PC Gaming Alliance Fights for the Computer as Gaming Platform

June 16, 2008 -

As a longtime computer gamer, I was cheered earlier this year to learn of the formation of the PC Gaming Alliance, a group of industry types who have banded together to promote the PC as a game platform.

Last week, Cnet's Crave blog posted a terrific interview with Intel's Randy Stude, president of the PCGA. Among Stude's comments:

You have [a PC gaming] industry that's being beat up in the Western press in terms of... its perceived lack of health, so we in the industry... didn't really like the perception that we were hearing that PC gaming is on a decline. When in fact while certain markets of the PC gaming industry might be in a decline, others are sky-rocketing like never before.

The PCGA chief also downplayed discouraging NPD numbers:

I chuckle when I read through the articles or opinion that say that PC gaming is in a decline and they continue to quote NPD's North American retail sales figures... NPD decided in the first quarter of 2008 to attempt to quantify North American MMO subscription revenues. And lo and behold... they found--under a rock that they hadn't looked at before--a billion dollars...

In fact, Stude says that PC gaming generates a quarter of all video game revenues:

So if you add the billion dollars [NPD] claim to have found in annual subscription revenues on top of the $920 million that they were previously reporting in retail, suddenly the PC game piece of the pie is closer to a quarter of all software revenues generated in North America. That's one platform out of eight that's generating a quarter of all the revenues. There isn't another platform generating that big of a share of the pie. And that is woefully underreported at a billion dollars. That's why we're here.

Stude also mentioned that the PCGA is looking into piracy issues:

We're collecting research on PC game piracy... trying to have some understanding of how big it is, and then hopefully quantify the economic impact... We don't intend to become the police force for PC game piracy. We're not the RIAA, we're not going to become the RIAA. Rather we're a group that's trying to look out for PC gaming, and if there's a problem with it, we're going to make industry recommendations...



Re: PC Gaming Alliance Fights for the Computer as Gaming

Piracy is not the problem with PC Gaming. The way they fight piracy is the problem with PC Gaming. I'm mightily tired of having to jump through hoop after hoop while pirates can play any game from day zero and without any hassle thanks to a crack.

Also, Intel, AMD, nVidia, Microsoft, even Epic!, i.e., the companies forming the PCGA, are the biggest culprits of how things are in the PC market right now: sky high hardware prices, shitty integrated controllers, appalling drivers over an even worse OS, games that only work fine if your computer has less than two years, etc, etc.

If they really want to "save" (PC gaming has been "dying" for 25 years, thank you), they should learn A LOT from companies like Valve and Stardock, and stop BSing about perceptions, MMOs or piracy.

Re: PC Gaming Alliance Fights for the Computer as Gaming

1: Stop forcing me to put my CD's in danger when I want to play.

2: Stop making me disable my virtual drives when I want to play.

3: Stop giving me reasons to find cracks so I can play games I purchased.


Re: PC Gaming Alliance Fights for the Computer as Gaming

1: The XBox360 got pretty famous for REALLY putting CD's in danger, this is not a PC-only problem

2 & 3 are pretty salient points though, I'm really no big fan of DRM either.

Re: PC Gaming Alliance Fights for the Computer as Gaming

The consoles have a reason to make you put the disk in, PC's after the install, don't really have a good reason.


Re: PC Gaming Alliance Fights for the Computer as Gaming

Well, I'll agree that there's plenty of room on the Hard-Drive not to need the disk, but it strikes me as odd that people should think that consoles needing the disk is good, but PC's needing the disk is bad. Consoles perform similar checks for disc-validity that PC's do, that's why the disk needs to be in the drive.

Re: PC Gaming Alliance Fights for the Computer as Gaming

A console is a console and a PC is a PC.

You expect to put a DVD in your DVD player when you want to watch a movie.  You don't expect to put a Photoshop CD in your computer every time you want to use Photoshop.

Re: PC Gaming Alliance Fights for the Computer as Gaming

I would find it annoying to have to put my disk in my console if I had to go through an install process that put all the game files on the hard drive.


Though consoles by their very nature rely on the disk to be the proof of ownership.

Re: PC Gaming Alliance Fights for the Computer as Gaming

Tolerable, not a good thing. When you had almost no storage space, it's pretty much a requirement. Now, with the drives on the current gen, it's getting much less forgivable, especially if there's any disk space requirement for the game.

Re: PC Gaming Alliance Fights for the Computer as Gaming

I've actually found an increasing number of games that don't require any disk to be in the drive at all, they all run directly from the HDD.  To name a few in my collection (I'm sure there are many more, but I'm too broke to buy more games):  Company of Heros, Lord of the Rings Online, Nevewinter Nights 1, anything that runs from HL1, and probably others I haven't bothered to figure out.  It could be that your genre-of-choice doesn't typically follow this, but it IS out there.


So speak I, some random guy.

Re: PC Gaming Alliance Fights for the Computer as Gaming

Well unless they start doing CD keys for console games, I don't expect them to stop making you do it.

