299: Casual Gamers Are Better Than You

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The title should be changed from "You wish you were Casual" to "The Gaming Industry wishes YOU were casual".

Meh. I don't lump myself with either party. Long time Halo player, along with CoD, and other games like Fallout, and Assassin's Creed. Just a small sample of my 360 games alone (I started with Sega as a kid.) I'll play basically any game genre. I play the aforementioned fairly core games, including RTS games, I've played the wii family games with my family, and I've played Plants vs Zombies and Doodle Jump on the iphone. I don't hate genres, I hate individual games.

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.

You are right that the conclusions drawn in this article are not exactly based on scientific research, but as it is not a news article it really doesn't bother me that much. I read it more like a column, in which, in my opinion, using shock value, fallacies and inflammatory point of views is generally more the rule instead of the exception. And reading it in that fashion does give an interesting insight in the author's reasoning about the popularity of casual games, both for (casual) gamers and for developers. Whether the reasoning is correct remains to be seen, but until it is either conclusively proven or rejected, it remains an interesting topic for debate.

Furthermore I see nothing wrong with someone sharing their point of view with us through the means of a column-like article and don't see why you should shoot that person down for fallacies etc. It's not a scientific article, so lighten up. :)

I wish I wasn't so fucking jaded with this industry...I can hardly get excited for any game these days, for fear of disappointment. I remember when I was a young boy, and knew nothing of the industry. I bought games based on the box art and back-of-the-box descriptions, and rarely felt any tinge of disappointment. Every game I had brought me joy. I didn't read dozens of reviews on the internet (or in magazines), look up gameplay videos, and ask people on the forums about games. The most I ever did was play the occasional demo disc from my old "Playstation Underground" subscription. And even then, I didn't play every demo. Just the ones that appealed to me via their little description boxes.

I used to enjoy games that were really quite shit when I look back at them.

I hate being so fucking jaded.

I don't think it's fair to assume that I[1] look down upon casual gamers, or think I'm better than them. If they don't play the same sort of games, that's fine, I don't care. What I'm worried about is that game companies might stop catering to my demographic altogether, leaving my favourite activity completely dead to me.

And please don't try and insist that it's my fault if they do. I never pirate games, and I always buy the games I like and want to see more of.

[1] I'll take it personally because the article is in second person.

GrizzlerBorno:
"Core gamers seem to resist the new and distrust the unique"

Minecraft. Now STFU Mr. Sterling if that is you real name.

Quoted for truth.

I have a number of quirks with this article, enough to make me post for the first time here:

First of all, you play around so much with what a hardcore gamer is that it makes my head spin. I'll assume that you mean a person that is very experienced with gaming and enjoys gaming in a daily basis.

Now, a hardcore gamer more often than not does NOT pirate games. We are talking about people that truly like their games, starting from removing the DVD from the box. Hardcore gamers buy collector's editions, hardcore gamers like to support good indie games should they find one they like (I bought Mount&Blade while it was still in Beta, and Minecraft when it was still Alpha, as have tons of people). Casual gamers DO NOT. They don't care about the industry, they don't know the real pleasure of possessing a whole experience contained in boxset, and believe me, should a lot of them get the chance, they WILL pirate or buy pirated games, and I know this having seen this occur numerous times.

About new IPs. If it's shiny, they will buy it. You might say this stimulates good new gaming ideas, but it also means crappy games with crappy ideas with the right amount of pretty graphics will also get their support. Farmville is one of them. First of all, Farmville is HARDLY a new idea, and implements it badly, it's just a time waster, like so many flash games out there (at least some flash games are good, like n+, Alien Hominid and such). Harvest Moon has already been capitalizing on it, and there is a whole niche of gamers, most of them more hardcore than casual, that buy sequel after sequel. Do you really believe casual gamer's will buy gems like the Shin Megani Tensei games, would they buy Final Fantasy games when the series didn't have good graphics? Of course not. Again, if it's shiny, they will buy it.

More Fun To Compute:
Jim Sterling's view on why the happy content farmville gamers are better people than people who play full price games and are discontented reminds me of this.

image

You know what? Maybe PC and console gamers are still buying the games that are really good and enjoying them a lot. Maybe it is just the industry and certain cliques on web sites that are building up the merits of certain types of games beyond what is realistic and blaming the wrong things when reality fails to live up to their dreams.

But we do expect a higher level of analysis when we read and talk about games in places that are supposedly supposed to support that. Just saying that something is adequate, good for what it is, and that undiscerning people without much experience will enjoy it is not enough. In the shallow but useful review score terms that is a 5 to 7 out of ten title at best and praising it as a 8 to 10 level title shows a lack of critical thinking. It's not that we necessarily want to buy games that prove that we are better than other people but that we want to play games that are in some way exceptional instead of good enough and have some sort of trendy feature. We want to be made to believe that some games are better and more worth playing, not just be told that they are with arguments that go against our judgement.

