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2004: The Return of PC Gaming Glory

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2004: The Return of PC Gaming Glory

Old 04-28-03, 07:26 PM
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2004: The Return of PC Gaming Glory

I've been a PC gaming enthusiast for over a decade... Over the years, I've seen the PC games section of electronics stores shrink and swell. I've also seen PC gaming magazines get thicker and thinner. This is the nature of the gaming industry... a constant battle between PC gaming, Console gaming and Arcade gaming.

Console gaming has been the slow death of the classic Arcade from the beginning. Bringing the Arcade into the home was a revalation as well as a revolution. In spite of being behind in terms of graphics and control, the fact that you could play centepede in your house rather than going to a smoke-filled noisy Arcade was a tremendous draw. Home console popularity can be tracked like a mutual fund - mostly upward growth with periods of small slumps.

Then there's PC gaming... a seemingly separate entity... the same, but different. Offering games you could only find on PC and nowhere else. Offering graphics unparalleled in Arcade or Console. Offering something completely different. Early computer gaming was quite unrefined and quirky. Text based adventure games and homemade looking games that were never really taken seriously. In spite of the fact that games for consoles and arcades were developed using computers, the computer wasn't really seen as a viable gaming machine.

Ask any PC gamer when the turning point was - what game caused people to jump up and take notice of PC gaming and you might get varying answers... Some might say Police Quest/Space Quest, others might say Civilization or Sim City, and yet others might say something more obscure like Bard's Tale. For me, it was Doom. While it wasn't the first First Person Shooter or first PC game or first anything for that matter, it was a game that you couldn't get anywhere else. It was also hugely popular and I think it gave PC gaming a new direction to go in.

As time went on, it was easy to see that PC gaming was able to stay at the front of the technology curve while console gamings growth had to be measured in spurts... new consoles come out about every 5 years and are only a year behind the top PC technology, but by the end of its lifespan, things start looking dated. Obviously, this is meaningless to alot of people given the popularity of the home consoles. I mean, all we're talking about are graphics. For many, consoles dominate on convenience and controls - we've all had this argument before and I'm not trying to drudge it up again.

Since the release of Doom, PC gaming enjoyed a surge of popularity and support. I remember watching the pc gaming magazines get thicker and thicker as well as new magazines emerging. Cut to 1998 and the Winter edition of PC Gamer is as thick as three of todays December issue. Console gaming was still growing, but this was a time when there was somewhat of a lull in the growth (I'm sure that all depends on your perspective). PC gamings growth can be attributed in large part to the mod community - where else can you take an existing game and make your own game that you and others can play? Hell, where else can you take this and turn it into a career (counter-strike)?

With graphics getting better and better, games were taking longer and longer to complete. Budgets were in the millions of dollars. These glory days couldn't last forever of course as all good things must come to an end. I couldn't put my finger on what exactly caused PC gamings popularity to dwindle and the magazines and store shelf space to shrink. The release of Daikatana? The release of the PS2? Dreamcast? George Bush? I don't know.

There have been plenty of fantastic PC games released since then... games like Mafia, The Sims, Warcraft 3, etc... but by the time PS2, Gamecube and Xbox came out, attention was shifted to consoles again. I have a feeling that it's time for attention to shift back to PCs. Perhaps for the last time. One last hurrah before PS3, Xbox 2 and whatever Nintendo does puts the final nail in the coffin sending PC gaming into the same abyss where Arcades live. The rules of technology will still be in effect - consoles will always be behind PCs in terms of power and graphics ability, but we're getting to a point I think where one could say "how realistic does it have to get?" These days, the difference between a beautiful Xbox game and the same game on PC is the resolution... by the time the Xbox can't handle a game the PC can, we're looking at Xbox 2. But not quite yet...

Games like Doom 3, Half-Life 2, Deus Ex 2, STALKER, and Duke Nukem Forever - all poised to be released sometime in late 2003 - 2004 promise to revive PC gaming. Half-Life 2 in particular plans to ship with a modder's dream toolbox... modders will once again be able to make their own games using all the advanced features of the HL game engine without having to program. They'll be able to make characters that will have complex facial animations that can convey emotion and move their lips in sync with a voice track on a .wav file. I guess I see HL2 as a white horse that will come and rescue PC gaming from becoming a novelty again. If it was just HL2, I wouldn't feel this way, but there's at least a dozen sure-thing hits in store for the next year... at least half of them will be friendly to the mod community. Not just FPS games either - the games on the horizon are largely sequels to games that were released during the peak of PC gaming popularity.

