The Casual Market and its Impact on Gaming

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Posted by JJames3dCG (121 posts) -

The battle of hardcore gamers versus casual gamers…It’s a discussion that hasn’t been around that long, but already we’ve seen it shape the landscape of video games as we know it. For better or worse those two terms, Hardcore Gamer and Casual Gamer, are playing the deciding factors in what games are being made, and the future of our industry. The influence it has on everything from concept to game design to the final release, is startling.

In a recent interview with IGN’s own Luke Karmali, Final Fantasy: Lightning Returns’ director Motomu Toriyama had this to say,

in those days we aimed to make the most out of the specs of the popular consoles to be able to offer cutting edge, supreme gaming experiences to our users. Since then though, I think the environment in which gamers play has experienced quite a drastic change. Now, we need games angled towards more casual gamers as well as those for more high-end players, like Lightning Returns.

All gamers can be essentially distilled down to one of two groups; group A) People who enjoy playing games as a personally enriching hobby, or group B) People who don’t generally play games, but will spent short periods of time with just the right ones, commonly as a means to pass unused time. These two groups are separated by their level of interest and reason for playing. The game they chose to play isn’t as important as their reason for playing it. People in Group A are better known as “hardcore gamers” or "Core gamers". People in Group B are better known as “casual gamers”. Let’s take a look at some of the differences between the two, starting with the core gamer.

The definition of hardcore gamers can vary greatly, depending on whom you ask. But in the most rudimentary sense of the term, it refers to people that play games to enrich their lives through this specific hobby. Now it truly doesn’t matter the number of games you play, or the length of time you play them, as peoples’ available time for gaming varies based on a number of factors including; age, responsibilities, employment status, marital status, having children, and amount of disposable income to name a few. Overall though, hardcore gamers generally like a challenge. They like to feel like their time spent with a game has been an accomplishment of some sort, whether that accomplishment be fully exploring a vast open world, achieving that 100th consecutive headshot, or leveling a characters attack power to 9999. Hardcore gamers play for the love of the game, typically more than one genre are played, and each day some amount of time is spent playing or thinking about playing with a high level of passion involved.

Casual gamer, is a term that has sprung up as recently as 2006, around the time of the Wii’s entry to the market. Nintendo had an idea, to spread the love of gaming to ALL people, not just those “hardcore gamers”. Nintendo wanted to see very young kids, mothers, grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts, uncles, under 5, and over 50, ALL playing (and buying) their games. The Wii was just the console to do that. The Wii sold approximately 20-25 MILLION more units, than the most popular Sony PlayStation and Microsoft Xbox360 consoles did. How did Nintendo do it? They got the “casual gamer” buying. People who generally don’t play games, but can enjoy a game, for a short period of time, if it’s just the right one and easy enough to pick up and play. Generally speaking, casual gamers are not concerned with seeing and doing all there is to do in a game. In fact, most of the games that casual gamers tend to play are rather simple, straightforward, and singular in their task dispersion, so as not to overwhelm or put-off the buyer (player) from continuing with the experience. Where a hardcore gamer will see difficulty in a game as a challenge, and push forward until persevering, the casual gamer gets frustrated and simply puts it down. It’s the lack of passion for the game that allows the casual gamer to easily move on from something when it becomes too demanding.

Now, as with anything that has extreme opposites, there’s always some crossover. Some hardcore gamers actually prefer simpler non-challenging games from time to time. Likewise, some casual gamers actually long for a good challenge here and there. It’s this crossover that developers are interested in. The conversion of the casual gamer, to the hardcore gamer is a good thing in terms of sales. If developers can get more casual players playing (buying) their game, that translates into more sales. The average sales for most AAA titles are 1-5 million units sold. Developers would love to entice casual gamers into that sales total, bringing it to something more like 10-20 million units sold . Just look at the consoles themselves as an example. If you consider the PS3 (80million sold) and 360 (80 million sold) the hardcore consoles, and the Wii (100 million sold) the casual console, who wouldn’t want to get their hands on the casual market more often! Therein lies the rub.

If the traditional core gamer is what made the video game market what it is today, how do we go about incorporating the casual market without adversely impacting what the hardcore have come to know and love about video games? What good is it to reach a bigger casual market, if you lose the core audience in the process? Isn’t it just trading one for the other in terms of sales? A good example of this is Final Fantasy. FF is a long running well established series, traditionally considered a core gamers game. Remember what Final Fantasy: Lightning Returns’ director Motomu Toriyama said about the needing of games to be angled towards the casual market….Take a look at this chart below, found on VGChartz, detailing the sales of popular Final Fantasy entries. Note the hardcore focused titles compared to the casual skewed titles and their sales.

Final Fantasy XIII only sold as much as XII because the core expected it to be a like-minded experience to the rest of the franchise. Notice how XIII-2 sales suffered. Final Fantasy XIII wasn't a complete failure, I can say that as a longtime fan of the series I somewhat enjoyed it, but it wasn't on par with previous entries of the series. Not because it wasn't turned based, but because the heart and soul were missing. The challenges of exploring were missing. Strong story elements were missing. Those elements are integral to core gaming experiences. Part of anything that's of any value to us, is hard to attain, difficult to acquire. That's where the satisfaction upon completion comes into play. You look back at your arduous journey, and think to yourself, "Man, I did that! I made it through the difficult times, and came out on the other side more accomplished for doing so." A true sensation of any accomplishment in life, but especially true in games, specifically those of the past, where fitting casual gamers into the mix wasn’t yet a focus. That's been a common complaint these days that "games are too easy" or "it's for the casual gamers". Something gets left on the proverbial cutting room floor of the game when trying to make a hardcore game satisfying for the casual market.

