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Interview: PC Gaming Alliance's president gives us an update Two

You have subcommittees that are working on trying to create a minimal hardware standard for PCs to run games. How is that work progressing and can you give us any hints as to what might be revealed in the final report?

First, let me state clearly that we are not setting a standard. At our launch we stated clearly that we were attempting to stabilize the consumer experience with PC gaming by advocating a starting point that is a playable experience. We are still hammering away at this and expect to provide an update at the Game Developers Conference this year. We are hopeful that starting in 2009 game developers will join us in advocating the need for consistent minimum hardware requirements and a common performance expectation on that hardware.

Do you believe it will be hard for hardware companies to come together to create a set of standards for PCs and notebooks to run games without these products costing a lot more than the standard mainstream rigs?

I do. Mainly because it is not just about the hardware. The experience (performance) playing on that hardware is of paramount importance. The PCGA is working on this issue with these expectations in mind.

You also have a subcommittee that is looking to curb piracy in the PC game industry. So far what has the committee come up with?

The anti piracy sub-committee has adopted a charter and will provide updates at a future date. I don't want to steal their thunder. The membership of the PCGA is growing based on this effort and we expect to announce the charter at the Game Developers Conference.

This past fall a small but vocal group of anti-DRM gamers have let themselves be known. What do you think about this group and their efforts to, say, affect things like Spore's review score on Amazon.com?

I don't think that the group you are referring to is anti-DRM as much as they are anti-Spore's approach to DRM. Their protest has been echoed many times on many gaming forums and the PCGA is listening.

Some people, like Valve's Gabe Newell and Stardock's Brad Wardell, have come down hard on current DRM practices in games and both developers sell a lot of PC titles. Isn't this proof enough that publishers should at least think about eliminating such set-ups for games?

If you ask both of the publishers that you mentioned here about the rate of piracy for their games you may find that one has rampant piracy and the other has almost none. The PC Gaming Industry's history is littered with examples of startups (including Stardock and Valve) that actually benefitted from wide spread piracy to grow a market for their future titles. Don't get me wrong, I am not advocating piracy... However, how would Quake, Doom, Starcraft, Counter-Strike, or Half-Life have been able to grow widespread brand recognition without a widespread network of gamers openly sharing these games. These titles (and many more) defined the industry. Personally, my first experience with a first person shooter was with Doom (back in the day) and I did not pay for it. Id Software turned the corner and has a very successful business built on the back of the early free/open source exchange of their games...

What did you think of Brad Wardell's Gamer's Bill of Rights and do you think the PCGA should adopt some or all of its ideas?

I read it and it has been reviewed by the anti-piracy committee. I cannot comment on what if any of these ideas are being adopted by the sub-committee. Stay tuned.

Where do you see the PCGA taking its mission in 2009?

More research, Minimum system / game performance guidelines, and anti-piracy (ask again @ GDC).

Finally is there anything else you wish to say about the PCGA at this time?

Come play with us! My Steam ID is "azd00d"... I will ask other members to publish theirs...

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