I personally can't wait... why? Because I love my PC. I love souping it up like a mechanic loves to soup up his muscle car (or top-bunk ricer, whatever)... I love being able to make my own games. I think PC gaming gives you alot more bang for your buck... even though it's ultimately more expensive. You pay 50 bucks for a console game, you play it and you're done. You pay 50 bucks for a PC game and you play it and you download mods for it, you make your own mods for it, you play against other people online etc etc... Most of all, I love PC gaming because of First Person Shooters. Yes, it's no secret that I'm a big FPS fan. It's not all I play, but I guess you could say it's my first love in gaming.

Keep in mind that this was all my opinion - I just felt like writing a pseudo-editorial and start up a discussion... I'm not trying to belittle console gaming or say that one is better than the other... same goes for arcade gaming. I really don't want this to turn into a PC vs Console argument. I guess basically, more than anything else, I'm just really excited about some of the games on the horizon and I have a feeling that this might breathe new life into PC gaming once again.

Last edited by Trigger; 04-28-03 at 07:46 PM.
Old 04-28-03, 09:10 PM
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Re: 2004: The Return of PC Gaming Glory

Originally posted by Trigger
I couldn't put my finger on what exactly caused PC gamings popularity to dwindle and the magazines and store shelf space to shrink. The release of Daikatana? The release of the PS2? Dreamcast? George Bush? I don't know.
I'm not going to speculate as to what caused its popularity to dwindle but I can elaborate on what killed my interest in PC gaming.

Back when my parents got their first PC I got pretty into PC games, with Doom 1 & 2 and so on. What really caused my interest to wane was the advent of 3D graphics cards. They were pretty expensive when they first came out (as much or more than a console at least) and once they did drop in price you still had to upgrade fairly often (much more than once every 5 years in the console world) in order to play the latests games at the highest settings.

Couple this with the fact that my main gaming loves are platformers, sports games, adventure games (zelda type games), and fighters (all of which are better IMO and more plentiful on the consoles) and I just said screw it and never bothered getting into it more.

I don't feel like I'm missing much as the "hot" PC games always seem to be predominately FPSs, RTSs, Sim games, MMORPGs (or other online games). The only ones I miss to some extent are the Diablo games and clones, as I loved the first Diablo and plan on picking up the sequel eventually.

Originally posted by Trigger

Games like Doom 3, Half-Life 2, Deus Ex 2, STALKER, and Duke Nukem Forever - all poised to be released sometime in late 2003 - 2004 promise to revive PC gaming.
Again I won't comment on the general public, but those aren't anything to make me want to take another look at PC gaming. With the exception of STALKER (which I know nothing about) the others are FPSs, which as I already said don't interst me much.

Also, given that there have been a lot of great PC FPSs released during the "decline" of PC gaming's popularity, I'm not so sure a plethora of FPSs will lead to a revival.

For me to get interested again it would take a plethora of offerings in the console dominated genre's like platforming and fighters.

But that's unlikely to happen. I'm willing to wager that we'll continue to see this seperation of console and PC gaming as pretty much "different beasts." PC gaming has it's die hard fans, Console gaming has it's die hard fans, with considerable overlap among the most hardcore gamers.

As for popularity, consoles have likely won that battle simply because it's unlikely PC games will ever rival the mass market (casual gamer) appeal of the consoles (especially the Playstation).

Last edited by Josh Hinkle; 04-28-03 at 11:25 PM.
Old 04-28-03, 10:10 PM
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Very good post. I used to be mainly a pc gamer, but now I am mainly on console. I got tired of needing new graphics cards, updating drivers, and endless patching of games. At least with consoles, you know the game will work with your system, and will be more stable, due to the developers being able to write for one piece of hardware.

