Sal 'Sluggo' Accardo, Editor-in-Chief, GameSpy PC
As the GameSpy editorial staff held its annual Game of the Year discussions, an interesting debate arose: Was 2008, in fact, a good year for PC games? As you look at the Top 10 list on the pages that follow, you could argue that it was a great year, with fantastic games in every genre from shooters to role-playing to strategy games. But looking back, it was hard to see 2008 as a banner year, especially in light of a few disturbing trends.
The first is the continually shrinking number of PC-exclusive AAA titles. Outside of Spore
or MMOs like Warhammer Online
, it seems very few major titles are being built from the ground up for the PC. It seems the PC's primary gaming function for most people these days is as a World of Warcraft
box, and with gamers turning to consoles in increasing numbers, the inevitable result is fewer PC exclusives like Crysis
. So while there are plenty of great games available to play on the PC, there are very few that actually need
a PC to play.
The second is the treatment of the PC as a second-class citizen for many cross-platform titles. There were a few notable exceptions this year, like Fallout 3
, Call of Duty: World at War
, and Left 4 Dead
, but the prevailing wisdom is to release later, whether it's a week behind (Prince of Persia
), or six months (Mass Effect
). In the most frustrating cases, a publisher announces a PC version, and then the PC version goes missing in action as the release date approaches, as was the case with Saints Row 2
and Mirror's Edge
. If you're a hardcore gamer, the PC is often not the place you're going to get to play the biggest games first.
And of course, then there's the continued Microsoft Factor. Here we are, almost two years into the life of Vista, and gamers are still (rightfully) shying away from the OS. The Games for Windows "initiative" has turned out to be little more than a logo and an ineffective marketing campaign, and the G4W Live service has been nothing short of an embarrassment, with an October re-launch that was little more than a facelift. Not only does the service still
lack a standalone dashboard, they haven't even been able to release UNO
, which was shown off over a year ago. It's tremendously disappointing that the one company that could really do something to improve PC gaming seems to be so unable to take even the smallest steps to do so.
Thankfully, it's not all doom and gloom. Companies like Valve continue to invest into the PC platform, with its ever-growing Steam distribution service serving as a home to any number of smaller indie games. Stardock continues to successfully market PC-only titles like Sins of a Solar Empire
and Galactic Civilizations II
without any copy protection whatsoever. And then there's the growth of the smaller title: Games like Peggle
or World of Goo
show that games don't have to be 60-hour epics to be brilliant. So hand us our mice -- we've got a Left4Dead
match to get back to. GameSpy - State of the PC