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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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  • maybe... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 14CharUsername (972311) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @02:35PM (#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?
    • Re:maybe... (Score:5, Funny)

      by rev_sanchez (691443) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @03:00PM (#18000888)
      Hardcore gamers also tend not to mate and thus not reproduce.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by iocat (572367)
        Hardcore gamers also tend to buy way more software than casual gamers, making their absolute numbers less important. It's the 80-20 rule: 20% of consumers are responsible for 80% of the software purchases. Also, don't count on the fact that Cars was cheaper to make that Gears of War; especially when you figure the license cost into the development.

        Obviously licensed games get a huge marketing boost, and they are much better than they were years ago (see Kim Possible: What's the Switch for an example of a s

    • by Wordplay (54438)
      I think the worst case is that hardcore gaming becomes a niche market that someone steps up to, much like the adventure game and complex strategy game market.

      However, if casual gaming eclipses hardcore gaming in mainstream profits, it'll die out of mainstream production. There's just no good business reason to divert company resources over to financial non-starters.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        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.
        • 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.
  • Answer (Score:5, Funny)

    by darkhitman (939662) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @02:35PM (#18000480)
    "I'm left wondering whether or not the number of hardcore gamers is dwindling."

    As it happens, no. They're just all playing WoW.
    • Re:Answer (Score:5, Informative)

      by Conception (212279) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @03:23PM (#18001254)
      The parent may have meant this as a joke, but I think it's partially true. WoW pulls millions of gamers out of the purchasing pool. I've seen many a post of people saying that they used to buy games, but why spend 50-100 bucks a month on games, when they can just play Wow.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by darkhitman (939662)
        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.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Durrill (908003)
          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:Answer (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Andy Dodd (701) <atd7@@@cornell...edu> on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @04:46PM (#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 NeMon'ess (160583) *
          So would you say you're addicted? In real life, even people who have bumper stickers saying "I'd rather be skiing/diving/golfing" still enjoy an occasional alternate pastime. They love their sport, but they'll go out bowling, biking, or just drinking with friends. If you can't bring yourself to try another game after several years of play, you may have a problem.
          • by Andy Dodd (701)
            Addicted? No - Given how rarely a non-MMOG can really engage me compared to an MMOG, I feel that I get more for my money with other non-gaming products than standalone non-MMOG games. i.e. when not playing MMOGs, I just go do something else outside of my apartment (drinks at a bar, ice skating, etc.)
      • by recursiv (324497)
        HHOS [bton.ac.uk]
    • The only reason that the number of hardcore players is decreasing is because playing that much is becoming mainstream. It's not hardcore anymore. It's normal. Like being a geek is nearly chic now.

      7 million Wow accounts and rising. Add the growth in the console markets, etc. Eventually it will be just like watching a TV channel. Totally mundane and ubiquitous.

  • So hard core gamers can't buy mass-market licensed games? Maybe these licensed games are finally starting to be decent. There are some licensed games (ex. X-Men Legends/Marvel Alliance) that are licensed and appeal to gamers who I would consider "hard core." Of course they also like their "Gear of War."
    • 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: (Score:3, Insightful)

        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 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.

          Although I certainly think you have a point here, as someone who works in the Casual Games industry, I should point out that the term "casual gamer" [wikipedia.org] is different that what you might expect. It's basically a consumer of casual game [wikipedia.org]

          • Your definition certainly makes sense, I was using "casual" as the gaming antithesis of "hardcore" in my argument; someone who plays games causally, rather then someone who plays causal games. Perhaps a better term would be to describe them as an "occasional" or "light" gamer.

            I guess now the question is... does "hardcore" mean what we think it means? That is to say does "hardcore" mean someone who plays hardcore games, or someone who plays games, hardcore? I would think it means the latter, and if that i
            • I wish we could dump the term "hardcore", since it is so confusing now. I am someone who plays typically hardcore games (shooters, RTS games, etc.), but not nearly as much as I used to, or compared to other typical fans of those genres. Does that make me a "casual hardcore gamer"?

              Granted, I can understand why the term came into existence. In the past, it was thought that anyone who played hardcore games generally put a lot of time into it. Those who played casual games, generally didn't spend too much time
      • by KirkH (148427)
        ...had over 1,000,000 million pre-orders...

