299: Casual Gamers Are Better Than You

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This was an interesting read, but I do not think some of the arguments are very good. Take for example, the money spending argument (spending $60 + more on a game vs. free to play + pay if you want.) For me Farmville is a boring game. It is not fun for me at all, even a little bit. So spending any time with it, even with its lack of price is a waste of time for me. Mass Effect 2, for me, is incredibly fun for me to play. I played/still play the hell out of that game; I have sunk plenty of well spent hours in it. Did I buy it new? You bet your sweet ass I did. Did I buy the expansion pack DLC? (No guns or costumes bought, just the additional missions ones.) Hell yes I did! Did I have fun with my investment, was the time I spent worth the money I spent? For me yes. Even with Farmville being free, the time spent on it for me was wasted. I cannot get that time back, and I hate that I even lost any time at all. Do the people make a better "Happiness" investment than I did by playing Farmville vs playing Mass Effect 2? Depends on the level of happiness. I can say my conversations will be filled with a lot more action and variety, and my memories of playing Mass effect will be more than planting crops for me. Because I dropped more than $60 into that experience makes it a worse "happiness" investment? I do not think that to be true in the least.

The old new IP argument always is an odd one to play as well. Calling Kane & Lynch 2 an established name vs. Enslaved? Maybe, but last I heard people hated Dog Days, I loved it and had a wicked blast playing it. So a million copies of a hated game is pretty good. It was a polished game when compared to Kane & Lynch 1 (loved that one too), and when compare to Enslaved, Dog Days had less technical issues to prevent me enjoying the game. Enslaved will be a game I will purchase, a long with Homefront, once I feel their price points are at a level I feel is worth investing into my happiness. Neither of them are a $60 investment for me, either was Dog Day, so I bought that well after it came out (still got it new so that the developers could get some scratch out my purchase.) The problem with new IPs is that they regularly and consistently do not have the level of polish you get with an established name, like ME2. If they do have the polish and prime of an established IP, they will do very well. Look at Dead Space, and Portal, Assassin's Creed and possibly Mirror's Edge, hell look at the games that are franchises now, they where all new IPs at one point too. I even bought Beyond Good and Evil on XBLA, and love it, and think that deserves so much more success (didn't own a Xbox at the time it originally came out.) I think if new IPs advertised themselves as something that was new but with a lower price of entry, maybe more gamers would be willing to pick up the title sooner, but when a new IP is $60, and you know almost none of your friends will play it, while the newest CoD or Halo will have all of your friends playing, what do you think you will pick? An investment towards happiness is a complicated thing, and doesn't just revolve around price.

I do realize that I am in the silent minority it trying to see the new and exciting games get some traction, and just flaunting my "new IP cred" does nothing, but I do want to at least show that there are core gamers that do enjoy the finner things in video games. So is it true that the hard core are horrendous at actually playing new games and purchasing games that are made for them? Yes. Should there be a looking into a new way to price games? Yes ($60 is asking a lot for a new IP, that may not be as good as an established IP)Is piracy an issue in the hard core crowd? Yes. Is the casual player having more fun than I am? Not necessarily.
Which I think I have the biggest gripe with, and is it 100% the gamers fault, I do not think so. Is shovelware easier to develop and make a profit on? Yes, so developers make a bunch of that shit and make bank fast. Do I wish they helped invest more polish into their hard core new IPs? Yes. Can happiness be measured on an equal scale vs. amount of money spent? Kind of, but not really. Do I think the casual gamer is better than me? No (but I may be biased) Is the whole of the casual gamer market better than the whole of hard core gamers? Yes, in terms of profit generations for developers. Do I want to see games go to a more Farmville style? No. No. No. Pricing? Sell to me right, and yes.

I think hard core gamers have a duty to try and educate their casual friends, to try and show them a more diverse and maybe even better gaming experience. We should not avoid casual gamers, but show them how much more games can offer a person. And the the hard core needs to also be more willing to try new things, but developers need to also try and sell new things to us a bit better than they are.

It's a long post, sorry, but I hope it adds to the conversation.

I don't know what's the importance of categorizing players into groups saying "hardcore" and "casual" and then trying to pointing out one group is better than other (or vice versa). To me games like "Farmville" is just another business opportunity in gaming market; nothing more or less than that.

Even though I see a game like "Farmville" as boring and dull; there are some people that don't agree with me. So let them play "Farmville" (or any other similar game) and let us play the traditional games as we want. I don't think this so called "casual" players more worthy than others or vise versa. They are just part of the market (like any other) share in gaming.

Casual gamers? Ya that all needed saying.

JonnWood:
[

I don't begrudge the industry making money,

Yes you do! You've made remarks to the contrary in this very post! "Greater money coming from a bigger herd of even more easily exploited sheep", I believe were the words you used.

it is a business, but there is a point at which I think someone can go too far with it, and nobody should expect a neglected audience to be happy about it. Especially when that audience *IS* profitable, and has also been carrying the industry for a very long time.

I see no reason why you shouldn't be glad to shift the weight over to another's shoulders.

There are reasons why I usually wind up targeting the games industry as a whole (and sometimes single out paticular companies) rather than attacking casual gamers very often, other than to mention them as a target group. With the issues at stake however, it's not easy to be flattering, given the entire reason why casual gamers are being courted and why the nature of that market makes it so deliciously profitable.

In other words, you're begrudging businesses making money. Hardcore gamers have no right to be exclusively catered to, which seems to me to be the attitude you have employed throughout your post, even if you're unaware of it.

