Careful What You Wish For

Careful What You Wish For

Gaming has finally been embraced by the masses, leaving Sean Sands concerned that the long-time faithful, the hardcore gamers, are slowly being edged out of the picture.

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Interesting read to say the least.

One of the things that makes games like Guitar Hero overshadow the release of a more hardcore game like Halo is that it contains almost everything for everyone. The casual gamer can play on the lower difficulty settings and enjoy strumming their plastic guitar just as much as the hardcore gamer who's playing on expert because they're both playing the same song.

It also has the wonderful little aspect of the game that allows you to play for three to five minutes and still acoomplish something. The Halo and Gears of War franchises seldomly if at all offer this. With the ability to be on the loading screen and starting to play within 15 seconds opens up a whole new window of opportunity. I've found myself trying to "Sneak in one more song before we head out to the club" just because I can and its fun.

Not only that but these casual games also have started including achievements (the new trendy hype of videogames, incase anyone had missed it (WoW in WOTLK, Xbox Live, TF2, Etc, etc)) which provides something for the hardcore gamers to strive for. Lets face it, beating Through the Fire and Flames on expert isn't something your run of the mill gamer is going to do. That requires dedication.

So long story short: If a game can appeal to an audience that spans ages (old enough to put the square block in the square hole) to (old enough that they use the same test to test your mental capacity) it's bound to sell more copies of a game. However if those types of games that appeal to the hardcore market suddenly drop off the face of the earth, don't fret! I won't let a market as big as that go un-tapped for long.

There will always be people with time and those with none/very little.

Therefore you will have Hardcore Gamers and Casual Gamers respectively.

I wondered about who's included in that 65% myself.

However, I think you're too much value to that 38% of American households own a console number and, it's households, not gamers (as you say in the last paragraph). According to the ESA numbers, it's 65% of households play videogames, so that 38% of households who own a console is actually ~58% of the gaming community (38/65). So, still a majority.

Besides the statistical inflation you've given to that number, you've also inflated it's importance. You're saying [console ownership == hardcore], but then again, we've got the introduction of the Wii, the casual gaming console of the now. I don't think the retirement homes qualify as hardcore, despite owning a Wii. So [Wii ownership != hardcore]. Also, (when you were still assuming that the 38% console ownership was of gamers, not households) you mentioned a platform to target that remaining 62% (actually 42%). The 42% of gamers who don't own a console, own a PC. That's the platform. And there are quite a few hardcore PC gamers. And they might give a care about Halo and God of War. Or, their PC ports, in any event.

Ultimately, I don't think you can draw any conclusions about hardcore gaming's future drawing power from the ESA studies. Not the way you've gone about it. The data does indicate that IF the ESA numbers are including "Peggle" fans and other casual gamers, then, despite that, PCs (which when combined with the Internet makes such gaming far more accessible) are still only a plurality of gamers (when we break down the 58% of gamers w/ consoles among Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo), not a majority. I'd actually suggest that's pretty cheering for Console gamers, because it means that people who focus on an exclusively console game (across all three platforms, though) have a larger market than an exclusively PC game.

Well put Hobbes, but you still have to admit that the market is growing very fast and thatīs not because of the hardcore gamer. If those numbers increase like they did in the last couple of years, us real gamers wonīt be the main market for videogames.

But maybe youīre right and weīre worrying about nothing. GTA IV is the best selling game so far and itīs defenitely not a game for casual gamers.

Oh, no doubt. But Hardcore isn't about growth. It's in the name: hard-"core." You think the housewives playing Popcap are going to get on forums and bitch and moan about how "Zuma Deluxe 2" is crap compared to Zuma Deluxe 1? No. The central core of gaming drives the market because they're motivated to respond with actual feedback a developer can use. People can go, "oh well, the everyday gamer responds with his wallet," but what does that say to a developer? "People like puzzle games." Not "People like puzzle games where things explode" or "People like puzzle games where there's a plot" or anything that facilitates developing better games. To get that, you have to get hardcore.

Nothing in the ESA data (as presented in this article, I'm sure they crunched some numbers on people who regularly play videogames) describes hardcore growth, anyways. For all I know, hardcore growth may be proportional to industry growth.

Now you know how we 4X and strategy gamers felt when "hardcore" gamers took over the game stores :-D

HobbesMkii:
Oh, no doubt. But Hardcore isn't about growth. It's in the name: hard-"core." You think the housewives playing Popcap are going to get on forums and bitch and moan about how "Zuma Deluxe 2" is crap compared to Zuma Deluxe 1?

Puzz Loop 4ever.

Mm... so core.

Nothing in the ESA data (as presented in this article, I'm sure they crunched some numbers on people who regularly play videogames) describes hardcore growth, anyways. For all I know, hardcore growth may be proportional to industry growth.

Well, obviously the Wii generation has diluted numbers. The hardcore segments logically grows, but not as fast as the other one. You know, that one, where you don't need to be a household who owns a console as long as you can stand in front of your neighbour's TV and shake some white dildo.

I have to completely disagree with the need for concern. In fact, I say gaming will be better off with widespread popularity. If you look to other entertainment mediums, you'll see a richly diverse library of quality offerings. Sure, you'll always have the "Britney Spears" of each medium, but there's just not enough diversity in the hardcore customer base to make truly artistic endeavors pay off (unless your idea of quality lies in adolescent power-fantasies). Music CDs, DVDs, and books don't suffer from having large customer bases, but video games will?