        A million, million pre-orders?!?! Oh my God! That's like a billion, thousand or something!
        • by SirSlud (67381)
          You got me there. But I do work at said company that developed it, so I'm not throwing out numbers here, I'm just miscommunicating them despite it being obvious what I meant.
  • cash cow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by the dark hero (971268) <[adriatic_hero] [at] [hotmail.com]> on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @02:40PM (#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?

    • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

      by rwven (663186)
      You have to take replay value and longevity into account as well. If GoW came out with a paid expansion you'd probably see the vast majority of players buy it too...
    • Re:cash cow (Score:4, Insightful)

      by chill (34294) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @02:53PM (#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.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Kelbear (870538)
        Small quibble,
        It's probably true that after the investing is done, they can just let the returns roll in while they're looking at new investments.

        But the residual sales are likely taken in account even though they may be less significant than the initial surge. They would just be estimated, weighted for the time value( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_value [wikipedia.org] ), and then added into the overall expected return of the investment.
      • by Itchyeyes (908311)
        This is what worries me about the industries "new" focus on demographics outside the traditional 18-34 year old male that has sustained it for so long. From a development and artistic perspective a lot of these games aren't anything new, a lot are very large steps backwards. It's the same platforming formula or mini-game, only with new controls so grandpa or junior doesn't have to spend as much time figuring it out.

        People like to say that traditional games were stuck in the same rut, but I would disagree.
      • From a business/investment perspective, that is all that matters.

        No, what matters is that the company doesn't dilute its brand if it hopes to continue milking it. Enter the Matrix sold a shitload of games and The Matrix Reloaded brought in truckloads of box office sales but look what happened afterwards. The Matrix Online has less than 50,000 subscribers, The Matrix:Path of Neo was practically shunned by the mass market and The Matrix Revolutions brought in less than half the box office sales as The Matrix

    • by mqduck (232646)

      But is Cars really that great of a game?


      You, sir, have completely missed the point of the article.
    • by p0tat03 (985078)

      Many people would point to this case as an example that "hardcore gaming is dying". This cannot be further from the truth.

      Look at Hollywood. You've got your forgettable romantic comedies and action flicks that, in two years time, nobody will even remember. Then you have the *good* films that seem to live forever. They may or may not be big-budget or have explosions galore, but in 30 years people will still be watching them, and they will keep showing up on "100 best movies..." lists.

      Gaming is much the s

  • AKA casual gamers and thank our new overlords ... oh, a shiny penny! my, back when I was a kid, a penny could buy you two pieces of gum or if you had two you could get some candy, and just five and you had a whole bottle of coke ...

    Um, yeah, casual gamers - it's a lot like being in a candy store. Unlike those hard core gamers who need to buy lots of Depends and energy drinks.

    But, on the bright side, lots of pretty women and girls in the casual gaming camp, and ... well, you know, there are more important t
  • 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.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        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: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by grumbel (592662)
          ### 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 game
      • by PhoenixOne (674466) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @09:13PM (#18006346)

        There used to be great titles like Zork and X-Com. Then all the sudden everything had to be lobotomized so that people without imagination could play them. ;)

        Welcome to getting older (and at 20 no less), where the past is always better than the present. If you don't watch yourself, you'll be telling kids "Get off my lawn" before you turn 30. ;)

        • Then all the sudden everything had to be lobotomized so that people without imagination could play them.
          >Get Ye Flask
          >You Cannot Get Ye Flask
    • It'll come back.

      I grew up on Atari, C64 and NES, then SNES. I'd play constantly. Then I hit "the age of chicks and parties".

      I completely skipped the N64 and PSX years. Never got either system until a couple years ago, when I picked them up used for like 15 bucks.

      After I finished university and settled down in a job, wife, etc, I'm back to playing games again. Dreamcast came out the year after I graduated, and I bought one.

      I don't know if I'd use the word "hardcore", but I have time for games again.
      • > I don't know if I'd use the word "hardcore", but I have time for games again.

        Yeah, but don't expect to go back to 4 hours of gaming a day.
    • Yes, same here. I used to play games a lot, but then back then I didn't have lots of studying, working, etc. These days, I barely have time even on weekends (1-2 hours if I do have time). :(
    • Has anybody else feel their killer instinct slip away?

