Can Vista rescue PC gaming?

Worrying statistics from ChartTrack show a steep year-on-year decline in the value of the PC market over the past decade – with PC games generating a whopping £50 million less last year than they did in 2001.

But Microsoft is confident that its new operating system will stimulate a surge in spending on the format.

“We certainly expect the launch of Vista to drive the games retail industry to great heights,” head of gaming and entertainment at Microsoft Stephen McGill told MCV. “Vista will mean a huge renaissance for the sector. A launch of this magnitude really helps rally the industry and drive excitement. As well as servicing the hardcore gamers and offering opportunities for retail, it will grow the Windows gaming audience.”

Vista introduces Live-compatible games for the first time on PC as part of its Games For Windows functionality, as well as the ambitious graphics driver DirectX10. And experts are enthusiastic about the future potential for cross-pollination between Xbox 360’s Live service and its PC counterpart.

“Games For Windows is being taken very seriously, not least from within Microsoft,” assistant publisher of Windows Vista: The Official Magazine Richard Keith told MCV. “Vista comes from the same team that launched Xbox and made Microsoft a major force in the console market.”

However, ChartTrack director Dorian Bloch can’t see Vista halting PC gaming’s struggle against price slashing at retail and the rise of MMO titles like World of Warcraft.

“The noise from Microsoft is that they’re really backing PC gaming, but I’m not aware of any blockbuster titles that will lift the format to a new heady height in 2007,” he told MCV. “Market value has declined rapidly in the last decade, largely thanks to retail cuts and, to a lesser extent, the popularity of MMOs.

“Everything started to go a bit pear shaped in 2005, when full price titles started taking a hammering on price from retailers, who no longer had to adhere to an RRP by law."

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