The gaming news source Gamesindustry.biz has recently interviewed THQ CEO Brian Farrell about his predictions on the shape and scale of the existing and impending gaming market.
THQ is a major international publisher of games on all platforms. Its recent successes include Supreme Commander, the Dawn of War series and Saints Row.
Farrell drew a distinction between a fragmented and segmented gaming market:
"I don't mean to over-simplify this, but in the past a lot of publishers - including us - would say, 'Okay, let's make a game and get it across every system.' That's not our strategy going forward; there are going to be different gamers for the different systems. So our strategy is different types of content, segmented on who the users of the systems are."
In his view, there is a clear bifurcation in the gaming market along price lines:
"We're seeing very robust PS2 and Wii markets that are sitting right next to 360 and PS3. What does that tell us? That there are a lot of casual gamers for whom $129 for a PS2 is a great value proposition. The same with Wii, $249, very new, very casual. Handhelds - DS probably goes from the ages of 6 to 16, and the PSP's provided a new market of 16 or above."
It's not novel to claim the market can sustain two distinct tiers of gamers, separated by cost considerations, age and frequency of gameplay. But if such a division crystallizes along the lines of the platforms themselves, publishers' strategies may undergo marked revisions in coming years.