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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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  • by kiyoshilionz (977589) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @02:49PM (#18000718)

    Yes, I used to spend countless hours tweaking and overclocking my computer in order to get those extra FPS in CS Source and HL2. Now i just really don't care - I'm still 18, the "peak" age that everybody wants to market to, but I just lack the time or desire to pour hours on end into video games. School, life, and girls are more important to me now, and this videogaming thing has been slipping away.

    I used to play 4 hours of video games a day back when I was a "hardcore gamer", it's just not worth it anymore. Has anybody else feel their killer instinct slip away?

  • by Eudial (590661) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @02:57PM (#18000834)

    Yes, I used to spend countless hours tweaking and overclocking my computer in order to get those extra FPS in CS Source and HL2. Now i just really don't care - I'm still 18, the "peak" age that everybody wants to market to, but I just lack the time or desire to pour hours on end into video games. School, life, and girls are more important to me now, and this videogaming thing has been slipping away.

    I used to play 4 hours of video games a day back when I was a "hardcore gamer", it's just not worth it anymore. Has anybody else feel their killer instinct slip away?


    Can't say I disagree. I'm 20. However, for me the most deterring factor for me is the decline in PC game quality. There used to be great titles like Thief and Deus Ex. Then all of the sudden everything had to be lobotomized so that it could be played on consoles as well as PCs. Wroooong move. Atleast I don't find a lobotomized point-and-drool interface that a chimpanzee could use very appealing.
  • by CrazyJim1 (809850) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @03:05PM (#18000974) Journal
    I'm sorry but the distinction between a hardcore and a softcore player is blurred. I'm sick of people saying that things a hardcore player likes that a softcore player doesn't like. If you make a quality game, people will play it. The problem lays in the fact that people don't make quality games and they lay their excuse here.

    For example: The article says Gears of War sold as many units as Cars even though Gears of War cost more to make. They then go on to say it is because of hardcore vs softcore players. When in fact couldn't it be that Gears of War doesn't do anything new in gaming. Its just another FPS, and doesn't even have a ladder like Halo 2. If they actually did something with all the money they spent in production of Gears of War, it could be the next killer FPS. You only need 2 things for the next killer FPS: 1) Ranked Online Play 2) Balanced Weapons . You could even make a MMOFPS and it'd instantly be better than PlanetSide which lets you level to max in a day basically. But no they chose to do a very expensive FPS.

    Hopefully gaming companies will get these terms Hardcore and Casual players out of their head, so they don't give up totally and not try anymore.
  • by SirSlud (67381) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @03:25PM (#18001294) Homepage
    The author of the article is seeing a trend.

    Happy-Feet, the Ps2 game had over 1,000,000 million pre-orders, before it was released; the game rated below 5.0 on both IGN and gamespot, and didn't cost that much to make (I'm not at liberty to discuss numbers.)

    Do the math. Sure, there is cross-over, but there is overwhelming evidence that if you're in the market for money alone, you should be chasing WB licenses, not hardcore gamers.
  • Re:Answer (Score:2, Interesting)

    by darkhitman (939662) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @03:28PM (#18001344)
    Unfortunately, it was both meant to be funny and a joke. I used to buy, say, a game or two a month. Then WoW and GW, and more recently Vanguard, entered the picture. Cut to a year and a half later: the last game I bought that wasn't an MMO was Gears of War; haven't played it in a month, probably. But I don't play games 12 hours a day, only a couple -- and those couple are easily filled by Vanguard.
  • I wonder ... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by brokeninside (34168) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @03:49PM (#18001700)
    Has anyone plotted the number of hardcore gamers against the unemployment rate? It seems to me that I would expect to see a decrease in the number of hardcore gamers as a society moves towards full employment rates.
  • by MotorMachineMercenar (124135) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @04:18PM (#18002212)
    This "decline in PC game quality" is nothing but a selection bias. There have been crappy games throughout gaming's short history, we have just forgotten about them. Therefore we only remember the Nethacks, Zoids, Wolfensteins and Starcrafts. And there are plenty of innovative games coming - such as Spore - or derivative games which look much more promising than the current fare - Huxley and Warhammer Online.
  • Re:Answer (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Durrill (908003) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @04:39PM (#18002588)
    I used to buy a game on every pay cheque, which included WoW back on its launch weekend in 2004. Since then i only receive games from friends and family on special occaisions such as my birthday or christmas, i don't buy them myself anymore. I'm still playing WoW, i'm not into the expansion, and the fact that i'm playing with 10 real life friends kinda sets the fact that i won't be buying pc/console games very often anymore. Funny or not, the 'Answer' post is indeed fact.
  • Re:maybe... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Swanktastic (109747) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @06:37PM (#18004492)
    Yeah a making a game base off a movie will sell 2M copies, but how much did you have to pay for the license?

    This is a nice point. Let's say I'm an investor and have a choice between two investments:
    1) A game that will cost $2 million in development, $8 million in license fees, and $0 million in marketing and will sell X copies.
    2) A game that will cost $5 million in development, $0 million in license fees, and $5 million in marketing and will sell X copies.

    Of course, we don't know how many copies will sell, but bear with me for a moment. Market theory dicates that the total cost of the game should yield a certain number of game sales. If we knew #1 would sell more games, then the licenser should theoretically charge more money.

    At the end of the day, I'd rather invest in #2. Here's why- at the end of the product life, I've now got a brand/franchise that I can sequel and make a nice bit of money on. Essentially, I've gotten profits and built up an asset. Halo/Warcraft are great examples of the value of building a franchise.

    With choice #1, I've gotten some profits, but next time, I'll have to again pay those licensing fees. Essentially, I'm back to square one.

    If you want to take things a step further, I would bet the return on investment for a licensed game is less than that of an original game because the licensed game is more a "sure bet." Just like in the stock market, low risk investments typically yield lower returns.
  • by grumbel (592662) <grumbel@gmx.de> on Wednesday February 14, 2007 @05:56AM (#18009454) Homepage
    ### This "decline in PC game quality" is nothing but a selection bias.

    I don't think so. A few years ago PC games got ported to consoles, these days console games get ported to PC. Which often means crappy controls, bad menus and other issues, since what was designed for a 640x480 TV simply doesn't look very good at 1280x1024 and controls that work well with a gamepad, just don't match nicely with keyboard and mouse. The PC gaming market seems to be left with a few FPS, MMORPG and RTS games, while those games might be good, there has been quite a lack of good games of other genres, the flightsims are dead, adventure games are dead, turn-based strategy is mostly dead, space-games mostly dead and there simply are *far* to much WWII based games out there, what happened to the cool sci-fi or fantasy settings?

    Now I haven't really played much at all on the PC in the last years, so maybe I just miss something, but on the other side I have yet to see a new game on the PC that would be interesting enough for me to actually upgrade my system and bring it back into a game-ready state.

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