Strange, too, because FPS were always my favorite genre, and aside from Halo and Goldeneye, no console FPS has really held my interest.
Old 04-28-03, 10:35 PM
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Awesome post! I have been a PC gamer for about 10 years now. I have seen the shift from Adventure and strategy games, to FPS and rts games, as well as online games. Although I would love to see more adventure games from the previous primary adventure companies like Lucasarts and Sierra, I still find myself enjoying all of the great FPS's out there as well as some of the new strategy games.

I long for those days full of thick PC gamer magazines where portions of the mag would give you mission by mission guides for games (they don't really do this anymore), lots of tech support, and tons and tons of ads and interesting articles. Perhaps there was more tech support with DOS, since running games on it was sometimes problematic, but I still believe that people need help running some games in the modern windows systems.

I don't think that I will ever make the switch to a console (I even use emulators to run old console games on my computer). First, console games just dont appeal to me with their control setup.. I just find the mouse and keyboard to be so much easier to use in games, especially in FPS's. Secondly, console games don't have the ability to find new mods and levels online, as PC games do. Finally, PC games are soo cheap! Granted, I tend to wait for new games, like 6 months after they first come out. I buy most of my games for under 10 dollars and I am able to play such a wealth of great titles like Freedom Force, Black and White, Undying, the Baldurs Gate series, etc.

I love PC gaming, and even if companies stop making PC games, I still have more than enough games to play in my free time.
Old 04-28-03, 10:41 PM
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Re: 2004: The Return of PC Gaming Glory

Originally posted by Trigger
Games like Doom 3, Half-Life 2, Deus Ex 2, STALKER, and Duke Nukem Forever - all poised to be released sometime in late 2003 - 2004 promise to revive PC gaming.
We'll be long dead before DNF sees daylight.
Old 04-29-03, 12:36 AM
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Ok Josh... well, here comes the "casual gamer/hardcore gamer" argument again... :sigh: My commentary had nothing to do with hardcore/softcore/nocore/emocore/casual/etc anything. It was just to illustrate that I feel a PC gaming surge is on the horizon. That's all. I imagine you weren't into PC games much in 1998 either and you've stated on more than one occasion that you're not about graphics or video cards and that you don't like spending money on video games etc etc... Hell, Britney Spears manages to sell a bazillion albums and I have never purchased a single one. My point? Well, just because you don't like FPS games or RTS games or whatever else the PC has to offer, that doesn't mean anything I said is any less true.

I disagree that consoles and PC gaming are separating - in fact, I see them becoming more the same. Consoles are becoming small budget PCs with streamlined operating systems... in fact, many games that would normally be PC only are now appearing on consoles.

I also wasn't really trying to compare PC gaming to console gaming. Consoles have obviously become dominant over PCs and that isn't likely to shift back to PCs any time soon (or ever). I'm just saying that in terms of PC gaming (something which you admittadly have little knowlege about) there has been a definite lull and now it seems that we (PC gaming enthusiasts) may see another golden era that will be remembered for quite some time. This could be the last hurrah for PC gaming since it's obvious (to me anyway) that consoles are only going to get more and more popular. It's the evolution of gaming.

There will always be a PC gaming community - there's just no substitute for being able to create your own games or download someone else's mod etc... FPSers are just my primary gaming affection, so that's why I bring up these titles. There's plenty of other big name PC games on deck in other genres that will add to this PC gaming resurgance... titles like Full Throttle and Homeworld 2 (and some ghost sim game that I can't think of the name of) for example... and to a lesser extent, American MacGee's Oz.

I mean - you're main argument has always been a cost issue - you lost interest in PC gaming when graphics cards got expensive... hell, that's when PC gaming really took off. The peak I would say was in 1998 and by then, the video card battle was the hottest it has ever been. The game developers pushed the technology, the gamers pushed the developers to make better looking games and they purchased the computer upgrades. So PC gaming isn't for you... there's nothing wrong with that. You don't have to come back to PC gaming for it to become popular again. Your welcome to comment, but you're trying to have an argument that I'm not trying to have.

