PC gaming is dying! PC gaming is dead! PC gaming has hopped the twig! It's joined the choir invisible! But why?
I feel entitled to point out that PC's require a brain, and people are dumb. Top tip: PC's and dumbasses are never good combination. If "Autoplay" on a PC disc fails to launch, a large contingent of the console owning population would be left slavering over their 360 joypad wondering why they can't install the latest Colin McRae cash-in. Then they realise their Radeon 9600 won't even run it.
PC gaming is not accessible to these people, and it never will be.
To be fair to those lacking a fast enough graphics card, developers have left thousands of PC gamers out in the cold with the switch to Shader Model 3.0. According to Valve's survey the X800 is the 2nd most popular ATI graphics card at the moment behind the much older 9600. Neither of these cards can run games using SM3. In fact, the top 4 most popular ATI cards will not run SM3 games. Of the top 10 most popular cards, half of them will not even get to the main menu of an SM3 game. This amounts to around 182,000 out of 424,000 who will not be able to play an SM3 game with the top 10 most popular graphics cards.
You have to bear in mind that Valve's survey was probably carried out by less than 50% (estimate) of all Steam users. A large amount of users may not have logged in for months, or played HL2 once then never logged in again, and others may have decided not to take part in the survey at all, so it wouldn't be unfair to expect the figure of 182,000 to double at least.
If developers would make games that half of us could actually physically play, I don't think they'd be complaining so loudly about piracy. By shafting hundreds of thousands of consumers they've shafted themselves.
Warez (illegal downloadingz) is often cited as the reason for a decline in PC game sales and development. It's not the dark ages anymore, it's 2007, and it's easier than ever to download the latest overhyped PC game using BitTorrent. I took a look at Colin McRae: DiRT, a Shader Model 3.0-only game, on a popular torrent site, then checked the comments. Note these two:
omg! My problem is my graphics card doesn't support shader model 3.0!!
Where do i get the shader model thing from
UPDATE - 04 August: 1 day after posting this, take a look at these incoming visits from Google to my blog. This closes the case on the Shader Model issue. People can't play the damn games these devs are making.
There are plenty of things killing PC gaming, but at the end of the day, if your game is truly a good game it will sell its fair share (Company of Heroes, not that I thought it was brilliant or anything). If your game runs like a piece of shit on 50% of people's hardware, or doesn't run at all, then people will switch to consoles, then we'll see more developers bitching that no one's buying PC games. I suggest that developers just shut their pie-holes, stop making shitty games, and make sure it runs on as many PC setups as possible.