This is the gist of our disagreement (much was snipped)

Simply put, I do not deny them making money, it's all about when they get big enough where they start stabbing their established customers in the back and running off to chase the largest amount of growth possible. Bands, writers, developers, and everything else will argue when they sell out that they "don't owe their fans anything" I tend to disagree with that statement, and that's the gist of what a lot of this comes down to, and it's not an arguement that is going to be resolved.

You'd be right if serious gamers weren't a profitable market to begin with, and people weren't making fortunes off of catering to them. That's not the case though, and it's come down to a situation where the industry has simply gotten greedy, and being rich and successful isn't enough anymore compare to how much more rich and successful it could be by deciding to cater to a casual audience.

Catering to serious and casual gamers is an exclusive prospect for matters of complexity. A serious game wants a deep and complicated game that takes a lot of time, effort,and investment in in order to complete. A casual gamer wants a simplistic, shallow, and immediatly gratifying experience that doesn't take a lot of time or committment, by and large a game simple enough for a casual gamer is not going to be deep enough for a serious gamer.

It would be easier to be more tolerant of casual gamers if both sorts of gamers were being catered too on their own merits. That's hardly the case, as pretty much every game, no matter how seriously presented, is being designed to be approachable to a casual audience, when really seperate game development would involve the casuals not being a consideration other than for casual games, with both serious and casual games having enough of a market prescence for their respective audiences. Right now I think the animosity is largely because there aren't enough games really intended for a serious audience for that crowd to be content.

Perhaps the issue here is that there might more than two groups under discussion. I think that lack of openness to the unfamiliar in the traditional gaming community at large is indeed an issue - but I'm not sure that's a problem with what we would refer to as the "hardcore gamers" - the connossieurs, the ones who have a long history with the medium, the gamers to whom the Escapist is targeted. Sterling uses "hardcore" to refer to the former, but I'm not sure that's right; would the average gamer who plays a good amount of console stuff but sticks mostly to AAA titles like Halo or Madden know or seek out the art games like Minecraft or Psychonauts - or, heck, anything classic from before the last console generation or two? I don't think so, really. It's the difference between multiplex moviegoers who attend primarily big-budget summer films and film buffs who know their way around Antonioni, Peckinpah, etc.

I'd perhaps encourage a breakdown like so:

1) The casual gamers, as described in Sterling's article. They're not what you would call "learned" gamers - they'll try anything that looks keen to them, regardless of whether or not it's traditionally "good." This is a double-edged sword - it does encourage material to come down the pipe that would never see the light of day before, as Sterling notes, but there's less of an emphasis on traditional quality.

2) The masses of the traditional gaming community. They're heavily invested in games but stick to the big franchises - Call of Duty, Halo, etc. They want flash, but they want it in a familiar form. They will try piracy but perhaps won't be as high-volume, again because of tastes.

3) The real hardcore community. They probably do know about Okami, Rez, etc., even though the percentage that'll turn out to buy these titles aren't numerous enough to support them. They are actually open to new and different experiences. Unfortunately, their taste for the new and different might encourage high-volume piracy - their eyes are bigger than their wallets, and this group is actually knowledgable enough about games to play the piracy game effectively.

Group 1 encourages newness, but not necessarily quality. They have the dollars to back up their tastes, though, which is important. Group 2 is kind of "ehh" on both newness and quality - there has to be a certain degree of novelty and quality for a title to survive, but they don't want a game going out of their comfort zone in pursuit of that. Some of Group 2 might pirate, but if it's too much of a tech hassle, they're not gonna, and there're so many of them that the percentage that pays is enough to pay the group's way. Group 3 will support newness and quality, but they're a small bunch, and piracy is strong, so their voice is diminishing. The rise of the iPhone, which caters to group 1 by throwing everything into the pool by which isn't a platform conducive to complex, involved titles (simple "one great idea" games like Angry Birds, yes, but not stuff that demands extended attention to learn to play) only amplifies group 3's worries about a diminishing emphasis on quality.

Sterling does make a good point about piracy that's overlooked - casual gamers are better catered-to by the market because they're more likely to pay for their games. It is indeed verboten to say that piracy hurts the industry, but the free rider problem knows no industrial bounds.

He has some good points, I wouldn't be so quick to say that hardcore gamers support piracy to the extent suggested, look in the comments section of any of the articles regarding the early leak of Crysis 2, the condemnation was near universal. I am a hardcore gamer, but I mostly look down on the way casual gamers put up with the endless stream of shovelware without any infusion of new IPs (see Nintendo).
I don't believe hardcore gamers shun new IPs as much as is stated there either, granted, I don't buy many non sequels, but not on principal, I prefer originals, just none of them appeal to me at the present time.
As the person above me said, I think he's confusing the hardcore gamers with the mainstream community (i.e. those who are open to unique things versus those who are anchored firmly to COD and such titles, who are often just as bad in accepting shovelware as the casual crowd are). Hell, I downloaded SOTC in 24 parts over 3 days, borrowed my friend's PS2 and bought replacement cables for it just to play it, that's not being against new games is it?

No.
Indie games and games aimed at casual gamers are better than me.
but all games are.
And I enjoy indie games.
A TRUE gamer doesn't differentiate from genre's or title's. I just shy from Super Mario because they've been making it since the 1980's.

incal11:

Duskflamer:
And the exact same reason is why they don't like to see an established franchise innovate. Oh sure, they cry and clatter for innovation, but at the same time they want to get what they expect when they pick up, say, Final Fantasy or Mario, and while they insist on innovation in general, they don't want to see the series they love potentially becoming "low quality" as a result of it.

