PC gaming isn’t dead; it’s merely waiting for the day conditions are finally right for its return. Like Jesus! However, it looks like Our Lord and Savior (or incarnation of your particular religion’s greatest evil – you know, whichever) is posting a Craig’s List bulletin searching for a new pal for Friday night card games, because PC gaming’s “return” is nigh.
Finally, someone – in this case, fractiously monikered gaming blog Rock Paper Shotgun – has conducted a semi-official survey of PC gamers’ buying habits. The result? RPS discovered that, of the 2,000 keyboard warriors interrogated, 93% have digitally purchased at least one PC game in the past 12 months, 71% bought more than four games digitally, and, through some flashy mathematics, that 47% of all PC purchases in 2008 were digital.
Assuming that RPS’ findings are more or less accurate, this means NPD’s figures would nearly need to be doubled before hitting the mark.
Have the first shots in the long-brewing Digital Distribution vs. Retail Wars been fired? About two weeks ago, GameStop.com abruptly stopped taking pre-orders for THQ’s upcoming Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War II, and scrubbed any mention of the game from its site. While no one has been able to get an official reason out of either GameStop or THQ, the speculation is that the conspicuous disappearance is connected to the use of Valve’s Steam service as copy protection—GameStop is probably peeved that in order to install DoW2, gamers will have to install Steam and be presented with an option for fabulous deals on PC games that doesn’t require hauling their asses down to the mall and digging through all the Barbie Horse Adventure games on GameStop’s depressing PC corner shelf.
Further investigation, though, may indicate that this is no coincidence.
Here at Maximum PC, our goal is to bring you – our tear-jerkingly loyal readers – the world’s finest technology-based news. As you can imagine, this takes a tremendous amount of concentration and, well, you’ve seen the headline. After all, it’s kind of difficult to concentrate on news stories and other such frippery when – one screen away -- a Tank’s attempting to knock our head’s round peg into our torso’s square hole. Convergence, ain’t it grand?
Along with placing a “Web” tab on Steam’s in-game overlay screen, today’s update gives Steam’s five strings a tightening – the results of which you can see here:
Updated game overlay web browser to support generic web browsing, including web sites that use flash
Fixed games list scrolling behavior with pageup/pagedown and mouse wheel
Fixed GTA4 backups not restoring correctly
Fixed several cases where matchmaking would not work in Left 4 Dead in using Cafe accounts
Changed Friends to be enabled for Cafe accounts
Removed 'view invites' dialog on startup, now clicking on a group/user invite toast will take you directly to the Community control page
Fixed guest passes not showing immediately in games list
Fixed case where a user would be told a guest pass had expired after they had bought the full game
Improved Steam Windows Service restart logic in serveral places
Pockets still belching out quarters after a colossal Christmas cash feast? Looking to really score some bang for your newly acquired buck? Well, right after buying MPC subscriptions for a few friends, family members or neighbors (MPC makes for an amazing house-warming gift!), why not take a quick peek at Steam’s wall-to-wall sales extravaganza?
Should words like “extravaganza” not be enough to persuade you, here are a few more that might do the trick: BioShock for $4.99, Team Fortress 2 for $9.99, Company of Heroes for $14.99 and Left 4 Dead for $37.49.
The sales’s price tag-pulverizing kryptonite applies to all games currently available on Steam, but only until January 2nd. So get your credit card started on its New Year’s workout regimen early; the clock’s ticking.
“Let’s see… I’ll take one copy of Spore – hold the SecuROM DRM, please.”
“Oh, er, sorry. Your order’s already slathered in DRM and, well, we can’t remove it. If you come back in a couple weeks, though, we might be able to scrape off a bit of it. Sound good?”
Has something like this ever happened to you? A pleasant Sunday afternoon installation spoiled by SecuROM’s goon squad? Well, no more. At least, if you ride under Steam’s banner.
“EA is one of the industry’s largest publishers,” said Gabe Newell, co-founder and president of Valve. “The EA titles coming to Steam this holiday include some this year’s top PC titles.”
He’s not kidding, either. Titles like Spore, Warhammer: Age of Reckoning, Mass Effect, Need for Speed Undercover, and FIFA Manager 2009 are already available, with Mirror’s Edge, Red Alert 3, and Dead Space moving in with the Freeman family in the “coming weeks.” And, of course, these games will conform to Steam’s standards; in other words, no SecuROM whatsoever.
So, does this mean we can all finally kiss and make up with EA, and notice that it’s released some damn good games over the past year? C’mon now; it’s Christmas.
According to Valve’s November hardware report, a majority of you gamers using Steam are favoring Windows XP, Nvidia graphics cards and Intel processors.
