It’s about time somebody did something about the consoles attempt to overtaking gaming’s true home ;).

Gaming Alliance Stumps for PC

The personal computer game industry has trailed behind its console brethren in recent years as easy-to-play games on the Nintendo Wii or online games on the Xbox 360 have stolen the excitement.

Companies with a vested interest in keeping the PC alive as a gaming platform will soon announce a consortium dubbed the PC Gaming Alliance. According to two people familiar with the effort, it will include top industry players such as Intel, Microsoft, Nvidia and Advanced Micro Devices as well as a number of computer companies.

I hope they succeed. Gamers need a strong gaming industry for the PC because it delivers new gaming technologies to the market faster than consoles, which are refreshed every five years or so. And the PC industry needs gaming to keep it as a leading technology platform for the future.

The companies are preparing the announcement in advance of next week’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. Part of the pitch is that the industry group will keep the PC competitive with game consoles to attract key game developers.

On the surface, things look grim for the PC. The market researcher NPD Group quietly reported that PC game sales in 2000 were $910.7 million, down 6 percent from a year earlier.

But behind those numbers lie the great hope of the PC industry. The numbers don’t include ad revenue associated with online gaming Web sites, which offer “casual” games such as Poker or Scrabble to a wider set of game players.

They also don’t include revenue from monthly subscriptions to virtual worlds known as “massively multiplayer online” games, or MMOs. Those games include World of Warcraft, which has 10 million subscribers worldwide, and are big hits in countries such as China and South Korea. And the NPD numbers don’t include digital distribution, or sales of games downloaded to computers directly from Web sites such as Valve’s Steam.

“We believe that the PC gaming industry is strong when you look at everything together,” said Mike Morhaime, president of Blizzard Entertainment, the publisher of the hottest selling PC game, World of Warcraft, during the DICE Summit game conference in Las Vegas last week.

NPD itself has begun tracking subscriptions to MMOs. The industry consortium will focus on fixing problems that make the PC a less desirable platform than consoles for playing games. Gamers, for instance, never really know whether a game will run well on their computers until they buy the game and install it on their machines at home.

Microsoft, Intel and other players have been working on these problems, namely with Microsoft’s Games for Windows program launched last year. But the consortium will coordinate and expand those efforts to improve the experience of playing games on computers.