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Lan Party

Reasons why PC Gaming isn’t dead in 2011 – Part 2.

Lan Party Wow, I’ve been slacking with this feature! Over a month ago, I wrote part one, detailing why I feel PC gaming refuses to lay down and die. Oh, how things have changed… Piracy in PC Gaming is at a record low (source MCVUK), and my addiction to Starcraft 2 and Minecraft has slowly surpassed my internal ‘casual mode’, replacing it with a sullen ‘I now never leave the house’ mode.

From the feedback I received after my last article, I want to point out I do not think PC gaming is dying, nor will it ever evaporate into thin air. I just felt, when writing it, that part one’s title had a bit more kick to it than ‘Why PC gaming will OWN in 2011. Maybe I’ll turn this into a monthly piece about my love of the medium – depends pn how much i want to milk this!

Anyway, lets cut to the chase. I am going to present two concepts that have driven PC gaming further and further forward in the past decade or so.

Digital Distribution.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Steam has categorically stopped me pirating any game ever again. My wallet quakes with fear whenever i log into steam and see a Christmas special, or an advertisement shouts out to me “It’s fucking Tuesday, here’s that game you had a vague interest in a while back for £5.”

My Steam profile – it’s like a massive collection of old girlfriends that you  went out with a couple of times and never saw again. The ones you went with on a whim, only to be attracted to a newer, shinier model a few weeks later. Or when you first started going to nightclubs with ‘friends’ (large groups of people). What am I trying to say about my Steam profile here? It’s full of games I’ve downloaded for about £1.50, and will never touch. And pack games that I have no intention of playing.

Steam Logo

Needless to say i frivolously pissed my money down the the Steam delivery service, happily jumping from one game to another. Due to this seamless transaction addiction, I don’t think I have bought a physical copy of a game in years. In fact, probably since i bought CounterStrike Source in 2005, I fell in love with Steam immediately. I’d much rather pay £4 extra to have a brand new game waiting there ready for me at midnight, whilst those console kids wait outside in the cold – all excited, waiting to play the latest COD release.

I don’t want this to be a Steam-only post, but to me, it’s clear they are head and shoulders ahead of any other service. Its slick interface, chat, preloads, deals, forums… they all dwarf the competition. However, there are other services like EA Store, Direct2Drive, GamesPlanet and more. They are playing catchup, but the more competition in the market the better it is for us – the consumer.

Competitive PC Gaming.

If you read my “Get yourself into competitive gaming this weekend” article, then it’s likely you’ll be fully-fledged in the world of competitive gaming. The World Finals are in a week’s time, but I’d rather talk about the wider picture.

What really pushes PC gaming is the community. When there are a community of gamers there, it results in an elite. Pros. They dictate how a game evolves and what a standard is in a genre. To name a few tournaments really shining through these days, we have:

GSL (Global StarCraft League)

Korea is known to be the home of StarCraft. This tournament  has netted the top player over the last two seasons $100,000. It is helping evolve StarCraft 2 with the addition of new maps, that are larger than custom maps and allow for an evolution of the game thanks to the community.

ESL

ESL has long been the staple of competitive gaming in Europe. with the Intel Extreme Masters World Finals coming up, there is $145,000 up for grabs split across four games:

Counterstrike 1.6 – $80,000
StarCraft 2 – $30,000
Quake Live – $20,000
League Of Legends – $13,500

There is some serious money there up for grabs, and with ESL’s absolutely amazing new anti-cheat software, even when playing online you can be safe in the knowledge that you’re going to be playing a fair game.

These games add legitimacy to those hours you invest. Whilst not everyone has considered a career in competitive gaming, ESL is a testament of what a great game is in a  particular genre, if 10 years down the line it’s still pulling in big viewing figures and paying out big money. Tournaments such as ESL are saying big things about gaming communities, and developers should sit up and listen.

If you want me to keep doing pieces like this then please tweet or comment. Let me know what you think.

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