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Gamers Are Fans of Games, Not Genres 119

_xeno_ writes: A recent article on Steam Spy talks about how a "target audience" for game genres doesn't exist — or, more specifically, how there is no such thing as an "FPS gamer" or an "MMO gamer" or a "MOBA gamer." The majority of players tend to be fans of specific games, rather than genres. For example, the wildly popular MMO World of Warcraft managed to reach over 10 million players at its peak. However, these players never became "MMO gamers" — they were simply World of Warcraft gamers. As World of Warcraft's subscriber numbers fall, there's been no corresponding uptick in subscribers of other, competing MMOs. In fact, pretty much ever MMO released since World of Warcraft has been forced to move to a "free-to-play" model simply to survive. The article explains how the majority of gamers concentrate on a very small number of games, rarely trying new games: they're fans of a specific game, not any game that plays like it.
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Gamers Are Fans of Games, Not Genres

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  • someone speaks the obvious. I prefer RTS and FPS games, but I'll play anything that's good.
  • by GoodNewsJimDotCom ( 2244874 ) on Friday August 21, 2015 @06:25PM (#50366355)
    This makes sense. When I was quite young, I was perplexed by the idea of a genre. I saw surveys with a check box. What games do I like"[] platforming, []racing, []shooters, []puzzle, etc" I looked at the survey and was confused that they could classify such diverse games into such small categories. The thought didn't even occur to me that games were like each other so much they could be classified. I simply thought games were all different. Now as a game designer, game programmer, I can see genre classifications, but I think to operate in them is laziness. I think with something as complex as a computer, we can have new genres of games like Katamari Damacy if someone puts their mind to it. I think experimenting and trying stuff no one tried before is bold and to be praised.

    Just like children can't see through the veil when watching a movie and needs to be reminded Godzilla isn't real and the set is a miniature city, I think a lot of people get caught up in games without thinking how the game is made or similar to other games. A lot of people just play and if they like it, they stay. I just wish the veil wasn't so thick that people could see through a Clash of Clans, Farmville meets castle, pay to win, and wouldn't sponsor that type of drivel. I once had a "game designer" honestly think Clash of Clans took as much skill as Wacraft3 to play... The veil is there even for people who are supposed game developers.
    • I think to explain further, its okay to make a game in a genre, and try and make it better than has been done before. It isn't total laziness to stick with a genre and go, but you're treading ground someone else has done, so the temptation is to clone as much as they've done to get a foundation before improving. In fact, people might be so used to another game doing something, that is almost the defacto standard, and people expect it in other games. It's not really laziness to build on something else s
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I mean, in media other than video games I wouldn't even expect people to be bound to a specific genre. I just can't see someone saying "Yeah, I'm a big movie fan--oh, but I only see comedies".
      • by Your.Master ( 1088569 ) on Friday August 21, 2015 @07:10PM (#50366623)

        Really? I've heard people say literally that. I would say most people don't stick to just one genre but they mostly float in just a few.

        Lots of people don't like superhero movies, don't like movies with ambiguous villains and morality, don't like movies with clear villans and black & white morality, don't like arthouse films, don't like mainstream films, don't like character studies, don't like crime dramas...

        In books people like romance, or detective, or Science Fiction, or fantasy, or horror, or humour, or comics, or historical fiction, or slice-of-life, or coming-of-age, or a combination of a few of those and others I can't think of at the moment. It always amused me that book genre was frequently defined by setting, whereas setting is considered almost irrelevant to video game genre classification.

        Music comes in very clear genres and people very rarely like classical music and hip-hop music and folk music to an equal degree.

        I like RPG*, RTS, and Adventure.

        *Not Elder-Scrolls or similar. Not most JRPGs, although Chrono Trigger was pretty good and hell, early Sega Master system RPGs were good. RPG is a wide genre that also includes Might & Magic, Ultima, Infinity Engine games and similar-style, Fallouts 1 & 2, Wizardly, Shadowrun Returns, "old-school" RPG, Mass Effect 1 and to a lesser extent 3, etc.. -- this is where the article has a point; RPG is too broad and JRPG and Western RPG doesn't really divide the market correctly in my opinion.

