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Old 08-17-08, 06:55 PM   #1
Noriega
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Default PCGA interview

http://pc.ign.com/articles/899/899363p1.html
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Old 08-17-08, 07:55 PM   #2
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August 15, 2008 - Since the PC Gaming Alliance made itself known at the 2008 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, we've all been curious what they've been up to. According to its official site, its mission is to promote the PC as a gaming platform and provide some form of leadership in an attempt to solve issues game developers and publishers face. It claims to be the "Authoritative Voice" when it comes to PC gaming. However, as of yet, we haven't really heard what it's doing.

To find out what's going on, we pitched a few questions over to Randy Stude, president of the PCGA and director of Intel's Gaming Program Office, and Roy Taylor, the PCGA's CTO as well as VP of content relations at Nvidia. The question and answer exchange took place via email.

Current PCGA promoters include Microsoft, Epic Games, Dell, and Activision, among others. The organization has subcommittees dedicated to research on game piracy, marketing, and data and is currently scheduled to give a revealing talk on August 19 at the Games Convention in Leipzig, Germany.



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IGN: With no single entity running the PC gaming platform and catalog, how do you encourage and ensure the cooperation of companies that are often competing directly with each other, particularly in the PC-centric genres of FPS and RTS?

Randy Stude: The PC Gaming Alliance is an industry consortium with the charter to encourage cooperation between the hardware, software and services companies that are involved in the PC gaming industry. We have subcommittees working to produce a common starting point for gaming on PCs.

Roy Taylor: Frankly, it's a fair question and I think that in the early days a lot of us wondered the same thing. In reality it's worked extraordinarily well. This is, I think, down to two things. First, the goals are clearly to everybody's sincere benefit. There's no grey area - what we want to achieve is honestly good for everyone. Second, the personalities jell well. Whether by good fortune or careful planning, the people in the organization have gotten along well, and that has helped enormously.

IGN: People often see the PC and console markets as being in direct competition. Is that an accurate assessment? How much does the success of the software and hardware on the console side impact the viability of PC gaming? What can PC publishers learn from the way console games are developed and marketed?

Randy Stude: The PC has been used for gaming since it was first invented. Unlike the console, the PC offers an open platform for developers to innovate. PC game developers invented first-person shooters, role-playing games and strategy gaming. The Internet has opened this market up to mass distribution and innovative business models. The Internet-connected PC enjoys unfettered access to all content. Today, games are distributed digitally to more consumers than retail. Emerging markets where disposable income is not a premium enjoy access to gaming on the PC where console game price points are out of their reach. In mature markets console gamers and PC gamers are not mutually exclusive. Only a small percentage of gamers play exclusively on console and vice versa. In 2008, DVD-based game developers no longer decide whether they are developing for console or PC. The costs to build a good game franchise dictate that titles release on multiple platforms day and date. Marketing managers for the largest publishers spend their money developing their titles not [just to] console or PC brands. Just like the music and movie industries, game titles today are marketed for simultaneous release on PC, console, handheld and mobile phones.

Roy Taylor: I agree with Randy. PCs and consoles do not compete. The fact is that the console is the baseline experience; the PC is the better one. Consoles bring money into game development that is then able to be applied to making any game so much better on the PC.

At its simplest this might mean higher resolutions, anti-aliasing and keyboard/mouse configs. At its best this will mean scaleable effects, much better graphics, superior AI, physics and so on.

IGN: No discussion of the state of PC gaming can neglect to mention Microsoft's responsibility as the creator of the platform. Where do you feel that Microsoft's priorities are in this regard? What strengths do they bring to the PC marketplace and what areas do you feel they need to improve? Has the success of the Xbox console lessened the appeal of the PC platform?

Randy Stude: Microsoft is a member of the PC Gaming Alliance. The PC Gaming Alliance has a policy of not commenting on member-specific initiatives. I would suggest you ask Microsoft about their priorities.

Roy Taylor: I agree with Randy again. I can add that Microsoft is an enthusiastic and energetic member of the PCGA and their support for PC gaming is genuine.

IGN: The variability of PC hardware mean that tech support and product return costs are much higher for publishers of PC games than publishers of console games. Is this an unavoidable problem for the PC platform? How can the engineers ensure good performance across a range of hardware while still offering their marketing teams the largest possible player base?

Randy Stude: The PC Gaming Alliance is taking steps to address this challenge. We are not prepared at this time to announce the results of our efforts.

Roy Taylor: Supporting the PC, being more problematic and expensive than console, is part of what the PCGA exists to improve. But it's worth noting that the issues are far less prevalent today than in the past. There was a time not so long ago when it wasn't always for sure that a game would run at all when you took it home. These days it'll run, but maybe not at its best. We aim to address this.

IGN: The issue of PC game piracy creeps into just about every "state of PC gaming" discussion, but how are we to know how much damage it's actually doing? Will we ever really be able to get a definite sense of how piracy is really affecting game sales, or will it remain the sort of nebulous threat it appears to be today? Are you taking steps to try and quantify piracy and determine more precisely what kind of an effect it has today, and how today's effects compare to 10, 20 years ago?