Nothing wrong with perfecting gameplay mechanics, but the sensible issue here is that dumbing down is not innovation, even if it's advertised as such. You can dismiss an elitists opinion on the ground that it is only arrogance, but when someone has played so many games of a certain genre that person's opinion does have some weight.
A game that can please an elitist as much as a newcomer, that's perfection. What's wrong with that ?

There's nothing inherently wrong with perfection, but there's a problem with expecting perfection: if perfection was so easy to bring across, the word would have no meaning. This is the real world, and choices have to be made sometimes, and often times the choice goes in the direction of what will make the company more money.

Also, it's folly to simply assume that an established series innovating means that it's being dumbed down, that kind of statement is exactly what I mean when I said that hardcores get instinctively defensive over changes in their games.

Duskflamer:
There's nothing inherently wrong with perfection, but there's a problem with expecting perfection: if perfection was so easy to bring across, the word would have no meaning. This is the real world, and choices have to be made sometimes, and often times the choice goes in the direction of what will make the company more money.

I didn't mean perfection that literally, but a deep game that can be picked up by veterans and beginners alike is not so impossible. I don't forget there are contingencies, however not all of those choices are smart.
Some time ago, before most of todays gamers were born the same kind of choices were made. Then the game industry crashed almost completely, it had drowned in low quality crap because of those choices.

Also, it's folly to simply assume that an established series innovating means that it's being dumbed down, that kind of statement is exactly what I mean when I said that hardcores get instinctively defensive over changes in their games.

I don't dismiss all changes automatically but I have seen little actual innovation and lots of dumbing down lately. Playing older games I noticed some "innovations" have a funny tendancy of coming and going. Maybe you haven't played the serie but when Thief 3 took away the player's ability to swim was it an innovation ? With changes like that it's easy to become overprotective.

xavhorse:

xscoot:
I was going to point out all the wrong things in this article, but as soon as I was done reading it I found that it was written by Jim Sterling.

Jim Sterling is to videogame journalism as Robert Kotick is to videogames. I don't really think I need to say anything else, especially since all the other people here are tearing the article apart for me.

So... what you're saying is that Jim Sterling is one of the most influential forces in gaming journalism? You're comparing him to the CEO, President and Director of Blizzard Activision, who make some of the most popular games in the industry?

I mean that everyone hates him. A lot.

He's more closely related to Michael Pachter, to be honest.

Also, "an interesting, thought provoking article"? It could have been, but poor arguments and a lack of a proper definition of what makes something casual vs. hardcore really brought the whole piece down. The concept is there, but he doesn't really bring anything forward.

I argue that there are a majority of casual gamers that are into core games, like alot of COD players only play COD (poor guys dont know any better)

So is it casual gaming if you play the same "core" game over and over, and not for very long each time?

I think pigeonholeing people into stereotypes is dangerous because the definitions used to describe gamers are innadequate

A casual gamer, in my mind, is someone who doesn't play very often, or takes only a small interest in gaming altogether. So in many respects this article raises some interesting points. Those who have little experience with games are more open to different experience but doesn't that dissapear once that person decides what type of games they like? Doesnt the Farmville player develop a bias toward other "Ville" games because they enjoyed the others? Isn't it then the same thing as core gamers buying sequels?

Even casualy gamers have brand awareness after awhile.

My grandma played wii bowling once and that doesnt make her a casual gamer, that's just trying something out, the bias we develop toward our favourite games evolves from being involved in the hobby.

I say if you spend 12 hours on Farmville you are still a core gamer, just on a different platform.

Yes flash and Facebook are gaming platforms, so are web browsers. I tried Kingdoms of Camelot on Facebook, analysing the design mostly, and people take it pretty seriously.

Also is handing out money for virtual items deemed as hardcore as spending full price on the latest xbox game? You're still spending money on things other people would consider worthless.

I would say the bias is equal on both sides, as many farmville players wouldn't try "space marine cockblaster 5:now with more gorey action goregore" as it's not marketed toward them

In conclusion I propose that the "casual gamers" are not better than the "core" gamers as they are one in the same thing, just different demographics of the same industry, and whether you are "core" or not depends rather on how interested you are in gaming as an activity, than which genre you choose to play.

Jim Sterling:
I am aware that I said you're inferior for not spending $60 to try new games, while also implying you're inferior for spending $60 on any games. I do not mean to state that you're inherently stupid for spending $60 on videogames, just that the Farmville players might be onto something, and it's perhaps a method of play that we should be trying to embrace and investigate, rather than automatically look down upon.

I'm going to go out and say it: paying $60 for a game is inherently stupid. I rarely paid full price back when a AAA console game ran $40 on launch day. Now that the going rate is $60, the developers get practically no money from me at all. I buy almost exclusively used, with some padding from steam sales and the occasional game that has been marked down to $20 or less. This is more rare than it was last gen, because in addition to the overall price hike, publishers no longer drop the prices on the majority of their games. I'm pretty sure I could walk into Wal-Mart right now and buy Modern Warfare 2 for the full $60, and it's sadly closer to the rule than the exception. Video games are not worth what companies charge for them, and it's their own greedy fault that so many people are pirating and buying used.

