Why Spore Won't Save PC Gaming

Electronic Arts (ERTS) ginned up new interest in its much-anticipated, much-delayed Spore title last week: It announced a Sept. 7 release date for the game — created by Sim City mastermind Will Wright — and said it would also be playable on Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone.

Spore sounds really cool. Rather than asking you to shoot cops or smite aliens, Spore lets players build a civilisation, starting with a lone, single-celled organism.

What it won’t do: Revive the flagging PC gaming industry. Even if Spore is a huge hit, it won’t help PCs regain their position as the best way to play video games. PC games used to trump those on consoles like Sony’s, because they boasted better graphics and Internet capabilities. But the Xbox 360 and the Sony PS3 have incredibly advanced computers inside them, and are designed to work online from the get-go.

PC games have now been relegated to MMORPGs like World of Warcraft, or games with detailed controls that just don’t make sense for a console, like Spore. This isn’t the worst fate: World of Warcraft has upwards of 8 million subscribers who pay monthly to play. But the consoles are trying to wedge their way into that business, too. Chart this out a few years into the future, and the dominant form of games on the PC will be Web-based casual games.

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