Randy Stude: Any effort to help promote the PC as a gaming platform would fall short without addressing the challenge that piracy represents. The theft of PC games does not go unnoticed by the PCGA. We have a subcommittee that is looking at piracy and we are planning research to discover the extent that piracy is hurting the PC game software industry.

Roy Taylor: Piracy is stealing. It's as bad as taking money from someone's wallet. Those users that do it often hide behind a number of excuses. We are very serious about addressing all aspects of this issue. But this includes not treating honest and desired users as bad guys. Poor anti-theft measures are part of the problem. They help justify downloading illegal non-protected copies and they cause resentment. The subcommittee is aware of all of these and is working on them. It's a big subject.

IGN: In what ways are you measuring worldwide PC game sales? What have you found as to how retail box / downloadable / free-to-play / pay-per-item / and subscription based games stack up against each other? Do the different types of financial models differ between international markets? If so, why, and what does that mean for PC gaming?

Randy Stude: The Horizons report will be released next Tuesday (the 19th). We will highlight our findings in that release.

Roy Taylor: As Randy says we don't want preempt the Horizons report but its worth adding that to get a lot of the detail it will be necessary to join the PCGA. We strongly urge all interested parties to do that. Details are on our webpage at pcgamingalliance.org.

IGN: There is a perception that PC gaming is the realm of the hard-core gamer who is willing to spend thousands of dollars on multiple video cards, kilowatt power supplies, and the latest multi-core processor. When compared to that kind of money, console gaming seems almost sensible. Is this a concern for the PCGA, and how do you address this?

Randy Stude: This perception is not lost on the members of the PCGA. Many of our companies spend a great deal of time and effort innovating products to meet the incessant demand for performance that this audience seeks. However, this audience represents a very small percentage of the total PC gaming Industry. Far more revenues are generated for PC gaming by mainstream and casual gamers.

Roy Taylor: This perception is wrong. Last month for example PC Gamer magazine showed how Crysis Warhead can be played on a $600 PC. The balance of components needs to be addressed to help solve this and, as Randy says, this is also being worked on by the PCGA.

IGN: In addition to the perception that PC gaming is expensive, there's also the notion that it's complicated. Too many decisions to make when trying to put together a machine, too time consuming to keep up over the years. How do you combat this?

Randy Stude: We hope to simplify the starting point for mainstream consumers; however the PCGA will not directly replace the platform development and marketing efforts of any member of the PC game industry.

Roy Taylor: I am not sure I agree with the question. Most games work "out of the box" now and certainly those that have worked with those suppliers with excellent support programs have benefited from ease of use which matches any console experience.

IGN: What are you trying to accomplish with all this? What sort of power do you actually have and how do you plan on implementing any sort of action?

Randy Stude: The ultimate goal of the PC Gaming Alliance is to make PC gaming easier for consumers and to act as the industry advocate for gaming on the PC.

Roy Taylor: The PCGA wants PC gaming to be the best possible experience it can be to the widest possible audience.

IGN: How often does your board meet? In person or over the phone? Would you mind describing a typical meeting? What about your subcommittees? Who's on the piracy subcommittee? Who's on the marketing subcommittee?

Randy Stude: The meetings, agendas, attendees and exact makeup of the board and all subcommittees of the PC Gaming Alliance is considered confidential. That said, we work together really well and everyone has conducted themselves with utmost professionalism.

IGN: Why isn't Valve part of the PCGA? Have you talked to the company about joining? Has Valve talked to you?

Randy Stude: We have spoken with Valve. You will have to ask Valve why they are not a member.

Roy Taylor: We are all in touch with Gabe [Newell] and Doug [Lombardi] and they have many views in common with us. We are sure they will find the Horizons Report interesting. We look forward to them joining when they are ready.

IGN: Is the PCGA intent on increasing the number of PC-exclusive titles? One concern is that more and more PC games are multiplatform, and in that kind of situation the PC version often seems like an afterthought. Each of the consoles has blockbuster exclusives that drive consumers to them, but on the PC you have World of Warcraft and what else?

Randy Stude: The PCGA has no intentions to increase or change the number of PC exclusive titles. Our desire is to behave as a strategic industry group focusing on the growth and promotion of PC gaming. Personally, I think that Will Wright would counter your assertion that PC gaming is all about World of Warcraft. There are also several games in China and Korea that rival the number of players playing WoW.

Roy Taylor: What a question! Read the earlier answer about consoles. We are not pushing any agenda for PC-only titles. It's our contention that PC gaming offers the best experience. But it doesn't have to be the only way to enjoy a game. Randy is right too, however there are a LOT of very successful PC-only titles. Sins of a Solar Empire, World in Conflict, EVE Online, Age of Conan, the list goes on and on. PC gaming is in great shape.

IGN: What, realistically, can the PCGA do about the retail situation? Go into a game store and PC games are still relegated to a jumbled mess on an island, with many of the titles spined out so you can't see the front of the box. It doesn't send a strong message to the consumer and reinforces the feeling that PC games are an afterthought. The only place where you see PC titles treated like console titles are in big box stores.