Edit: My post count is now 1717. That's kind of a cool number...

Dastardly:

poiumty:
So being dumb means being better, soccer moms' decisions are always researched, and ignorance is bliss.

After reading this, I feel dumber already. Guess that makes me "better". Thanks, shitty article!

Seriously, most fallacy-ridden thing i ever read. I'd probably have a rebuttal for each and every line of text if i tried hard enough, but since flamebaiting seems to be the thing with this article, i'm not gonna surrender to the light trolling attempt.

While the tone of the article rings of "shock value," take a step back and consider the possible truth here: you're pretty resistant to hearing a different point of view, aren't you? I'm not saying it in an accusatory way or anything, but surely it's something you might notice about your response.

I mean, yeah, the article comes across as argumentative... but not quite as argumentative as your response, which is just a bit over-reactionary, no? That's kind of the point the article seems to be getting at--the more fervent someone is about their opinions and beliefs, the faster they'll be to fight something new or different. The fewer risks they'll take on something new or unfamiliar, because they feel it is a personal affront.

The author of the article seems to be indicating that "Casuals are better" is what a lot of up-and-coming developers believe--they're more open to experimentation (in terms of gameplay, controls, price structures, etc.), so that's where the innovative developers are going. Not because they don't want to make "core" games, but because "core" gamers won't let them experiment.

Your own reaction should, if you take just a moment, serve to prove that point--even if you disagree with how the point was presented.

How is Farmville "experimenting"? It's about as much "fun" as crack, and it works the exact same way too. It just plays on something else, but it's right up there. I've tried my fair share of the Farmville-type of game, especially as a young kid looking for something to squander my time on between classes at school. They all have on thing in common, and that is to play on a psychological, emotional bond that evolves as an addiction that FORCES YOU to put time on them, lest you start feeling really bad about yourself for letting your "poor farm" whither and die. Sure, many games today form the same addiction, most MMO'S play on that, but I'm compelled to say that at least that's probably a genuinely fun game at its core. But then again, most MMO's are also made to appeal to the casual player that is being described in this article...Tomat-o, toma-to? Maybe, maybe not.

Anyway, I started to feel my skepticism creep up before that point, but once the author said that Farmville players are not only SMART, but potentially SMARTER than the average player, I honestly became upset. That soccer mom is no different than I was when I was a kid; just looking for a simple way to make time fly. The actual entertainment provided is irrelevant.

What really bugs me is not the thesis; I read the article with interest, expecting to see some solid points I could agree with. Sure, I found a few, but they were like tiny pieces of gold underneath a layer of muck. Just like the person you are quoting, I could probably argue against most of the arguments the author brings forth. But I guess I'm overreacting too, right?

poiumty:

Dastardly:

Your own reaction should, if you take just a moment, serve to prove that point--even if you disagree with how the point was presented.

Correlation doesn't imply causation, and you're making assumptions you really shouldn't. My mind is very open and i certainly did consider the truth behind the article. It didn't last. Using debatable facts about piracy to prove a point about casuals, assuming certain things are true without proving them to be so, generalizing a lot more than he should, using a deliberately inflammatory point of view even though it wasn't needed at all and so forth.

But surely my calling of bullshit means i'm too closed-minded to accept his totally valid points. Logic 101.
Ironically enough, i'm not even the demographic he's targetting with this - i'm just pointing out he uses shock value to give him credibility rather than solid reasoning.

Couldn't have said it better myself, I second every word.

(Sorry if this is a double post, I think my internet is playing tricks on me)

Yeah, double post...

Triple even. SHIT!

I really can't help but agree with this article. Everytime I see a new game for the Wii, Kinect, or PS Move, I can't help but think hoew stupid a concept it is. The worst for me was when the Wii was launched. I couldn't (and still can't) understand the point of using a motion controller. Who wants to come home from school or work, sit down on their couch to play a video game and unwind, only to have to get up and wildly swing their arms around. Unfortunately, I admit that. when it comes to video games, i'm really resistant to change.

Acrisius:
How is Farmville "experimenting"?

Okay, you and your friend seem fixated on this idea that Farmville is the only casual game out there, or that anyone believes it to be the best example. But y'know what? I'll bite:

1. You don't enjoy it, but many, many others do. "Don't like" doesn't equal "is bad," except in the minds of people who believe that things they like are good, and by extension things they don't like are bad. That kind of person is resistant to anything new and different.

2. Farmville is breaking a lot of ground with a new audience. They're using a still largely-untested pricing structure (free games with pay premium are still pretty new), and tying it very tightly with the biggest social network available right now. And they've been more successful than others in that venture, which is why it's the only example everyone picks at. The folks behind Farmville are gaining players (and money) that other game companies have never touched. Not all experimentation has to do with gameplay.

3. The clear point the author was making with the "smartness" of the Farmville player is in the financial sense. Rather than shelling out $60 up front, hoping for a good game, these players are choosing experiences that are free to start, and then only paying for what interests them, and only if it interests them. They are encouraging a pricing model that gives them, the player, far more control over the cost of the experience... whereas a lot of us happily roll over and shell out $60 because that's just the norm.

Just like the person you are quoting, I could probably argue against most of the arguments the author brings forth. But I guess I'm overreacting too, right?

A bit, yeah. Just because someone's point isn't perfect doesn't mean they don't have a point. Throwing the baby out with the bathwater is the definition of overreaction.