I like the Red Pill Blue Pill analogy. I've never been able to decide which is truly better: Ignorant and happy or worldly and depressed. Knowing what I know now, I'd certainly hate to see what I'd be like if I had vied for complete ignorance, but on the other hand, if I was ignorant, I wouldn't realize how dumb I looked, and I'd be able to enjoy shovelware. I guess it all comes down to whether you value knowledge or personal happiness more.

You fail to recognize other glaring problems with the Kinect, such as the space require and inaccurate technology, to act as if "casual" gamers won't get upset when their technology isn't working as advertised is fairly absurd.

You talk about new IPs and how hardcore gamers don't trust them. You've made a comparison between Kane & Lynch 2 and Enslaved without taking into account the advertising budget of each game. There were K&L2 commercials running on TV near non-stop for awhile there.

You also fail to acknowledge the thriving indie game market on XBLA and PC: no names are more unknown and no studio as unproven as these. Games like Minecraft and Super Meat Boy have outsold many established franchises.

I won't touch your point on the DS, mainly because I think the handheld market is a mess and would require more time than I care to spend merely to scratch the surface of.

That being said, on the note of piracy, it's only a matter of time before casual gamers realize they can do it. You draw a parallel between being tech savvy and piracy, which might have been truth a decade ago when you had to dig through crack sites, manage boot discs, pirate networks were untrustworthy, etc but that's not so much the case these days. I know plenty of "soccer moms" that are torrenting new release movies everyday and burning them for their kids, and their friends' kids, and their sister in Ohio who doesn't have the time to get to the movies because she's so busy with work.

I, and many other hardcore gamers, hate on Farmville, again, because history tells us to. I've played this sort of game. I had over two years invested in Ikariam, way too much time in Heroes of Gaia, and a few various other Farmville-esc web-based games. Like many I got involved in these because I thought they would be good distractions when I couldn't play real games. What I learned is that they barely even constitute being called a game, they've got far more in common with those nanopets, or whatever they were called, which were oh so popular in the mid-90s (and look at how well those stuck around...).

Essentially what you're doing is just sitting back and watching a plant grow. Sure, every so often you have to water the plant, maybe rotate it to change its orientation to the sun, so you can claim it's interactive, but really, it's not. Farmville and other browser games don't require skill, thought, or most importantly, playing. They simply require being tended to. This on its own would only take several minute a day, like watering plants. However, you log-on to upgrade your walls and before you know it an in-game friend gets a hold of you and your stuck for hours having a conversation while you fiddle around looking at your farm, castle, army, or whatever to give you a sense of gaming.

As for these games being free, sure, they are... but some poor sap is paying for them.

As for hardcore gamers paying $60 for games, well... depends who you are, I'm a big Steam/Impulse user myself so I can't say that I often spend $60 for games.

Many, if not most, of us were casual gamers at one point or another, the thing with being a casual gamer is you either get bored and move on, be it to more hardcore titles or leaving gaming all together. Who didn't love rail-shooters with light guns when they were younger? How many of those people have since made the natural transition to FPS, and now mock motion controllers?

How many people, of all demographics, have dusty Wiis?

Moreover, the casual market has, and will again, encounter the same problem as the music game market. Once you own one or two games, there's no need to buy more; there's really no need to have two dance games, or two games Olympic event style games, etc etc.

Casuals, likely, are buying maybe a handful of games (and that's being generous) for their first year or two of owning a system, and then not buying any more. Hardcore gamers on the other hand buy up to dozens of titles a year.

So, does that mean casuals are smarter because they are spending less and then moving on? No, not at all. Does it mean hardcore gamers are any better because they spend more? No. What it means is that the two are different audiences and it's silly to say one wants to be the other. Both are just doing what they enjoy. What pisses me right the fuck off, is when people look at the recent surge in casual gaming and think its going to grow until it inevitably replaces hardcore gaming; it's not, it will plateau -- possibly disappear --, and both side with have distinct audiences.

Ha ha... he just called us all Roger Eberts ^_^

Dude, our respect and knowledge of the industry let us know that Farmville is not a new concept, and is basically a Skinner's Box.

His argument seems like trollbait to me and the grammar and spelling mistakes are annoying the hell out of me. Better next time please?

Joost Klessens:

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.

