As a genre, role-playing games hold mass appeal. They elevate the gaming experience beyond the “standard” experience, allowing gamers the chance to become a brand new character. This can range from living out that fantasy of becoming a medieval knight who wields a broadsword and can cast a few magic spells (a.k.a playing Skyrim!) or becoming a member of the comedic South Park world. Even if those examples don’t appeal, RPGs are so diverse that very few people would find something that doesn’t stand out as a gaming experience worth taking on.
A Golden Genre for PC Gaming
Looking back, there are some strong cases out there for a number of PC games to be considered the greatest RPGs ever made. It is, however, a divisive subject. Some argue that RPGs for the PC are some of the best ever created, whilst others argue that compared with the console options of modern day, PC RPGs belong to a nostalgic era best disregarded.
The points for that latter argument are strong. After all, we live in a world where mobile gaming and console gaming seem to be in the driving seat when it comes to the future of gaming. However, let’s not forget that the world of PC gaming was once a prime place for the joys of whiling away hours on amazing gaming. Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale were just two great examples of the peak of the PC RPG world, a world which set the standard for subsequent shifts of the genre into console gaming and online, collaborative gaming.
These shifts haven’t always happened quickly but they have been game-changing, literally; just think back to the original Dungeons & Dragons being played by people rolling dice and occasionally dressing up too. However, that’s not to say that this tabletop classic RPG is not still popular, with its 5th edition coming out in 2014, once again by Wizards of the Coast – our point is that it has also changed with the times, even allowing for spinoffs in the form of a slot game available to play online in an era where iGaming is continuing to expand and find brand new fans. In fact, this trend is reflective of a wider shift of traditional games finding a new market in the digital age; we see bingo enjoying a rebirth, joining the Dungeons & Dragons slot as an online pick up and play title, with various opportunities to play online with the likes of Paddy Power bingo, who offer a sophisticated version of their light-hearted, humorous offering on their mobile app as well. What all of this shows is that gaming fans do enjoy a retro experience if it can be made to work well in the modern era, especially on digital platforms.
How the Crowds Have Driven the Market Forward
Bingo and Dungeons & Dragons have enjoyed this return to popularity, and, console success aside, so have PC RPGs. The recent Torment: Tides of Numenera was not only reviewed widely as a true gaming hit but was actually funded in the first place by crowdfunding, such is the demand for a definite return to PC RPGs. Having smashed the initial crowdfunding target (raising nearly $5 million in all) and then becoming critically acclaimed, this game has proved that while the world of PC gaming may not quite be the unrivaled force it once was, there is still a huge demand for high quality RPGs on the PC. In fact, this has been further backed up by the fact that Wasteland 3 is going to be released next year, a game which could be the benchmark that shows whether the era of PC RPGs is still established or whether it belongs solely to a minority, cult following.
Gamers are always happy to put their money where their mouth is when it comes to paying out of their own pocket to help develop new RPGs for PC, especially if big developers are going to be looking to plough more money into titles for mobile gaming or future technology like virtual reality and augmented reality gaming instead. In light of this, there is no reason to think that the golden era of the early 2000s is well and truly over. The world of RPGs is perhaps going to become a little bit more niche, and funded by fans rather than huge gaming companies like EA, but whilst the genre’s output might be less frequent, when they arrive, they should be of the highest quality, meeting gamers’ needs on all levels.