The point he's making is that, to the next generation of game-makers, casuals are the better bet. Not the "safer" bet, either. The better one. Why try new things with people too strongly attached to their opinions to consider alternatives, when you've got a fresh audience with fewer preconceived notions that's willing to give nearly anything a shot?

And the casuals? They're having fun for a lot less money than I am. There's at least something to that. If I'm writing them off so quickly, it's probably just because I:

1. Resent the fact that I have to spend more than them to feel I'm having fun.
2. Resent the fact that my gaming "skills" don't promote me to some upper class of citizenry.

Nicolaus99:
Better? Absurdity. When you have 20+ years of video gaming under your belt, tripe like Farmville fails to impress on every level. Casual gamers don't have all those years of experience, so all that easily accessed crap looks pretty good while the core games all seem overly complicated.

Like that now common wisdom; put a ps3/360 controller in your parents hands and turn on any fps game. They will display an all consuming level of failure so inconceivable you might think they're auto walking into every wall and corner on purpose.

That's not very fair though. I mean, we've possibly *grown up* with controllers in our hands, so we have, if you will, an inbuilt familiarity and skill level with them. To your mum or dad or nana or whoever, they're a totally foreign concept, not to mention the fact that FPSs give even some 'hardcore' gamers headaches and dizziness. Then there's the whole moving your avatar and the camera at the same time thing. It's pretty intense for a total beginner. Gaming is a hobby like any other, and if your grandad were to put you in front of a lathe and ask you to make a table leg (I don't know, you might be a master carpenter as well, but you get the point), you or I would probably be just as much of a 'fail'.

The key is not looking down on casual gamers, but introducing them to games of greater depth and letting them learn to play them on their own, rather than berating them for their apparent incompetence. We were all beginners once. We perhaps even had the advantage of beginning when our fine motor skills were still developing - so we can 'become one' with the controller with no effort, where others are left to wrestle with an oddly shaped bit of molded plastic to move another person (*and* their camera) around a 2D/3D world.

I think it's entirely justified to say that casual gamers are more open to new/random experiences; someone further up in this thread made the comment that that just means they'll keep buying the 'Farmville' experience rather than actually embrace anything new. I can't say what will happen; and I guess all of us, 'hardcore' and 'casual' gamer alike (much as I dislike those unnecessarily divisive and not terribly descriptive terms), will just have to wait and see what happens. We're standing on the edge of a new era of gaming here.

Personally, I've never had anything wrong with casual gamers, or those type of games (I've played Dance Central on the Kinect, and it's definitely fun fun fun). But when it comes to the motion-control console, I get a little ticked. My problem is the fact that Kinect and Move were made at all. I mean, the Wii has been out for five-six years now, so anyone who was interested in motion controls, or a casual gaming experience, has already bought the system. As for the rest of the gaming community who either owned a Xbox or PS3, well...if some of them wanted to get in on that experience, they too have probably bought Wii already as well.

And for the ABSOLUTE rest of the community, the ones who don't own a Wii, they were probably never interested at all. I fall into that category, and I'm sure many "core" gamers do as well. So why put out the Kinect and the Move at all? Who is the audience here? Who really is going to buy the $300+ PS3 system just to get the $100+ Move? Who out there really was like "mannn, motion controls look cool, but I don't want the Wii...if only Xbox would do something like that!"? I mean really, these systems to me just seem like an obvious cash in on the Wii's success -- a late cash in at that, since, as said before, the Wii has been out for eons. There's no one left to buy up these systems. I mean, I'm sure some people bought it for the "innovation" or to show their "devotion" to a particular company, or what have you. And okay, great that the Kinect is showcasing some advanced technology, and great that the Move is basically the polished version of the Wii. But in all sincerity, I just can't wrap my head around WHY these machines were made in the first place.

A short story: My young cousin has an Xbox 360. His mother bought him a Kinect for Christmas. He played it on Christmas Day and maybe the day after. Now it collects dust atop his television as he plays good ol' fashioned Xbox 360. He wishes his mother had bought him Red Dead Redemption for Christmas instead. He was never really interested in what Kinect had to offer, because it's not much different from what the Wii has been offering this entire time. $150 down the drain. And even though I played Dance Central on his Kinect, and had a good time, I'm not motivated to buy a $200+ bundle pack just to get in on the fun. And somehow, I don't think there are many "casual" gamers left willing to drop that much cash either on a couple of gimmicky games. They probably already own a Wii.

EDIT: After skimming the forum, I realize that most of the arguments here have to do with the types of game, rather than the gaming systems themselves (i.e. Farmville vs. Kinect). But for me, when I think casual gaming, I automatically think about the consoles themselves, because for me, that's where the real divide happens. We've all played Solitaire and Bejeweled, and maybe even dabbled in Farmville. But we don't all play Wii Sports or WiiFit, or rush out and buy PS Moves.

I'd like to dispute the idea that playing an addictive game like Farmville is equally fun. I've played quite a few flash games that I found to be painfully boring, but ended up keeping me through the end, just because I wanted to keep progressing. I stayed with these games for far toolong, and I did not have fun with them. My constant thought was, "[specific checkpoint] needs to hurry up and happen so I can stop playing this!" And I was greatly displeased with the amount of my time they wasted.

"More open to new ideas?" Yes, that's right. Shovelware companies keep making all these new, innovative games; if only those curmudgeonly hardcore gamers would play them! It's casual gamers that keep the industry saturated in quality titles like "imagine babyez 3".