You are right that the conclusions drawn in this article are not exactly based on scientific research, but as it is not a news article it really doesn't bother me that much. I read it more like a column, in which, in my opinion, using shock value, fallacies and inflammatory point of views is generally more the rule instead of the exception. And reading it in that fashion does give an interesting insight in the author's reasoning about the popularity of casual games, both for (casual) gamers and for developers. Whether the reasoning is correct remains to be seen, but until it is either conclusively proven or rejected, it remains an interesting topic for debate.

Furthermore I see nothing wrong with someone sharing their point of view with us through the means of a column-like article and don't see why you should shoot that person down for fallacies etc. It's not a scientific article, so lighten up. :)

Well, it's still a public article that attempts to convince people of something. Confronting the presented facts and criticizing the way it's being put forth is my way of saying that i disagree.

Onyx Oblivion:
I wish I wasn't so fucking jaded with this industry...I can hardly get excited for any game these days, for fear of disappointment. I remember when I was a young boy, and knew nothing of the industry. I bought games based on the box art and back-of-the-box descriptions, and rarely felt any tinge of disappointment. Every game I had brought me joy. I didn't read dozens of reviews on the internet (or in magazines), look up gameplay videos, and ask people on the forums about games. The most I ever did was play the occasional demo disc from my old "Playstation Underground" subscription. And even then, I didn't play every demo. Just the ones that appealed to me via their little description boxes.

I used to enjoy games that were really quite shit when I look back at them.

I hate being so fucking jaded.

Same here. I would play demos over and over again. I miss my low standards and innocence, something that casual players have.

RedEyesBlackGamer:

Onyx Oblivion:
I wish I wasn't so fucking jaded with this industry...I can hardly get excited for any game these days, for fear of disappointment. I remember when I was a young boy, and knew nothing of the industry. I bought games based on the box art and back-of-the-box descriptions, and rarely felt any tinge of disappointment. Every game I had brought me joy. I didn't read dozens of reviews on the internet (or in magazines), look up gameplay videos, and ask people on the forums about games. The most I ever did was play the occasional demo disc from my old "Playstation Underground" subscription. And even then, I didn't play every demo. Just the ones that appealed to me via their little description boxes.

I used to enjoy games that were really quite shit when I look back at them.

I hate being so fucking jaded.

Same here. I would play demos over and over again. I miss my low standards and innocence, something that casual players have.

It wasn't that long ago that I used to play the same level of a game over and over and over and over and over and over...

And enjoyed it.

When I was a kid, I didn't care. If I liked a particular bit of a game, I'd play it over and over and over. I don't even think I ever BEAT any of my Genesis games as a really young kid, FFS. Later levels of Sonic games were HARD. Gunstar Heroes later levels never even got attempted as all I did was stand in place and blast away at the infinite enemies in the opening level until I died. And the only RPGs on my PS1 that I actually got to end of as a kid were Grandia, Chrono Cross, and Legend of Mana...And I was fine with this shit. I left FF7 and FF8 unfinished not out of hatred, but out of eventual boredom. Which kids are prone to.

eh interesting article, hardcore title..casual content

I can't help but think this article is exaggerating things. Maybe I'm oblivious but after reading the first page I can't help but feel the author is making a point too much from their own inner fiction.

I didn't read the whole article but I already took issue with the "mainstream" comment. The way I see it there are quite a few different "streams" if you will, in this industry. Somethig unique to the gaming industry. Whatever..

Fun to read how a few get all aggro, and starts using their decades of videogames-experience as an argument to know what games are good.

I know I`ve heard it somewhere that games are supposed to be fun. Now, if the so-called casuals are finding their fun in "tripe" I cannot see how that is supposed to be absurd. I`m open to see the argument that a simple, easy to pick up game getting more people involved into gaming as a good thing. At least the new gamers don`t have to be around a bunch of elitist fps-snobs (genralisation I know) who throws insults at them for every little mistake that they do. Somehow forgetting that they were once newbies themselves.

In a way, I almost envy the new crowd - who hasn`t gotten jaded with the technological advancements in gaming. The play for fun. Simple as that. And for all I know they don`t hang around on gaming websites tearing all the so-called "good" games a new one on a daily basis.

Every now and then, gamers act like a bunch of football-hooligans. Say anything that might provoke the act of looking at one self and the hobby we all share, and we go completely off the rails. And if all else fails...tell the OP that their grammar is sub-par. That`ll teach them free thinkers! Yes sir! Bob`s your uncle, transsexual Jimmy-Willy-Sue is your aunt and you can`t wait for the next round on (insert FPS of choice here).

