Will Activision-Blizzard Come Back?BT: PC gaming is making a lot of money at the moment, but the big business models seem to be casual games and MMOs, while hardcore game developers such as Crytek have abandoned PC exclusives in favour of multi-platform titles. Where do you see PC gaming in five years? Will it be all MMOs and casual games, or will hardcore PC gaming survive as well?
My desire is to facilitate and elevate PC gaming up to another level, in whatever way possible. Several of the business models you mention are sort of an evolutionary tale for gaming. I believe one the biggest forcing functions has been piracy. As a result, we now have free-to-play business models that are thriving off micro-transactions and advertisement revenues. MMOs and digitally distributed games are also doing extremely well, and they're tougher to pirate.
To further combat piracy, we’ve also seen game design changing, where the key value propositions now exist in the cloud. (such as achievements, pets and so on). Some game developers are utilising combinations of these ‘game-changers’ in tandem; all delivered into one package. I predict that the vast majority of game genres, be it casual to hardcore, will continue embracing these paradigms to optimise their revenues, while providing additional value to their customers.
Will the future of PC gaming be all about casual games and MMOs?
In most cases, PC gaming continues to lead the charge, and will continue to be a key incubator for innovation. Conversely, console gaming continues to follow the PC’s lead, especially now that secondhand sales are finally being recognised as a big issue for them, perhaps worse than piracy has been for the PC.
In five years what I’d like to see vs. what may happen might be two different things. In a perfect world, the consumer gets to purchase the game once and have it play on the platform of their choosing. This ties in with how a good friend of mine put it: by putting the ‘P’ back into PC gaming and making it personal again. What we have today in the gaming space is nothing short of ridiculous, where you have to mix and match games to platforms.
Of course, the mileage and experience will vary based on the capabilities and functionality of the device, but having platform agnosticism is a much more exciting value proposition for consumers than the broken model we have today. Even on devices where that may not make sense some innovative things are happening to keep the gaming consumer connected and engaged in one fashion or another. We’re starting to see the tip of the iceberg heading in these directions now; but whether or not we can get there in five years remains to be seen.
Activision-Blizzard left the PCGA in 2009, but Polyhar hopes to tempt the WoW developer back.
BT: Activision-Blizzard left the PCGA a while ago, which must have been a blow, given the huge success of World of Warcraft. Why did Activision-Blizzard leave, and how did this affect the PCGA?
That's an interesting one. Activision’s Kotick and Blizzard’s Morhaime, for example, may be more aligned with our future objectives than they may realise. Activision left prior to my coming on board, and I will be reaching out to get them back on board in an official capacity. Given the previous PCGA’s set of deliverables, it may not have made as much sense for them to stay on board initially.
However, we have a couple of things we’re implementing over the next year to make this much more enticing; not just for them, but for anyone associated with PC gaming. As I mentioned, membership will fluctuate back and forth given the various focuses in any given timeframe, and that's not necessarily always a bad thing.