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Businesses The Almighty Buck Entertainment Games

Hardcore Gamers on the Decline? 143

Posted by Zonk
from the coring-out-the-hardcore dept.
Ars Technica's Opposable Thumbs blog takes a look at the numbers for last year, and makes an interesting observation: hardcore gamers are probably not the future. Specifically, last year's videogame sales numbers show a huge trend in the adoption of mass-market licensed games. We've also previously discussed the extreme popularity of casual games. Despite Gears of War selling around the same amount as Cars (both around 2 million units), the cost in time and money to create Gears was substantially greater than the cost to create the Pixar-licensed title. The result? "As growth continues, we're bound to see some substantial changes. As it stands, hardcore gamers are still a pivotal purchasing force in the games market: most of the top ten titles were what I would consider "hardcore" games. However, the trend away from the hardcore and towards the casual is becoming increasingly more predominant. We've talked quite a bit lately about the growing demand and response for casual games, and when coupled with the shocking sales of licensed products, I'm left wondering whether or not the number of hardcore gamers is dwindling."
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Hardcore Gamers on the Decline?

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  • maybe... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 14CharUsername (972311) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @01:35PM (#18000466)
    the number of casual gamers is rising faster than the number of hardcore gamers? Maybe there will be more licensed crap but still be the same amount of quality original games made?
  • cash cow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by the dark hero (971268) <adriatic_heroNO@SPAMhotmail.com> on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @01:40PM (#18000562) Homepage
    Despite Gears of War selling around the same amount as Cars (both around 2 million units), the cost in time and money to create Gears was substantially greater than the cost to create the Pixar-licensed title.

    But is Cars really that great of a game? It sold 2 million because it was a popular movie and the game's sole purpose was to rake in more cash. In a year is Cars going to continue to sell as many units as Gears? Moreover, in many years are people going to care about Cars or will they remember how awesome Gears was and how they can't wait for part 2 to release?

  • Duh, (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kabocox (199019) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @01:52PM (#18000750)
    Reduced costs from the Pixar end. I would think that even if Pixar didn't write the game, whatever properly licensed publisher couuld try to obtain the computer models straight from Pixar for use in the game. This means that one guy copies/pastes/scalee from Pixar into the game companies format. If a game company did its own IP from ground up, of course they'd have more work to do.

    Actually, when I think of casual games I think of the games that my wife plays: JewelQuest, solitare, and mine sweeper. I wouldn't class a "Pixar Cars" game as a casual game. It may be a kid game, but it that still doesn't mean that it can't be difficult for the casual adult gamer. (Heck, I played one of my kids Sponge Bob's game to try to get them past a level to the next save stop and I was surprised that it was hard. It had limitless lives, but the task (racing course) was difficult for even me, which startled me.) I like that "hard-core" gamers will always be around. They will be those that instead of buying 5 games for family/friends during Christams or combined through out the year, will buy 5 games every few weeks. They will always have publishers that target them. They'll always rail against the mainstream for purchasing games like JewelQuest, Dr. Mario, or Tetris as being cheap to develop and raking in far more money than they should. I wonder how many "hard core" gamers have disappeared into WOW or similiar games.
  • Re:cash cow (Score:4, Insightful)

    by chill (34294) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @01:53PM (#18000768) Journal
    But is Cars really that great of a game? It sold 2 million because it was a popular movie and the game's sole purpose was to rake in more cash.

    From a business/investment perspective, that is all that matters.

    Moreover, in many years are people going to care about Cars or will they remember how awesome Gears was and how they can't wait for part 2 to release?

    That depends directly on the success of Cars 2, the movie. If it is a big winner, the game most likely will be as well.

    In a year is Cars going to continue to sell as many units as Gears?

    In a year, the investors will have moved on to the next mass market title. While the developers may care about milking every last sale, the investors know that the vast bulk of the return was made within the first 6-months or so. Their business plan doesn't take into account residual sales over years to come.
  • No.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Nemetroid (883968) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @01:56PM (#18000818)
    ... I'm alive and healthy!
    Compare this to the music market - even though it is tremendously bigger than the games', they are common in some senses.
    Although most of the music being sold is mass produced crap, there still is good music to be found. I believe the same will be true for games.
  • Define your terms (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sesshomaru (173381) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @02:29PM (#18001356) Journal
    Well, here's my problem, what is a hardcore gamer?

    I've heard the difference between hardcore gamer and softcore gamer described thusly, "Hardcore gamers buy a lot of video games during the life of a console, whereas non-hardcore gamers buy only a few popular titles."

