Why do developers love making games for PC? | PCGamesN

Why do developers love making games for PC?

Frozen Synapse

We think the PC is pretty great. We love how many different niche interests it caters to, we love how thin the barrier between developers and their communities can be, and we love how many utterly fantastic harebrained games are out there. But you could argue that we’re a little biased, we’re a PC gaming website.

So, to make our case for us, we contacted developers who choose to make games for PC. And they replied in their droves.

John Romero (id, Ion Storm, Doom, Daikatana)

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I’ve always been a PC gamer, as in Personal Computer, whether it’s an Apple II, C64, Atari 800, Mac, or DOS/Windows computer, because I prefer the keyboard and mouse as input devices, I like being able to choose how fast my games will run based on the hardware I’ve bought, and I love games that are designed to be played for long periods of time. When a new FPS comes out that I like, I want to spend all my time playing it, which might mean 12 hours a day.

Because I love playing games on PC more than anything else, I choose to make games for it as well. I’ve only made one game in my entire career for a console first (Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows), and few for mobile first. Mobile is definitely interesting to me, so I’ll be making more of those. But for big, involved games, it’s all about the PC (OS X preferred).

David Goldfarb (DICE, Overkill, Battlefield 3, Payday 2)

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Clive Moody (Codemasters, Grid: Autosport) 

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Certainly for racing games, we know it’s a place where our core audience are. It’s their platform of choice. These are guys who are not afraid of having a decent rig and a decent racing setup. Also, the PC, because hardware's constantly updating, faster than the console cycle, it means we can find new ways of pushing, new techniques. Whether it’s graphics techniques or fun stuff with new peripherals, there’s always something new or cutting edge. It’s a lot of fun for us, it’s a lot of fun for the tech guys to get their hands on that, but it also means that we can do some special stuff that we can’t do on console - just because of the nature of how they are, they’re a closed system. 

Mark Skaggs (Zynga, Westwood, Farmville, Command & Conquer: Generals) 

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Chris Taylor (Gas Powered Games, Supreme Commander, Total Annihilation) 

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For me it started in 1980, when I got my first computer... Though not really considered a PC by today's standards, it very much was (a TRS-80).  For years PC's were more powerful than their console counterparts, and for good reason, they were 10-20 times as much money.  They were the Ferrari's compared to the console econo cars. 

During the late 90's (or so) the price/performance argument for consoles was undeniably compelling (and hardware subsidy played a part in this I'm sure).  But alas, consoles still did not, and do not, give you what a PC gives you, despite the price.  PC's are evolving monthly, and this new round of consoles will be underpowered within a year or two, but we'll likely be stuck with them for a decade. 

Though I've gone from a desktop to a laptop, my heart, and mind, belongs to PC. 

Henrik Fåhraeus (Paradox Interactive, Crusader Kings II) 

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To put it succinctly, I love making computer games because I love playing computer games. Of course, there is more to it than that, but mostly it really is about the kind of games I play myself - and those games are not well suited to tablets or consoles. Unless we're talking about some very specific genres, computers, with their mouse and keyboard, allow for an interface that is both more powerful and more accessible than any I have yet to see on a console or tablet. Although I personally prefer strategy and role-playing games, I even think shooters are best played with mouse and keyboard - the only time I find a controller truly superior is when playing fighting games. When it comes to the kind of games wemake at Paradox Development Studio, with all of our tooltips and buttons, it is quite hard to conceive of a GUI and control scheme using a pad or controller that would even be acceptable (although the touch interface of Civilization V does a pretty good job). 

There are also various rating and certification issues that we simply don't have to factor in when developing computer games for PC. E.g. console and tablet games are thoroughly scrutinized by the platform owners (Sony, Microsoft, Apple) during a strict approval process where they may want significant changes made to the game prior to release. Publishing through Steam makes our lives so much easier these days with its simple deployment and patching system. In the end though, it comes down to the fact that complex strategy games - the games I love the most - are best suited to computers. I only fire up my Xbox when I want to play a fighting game, and only play on my iPad when traveling, or in front of the TV while my fiancée is watching some sitcom.

Richard Garriott (Portalarium, Origin, Shroud of the Avatar, Ultima) 

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Paul Taylor (Mode7 Games, Frozen Endzone, Frozen Synapse) 

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We're PC gamers at heart: our major influences were mid- and late-90's PC games.  We really felt like, in that era, developers took time to thoroughly explore an interesting concept and fully flesh it out. 

