Where console platforms have merciless and well-funded PR armies poised to combat any criticism, negative stories about the PC - mostly publishers, or developers like Crtyek, complaining of rampant piracy and flat sales - run unimpeded. Sales data that focuses solely on boxed copies sold at retail appear to back them up. Valve has had enough. "There's a perception problem," says Newell. "The stories that are getting written are not reflecting what is really going on."
'Valve: Why the PC is the future' Screenshot 1
Although all consoles now offer download services and support for indie game development, Audiosurf's creator believes his game could only have happened on PC.
You want figures? There are 260 million online PC gamers, a market that dwarfs the install base of any console platform, online or offline. Each year, 255 million new PCs are made; not all of them for gaming, it's true, but Newell argues that the enormous capital investment and economies of scale involved in this huge market ensure that PCs remain at the cutting edge of hardware development, and consoles their "stepchildren", in connectivity and graphics technology especially. Meanwhile, Valve's business development guru, Jason Holtman, notes that without the pressure of cyclical hardware cycles, PC gaming projects - he points to Steam as an example - can grow organically, over long periods of time, and with no ceiling whatsoever to their potential audiences.