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GDC 2008: PC Gaming Alliance Launched
Post by trog @ 06:05pm 20/02/08 | Comments
The PC Gaming Alliance (PCGA) launched today at GDC, hoping to promote PC gaming to a new generation of gamers, presenting a unified, cohesive front to tackle some of the big issues plaguing the space.

The PC Gaming Alliance (PCGA) launched today at GDC, hoping to promote PC gaming to a new generation of gamers, presenting a unified, cohesive front to tackle some of the big issues plaguing the space.

A potentially huge day today for PC gamers with the formal announcement of the PC Gaming Alliance, a not-for-profit organisation that has been formed with the noble goal of presenting a unified front for “advancing the PC as a worldwide gaming platform”.

The press room had representatives from several of the current members of the PCGA – Acer, Activision, AMD, Dell, Epic, Intel, Microsoft, and NVIDIA all had frontmen there to answer questions. Intel's Gaming Program Office Director Randy Stude introduced the initiative, highlighting the key issues that it was formed to address.

The issue that seemed to raise the most ire amongst the members was the dreaded “hardware requirements” problem – the fact that almost every PC game has different requirements for what bits and pieces you need to have in your box, making it hard for prospective PC gamers to know exactly what the hell will happen when the buy a game – will it work on their system?!?

Epic's Mark Rein pointed out that problems like this can lead to a higher rate of returns, ultimately costing everyone money. While no solutions have been defined as yet, it sounds like a lot of time has gone into trying to identify the problems in the PC gaming space, which is encouraging.

Some of the other issues identified were fairly obvious. Piracy got some attention with all the usual statements that you'd expect about how much it costs the industry. However, it sounds like they're thinking about all aspects of the problem, rather than just blaming everything on pirates – Stude quoted someone involved with the Alliance as saying “maybe piracy isn't the problem, maybe the business model is the problem”.

Of particular interest to me was that cheating in online games was clearly identified as a problem to tackle – more good news. Again, no planned resolution, but it is gratifying that they think its a serious enough problem to raise in their high-level summary at the press conference.

The oft-repeated mantra that “PC gaming is dying” is something that the PCGA wants to take head on – apparently in the US for the last year, PC gaming accounted for around 30% of all video games revenue, with the numbers show revenue growth – not decline. The message they want to send is that PC gaming is not only here to stay, but it's the best way to play.

Membership in the organisation is open to any entity that wants to pay the dues – these aren't available just yet, but should be on the official site soon. There was a lot of interest in the room about whether or not Apple would be involved – not at this stage, is the answer, but they're welcome to apply.

I was particularly interested about this – Apple's involvement might cause issues if Microsoft is pushing DirectX as a standard – so I inquired if there was any dispute resolution process in the event that there was a conflict between the partners. Again, too early for such things to have been considered. Essentially at this point, the feeling is that everyone together is going to be better than everyone apart, even if the members butt heads occasionally.

So.

We have a new entity created with some truly excellent goals for the PC industry, something which I wholeheartedly approve of – consoles are all very well and good, but real gaming to me will always be the domain of the PC. The word 'Linux' was conspicuously absent throughout, which leads me to believe this new consortium might have a strong focus on Windows (and other Microsoft technologies), so it would be nice to see some more representation from Apple and maybe a Linux games developer or two, but we'll see how things pan out. Viva la PC!

Mood: CAUTIOUSLY OPTIMISTIC!