The medium will suffer initially as everyone tries to cash in on the newfound market ("Britney Spears"), but as it adjusts to its popularity, the gaming industry will offer more diverse quality than it ever would have. Then again, I was blown away by Hotel Dusk... so maybe I'm not hardcore enough to be rightly concerned.

The people we despised and mocked us for playing games are now playing games.

They are still not one of us, and will never be.

Women gamers, and the frat bastards who play halo are not gamers, and will never be gamers.
_________________
Aside :

Women gamers : women who only play games aimed at women, such as pet care, sims, and animal crossing types based solely on social interactivty.

Frat bastards : will only play action or multiplayer games, while drunk, and before going to a party. Doesn't care about any other type of game.

______________________

but then you ask, "Jackpot, who is a gamer, you tight faced prick?"

Gamer : someone who enjoys interactive programs, with or without a story attached to them, and derives pleasure from them the same way children derive pleasure from toys.

The hardcore will always have a greater impact on the industry than their numbers would indicate purely through their buying power, I think. The average lifetime attach rate for the PS2 is 8-9 games, IIRC. From a quick survey recently on a gaming blog recently hardcore gamers often have 30+ games per console and own 2-3 consoles. That's a pretty large gap.

Aihal:
The hardcore will always have a greater impact on the industry than their numbers would indicate purely through their buying power, I think. The average lifetime attach rate for the PS2 is 8-9 games, IIRC. From a quick survey recently on a gaming blog recently hardcore gamers often have 30+ games per console and own 2-3 consoles. That's a pretty large gap.

But currently, there are sufficient numbers of normal people to outnumber the hardcore, so that they together own more games.

EG : one guy may buy 30 games by himself, but 7 light gamers can buy 5 games each, and have more games.

65 percent of American households play computer and videogames;
38 percent of American homes have a video game console;
The average game player is 35 years old;
One out of four gamers is over age 50;
Women age 18 or older represent a significantly greater portion of the game-playing population (33 percent) than boys age 17 or younger (18 percent); and,
41 percent of Americans expect to purchase one or more games this year

The fudge?

First two, I can surely believe, but "The average game player is 35 years old" struck me as odd. How could this be? Then I thought about it, and hundreds of thousands, if not millions of elderly play what we could consider 'Video Games,' i.e. Wii Fit, Wii Sports and the like.
Next, "Women age 18..." I'm not going to rewrite it, just look up a couple sentences. I find that hard to believe. In fact, call me sexist (it doesn't technically apply, since I'm looking at it from a statistical standpoint, but I'm sure it's coming), but I didn't believe women made up a third of the gaming community. And that's a bunch of bullmullarke(wasn't sure they had that word in the dictionary). I would think under 17 males make up a huge part of the gaming community, AT LEAST 50%. I've never heard of this "ESA" organization, but I'm going to do some researching...or at least look into it...or, aw Hell, Mets are on...
The last statistic I don't have a hard time believing, even if some might say it conflicts with the first or second statistic. Statistic statistic statistic. First off, just because you play video games doesn't necessarily mean you own a console. Secondly, it said 41% will BUY a video game, that doesn't mean 41% will PLAY a video game. It could be a gift for a relative or whathaveyou.

As a side note, I don't trust these statistics at all. I might look into them if it's convenient.

Zombie_King:

As a side note, I don't trust these statistics at all. I might look into them if it's convenient.

Indeed, surveys like that are not to be trusted. To start with, who did they ask? Was it just stopping random people in the street? Phone poll? I know I never answer those things, so I would bet there is a bias inherent in the results.

Also, I assume by average they are talking about the mean, so it's quite possible there are very few 35 year old gamers at all.

Zombie_King, I actually don't find the numbers untrustworthy. You just have to look around a little better. A good portion of the people who play wargames like Call of Duty or Medal of Honor are veterans (and not from the most recent wars). There are, of course, still the screaming 15 year olds, but a sizable chunk of players are 30+ years of age. I constantly heard reports prior to this study that the average age of gamers was 30, so it doesn't come as a shock that in a reevaluation, the avg. age of gamers has gone up 5 years.

Secondly, there are also a decent amount of women on games. Any game you look at, you could (with a bit of searching and work) find a woman playing.

HobbesMkii:
Zombie_King, I actually don't find the numbers untrustworthy. You just have to look around a little better. A good portion of the people who play wargames like Call of Duty or Medal of Honor are veterans (and not from the most recent wars). There are, of course, still the screaming 15 year olds, but a sizable chunk of players are 30+ years of age. I constantly heard reports prior to this study that the average age of gamers was 30, so it doesn't come as a shock that in a reevaluation, the avg. age of gamers has gone up 5 years.

Secondly, there are also a decent amount of women on games. Any game you look at, you could (with a bit of searching and work) find a woman playing.

Average and mean are not interchangeable here. If there are 1000 15 year old gamers, and 15 100 year olds, the average age is NOT 55, whereas the mean might be. Get what I'm saying?

Any game designer who thinks mainstream appeal = less difficulty is just uncreative and/or lazy. Take a game like the first Kingdom Hearts; fairly challenging, but because the game gave you the proper resources for fighting (ie cures not ridiculously limited, mp easily regained) it was appealing to the mainstream as well as 'hardcore' gamers, and the extra challenges were there waiting for whoever wanted them.

62% who don't care about halo is 38% not enough.

 

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