"At the beginning of the project, [Lightning Returns] was going to be a very, very hard game with a high difficulty level. But we wanted to make it more accessible for all users rather than just core gamers, so there are some areas and elements we decided not to include in the final version. Now, looking at the game as it is, I do sometimes feel that…okay, even though it was the right decision for us to exclude those elements in order to make it more accessible, I might have been able to still make it intuitive and easy enough so that those not so proficient at gaming could enjoy it.” – Final Fantasy XIII: Lightning Returns gameplay director Yuji Abe

The mashing up of these two worlds, the casual focused gamer and the core gamer, is a perplexing one. Do I want to see more people enjoying games on the level I do, of course! Do I want the games industry to survive and thrive, off a boosted sales report due to the added figures of the casual market, definitely! Where I take issue, is when the games become so convoluted in their creation, thanks to the urge to satisfy both sides, that they are no longer appealing to either. By definition, casual gamers aren’t interested in the core game experiences, or they would be a core gamer!! The best resolution for this issue is one that is already in place, and has been being used since almost the dawn of gaming…..the difficulty setting (Easy, Medium, Hard). The difficulty setting used to be the way that less experienced or novice players could take part in the game without experience in the genre or feeling overwhelmed by many of the games challenges.

Instead of removing core mechanics, or entire sections of the game because it might be too difficult for the casual audience, why not just tone down the difficulty at that location through the “easy” mode selection at the start of the game. For that matter, developers could exclude all the difficult portions they found to be too off-putting to casual gamers, in the easy mode of the game. Entire sections of the game could be removed, general difficulty could be toned down, and so on. Then keep the game as originally intended for the core audience at the “normal” or “hard” difficulty. It’s just that simply. So why not do that? Is it because of the stigma attached to playing the game on “Easy”? Or is it something else entirely?

Game developers have seen firsthand how much money there is in the casual market thanks to things like the Wii, mobile phones, tablets, and browser based games. Like it or not this trend is not one likely to go away anytime soon. I just hope for the sake of the industry, that they figure out how to please both core and casual players alike, without compromising what makes the game/genre great. Otherwise we might find ourselves relegated to compromised visions of masterpieces like the Final Fantasy series has seen of late.

-Rendermonk

#1 Edited by Areez (6278 posts) -

The battle of hardcore gamers versus casual gamers…It’s a discussion that hasn’t been around that long, but already we’ve seen it shape the landscape of video games as we know it. For better or worse those two terms, Hardcore Gamer and Casual Gamer, are playing the deciding factors in what games are being made, and the future of our industry. The influence it has on everything from concept to game design to the final release, is startling.

In a recent interview with IGN’s own Luke Karmali, Final Fantasy: Lightning Returns’ director Motomu Toriyama had this to say,

in those days we aimed to make the most out of the specs of the popular consoles to be able to offer cutting edge, supreme gaming experiences to our users. Since then though, I think the environment in which gamers play has experienced quite a drastic change. Now, we need games angled towards more casual gamers as well as those for more high-end players, like Lightning Returns.

All gamers can be essentially distilled down to one of two groups; group A) People who enjoy playing games as a personally enriching hobby, or group B) People who don’t generally play games, but will spent short periods of time with just the right ones, commonly as a means to pass unused time. These two groups are separated by their level of interest and reason for playing. The game they chose to play isn’t as important as their reason for playing it. People in Group A are better known as “hardcore gamers” or "Core gamers". People in Group B are better known as “casual gamers”. Let’s take a look at some of the differences between the two, starting with the core gamer.

The definition of hardcore gamers can vary greatly, depending on whom you ask. But in the most rudimentary sense of the term, it refers to people that play games to enrich their lives through this specific hobby. Now it truly doesn’t matter the number of games you play, or the length of time you play them, as peoples’ available time for gaming varies based on a number of factors including; age, responsibilities, employment status, marital status, having children, and amount of disposable income to name a few. Overall though, hardcore gamers generally like a challenge. They like to feel like their time spent with a game has been an accomplishment of some sort, whether that accomplishment be fully exploring a vast open world, achieving that 100th consecutive headshot, or leveling a characters attack power to 9999. Hardcore gamers play for the love of the game, typically more than one genre are played, and each day some amount of time is spent playing or thinking about playing with a high level of passion involved.

