Let me start right off by saying I don't care about the numbers, about what title is selling how many copies for how much. The fact is most PC games these days are either MMO's or ports of console games and it is killing off the fanbase and there is a reason for it that I'll get to shortly. About five years ago I left the console market, I had a pretty good laptop bought maybe six months after it was cutting edge and I had no real interest in half the titles for either of the two leading consoles, the ones I was interested in could all be bought for the pc so that is what I started to do. Over the years I've put together a pretty good collection of the titles that interest me most (I'm a typical guy, shooters like Rainbow Six, action rpg's like Mass Effect and strategy games like Pax Romana are my thing. Ok, the last one isn't too typical, Pax Romana is on a whole different level than the total war titles in terms of intricacy) and sure, I've sold a few of my games over the year for store credit, but that was always part of the fun of being a pc gamer. Done with this game? Gotten all the loot, done all the side quests and played through as all the classes? Cool, you can turn it in for store credit and walk out with a new-to-you title to conquer.
Unfortunately the big game developers aren't a fan of that, they want each person who enjoys their work to pay them directly. I can sort of understand that, but at sixty bucks a pop it becomes a bit cost prohibitive. I have other interests (I'm taking pictures of my collection of martial arts and self defense weapons to eventually be posted to this site for one.) and between them, the cost of upgrading or buying a new laptop every few years, and the costs of the games themselves, not to mention DLC, something has to give. How do the developers try to make you pay full price every time?
Registration codes and always online games, it's a bit of a pain in the neck but generally it works... well, except when it doesn't. See for some of us, even hardcore gamers like myself the sticker shock is a little too much, we either cut back the number of new games we buy, start playing free and shareware games, or we start pirating stuff. Under any of those scenarios the company loses money or at least fails to make more money. Some companies aren't as bad as others, EA does offer discount prices on digital copies of their older games, but going from $60 or $70 down to $20 or $30 seems like less of a deal when you don't have a disc as backup. The point remains, the sort of iron fisted control the industry is looking for is driving casual, and some not so casual, fans out of the market. Sure the big companies will survive, micro-transaction based purchases of downloadable content are a growing part of every company's business model, but in the long term it is going to lead to a far smaller selection of original titles, way more crappy ports of console games, and eventually a less enthusiastic fan and customer base.