In response to "A New Audience" from The Escapist Forum: The problem with this analysis is that it's omitted the Flash game portals (e.g. Newgrounds, Kongregate etc.) and we are seeing an increase of micropayments being used to unlock stuff in these flash games, with systems such as Kongregate's and Mochi Games'. I suppose I could go on about how these systems are like Steamworks and Impulse Reactor but I won't, but it's interesting to see how the Flash market parallels the PC game market.
Another interesting case study is VVVVVV. It has a demo on Kongregate, with the option to access the whole game on Kong for $15. However, this has prompted plenty of complaints due to this system, despite the fact that it's available on Gamersgate and Get Games. Perhaps it's due to the tagline "XXXXX people playing XXXXX free games!" Perhaps it's due to the long held belief that Flash games should be free. (Certainly, I won't pay money in a flash game unless I get a download to burn onto disc, at least)
Although, to be honest, I can't quite equate in my mind someone who is a hardcore Mafia Wars player to someone who is a hardcore Starcraft player (to pick two games at random). However, I can equate hardcore Rock Band and Starcraft players. Maybe it's the amount of skill, rather than dedication, that's required.
Excuse the rambling post.
A very well written article that has obviously given us food for thought.
I would like to highlight another point of view. What is different with the past is that video games have now managed to draw a much wider target audience. Between Farmville and the such and the Wii Sports and the such the audience seems to have expanded a lot over the last few years.
I think there is another dynamic in play, not mentioned in the article.
The video game industry is now quite older. Video games have been around for more than 3 decades, in one form or the other. Over the span of all these years, a lot of people have been exposed to them and even if the primary entry point still each our teenage years, a lot of video game players has maintained this hobby in later years.
As a result, we have grown up, industry and consumers alike. This means that we also need more "grown - up" games, whatever that means, than what we needed before. To try and find an equivilent from a different industry, I'll say this. All of us have watched Cartoons at some point. We all loved them. Some of us still do. Likewise, we may have loved Rambo and Rocky movies when in our teens. Some of us still do. But, having grown up, we also now have the need for movies for grown ups and might also enjoy the new Eastwood movie.
This is the need that Mafia Wars or Brain Training cover, to some extent.
In response to "Able-Bodied Gamer" from The Escapist Forum: Impaired players are the ones that are truly hardcore. Anyone who are dedicated to overcoming their limitations, be it in social life, work life, daily life, gaming, etc, are hardcore. It's admirable to say the least. Being a somewhat veteran member of Bungie.net, I've seen my fair share of impaired players, particularly colorblind, that wants Bungie to incorperate more flixibility in their games. The problem with this, aside from memory space, money, and all that bs, is the fact that many of those that are not impaired would exploit the flexibility to better themselves, and potentially ruining the game for everyone else. If you leave a lot of deep flexibility in your gamecode, chances are that that code is also easier to hack, and there are thousands of those out there willing to do so. It's truly a sad world we live in.
The story of Nomad is pretty epic, he actually managed to get Infinity Ward to create a special configuration for Cod MW and MW2 which allowed him to set ADS as a toggle. It was incredible to see just how far some companies are willing to go to help their customers.