Casual gamer, is a term that has sprung up as recently as 2006, around the time of the Wii’s entry to the market. Nintendo had an idea, to spread the love of gaming to ALL people, not just those “hardcore gamers”. Nintendo wanted to see very young kids, mothers, grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts, uncles, under 5, and over 50, ALL playing (and buying) their games. The Wii was just the console to do that. The Wii sold approximately 20-25 MILLION more units, than the most popular Sony PlayStation and Microsoft Xbox360 consoles did. How did Nintendo do it? They got the “casual gamer” buying. People who generally don’t play games, but can enjoy a game, for a short period of time, if it’s just the right one and easy enough to pick up and play. Generally speaking, casual gamers are not concerned with seeing and doing all there is to do in a game. In fact, most of the games that casual gamers tend to play are rather simple, straightforward, and singular in their task dispersion, so as not to overwhelm or put-off the buyer (player) from continuing with the experience. Where a hardcore gamer will see difficulty in a game as a challenge, and push forward until persevering, the casual gamer gets frustrated and simply puts it down. It’s the lack of passion for the game that allows the casual gamer to easily move on from something when it becomes too demanding.

Now, as with anything that has extreme opposites, there’s always some crossover. Some hardcore gamers actually prefer simpler non-challenging games from time to time. Likewise, some casual gamers actually long for a good challenge here and there. It’s this crossover that developers are interested in. The conversion of the casual gamer, to the hardcore gamer is a good thing in terms of sales. If developers can get more casual players playing (buying) their game, that translates into more sales. The average sales for most AAA titles are 1-5 million units sold. Developers would love to entice casual gamers into that sales total, bringing it to something more like 10-20 million units sold . Just look at the consoles themselves as an example. If you consider the PS3 (80million sold) and 360 (80 million sold) the hardcore consoles, and the Wii (100 million sold) the casual console, who wouldn’t want to get their hands on the casual market more often! Therein lies the rub.

If the traditional core gamer is what made the video game market what it is today, how do we go about incorporating the casual market without adversely impacting what the hardcore have come to know and love about video games? What good is it to reach a bigger casual market, if you lose the core audience in the process? Isn’t it just trading one for the other in terms of sales? A good example of this is Final Fantasy. FF is a long running well established series, traditionally considered a core gamers game. Remember what Final Fantasy: Lightning Returns’ director Motomu Toriyama said about the needing of games to be angled towards the casual market….Take a look at this chart below, found on VGChartz, detailing the sales of popular Final Fantasy entries. Note the hardcore focused titles compared to the casual skewed titles and their sales.

Final Fantasy XIII only sold as much as XII because the core expected it to be a like-minded experience to the rest of the franchise. Notice how XIII-2 sales suffered. Final Fantasy XIII wasn't a complete failure, I can say that as a longtime fan of the series I somewhat enjoyed it, but it wasn't on par with previous entries of the series. Not because it wasn't turned based, but because the heart and soul were missing. The challenges of exploring were missing. Strong story elements were missing. Those elements are integral to core gaming experiences. Part of anything that's of any value to us, is hard to attain, difficult to acquire. That's where the satisfaction upon completion comes into play. You look back at your arduous journey, and think to yourself, "Man, I did that! I made it through the difficult times, and came out on the other side more accomplished for doing so." A true sensation of any accomplishment in life, but especially true in games, specifically those of the past, where fitting casual gamers into the mix wasn’t yet a focus. That's been a common complaint these days that "games are too easy" or "it's for the casual gamers". Something gets left on the proverbial cutting room floor of the game when trying to make a hardcore game satisfying for the casual market.

"At the beginning of the project, [Lightning Returns] was going to be a very, very hard game with a high difficulty level. But we wanted to make it more accessible for all users rather than just core gamers, so there are some areas and elements we decided not to include in the final version. Now, looking at the game as it is, I do sometimes feel that…okay, even though it was the right decision for us to exclude those elements in order to make it more accessible, I might have been able to still make it intuitive and easy enough so that those not so proficient at gaming could enjoy it.” – Final Fantasy XIII: Lightning Returns gameplay director Yuji Abe

The mashing up of these two worlds, the casual focused gamer and the core gamer, is a perplexing one. Do I want to see more people enjoying games on the level I do, of course! Do I want the games industry to survive and thrive, off a boosted sales report due to the added figures of the casual market, definitely! Where I take issue, is when the games become so convoluted in their creation, thanks to the urge to satisfy both sides, that they are no longer appealing to either. By definition, casual gamers aren’t interested in the core game experiences, or they would be a core gamer!! The best resolution for this issue is one that is already in place, and has been being used since almost the dawn of gaming…..the difficulty setting (Easy, Medium, Hard). The difficulty setting used to be the way that less experienced or novice players could take part in the game without experience in the genre or feeling overwhelmed by many of the games challenges.

Instead of removing core mechanics, or entire sections of the game because it might be too difficult for the casual audience, why not just tone down the difficulty at that location through the “easy” mode selection at the start of the game. For that matter, developers could exclude all the difficult portions they found to be too off-putting to casual gamers, in the easy mode of the game. Entire sections of the game could be removed, general difficulty could be toned down, and so on. Then keep the game as originally intended for the core audience at the “normal” or “hard” difficulty. It’s just that simply. So why not do that? Is it because of the stigma attached to playing the game on “Easy”? Or is it something else entirely?

Game developers have seen firsthand how much money there is in the casual market thanks to things like the Wii, mobile phones, tablets, and browser based games. Like it or not this trend is not one likely to go away anytime soon. I just hope for the sake of the industry, that they figure out how to please both core and casual players alike, without compromising what makes the game/genre great. Otherwise we might find ourselves relegated to compromised visions of masterpieces like the Final Fantasy series has seen of late.

