2008/11/03

PC Gaming is Dead - NOT -

Console sales are up, console game sales are up, they will brake world records this christmas as over 90% of them are sold during this period. From history I know that in the last 2 years of a console life cycle the hardware will sell as many units as they sold in the first 3 years. 

Thats worrying a lof of PC games developers who didn't get their foot in the console door as the unitsales of console games are millions instead of hundres of thousands as on the PC.

But do not worry. For one console games are a bitch to develop, its very expensive. Thats the key to PC games: dvelopment is much easier and flexible, but of course the PC platform sucks as its a moving platform compared to the stable hardware of consoles.

But don't fret, the discussion that PC games are dead is repeating itself every 5-6 years when the console lifecycle is at its height. It never happened though and it won't change as far as my 20 years experience goes. And I heard this discussion 3 times already.

First: the console will show its age end of 2009 and too much software on the shelf will limit sales of the multi million dollar budget games. Additionally the hit games of 2005-2008 will be on the shelf for half the price hurting sales of new developments. And as the platform doesn't change the games are still in perfect shape to be sold.

At that time the PC will be more advanced than the console generation and offers more power to experiment with game content. The consoles will be pretty much limited at that point.

Additionally the new console generation will be anounced to developers and publishers and to be the first on the platform at launch they have to start 2 years ahead ... that means 2009. As the investment in those launch titles is very high the key teams will abandon the current generation of the consoles or move the development to "cheap" locations, lessening the quality. During that time the risk of publishing a new multi million dollar game is so high that experienced publishers will stick to sequels. As we know sequels never sell better than the original on the same platform. All this together will drop the console market to its knees and will put the kiss of death on them as soon as the new generation launches.

What happens to the PC meanwhile? We will see new games, genres, and indy development taking place which makes the PC ideal for a lot fo game types. When the console shelf space is flooded with budget software and sequels the PC shows where the impulses comes from.

So the PC never dies. The trap you can enter is if you do what everyone else does. No one is interested in a RTS when you can't beat Blizzard or EA's frenchises. If you can't don't do it. Online is key and a lot of niches are still open. Think different, look at the large picture of the games market, not on genres and games which are already on the shelf. Think counter intuitive. If you currently see a large wave of good shooters don't develop them. Look at what is missing on the shelfs but sold in the past 5 years. Thats key to your product strategy.

For more information check out the talk I did years ago on the industry life cycle on www.teut.net

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