Onyx Oblivion:

RedEyesBlackGamer:

Onyx Oblivion:
I wish I wasn't so fucking jaded with this industry...I can hardly get excited for any game these days, for fear of disappointment. I remember when I was a young boy, and knew nothing of the industry. I bought games based on the box art and back-of-the-box descriptions, and rarely felt any tinge of disappointment. Every game I had brought me joy. I didn't read dozens of reviews on the internet (or in magazines), look up gameplay videos, and ask people on the forums about games. The most I ever did was play the occasional demo disc from my old "Playstation Underground" subscription. And even then, I didn't play every demo. Just the ones that appealed to me via their little description boxes.

I used to enjoy games that were really quite shit when I look back at them.

I hate being so fucking jaded.

Same here. I would play demos over and over again. I miss my low standards and innocence, something that casual players have.

It wasn't that long ago that I used to play the same level of a game over and over and over and over and over and over...

And enjoyed it.

When I was a kid, I didn't care. If I liked a particular bit of a game, I'd play it over and over and over. I don't even think I ever BEAT any of my Genesis games as a really young kid, FFS. Later levels of Sonic games were HARD. Gunstar Heroes later levels never even got attempted as all I did was stand in place and blast away at the infinite enemies in the opening level until I died. And the only RPGs on my PS1 that I actually got to end of as a kid were Grandia, Chrono Cross, and Legend of Mana...And I was fine with this shit. I left FF7 and FF8 unfinished not out of hatred, but out of eventual boredom. Which kids are prone to.

Yeah, I must have beaten TMNT: Turtles in Time over a 150 times. I played Legend of Dragoon over 15. Looking back, I don't know how the hell I did it. I also never looked at guides or walkthroughs. I'd spend weeks trying to get past a certain part. Digimon World 3 as a notorious of this. Now I look at guides at the hint of a major roadblock. My kid self would be ashamed of me.

PopcornAvenger:
This article makes a lot of assumptions and dubious "givens". As a hardcore gamer, it's assumed I pirate games. I don't. It's assumed I don't like casual games. I do - Plants Vs Zombies (245 hours) is one of my all-time favorites, and I liked World of Goo. I'm close-minded, and won't trust new IP's? Hell, it's the "established" IP's these days I don't trust, with some of my favorite companies (Bioware, Crytek) churning out crippled, stunted PC games as they court the console player. Frankly, I'm very interested in new companies and new titles, as I hope they haven't yet been infected with the EA virus they call a business strategy, chances are better that they are not developing it multiplatform, and that they might actually have a fun game (with perhaps a fresh take on things).

Maybe I'm "unique" amongst those of us who call ourselves hardcore gamers. I doubt it.

A good portion of this article boils down to: ignorance is bliss. At least, it is for the gaming industry. Since us hardcore gamers are actually more knowledgable and a bit pickier about what games we'll spend our dollars on.

You are not alone my friend. I don't know a single person in my peer group of "hardcore" gamers that didn't love and play the hell out of Plants VS Zombies. Hell The Sims is still one of the best selling PC gamers of all time and Steam even lists Super Meat Boy, Braid & Myst as "Casual" so the very definition of what makes a "Casual" game is expanding... heck I would say Super Meat Boy is the very definition of old school hardcore gaming.

Not to mention the huge rise of indie developers and small publishers such as Paradox, Mojang, Crate, 2D Boy, ACE Team, Amanita Design, Basilisk Games, Dark Water Studios, Dejobaan Games, Double Fine Productions, Edmund McMillen, Introversion Software, Level-5 and Twisted Pixel who have received overwhelming support from the evil, ignorant and closed minded hardcore crowd.

Hmm food for thought, I was expecting a lot more rapid flaming war responses rather that walls of heated intellectual responses though. A good sign for us at least.

I think the key point here is that we shouldn't be as resistant to this new crowd as we are now, but we should also welcome the money and impulsiveness of this new demographic.

Though I see the wording and tone of this article gradually attracting more and more trolls and flamers, it brings up some interesting points.

Dastardly:

Jim Sterling:
You Wish You Were Casual

As much as hardcore gamers may sneer at casual players, one has to remember a rather stark and unpleasant fact - in more than one way, they're better than you.

Read Full Article

A scathing rebuke, but not inaccurate.

The key take-away here is that developers aren't taking risks because their target audience won't take risks. And as a result? Developers that want to take risks are in fact abandoning the "hardcore" gamer. They're going somewhere that risks are allowed or welcome, while the "hardcore" folks have to continue eating from the same dirty trough as always.

I apologize for barging in, but what kind of "risks" are we talking about here? Because all I can see in the examples that Jim posted are mediocre games but with a twist!, a twist that the developers seriously expect millions of people to pay 60$ for.

