By: Stephen Crane (Photo: Courtesy Flickr user [nivs])
Or should I say it never went away? It's true that PC gaming has received a bad reputation recently. There has been a lot of bad console ports, heavy DRM restrictions and a few other complications. From Dust in particular has been receiving quite a bit of attention for Ubisoft's bait-and-switch promises about always-online DRM.
One company, Razer, is claiming that despite all this, they are out to prove PC gaming is not dead. They are so confident in their ability to show the life of the platform, they have registered www.pcgamingisnotdead.com with an interesting little audio speech with complimentary full countdown to August 26. How exciting! It's almost like V For Vendetta except it's probably going to try and turn us more into complacent consumers who love the coporations who sell us shiny new toys rather than anti-government anarchists. That is, of course, if Razer's viral marketing goes according to plan.
For a company that makes PC gaming accessories like mice, keyboards and headphones, this is a pretty ballsy move. Not only are they trying to appeal to a market many have grown skeptical about, but they are claiming to have the secret that will make PC gaming a better experience than it currently is.
They even went ahead and took out a full page spread in the Wall Street Journal. The spread claims that there are more than 300 million PC gamers worldwide. That number, they estimate, is more than all of the console gamers combined. They also claim PC gaming has been there since the beginning and that the knights of computing just wish to stand side-by-side with their console friends united under the banner of "gamers".
300 million people seems like a bit of a large number to some people, but it's most likely accurate. According to the Computer Industry Almanac, the number of PCs in use in the world reached nearly one billion in 2006 with the USA accounting for more than 24%. Assuming that the number of computers in use increased over the past five years, also that 72% of American households play video games according to the ESA, the number is probably reliable, if not conservative. A combination of piracy and other factors makes the latter statement that PC gamers are "legion" a bit hard to determine.
Speculation abounds as to what this "innovative" announcement will be. It would have to be something that made PC gaming as accessible as a console while actually changing the game of how we look at how we interact with the computers. As far as controllers go, I had had sort of pondered the lack of evolution in computer controls a while ago. This train of thought has led many to question if the announcement is going to be for the Razer Switchblade.
Very serious Min-Liang wants us to think that PC gaming will be reinvented in portable form with this little device. Here's a little gameplay on the device that sort of shows how it can be used. Looking a bit further into the timing of the videos and the timing of the purchase of the website, it certainly seems like it can be a part of the marketing strategy of a soon-to-be-released Switchblade. The above video was posted in January of this year. Six months later, pcgamingisnotdead.com was purchased by Ryan Chua of Razer. Now, the product, presumptiviely the Switchblade, will be presented this coming weekend at PAX Prime in Seattle, WA.
At least it won't be that long until we figure it out. Until then, I suppose we can go ahead and ponder PC's place in video gaming some more.