PC gamers moving to consoles for their online shooters

Although the PC represents gaming’s latest technologies, gamers are flocking to consoles for their entertainment. No other company is more aware of this fact than Epic Games, maker of Unreal Tournament and Gears of War.

Once a hardcore PC games developer, Epic now finds itself split between computer and console development. Gears of War on the Xbox 360 was an instant success in 2006, but Unreal Tournament III failed to make the same mark on the PC in 2007.

In an interview with Guardian Unlimited, Mark Rein related one of his experiences regarding the shift of first-person shooters from PC to console. “When Call of Duty 4 came out, I heard some of our guys sitting around talking about the great game they'd had last night and I'm like, 'Hey guys, what server are you playing on? I'd love to come and join you,' and they said, 'Just send us a friends request,'” he said.

“It was at that point I realized they were all playing it on console. Plus, the sales of the console versions are something like ten times the sales of the PC versions,” Rein said, affirming an earlier statement. “I'm a real fan of the PC, but yes, consoles are definitely stealing a lot of hardcore gamers from the PC.”

One thing easing Epic’s development on consoles is the emergence of multiplayer-centric gaming. Thanks to the current generation’s connectivity options, Epic is able to translate nearly all of the PC gameplay and options to the console. For example, the PlayStation 3 version of Unreal Tournament III supports most of the modifications available on the PC, partially due to Sony’s open approach to online services.

“I think Sony are real pioneers in this - I think they deserve a lot of credit for letting us do this,” said Rein. “They're really doing something different, and it hints at what they want to do with the PlayStation Network in the future. They're definitely on the right track!”

According to NPD data, PC gaming made up 14 percent of retail games sales in 2007. Besides the growing popularity of the new gaming consoles, the low percentage attributed to PC gaming can also be explained by the lower price of PC games, plus the emergence of digital distribution.

"You can bet that Sony built a long-term business plan about being successful in Japan and that business plan is crumbling." -- Peter Moore, 24 hours before his Microsoft resignation

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