We still believe that's what the PC audience want today, so that's where we feel that our work fits best. 

The freedom you get from developing on PC is also very important to us: you can sell your games direct to customers, you can support or integrate any new tech that comes along and you can basically choose to develop in any way you want. 

John Smedley (SOE, Planetside 2) 

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Mark Morris (Introversion, Prison Architect) 

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It’s because no one controls the PC.  We’re free to make whatever kind of game we like and even if no one in the whole wants to help us sell it, we can still set up a website and start shifting units.  There’s no certification or quality requirement, no expensive dev kits and a long tail which we’ve seen last for 13 years.  The real question is why the hell would anybody develop for anything else?

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Dog Pants avatarunwanted avatarFraser Brown avatarsubedii avatarBelimawr avatarPaul_cz avatar
Dog Pants Avatar
3 Years ago

Great article, an enjoyable read. Whenever I tell someone I'm a gamer they default to consoles and I often have to explain why I prefer PCs, so it's nice to see my reasons reflected here. Romero almost summed up my reasons right off the bat until he mentioned OS X (it's not my platform of choice). The comedy CliffyB entry at the end made me chuckle too.

unwanted Avatar
3 Years ago

This was great until Bleszinski. The last person that should be talking about "where the community is" is him.

Fraser Brown Avatar
3 Years ago

To be fair, he's all about PC these days.

subedii Avatar
3 Years ago

After basically saying it's only good for the Sims and WoW, and that you shouldn't develop for PC because "the person who is savvy enough to want to have a good PC to upgrade their video card, is a person who is savvy enough to know bit torrent to know all the elements so they can pirate software."

His words, not mine (and frankly, Bittorrent didn't go away so that surely isn't the reason for a sudden change of heart). It's just that around the start of the 360 generation, bashing the PC games market as dying seemed to be a major developer past-time, and Epic were pretty much front and center on that one.

Which is kind of something that failed to happen, and the latest console generation seems to be offering less and less unique draw when the two major players aren't basically morphing into PC's themselves. And all of a sudden, everyone' pretending they weren't saying all that crap about how the market was doomed.

I don't hold it against a person to change their views, but what's stupid is how every one of them is now pretending that _of course_ they were always supporting PC Gaming, are you mad? It's great, we always said that!

Alright, I'm being annoying. Maybe it's just because the header image for that section is Gears of War, which never saw the light of day Keyboard-side after part 1, and which lead to the above comments. Gears is pretty much the console franchise, and now that it's owned by MS, it's (ironically) even less likely that any past or future iterations head PC-side.

And I say that as someone who BOUGHT the PC version of Gears, and even put up with the crashes, the savegame wipes, the laggy multiplayer with the ridiculous host advantage, and the then nascent GFWL (you thought it was annoying before they decided to shut it down, oh boy you should have seen it back then) which wanted you to pay a subscription fee for basic features like private games.

Maybe Jazz Jackrabbit would have been more appropriate. :P

Dog Pants Avatar
3 Years ago

I'm assuming that both the article and Fraser's comment were ironic. Imagine them said while making a half-hearted effort to keep a straight face.

Belimawr Avatar
3 Years ago

"Which is kind of something that failed to happen, and the latest console generation seems to be offering less and less unique draw when the two major players aren't basically morphing into PC's themselves. And all of a sudden, everyone' pretending they weren't saying all that crap about how the market was doomed."

Sony has actually said since before they brought out the PS2 that Console and PC are on a collision course, as more people expect extra features and stuff.

but there has been some change back to pure games console with this generation, while MS has added a ton of bloat trying to make the X1 like windows holding it back massively, Sony has made the PS4 with games as the priority.

but in the end Sony knows PC is going nowhere (hence why they are looking at streaming PS games to other devices and possibly having PS as just a media platform) the problem is MS is obsessed with trying to stop Sony being top dog in the consoles (since MS hates Sony) so they are neglecting PC and that is the main detrimental factor for PC gaming.

this is why I hope something like SteamOS can take off big as it would MS to get their heads out of the arses and actually start concentrating on actually helping PC gamers.

Paul_cz Avatar
3 Years ago

This article deserves lot more exposure than it got. How come there is no neogaf thread about it already ? :)