      Well, maybe if Rare would make a sequel to KI2 we wouldn't have that problem. ;)
  • Duh, (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kabocox (199019) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @02:52PM (#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.
    • 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 st

  • No.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Nemetroid (883968)
    ... 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.
    • by BarneyL (578636)
      The problem with the music analogy is that whereas a song written on a cheap guitar in a couple of hours can become a number one hit, a game written on a cheap computer in the same time can't. These days to make a big hit in the gaming world takes millions on programmers, artists, musicians and so on. Sure you can make a flash game that might get popular online but no one is going to produce the next Gears of War, Zelda or Final Fantasy in their garage with a couple of friends.
  • 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.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by gregtron (1009171)
      Two glaring mistakes in your post: 1) There is a huge difference between hardcore and softcore players: Time. I work 60 hours a week, I have friends, I have a dog to walk, and I have a girlfriend who needs to feel pretty. I /want/ to be hardcore, but I can't because I don't have Time (or T Points, as I like to call it). 2) GoW is a TPS, not FPS.
    • by tzhuge (1031302)
      FYI Gears of War isn't played from first person perspective. I also vaguely recall someone from Epic saying it was a relatively cheap game to create.

      FYI 1) There are Ranked Matches... which I'm pretty sure qualifies as Ranked Online Play.
      2) From what I've played the weapons are incredibly well-balanced. I find myself grabbing a weapon if I see one but never hunting specifically for a weapon or camping any weapon spawn.

      So... I'm really not sure what you're trying to say anymore.
      • by CrazyJim1 (809850)
        Thanks for correcting me. I thought Gears of War was a different game than it is. My main point still stands. I think classifying players as Hardcore or Casual is the 'in thing' in the last year or so and it sickens me. Sure you need to account for making a game where someone who spends 60hrs/week vs someone spending 5 hrs a week can play in peace like the other poster said. But calling one person Hardcore and another Casual are really generic terms that for one are vague and secondly encompass too many
    • by Kelbear (870538) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @03:56PM (#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.
      • by seebs (15766)
        Violence is very significant in perceptions of hardcoreness, though, which is why the PS3 and 360 people are so quick to dismiss the Wii as "kiddy games" and the like. Gears is marketed at people who want to prove they're into stuff that little kids couldn't handle.
        • by 7Prime (871679)
          This is why I make a distinction between "true gamers" and "hardcore gamers". People who actually spend a lot of time and money on games rarely give a rat's ass about violence, and only care about graphics if it enhances the feel or functionality of the game. I think of the "Hardcore gamer" as the 16 year old kid who likes to impress his friends by splatting blood against the walls in a feeble attempt to look macho and badass.

          Most real long-time gamers, who spend hours honing their skills and cracking all t
        • Eh. I don't know anyone who is dismissing the Wii as a "kiddy system." Could be the best party game system ever. I think that many of the games have a cartoony feel. Not to mention the Mii's themselves. Nintendo's basically asking for it, but I haven't heard anyone dismissing the whole console or concept over this.
          • by seebs (15766)
            Try visiting a PS fan site. I hang out on one some (because I've been doing work on the PS3), and it's astounding. They dismiss Gabe Newell and John Carmack as idiots who don't understand programming. They mostly think the Wii is just "for kids" and all the games are "kiddy games".
  • Just like more moviegoers = more movies catering to the lowest common denominator.

    More tv viewers = more drek reality TV. That's what the masses want.

    Larger market for music = more Britney.

    But, even so, there still are good movies made now and then, there is still enjoyable TV to watch, and some good music to listen to. Not everybody tries to target the largest possible audience, the business of it realizes that the little niche markets can be very lucrative.

    This summary bases it's whole premise around Ge
  • Just as a note, the number of hard core gamers is hardly dwindling. It is just that they are making up a smaller percentage of the whole pie. BIG difference, though I've noticed many companies can not figure that out...

    Although I have seen numbers drop in some areas where 'hard core' gamers feel that their needs are simply no longer being addressed due to the percentage drop, and thus they actually are exiting the buying pool.
  • Not just marketing for the game, but marketing for the whole franchise and how it spills over. A groundwork was already put in place by the original content and the game builds on it. 'Fresh' content isn't going to get this head start.

