State of PC gaming roundtable: Larian, Digital Extremes, CCP, Mega Crit on making games in 2024

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In this special episode of our podcast, recorded at the 2024 Game Developers Conference, PC Gamer Global Editor-in-Chief Evan Lahti sat down with a special group of guests to talk about where PC gaming is at right now. Here's who we brought together to talk about what's going on in PC gaming: 

  • Michael Douse - Director of Publishing, Larian (Baldur's Gate 3)
  • Rebecca Ford - Creative Director, Warframe
  • Eyrún Jónsdóttir - VP of Publishing at CCP (EVE Online)
  • Casey Yano - Co-founder, Mega Crit (Slay the Spire)

Across an 80 minute conversation, our panel of game developers talked about making "hyper-engaging" games that defy the traditional advice of appealing to as broad an audience of players as possible; the innovation in game development only happening on PC; Steam as a "democratic" platform; industry layoffs and the emerging use of AI in development; and what we should take away from the standout successes of 2024, like Helldivers 2 and Balatro, which is one of many games to follow in the footsteps of the roguelike deckbuilder space that Slay the Spire popularized.

"[Slay the Spire] wasn't intended to be a new genre-creating thing," Mega Crit's Casey Yano says. "The expectation for a card game was that it has to be PvP, and I didn't think that was true. The only way to prove anything on the internet is to do it yourself, so we just made a game." 

Larian's Michael Douse pointed out that Slay the Spire, Balatro and Baldur's Gate 3 are all "completely unbothered by any notions of casualization or trying to create something for an audience beyond your own audience. Balatro's unbothered by any notion of what it 'should' be, and focused on what [the developer] wants to make. We're definitely going to see more of that in the PC space." 

"We've found that the best people to draw in new players are the players themselves," said EVE Online's Eyrún Jónsdóttir. "When current players draw other players into the game, that [helps] combat the complexity. You need a bit of social support to get into it. Then players really, really enjoy it when they have that kind of onboarding."

Later in the conversation, Warframe's Rebecca Ford highlighted that PC gaming offers a kind of community access you can't find anywhere else.

"I'm a very optimistic futurist for PC as the primary platform," Ford said. "I think it's the most important for people in our age cohort, and has the greatest potential for border-crossing community building. I've connected with more people than I ever thought possible in my entire life, all because I sat in front of a PC, installed Steam, and installed Discord and played games with them. These two things together as forces are so supremely positive, even in isolation. It's a shame you can have very difficult times online, they're not sanitary by any means—but I cannot imagine a better opportunity to be a good online citizen with people connected through something like what we do.

"There's just nothing like it, and I doubt there will ever be anything like it again."

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Wes Fenlon
Senior Editor

Wes has been covering games and hardware for more than 10 years, first at tech sites like The Wirecutter and Tested before joining the PC Gamer team in 2014. Wes plays a little bit of everything, but he'll always jump at the chance to cover emulation and Japanese games.

When he's not obsessively optimizing and re-optimizing a tangle of conveyor belts in Satisfactory (it's really becoming a problem), he's probably playing a 20-year-old Final Fantasy or some opaque ASCII roguelike. With a focus on writing and editing features, he seeks out personal stories and in-depth histories from the corners of PC gaming and its niche communities. 50% pizza by volume (deep dish, to be specific).