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Hardcore Gamers on the Decline? 143

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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  • 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.
  • by gregtron ( 1009171 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @03:32PM (#18001420)
    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.
  • Re:cash cow (Score:3, Informative)

    by Kelbear ( 870538 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @03:43PM (#18001584)
    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( [] ), and then added into the overall expected return of the investment.
  • by DarkJC ( 810888 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @03:59PM (#18001890)
    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.
  • Re:Define your terms (Score:3, Informative)

    by Aurisor ( 932566 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @04:18PM (#18002202) Homepage
    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 play them all. Dropping a lot of money on games you won't play does not make you a hard core gamer. Genres that are written off as being easy or fluffy or aimed at kids will definitely detract from your hard core status.

    Although I think 80% of the people out there would agree with most of what I've said, you have to realize that a "hard core" gamer is an entirely nebulous, subjective term. It's not scientific terminology, and there's no one arbiter of what it means. However, if you're trying to get the terms down, this is a good place to start.
  • 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

  • Re:maybe... (Score:2, Informative)

    by iocat ( 572367 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @10:18PM (#18006914) Homepage Journal
    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 steller licensed game) as publishers have realized that sales are tied to the license *and* the game quality, but anyone predicting the death of hardcore gamers (or games) is a fool.

    Here's an helpful analogy: There are a lot more general fiction readers than sci-fi readers. Clearly, someday soon there will be no science fiction books.

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