-Rendermonk

The industry is changing without a doubt. I think back to 1982, when I first started playing video games on the Atari system. It was Space Invaders that captivated my attention and introduced me to the world of video games.

Some 32 years later, we are now witnessing a convergence of tech and services into consolidated devices. How we interact with games, and consume them is changing and mimicking other forms of entertainment.

How, many of us first played video games is much different than the younger gen of future hardcore & casual gamers. Unlike my own experiences, these gamers are being exposed to games on a non-traditional console platform. Take my son for example who is 4 and my nephew who is 8. Both got their first gaming experiences through the use of a tablet device. Whats more, many of the games they have been exposed to early on, have been free to play android based games. Why is this important? Potentially as they grow older, their expectations of a gaming device will be one that encompasses features that do more then just allow gaming. And if they have grown accustomed to accessing content via the net and for free, than the expectation of software consumption will probably change as well.

It would not surprise me, in the near future if we download games for free that have micro-transactions built in as a feature. Peter Moore recently touched upon this, and mentioned how EA is now an internet company. He seems to think too, that game consumption will very much be like this in the future.

#2 Posted by drekula2 (1880 posts) -

I have a moral reservation against quoting giant posts, but "blame the casual market" sounds like an excuse for the FF series go downhill.

#3 Posted by Lulu_Lulu (8649 posts) -

The only reason I became a gamer is because My brother kept mocking me for not playing contra, Painfull Memories.

Anyway if theres onething casual gamers are good for, its common sense. Because lets face it, you hardcore bastards are insane. I'd sooner listen to my sister than the guy who finnished Dark Souls with no weapons and has bags under his eyes. I say casual gamers are better. But they do rear their ugly heads on farmville.

#4 Edited by The_Last_Ride (69165 posts) -

The only reason I became a gamer is because My brother kept mocking me for not playing contra, Painfull Memories.

Anyway if theres onething casual gamers are good for, its common sense. Because lets face it, you hardcore bastards are insane. I'd sooner listen to my sister than the guy who finnished Dark Souls with no weapons and has bags under his eyes. I say casual gamers are better. But they do rear their ugly heads on farmville.

You do know that the hardcore gamer enjoy the gaming more right? It's not common sense. If you say COD is the best game because it's catering to casual gamer and is therefore the best game around you are mistaken. Casual gamers are the ones that make publishers go for the annual release rather than spend 2 years or more on a game. It's a sad fact, but true. You are also generalizing hardcore gamers in your post. Now casual gamers might go for games like Final Fantasy, but it's rare. The hardcore gamers are the ones that tell companies what games are good or not. Most of the time, not always. That's why we get games like Last of Us and Bioschock and even indie titles like Journey. Because casual gamers don't buy those games 95% of the time

#5 Edited by megaspiderweb09 (3679 posts) -

The only reason I became a gamer is because My brother kept mocking me for not playing contra, Painfull Memories.

Anyway if theres onething casual gamers are good for, its common sense. Because lets face it, you hardcore bastards are insane. I'd sooner listen to my sister than the guy who finnished Dark Souls with no weapons and has bags under his eyes. I say casual gamers are better. But they do rear their ugly heads on farmville.

Whaaa....excuse us but we are not insane, we just have a passion for what we love, our hobby that has grown with us since we were kids. Most of us who fall into the hardcore demography grew up with video games in one form or another so there is a bit of passion involved to different degrees, it is just like your favourite sports club you supported as a kid and you grew up with or your favourite TV series that has been on air since you were a kid. Look at comic book heroes, one of their major appeals is because we grew up alongside them, Batman has grown with its audience, that brings a bond-like-cord with us hardcores and the industry.

To me, i used to see casuals as people with low attention spans who are also dumb but that isnt necesarily true, it is just as the TC said, the level of passion is different, if you have little interest in something, you wont devout time/money to said activity, just like Mathematics in school, only people who have interest in the subject are in the ones who excell at it, others struggle with it because they are forced to learn it as a must do

#7 Edited by CarnageHeart (18316 posts) -
#8 Edited by The_Last_Ride (69165 posts) -
#9 Edited by ReddestSkies (4087 posts) -

One game should never try to appeal to two totally different customer profiles. It's only very rarely gonna work.

What big publishers need to learn is what a "niche" is, and why it is better to make ten 10M$ niche games for specific audiences instead of making one 100M$ game that tries to appeal to everyone. As more and more AAA titles fail sales-wise, they will adjust to what the market has to say.

#10 Posted by Lulu_Lulu (8649 posts) -

@ The_Last_Ride

I firmly disagree, I believe people who play COD exclusively are still part of the hardcore demograph, or at the very least, overlap it in someway.

Passion makes people do stupid sh!t, everybody knows that, thank god for Casual Gamers who pull us out of our Anorak like Insanity every now and then. Perhaps we should establish what the guidelines are for hardcore/casual gamers are before we continue, lest we have many misunderstandings.

