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PC Gaming Alliance plans March launch for certification program

The PC Gaming Alliance is slated to launch a new certification program that aims to standardize quality across the PC game marketplace, PCGA president Matt Ployhar tells us.
The PC Gaming Alliance is putting the finishing touches on a PC game certification program. Announced earlier this year, the program is already live following a "soft launch" early adopters program, though PCGA president Matt Ployhar is looking to March 2014 for an official launch with finalized specs, he tells Gamasutra. The program, which is opt-in and OS-agnostic, is in part an attempt to achieve standardization across games within the open PC market, hopefully encouraging more consumer confidence and as a result, more sales for developers. Details of the certification program are yet to be 100 percent finalized, but the PCGA's goal is to introduce a quality bar for PC games so customers know better what to expect from PC game purchases. The group is looking for more developers to partake in the program. The PCGA would charge developers for certification, though at a rate substantially lower than what you'll see with console certification programs. The cost for non-PCGA members is $500 per title if applicants test the game themselves, or $2500 if they want the PCGA to help test it. PCGA-certified games would sport an official logo showing compliance with the standards, with PCGA members using the logo at no extra charge, as long as they meet the requirements. Logos are designed to be used on physical retail and digital products. Some of the main issues when talking about PC games and certification programs is the cost to partake in such programs, as well as the restrictions that turn out to be more of a hassle than they're worth. Ployhar, who has direct experience with video game certification programs, says he's keeping those issues in mind when crafting PCGA's requirements. "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." For example, games would need to hit 720p resolutions on medium settings, 30 frames per second and controller support if there's an equivalent console SKU. Aside from a better user experience for players, Ployhar argues that another benefit of adhering to PCGA's standards would be a reduction in product support services calls for publishers and developers, which tends to be an issue in the PC game space, he says. There was another notable attempt at PC game certification that didn't work out -- Microsoft's Games for Windows, which was eventually discontinued. Ployhar expects that the platform-agnostic nature of PCGA's program is one aspect that will help make his system more viable. "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," he says. The PCGA will have more details to share regarding the certification program in the coming months. If you're a developer interested in finding out more, you can email Ployhar directly at matt dot ployhar at intel dot com. More information is available here.

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