Blog debate: online PC gaming vs online console gaming

In his tech related blog Technovia, Ian Betteridge has responded to a blog entry by the well known Windows enthusiast Paul Thurrott. In an entry on his Internet Nexus blog, Paul disagrees with a Business Week article that portrays PC gaming in a positive light. Paul thinks that the PC market is slowing and that soon it'll be "game over" for computer based gaming. Ian's post offers a rebuttal to Paul's opinion. Giving the example of World of Warcraft on the PC platform, Ian believes that console-based MMOs will never reach the popularity of PC-based online games. Why does he think this? According to Ian, "MMORPGs are, at heart, about communication and communication requires a keyboard. Or voice, of course, but that's too intrusive."

Let's break the argument down. The first debate is centered around the never ending console vs PC gaming argument. We're willing to say that consoles have already won this battle. The majority of games are played on consoles, therefore the majority of the money goes to console based publishers and developers. Does that mean PC gaming is dead? Not really. There will always be a demand for (as Becky mentions on Ian's blog) "'lean forward' desk-and-chair-gaming like The Sims, WoW and Age of Empires" as opposed to "'lean back' sofa-gam[es] like GTA."

The second debate regards the future of MMOs on consoles. In the quote we mentioned earlier, Ian cites the lack of non-intrusive text input devices as a sign that MMOs on consoles will never reach the popularity of games like WoW on the PC. We disagree. Voice, no matter how intrusive, is much more efficient than keyboard based communication. The real issue that has, in the past, limited the popularity of MMOs on consoles is the lack of demand for MMO games. The original Xbox Live was used by a tiny percentage of the total number of people that bought Xbox consoles. With the Xbox 360 (and other next-gen consoles) an larger percentage of "connected" consoles will likely result in a market big enough to support several subscription based MMOs.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.