#11 Posted by Lulu_Lulu (8649 posts) -

@ megaspiderweb09

The only difference between passion and isanity is the spelling. One man's "crazy" is another man's "passion/commitment", you just gotta put yourself into the state of mind of somebody who plays (insert casual game) and the "you collected 400 collectables in GTA" will finaly have some context. Need I remind of the "The Wrath Of The Vengefull Cupcakes" of 2012 or the "His hair is different now, everything is ruined".

#12 Posted by The_Last_Ride (69165 posts) -

@ The_Last_Ride

I firmly disagree, I believe people who play COD exclusively are still part of the hardcore demograph, or at the very least, overlap it in someway.

Passion makes people do stupid sh!t, everybody knows that, thank god for Casual Gamers who pull us out of our Anorak like Insanity every now and then. Perhaps we should establish what the guidelines are for hardcore/casual gamers are before we continue, lest we have many misunderstandings.

It's established that hardcore gamers play more than one or two games each year. Unless you are a e-sport gamer, you aren't a hardcore gamer if you just play COD, FIFA or Madden. A core gamer is one that loves the artform and enjoys several genres for example and also buy more than between 1-3 games each year. A casual gamer plays to make the game fly, a core gamer have gaming as their hobby and like it to experience new games and immerse themselves in a game

#13 Posted by Lulu_Lulu (8649 posts) -

@ The_Last_Ride

What about skill and difficulty ? What if they are not e-athletes yet are very proficient at their exclusive game of choice, come on, we gotta award some hardcore status for that atleast. Whaddya say ? You feeling generous ?

#14 Posted by megaspiderweb09 (3679 posts) -

@ megaspiderweb09

The only difference between passion and isanity is the spelling. One man's "crazy" is another man's "passion/commitment", you just gotta put yourself into the state of mind of somebody who plays (insert casual game) and the "you collected 400 collectables in GTA" will finaly have some context. Need I remind of the "The Wrath Of The Vengefull Cupcakes" of 2012 or the "His hair is different now, everything is ruined".

I am sorry but you would have to come again with this post, too confusing. Also while i do understand the first bit where you indicate that its all a matter of perception, i do not see how that still qualifies hardcore gamers as insane. For example, i love drawing, always did since i was a kid, i itch to draw often and i find myself doing so at school during class or at work when customers are not everywhere, does that mean i am insane or i just love what i do?

#15 Posted by Lulu_Lulu (8649 posts) -

@ megaspiderweb09

Mass Effect 3 ending, and DmC reboot. That should be simple, two outrageous controversies spearheaded by hardcore fans one of which inspired vengefull Cupcakes. Thats about as simple as I can go.

#16 Edited by Jacanuk (3720 posts) -

@ megaspiderweb09

Mass Effect 3 ending, and DmC reboot. That should be simple, two outrageous controversies spearheaded by hardcore fans one of which inspired vengefull Cupcakes. Thats about as simple as I can go.

It wasn´t just "hardcare" gamers who got pissed over Mass Effects ending, i think you can say without lying that 85% who played it and got to that hated it, the last 15% was 12.5% who just had to troll and say they liked it and then the last part was people who actually thought ok, fine ending.

#17 Edited by The_Last_Ride (69165 posts) -

@ megaspiderweb09

Mass Effect 3 ending, and DmC reboot. That should be simple, two outrageous controversies spearheaded by hardcore fans one of which inspired vengefull Cupcakes. Thats about as simple as I can go.

If it hadn't been for the hardcore the extended ending wouldn't have happend. I rest my case. It was never about the overall game, just the enormous plot holes they had in the original ending

@ The_Last_Ride

What about skill and difficulty ? What if they are not e-athletes yet are very proficient at their exclusive game of choice, come on, we gotta award some hardcore status for that atleast. Whaddya say ? You feeling generous ?

Nope, that's at least where i draw the line. Hardcore gamers play overall more than a few games a year and love gaming as a hobby. Usually the public calls them geeks. I don't mind the term to be honest. But most casual gamers aren't that into gaming. Being into one game doesn't make you a hardcore gamer

#18 Edited by Planeforger (15411 posts) -

@JJames3dCG:

The whole casualised (or, perhaps more accurately, 'consolised') discussion didn't just spring up because of the Wii. Even in the fifth generation there had begun to be a trend where the consoles started getting simplified, more broadly-appealing versions of PC games (and we subsequently started getting simpler sequels to long-running 'hardcore' PC game series). I think that trend really exploded with the Xbox 360, if anything, with titles like Oblivion suddenly becoming hugely appealing to the bro-gamer audience, while mostly just annoying their previous fanbase.

As for Final Fantasy...firstly, you're using VGCharts to monitor their sales. That's never a good idea.
Secondly...you're making a lot of weird assumptions in there. For example, you assume that the more 'hardcore' experience games sell better than the casual ones, but I don't think that makes any sense, since appealing to the wider audience should land the games more sales than the ones that only appeal to a small fanbase.

Why did FF7 sell three times as much as FF6 (arguably the best game in the series)? It wasn't because FF7 was the more 'hardcore' game - it was because FF7 appealed to audiences that had never played JRPGs before. Just like Oblivion, it served as the perfect "my first RPG" for its generation.
So why would you expect FF13 - a game that you think was designed for casuals - to sell much worse than the best games in the series?

