PC gaming dead? Nah, says SOE’s John Smedley

GameDaily Biz sat down with Sony Online Entertainment President John Smedley to talk about the topic of integrating some of their operations with the Sony Computer Entertainment division. When Smedley was asked about the current state of PC gaming and the general feeling that computer gaming is in decline, they got a lot more than they bargained for. Rather than the expected “it’ll be fine” response, they found out just how passionate he is about the subject.

“It’s ridiculous and foolish to say that PC gaming [is in decline]. I’ve seen some of the dumbest quotes out there about the business [falling apart]. It’s just not true.” He said, “The simple truth is the online business is picking up in a huge way. If you’re able to add in – and NPD is beginning to track this stuff – the digital sales and regular sales and subscription money and all that stuff, the PC gaming industry is at its strongest point in its history period.”

He went on to say, “I keep reading all this doom and gloom. It’s the same guys that have been telling us for years that mainframes are doomed. If you just look at the actual facts on the ground, World of Warcraft – and I have to give props to our competition here – it sat on top of the PC charts for three years now. At some point, and everybody keeps talking about this, but they’re just not realizing that a lot of people’s dollars are going into these online games now and a lot of them you can buy truly digitally, which isn’t getting tracked. It’s as simple as that.”

When asked about Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney’s decidedly opposite assertion of the status of the PC gaming scene, he had this to say; “I would argue greatly and disagree with his statements. In my opinion, PC gaming is at its brightest point ever. If you look at the number of people out there playing games like Runescape – 11 million active players – or Webkinz or Club Penguin or WoW or EverQuest II… If you just start doing the math on all these games, there’s just a hell of a lot of people out there playing. What’s happening though is their playing habits are changing, and they’re going more towards a different business model. So the Webkinz or the Runescapes, where it’s free to play with sort of a velvet rope model, these are the new PC gamers that are playing this kind of stuff, or they’re playing on Pogo or Microsoft’s Gaming Zone… all these different things that are taking people’s attention. It’s not that dollar sales are down; it’s just that retail PC sales are the narrow focus that ignorant people are looking at.”

It seems that Smedley is on top of his game as just a short while ago Blizzard announced that World of Warcraft has surpassed 10 million subscribers worldwide. With numbers like that revolving around a single game, it truly is stupid to think PC gaming is going anywhere. So rest assured computer gamers, and keep saving up for the newest video card, you’re going to need it.