Hmm. gherardo said:
Some additional toughts.Whant to sell more? Make demo versions. If I try it and like, I'll buy. I'm investing my time to learn your inteface, please help me with a demo. I'm not buying Sins because I don't know if I'll like it.As you said, go for buyers.
I disagree with this. I think one of the main reasons that companies aren't making anywhere near the number of demos that they used is that they have gotten too large. Of course, it usually takes extra time to develop a demo, but also the download sizes for demos are almost as large as full games now (on the order 1-2 Gb); that's a hefty download, even for someone with a slow-to-moderate DSL connection.
I don't think marketing is a problem with PC gaming. Look at most games on Metacritic and what you'll see is a pretty good consensus based on reviews of what makes a "good" game. That doesn't mean I always agree. I've had a really hard time getting into the GTA series not because of the content or specs but simply because I tend to hit missions that seem designed only to be completed by someone with the reflexes and coordination of a teenager or an android. However, as a general rule, it's a good bet that if a game is a) in a genre I like and one that scores good ratings on most of the major sites and in the gaming mags, I will enjoy it.
I also disagree with developers who suggest that piracy is the bane of PC gaming. Chris Taylor was the first person I heard complaining about this in this article: http://pc.ign.com/articles/853/853275p1.html. If you read the responses, you'll see that there are many easy ways to "crack" games for the console market, and most users probably have the hardware and software to do it at home already. The only real reason I think you don't see or hear as much about console piracy is because games for consoles are available on the cheap from myriad sources--blowout sales on eBay, other internet sites, video stores, et cetera--and don't forget about the rental market. So I think piracy really constitutes a red herring here. Draginol has long stated that it is his belief that most pirates can't or won't buy your game anyway, so designing a game with that market in mind is a bit absurd on its face; I tend to agree. Taylor's arguments ring hollow to me because he picks as his example a game that only a fraction of computer users CAN play due to steep hardware requirements. How many people are going to buy a game for $50 just so they can play it one or two or however many years it is down the road when they can afford to upgrade or replace their PCs?
No, I think the main two advantages consoles have for developers are the advantages they have historically held for a very long time: market share and fixed hardware specs. Since the PS/2 came out, consoles have had an edge in the area of the installed base that PCs can't touch (gaming PCs for sure, and that means you have to at least have upgraded your video card from the onboard integrated crap that most any machine comes with these days). Moreover, it's easier for developers to make games in a fixed-spec environment (and cheaper too).
Does that mean the games are better? That's clearly a matter of opinion. Two genres where I don't see consoles ever competing seriously with PCs are real-time strategy and role-playing. I just can't see a serious game in either of these genres starting at or porting to a console without suffering some very serious control issues. Sure, Jade Empire worked well enough, and I enjoyed the PC version, but for all the hooplah surrounding it, it had far more in common with Diablo than Baldur's Gate. And I think real RTS players, people I'd never want to meet in a dark matchmaking service alley at two in the morning, will never want to give up the control they can achieve over a game with the keyboard+mouse combo. Casual gamers may not be bothered by having to deal with weird circle-wheel interfaces like EA designed for the XBOX version of C&C3 and they may not bemoan the downhill slide of CRPGs from the likes of Wasteland, the gold-box games, BG 1 and 2, and Torment to things like Diablo 2, Titan Quest, et cetera.
So here's a hint for developers who want to make money with their PC games: 1) make your game fun, 2) don't release it before it's ready, and 3) don't make your game the "have-to-upgrade-to-play" hot s#%! title of the year. Every two or three years, the PC gaming world crowns such a title and that invariably means that people like me who can't afford to upgrade except maybe every five to six years will be left behind. Crysis was the last one. Before that it was probably F.E.A.R. And before that HL2. Oh, and I can't count the number of titles where I've read reviews that start something like this: "Well, I wanted to like this game, and maybe if it were properly patched, it would be great, but . . . ." Okay, publishers--EA, Ubisoft, I'm looking at you--quit pressuring developers to release stuff before it's ready, because that flushing sound you hear is the profits you could have made on those games going down the toilet. Don't let your next release become the comic-book-movie of games.
The bottom line is that if you make a good game that runs well on many computers, people will buy it, even if it means scrimping somewhere. Personally, I'm looking forward to StarCraft II and Dragon Age, two titles that are clearly being given the time in development that they need to mature and I fully anticipate will provide terrific gaming experiences.