PC Game Piracy: The PC Gaming Alliance Interview, Part Five

You've got, of the big publishers, how many of them are truly successful right now? You've got a lot that are on the sales block, you've got ones that are filing bankruptcy and in a state of disarray. If the retail games industry's doing well, why are there so many companies that are rejiggering their bottom line? I don't think the retail games industry is recession-proof. That's my general answer, though I don't have a speculative forecast to give you.

On the casual side, and on the online side, I think it actually is recession-proof. I think that maybe some subscription games might be impacted as the amount of disposable income shrinks. But at the same time, the free-to-play business models that are coming in from the East that really don't rely on a ton of disposable income, those models are going to thrive, regardless of what's going on with the economy. And people are still going to buy a PC, because it's a valuable asset across the board for a household.

Will they continue to justify a very expensive console and continue to buy a game every other month or every month like the console industry sales attach rates require in order to be a successful and healthy marketplace? I don't know. I don't know if that equation works in a downturning economy. It also depends on how deep and long-lasting the downturn is, of course. But in the case of the PC market, I think it's going to be more healthy than its console brethren in the sense that it has these other economic models to rely on.

You can try casual games all day and all night and never buy one. Maybe you do buy one, but when you do, it's only $10, or $19, and that publisher still made money. Or maybe you go play through an advertising portal or play some of the games in Facebook that don't require a purchase relationship with the publisher, and, you know, you can play forever.

So I think the PC has more immunity to the downturn than the console industry, and in particular the casual space. I don't see how the casual space will slow down anytime soon.

GO: If your target audience is, as you put it, "mainstream," but most dedicated games media sites are predominantly targeting "enthusiasts," how are you getting the word out? Do you focus on converting enthusiasts? Or do you simply pursue mainstream media outlets?

RS: That's a marketing challenge for the group, and I can't say that we've got that one completely licked yet. We're definitely spending a lot of time trying to get our message out with the enthusiast press. But I get your point. When do we get to the point where we're talking to The Times and CNN and the Fox networks and all their related entities worldwide. Yeah, we're not there yet, and that's a challenge for us. As a trade group we've got to get to that point.

I think at CES next year we may get to that point. I don't want to pre-announce our plans there, but we've got a much broader mainstream press that shows up at that event. I think we'll have a great footprint hopefully to showcase the PC gaming industry at that event, and we should get a much bigger share of the broader press taking a look at what is PC gaming.

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