DUST 514 Diary #4: Why DUST 514 Would Thrive on the PC

The living room beach-head has been established, but what lessons can be learned from the silence behind the conflict. A brief stop-over in a town called Serious (normal service will resume in #5).

My first experience of DUST 514: Uprising has been a mixed bag.

I wasn't expecting a perfect gaming experience - the mediocre critical reception DUST 514 received on release and my previous experience during the beta had prepared me, but I did enjoy myself and, importantly, have made first contact with more established players whose influence has changed my experience hugely for the better already.

I will certainly be returning to the smoking battlefields of New Eden – and continuing with this diary – in the future. But I will be doing so with a weathered eye and an honest opinion.

Reflections

DUST 514 was always a gamble for CCP Games, but historically the folks at the Iceland-based development studio have shown they aren't afraid to roll the dice. The ongoing growth and success of their primary product, EVE Online, has been built on many such gambles.

In fact, after enduring the fallout of one of their less successful dice rolls, in his 2012 Fanfest keynote CEO Hilmar Veigar Pétursson showed humility to EVE fans, apologetically explaining:

“I was infected with some reverse disease of the Innovator's Dilemma, where frankly companies are usually too afraid to risk their current business. I would say that we were too liberal about our current business.”

The DUST 514 concept was born in that same era of fearless innovation. But, despite hard lessons learned, it was an era of which I was quite fond. It was that innovation, that bravery, that lunacy, which made me stick around.

I really want to see DUST 514 succeed and I've seen enough already to see some hope. But there are certainly some problems - there's one stand-out issue for me.

DUST 514 is Hampered by Platform Exclusivity

My chat with Blind Nojoy really polarised the Venn diagram of DUST 514 players. He made me realise that, rather than having a broader appeal than EVE Online as was the intention, DUST 514 manages to transfer all of the niche qualities of EVE Online into a different genre, attracting a very particular audience who enjoy the combination of RPG-standard character customisation applied to a fast paced FPS.

DUST 514 has failed to appeal to the hordes of mainstream shooter purists and not all RPG players will relish twitch gameplay, so already the demographic is looking rather sparse. Add to this that DUST 514 is only available to PlayStation 3 owners, and that platform exclusivity suddenly seems like a millstone.

For all the benefits that console gaming brings, tying up the family entertainment platform for the extended periods just isn't going to fly in many households. I appreciate that in many cases, people are luckier than me and still have their “man-cave”. But it's still a factor that whittles away at that demographic. The kind of players likely to be able to invest their time and effort into sustained DUST campaigns are also likely to have a PC. Why exclude them?

Put the Square Peg Back in the Square Hole

I'm willing to bet that PC gamers–more than console players–are more inclined towards slow-burn gameplay and the kind of menu-based jiggery-pokery that underpins the deeper aspects that are apparent in DUST 514. It is those elements which will encourage players to stick around and invest time and resources.

More than that, PC gamers are used to a culture of patching and iteration, can forgive a shoddy rollout and will return to an improving title. What CCP have in DUST 514 is a game with the potential to be embraced by long-term users, but I just don't think that they're looking in the right places.

Being free-to-play makes DUST 514 potentially accessible to a broad audience, why not put it on the PC and tap into that market? It would give its player-base a healthy growth spurt.

Let the wives and kids have the TVs back and let budding DUST mercs loose on a more suitable platform.

Or maybe the Innovator's Dilemma has finally taken hold.

NEXT: #5 - Logistics and Ladders

Previous: #3 - The March of the Tinkermen

Featured Columnist

Broken paramedic and coffee-drinking Englishman whose favourite dumb animal is an oxymoron. After over a decade of humping and dumping the fat and the dead, my lower spine did things normally reserved for Rubik's cubes, bringing my career as a medical clinician to an unexpectedly early end. Fortunately, my real passion is in writing and given that I'm now highly qualified in the art of sitting down, I have the time to pursue it. Having blogged about video games (well, mostly EVE Online) for years, I hope to channel my enjoyment of wordcraft and my hobby of gaming into one handy new career that doesn't involve other people's vomit.

Published Sep. 23rd 2013
  • CookieStein
    I still feel CCP's decision to go console (at least for the foreseeable future) was the correct long term business choice. The 'golden goose' of 70 million users is far too tempting to not go after and the next gen architecture lining up so closely with PC will ease the branch out when it comes. The PR spiel of this being a AAA shooter that anyone can pick up and play is simply marketing buzz words. To dumb the game down to attract more casual players in a bid for more pure numbers would be a disservice to Eve and those of us that have been here from the beginning testing and breaking the game.

    Coming out the gate with DUST on PC would have meant little fan fare and a whole lot of meh. That they linked a PC and console game was their hook. And as CCP has stated they were looking to expand their market and we have seen the early signs of that with DUST, EVE-VR and the launch of the mobile division. Simply stated you will never achieve the largest gaming universe with only a PC focus.

    We have been let down by core mechanics (which have improved) and lack of any meaningful Eve link but we have also been blessed with game aspects we haven't received from other console games. The social aspects alone of being in game and in communication with all our members is one of the things that keeps us coming back despite all the issues. The competitive scene has without doubt had more 'clan' matches in DUST than probably any other 3 FPS games put together.

    The game will develop and grow, the community will ebb and flow but as long as the direction (even as slow as it has been) of the game is still headed towards what we were promised then I will hold out hope that Soon TM, we will have the game that brought us here. The game that we deserve.
  • Vrain Matari
    I'm loving your revisitation to the DUST side of New Eden and it's great to see an EVE vet find DUST Uni.

    By way of context I've been in the beta and fairly deep into the DUST forums since Mordu's Trials. I'm an EVE vet and was never a console gamer but bought a PS3 for DUST. I'm really here because i want to see what DUST can do to drive the evolution of New Eden as a virtual universe.

    I want to chime in on a couple PS3-centric points.

    First, regarding the potential demographic in the PS3 universe. The impression i've gotten from the PS3 FPS crowd is that they are more than willing to adopt and adapt to the intricacies that CCP has thrown at them, but there's a serious deal-breaker at work: core FPS mechanics(aiming, movement, controls, lag, etc.).

    CCP lost a lot of willing converts to the New Eden experience by trying to slide sloppy and broken mechanics past the fps'ers and the media. Bad idea. The good new is that things look to be back on track now.

    Second point is that PS3 exclusivity does have one very positive upside - it's a focused pressure cooker environment with limited resources, and a perfect place for CCP to learn their FPS chops. And they are.
  • Lioso Cadelanne
    Contributor
    I'd absolutely love to have Dust on the PC. I spend so much time on my desktop, and there are a lot time where it seems a chore to rewire and reconfigure so I can boot up my PS3 (I am fortunate enough to have a man cave, but I have yet to fully integrate the PS3 into it). A lot of times I just end up playing Planetside 2. Were Dust on the PC I would probably be playing it all the time.

    As a side note, loved hearing you on Declarations of War, Mat. The whole podcast seemed more intelligent with a British accent thrown in. :P

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