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Ken Levine: "I wish PC gaming was more successful"

Ken Levine: "I wish PC gaming was more successful"

Ken Levine, designer of BioShock, wishes the PC market was more successful.

In an interview with Forbes, lead designer of BioShock and ex Looking Glass Studios alum Ken Levine said that although he is definitely a fan of PC games over console games he does wish that the PC gaming market was more successful.

Levine however reckons that the PC market has many challenges ahead of it and that while digital distribution and so forth do provide new avenues and strengths for the platform, learning to make the most of them will take publishers and developers a fair bit of time.

"I'm a real believer in industrial Darwinism," said Levine when asked by Forbes what he thinks the industry's biggest mistake is. "It's hard for an industry to make a mistake because the market tends to be self-correcting...but I wish the industry could find a way to make PC gaming more broadly successful."

"There are so many challenges for PC gaming—the complications from systems specifications to the drivers—most people look at PC games and say, "What are you talking about?" It's a shame because as a gamer, I am never more comfortable than I am sitting with a mouse and keyboard two inches away from my monitor."

Levine, who is a founding member and creative director of 2K Games' Boston studio is currently working with 2K Marin on BioShock 2, as well as some other more secret titles - one of which is rumoured to be a X-com game.

Do you think the PC games market can hold its own in the years to come or are consoles the future? Let us know your thoughts in the forums.

27 Comments

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steveo_mcg 4th December 2008, 12:00 Quote
Stop hobbling your games with DRM, it wont make your sales any lower and it may even boost them.

OR

stop treating your customers like theifs
[USRF]Obiwan 4th December 2008, 12:14 Quote
And look at Valve recent sales figures before you make a complain about less succes..
wharrad 4th December 2008, 12:24 Quote
Ironic, given the news post before this...
Paradigm Shifter 4th December 2008, 12:33 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by steveo_mcg
Stop hobbling your games with DRM, it wont make your sales any lower and it may even boost them.

OR

stop treating your customers like theifs
Agreed.

Also... Levine should go talk to Valve; they seem to be happy with the status quo.
Silver51 4th December 2008, 12:43 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paradigm Shifter
Agreed.

Also... Levine should go talk to Valve; they seem to be happy with the status quo.

Valve or Blizzard, they're both good.
Narishma 4th December 2008, 12:50 Quote
Someone should show him the sales figures released by Valve yesterday.
Nictron 4th December 2008, 13:05 Quote
Consoles are more successful than PC for a few reasons:

1) Ease of accessibility.
2) You use your TV (Most people have one)
3) No Viruses
4) Insert and play
5) Low initial cost
6) You don't need to be very technical
7) People are lazy
8) Things just work on a Console not so on a PC

What I don't understand is how consoles have not made the USB Keyboard and Mouse a valid interface yet.

What is stopping them from doing that?
Paradigm Shifter 4th December 2008, 13:08 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nictron
Consoles are more successful than PC for a few reasons:

1) Ease of accessibility.
2) You use your TV (Most people have one)
3) No Viruses
Didn't Sony release an antivirus for the PS3 a while ago? And with internet enabled consoles, I wouldn't be surprised if console viruses start appearing... :(
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nictron
4) Insert and play
5) Low initial cost
6) You don't need to be very technical
7) People are lazy
8) Things just work on a Console not so on a PC

What I don't understand is how consoles have not made the USB Keyboard and Mouse a valid interface yet.

What is stopping them from doing that?
Too many different possible keyboards and mice I guess, unless they release a specific one, and only that is fully supported officially (others may work, but equally might not). In fact, I don't understand why they don't - particularly Sony, since linux can be installed.
Mentai 4th December 2008, 13:23 Quote
USB keyboards and mice can be used on PS3, however there are not many console gamers who like to use a mouse and keyboard when they're lying on the couch.
chiper136 4th December 2008, 13:36 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mentai
USB keyboards and mice can be used on PS3, however there are not many console gamers who like to use a mouse and keyboard when they're lying on the couch.