    I've also heard this, "Hardcore gamers are the ones who line up for consoles and pre-order games, wheras non-hardcore will wait until they are cheap and readily available."

    But wait, I've also heard, "Hardcore gamers like traditional games (RTS, RPG, FPS, etc.) while non-hardcore like non-traditional (Brain Training, Nintendogs, Wii Sports)."

    Well, which one is it? Is it all three? How does this impact Cars versus Gears?

  • Re:maybe... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 14CharUsername (972311) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @02:32PM (#18001438)
    If there is money there someone will step up. Yeah a making a game base off a movie will sell 2M copies, but how much did you have to pay for the license? And look at how much the Warcraft trademark is worth now, and that came from a strategy game which is a niche market.

    Game companies would be stupid not to make niche games. Just like how hollywood makes artsy films. Sometimes they lose money, but sometimes you can create an entire francise out of it.
  • by matthewcharles2006 (960827) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @02:46PM (#18001628)
    First of all, Gears sold THREE million by Jan. 19th [wikipedia.org]. Second, Gears was an early, exclusive game on a new system with a user install base between 7-10 million, whereas Cars came out on every platform under the sun, probably including cell phones. Third, an increase in 'softcore' gamers does not mean a decline in 'hardcore' gamers. Considering the 360's install base, Gears is a phenomenal success.
  • by Kelbear (870538) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @02:56PM (#18001832)
    Indeed, though I believe the term "Hardcore gamer" is a concern for consumers to bat around in their debates, not the companies. Since it's their livelihood, I'm sure they would be viewing the market with better detail that just hardcore/not-hardcore(softcore? o.O )

    And Gears of War is quite casual. Very short, but fun singleplayer, and quick multiplayer games set on small compact maps with immediate action and fast map turnover. Very little time and effort needs to be invested to enjoy this game. Casual and Hardcore have veered off quite a bit in how they're used, now meaning non-violent vs. violent, which is a different concern.

    Namely, violent vs. non-violent is a parental concern. Gamers don't care. Gamers don't care much for violence in videogames, they see points and progress towards a goal. Violence offers a few minutes of giggles when just starting out, but this is soon forgotten when the gamer goes on to actually play the game.

    You didn't blow a human beings brains out all over the wall, you just scored a point. We're not grieving for virtual families, we're competing in a game. Playing the game brings the vast majority of the pleasure, not the virtual bloodshed.

    The violence is just an easily understood setting for competitive play, because a post-apocalyptic game of lasertag or nerf is far far harder to suspend your imagination for than a war. Thus, the violent or non-violent aspect of casual vs. hardcore ought to be dropped in favor of depth and duration of play arguments.
  • Re:Answer (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Andy Dodd (701) <atd7&cornell,edu> on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @03:46PM (#18002716) Homepage
    s/WoW/other MMOG/ and you've taken huge chunks out of the pool.

    If not for DAoC and EVE, I would've been tempted to buy the following:

    Half-Life 2
    Battlefield 1942/BF2
    Joint Operations
    A few others - Oblivion looks pretty cool.

    Other than MMOGs, the only games I've bought in the past 4-5 years were iD Software products, and that was a mixture of desire for the product itself (they make good games) and desire to support a company that actively supported Linux gaming. (Yes, a MAJOR factor in purchasing Quake 4 and Doom 3 was that they had native Linux ports.)
  • by twistedsymphony (956982) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @04:33PM (#18003512) Homepage
    I think the point the GP was trying to make (and I agree with) is that contrary to what the article is claiming "hardcore" shouldn't be based on the types of games being purchased. IMO "hardcore" describes the amount of time someone sets aside out of the rest of their life to game.

    If you only ever play Happy Feet, Cars, Open Season, and countless other cheap poorly rated franchised games but you play them every waking moment, I'd say that you're a hardcore gamer.

    A casual gamer doesn't pre-order games, I'm sorry, casual implies that they were walking by the store and saw a cardboard cut out that drew them in, or played the Guitar Hero kiosk and decided it might be fun for their next party. The kind of person that maybe plays a game among friends every other week or so. The kind of person who would pre-order a game, particularly something that is far below AAA status, the kind of person who would wait in line for hours to play WiiSports and Zelda, these are not casual gamers, these are hardcore gamers.

    Lets change the context... would you consider someone any less an alcoholic if all they drank was cheap mass produced beer? Uncultured maybe, but certainly not any less "hardcore". By the same measure if someone drank every night after work would you consider them a "casual" drinker? Would you consider someone who waited outside the liquor store before they opened a "casual" drinker?

    I find this particularly ironic considering I just wrote an article citing reasons why the market is becoming MORE Hardcore [thoughthead.com].

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