Randy Stude: The best we can hope to accomplish is to represent a united front to make retailer's jobs easier. Selling PC games should not require full-time support at the retail store to help consumers determine compatibility. Also, PC gamers are leading the way to the Internet and won't be constrained by the physical limits placed on retail box shelving.

Roy Taylor: It's important to realize that retail just isn't the force in PC gaming that it is console. This is because PC gamers live and play on the Internet. It's as logical for a PC gamer to go in a store as it is to someone wanting to buy a record. When did any reader last walk into a store to buy a song? Exactly the same is true of PC gaming.

IGN: What are the demographics telling you about the PC gaming audience? Are there large numbers of young people entering the market, or are they going to the consoles and mobile gaming? If so, is this a concern? Is the PC audience getting older and grayer?

Randy Stude: We will have more research on the demographics by geography of the PC gaming audience coming in the future. For now, just take a look at the huge success of online PC games such as Club Penguin, Webkinz, Neopets, etc… These PC games are attracting massive new audiences to the PC as the immersive, innovative, connected gaming platform. The PC enjoys the largest gaming install base in the world. Many new PC games are free or inexpensive. Many new PC gamers are teaching the game content developers how they want to consume games in the 21st century and the PC is leading the way.

Roy Taylor: Randy was again spot-on. The demographic for PC gaming is extremely varied. Much wider than for consoles (perhaps with the exception of Wii), and it's growing. There is a waterfall effect. Players start with Pogo or Mahjong and progress. We will have more detail on this in future reports.
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Old 08-18-08, 02:30 AM   #3
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Default Re: PCGA interview

Microsoft is a member of the PC Gaming Alliance. The PC Gaming Alliance has a policy of not commenting on member-specific initiatives. I would suggest you ask Microsoft about their priorities.

what a crock

rest of the interview was ok, lets hope the horizons report has some juicy numbers .
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Old 08-18-08, 06:40 AM   #4
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Default Re: PCGA interview

microsoft probably does harm to this "Alliance"

i can just see the meeting.

some other member: so what can be do to make PC gaming better
microsoft rep: force live on them
other member: why?
microsoft rep: they will love it, console people like it
other member: we are not talking about consoles here
microsoft rep: but we like out console, lets talk about it
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Old 08-19-08, 09:08 AM   #5
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Default Re: PCGA interview

Quote:
TLDR: PC industry no where near dead, online is where it's at, for sales and new business models.

The PC Gaming Alliance (PCGA) today unveiled the key findings from its first “Horizons” Report, an exclusive research study of the PC gaming industry worldwide. Speaking at the Games Convention Developer’s Conference in Leipzig, PCGA president Randy Stude announced that PC gaming was a $10.7 billion industry during the year of 2007, with retail sales accounting for just 30 percent of total revenues. According to the report, growth was largely driven by online revenues from Asia, the world’s largest market, which is approaching half of total worldwide sales.

Online PC gaming revenue led the way in 2007 with $4.8 billion, nearly double the worldwide retail sales numbers for PC games. Digital distribution sales approached $2 billion, while advertising revenues from websites, portals, and in-game ads accounted for $800 million. Both are expected to grow substantially as major developers and publishers begin to adopt formal strategies to take advantage of new online opportunities.

“Our analysis clearly shows incredible growth in online PC gaming, proof that this industry is far stronger than anyone has reported,” said Stude. “Today’s consumers shop where they live - online.”

According to DFC Intelligence, there is even more room for growth as the broadband market matures.

“By pioneering new business models, the PC has quietly remained the single leading platform for games, not only in terms of consumer usage, but revenue generation,” said David Cole, an analyst with DFC Intelligence. “The most fascinating thing about PC gaming is its ability to attract such a diverse audience, both demographically and geographically. The real key has been the rapid growth in penetration of broadband-connected PCs in all markets around the world. Broadband-connected PCs are the key driver of growth for PC gaming. DFC Intelligence estimated that by the end of 2007 less than one-third of households in the top 20 markets for games had a high-speed Internet connection. That clearly indicates that there is still plenty of growth to come. The initiatives of the PCGA will be a key enabler of growth as they will help the industry identify key trends and opportunities in this rapidly emerging market.”
Stolen from ve3d.ign
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Old 08-19-08, 09:32 AM   #6
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Default Re: PCGA interview

Quote:
Originally Posted by nekrosoft13 View Post
microsoft probably does harm to this "Alliance"

i can just see the meeting.

some other member: so what can be do to make PC gaming better
microsoft rep: force live on them
other member: why?
microsoft rep: they will love it, console people like it
other member: we are not talking about consoles here
microsoft rep: but we like out console, lets talk about it
I agree.

The PCGA sounds like it means well, but I don't see how a console manufacturer that has already been pushing console software onto PCs is going to help things out any.

Then again, having several multi-billion dollar corporations tell MS "Err... no... just stop with the Live crap, its killing sales..." maybe they'll straighten out.

They aren't making money off of it anymore, so there isn't much point in them developing it further.
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