Its true. I first played through half life on my PS2 using a mouse and keyboard. It involved a plank of wood on my lap, not the best method but nicer than the ps2 controller.
Cobalt 4th December 2008, 16:21 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paradigm Shifter
Too many different possible keyboards and mice I guess, unless they release a specific one, and only that is fully supported officially (others may work, but equally might not). In fact, I don't understand why they don't - particularly Sony, since linux can be installed.

Most keyboards and mice will work. A few of the "gamer" versions which require specific driver installs would be a problem but most use a standard driver. Even high end mice tend to do all the fancy stuff (on the fly dpi adjustment etc) on board so that isn't an issue.
Paradigm Shifter 4th December 2008, 16:25 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cobalt
Most keyboards and mice will work. A few of the "gamer" versions which require specific driver installs would be a problem but most use a standard driver. Even high end mice tend to do all the fancy stuff (on the fly dpi adjustment etc) on board so that isn't an issue.

Yeah, I know that, and you know that... but some of the less technologically inclined individuals out there might try plugging in their Logitech G15 and complaining when the LCD screen and all the extra stuff doesn't work. :)
UrbanMarine 4th December 2008, 16:51 Quote
Consoles are affordable plug n plug PCs. PC gaming was successful before the console boom in the late 90s. Cost and technical knowledge hinder the PCs success in the gaming industry.

Nictron mentioned lazy and I think that's also a big factor on all fronts. Game devs have jumped on the easy train when it comes to programming games. Why program to meet multiple PCs specs, when you can program on a pre-determined hardware setup?

I still prefer my PC over my 360.
Xtrafresh 4th December 2008, 17:16 Quote
i dont see why it should be one or the other. Both PCs and consoles have valid use cases and user communities. I really dont understand developers pushing people around from one platform to the next.
pendragon 4th December 2008, 18:11 Quote
ironic considering Valve just released hugely impressive sales figures :P
frontline 4th December 2008, 19:27 Quote
I wonder if they will be still happy when they are half way through development on a numbr of console titles and then Sony, Nintendo or MS pull the plug on their current hardware range and introduce a new toy that everyone wants games for at launch...

PC's will always be around in some form or another, and while they are, and people are familar with them , there will always be a demand for games (of a wide variety).
echos 4th December 2008, 20:48 Quote
They make money of controller, so that why MS won't support mouse and KB
steveo_mcg 4th December 2008, 21:06 Quote
They could easily sell a X360 keyboard and mouse if they wanted to its not like ms don't already make their own peripherals for pcs.
thEcat 4th December 2008, 23:55 Quote
Not quite on topic but this has been bothering me for a while. One thing I never see considered in these console vs PC threads is the question of where consoles would be without the PC gaming market ?

There is no doubt the continual push for performance would still exist but without the hardcore frames per second junkies would the advancement to ever smaller silicon feature size have been so rapid ? Someone has to pay for the continual R&D costs.

What is the life of a console ? Honestly I don't know off the top of my head, five years maybe six ? This is would represent about five generations of GPU technology, multiplied by the two main manufacturers makes for a whole lot of development while allowing a chance for correction should one set of features or one entire generation fail to make the grade. Once again this is funded by PC gamers.

Imagine for a moment a world without PC gaming. Five years between GPU refreshes does not sound good for ATI, NVIDIA or in the long run the gaming public. Shorter console life time would create compatibility headaches, eat into profits due to increased development costs and lead to resentment from the average customer.

Finally I come to content. The console manufacturers have the final word on what is and is not suitable for their target market. It's easy to say in our current time that they are quite flexible in this regard, but do not think for one moment that the current situation is eternal. It is one thing when a game developer is taken to task by the moral out cries and general media, it is another thing entirely when an international cooperation is subject to their wrath.

Just something I sometimes ponder. In spite of Microsoft's efforts the PC is an open platform and has always been a hot bed of technical innovation. I wish the industry doom sayers would look further than their short term profits as I think the death of PC gaming would have far reaching consequences for us all.
sub routine 5th December 2008, 08:43 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by echos
They make money of controller, so that why MS won't support mouse and KB

I agree i don`t know whay a keyboard mouse peripheral hasn`t come out even from a third party???? something dodgy is going on there.
As for pc`s you need to stop jumping system specs and a £1000 being worth about a third of it`s value in 1 year of purchase.............but remember it`s all based on the love of money for these guys not the love of game!!!!!
sub routine 5th December 2008, 08:43 Quote
BTW the pc will live forever...........long live the king!!!
echos 5th December 2008, 15:16 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by steveo_mcg
They could easily sell a X360 keyboard and mouse if they wanted to its not like ms don't already make their own peripherals for pcs.

