Could "off the shelf gaming" on the Windows platform soon be devoid of life?

Or/ Is Assassins Creed 2 – the hitman with a contract on Windows gaming?

Ive often said that the last bastion of salvation for the Windows platform was gaming.  Like it or not, for PC gamers who want to play off the shelf titles, Windows (and from what I see, XP) is the platform to go for.

I have had the pleasure of talking to people who claim to be in the gaming industry whilst writing Openbytes and the general consensus seems to be piracy, file sharing (or whatever name you want to put on it) is making the PC platform less and less desirable for new titles.  One only has to look at the market penetration of console gaming, the less common piracy issue there and the knowledge that your game only has one set of specs to cater for, means that consoles are becoming more desirable for the games developer.

Back on topic though and we see that Assassins Creed 2 has been launched on the PC with a rather unique copy protection mechanism.  For starters if you want to play Assassins Creed 2 (AC2) you will have to maintain a permanent internet connection.  Loose that, the game quits.  Having had issues with my service provider recently, if I was a Windows user and a player of AC2, the game would have been worthless for days on end.  Thinking of saving your game? No problem, but you won’t have the game save file, it will be stored on AC2’s servers.  Cloud gaming?  A convenient way to store your saves or a way for AC2 to keep tabs on the games usage?

We only have to cast our minds back a short while to the public outcry and disappointment with Spore’s DRM system – yet another reason as to why the console is more desirable, particularly in the case of the end user?

As you can imagine, AC2 DRM has been met with less than enthusiastic response, you can read one such opinion here.

Lets consider the plethora of rig configs that PC developers need to consider when releasing a Windows title.  Lets also consider the piracy issue.  On the other side of the fence lets consider the end-users experiences, the patches, the workarounds and the fiddling that is sometimes required to get titles working on their systems, also consider that many PC users won’t have the latest specs and have to play the titles with cut down fx.  Is it really far fetched to see the consoles taking the gaming industry away from Windows?

If this were to happen, in my opinion the reason to use Windows for many home users would diminish and maybe as Microsoft has dived into the realm of consoles with its red ringed 360, it should have considered that it might be helping to damage its cash cow Windows.

Heres some opinion that may substantiate what I have said:

If you were planning on playing Assassin’s Creed 2 on PC, but have an Xbox 360 or PS3, you might want to reconsider.

Despite having a computer perfectly able to play Assassin’s Creed 2, I won’t be able to play it at all, or until a hack for it comes out anyways

Well I’m glad i got this for my 360 now. This is ridiculous. They do of course realise the only people who truly suffer from drm are the consumers and not the pirates right?

I personally cannot see the battle between piracy and PC software houses having a happy ending.  I’ll let you decide, but ask yourself what’s less bother, getting a new off the shelf Windows title or simply getting it for the PS3?  Also, what does your local store look like?  Is it not the case where Windows games only have a fraction of the space of the console titles?  In my local stores even the Nintendo DS has more shelves dedicated to it than the PC section.

Goblin –