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          Superhero movies covers a wide range of film types. Serious, comedy, action packed, psychological, drama... So for me generas are useless, I evaluate films individually.

    • I've found my tastes have changed quite a bit as I get older. Obviously, when I started (in the heyday of arcades and the earliest consoles) my choices were limited. We grew up with an Odyssey 2 console, and most friends had an Atari. ALL games were pretty much arcade games, with a few rare exceptions. I bought a Nintendo, but skipped consoles until the Xbox came out, preferring PC gaming. I loved shooters, flight sims, adventure games (especially back in the Sierra/Lucasarts heyday), and I played comp

    • I think with something as complex as a computer, we can have new genres of games like Katamari Damacy if someone puts their mind to it.

      Katamari is a 3D platformer. Instead of the jumping mechanic of Super Mario, it has the eating mechanic of Bubbles (1982). Trying new things is a matter of combining existing building blocks in new ways. Have there been any new building blocks introduced since Parappa nearly two decades ago?

  • I don't agree. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Nyder ( 754090 ) on Friday August 21, 2015 @06:25PM (#50366357) Journal

    Gamers like their genres, the problem is there might be one great game and then a bunch of crappy clones. So it seems like they stick to one game, when the fact is, there isn't that many good games.

    Every time something becomes big, you get a dozen wanna-be games flooding the market, trying to make money off the popularity of the popular game. Crappy stuff usually. What we need is developers to be given the time they need to make games good and have their points, instead of quickly shoving it out the door at a certain set date. 40 years into the gaming industry and they still make the same mistakes they should of learned better from before.

    Currently I've been playing Everquest 1 on one of it's time locked progression server. Why? Because it's fun and I'm having a great time playing it with my friends. 20 year old MMORPG is better to me then most of the current ones.

    • This is the problem in the MMO genre. WoW was so successful that -everyone- tried to copy it, or at best make iterative improvements. Publishers didn't want an MMO that did well, they wanted "the next WoW" or a "WoW killer." I've been looking for a new MMO to play for a long, long time, but have yet to see anything of interest that makes it worth my time. Every time I get my hopes up for a game, they get completely dashed.

      I think part of that is because everyone got so beholden to WoW's game conventions,
      • This is the problem in the MMO genre. WoW was so successful that -everyone- tried to copy it, or at best make iterative improvements. Publishers didn't want an MMO that did well, they wanted "the next WoW" or a "WoW killer." I've been looking for a new MMO to play for a long, long time, but have yet to see anything of interest that makes it worth my time.

        I completely agree. And it's not just the MMo genre. The problem is that when there is a game that does well, there are a lot of big game companies that try to make a copy. They don't understand that people will not be interested in the copy, because it's a copy.

        New original ideas are going to be the next big thing. Minecraft, League of Legends and World of Tanks are real WoW-killers, not any MMO that came after WoW and tried to copy it. Companies that don't understand that, end up killing the unique and di

  • by Koby77 ( 992785 ) on Friday August 21, 2015 @06:26PM (#50366361)
    I've followed the tournament Fighting Game scene for a few years now, and it seems like there is a lot of crossover of the top tier players. They seem to exclusively play fighting games, but of course the top tier players are certainly only a small subset of the purchasers/players. Considering how visible they are, I wonder if the marketers think that's how all genres work?
  • ...I'm really interested in how much money they spent. This article says there's a lot of people who ONLY own a moba and nothing else. Um, those things are generally free to play, you hit download and you get it with no effort. People who only "own" a moba on steam, and no other games, aren't customers. They probably play plenty of other games...just not on steam. But regardless, if you aren't making a f2p, you can pretend that people whose accounts only have f2ps don't exist.

