‘GTA IV’ to Move In on PC’s Turf

PC gamers will see the release of “Grand Theft Auto IV” (“GTA IV”) for their platform of choice this fall. Game developer Rockstar Games and parent company Take-Two announced Wednesday that the popular title will hit store shelves on Nov. 18.

“[That] is the perfect time to release this game — well, next to perfect. I think perfect would have been day-and-date with the console releases. But November 18 is shortly before Thanksgiving this year, which is the busiest season for video game sales. Shipping just before the holiday season is definitely the right thing to do,” Mark DeLoura, a video game technology consultant, told TechNewsWorld.

Liberty City on PC

Naturally, gameplay in “GTA IV” will be a little different on the PC than it is on the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360, principally because gamers often use keyboards and mice instead of specialized controllers.

Rockstar has thrown PC gamers a bone, however, by adding what it called a newly expanded multiplayer system just for the PC.

“I’m interested to hear more about their ‘expanded multiplayer,'” said DeLoura. “One of the big draws for PC gaming is multiplayer, so if they can create a unique PC-oriented multiplayer experience, it could pull more people in. If it’s something substantially different, and it’s great, it could even convince some of the people who bought the console version to buy the PC version just for the multiplayer. We’ll see.”

No Sales Records Here

The release will come nearly seven months after the game debuted on the PS3 and Xbox 360. The two versions raked in more than US$500 million in sales in the seven days following its April 29 launch.

While sales of the PC version will likely be nowhere near those of the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions, Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter predicts it will “sell a few hundred thousand copies.”

Deloura agreed, adding “I doubt that the PC version will sell as well as the Xbox360 or PS3 versions — for one, because the two console versions will have already been out for quite a long time, so the people who wanted to play ‘GTA IV’ may have already bought it on one of those consoles. Secondarily, PC games just aren’t selling as well as console games, so the numbers will very likely not be near the console sales.”

The problem for the PC, Pachter told TechNewsWorld, is that “gaming on PCs is thriving for [massively multiplayer online games] and is in a death spiral for other games.

“‘Spore’ is one that will probably make a difference,” he said, referring to an upcoming title from Electronic Arts that lets players build life forms and entire civilizations from scratch.

“The PC gaming market still has its hits here and there,” DeLoura explained. “I think that its death has been vastly exaggerated. That said, the kinds of games people are playing on the PC are a lot different — MMOs like ‘World of Warcraft,’ casual online games, Facebook games, etc. It is hard to sell most console-style games on the PC, that is certain.”

The September release of “Spore,” he said, is the “thousand-pound gorilla” for the PC gaming market.

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