    The license/movie tie-in or whatever has marketing on its side. Lots of people probably bought X-Men legends because they read it was a good game...but I bet just as many bought because they loved comics, or they loved the movies, or their friends loved the comics and told the
  • Aren't the truly hard-core gamers the one's who get doped up and play for 160 hours straight until they drop dead from systems failure?
  • by lukeduff (156720) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @03:15PM (#18001104) Homepage
    My clan just started playing Cars in league play. It's pretty intense.
  • I feel as though this article is being used to say, "In ten years, hardcore gamers will be a thing of the past." That's quite absurd. Certainly they may no longer have the majority on purchasing power, but games will most certainly still be made for them.

    Hardcore gamers bring something to the table casuals will likely never be able to, dedication. So long as they are playing game X, they will tell everyone they know all about game X, how game X is the bee's knees and they're so 1337. This may annoy a fair n
  • I'm over 30, and I can definitely feel the decline... eyes going, body getting heavier, reflexes not what they used to be ;)
  • Where is Starcraft III, dammit? Where is Call of Duty 3 for the PC?

    Raise your hand if your aim is better with a controller than a mouse? Not me.

    I paid more for my SLI Nvidia's than anyone paid for their damn X-Box, so where did all the killer games go?

    If we can get a Starcraft III, it will out-sell any damn Halo interation.

    Bring it, bitches!

    • by stratjakt (596332)
      Wii-mote trumps mouse as a natural "gun" like pointing device. Hopefully Nintendo truly exploits this fact with some good FPS's. Far Cry for Wii is a decent teaser of whats to come.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by DarkJC (810888)
        Honestly having played with the Wiimote, no, it's still inferior to the mouse. I have a feeling most will realize this when playing MP3. If you saw people playing around with the MP3 Demo kiosks earlier last year, you'll note that the system was hard to adapt to, and there wasn't really a good way to turn around fast that a mouse provides. Although the Wiimote gives us a cool new way to play FPS, I don't think it's the new #1 interface.
        • IMO, it's because of the control system. Pointing to control movement in any way just seems unnatural to me.

          The way it should be done is this: use the stick to walk forward and back, and strafe left and right. Hold Z button while moving stick left/right for turns (allow for high turn sensitivity so you can turn quickly). A to jump, B to shoot, point away from the screen to reload, C to change weapons, and of course, the gun is aimed with the remote.

          I think that covers the main controls, though I'm no F
        • Seconded. I haven't had much time with the Wiimote as a pointing device and none with it in anything but the menu, I only played Wii Sports and Marvel Ultimate Alliance, but just in the menus, the pointing doesn't have the same accuracy that a mouse does. Maybe I just haven't had enough time with the system but it doesn't seem to be percise and seems laggy with a tendency to cause me to overcorrect movements.
      • I never played Far Cry on the Wii, but if it's on level with CoD 3 then...err...

        Yeah, screw it. That game sucked on that console... :(
    • Starcraft III????

      What the HELL!?!? Did I just wake up from a coma? Quick, some one tell me where I can buy Starcraft 2!

  • Define your terms (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sesshomaru (173381)
    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

    • by Itchyeyes (908311)
      This is the problem you always run into when you try to segment a group based on arbitrary criteria. To some people, hardcore means competitive gamers. To others, it may just mean someone who likes games that are more complex than Zuma. Defining games is a bit easier than defining the players though. You're still going to get some games that are cross overs like the Sims, or Animal Crossing, but for the most part it's pretty intuitive. Cars and Gears of War are aimed at totally different audiences. Th
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Aurisor (932566)
      Hard core gaming is mostly subjective. It just means that one is more willing than the average person to go the extra mile in any significant facet of gaming. Possible ways to attain hard core gamer status:

      - camping out for new releases
      - beating very hard or frustrating games
      - having played games seriously for a very long time
      - investing obscene amount of time in mmos
      - winning competitions

      To answer your questions specifically:

      Quantities of games purchased doesn't matter unless they are good games and you
      • Slight problem with this.

        I'm a hardcore gamer (I fit all the above at least) and I absolutely adore my gamecube. The casual wannabe hardcore crowd (read snotty kids) would write off "childish" games. But a real hardcore gamer knows all games are secretly aimed at kids and so while Mario may not run around shooting people he's got a lot more street cred than some idiot in any FPS where it's just a case of being able to aim.
    • by archen (447353)
      Hardcore gamers tend to fit into much of what you posted. Playstation/Xbox fanboys are often what is thought of as the typical hardcore gamer, as well as people who spend far to much on PCs/video cards. They usually demand supreme graphics. Casual gamers are the people who tend not to spend much time at games, and/or are not rabidly attached to them.