I've been long gone from computer gaming

You want to get me back into to computer gaming? Here's what you need to do:

 * No network connection needed for single player games

 * No admin access required, either for install or for play

 * When the game isn't running, nothing is running

 * No hardware dependence (no "Does not run on all CD Drives")

 * Use documented (code) interfaces only


So PC Gaming Alliance, you have the balls to recommend things like that?

Re: I've been long gone from computer gaming

So, basically, you want to keep on playing on your console..

Most single player PC games do not require any form of network connection to play.  Where you got this from, I've no idea.  Only the latest, draconian DRM's force you to be online when you install, which is something people complain about.

Admin access is an OS Issue and not a game issue.  This is required because, *GASP*, PC's can do more than consoles and are used in business as well as the home.

This isn't going to happen.  All OS's, even those on the consoles, require background processes to be running so the OS can be running.  Consoles are not immune to this.

This is a moot point to be honest.  Try and play a console game without the DVD in the drive. 

No chance.  PC games require a much better interface due to the Keyboard and Mouse whilst the consoles have a few buttons on a gamepad.  The interfaces should differ from the consoles to the PC's.  Look at Mass Effect, the PC UI is so much better.

All in all, what you want is for the PC to become a console.  That isn't going to happen.  The PC is a great gaming platform that can play all of the games, even if they aren't going to be released for it.

Re: I've been long gone from computer gaming

Looking at bioshock and its horrible implementation of KB/M controls I'll wager the fuzzy lint in my head I call a brain that ports will have worse and worse control options as they seek to streamline and cut costs to have everything ready at the release date...

Cryisis is at least a real PC game from control perspective the game tiself is a bland sand box shooter thats only alil better than the mass of corridoor shooters stagnating the FPS market.

Bioshock is a mid class adventure FPS but is so under developed its rather scary its done so well.....

I is fuzzy brained mew


(in need of a bad overhaul)

I is fuzzy brained mew =^^=
(in need of a bad overhaul)

Re: I've been long gone from computer gaming


He means when the game isn't running, no part of the game should be running.(Some punk buster enabled games)

It is also quite possible to write software that is installed without tripping over admin rights. It’s just games (Among other applications) like to stick their tendrils deep. I’ve had games that have tried to install parts of them as a service. I know games that you can copy directly off the CD and run. It comes down to coding, convenience, and design choices.

I’m also fairly certain he wasn’t talking about the controls, I think he was speaking about coding practices again.


Re: I've been long gone from computer gaming

Coding practices vary vastly across the board. Yes, there are a million ways to do it wrong, that's really down to people learning decent coding, and partly down to the fact that a Console is a static device, it doesn't change it's hardware to any vast degree, whereas PC Hardware, and therefore the practices involved, are evolving all the time. 10 Years ago, no-one needed to code for multi-core, so it would be easy to say that 10-year games were written by 'incompetents' because they don't take advantage of the feature.

Re: I've been long gone from computer gaming

When did I accuse anyone of being incompetent?

Re: I've been long gone from computer gaming

When did I accuse you of accusing anyone of being incompetent?

Re: I've been long gone from computer gaming

Well, you used quotation marks in a reply to somebody.  That sort of implies you are quoting that person.

Re: I've been long gone from computer gaming

Then where did the last 1/4 of your post come from? Unless that was a tangent.

Re: I've been long gone from computer gaming

The "feature" of non-admin installs has been around on Windows since 1993. So yes, it is incompetence, and not requiring admin rights for running is a requirement of the "Written for XP" logo.

Multi-core is brand spanking new, relatively speaking. Security is not.


Re: I've been long gone from computer gaming

Admin being an OS issue is a myth. It is incredibly easy to code such that it isn't required, and in most cases is simply following best practices. I've done it. The average Mac app does it (drag to ~/Applications) . The average Linux app does it (./configure --prefix=$HOME). Yet the average Windows programmer is so incompetent that they can't follow simple rules? Or the QA is so incompetent that they don't test different privilege levels?

You misunderstood inteface. I said CODE interface, e.g. they write *ONLY* to documented Win32, DirectX, OpenGL. I only say it's plumbing should be standard, nothing more. What it does outside is it's own purview. Use the strengths of the system, tie to performance but nothing more.

A console doesn't have (until recently) many times the hard drive space of what's on the DVD. There is no technical limitation to running a PC game without the disk when there's a many gigabyte install. And I say the same for console installs that are multi-gigabyte.


Re: I've been long gone from computer gaming

It's not that coders are 'incompetent', it's that this is recommended practice. You may not like it, but personally, I'm glad that my son has to go via me if he wants to install something to his user account, it means I have an extra level of defence on my computer.

Re: I've been long gone from computer gaming

It is not an extra level of defense, it is *NO* extra defense.

Can you put in a disk or download something off the internet and run the executable? If you answered "yes", then there you have little security gain from admin installs (service/driver/HKLM/BHO ACL is it).