Please explain to me, why should games like Majin and Enslaved have been embraced by the "hardcore" gamers? Majin is cute but full of problems and seriously lacks variety, so it gets boring fast. That was a rental for me. I actually bought Enslaved though, because I read that Alex Garland was involved in it, and The Beach is one of my favorite books, so it was an automatic buy for me. What did I get? A visually stunning post apocalyptic theme, definitely. Other than that though? Horrible "on rails" platforming, a 2-button combat system, bad controls, a motion sickness inducing camera, a horrendous "experience" system that has you fumbling through corners and getting stuck in the world geometry instead of, say, rewarding you through combat, and a mass of technical issues, both with graphics and sound. Also, bad dialogue. Seriously??? Indeed. I did not expect that. "Why is Pyramid doing this to us, Monkey? Whyyyyy???? What do they waaaaaaaaant??? Tell me Monkeyyyyyyyyyyyy" Oh my God, shut the fuck up!

In my opinion, "hardcore" gamers are a very unforgiving audience. Yes, if your game is mediocre, you are taking a risk. It probably won't sell, because a "hardcore" gamer does his/her homework before buying something. If you want to innovate, first you need to make sure that your foundations are solid, that you have a game that is fun to play, has some depth, does not get boring instantly and is technically rather polished. If it's a really good game, you might even get away with it being unpolished for a while. But that's it. You don't serve a "hardcore" gamer trash and expect it to make billions. You don't serve them Farmville, a game that has been in Beta for, what, 3 years, and expect them to keep playing it. You don't serve them fitness and dance games that are designed to play for 30 minutes in between making dinner and putting the baby to sleep, because as an audience they actually invest a big portion of their time and attention in their hobby and expect that investment to have some returns, such as deep gameplay or an involving story. If you don't have the publisher support or talent to compete in that field, then maybe you are better off making broken flash games and channeling all your resources into signing a Facebook or Wii deal. The massive mom-and-granny audience is right there for you, ready, like magpies, to be impressed by anything even slightly shiny and devour it without second thought.

The question is, if the "hardcore" games are such a difficult and niche audience, then why are games still being developed for them? I'd answer, for the same reason why fancy restaurants still exist alongside McDonald's: Because, as unbelievable as that might sound, some people actually take pride in their work and are fulfilled by satisfying a hard audience. Because, apparently, there are people who would rather work for Team Ico or 2k Games and barely break even, than work for Zynga. Shocking, I know.

Carnagath:
I apologize for barging in, but what kind of "risks" are we talking about here? Because all I can see in the examples that Jim posted are mediocre games but with a twist!, a twist that the developers seriously expect millions of people to pay 60$ for.

I think what's happened here is a few of the examples for separate points got mixed up. Let me see if I can help on that (though I don't want to speak for the author):

The kind of risks I'm thinking, as I read, aren't just gameplay risks. Free-to-play games offering premium content, that's still a pretty new gig. And the reason games like Farmville are so casual-oriented is because that's a better place to try out a pricing model that is new and unfamiliar. They're doing the same thing with many MMOs, but those tend to likewise be on the fringes.

But also, casual games try little things like new control schemes or puzzle types. A lot of the best examples of motion control gameplay are in casual games making better use of the motion options available. I've been to many parties in which the central activity was Wario Ware.

Please explain to me, why should games like Majin and Enslaved have been embraced by the "hardcore" gamers?

The reason he brought up games like Enslaved was to prove the point that far more people bought the new COD than bought games like Enslaved. The point wasn't that Enslaved is the best game ever. It's just that the "core gamer" audience is more willing to shell out money for sequels than to even try a new IP. You tried it and didn't like it, which is bound to happen, but you're still in a minority. Most folks wouldn't even give it the time of day because it's not a same-old safe bet.

In my opinion, "hardcore" gamers are a very unforgiving audience.

They absolutely are. So much so that many won't even "forgive" you without first giving you a chance to do something that makes them mad. Seriously. They're just less likely to try something new. They're the "grumpy old men" of the gaming world--they know what they like, and they like what they know.

But that's beside the point. The author doesn't appear to be saying hardcore gamers should be playing any of these games. That's not the intent. He's illustrating the point that hardcore gamers are less likely to try new things, and so that's why more of this casual-friendly "crap" is being made. Because at least in that market, they can try something new.

Making games is a gamble. You spend money to make it, and you hope to make that money back. If your audience isn't willing to try something new in large enough numbers to justify the cost, you find a new audience. (Also note that the author isn't defending the price tag of games. Personally, I think that's the other side of getting people to be more open to experimentation is lowering the price, which games like Farmville do, like 'em or hate 'em).