    • So completely free to play [penny-arcade.com] You might not have to pay to get in the door, but you're unlikely to leave with as much money as you went in with.
  • Bad comparison? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ADRA ( 37398 ) on Friday August 21, 2015 @06:31PM (#50366385)

    MMO's are a crappy comparison because:
    1. It is SOO important to have a good set of people to play with that 'switching to MMO xyz' immediately becomes extremely difficult. Maybe in a series of multiverse guilds supported by some awesome gaming service hub could work like a guilds-out-of-games social service, but it doesn't exist, so the entropy moving from title to title is very hard at this point
    2. MMO's in general wear you down in ways that make you never want to go back to MMO's. I like to grind once and a while because I'm sadistic, but I imagine a lot of people who've played MMO's never went back because the genre was so punishing
    3. The entire 'point' of an MMO (as well as other genre titles) is to suck you into their playing system in a way that moving off to competitors becomes too high cost. Oh you wanna drop sub and play that -other- game? Well sure, but we'll delete your content after being idle for a certain time, etc.. like that

    There are certainly some holy wars of gaming which have polarized gamers against one another, such as DOTA 2 / LOL. That doens't mean people can't enjoy the fruits of both, but people tend to stick to what they're used to for 'regularly played' games regardless of the competition. Realistically, the games are so close that anyone competent on one could be the same with some training for the other.

    • Depends on the game. A few MM*s are happy with giving you time off. Those are generally either pay-to-own like Guild wars or free to play and supported by a microtransaction model. Some, like Path of Exile, let you idle for as long as you like. Others, like League of Legends (admittedly a MOBA but with the same kind of non-pay-to-win microtransactions), will release your account name after a period of inactivity, although if I remember correctly, LOL allows you to recover an inactive account somehow.

      I may
  • by cirby ( 2599 ) on Friday August 21, 2015 @06:37PM (#50366423)

    At least half of the people I know who play Final Fantasy XIV came there from another MMO (mostly WoW).

    Back when I played WoW, most of the people I knew came there from other MMOs.

    For that matter, in pretty much every MMO I've played, one of the stock discussion tropes is "which MMO did you play before this?" - with a very, very low percentage who never played MMOs before.

    Yeah, most people also play other genres, but if you made them choose, you'd find that pretty much everyone IS primarily one "type" of gamer first.

    • That was very likely the case early on with WoW. But once you got past the first expansion I'm pretty sure WoW had more subscriptions than all previous MMO's historically had combined. WoW ended up being the first MMO for a very large segment of it's player base I would wager.

      I think that most people would identify themselves as a fan of a specific genre before all others. But that Genre is likely to change on a regular basis for most people. Some people do seem to always play the same genre games and rarel

  • What is Medium, and where did they come from?
  • I like lots of games, but I am not sure they fit into a genre. I like games with a robust offline experience, and I don't like to play online at all, especially against people who have way too many hours and way too many dollars to throw at mods so you can't enjoy your experience at all. I like Red Dead Redemption, Grand Theft Auto, Final Fantasy, Skyrim, Lego Movie Adaptations and Gran Turismo. Don't care for sports games or World of Warcraft or online FPS.
    • I like lots of games, but I am not sure they fit into a genre. I like games with a robust offline experience, and I don't like to play online at all, especially against people who have way too many hours and way too many dollars to throw at mods so you can't enjoy your experience at all. I like Red Dead Redemption, Grand Theft Auto, Final Fantasy, Skyrim, Lego Movie Adaptations and Gran Turismo. Don't care for sports games or World of Warcraft or online FPS.

      My tastes are similar but I do like FPS games... Oblivion, Skyrim, Far Cry, Uncharted, Fallout, Dark Souls, Wolfenstein, Bioshock

      I don't like MMO games simply because I don't have the time to put into grinding to make it worth it. And don't get me started about today's online FPS games. It used to be that they were balanced enough that a casual player could survive long enough to at least explore the map a bit before getting killed. Most of them now seem to be designed to kill off fresh meat as soon as

    • I like WoW, but I've never liked the multiplayer aspects of it. Thus, I have liked it more, now that I play the WOTLK version on my own server. It's more fun than Skyrim, and there are so many threads of lore to immerse in.