Im not against casual gamers. Im against crap. Casual games dont have to be crap. I just want casual games to be respectable. Give me more stuff like Animal Crossing. Good for casual gamers, great for hardcore gamers. I absolutly love AC, and played it more like a hardcore style...but I didnt have to...buuut I could.
Casual should not mean half-assed shovelware. It should mean fun but simple.

RedEyesBlackGamer:
Talk about someone else. I'm the bitter fan that curses the "core" gaming public for not buying creative games like Killer 7 or Persona 4, instead opting to be the 9 millionth person to buy the next CoD. I really don't wish I was a Casual player.

Seconded. This also applies to 'hardcore' 'fans' of Sonic the Hedgehog, who complain about Unleashed being too different from 3&Knux and haven't even BOUGHT Unleashed.

I for one would like to thank Mr. Sterling for giving me the inspiration for my next blog article...

'Casual gamers are not better then you' - Defending the hardcore from the idea that our long years of investment in the industry isn't directly responsible to where it all is today.

Tin Man:
I for one would like to thank Mr. Sterling for giving me the inspiration for my next blog article...

'Casual gamers are not better then you' - Defending the hardcore from the idea that our long years of investment in the industry isn't directly responsible to where it all is today.

The state of the mainstream videogames industry today is something you're proud of, is it?

RevStu:

Tin Man:
I for one would like to thank Mr. Sterling for giving me the inspiration for my next blog article...

'Casual gamers are not better then you' - Defending the hardcore from the idea that our long years of investment in the industry isn't directly responsible to where it all is today.

The state of the mainstream videogames industry today is something you're proud of, is it?

As an industry, yep. I'm not talking just about grey areas of personal opinion like creativity, DLC misuse etc, I'm talking about every facet of the gaming industry, period. Including the casual market, websites like the escapist and the growth of the medium as a whole, to the point where it's the biggest entertainment industry in the world.

But for more then that, you'll just have to read the article =p

Purely because I'm interested, why exactly are you not happy with the industry?

Because I'm a gamer, not a stockholder.

(Not that I'd be all that happy if I was a stockholder in most games companies either...)

i think this article shows how everyone has a different opinion of what makes a casual and a hardcore gamer. im just gonna go on i rant of what i think constitutes each category so bare with me here.

a casual gamer is anyone who just plays a game for the mere fact of compulsively playing the same genre of games. IMO this does not apply just to the bored house wives playing farmville day in day out. i know people who's game collection consists entirely of cod 4, mw2 and blops and only play the multiplayer. as far as im concerned they're casual gamers too, the fact that the games contain massive amounts of violence does not change that.

A hardcore is someone who not only plays a range of very different games but also develops a regular interest in the industry (fanboys excluded for obvious reasons). To rebut Mr Stirling's claim that core gamers resist change i think ill simply write the word minecraft. and i mean come on! my collection consists of everything from no more heroes to halo reach. okami to mario galaxy. god of war to persona 4. i doubt a casual gamer is better than me.

Dastardly:

Acrisius:
How is Farmville "experimenting"?

Okay, you and your friend seem fixated on this idea that Farmville is the only casual game out there, or that anyone believes it to be the best example. But y'know what? I'll bite:

1. You don't enjoy it, but many, many others do. "Don't like" doesn't equal "is bad," except in the minds of people who believe that things they like are good, and by extension things they don't like are bad. That kind of person is resistant to anything new and different.

2. Farmville is breaking a lot of ground with a new audience. They're using a still largely-untested pricing structure (free games with pay premium are still pretty new), and tying it very tightly with the biggest social network available right now. And they've been more successful than others in that venture, which is why it's the only example everyone picks at. The folks behind Farmville are gaining players (and money) that other game companies have never touched. Not all experimentation has to do with gameplay.

3. The clear point the author was making with the "smartness" of the Farmville player is in the financial sense. Rather than shelling out $60 up front, hoping for a good game, these players are choosing experiences that are free to start, and then only paying for what interests them, and only if it interests them. They are encouraging a pricing model that gives them, the player, far more control over the cost of the experience... whereas a lot of us happily roll over and shell out $60 because that's just the norm.

Just like the person you are quoting, I could probably argue against most of the arguments the author brings forth. But I guess I'm overreacting too, right?

A bit, yeah. Just because someone's point isn't perfect doesn't mean they don't have a point. Throwing the baby out with the bathwater is the definition of overreaction.

The point he's making is that, to the next generation of game-makers, casuals are the better bet. Not the "safer" bet, either. The better one. Why try new things with people too strongly attached to their opinions to consider alternatives, when you've got a fresh audience with fewer preconceived notions that's willing to give nearly anything a shot?

And the casuals? They're having fun for a lot less money than I am. There's at least something to that. If I'm writing them off so quickly, it's probably just because I:

1. Resent the fact that I have to spend more than them to feel I'm having fun.
2. Resent the fact that my gaming "skills" don't promote me to some upper class of citizenry.

You're making a lot of assumptions, many of which are false.

1. There is nothing new about Farmville. It's not a new type of game. The only "new" thing about it, in any way, is the platform it comes on, which is Facebook. Games of the Farmville-type have existed since long before Facebook and I've played many of them. Who are you to judge my character and whether I'm resistant to new things or not? That's more than a little arrogant. I'm not criticizing Farmville because I don't like it, but because it's genuinely bad. It's a video game as much as a slot machine is, except you'll definitely never win. I picked on Farmville because that's what the author brought up, knowing full well that he would piss people off. Congratulations to him, he trolls for a living?