Shock! Sensationalism! Its, its glorious.

I actually thought this was interesting. See, from an intelligence point of view they're not better than your average hardcore gamer. The hardcore gamer will be smart where they put their money because they're up to date with information.

However, from a business point of view, the casual market is better. You certainly won't get blasted nearly as hard for trying to streamline the experience even if the outcome is fun. *COUGH* DRAGON AGE 2 *COUGH*.

I'm surprised to see a "flamebait" article on the escapist. If you attack someone of course they will get defensive. Whether you give reasons or not insulting someone is against forum rules, and yet they allow an article to do the same. I just feel that the point could have been made in a less inflammatory manner.

Also, the irony here made me chuckle,

"Here is where our accusatory claims that casual gamers are "dumb" really fall apart, because - quite frankly - a Farmville player is enjoying him or herself in a far smarter than way than you."

I think your dancing around the point. The bottom line is about money, the bottom line is that the casual market is full of undemanding people who will buy easily developed and low quality products. There is more money to be made from that group than from serious gamers who are a lot more demanding. It's not a matter of serious gamers not being a profitable audience, just that they are not AS profitable.

As far as the idea of casual games being cheap to play, that's not really the case. Most of them are designed to be easy to play and get somewhere with to begin with, however investing real money becomes a nessecity if you want to play for the long term, especially seeing as almost all of these games involve some competitive aspects. If you don't want to be someone else's farm in a lot of them, you have to pay real money to be competitive. Likewise the timers get so long that if you actually want to play, as opposed to pushing a button once every 48 hours you need to pay money, almost to the point of paying every turn in some cases.

What's more, these games are designed to be very deceptive in getting people to sell money. We've had cases where children have spent thousands of dollars in real money without realizing it. Not to mention plenty of people who have misclicked and wasted paid points or whatever, or charged points to a card on file for something else. The menus are interntionally designed for this. You'll also notice that in games like "Mafia Wars" that
the cost of various items also varies based on what menu you buy them from. Buying extra mobsters for your organization for example might get you a few more or less for the same price depending on where you are in the game and decide to buy them with real money.
Sometime stop and think about the motivation involved in that kind of design along with everything else.

Oh don't get me wrong, serious gamers get slammed plenty with the DLC as wel, there is plenty of it. On the other hand I think one of the big differances is that serious gamers are typically aware of how much they are spending, I honestly think a lot of casual gamers don't realize it until they get the bill, or if they do, don't really consider how much money they are actually paying over a period of time. I've known more than a few casual gamers who think they are being "savvy" by "only" buying a single $20 gift card for say Farmville every month. Now consider the quality of that game, and the fact that they are paying more money for that than a serious MMO, and paying tons more money than they would for those $60.00 games. It's pretty telling when you see almost all department stores carrying cards for this kind of thing.

It's all about greater money coming from a bigger herd of even more easily exploited sheep. The reason why serious gamers are so opposed to casual gamers is not because of some wierd sense of principle, but because so many developers are aiming at that market for the bigger money, and trying to adapt what "serious" games they develop for a more casual demographic. This means that the serious gamers wind up not getting the games they want. If it was a situation where parallel development was happening and we actually had a lot of series games out there devoid of casual influance, alongside the ones aimed at a casual crowd, I don't think you'd see the kind of animosity that exists right now.

I don't begrudge the industry making money, 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. 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.

Dastardly:

Carnagath:
I apologize for barging in, but what kind of "risks" are we talking about here? Because all I can see in the examples that Jim posted are mediocre games but with a twist!, a twist that the developers seriously expect millions of people to pay 60$ for.

I think what's happened here is a few of the examples for separate points got mixed up. Let me see if I can help on that (though I don't want to speak for the author):

The kind of risks I'm thinking, as I read, aren't just gameplay risks. Free-to-play games offering premium content, that's still a pretty new gig. And the reason games like Farmville are so casual-oriented is because that's a better place to try out a pricing model that is new and unfamiliar. They're doing the same thing with many MMOs, but those tend to likewise be on the fringes.

I would disagree with you here, free-to-play browser games with premium content have been around long before Farmville, Zynga or Facebook and have been played to death by many hardcore gamers, because, as opposed to Farmville, they actually had some depth to them or were competitive in some capacity, and we all know how much we "hardcore gamers" love competing online over anything.

But also, casual games try little things like new control schemes or puzzle types. A lot of the best examples of motion control gameplay are in casual games making better use of the motion options available. I've been to many parties in which the central activity was Wario Ware.

