PC Gaming Far From Dead

February 7, 2011

By Andrew Burnes

For years now, PC gamers have had to endure continual statements from console developers and analysts proclaiming that their platform of choice is in a rapid decline, and at worst, “dead.” As basic observations show, PC gamers are instead purchasing their favourite games through digital download outlets, such as Steam, but with Steam and co. refusing to release their figures there is no supporting evidence, unlike on consoles, where research group NPD publishes figures every month.

Enter Forecasting and Analyzing Digital Entertainment, who, through means unknown, have managed to acquire enough data to produce estimates, which put Steam’s 2010 sales at $970 million. Compared to the $9.36 billion of console software sales in the United States in 2010, this may seem like small fry, but add in the $700 million in PC game sales at retail in the U.S. during the same timeframe, and the sales from other digital download outlets such as Impulse, Gamersgate, Get Games, Good Old Games, the EA Digital Store, the THQ Digital Store, the Ubisoft Digital Store, and so on and so forth, plus other boxed sales from around the world, and you have an industry that is far from “dead.”

The PC industry may not sell as many games as the console manufacturers and publishers do, but remember that console games are significantly more expensive, as are their special collector’s editions, full of trinkets, that sell for up to $150 a pop.

Below are the ten best-selling games of 2010, on Steam, whose PC market share in mid-2009 was estimated to be 70%. Leading the charge is, unsurprisingly, Call Of Duty: Black Ops, which is said to have sold 1.6 million copies in just two months, resulting in $98.2 million of revenue, of which Steam is believed to take between ten and thirty percent as a publishing fee:

1. Call of Duty: Black Ops (Activision) - $98.2 Million
2. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (Activision) - $39.4 Million
3. Left 4 Dead 2 (Valve) - $36.0 Million
4. Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (Electronic Arts) - $25.4 Million
5. Sid Meier's Civilization V (2K Games) - $21.9 Million
6. Portal (Valve) - $20.0 Million
7. Fallout: New Vegas (Bethesda Softworks) - $17.0 Million
8. Metro 2033 (THQ) - $13.4 Million
9. Mafia II (2K Games) - $11.9 Million
10. Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II: Chaos Rising (THQ) - $10.8 Million