2. "Farmville is breaking a lot of ground with a new audience. They're using a still largely-untested pricing structure (free games with pay premium are still pretty new), and tying it very tightly with the biggest social network available right now. And they've been more successful than others in that venture, which is why it's the only example everyone picks at. The folks behind Farmville are gaining players (and money) that other game companies have never touched. Not all experimentation has to do with gameplay." - 100% true, except you're wrong about the business model being new. It's not, the only thing that's new is Facebook. Everything else is true. The only thing Farmville has proven is that location really is key, even on the internet.

3. You're assuming there's any "smartness" involved in playing Farmville. The "smartness" here is completely on the developer's side: much like a drug dealer gives you a "free" sample to get you hooked. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn't, but the entire business model is a lot more scientifically calculated than most people seem to think. It plays perfectly on human nature, since we're all so delighted when we see something is free to play that we try things we'd never try normally. Immediately after we start playing, we begin forming this emotional and psychological bond to our crappy pixel-farm. It's that bond that makes sure people who don't know any better keep coming back every few hours and manage their farm. And every once in a while they pop up an add in your face, saying how STUPID you are for not making your life easier by buying this or that, or how much time you'll save on your crops with THIS pixel-shovel, instead of the standard pixel-shovel...and the entire time you're of course connected to your friends, so they can add their peer-pressure to it all...

The Farmville player is not smarter than anyone who dishes out 50 bucks on a game, because at least the 50 bucks-guy makes a conscious choice; he's probably checked up on the game to see if it looks fun for him. If he enjoys it, who are you to say that it was a bad purchase?
Now note that most people who try Farmville probably stop playing it very quickly. But that's fine with the developer, because they make the majority of the income from a very small, but gullible, minority. At least according to statistics I've seen on several occasions.

Now, about the point the author is making.

When I started reading the article, I was expecting a well-written text with many solid points that I could read with sincere interest. Needless to say, I was disappointed. It was more on the level of what I imagine would be a professional troll. The author deliberately expressed himself in a controversial manner and made inaccurate assumptions. The article was indeed full of fallacies or just poor choice of words. Whatever point he may or may not have had gets overshadowed by that. Simply put, it was a bad article that really doesn't cater to any demographic whatsoever.

As for the rest you wrote, it's just assumptions on your part, and frankly, I'm sick of it by now because this isn't getting anywhere. You don't know me, and I seriously doubt you know anything else that's not based on your own opinion.

Great article! I don't think I'm really a hardcore player, my Steam library is full of indie games. Viva la revolution!

And I really did try out Farmville, but still found it utterly stupid. Nope, no fun at all.

Eew, Sterling. I absolutely can't stand this guy.
What is he doing on Escapist anyway? Doesn't he write for Destructoid?

Anyhow, aren't we already past stupid categorizations? 'Casual' and 'hardcore' 'gamers' are such meaningless terms, it boggles me why people still use them.

Tin Man:
I for one would like to thank Mr. Sterling for giving me the inspiration for my next blog article...

'Casual gamers are not better then you' - Defending the hardcore from the idea that our long years of investment in the industry isn't directly responsible to where it all is today.

I think the fundamental problem is that many of the customers see themselves as "investors." They're consumers. Having bought a game doesn't make you part of the team or give you a vote. In fact, having bought the game means you've already cast your vote.

If I purchase something, then I've officially given that product a great big ol' "yes vote" in the eyes of the folks selling it. Anything I say afterward can be largely disregarded by them. If I manage to convince other people not to buy it, I might make an impact, but it's all after-the-fact.

There are plenty of developers that speak on forums (particularly in the MMO circuit) about how the "hardcore gamers" tend to get too entitled, opinionated, and demanding. As a result, they tend to alienate developers. It should come as no surprise, then, that more developers are starting to look toward audiences that are just plain nicer about things. Casual gamers just aren't as set in their ways, and that is because they haven't developed a misguided sense of "investment" in a particular way of doing things.

Acrisius:
1. There is nothing new about Farmville. It's not a new type of game. The only "new" thing about it, in any way, is the platform it comes on, which is Facebook. Games of the Farmville-type have existed since long before Facebook and I've played many of them.

We also haven't invented any new meats, vegetables, or spices in quite awhile. But it's still entirely possible for someone to combine them in new ways. That's still a type of originality.

Who are you to judge my character and whether I'm resistant to new things or not? That's more than a little arrogant. I'm not criticizing Farmville because I don't like it, but because it's genuinely bad.

I've suggested what might be the case. Arrogance is stating an opinion as objective fact. For instance, stating that Farmville is "genuinely bad," despite the nine-majillion people playing it right now. It must have some appeal. Farmville is not your cup of tea, but others are chugging it by the gallon and enjoying it.

2. ... The only thing Farmville has proven is that location really is key, even on the internet.

They've also proven that linking simple games with an a-la-carte pricing structure to social networking has phenomenal appeal and potential. The innovation is in customer interaction, not gameplay.

3. ... Immediately after we start playing, we begin forming this emotional and psychological bond to our crappy pixel-farm. It's that bond that makes sure people who don't know any better keep coming back every few hours and manage their farm.

And this happens accidentally? A "genuinely bad" game isn't going to elicit an emotional response of that magnitude. A simplistic, repetitive game? Damn straight. See Tetris. Just because it's simplistic and repetitive doesn't immediate place the Objectively Awful sticker on it.