My post was for PC gamers like myself who have lost faith (like myself) in PC gaming - every year seeing sparse releases - going from being able to walk into best buy and seeing something new and exciting every other week to having to walk into best buy once a month and seeing the same 20 games on the shelves. Going from watching the progress of some new game and downloading the demos and the waiting and the waiting and the waiting to finding out that the game you've waited for and upgraded for is just gonna come out on a console (cough cough, Halo)... PC gaming needs this. Even if some of these titles end up on consoles, most of them will end up on PC first and Valve seems to have this agenda in the backs of their minds.

Trigun - I think you might be right about DNF, and its release isn't crucial to this PC gaming surge I'm predicting, but it will most certainly help. Personally, I feel like they can shove their WID up their butts... they need to take notes from Valve on how to do things. I am predicting DNF to show up at E3 and that it will be months away from completion. That's not a guarantee, it's just my gut feeling.

God - sorry about my long-ass posts everyone.
Old 04-29-03, 08:40 AM
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Trigger, your post is almost enough to get me back into PC gaming, because i do miss it. However, you are going to have to tell me how to fix my hard drive and recommend the various upgrades my computer needs, and also come over and install all of it.

The cost is not an issue for me. I am happy to pay for whatever satisfies my gaming needs. But if that means having to keep up with cards and patches and upgrades, well then I'm just not interested in doing that.

I'm sure this is a case of me not knowing any better because I don't realize what I'm missing out on, but with my consoles I don't have to worry about that. All I have to do is keep up with the games, which is fun, and I get to hang out with you fellow gaming bums .

For ignorance or lazyness, console gaming is enough for me right now, though I have noticed a drop in my enjoyment of games that I should have loved. Perhaps I should reconsider.

stoolie
Old 04-29-03, 09:15 AM
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I wish my attention span was long enough to read your whole post Trigger, because its pretty interesting.

I miss the Adventure/Puzzle Solving genre of games like Monkey Island and Grim Fandango. The return of those kinds of games might get me back into PC gaming. Not going to happen though.

Those FPS games might revive PC gaming for some, but I lost interest in that genre a long time ago. I'm also not interested in upgrading my computer every year to keep up with the new software.

With the popularity of online gaming increasing though I think PC gaming has a future. Doom III will probably sell like hot cakes.
Old 04-29-03, 10:25 AM
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I don't think we will see a "rebirth" of anything. I agree that the PC has some great games coming out. The problem is, if they are great they will just be ported over to a console. I think PC games will always be around, I just don't think they will ever be even close to top of the heap again.
Old 04-29-03, 10:50 AM
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From someone who plunked probably over 125 easily into Tron and DOT, Tron 2.0 has me
Old 04-29-03, 11:03 AM
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The main reason I've stuck to the PC for games is because of all round support for the mouse. Consoles just don't have the same level of control for the games I like playing (strategy and RPG's).
Also, with most PC users having to sit close to a monitor game developers have a reason to add more detail into the game (in terms of graphics), as opposed to just being able to see the large dominant objects on a console.
Old 04-29-03, 11:05 AM
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2 reasons. First is money and support. Support costs for PC games are high. There are an almost limitless number of hardware combinations and testing and supporting them all is almost impossible. And don't forget all the software out there that runs in the background. A lot of people run numerous anti-virus, fire wall and other programs in the background that may interfere with the game. Then there are the myriad combinations of hardware and driver versions that must be coded for. And don't forget people who overclock and still expect everything to work properly. And then of course there are different versions of MS Windows and patch levels for them that people may be running. Testing for this takes a lot of money and time. Contrast that with the standard platform of consoles. If a game doesn't work then it's either the console or the disk.

