On Games for Windows
Saturday, February 10, 2007 4:41:54 AM
At its most basic level, PC gaming cannot be treated in the same manner as consoles for several reasons. First Microsoft doesn't license games for Windows like is done with consoles. On consoles the hardware manufacturer charges companies to release games on that specific console. On the PC Microsoft doesn't have such a centralized scheme, so the companies generally do whatever they want, causing the market to become fractured. But while this scheme has not been implemented on the PC, doing it now won't help the market if you just start charging licensing fees. On the other hand, just making it so that developers have to meet certian requirements in order to qualify for the Games for Windows logo, is a big step up.
This also, though, begs the question of whether this new focus on PC branding and marketing will actually improve the PC market. As of now it is marginally, for Microsoft has reported that games with the logo recieve for sales than they did before having the logo. But rather than look at the pale line up as of now, around five games, it is better to look to the future, like 3 years from now. If anything has been learned about Microsoft they will put the time, effort and money into dominating, becoming part of or imporving a market. That it what they did with the Xbox brand and they will attempt to do the same to the PC.
While many signal this as a Rennaisance or Revitalization (you can read such an article at The Vista 'Renaissance') of the lagging PC market, I disagree. The PC market has never really been 'lagging' as many people in the console bussiness would like to have you belive. Many of the sales figures for the PC don't include games distributed electronically, MMOs charging for monthly service, e-distribution or services such as Valve's Steam. These are accounting for a larger and larger part of the market and many people overlook this aspect of PC gaming.
The real goal, though, of all this is to break one critical cap on the grow of the PC market, the idea that installing and playing games on the PC is a hassle. Microsoft is making it quite clear that in order to have the Games for Windows branding on your game, it has to be able to be easily installed and played on both the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows Vista. If Microsoft can suceed with this then the PC market will have broken a true, though at times unwarranted, criticism. Once this goal is accomplished then the Games for Windows branding and marketing will have finally payed off.
PC gaming had a great year in 2006 and 2007 looks to be even better, an example would be the inhuman sales of World of WWarcraft: The Burning Crusade, which pulled in 2.4 million copies sold, on the first day of release. While World of Warcraft can be called an anomaly, it still signals that PC gaming is going strong, even without the new Games for Windows branding. If the Games for Windows branding works as it is intended to work, instead of revitalizing a PC market that is not really lagging; Microsoft could end up allowing the PC market to reach new hieght and break the idea that playing games on a PC is hard.