The rise of casual gaming hasn't had a negative impact on the sales of traditional game consoles, according to industry analyst Doug Creutz, who said that Sony and Microsoft have nobody to blame for the "slow uptake" of the current hardware generation but themselves.
It's safe to say that most of us here are at least on the fringe of the so-called "core gamer" demographic; that is, we put a lot of time, money and effort into our videogames, and we take pride in our knowledge of and skill with the medium. But in recent years we've been told that our kingdom is in danger of being usurped by an insidious and unstoppable force: Your mom.
Or, to be a little more precise, the casual gamer demographic, those great hordes of housewives and grandparents who like to fire up Zuma or Farmville now and then, or the office drones who whip out their iPhones during the morning commute. These are the people, it was predicted, who would push us into irrelevance, as big-budget titles aimed at traditional markets gave way to quick-and-cheap releases with infinitely more mainstream appeal. But that may not be the case at all, according to Cowen and Company analyst Doug Creutz, who said that the casual gaming market is a unique beast that's had no real impact on the sale of core consoles.
"We reject the notion that competition from non-traditional video gaming formats such as the iPhone and social gaming have significantly impacted the traditional console cycle," Creutz said in a research note. "We believe that these newer gaming media represent a distinct and non-competitive market segment from console gaming, which is dominated by the core gamer."
"We believe that the difficulties of this cycle have primarily been driven by the relatively slow uptake of Microsoft and Sony hardware due to stubbornly high hardware pricing," he added.
Creutz said that while casual gamers drove much of the industry's growth in 2007 and 2008, they "backed away" from their games in 2009. Core game sales, on the other hand, remained strong throughout the year and Creutz predicted that publishers who have remained focused on that market will benefit from it in 2010. "With Xbox 360 and especially PS3 prices now entering the mass market range, we believe that the cycle will reaccelerate to the benefit of the publishers that are positioned to take advantage," he said.