Then there is money. It's easier to pay the royalty to the console owner and concentrate on the game development. In the case of the console makers developing their own games is a cash cow business with high margins. Why would MS put up with huge testing and support costs when they can simply release an x-box only version and make more money?
Old 04-29-03, 11:06 AM
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I love PC games, and am looking forward to a lot of the titles coming out. The biggest problem PC games face is that if one game is successful, you suddenly see a flood of games in that same genre which pushes games in other genres off the store shelves. We've seen it happen with FPS, Hunting Games, RTS, MMORPGs, and "Tycoon" games.
Old 04-29-03, 11:42 AM
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Sierra was the reason I got into computer games. King's Quest was the best, Leisure Suit Larry, Space Quest, Quest For Glory, and Police Quest all had me hooked. They don't make games like this anymore anywhere that I have seen. I got tired of upgrading my computer to play the latest FPS when the last two I bought looked good enough for me. I also don't have the game time I used to when I was younger. That's why when I feel like playing I just throw a game in my xbox and have fun. I prefer the controls for my football games on the console to a keyboard/mouse and the FPS like Halo and UC work fine with the S controller. There are also some good games out there like Ghost Recon and Buffy The Vampire Slayer to keep me going. I don't have to worry about my computer crashing because I have too much crap in the background or even having to buy hardware. I would have probably upgraded for Doom 3, but isn't it going to be on the Xbox? No reason for me to get back into PC gaming.
Old 04-29-03, 11:45 AM
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s}{ammer, have you seen the remakes of classic Sierra games that are over at www.tierraentertainment.com? Pretty cool if you ask me.
Old 04-29-03, 12:41 PM
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The big draw for me in PC games were always strategy, adventure, and RPG games. I loved PC games with a deep story or complex strategy. They made me think. In contrast, for the longest time, console games were mostly confined to platformers and no-brains action gaming.

These days I see a lot of depth in console games. They still tend to be pretty shallow compared to PC games, but they're a lot better now, and I think they'll continue to improve in that regard.
Old 04-29-03, 01:59 PM
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My bad trigger. With your comments about the "popularity of PC gaming dwindling" "shinking PC game sections" etc. I though you were saying 2004 would be a reversal of this trend, hence "the return of PC gaming glory."

But I totally agree that it should be a revival of interest among PC gamers like yourself (i.e. die hard FPS fans). You guys will probably were out some keyboards and mice in 2004.
Old 04-29-03, 02:40 PM
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Originally posted by Josh Hinkle
My bad trigger. With your comments about the "popularity of PC gaming dwindling" "shinking PC game sections" etc. I though you were saying 2004 would be a reversal of this trend, hence "the return of PC gaming glory."

But I totally agree that it should be a revival of interest among PC gamers like yourself (i.e. die hard FPS fans). You guys will probably were out some keyboards and mice in 2004.
Well, I AM saying that I think PC game sections will expand again and maybe magazines wil get thicker again... who knows? Maybe not.

Stoolie - I'd be happy to answer some PC technical questions for you. You can email me if you're serious.
Old 04-29-03, 04:08 PM
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Originally posted by Lewsiv
I don't think we will see a "rebirth" of anything. I agree that the PC has some great games coming out. The problem is, if they are great they will just be ported over to a console. I think PC games will always be around, I just don't think they will ever be even close to top of the heap again.

The problem with porting them over to console.. They do not have the multiplayer and Mods that the PC will get. How long after Half-life's success did it port over to the systems? not to mention did it have all it's mod's? Counter strike, Day of Defeat, Death Match Classic, Team Fortress Classic, Etc. Life has always been around on PC games, it's just in a sort of underground depending on what games you play. I loved Jedi Knight II and it offered a great deal of fun Multiplayer ability. I think that's what is successful and the key point to PC games.. Multiplayer ability and the community that gets behind it. Modification of games is another clear winner on why PC games will be around for a long time to come. Imagen if the source code for Metal Gear Solid was released with the game so that you could customize maps as well as send them to your friend and play multiplayer on a game. Co-op and so forth. This is what will keep PC games a live and well for a long time to come.
Old 04-29-03, 04:44 PM
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Originally posted by Jackskeleton
The problem with porting them over to console.. They do not have the multiplayer and Mods that the PC will get. How long after Half-life's success did it port over to the systems? not to mention did it have all it's mod's? Counter strike, Day of Defeat, Death Match Classic, Team Fortress Classic, Etc. Life has always been around on PC games, it's just in a sort of underground depending on what games you play. I loved Jedi Knight II and it offered a great deal of fun Multiplayer ability. I think that's what is successful and the key point to PC games.. Multiplayer ability and the community that gets behind it. Modification of games is another clear winner on why PC games will be around for a long time to come. Imagen if the source code for Metal Gear Solid was released with the game so that you could customize maps as well as send them to your friend and play multiplayer on a game. Co-op and so forth. This is what will keep PC games a live and well for a long time to come.
That's the past though. How do publishers and developers make money of mods? Why would someone spend money to make a game that they can't get recurring revenue on. That's one of the reasons for online games like sims, battlefield 1942, sw galaxies and others.

