Thursday, July 16, 2009

Alan Wake - not coming soon to a PC near you!

Alan Wake is an upcoming psychological thriller/puzzle/action game coming from the makers of the Max Payne series, Remedy Entertainment.

We were originally meant to be seeing it at the arse-end of 2007, then sometime in 2008 and now it is tentatively scheduled for an early 2010 release, which will have meant it has been in development upwards of five years; not into Duke Nukem Forever territory but certainly approaching the coast of that particular gaming continent.

I'm a big proponent of releasing games when they are finished though, as opposed to releasing a sub-standard product out of the door early, so the delays, while a minor annoyance, were something I could understand. What I cannot understand is why Remedy (and AW's publisher, Microsoft) have felt the need to further piss off PC gamers by announcing that the game, originally slated for both the 360 and PC, will now (at least initially) be 360-only with maybe a possibility of a PC version sometime after release (a la Gears of War and Mass Effect, which both took over a year from their 360 releases to make it over to the PC.)

The 360 is basically a scrubbed-down PC, so we are told (or so you can find out for yourself if you feel like opening yours up - let's face it you are probably going to get the red ring of death here pretty soon anyway) and porting from the PC to the 360 or vice-versa is meant to be a fairly simplistic task. So we know it's unlikely to be a technical issue as to why we won't be seeing AW on a PC anytime soon - so what does that leave us?

Perhaps Microsoft (and reports on Kotaku seem to indicate that the death of the PC version is largely their decision and not Remedy's) are looking at their bottom line, and with 360 games regularly retailing for $10-20 more than their PC counterparts it might be a case of not wanting to give those people a cheaper alternative.

Perhaps it is because Microsoft want to put a big publishing push behind AW as a 360 "exclusive" and so they are preventing the release of the PC version as a result of that.

Perhaps the game requires further polish in order to meet its Spring 2010 release and to do that Remedy had to sacrifice one of the versions in order to finish the other. When that calculation is PC vs. 360 then that decision is only going to go one way. Maybe they still fully intend to release the PC version after the 360 release is out the door. Stranger things have happened.

Either way, it's another kick in the teeth for the PC gamer. Alan Wake was a game that I have personally been following for more than a couple of years now, have told friends about and got them interested in it and now the rug is pulled out from under me.

Microsoft, originally such a PC-centric company, is fast becoming that kid who goes away to college and never goes back to his hometown, thinking himself too good to hang around with those nerds he used to play DnD with, back in the day.

Is it ashamed of its PC origins? I would hope not, since the PC as a gaming vehicle is technically superior to any console you could name in almost every single way. Yet PC gamers continue to get the shaft when it comes to projects like Alan Wake, Gears of War (a port that took far too long) and others, even when "one of their own" is helping to pull the strings. And don't even get me started about the PC port of Halo 2.

Step it up Microsoft, and give the trusty old PC some love, you know, like back in the old days where PC gamers would rub your back and then you would make games like Freelancer in return.

Come to think about it I guess I have never really forgiven Microsoft for not making Freelancer 2, either.

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