Again, hardcore gamers have embraced different control schemes as long as they are tied to a solid game and are not themselves the selling point. I would dare pull a number out of my ass and claim that 90% of hardcore gamers out there love SSBB or SMG. Now, Wii Fit and Kinectimals? Yeah, not so much. You get my point.

They absolutely are. So much so that many won't even "forgive" you without first giving you a chance to do something that makes them mad. Seriously. They're just less likely to try something new. They're the "grumpy old men" of the gaming world--they know what they like, and they like what they know.

In my opinion, that's only half-true. Yes, some fresh ideas were inexplicably ignored, but there are so many that were fully embraced, and I don't think there is anyone who can claim that they can feel the hardcore market's pulse well enough to explain why. Good indy games usually do very well, and it's the hardcore audience that keeps them going. Not only games like Limbo or Braid, but even games with a "casual-like" concept, like Costume Quest, were primarily embraced by the hardcore and not the casual players. As for experimental "major dev" projects, like Portal or Demon's Souls... well, we all know how well Portal did, and as for Demon's Souls, it did well enough to justify working on a spiritual successor:


That works for me.

But that's beside the point. The author doesn't appear to be saying hardcore gamers should be playing any of these games. That's not the intent. He's illustrating the point that hardcore gamers are less likely to try new things, and so that's why more of this casual-friendly "crap" is being made. Because at least in that market, they can try something new.

Wait, are you saying that developers like Zynga are in it for the thrill of artistic freedom? I'm not even going to comment on that, because...oh my God.

RedEyesBlackGamer:

Onyx Oblivion:
I wish I wasn't so fucking jaded with this industry...I can hardly get excited for any game these days, for fear of disappointment. I remember when I was a young boy, and knew nothing of the industry. I bought games based on the box art and back-of-the-box descriptions, and rarely felt any tinge of disappointment. Every game I had brought me joy. I didn't read dozens of reviews on the internet (or in magazines), look up gameplay videos, and ask people on the forums about games. The most I ever did was play the occasional demo disc from my old "Playstation Underground" subscription. And even then, I didn't play every demo. Just the ones that appealed to me via their little description boxes.

I used to enjoy games that were really quite shit when I look back at them.

I hate being so fucking jaded.

Same here. I would play demos over and over again. I miss my low standards and innocence, something that casual players have.

Fuckin' JRPGs bros. I mean, I used to play them too but I can hardly anymore stand games where most of the combat is so inconsequential.

I think what it takes to level up your taste is to get up and go play a competetive game in a real high level setting. Go to a tournament. FPS, RTS, STG, FG, TBS or whatever your into. Even if you suck just play that shit.

I guess what I'm saying is that there's a higher level that makes discarding the time you spend with the subpar for a deeper commitment to what really drives you, worth it. I just don't think it's a high level of taste that can be reached by becoming increasingly picky about anime simulators.

This man speaks the sad sad truth. Still, doesn't change how I feel about the "casual" gaming audience.

What I'm seeing here is the argument that the article is wrong because the hardcore gamers are "more informed". Unfortunately the details of the this information are a bit skewed, and what the hardcore gamers do with this information is also a point of contention. Being "informed" as I understand what most commentators are referring to is the knowledge of reviews, which games are made by who, new releases on the horizon, etc. And, while it grants a boon of being able to pick games geared more towards your taste, the downside is the risk of becoming a developer fanboy or refusing to explore outside your tastes. I recently saw one comment in the Blizzard v. Bioware thread that said "Go Bioware. You can do no wrong." What are the odds that that person buys whatever Bioware puts out and practically nothing else? Not to mention, if the hardcore gamers are more "informed" as to what titles are better and what aren't then why were Psychonauts, Okama, and countless other gems virtually ignored? Let's face it, being knowledgeable of review scores and what developers are good for what genres isn't used to make one smarter with their money or to support only the best, it's used for what we all use information for: justification on something we already decided we were going to hate or love before it came out.

Therumancer:
I think your dancing around the point. The bottom line is about money, the bottom line is that the casual market is full of undemanding people who will buy easily developed and low quality products.

Presenting a subjective opinion as an objective fact.

There is more money to be made from that group than from serious gamers who are a lot more demanding. It's not a matter of serious gamers not being a profitable audience, just that they are not AS profitable.

As far as the idea of casual games being cheap to play, that's not really the case.

Funny, I still haven't spent a cent on Echo Bazaar.

Most of them are designed to be easy to play and get somewhere with to begin with, however investing real money becomes a nessecity if you want to play for the long term, especially seeing as almost all of these games involve some competitive aspects. If you don't want to be someone else's farm in a lot of them, you have to pay real money to be competitive.

And if you don't want to, you don't pay.