      Then that leaves people like me. I like to refer to myself as a "traditional gamer" - someone who loves games of all sorts. I'll play just about any sort o
  • Lost Garden: Nintendo's Genre Innovation Strategy [lostgarden.com]

    Tycho of Penny Arcade called it the "probably the most interesting article I've ever read. [penny-arcade.com]". That article is longer than TFA, but definitely worth reading and digesting.
    • by Kris_J (10111) *
      There's a more recent comment [penny-arcade.com] that's also relavent:

      "I would not go so far as to say that (what is known as) the hardcore sustain the entire industry, but what Sony is learning is that they do catalyze it - they make livable the period between when a platform is released and when it becomes a mainstream proposition. These are the people that they are taking for granted. Let's see how far it gets them"

  • All the hardcore gamers are just occupied right now playing WoW. They'll be back in force in the near future.
    • by bitserf (756357)
      Once the hardcore gamers have cleared the Black Temple, ground to exalted with all factions, and are wearing full sets of the top-end gear - The Northrend expansion pack will be released :)
  • ... things like Raptor or FlatOut, I'm all for it.
  • by matthewcharles2006 (960827) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @03:46PM (#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.
  • I wonder ... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by brokeninside (34168)
    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.
  • Yea, I would say there is a generation gap between those of us who nearly crapped their pants when seeing Wolfenstein 3D at the state fair for the first time in 92, and those who saw Return to Castle Wolfenstein (RtCW) and merely yawned a decade later. There are different driving forces for kids growing up with computer games as a given, like television.

    I haven't found a game since RtCW that I've truly went bonkers over, and most of RtCW was reliving my childhood. And speaking of reliving my childhood, can
    • by Chris Burke (6130)
      Yea, I would say there is a generation gap between those of us who nearly crapped their pants when seeing Wolfenstein 3D at the state fair for the first time in 92, and those who saw Return to Castle Wolfenstein (RtCW) and merely yawned a decade later.

      What about those of us who did both?

      Games have developed since Wolf 3D. Expectations of gamers have changed in more than a decade of development. It's not just kids growing up with a playstation, it's adults who are judging things by the standards of the day
  • When I was a "hardcore gamer" putting in probably 20 or more hours a week into gaming, I only played a handful of games. This was even before extensive multiplayer features. Now I imagine people just play 1 or 2 games for months or years. Does anyone really need the next multi million dollar game when they're still playing World of Warcraft or Counterstrike?

    Kids, on the other hand, are fickle. They'll play Cars for a couple of days/weeks, and then when the next CG movie comes out, they're gonna hound their
  • Comparing Gears of War to Cars isn't really fair since Cars is not your typical softcore game. Instead, it's a product tie-in game. It didn't sell because it's a softcore game, it sold because it had a built-in fanbase from a very popular (especially with kids) movie with a lot of marketing muscle behind it. The casual or softcore nature had little to do with its sales; if it were more of a hardcore game with a billion options to customize McQueen or tons of optional/unlockable content it still would have s
  • As people who could be identified as true "hard-core" gamers (the real ones, not the ones Microsoft tries to claim play Xbox all day) grow older, they eventually find they don't have as much time to play games. So they naturally play less, become less skilled, and lose interest. To really play at a hard-core level, you have to put in alot of time and practice into the games/genres you like. Without time/practice, it's really impossible to keep up that level of skill. I've went back and played games I us
    • by mqduck (232646)

      As people who could be identified as true "hard-core" gamers (the real ones, not the ones Microsoft tries to claim play Xbox all day) grow older, they eventually find they don't have as much time to play games.


      "When I was your age, a hardcore gamer wouldn't be caught dead on one of your consoles. We spent thousands of dollars and dozens of hours to squeeze out every frame we could and thats the we we liked it!"?
      • by Udderdude (257795)
        It's not about spending money at all. The sure-fire way you know you've got a wannabe is someone who brags about his PC more than his accomplishments.
  • Nothing New (Score:3, Informative)

    by servognome (738846) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @05:50PM (#18003798)
    Look at the top 10 sales charts. Things haven't changed, casual games make up most of the list. Typically you'll have a hot casual game/genre like Deer Hunter (*sigh*), pokemon (on the console side) or the Sims dominate, while a few great hardcore games round out the list.