As for your difficulty point...I agree with you in spirit (and Nintendo is one of the industry leaders there - they tend to know exactly how to give rewarding experiences to both the casual and hardcore crowds), but I don't think that works for a lot of games.
I mean, Bethesda was never going to get millions of bro-gamers to play a sequel to Fallout 2 by simply making the combat easier or removing some of the more complex features; they needed to turn the game into a shooter and streamline the complex roleplaying mechanics to the bare minimum.

#19 Posted by Gargus (2147 posts) -

Do none of you actually realize casual gaming has been around for decades? You act as its somehow new.

The original Gameboy was a casual gamers paradise thanks to tetris with tetris being why the majority of its purchasers got it and those people didn't really play other games or own any systems. Casual java based website games have been around since the 90's. Barbie games date back to the NES. Pac man. Solitaire, minesweeper. Jesus the list of games that are casual is endless.

But now it seems new gamers talk about how they change things and converse about them as if they have special insight and knowledge. It reminds me of the college freshman who sits in starbucks giving a 9th grade interpretation of catcher in the rye like he is some wise and learned man dispensing insight to mindless children.

#20 Edited by Lulu_Lulu (8649 posts) -

@ Jacanuk

are you saying casuals played it too ? Then they are not really Casual Gamers According to The Last Ride's definition. It wasn't a yearly release, and I can't prove it but I strongly doubt theres people out there who have Mass Effect and nothing else. Not to mention that this is an RPG: you ever tried explain an RPG to a casual gamer ? You'd bore them to sleep litteraly right on the spot.

#21 Posted by Lulu_Lulu (8649 posts) -

@ The_Last_Ride

Oh yes you got your ending all right, tell me, how did that happen again ? The results don't vindicate the means used to obtain them, that was super crazy.

"Nope, that's at least where i draw the line. Hardcore

gamers play overall more than a few games a year

and love gaming as a hobby."

Hey thats nice, but this isn't about "you" and your "principals", you have to give these bastards a fair chance. After all if they are just buying single games then they what kind of impact are they really having on the industry? I reckon not much, despite the motion gaming trend from a few years a ago.

#22 Edited by Jacanuk (3720 posts) -

@Lulu_Lulu said:

@ Jacanuk

are you saying casuals played it too ? Then they are not really Casual Gamers According to The Last Ride's definition. It wasn't a yearly release, and I can't prove it but I strongly doubt theres people out there who have Mass Effect and nothing else. Not to mention that this is an RPG: you ever tried explain an RPG to a casual gamer ? You'd bore them to sleep litteraly right on the spot.

Of course Casual players played Mass Effect, its one of the few titles that people universally could agree was good, and thats also why the developers did what they did, not because a small group of "hardcore" gamers thought it was cool and complain.

In fact they wouldn't be hardcore gamers if they didn't complain :)

Also who told you casual-gamers dont play RPG`s?

#23 Posted by SKaREO (3161 posts) -

Catering to casuals is a major problem with gaming today.

#24 Posted by Jacanuk (3720 posts) -

@SKaREO said:

Catering to casuals is a major problem with gaming today.

That all depends on which group you call casual.

#25 Edited by JJames3dCG (121 posts) -

@Planeforger:

As I stated in the article, it was around the time of the Wii, that the casual market exploded. I won't say that games didn't get easier before then, just that it's the Wii's popularity and the up and coming mobile market then, that really brought on the craze. That's pretty clear if you look at.

As for Final Fantasy and using VGChartz for my sales numbers; I don't always. It's one site that I used this time around, that's close enough to accurate to make the assessments on. I'm well aware of how VGChartz under/over tracks games all the time, but overall, it's not a bad source.

It's not that casual games CAN'T sell more than a game targeted at the core, but that when you try to take a core game, and make it more casual to appeal to the wider audience, it CAN have devastating results (that's where the FF example came into play. The older FF games, considered to be games for the core gamer, sold far better than those of the ones skewed towards the casual market.) Basically what happened is, they gained a few new casual players, but lost millions of core players in the process. That's the concern or fear for future games. Doesn't have to be FF, and doesn't have to apply to all situations, just something to watch as time goes on.

Concerning your last paragraph, that's my point. Casual gamers don't want to play hardcore gamers games. If they did they wouldn't need to be "converted" to the core audience, as they would already be part of the core audience. But they are not. They won't be because they don't care for games the same way that core gamers do. That's the WHOLE essence of the article. That core gamers game and game plenty (on a variety of genres) because they love gaming as a hobby, that's what makes them the core gamer. Casual gamers don't LOVE gaming as a hobby. They like a certain title here and there, and that's it.

#26 Posted by JJames3dCG (121 posts) -

@Gargus: Games weren't considered "casual" at the time of Gameboy, as gaming wasn't mainstream like it is today. This is where the terms core and casual gamers are really coming into focus, and it's because of the ever widening gap between those that game, and those that don't, and the devs that want a buck from all of them.

Please don't come in here with your hate. If you have something to contribute about the article great. But to come in and just poke and prod at people who take the time to think about things and write about them is sad. If you don't have something better to contribute, save it.

