Optional certification programme to go live in 2014
The PC Gaming Alliance says it's shooting for a March launch of a certification programme designed to bring more useful standards to PC games.
The goal is to offer consumers a quality bar to keep them better informed about game purchases, and could be important for consumer confidence after a few recent controversies over the poor quality of some games released on Steam.
The program was announced earlier this year and is already live for early adopters, but PCGA president Matt Ployhar tells Gamasutra that he's taking aim at March 2014 to implement the finalised details with the official launch.
Developers must chose to take part in the programme, but while there is a fee for certification the stamp of approval could wind up helping sales with increasingly skeptical consumers.
The cost to non-PCGA members is $500 per title if the developers do their own testing, or $2500 for help from the PCGA.
Certified games will bear a logo assuring customers of quality – either on the physical box or on digital storefronts.
Several previous attempts at a PC games certification process have failed – most notably Game for Windows Live – due to the expense and sometimes overbearing restrictions.
The PCGA's certification process has the advantage of working across multiple operating systems, and Ployhar says that other past failings are being considered.
"We don't need to have it completely locked down and so restrictive," says Ployhar.
"We don't need to tell people, 'This is your minimum configuration.' But, you still need to hit a certain quality bar."
"As various gaming cert programs come and go, we future-proofed this one by accommodating the flux and future directions of OSes and form-factors that comprise the spectrum of the PC ecosystem.”
Ployhar says there are other benefits as well; one of the biggest problems with supporting a PC game post-launch is the number of product support calls – an expense it could be argued would be reduced with a thorough certification process.
It may be tough to get widespread developer support for the initiative, and it could take the endorsement of a company like Valve – which has been rather publicly critical of most certification systems – to make the optional programme into an industry standard.
On the other hand it's tough to imagine the PC Gaming Alliance hasn't thought of that and sought advice from the major players in the industry.
Until details are provided – the PCGA has promised more information over the next few months – it won't be clear just how much support the body has for this move.
For now though, developers interested in finding out more can contact Ployhar via e-mail at matt (dot) ployhar (at) intel (dot) com.