The Farmville player is not smarter than anyone who dishes out 50 bucks on a game, because at least the 50 bucks-guy makes a conscious choice; he's probably checked up on the game to see if it looks fun for him. If he enjoys it, who are you to say that it was a bad purchase?

(Emphasis mine) I'm not saying that. You are. Just about Farmville players and their "genuinely bad" games for the "small, but gullible minority" who "don't know any better."

Now, about the point the author is making.

When I started reading the article, I was expecting a well-written text with many solid points that I could read with sincere interest. Needless to say, I was disappointed. It was more on the level of what I imagine would be a professional troll....

You didn't like the tone. We've established that, and I haven't really disagreed there. It was intentionally sensationalist and inflammatory, and intended to bring out exactly the sort of reaction you're having--a reaction that proves the point that people with particularly strong opinions (like hardcore gamers) tend to overreact to dissenting points of view. It was fighting extremism with opposing-extremism, which I readily agree doesn't invite dialogue.

But that doesn't mean dialogue can't occur. You've thus far been unable to put aside the tone of the article, and the emotional reaction that it spurred in you. Everything you've posted thus far has been littered with insults and opinion-as-fact absolutes that are indicative of someone posting in anger. That's a barrier to any kind of rational thought or discussion, but it's one you're choosing.

Dastardly:

Acrisius:
1. There is nothing new about Farmville. It's not a new type of game. The only "new" thing about it, in any way, is the platform it comes on, which is Facebook. Games of the Farmville-type have existed since long before Facebook and I've played many of them.

We also haven't invented any new meats, vegetables, or spices in quite awhile. But it's still entirely possible for someone to combine them in new ways. That's still a type of originality.

Who are you to judge my character and whether I'm resistant to new things or not? That's more than a little arrogant. I'm not criticizing Farmville because I don't like it, but because it's genuinely bad.

I've suggested what might be the case. Arrogance is stating an opinion as objective fact. For instance, stating that Farmville is "genuinely bad," despite the nine-majillion people playing it right now. It must have some appeal. Farmville is not your cup of tea, but others are chugging it by the gallon and enjoying it.

2. ... The only thing Farmville has proven is that location really is key, even on the internet.

They've also proven that linking simple games with an a-la-carte pricing structure to social networking has phenomenal appeal and potential. The innovation is in customer interaction, not gameplay.

3. ... Immediately after we start playing, we begin forming this emotional and psychological bond to our crappy pixel-farm. It's that bond that makes sure people who don't know any better keep coming back every few hours and manage their farm.

And this happens accidentally? A "genuinely bad" game isn't going to elicit an emotional response of that magnitude. A simplistic, repetitive game? Damn straight. See Tetris. Just because it's simplistic and repetitive doesn't immediate place the Objectively Awful sticker on it.

The Farmville player is not smarter than anyone who dishes out 50 bucks on a game, because at least the 50 bucks-guy makes a conscious choice; he's probably checked up on the game to see if it looks fun for him. If he enjoys it, who are you to say that it was a bad purchase?

(Emphasis mine) I'm not saying that. You are. Just about Farmville players and their "genuinely bad" games for the "small, but gullible minority" who "don't know any better."

Now, about the point the author is making.

When I started reading the article, I was expecting a well-written text with many solid points that I could read with sincere interest. Needless to say, I was disappointed. It was more on the level of what I imagine would be a professional troll....

You didn't like the tone. We've established that, and I haven't really disagreed there. It was intentionally sensationalist and inflammatory, and intended to bring out exactly the sort of reaction you're having--a reaction that proves the point that people with particularly strong opinions (like hardcore gamers) tend to overreact to dissenting points of view. It was fighting extremism with opposing-extremism, which I readily agree doesn't invite dialogue.

But that doesn't mean dialogue can't occur. You've thus far been unable to put aside the tone of the article, and the emotional reaction that it spurred in you. Everything you've posted thus far has been littered with insults and opinion-as-fact absolutes that are indicative of someone posting in anger. That's a barrier to any kind of rational thought or discussion, but it's one you're choosing.

The tone in which the article was written is irrelevant. I could see that he wanted to prove his thesis, but he did a horrible job at it. If we put aside the bad tone, his arguments themselves are still mostly bad. It's obvious that you and I don't see things the same way, so I really don't see the point with this. We have fundamentally different views, and you also seem pretty adamant that I'm a "hardcore gamer" and that as such I have the exact same views and opinions as other "hardcore gamers". Never mind that we don't even have a proper definition of what casual VS hardcore gamer is. "Soccer mom" is a bit iffy...but you're obviously hell-bent on supporting the author despite his sub-par journalism.

I still maintain that Farmville is about as fun as crack. Or smoking. Some people enjoy those too, so yeah, I guess Farmville can be fun.

I think the fact that the author constantly used soccer "moms" and "grannies" (in other words, women) as his only examples of casual gamers who don't have the know-how that hardcore players possess, was more interesting than the actual article's topic. And that moms weren't referred to just once, but several times throughout the article as an example of people who are blissfully ignorant of the technological world around them.

When are moms going to stop being the default "clueless about gaming/technology/math/hard stuff" demographic? I mean yes, there are probably a lot of moms who don't play games/etc, but there are plenty of dads and grandpas who are just as clueless about all these things, and at this point the gender ratios don't suggest a large enough gap between the sexes to justify not mixing it up every once in awhile.

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