      Blizzard took a lot of time to build their world before essentially subsuming the whole thing. All they do now is create a veneer of new content to justify expansion packs and focus on instanced content that actually just detracts from the lore and the world.

      It doesn't matter to me, I hav

  • This is stupid. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bistromath007 ( 1253428 ) on Friday August 21, 2015 @06:41PM (#50366461)
    Different genres work differently. They use time in different ways. Sometimes, especially with MMOs, they heavily encourage focus on one of them, without giving you very much that can be cross-applied to others. If this is happening with FPS, for example, it's only because of the recent trend of wedging in progression mechanics whether they belong or not. There are still plenty of FPS where the core gameplay, out of the box, is similar enough that being good in one of them will mean you're good in another, which means the sunk cost fallacy doesn't happen.

    Another genre that completely trashes this argument is RPGs, whichever letter you put in front of them. People play those to see story, characters, and setting. It wouldn't even make sense to play only one. That'd be like saying there's no such thing as a sci-fi fan; only people who like the Foundation series or Hitchhiker's Guide.
  • MMO's (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ScienceofSpock ( 637158 ) <keith.greene@gmaQUOTEil.com minus punct> on Friday August 21, 2015 @07:06PM (#50366605) Homepage

    I USED to consider myself an MMO gamer. Played UO for almost 6 years. Then moved to EQ. I thought, wow, this isn't nearly as feature-filled as UO, but hey, 3D GRAPHICS! Played that for 4 years. Then I started playing DAOC, and a whole host of others, including WoW and even some more recent ones like LOTRO and SWTOR. Each successive game I played lost my interest more quickly than the last. I tried to play ArcheAge and I lasted a whole week before I gave up on it.

    Most MMO's have turned into nothing but F2P grind-fests. They are time and money sinks. Either waste a whole crapload of time grinding a quest for a shiny bauble, or, OR... you could purchase the bobble on our store. Not with game money silly, with real money!

    I'm still convinced that UO is the most feature-complete MMO created to date, and aside from it's antiquated graphics and interface (Which they may have updated since then) nothing since then has come close.

    Now, I play games other than MMO's, but I wouldn't consider myself a fan of any particular genre or style. I do despise most of the mobile F2P games. I don't view them as games at all, they're formulaic, addictive and only designed to get you to spend small amounts of cash frequently so you don't realize that over the last 3 months, you've dumped more into this "free" app than you spend on WoW over the course of a year. Scams are what I consider them.

    Sorry if this sounds like a "Back in MY day" rant, but I am getting a bit long in the tooth.

    • If you want a very deep, feature rich, subscription MMO, you may want to consider looking into Eve Online.

      • Or one of the emulated servers for SWG, pre-NGE of course.

        I tried Eve for a few months once and decided the mechanics of it really just made it a tedious game to play. The whole security scheme is too easily exploited. The UI is built to facilitate scammers and apparently kept that way deliberately. One of the more critical elements of the ui is impossibly screwy to try and adjust, meaning you can never be sure if it's actually displaying what you think it is. It's a sandbox without much in the way of space

  • by SoVi3t ( 633947 ) on Friday August 21, 2015 @09:04PM (#50367197)
    The fighting game scene seems to contradict the article. You have entire websites such as Shoryuken that are dedicated to them, and fans of the genre (myself included) will buy a fighting game on a whim, just to see how it stacks up to other fighters. You have people who still actively play in the scene, playing games that are 10+ years old competitively, while still picking up and learning new games. Killer Instinct, Tekken 7, Street Fighter V, Mortal Kombat X, Guilty Gear, Blazblue, Skullgirls, Marvel vs Capcom, and so many more...people are buying these games across multiple consoles and PC, simply because they are a part of the fighting game genre. Then you have comedy types of games of the genre, such as Divekick, that sells well not only due to the fact it's a fighting game, but because the scene comes together to make things like this happen, and be supported.
  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Friday August 21, 2015 @09:53PM (#50367399)

    I am definitely a genre gamer. It's just that I don't have a lot of time, and am really picky about games I play as a result - so it might be years, but eventually i'll find a game in the genres that I like.