#27 Edited by Some-Mist (5630 posts) -

Gaming is going in a direction that I don't support. The mainstream and casual (I consider both different but they aren't necessarily mutually exclusive) consumer base are a force so big that as a long-time gamer... it's becoming more and more difficult to make a difference.

"Casual gamers" aside - one series that I can truly take my hat off and bow to is the Souls series. It's one series this generation that established a link between hardcore and mainstream gaming. Back when I played the Asian version of Demon's Souls, had you asked me if I thought it was a mainstream game.. I would have laughed. It truly surprised me that the series became mainstream. It's the link that the OP mentions and I don't think it has anything to do with the casual gamer. I think there will be developers moving forward that will try to establish that same link between hardcore and mainstream gaming, but true hardcore titles will fade once companies like Treasure, CAVE, G.Rev, and Daedalic fold. The obvious "smart" move for a company is to cater to the largest consumer base.

Valve is a prime example of how a company can prosper by casualizing their games and aiming at the mainstream. Just look at the Team Fortress series. One of the steepest learning curves and difficult yet competitive gameplay in the First Person Shooter genre with the original team's Quake World Team Fortress and then Valve's Team Fortress Classic. Now mechanically watered down microtransaction garbage called TF2. And "additional content" aside.. where's bunnyhopping? sharking? advanced rampsliding? concing (hand held concing, mastering conc aim, timed offensive conc runs)? or grenades in general? everything that made TFC a challenging and addictive experience? Valve knew that TFC wasn't attractive to "mainstream gamers" because lets face it.. who wants to spend years learning how to master game mechanics while getting wrecked by seasoned players when you can pickup a game and play regardless of your dedication to the game and/or genre? It was a fantastic business decision on Valve's part.

I will stick to what I know. There is an endless library of games that cater to my tastes and genres that I haven't mastered, let alone touched. There are still indie titles and those rare companies like Treasure who will still put out titles I enjoy. Companies like Treasure will eventually be reduced to a small team creating social mobile games because their fantastic titles are now being overlooked and aren't selling (i.e. CAVE), but I can still enjoy their new offerings while they last. I still have my NEO-GEO MVS carts, arcade boards, SNES classics, and old school PC arena shooters and point and click adventures to master before I decide if I want to move forward with what gaming now has to offer.

I'm now part of a minority both as a consumer and in mainstream gaming communities such as gamespot, and I will be phased out by my hobby just as the types of games I enjoy are being phased out. In the eyes of developers, what do I matter when your game will go on to sell a couple million copies? Maybe I'm just slowly becoming an old fart at the age of 25 and can't adapt to what the new generations find appealing.

"Back in my day, I spent 7 years mastering Team Fortress Classic at a high end competitive level and invested months of practice into 1 credit clearing 5-7 stages per each shoot-em-up."

Lastly... I don't consider myself a "hardcore gamer" but I focus my game time on "hardcore games". As the OP states, everyone define's "hardcore" differently. I believe a hardcore gamer is someone who invests a lot of time into a game and/or gaming culture (gaming forums, magazines, etc..), whether it's call of duty, the walking dead, mushihimesama futari, or wii sports. Hardcore games are those that provide a steep learning curve and are difficult to master. I used to be a "hardcore gamer" when I had the time. Now I simply enjoy playing "hardcore games" with the little gaming time I have. "Hardcore games" are now being phased out... but you can still find gems if you keep an eye out. Games that cater to "hardcore gamers" aren't going anywhere.

#28 Posted by The_Last_Ride (69165 posts) -

@ The_Last_Ride

Oh yes you got your ending all right, tell me, how did that happen again ? The results don't vindicate the means used to obtain them, that was super crazy.

"Nope, that's at least where i draw the line. Hardcore

gamers play overall more than a few games a year

and love gaming as a hobby."

Hey thats nice, but this isn't about "you" and your "principals", you have to give these bastards a fair chance. After all if they are just buying single games then they what kind of impact are they really having on the industry? I reckon not much, despite the motion gaming trend from a few years a ago.

Yet who is pre-ordering next gen titles? Buying indies? Made Microsoft change DRM policies? Made EA drop online passes? Sure as hell wasn't the casual

#29 Posted by dotWithShoes (4797 posts) -

@Lulu_Lulu said:

The only reason I became a gamer is because My brother kept mocking me for not playing contra, Painfull Memories.

Anyway if theres onething casual gamers are good for, its common sense. Because lets face it, you hardcore bastards are insane. I'd sooner listen to my sister than the guy who finnished Dark Souls with no weapons and has bags under his eyes. I say casual gamers are better. But they do rear their ugly heads on farmville.

You do know that the hardcore gamer enjoy the gaming more right? It's not common sense. If you say COD is the best game because it's catering to casual gamer and is therefore the best game around you are mistaken. Casual gamers are the ones that make publishers go for the annual release rather than spend 2 years or more on a game. It's a sad fact, but true. You are also generalizing hardcore gamers in your post. Now casual gamers might go for games like Final Fantasy, but it's rare. The hardcore gamers are the ones that tell companies what games are good or not. Most of the time, not always. That's why we get games like Last of Us and Bioschock and even indie titles like Journey. Because casual gamers don't buy those games 95% of the time

You do realize that COD games have a two year dev cycle right?