That a good question, they could do a KB mouse exclusif for X360 and I am shure that the majority would buy it and they could make a ton of money for they overpriced X360 KB/mouse....
Trefarm 7th December 2008, 12:34 Quote
Dear PC...

Give the little guys a chance to use your game engine on the cheap to create whatever they can dream up, love your modders, stop EACH developer improvising their own piracy solution, accept that huge profits are no longer possible and sack every marketing/public realations employee you have they are NOT HELPING your case.
Pookeyhead 7th December 2008, 18:00 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by thEcat


What is the life of a console ?



Which is exactly why PC games will always be the preference of serious gamers, and consoles will only ever dominate the living rooms of the computer illiterate. What IS the average life span of a console? 4 years? Christ... I had a Thunderbird based Athlon system with AGP 4 years ago! Imagine if you had to wait THAT long before there were any advances in gaming/CPU/GPU tech?
sandys 9th December 2008, 00:00 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pookeyhead
Which is exactly why PC games will always be the preference of serious gamers, and consoles will only ever dominate the living rooms of the computer illiterate. What IS the average life span of a console? 4 years? Christ... I had a Thunderbird based Athlon system with AGP 4 years ago! Imagine if you had to wait THAT long before there were any advances in gaming/CPU/GPU tech?

Thats not quite true there were plenty of boundaries being pushed over 7 years into the life of the PS2, if the hardware stays the same the developers learn how to make the most of it, if the hardware is continually changing and getting faster all the time you don't have to try very hard to make your game run well you just wait until people can afford the hardware to play your game, this is a crap way forward and why people head towards consoles as the price of entry and the ability to remain in the game is very high with the PC.

I reckon that without the current crop of consoles the number of multithreaded game engines would be vastly reduced.
thEcat 9th December 2008, 16:42 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by sandys
Thats not quite true there were plenty of boundaries being pushed over 7 years into the life of the PS2, if the hardware stays the same the developers learn how to make the most of it, if the hardware is continually changing and getting faster all the time you don't have to try very hard to make your game run well you just wait until people can afford the hardware to play your game, this is a crap way forward and why people head towards consoles as the price of entry and the ability to remain in the game is very high with the PC.

I reckon that without the current crop of consoles the number of multithreaded game engines would be vastly reduced.

And without the prior generation of PC development would multi-core technology be viable on the current crop of consoles ?
bloodcar 9th December 2008, 17:29 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pookeyhead
Which is exactly why PC games will always be the preference of serious gamers, and consoles will only ever dominate the living rooms of the computer illiterate. What IS the average life span of a console? 4 years? Christ... I had a Thunderbird based Athlon system with AGP 4 years ago! Imagine if you had to wait THAT long before there were any advances in gaming/CPU/GPU tech?

I'm a console gamer now-a-days and I don't think I'm computer illiterate. That's a very broad assumption to make.

I grew up with a great mix in both PC and console gaming and for a very long time I ended up being strictly a PC gamer with a small amount of console play done. Here lately though I'm strictly a console gamer. Hell, I don't even have a desktop anymore as it died on me last summer and it was cheaper and easier (was on a strict time constraint) to buy a laptop then to sort out new parts for a new build.

The cost alone of even getting back into PC gaming holds me back. Why should I go drop $2000 on a computer that may last me two years when I can go spend $200 on something that will last me two years. I don't need to upgrade my 360 every six months in order to play the latest and greatest out there. I go to the store, buy my game, pop it in and play. No worries about incompatibility, no worries about getting the latest drivers or going back to an earlier driver build, no worries about adjusting in-game settings for hours on end to get a good playable frame rate. It just works and it's a hell of a lot less of a headache.

With that being said, both industries benefit from each other. PCs help advance console tech but sheer sales volume from console games helps the PC market as well. It's a hell of a lot harder to pirate games on a console then it is on the PC.
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