Do you game hard enough?
Hardcore gamer. Casual Gamer: two terms that seems to be on every developer, marketer, and even gamer’s tongue as of late.
Hardcore gamer: a gamer (usually teenager to late 30’s male) likes games that:
- are competitive
- require skill
- have strategy
- may be difficult to master.
- Probably everyone that would read my blog
Casual gamer: (usually everyone else: girls middle-aged women, grandparents) like games that:
- require little to no time to master
- require little thought or strategy
- little time commitment
- include fuzzy, little, perpetually baby animals
Nintendo realized back in 2006 with the launch of the Wii that hardcore gamers are great, but getting money from every other demographic is even better. Recently Microsoft and Sony have tried to jump on this bandwagon as well with the Kinect and Move software respectively.
As more and more casual games are being made made, many hardcore gamers fear that more games are being streamlined to attract a larger audience.
“THE END IS NIGH!” they cry, “Games, aren’t as hard!” It’s difficult to argue that point when someone straps you into a chair and forces you to play an excruciating level of Mega Man after a gaming session of Uncharted convinced you that video games are interactive movies.
Calm down, my hardcore brethren. There is certainly hope for us on the horizon. I think the that both casual gaming and hardcore gaming will coexist, not replace one another. I actually think that developers are reacting to hardcore gamers being frustrated at the more easy difficulty of games and the casual nature of some titles. Just look at these few keys points:
1. Most games come with the option to play a significantly harder difficulty that than the normal difficulty
Great, Logan, you say, but that’s just bumping up difficulty not changing game mechanics to be richer and more difficult. Aha! Look no further than my next point.
2. Some newer titles are coming with built in hardcore modes
Games such as Fallout: New Vegas have been released with a mode that changes some of the core mechanics of the game or tags on new elements to make the game more challenging. In New Vegas, enabling hardcore mode made it more difficult for the player to heal, gave weight to items like bullets that previously had none, and added the extra requirements that the gamer to eat, sleep, and drink in the game to survive.
This is a great step in a direction that is more appealing to the hardest of hardcore gamers without alienating more casual players. Personally, I’ve never played New Vegas on any mode but hardcore (because I am a masochist with too much time on his hands).
Even better, new titles like BioShock Infinite want to enable hardcore modes that change how the gamer experiences the game. The hardcore mode is known as 1999 mode after the year System Shock, Bioshock’s spiritual predecessor, came out. System Shock was also notoriously difficult. The 1999 mode of BioShock Infinite forces players to specialize in weapons rather than be instantly proficient in all of them like in the normal difficulty.
Each fight is said to be much more of an adrenaline rush because resources will be so scarce. The mode is considered to be so much harder to beat than the normal difficulty that the the lead developer said that he believes only three to ten percent of players will complete the game on the difficulty. Sounds like a challenge to me. Developers hear your compliant that games are too easy. They will make them harder if they want to attract you to play it.
3. Hard games are still around
I would argue that some developers are almost getting too good at making hard games. For every Cooking Momma there is a Starcraft 2 or Total War: Shogun 2. Do you remember how long the last round of Shogun 2 took you? Let me remind you; you looked great after losing those 10 pounds. For every Black Eyed Peas game there is a Dark Souls, a Super Meat Boy, a Devil May Cry 3. Hard games ironically aren’t that hard to come by if you really look for them.
Okay, fine… So some games resist the casual curse, but what about the monster that started it all?: Nintendo
3. The Wii U wants hardcore gamers
You read that correctly. The Wii U wants to attract more hardcore gamers. We are the gamers that are in for the long haul, not just to buy two games ever and play them five times a year. As Nintendo has lost nearly 10% of the market share in the past year alone, Microsoft and Playstation have slowly be steadily grown in the market share. Nintendo is still the king, but they know that they need a new strategy.
Kinect and Move are stealing some of their precious casual demographic, while their games attract virtually no hardcore gamers. This means that Nintendo is almost incapable of currently swaying the core fans of Microsoft or Sony to their side.
Now aware of this issue, the Wii U promises to offer more hardcore experience games and the type of improved HD software to attract hardcore game developers.
So there you have it. We, hardcore gamers aren’t as forgotten as you think. In fact, we’re really important to developers of both games and hardware. Sony’s newest ad campaign is staunchly about how they cater to the hardcore gamer. Nintendo wants to win us back. Xbox still has Skyrim.
So let’s cool our jets. For the foreseeable future, it looks like it will be easy to play hard games.