Sweeney: “Consoles Have Definitely Left PC Games Behind”
Joining his Epic Games colleague Cliff Bleszinski, Tim Sweeney – the co-founder of Epic – has stated in an interview that he believes the PC gaming market is being beat down by consoles, thanks in large part to the growing prices to build a high-end machine. With such a massive performance difference between low-end and high-end PCs (which Sweeney estimates to be “something like 100x”), he says it’s impossible to design a game for those high-end machines and then scale it down to play on what he calls “mainstream PCs.”
If we go back 10 years ago, the difference between the high end and the lowest end may have been a factor of 10. We could have scaled games between those two. For example, with the first version of Unreal, a resolution of 320×200 was good for software rendering and we were able to scale that up to 1024×768, if you had the GPU power. There is no way we can scale down a game down by a factor of 100, we would just have to design two completely different games. One for low-end and one for high-end.
That is actually happening on PCs: You have really low-end games with little hardware requirements, like Maple Story. That is a $100 million-a-year business. Kids are addicted to those games, they pay real money to buy [virtual] items within the game and the game.
Sweeney didn’t deny that there is a market for PC games, though — quite the contrary.
… PCs are more popular than ever. Everyone has a PC. Even those who did not have a PC in the past are now able to afford one and they use it for Facebook, MySpace, pirating music or whatever. Yesterday’s PCs were for people that were working and later playing games. Even if those games were lower-end ones, there will always be a market for casual games and online games like World of Warcraft. World of Warcraft has DirectX 7-class graphics and can run on any computer. But at the end of the day, consoles have definitely left PC games behind.
It’s a very insightful interview. He’s make some good points without bluntly proclaiming that PC gaming is dead. Integrated graphics are a major problem with PCs nowadays, according to Sweeney, and the fact that you can go buy a new PC and it be incapable of running a modern game is a serious problem.
Read the full interview here.