    I could easily see the same about MMO gamers - lets say you burn out on Warcraft. Why would that mean you'd immediately go into another large time sink, instead of taking some time off?

    I'm a fan of hiking too but I don't hike every day... guess I'm not a "real hiker" and no real hikers (like true Scotsman) exist.

  • Did actually anyone ever believe otherwise?

  • A recent article on Steam Spy talks about how a "target audience" for game genres doesn't exist — or, more specifically, how there is no such thing as an "FPS gamer"

    Is it just me, or is this not true for many people? I'm an FPS gamer. I play pretty much exclusively first-person games, to the point where I almost refuse to look at anything else. Maybe it's narrow-minded of me, sure, but it can't be that uncommon. While I like plenty of different types of games within that genre, certainly not just a few choice titles, it remains pretty much the only genre I play. Note that I did not RTFA, so if the actual story addresses this, then oh well.

    • I played Wolfenstein 3D all the way through on my 386 and Doom too, and a lot of Quake. But I get sick feeling trying to play first person perspective games these days (with the exception of Minecraft, which just works somehow.

      For me, now, it's about immersion in a virtual world that matters, mostly third person perspective. And open world. Velvet rope track games just bore me. If there's terrain visible I want to be able to step off the trail and interact with it.

      • What killed the FPS genre for me was the way devs either focus on gimmicks (I call it the "gravity gun effect") or they focus exclusively on the online portion which tends to attract foul mouthed "dudebros" which just kill the immersion for me as I seriously doubt on a modern battlefield you hear a lot of "suck this you nigger faggot!" being yelled across the front lines. For a perfect example of the first look at Bioshock: Infinite which had an okay story (except the ending which could be summed up as "sel

  • The article does not at all say that there aren't gamers who are fans of specific genres. What it says is that the giant categories of people who play video games (which should be differentiated from "gamer" in the same way that "people who watch movies" is differentiated from "movie buff") that small developers tend to go after in order to do well in the marketplace, like "MOBA gamers," "core gamers," or "female gamers," aren't cohesive blocs that all buy and play a variety of games within their interests

  • by Anonymous Coward

    most of us gamers ( at least those with disposable income ) like to play a game - not an online we're-better-than-you cluster***k.

    We're 35/40+. We did Elite in the old days, where our mind filled in the gaps, always thinking there was *stuff* in that universe to find if you tried hard enough. But didn't expect it to happen *now*. Reality based, and we filled in the blanks with imagination. We *were* a pirate, we *were* a bounty hunter.

    We forgave so many mistakes in Frontiers etc. because of the same belief

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The theme of the article is why Bethesda needs to do more Skyrim. Not something else. Not the next big thing. There is a big fan base ready and waiting.

    - signed totally not a Skyrim addict.

    • I would like a modern reskinning of Daggarfall. They don't need to add any new content. Just a modern graphical layer to wrap it all in.

  • by Darinbob ( 1142669 ) on Friday August 21, 2015 @11:37PM (#50367915)

    You can't be a fan of genres when they're so badly defined. Ie, RPG games which somehow links in utter dreck like Japanese RPG games. Saw a youtube of top ten RPGs of past 10 years, and only 2 of them I would even call RPGs and only 4 I ever heard of.

    FPS games, that includes so much stuff it's not even reasonable to use that term any more; do they mean twitch gaming shooters, or open world sandbox shooters, player vs player shooters, hunting simulations, the glut of zombie games, MMO shooters, etc. You can't put Borderlands and Doom in the same category, or Doom and Far Cry, etc.

