July 29, 2008

Going Casual Breaking the Hardcore Mold

Last Saturday I came across an article on the New York Times' website about the cost of gaming's new found popularity. A few days later, today, I read a reply to the article on GamerscoreBlog and it really started me thinking on the future of our industry as it grows to new heights.

The article basically covers the transition of gaming from a hardcore, almost underground media to mainstream casually oriented markets and the effect is is having on the hardcore gamers. Here is one of the quotes that caught my eye:

"Call it nerd rage. Like loyalists of a once-partisan politician who tacks toward the center later in an election cycle, old-school gamers are coming to terms with the ramifications of their favorite’s newfound popularity. Though they have long craved mainstream respectability for video games, players sometimes resent the concessions their champion must make to attract mainstream adherents."
We have all seen its ramifications. Soccer moms playing Wii Sports' Bowling. High school girls toting Nintendo DS' playing with their virtual dogs. What does this all mean for the true gamers? Gamers that fuel the industry by spending hundreds of dollars per month and thousands per year on hardcore games like Halo and Metal Gear and products like a Halo themed Mountain Dew? It is true, the industry is changing but gaming companies need not forget what, or who, got them to where they are.

The gaming industry was built on addiction. Gamers used to be seen as twenty-somethings housed up in a dark basement wearing a headset and drinking Mountain Dew until the sun came up. It wasn't more than a few years ago that gaming was still considered nerdy. Now look at the industry; there is a Nintendo Wii in a vast majority of homes and almost everyone, including grandma, is playing games of some sort. I don't blame companies like Nintendo at all for reaching out their arms. There is a great amount of money to be had in this new casual market, but at what cost to the hardcore?

Take a look at Nintendo at this years' E3 convention. It must have been casual day at work because Nintendo was throwing around new casual games left and right. Games like Wii Music, and a new Wii Sports flooded the conference. Then came the aftermath; gamers condemned Nintendo for not showing anything geared towards their true fans, fans that grew up on Zelda and Mario not throwing frisbees to virtual dogs.

This all brings me to my point. It is all fine and dandy that the industry is trying to expand its' borders, but don't kill off the crowd that brought you to where you are today. The hardcore demographic and their money is still what fuels the industry. Take away the hardcore and the industry would fold. I think a quote from the gamerscoreblog reply fits best what i am trying to say:
"I like Tetris, Peggle, and Puzzle Quest as much as the next guy - but without Civilization Revolution, Gears of War, Burnout, and other "hardcore" games, I would lose interest in the hobby pretty quickly, and if you lose your passionate gamers, if you lose your core - the tangential fans who only buy one game per year, won't be enough to sustain the industry, and it will die."
Without the hardcore, there is no future. So to Nintendo, Microsoft, Sony, and game developers everywhere I must say; do not lose sight of what you used to be. Expand your market yes, but do it in such a way that does not affect the crowd that made you what you are. Fill the needs of your core first, then worry about gaining that new demographic. As a hardcore gamer I can say that it is not a bad thing to get more people to play games. It brings a lot more revenue into the industry and relaxes stereotypes that have been held against gamers for years. It becomes a bad thing when companies see a bag of money in front of their faces and totally forget about their true fans. Fans that will spend a lot of money on a continuous basis to buy their products. So to the company heads out there, keep the casual going, but give back to the hardcore. They are what made you.


robowerks said...

I think the term Hardcore is morphing into something more than an FPS gamer and should include someone that is more of an all around gamer. I like quite a few games and have recently purchased a Wii now as well. Fact is I'm finding more kid friendly games available on the Wii. So I've opened up a whole new realm of game types, now being a bi-console family and can't help but think, I must be a hardcore gamer now. I don't limit myself to Halo 3, I'm man enough to play Viva Pinata an like it with my girls. I'm not a kid and find some of the Wii games entertaining for what they have to offer. I see the pure entertainment games have to offer and I think its great to have a variety. I don't expect to see casual games take over and kill the business, if anything it should be more like gas on a fire and jump people to other games now. I own more titles on my 360 in my first year than any other system I've ever owned. Clearly someone is doing something right getting me to buy.

JRay said...

Great article! As far as I'm concerned, as long as the gaming companies don't focus most of their efforts on just casual gamers(looking at you Nintendo), the hardcore crowd should be ok. Nintendo's E3 conference really disappointed me because I wanted to see games such as Mario, Zelda, and Pikmin, not games such as Wii Music that will take no skill whatsoever. Perhaps the casual games will get more people into the hardcore games?

I think casual games are great, in small amounts. Between playing games like Team Fortress 2 and Call of Duty 4, I like to just relax and play some less competitive games as well. That's why I have both a Wii and 360.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with you here. Us hardcore gamers have been around since the beginning, and all of a sudden they want to start pleasing the casual gamers more. There wouldn't be any casual gamers if WE didn't keep the industry going in the first place. Maybe companies are starting to get greedy, I just don't really know.

I'm very impressed with your blog, you write some good stuff. I linked to you on my blog http://reviewthosegames.wordpress.com/ I started out just writing reviews, but I enjoy just covering news now. I'm stuck with the name until I can buy a domain. :P

StingJR said...

Great editorial Deadly, we need more of this stuff on our site. I have been wanting to write something similar but have been waiting until we move over to the new site.

Techni said...

I agree with the article completely. Casual gaming has already damaged hardcore gaming irreparably with DS/PSP. I hate what DS's success did to PSP, which was the handheld of my dreams.