Jun 14

EVOLVE OR DIE: FIXING PC GAMING

The best days for PC gaming lie ahead. Despite more than a decade of strong growth in console sales and a myriad of emerging threats ranging from smartphones to tablets the rumors of PC gaming’s impending demise have been greatly exaggerated. In fact, an NPD Group report from last year concluded that “the PC is still the most-used system for online gaming, with 85 percent of online gamers reporting using a PC for online gaming activities.” And industry heavyweights seem to agree. Frank Gibeau, president of EA Games, indicated EA’s support for the PC in March of this year, saying “from our perspective, [the PC is] an extremely healthy platform… It’s totally conceivable it will become our biggest platform.”

PC GAMING MUST CHANGE

So PC gaming is doing just fine. End of story, right? Wrong. Dead wrong.

PC gaming has a big problem. It’s not the hardware. It’s not piracy. It’s not the games. It’s how PC gamers are forced to play. The environment is far too fragmented and siloed. As a result, the PC gaming experience is isolated, dissociative, and falls short for a generation of gamers raised on Facebook and Twitter. These social barriers are the biggest obstacle to the survival of the PC as a gaming platform.

Evolve intends to break these barriers down with a website and desktop app meant to help PC gamers connect, coordinate, and play. Still in closed beta, Evolve has grown to 3,000 members in 60 countries. Collectively, they’ve tracked over three million minutes of game time and have banded together in more than 1,500 groups and parties.

A NEW SOCIAL EXPERIENCE

As a website, Evolve functions as a traditional social network with features that include walls, status updates, a news feed, and integration with Facebook and Twitter. Gamers can express their opinions using the standard ‘like’ button—or, if they’re just not feeling the love, ‘meh’ and ‘hate’ buttons. The site is rounded out by comprehensive stats display, a games library, forums, and a groups system that allows players to build communities around their favorite games.

As a desktop app, Evolve makes its platform available where gamers spend most of their time: in-game. A website just isn’t enough. Gamers need a platform that isn’t limited to their browser. And the desktop app does just that, by offering up the full Evolve web experience through its high-performance in-game overlay. Beyond the features available on the website, the app provides additional tools including a gamer-oriented web browser, multi-protocol chat client, and playtime tracking. Rounding out the app is its party system. One part chat room, one part VPN client, the party system gives gamers a way to bypass clunky server browsers and quickly jump in game with their friends.

Although the desktop app is currently only available for Windows Vista and 7 with support for 400 games, the Evolve team plans on making it available for other systems and extending support to encompass virtually all PC games.

Expanded system and game support isn’t the biggest thing that’s in store for the platform, either. We’re currently hard at work on our killer feature: universal matchmaking. Multiplayer gaming has continued to explode, but gamers are still stuck finding matches one game at a time and only while that game is actively running. The prospect for quickly finding a pick up match across all these games has been nearly impossible. Until now.

Evolve’s plans may be bold, but we’re ready for the fight. If PC gaming is to thrive, it needs an open platform with a new direction. It needs Evolve.

3 comments total.

James — Jun 14 2011 / 6:43am

Y’know, I really like Evolve as a platform. I would love more people I know to get into it and I’ve done what I can to invite people in to experience it.

I think the problem with the fragmentation is that nobody else seems to want to stop it. Steam is improving often and to many gamers, that’s all they want.

Steam already has its own overlay, so I think what stops people trying out Evolve so readily is the fact they don’t see any problems with Steam’s, so don’t really feel the need to try another.

Once you delve into Evolve, you realise how much better the platform is for social features, but with something like Steam, you have the store, downloads, everything in one place.

I would love to see Evolve really take off, but sadly I’m not sure it will for at least a while because other competitors prefer to keep people within their own platform.

With regards to the likes of Tunngle, Evolve is a great program for quickly putting together a VPN for a game. This is a different kind of competition in that it’s simply getting the people that use Tunngle to migrate to Evolve. Evolve’s the better program, but Tunngle is used much more because of it’s presence online.

Toxus — Jun 14 2011 / 12:23pm

YOU GO EVOLVE TEAM!

RenegadeRed — Jun 20 2011 / 8:45am

If life were a sci-fi movie, the next decade will be called: “Game Wars: The Return of the PC”.

Universal match making sounds absolutely awesome, just make absolutely sure your software project Evolve has voice chat too and I’m all set to sing its praises around the internets.

The reports of PC gaming’s demise have been greatly exaggerated…

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