#30 Edited by The_Last_Ride (69165 posts) -

@The_Last_Ride said:

@Lulu_Lulu said:

The only reason I became a gamer is because My brother kept mocking me for not playing contra, Painfull Memories.

Anyway if theres onething casual gamers are good for, its common sense. Because lets face it, you hardcore bastards are insane. I'd sooner listen to my sister than the guy who finnished Dark Souls with no weapons and has bags under his eyes. I say casual gamers are better. But they do rear their ugly heads on farmville.

You do know that the hardcore gamer enjoy the gaming more right? It's not common sense. If you say COD is the best game because it's catering to casual gamer and is therefore the best game around you are mistaken. Casual gamers are the ones that make publishers go for the annual release rather than spend 2 years or more on a game. It's a sad fact, but true. You are also generalizing hardcore gamers in your post. Now casual gamers might go for games like Final Fantasy, but it's rare. The hardcore gamers are the ones that tell companies what games are good or not. Most of the time, not always. That's why we get games like Last of Us and Bioschock and even indie titles like Journey. Because casual gamers don't buy those games 95% of the time

You do realize that COD games have a two year dev cycle right?

Yeah, it's still annual, and they don't change a thing in them, they might aswell just release patches for it imho. But i am very harsh towards that series so that is just my opinion

#31 Posted by dotWithShoes (4797 posts) -

@dotWithShoes said:

You do realize that COD games have a two year dev cycle right?

Yeah, it's still annual, and they don't change a thing in them, they might aswell just release patches for it imho. But i am very harsh towards that series so that is just my opinion

And yet you know nothing about the game? There's plenty changed in it, there is plenty of differences between the Treyarch and IW games. And no, a two year dev cycle is NOT annual. It's the same basic thing that EA has done the past few years with Battlefield and Medal of Honor. Release one every year, just with a different name. Activision just chooses to call both their games Call of Duty.

#32 Posted by Lulu_Lulu (8649 posts) -

@ Jacanuk "Also who told you casual-gamers dont play RPG`s?"

Nobody, its a calculated guess, I doubt casuals would be swayed by character progression commonly used in RPGs, "its just a bunch of stats going up" as my casual friends would say, this was somthing my sister 1st pointed out to me when I was playing the Mass Effect a while back, most of the choices in the game, even a few major ones, result in some statistic/attribute going up/down, and she was like "thats it? You never see them again?" and just like that my illusion was shattered, the choices you get to make throughout the game have no consequences/effect beyond your Paragon/Renegade and currency stats, some make no difference at all. Thats what casuals have taught me, I seriously doubt any casual wouldve been swayed by Mass Effects illusion of choice all the way to the end of the 3rd game to complain and bake cupcakes about it. But hey, thats just my analysis of the situation.

#33 Posted by Lulu_Lulu (8649 posts) -

@ The_Last_Ride "Yet who is pre-ordering next gen titles? Buying

indies? Made Microsoft change DRM policies? Made

EA drop online passes? Sure as hell wasn't the

casual"

Good. Then they'l have nobody to scapegoat. Atleast until Kinect adventure 2 roles in.

#34 Posted by The_Last_Ride (69165 posts) -

@The_Last_Ride said:

@dotWithShoes said:

You do realize that COD games have a two year dev cycle right?

Yeah, it's still annual, and they don't change a thing in them, they might aswell just release patches for it imho. But i am very harsh towards that series so that is just my opinion

And yet you know nothing about the game? There's plenty changed in it, there is plenty of differences between the Treyarch and IW games. And no, a two year dev cycle is NOT annual. It's the same basic thing that EA has done the past few years with Battlefield and Medal of Honor. Release one every year, just with a different name. Activision just chooses to call both their games Call of Duty.

It's still an annual release for a game even though they have two teams. It's the same deal with AC series with two studios. I know enough to criticize it. I loved COD 4, played the heck out of MW 2 and also got BLOPS. But they didn't change a damn thing. The fact that they were running the same graphics engine and didn't do a whole lot on the gameplay is enough for me to claim it might aswell have been one studio. COD was fresh a few years ago, but now it's copy paste with a different story.

#35 Posted by wiouds (5003 posts) -

@dotWithShoes said:

@The_Last_Ride said:

@dotWithShoes said:

You do realize that COD games have a two year dev cycle right?

Yeah, it's still annual, and they don't change a thing in them, they might aswell just release patches for it imho. But i am very harsh towards that series so that is just my opinion

And yet you know nothing about the game? There's plenty changed in it, there is plenty of differences between the Treyarch and IW games. And no, a two year dev cycle is NOT annual. It's the same basic thing that EA has done the past few years with Battlefield and Medal of Honor. Release one every year, just with a different name. Activision just chooses to call both their games Call of Duty.

It's still an annual release for a game even though they have two teams. It's the same deal with AC series with two studios. I know enough to criticize it. I loved COD 4, played the heck out of MW 2 and also got BLOPS. But they didn't change a damn thing. The fact that they were running the same graphics engine and didn't do a whole lot on the gameplay is enough for me to claim it might aswell have been one studio. COD was fresh a few years ago, but now it's copy paste with a different story.

I find that the campaign and its levels are very different with each one improving and adding more to them.