The one thing that I think hurts the growth of PC gaming the most, is a lack of gamepad support. I know the PC snobs are going to jump on that statement and poo poo about how totally superior the Keyboard and mouse set up is, but they can really just go fuck themselves. If you want a more reasonable reply, try playing a racing or fighting game with the keyboard and mouse. There is a reason why the PC market is confined to FPS, RTS, MMORPG and knock-off Tycoon games.....
But it's not just the fact that the keyboard and mouse are confining to just a handful of genres. The issue is also the fact that a keyboard and mouse just aren't as intuitive as a controller. Come to think of it, not everybody gets the two stick, sixteen button gamepad either. At any rate, most gamers are more familiar and comfortable with a controller than the keyboard and mouse. On top of that, the keyboard and mouse is overkill in most situations.
Let me take you back for a minute. It's the early '90s. The top games on the PC are Doom, Duke Nukem 3D, Shadow Warrior, etc. I was playing these games with a Gravis Gamepad. The Gravis was a 2-axis analog controller like all PC joysticks at the time, but it had four buttons and was laid out like an SNES controller without the shoulder buttons. This pad was so popular that laptop manufacturers began packing it in with their computers. The point I'm trying to make here is that while PC gamers could play Doom with the keyboard, most preferred to play it with a controller that they were already familiar with. The same thing applies today. Especially with games that are made both for PCs and consoles.
Can anyone tell me why Knights of The Old Republic, a game produced originally for the XBox, doesn't have gamepad support? What about Jade Empire? Why not Call of Duty 4? COD4 won't even let me map the controls to my gamepad and I know that all of the functions can be mapped to a 360 contoller since it was also released on the 360!! I can understand wanting to use the keyboard and mouse for online multiplayer since you need to be able to turn on a dime, but single player? When the single player game was designed for an audience that's using controllers? WTF??!!
The games that I've found that do allow me to map to a controller don't even specify that it's possible. I discovered that I can map the controls to BF2142 to my gamepad, but it's not like there's a radio button labeled "enable joystick." There also aren't any sliders to adjust the sensitivity of the analog sticks. Given, this is an online game for serious catasses, but this isn't an uncommon situation. Very few of the single player FPS games that I own allow me to map to a controller. Even those games where I know damn good and well I can map everything to the controller.
Of those games that do allow me to map to a controller, none of them have a default controller setup. How hard is it to have a an option for the gamer to use a controller and provide a default setup? Especially for games that were made for both PCs and consoles.
Now I realize that there are some third party programs that allow you to map keyboard and mouse functions to a gamepad, but that's beside the point. If a game can be played with a controller, it should have a hassle free way to set up for the controller. I shouldn't have to wonder if the game will just automatically map a gamepad function to a keyboard or mouse control slot. It should also allow me to adjust the sensitivity of the sticks.
Bringing this back to MMORPGs, I've played CoH with a controller and had no problems. Xfire allows you to use a controller to play WoW and I'm pretty sure that It wouldn't be too hard to set up Guild Wars for a 4-axis, sixteen button controller considering that you only need eight buttons for skill slots, one stick to move, one stick to move the camera, and a button to lock onto targets with. you could actually reduce the number of buttons used through the use of skill highlighting with left and right on the D-Pad or macroing the skill cycle sequence to one button. This is all assuming that I was able to get into the options tab in GW which I can't anymore for some unknown reason.
Finally, consider for a moment that most households have a computer right now yet only a small number of computer owners use their machines to play games. If computer manufactures began packaging their machines with this:
And game developers started supporting Gampads right out of the box, how many people do you suppose would start using their machine for gaming? At the very least it might give developers the wherewithall to try genres outside of the FPS, RTS, and MMORPG trinity.