Mar 22, 2012

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Windows 8 May Threaten Future of PC Gaming

Windows 8 May Threaten Future of PC Gaming

Gaming site Kotaku recently posted a piece questioning whether the success or failure of Windows 8 could in turn threaten the existence of PC gaming as a whole. Publisher Stardock (Sins of a Solar Empire and Elemental) recently released their annual customer report and aside from talking of their 2011 experiences, they’re predicting what may come in 2012 and beyond. Unfortunately, Windows-based gaming’s future doesn’t look too good, at least in Stardock’s eyes.

Stardock recently sold their Impulse digital distribution platform to GameStop citing three specific reasons in their report. The first was that maintaining Impulse was using too many of the company’s resources. Second, Stardock wanted to release their games on Steam. Finally, Stardock’s internal culture was not compatible with being driven by sales.

Aside from explaining the state of their company, the report attempted to tackle the future of PC gaming including the ever growing cloud-based gaming stating:

Within 5 years, decoupled gaming will become common. Decoupled computing is the concept in which the device that is doing the processing/rendering is not physically connected to the output devices (display, speakers) or the input devices (gamepad, keyboard, mouse).

How this future will manifest itself remains to be seen. The likely players will be Apple’s AirPlay and Intel’s WiDi standards. The actual gaming experience won’t change very much except that the player will have a lot more flexibility as to how they play their games. However, the development experience will change radically depending on which platforms emerge as the leaders in this future.

The company further voiced concerns regarding their initial impressions with Windows 8 explaining, “Since we are not currently a cross-platform development shop, our success relies heavily on the success of Windows.” Problems including issues with program organization, inconsistent mouse-over, element discovery, and problems with the Metro interface. They concluded with:

It is our opinion that there is not a viable commercial market for software that exists to fix features of Windows 8 because many, if not most, users will simply not migrate to it and may choose other computing avenues.

We maintain that the primary threat to the PC (and gaming consoles) comes in the form of Apple’s AirPlay combined with Bluetooth 4.0+ controllers. A Windows 8 failure may buy enough time for Apple to release displays (and get partners to release displays) with embedded AirPlay. The “computing” will be done on an iPad/iPhone, the keyboard/mouse handled by Bluetooth and the display via AirPlay.

If Windows 8 doesn’t succeed, could the future of PC gaming belong to Apple? While the idea may seem farfetched since Apple computers are hardly known for being the place to play major titles, if other companies have the same issues with Windows 8 that Stardock does, now may be the time for Apple to strike.

[Source: Kotaku]