Players and pundits alike have been pointing to NPD
figures as an indicator that PC gaming is in a decline compared to console sales. However, as pointed out by Randy Stude, PC Gaming Alliance
president and Intel
gaming program director in a recent interview
, these figures ignored MMO subscription sales, something NPD hadn't been tracking until earlier this year
. "And lo and behold, after just a quarter of research, they found -- under a rock that they hadn't looked at before -- a billion dollars."
While Stude was essentially calling for the PC gaming industry to come together to clear up this sort of confusion, there is more at work here than simply saying that PC gaming is hale and healthy based simply on MMO subscription numbers. For one thing, MMOs are merely one arm of the industry, not the industry itself. World of Warcraft
alone must count for a significant total of those NPD numbers, not to mention virtual worlds like Club Penguin
If we look merely at MMOs as the saviors of the possibly-declining PC gaming industry, then the slow rise of the console MMO will surely eat into that eventually. And what about the non-MMO games? If MMO subscriptions are the majority of sales, then doesn't that just point up the fact that things are, in fact, in a decline?
Is this more evidence that the future of gaming is the MMO? As much as we love our massive games, these sorts of apocalyptic utterances merely make room for indie titles that don't start out with any great hope for nationwide sales, allowing innovation to creep into the market. It might be time for the industry as a whole to embrace new methods in determining success.