Believe it or not, the end of the world for hardcore gaming is not nigh. It’s not even quasi-nigh.
You probably knew that, but considering the flurry Nintendo has been making with its decidedly ‘casual’ line of games, one would think the world was doomed to a never-ending stream of Wii Fit, Wii Music, Wii Shopping, Wii Tax Returns, Wii Stalking, etc.
Suffice to say, it can seem a little alarming when what was previously a stream of comfortingly plot-driven, enemy-thwacking, dungeon-hopping video games suddenly seem to give way to a stream of games meant to be played for the experience, rather than the story. Though you could play through every corner of the game in less than an hour, you will nonetheless be driven to play it, over and over, for several consecutive days to try and beat the record your absurdly coordinated sibling set on his first day…
…er, or so I’ve heard.
Whatever the case, some have even theorized that this stream of casual gaming will escalate, and therefore result in companies effectively ignoring the hardcore market, and on the surface, a good argument is made; Nintendo is a business, and it struck gold with the casual market.
After all, for every gamer that will claw through the competition to get their paws on a newly released Mega-Game, like Fallout 3, Grand Theft Auto 4, etc, there are at least five or six people (i.e. their family including grandparents, aunts and uncles without gamer kids, etc,) who are definitely less enthusiastic. Typically, a gamer trying to show a non-gamer the joys of Fable 2 doesn’t end well, since it’s a little difficult to get what’s so wonderful about these games into words they would understand and relate to.
“Yeah, so you can hit him with your sword, like this!”
“ Yeah, and press THIS button, and you can shoot a fireball. Or lightning, if you hold it long enough.”
“Oooo! Did I mention what happens if you press the ‘A’ button and move the joystick forward?”
“Yes. Yes, you did. Twice.”
So, the Xbox360 and PS3 are a little ill-equipped to tap into this market. Sure, they have some innovations that would interest the casual gamer, like arcade-original Dance Dance Revolution, or Guitar Hero, but the casual gamer probably won’t hand over 300-600 dollars for the system, just to fork over another hundred dollars for the game they intend to play maybe an hour or two a week.
The Wii, on the other hand, is both much cheaper and offers a wider range of ‘Creative’ games that try to avoid the typical RPG/FPS formula and create more of an arcade mood. These games are simple and enjoyable, especially since the motion-sensitive controller will at least let you feel as if you’re doing something not entirely dependant on the strength and agility of your thumbs. If even a few of the five or six non-gamers decide that it’s a worthy entertainment investment, then Nintendo’s sales skyrocket, and…
…I forgot, I was supposed to be writing about why hardcore gaming isn’t doomed.
Basically, the flood of consumers can’t last; most of the casual market consists of adults who weren’t really drawn to console games in the past, and even the far older adults who didn’t have consoles to begin with. There are only so many of these un-tainted adults in the world, since teenagers are typically exposed to games whether they’re initially interested or not; if you’re not going to like gaming then, you probably won’t when you’ve grown up.
Furthermore, as they are by nature casual gamers, they likely won’t accumulate the sort of library of games and accessories that the hardcore faithfully purchases on a regular basis. In time, everyone currently an adult who could be interested by casual gaming will be, and without the horde of uncorrupted grown-ups, the potential casual market will shrink to a far more manageable size. Smaller market means less total profit, and the game companies would be ill-advised to shun the only group guaranteed to remain repeat customers.
Besides, with the economic recession, casual gaming might be beneficial, in the long run; a lot of companies in various fields find themselves forced to close their doors. If the revenues from casual games can keep our favorite developers afloat, then it’s a small
P.S. Yes, ‘Mario and Sonic Go To The Olympics’ was pushing it.