    1998 Top 10 PC Games
    (6 "casual", 3 "Hardcore", 1 not sure (I'm thinking Titanic was supposed to be a Myst clone but never tried it)
    1. Starcraft (Blizzard)
    2. Deer Hunter (WizardWorks)
    3. Deer Hunter 2 (WizardWorks)
    4. Myst (Broderbund)
    5. Cabela's Big Game Hunter (Head Games)
    6. Titanic: Adventure Out of Time (Knowledge Adventure)
    7. Lego Island (Mindscape)
    8. Frogger (Hasbro)
    9. Riven (Red Orb)
    10. Unreal (GT Interactive)

    Top 10 Games 2002
    (7 "casual", 3 "hardcore")
    1 / The Sims: Unleashed / Electronic Arts / $26
    2 / Age of Mythology / Microsoft / $40
    3 / Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets / Electronic Arts / $28
    4 / The Sims Deluxe / Electronic Arts / $42
    5 / RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 / Infogrames / $29
    6 / Backyard Hockey / Infogrames / $19
    7 / Zoo Tycoon: Marine Mania / Microsoft / $31
    8 / Zoo Tycoon / Microsoft / $28
    9 / The Sims: Vacation / Electronic Arts / $29
    10 / EverQuest: The Planes of Power / Sony Online / $29

    Top 10 PC 2007
    (5 "Casual", 4 "hardcore", 1 both (WoW has both kinds of players)
    1. World of Warcraft--Vivendi Games
    2. The Sims 2--Electronic Arts
    3. The Sims 2: Open For Business Expansion Pack--Electronic Arts
    4. Star Wars: Empire At War--LucasArts
    5. The Sims 2: Pets Expansion Pack--Electronic Arts
    6. Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion--Take-Two Interactive
    7. Age of Empires III--Microsoft
    8. The Sims 2: Family Fun Stuff Expansion Pack--Electronic Arts
    9. Civilization IV--Take-Two Interactive
    10. The Sims 2: Nightlife Expansion Pack--Electronic Arts

    • by Sigma 7 (266129)

      Top 10 PC 2007
      (5 "Casual", 4 "hardcore", 1 both (WoW has both kinds of players)
      1. World of Warcraft--Vivendi Games
      2. The Sims 2--Electronic Arts
      3. The Sims 2: Open For Business Expansion Pack--Electronic Arts

      Slight problem with your list - you mix standalone games with expansion packs. While not a problem in itself, it allows a game as popular as The Sims to choke out a top ten list by releasing tons of expansions.

      As a result, it could be read that the "top 5" has plenty of hardcore games, or by some other

  • In this article Mark Rein puts the development costs of Gears of War at less than 10M. http://www.gamesindustry.biz/content_page.php?aid= 20176 [gamesindustry.biz] I doubt whether Cars has been made for that amount of money, especially since they could possibly reuse animations & models from the movie. I guess you should include those costs too right?
  • By definition 'hardcore gamers' are not the 'main-stream', they can't and wont ever 'dominate the industry'.

    Just because the pc-game era has been dominated by 'hardcore' games (well at least among the 'hardcore gamers'), doesn't mean the industry has. It is just full of buzzwords, that don't really mean anything. Good games have always sold and there's always been a diverse range of games on a fairly wide number of platforms.

    Maybe people are just sick of 'yet another kill everyone army trainer' - I know I
  • Hardcore players are not declining. There are more hardcore gamers now than any time in history. There is just a large market for casual games and that market may be (is) larger than the market for hardcore gamers. This is kind of a "duh" moment. Hardcore, by definition, is represented by those people who take things to an extreme. If everyone was hardcore, then that would be "normal" and wouldn't be called hardcore. So they are saying games that appeal to "normal" people (i.e. the majority) sell bett
  • There will be more, not fewer, hardcore gamers in the future, but only in absolute terms because the population is rising. As a percentage of the overall number of gamers, they are already a dwindling minority and increasingly irrelevant. In five years' time, fifty zillion Indian and Chinese gamers will be playing games on their mobile phones. They are the market of the future. Hardcore gamers will become a niche just as audiophiles are a niche, or people who own full-bore home theater systems are a niche
  • I used to play MMORPGs as what I would classify as "obsessive", but then you start to realize that there's more to life and farming for plat.

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