In fact, requiring admin installs, as done on Windows, *LESSENS* security. Lets suppose you have an app that only requires admin for "Program Files" access. You have to grant it admin for that, which also allows service/driver/HKLM, which you may not want to grant it. Principle of Least Privilege has already been broken. And most users are going to get into the habit of installing as admin when they shouldn't be.

Re: I've been long gone from computer gaming

1: Most single player games don't require Network access, even Steam runs without the Internet if you aren't connected.

2: The reason non-admin accounts exist is to stop people installing software that shouldn't be installed, it's used for organisations and the like, that's not a game problem, it's a OS requirement.

3: Even the PS3 has background applications running when the game isn't, that's how it knows you've inserted a disk.

4: I haven't encountered a game that contains this message so I can't really answer this one.

5: I hate playing Console conversions for the simple fact the interface sucks in my opinion, and opinion is what it really boils down to.

Re: I've been long gone from computer gaming

1: AT ALL. So, can I go buy HL2 in the store and run it on a non-networked computer? Or BioShock? Or Mass Effect?

2: I've written security software that installs and runs as guest on up. There is no OS requirement. The OS requirement for admin is to write to Program Files, write to HKLM,  install a driver, install a service, install a BHO. If you don't need any of these (say, you install a normal app to %USERPROFILE%), then you don't need admin. An organization can make home directories not executable to stop these type of installs.

3: I'm not talking about the OS, I'm talking about the game. If I'm not running the game, the game doesn't need to be running anything.

4: It's in small print on the back of boxes. Last one I checked when I was considering going back to computer gaming was the latest Myst at the time (Uru?)

5: The reason I stopped playing PC games was because the companies treat me like garbage and don't follow good security principles on a computer that isn't theirs. Nothing to do with things inherent to the games themselves, only the things around them.

Re: I've been long gone from computer gaming

they fixed steams off line mode apparently but you still have to verify the install online and at least there is no install tokens like bioshock(even the steam version has secrom activation on it).

I No longer buy retail games because of the priceVqaulity I refuse to pay 30$ for a mediocre game much less 50+, also PC games have fallen into the "port madness" of old they make the game for the console and then make a sloppy port to the PC bioshock still has issues on PC.... I have written the game industry off as part of the media mafia and I just refuse to "buy in" anymore I'll still get the product but at greatly reduced prices..

I is fuzzy brained mew


(in need of a bad overhaul)

I is fuzzy brained mew =^^=
(in need of a bad overhaul)

Re: I've been long gone from computer gaming

1: Well, that's a DRM issue, once most games are authorised, you are fine. I'm not a fan of DRM myself, but yes, I bought half-life, installed it, and played it without an Internet connection, it installed Steam, but because I wasn't logged on at the time, it allowed me to play once I had entered the box-code.

2: Yes, it's possible to bypass the routine, but the defences are put there for a reason, they aren't just there to annoy people. This still isn't really the fault of the game companies, and much more the way that they are compelled to code thanks to the way Windows works. The standard procedure is to install to Program Files, which, as you say, requires Admin access.

3: I don't know any games that do run when they aren't running, unless you refer to Steam of the like, which isn't directly part of the game.

4: Well, it's something that has never, ever been an issue for me, I've haven't bought a game that refuses to run on my drive for nearly half a decade. I suspect the warning is just to cover themselves than out of any real risk.

5: A computer is vastly more flexible and complex than a Console, there are weaknesses inherent in the entire design because it is an OS on top of an OS on top of an OS, which is dumb, I'll agree. When Sony pulls stunts like rootkits, and Starforce do their usual, yes, I get annoyed as well, but this all boils down to DRM, which is, and always will be, a severe danger to the PC Gaming market.

Re: I've been long gone from computer gaming

1: *ding*

2: You aren't bypassing it, you're working with it. The security implication of a non-admin install is no different than being able to run arbitrary executables. You allow one, you allow the other. You can pick the install location in most installers, which means Program Files access is not required. That leaves driver/service (sorry, a game doesn't need that), HKLM (I only run it under one user, not needed), BHO (don't use IE, don't want their stuff in explorer). The only reason to need it is (a) Invasive DRM (automatic fail) and (b) sloppy coding (automatic fail).

3: Would it be installed by installing HL2 from the disk? What about the drivers in kernel space from other protections? (cf recent root hole in Windows due to Macromedia protection)

4: Some protections ban the types of drives that can copy them without issues

5: *ding* It's flexible, and it's also mine. Until they stop treating it like it's theirs, they don't have permission to be there.

Re: I've been long gone from computer gaming

Heh, seems to me we are actually pretty much of the same opinion, but approaching it from different angles ;)

I doubt we'll agree on the whole 'Admin Rights' thing, though, it seems to me that you know that side of it  better than I do, so I'll nod to your expertise on that.

Glad we could have this debate before the usual flaming begins :)

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