Likewise the timers get so long that if you actually want to play, as opposed to pushing a button once every 48 hours you need to pay money, almost to the point of paying every turn in some cases.

What's more, these games are designed to be very deceptive in getting people to sell money. We've had cases where children have spent thousands of dollars in real money without realizing it.

Which says more, I think, about the parenting than the game.

Not to mention plenty of people who have misclicked and wasted paid points or whatever, or charged points to a card on file for something else.

Amazon has a 1-Click service. Are they being "deceptive" too?

The menus are interntionally designed for this. You'll also notice that in games like "Mafia Wars" that the cost of various items also varies based on what menu you buy them from. Buying extra mobsters for your organization for example might get you a few more or less for the same price depending on where you are in the game and decide to buy them with real money.

Yes, and?

Sometime stop and think about the motivation involved in that kind of design along with everything else.

I'm not seeing your point here.

Oh don't get me wrong, serious gamers get slammed plenty with the DLC as wel, there is plenty of it.

I note that you seem to be rather eager to remove any responsibility from gamers of both stripes. DLC is entirely voluntary, and if Facebook games are as deceptive and nefarious as you claim, someone should call some sort of governmental oversight agency.

On the other hand I think one of the big differances is that serious gamers are typically aware of how much they are spending, I honestly think a lot of casual gamers don't realize it until they get the bill, or if they do, don't really consider how much money they are actually paying over a period of time. I've known more than a few casual gamers who think they are being "savvy" by "only" buying a single $20 gift card for say Farmville every month. Now consider the quality of that game, and the fact that they are paying more money for that than a serious MMO, and paying tons more money than they would for those $60.00 games. It's pretty telling when you see almost all department stores carrying cards for this kind of thing.

That's sales psychology. In the case where the gamer doesn't have responsibility--not entirely, at least--you rush to blame them for it.

It's all about greater money coming from a bigger herd of even more easily exploited sheep.

In addition to the "poor quality" remark, that's the second time you've insulted casual gamers.

The reason why serious gamers are so opposed to casual gamers is not because of some wierd sense of principle, but because so many developers are aiming at that market for the bigger money, and trying to adapt what "serious" games they develop for a more casual demographic. This means that the serious gamers wind up not getting the games they want.

Entitlist mentality. Got it.

If it was a situation where parallel development was happening and we actually had a lot of series games out there devoid of casual influance, alongside the ones aimed at a casual crowd, I don't think you'd see the kind of animosity that exists right now.

Why the binary? Why can't a game appeal to both?

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.

Being better at bad games is not being "better". Then again its a much larger demo graphic and easier to feed crap to so the pubs just LOVE them.

/mechanic nazi
/curmudgeon

So, because I buy games based on my interests and reviews instead of blindly wasting money makes me a worse gamer? I feel like this article is insulting me for being careful with my money. I dunno about everyone else, but if I have the cash, I look into any interesting I might find sitting on the store shelf and later I buy it and enjoy it.

What a load of bullshit. "Casual gaming" (and especially "social" gaming) is as "healthy" for the industry as pyramid schemes are for the general economy, because that's exactly what it is... a pyramid scheme using both the time of the player and spam to their contact list to further their own interest. I agree as far as "mainstream shooters" being far too popular but there is a large enough demographic trying "new things". Games like Minecraft, Little Big Planet, The Ball, Braid, Audiosurf, Psychonauts, Chime, World of Goo, Magicka, Osmos, Plants Vs. Zombies, Peggle, Puzzle Dimension, Reccetear, VVVVVV and the likes... those are true "games" that try to inspire by using new ideas while keeping high quality content for the right price. Most of the "games" that your "casual gaming" demographic are playing are just endless slot and time machines that are designed from the ground up for keeping people (and getting them to involve their peers) playing as long as possible, not for the fun of the experience. Games like Portal, Magicka and a lot of CoOp and Online games are inherently a lot more "social" than those being labeled as such.

Most of them also have a low point of entry or are free to start with and rather make their money using psychological tricks and micropayments. Your typical "casual gamer" often also doesn't have that much interest on expanding on his/her "gaming habits" over those 2-3 titles they own or might play while your "bad hardcore gamers" have Steam accounts with 200+ games on them and over 2000$+ spent varying in both content and gameplay. There are also enough "core games" that have no or a minimal entry fee and you can pay if you like it or want minor visual updates like League of Legends while being mindful of having a fun gaming experience.

What you're trying to argue here is that your typical TV talkshow watcher and tabloid reader is somehow "better" because they don't care about the quality of the content they are fed or the factual accuracy while spending their money and time day in day out on those, which imo is insane.

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.

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