled The Problem with PC Elitism: Part 1