    MMOs - I know that there are players that will try every single one of them but seriously, almost no one has time for more than one of these at a time. Trying to market to an MMO player by saying "it's just like the one your'e addicted to but different and without any of your friends" is doomed to fail, the most you can distinguish is "generic MMO set in an existing IP you might like" vs "generic MMO in a custom IP with a vaguely anime feel" vs "MMO designed by seriously disgruntled hardcore devs and intended only for the ten hardcore players that they like" vs "we want to be WoW and are giving it a shot".

    Then there are the games which tried to be different and not fit a niche, so there's no category for them. The Thief series, it's about sneaking but people try to call it an FPS because people want categories. And the Thief wannabes which don't measure up but which possibly could be called sneaking games. Then there are hybrid Action/RPG, some of which I like but they can't realy decide if they want to disappoint RPG players or disappoint FPS players, or designed for one crowd but mis-marketed to the other crowd. Or a game that's entirely story and you just follow along and every 10 minutes you have to do a quick-time event. Games that are RTS with RPG elements, or RPGs with RTS elements. And utterly unique things like Katamari Damashi.

  • Really the whole basis of the argument is that they couldn't translate WoW gamers into other MMOs. Okay. But that doesn't mean there aren't gamers for given genres.

    Take RTS games... there are absolutely RTS gamers.

    FPS gamers? Oh yes. There are some gamers that that is what they play pretty much period.

    Stealth games? Yuuup.

    Adventure games... you know the point and click things... there are some people that that is all they play.

    Now are there people that cross a lot of lines? sure. But just as with movies, yo

  • I mostly play single player RPGs, some strategy games. These days one of the defining points of RPGs is in a LOT of games. I'm talking about character development, which in video game RPGs has usually been shown as character ability development. The other main defining point of RPGs is plot. This has also been in more and more games. As other games gain those traits my interest in them increases. I prefer RPGs that require thought more than speed on the keyboard.

    Genres blend, divide, and blend again. When D

  • Not sure what that says exactly. But hey, never thought I'd be part of the 1% of anything.

  • With MMO's, it is the genre that gets you interested, but it is the variety of things to do that keeps you there. This idea seems to be fading away as multiple events ingame seem to drive players in a certain directions, while the open-world aspect is relegated to grinding ad-nauseum to level up. A great MMO lets every aspect of the world contribute to the advancement of your player to the point where you don't even realize you are leveling up. Every corner of an MMO needs to be interesting to play eith
  • by RogerWilco ( 99615 ) on Saturday August 22, 2015 @12:19PM (#50370271) Homepage Journal

    I used to be an MMO Player, I played several, with my biggest amount of time spent in World of Warcraft.

    I stopped playing MMOs when NCSoft killed my favourite MMO out of the blue: City of Heroes.
    I liked it because it was not like other MMOs I had played. There were no restrictions on level, class, gear or skill as to which players could team up and have fun together. Your character was totally unique. There was the most and best story telling I've seen in any MMO, including WoW. It wasn't perfect, but I still consider it the best game ever.

    I was having a lot of fun in that game, only having discovered it quite late (It was at first not available where I lived).
    Then NCSoft killed it two weeks before the new expansion went live. By what information the players could gather, not for financial reasons, but due to corporate politics.
    After that I decided I never wanted to invest time again into something where I was at the mercy of a corporate boardroom on the other side of the globe. I don't want to play any game where I don't control the hardware needed to run it.

  • No, you can't enter a game segment late with a poor product, lacking in originality, and expect it sales.

    Also, I disagree with the article as someone who prefers 3D action and adventure games over say, card games and 2D puzzle games.

  • – Like low-status Neanderthals, contemporary men who aren't exactly winners—literally, when it comes to playing video games—are more likely to harass women online, new research cited in the Washington Post finds. Scientists who conducted the study published in Plos One played 163 games of Halo as either male-voiced players or female-voiced players (82 female, 81 male) with remote teammates and opponents. The study gauged a remote player's skill by measuring such factors like kills and deat

Your own mileage may vary.