PC Gaming Dying, Pah!

Over the years I have heard the PC Gaming is dying trope several times.  It generally spawns from the fact that people look at PC Gaming retail sales, compare it to all the console retail sales combined, find the PC severely lacking and call it a day.  I’ve argued, time and again, that looking only at PC retail sales is to ignore a large segment of revenue PC Gaming generates from online transactions.  In a recent retreading of this argument it finally dawned on me, some of these companies are publicly traded and have to post earnings reports!  Finally, proof!

Back in 2009 PC Gaming retail sales totaled approximately $750 million.  That was out of a $10 billion dollar year for retail sales across all platforms.  However let’s take a look at the report filed by Activision/Blizzard for 2009.  We get the following figures (in millions):

Platform net revenues:
MMORPG – $1,248
PC – 164
Console:
Sony PlayStation 3 – 584
Sony PlayStation 2 – 174
Microsoft Xbox 360 – 857
Nintendo Wii – 584

Retail sales that year hit $750 million.  World of Warcraft’s revenues for that year were $1.2 billion.  In fact it beat out Activision/Blizzard’s revenues for any console, nearly matching their revenues for the XBox360 & Wii or PS3 combined.

Clearly counting only retail sales for the PC market is severely under-representing in these comparisons.

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2 responses to “PC Gaming Dying, Pah!

  1. When they talk about “retail sales”, does that only include physical goods delivered via B&M stores or by shipping, or does it also include digitally-delivered content as well, e.g. via Steam and Games for Windows: Live? And sadly, unlike Activision/Blizzard, Valve isn’t a public company, so you cannot get any of its numbers (certainly not easily, anyway).

    • B&M sales only. Digital sales are not counted. Residuals such as MMO subscriptions are not counted.

      And, yeah, Valve being a private company in both senses of the word makes it hard to show how much health there is in the PC Gaming market. There is a company that tries to estimate the Steam market, Forecasting and Analyzing Digital Entertainment, and they place current Steam sales north of $1 billion is 2010.

      That doesn’t include Direct2Drive, Gamer’s Gate (my current preference), Impulse and other competitors to Steam. It’s just silly what is ignored. It’s like PC Gaming is the Ron Paul of the gaming world. 😉

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