It took just 10 days for Funcom to sell 400,000 copies of its newest title, Age of Conan, last month, making it one of the year’s most successful debuts. But for now, you can’t play it on popular living room consoles like the PS3, Xbox 360 or Nintendo Wii. Age of Conan is available only on desktop computers that use Microsoft’s Windows operating system. PC gamers say its success helps debunk a popular belief: That console games have crushed the PC platform.
“PC gaming is not only not in decline, it’s alive and well and growing,” said Roy Taylor, chief technical officer of the PC Gaming Alliance, a nonprofit trade group. Taylor’s confidence might seem puzzling, considering that most high-profile video games are made for consoles. Grand Theft Auto IV – which sold more than 8 million copies in its first month – is compatible only with the Xbox 360 and PS3. Additionally, market research company NPD Group says that while North Americans spent 18.8 billion dollars on game software in retail stores last year, just 910 million of that went to PC games, down from 970 million the year before. Kevin Unangst, senior global director of Windows gaming at Microsoft, says, however, that the U.S. retail sales decline is deceptive. “What it doesn’t take into account is a massive shift to online gaming on the PC,” he said.
World of Warcraft claims to have 10 million customers. Unlike traditional video games, which are paid for just once, MMOs generally charge a monthly subscription fee. World of Warcraft’s publisher, Blizzard Entertainment, raked in 1.2 billion dollars last year, most of it from gamers paying about 15 dollars a month. Age of Conan uses the same subscription model. At least 400,000 customers have signed on, with more arriving every day. They pay 50 bucks for the software, which includes the right to play online for 30 days. After that, it’s 15 dollars a month. It’s the kind of steady revenue stream console-game publishers can only dream about.
Source: Boston Globe