These numbers come as very little surprise. Windows XP has remained dominant for gamers due to a lack of any significant DirectX 10 enabled titles, Nvidia has been heavily strutting their stuff in the graphics game and Intel is up to their usual, benchmark-crushing shenanigans.
The exact numbers show that there really is a startling majority. 70 percent of users were running Windows XP, 65 percent viewing on Nvidia, and 64 percent thinking with Intel.
Be sure to check out the survey yourself and check out what piece of the pie you reside in!
Joining Peter Molyneux, Good Old Games, and Stardock in a swelling anti-DRM chorus, Valve president Gabe Newell has voiced his concerns about DRM's diabolical rule. The big G-man's opinion? Most DRM (ahem) is "just dumb."
"As far as DRM goes, most DRM strategies are just dumb. The goal should be to create greater value for customers through service value (make it easy for me to play my games whenever and wherever I want to), not by decreasing the value of a product (maybe I'll be able to play my game and maybe I won't)," Newell said in an email to a fan named Paul Reisinger (who promptly posted the response on his Live Journal page).
"We really, really discourage other developers and publishers from using the broken DRM offerings, and in general there is a groundswell to abandon those approaches," he added.
Of course, this is a huge about-face for Valve, whose Steam platform once coated games in a jawbreaker-esque, nigh-impenetrable DRM shell. Luckily, Newell and co. had the sense to mash that particular padlock with a crowbar, rendering its DRM far more tolerable.
Nice preaching on Newell's part, though. Choir, do you have anything to add?
If you're anticipating Valve's upcoming zombie shooter Left 4 Dead (and if you're a gamer, then you probably are), then Valve has an offer it hopes you can't refuse. The publisher has released its Valve Complete Pack on Steam, a collection of titles which, if purchased separately, would run $235. Valve's asking price checks in at less than half that at $100.
In addition to Left 4 Dead, the Benjamin buys you Counter Strike, Counter Strike: Condition Zero, Counter Strike: Source, Day of Defeat, Day of Defeat: Source, Deathmatch Classic, Half Life, Half Life 2, Half Life 2: Deathmatch, Half Life 2: Episode One, Half Life 2: Episode Two, Half Life 2: Lost Coast, Half Life Deathmatch: Source, Half Life: Blue Shift, Half Life: Opposing Force, Half Life: Source, Peggle Extreme, Portal, Richochet, Team Fortress 2, and Team Fortress Classic. In other words, enough titles to give your broadband connection a good workout.
Word on the web is that you can gift duplicate titles you already own, but if that's you're intention, you may want to confirm this with Steam before plunking down the cash (we'll post an update if we receive confirmation).
Update November 21, 2008
Four days after sending in our support inquiry, Steam Support has informed us that gifting duplicate titles only applies to a handful of specific situations, none of which appear to include the Complete Pack. More information here.
Hate Games For Windows Live because it's unintuitive and similar to Xbox Live in form, function, and ham-fisted unsuitability to the PC platform? Well, you'll be happy to hear that Microsoft had its top code-jockeys give the old girl a tune-up, and according to Shacknews, the prognosis should have Valve chomping its fingernails to the bone.
"The new in-game Games for Windows Live interface is a significant leap forward for Microsoft. It does everything you'd expect--displays your Gamerscore, provides a friends list, and allows for private messages and chat--but is now far more effective. It's a minimalist, PC-centric approach compared to the bloated, console-derived first iteration of the software," said the website in its impressions of the service.
In addition, Games For Windows Live general manager Chris Early confirmed that, on top of delivering DLC, the gussied up GFW will also become a distribution platform for full PC games -- just like soon-to-be competitor Steam.
"Clearly it's on our road map," he said -- describing full games as a "next step."
Anyone have a chance to fondle GFW's menus yet? What do you think? Does it have the potential to blow Steam out of the water? Or is GFW DOA?
A press release from Valve has heralded the imminent arrival of the Steam Cloud; the ability to access your Steam savefiles and controller configs from any computer. Left 4 Dead will be the first title to have the Cloud functionality, and Valve has said they'll be retrofitting their back catalog with the feature.
According to Valve, the Steam Cloud will "just work." By this they mean that gamers won't have to do anything to get their saves and options into the Cloud; it will all happen automatically. Similarly, when a user logs onto their account on a new computer their data will be downloaded for them by default.
Valve president Gabe Newell explained the philosophy behind the Steam cloud, saying "For some time now, Steam has allowed gamers to log on from any computer in the world and access their applications ... Steam Cloud is a natural extension of the portability Steam affords gamers and developers, and we intend to expand its feature set as it is used in Left 4 Dead and other games coming to Steam."
Left 4 Dead launches on 18th, with the demo (which includes Steam Cloud) coming later this week. Are you psyched? Let us know after the jump.