Thursday, January 31, 2008

Consoles 'Stealing' Hardcore Gamers from PC

The outspoken Epic Games VP Mark Rein laments the state of the PC market in a new interview. He also talks about the huge potential for user-generated content.

In an interview with Guardian Unlimited in the U.K., Epic Games VP Mark Rein talked about user-generated content, Unreal Tournament III and the PC vs. console divide.

While Epic is a PC developer at heart, they and other formerly PC-only studios have basically been forced to join the console ranks due to PC games piracy and an overall decline in PC game sales. Rein commented, "I'm a real fan of the PC, but yes, consoles are definitely stealing a lot of hardcore gamers from the PC. 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,' 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."

UT3 on PS3 is unique in that it, like its PC cousin, actually supports user-generated mods from gamers. Rein couldn't be happier. "We're going to have a big mod contest starting soon and I think that will spur on innovation even more. We're hoping to have a category specifically for PS3 mods. PCs obviously have a lot more memory, so it is possible for a mod to be too big for the PS3, but all of our game levels run on both so we don't foresee that as a problem," he said. He also praised Sony effusively: "I think Sony are real pioneers in this - I think they deserve a lot of credit for letting us do this. 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!"

Unfortunately Microsoft has not yet approved user-generated content for the Xbox 360 version. Rein doesn't necessarily blame them though. "They've got a closed system where everything's checked, users know the quality of everything they download, and you know it won't crash your machine. User generated content - well, it can be dangerous, you could theoretically download a mod that uses too much memory and crashes your machine," he explained.

That said, Rein fully believes user-generated content is the future. "Do I think there's going to be a user-generated content revolution? Yes, but it will be different things to different people," he said. "Right now, we're barely scratching the surface - we're just letting users trade little things they made over the internet. Later on we hope to do more with it, make content easier to find, make some of it more official - highlight the really great content and make it much easier to get it onto your machine ... so in the future, gamers who buy a game like this are hopefully going to be able to get a whole bunch of free, extra cool content - and hopefully, some of the guys who make that content will become developers further down the road. A lot of the guys here at Epic previously worked on mods.

"At some point, I'd like to work with the creators of some of the professional quality mods to help take them to the next level and work with us to build a marketplace where they can make some money off their content."

via GameDaily

Jason Kiwaluk

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