ID puts out games that you can mod, but they seem to make the same game every few years with better graphics and some more multi-player options.

I see the future with services like X-Box Live ruling on the console world and pay as you go games on the PC. With the rising costs of development developers need to make more money on the game than what you pay for it at the store. I think MS and Sony may even let you mod the maps and maybe a few other parts of the game and then download it through their online services.

Last edited by al_bundy; 04-29-03 at 04:46 PM.
Old 04-29-03, 04:49 PM
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I agree, X-box and maybe even PS2 will eventually have some kind of Mod package for certain games. X-box will probably start offering more expansions for its live games to boost their sales. That being said, I don't where I would be without my Neverwinter Nights mods.

Last edited by Lewsiv; 04-29-03 at 04:52 PM.
Old 04-29-03, 05:21 PM
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PC game developers and publishers include tools to allow users to mod their games because it's a selling point for the games. It doesn't cost them anything and in some cases, they can profit from having to do no work. Counter-Strike was created by fans (I knew them back when they were making mods for Quake and Quake 2) and once Valve saw the runaway success of it, they packaged it as a retail item. Sure, it was still available for free, but that didn't stop people from buying it up like crazy. I remember playing CS online around the time of the retail release and seeing a surge of newbs (n00bz) on the servers using the retail version.
Old 04-29-03, 05:50 PM
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Mods also tremendously increase the shelf-life of games. Half-Life is probably the seminal example. How many years ago did it come out and it's still selling at videogame stores? Also, games like Star Craft and Baldur's Gate, older games that have been repackaged and are selling in bundles still sell well on the pcs.

Even though I'm a pc gamer at heart, I do find myself playing the consoles more and more just because I don't have the income to upgrade my pc to play the games I really want.

That being said, some games I'll probably keep going back to on the pc because of multiplayer fanbase and the mods that people make for them. I don't know if the consoles, even as they develop better online communities themselves, can ever match that.
Old 04-29-03, 07:26 PM
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Originally posted by al_bundy
That's the past though. How do publishers and developers make money of mods? Why would someone spend money to make a game that they can't get recurring revenue on. That's one of the reasons for online games like sims, battlefield 1942, sw galaxies and others.

Uh.. I guess you haven't opened your eyes. MOD's SELL the original game because you need it in order to play the modification. Thus it brings profit to the publishers of said game. Lets put it this way.. I play DESERT COMBAT mod for BF1942 more then I do the regular Battlefield 1942 game. I still need Battlefield 1942 in order to run DESERT COMBAT, So I had to buy it. folks who want to play the mod NEED the game and thus line the pockets of the publisher.

Look at Half-life. this game has been around since hell (off the top of my head) 98 or so and it's still a big seller. Hell, I have seen people walk in to the store and simply buy the Counter Strike bundle for 19.99 when they could easily buy the Half life game itself and download the Mod for free. it's a big seller and it keeps a game fresh and new.


Also, the Online community does more then just simply modding a game. they add Skins that are custom made and all. I love downloading the Skins for Jedi Knight II from http://jediknightii.net/ . Such great skins as a Vader skin and just about any other star wars character. this is the main factor with PC games that will always keep it alive.. the ability to change and evolve with the growing community of said game.

Now for the topic of "Hell, it will go on to console soon anyways".. well it goes both ways. How many console games have been ported over to the PC either through legal means or by some Warez group through some Mime type of software. It offers the user a better interface to use it and support it. This will always keep PC games alive and well. Thats not to say I dislike consoles. I love fighting games on the console and I will enjoy them as long as I can think of owning the systems.
Old 04-29-03, 09:43 PM
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Originally posted by Jackskeleton
The problem with porting them over to console.. They do not have the multiplayer and Mods that the PC will get.
But most of the console only crowd (especially casual gamers) either isn't aware or doesn't care about mods, so it's not an issue.

People into mods are going to be PC gamers and will buy the PC version. The developers still have a ton of incentive to port over the games without mods though as they'll still sell to gamers that don't play PC games and don't care about mods.

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