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Will The Casual/Mobile Market Steal Big-Budget Talent?

It's all about money. That's what it always comes down to.

And with mobile and casual gaming on the rise, with seemingly everyone between the ages of 8 and 28 owning something with an Android or iOS system, a new form of gaming is on the rise.

The hardcore, the veterans, and the purists will likely say this new form has absolutely no soul; that it's often mindless and simplistic, and that the only real video games are the cutting-edge interactive entertainment experiences found on consoles and PCs.

But as technology continues to get better and better, those lighthearted games can become deeper and deeper. And as it stands, little mobile games and apps for portable devices is a lucrative business, one that must be awfully attractive to developers who are tired of struggling to survive in an increasingly competitive industry. If you're not cranking out million-sellers on a frequent basis, you're always worried about the future. Casual games are easy. More than that, they're obviously easy money.

Therefore, is it entirely out of the realm of possibility that we'll lose some top-notch talent to that "lesser" form of entertainment? David Jaffe says he isn't planning to focus on the casual/mobile market, although the studio he leaves behind - Eat Sleep Play - will. But what if it was Jaffe? What if it was Kojima? What if it was one of the Naughty Dog head honchos? Yamauchi? Cage? What if? It's crucial that we continue to progress but if some of the best and brightest take an easier route, we could be in trouble.

Easy and simple seems to be the ongoing trend in just about every facet of life these days. And that could prove problematic for the future of video games. The good news is, we believe true visionaries like the aforementioned designers will always want to push boundaries and you really can't do that by taking a step down. ...unless of course, those guys don't view it as a "step down." Then we have a big issue.

Tags: gaming industry, video games, casual games, casual gamers

2/7/2012 8:54:29 PM Ben Dutka

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Legacy Comment System (16 posts)

Warrior Poet
Tuesday, February 07, 2012 @ 9:36:39 PM

There are plenty of "real" phone games (like Chrono Trigger!)

Although the casual market is growing larger and more exploitable, let's not forget that the hardcore market will always still exist, and will probably be growing. It would be foolish business NOT to make hardcore games, because there's a very large base of people who will buy them no matter how many more casual gamers there are. Devs love making games, and even niche markets are still serviceable even though they are smaller than the ubiquitous iPhone group. Cave's shmups are a great example.

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Wednesday, February 08, 2012 @ 6:20:32 AM

I'm sorry you lost me on the first line, Chrono Trigger is a SNES game not a mobile game... end of.

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Wednesday, February 08, 2012 @ 7:23:52 AM

Hehe - both Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy titles are on their way to Android too. I also noticed Square Enix has a game called Crystal Defender on Android - looked like some sort of strategy rpg (?). Not sure how good it is though.

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Wednesday, February 08, 2012 @ 11:48:31 AM

I have a couple FF's and Chrono Trigger on my mobile phone. Who cares what system it originally came out for?

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Thursday, February 09, 2012 @ 3:44:35 AM

Crystal Defenders is more or less a tower defense game (like PJ Monsters), using the FFT units.

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Tuesday, February 07, 2012 @ 9:51:56 PM

How I see it is it all depends on two things.

If the "hardcore" gamers continue to support studios by purchasing NEW games, it should be business as usual. If the used game market dominates, it will only be a matter of time before geniuses such as those found at PDI and Naughty Dog move on to easier and greener pastures.

I also believe that this generation of complaining gamers has not helped the situation. I feel this way because a few harsh words by one opinionated fanboy who happens to be reviewing for a larger entity can cost thr jobs of many hard working folks.

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Tuesday, February 07, 2012 @ 10:41:13 PM

No, not a chance.

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Wednesday, February 08, 2012 @ 12:08:40 AM

Hmm... I actually don't know at this stage! I think it is still to early to tell.

My opinion is we will know for sure the affect that casual gaming is having on the market place, and where Sony, Nintendo and M$ fit within this new landscape, once the next generation of hardware is released.

I believe the next 24 months will dictate, to a large degree, what strategies these boys will follow for the longer term. The hardcore gamer will be supporting some very good productions in the coming years; the questions is - are their enough of them left???

If a game costs you anything between 20m and 60m, and you cannot recoup that insane amount of money, then what is the point.

We will see many smaller software houses and development boutiques go to the wall... and never climb over it...

I think hardcore and casual gamers will be able to live side by side one another in "peace", however the hardcore gaming market will be reduced down to a few AAA titles per year...

I say this then... Who said the games industry would not end up like Hollywood... because to me, it seems like it is?



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Wednesday, February 08, 2012 @ 2:05:20 AM

Well what I believe will eventually happen is a reduction in the amount of big budget games being developed but I don't see this impacting the "hardcore" gamer. I believe as technology increases so do the tools used to create games using the current technology.

While games may be released that don't have huge budgets it isn't fair to think they will be for the casual crowd simply based on budget.

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Tuesday, February 07, 2012 @ 11:16:43 PM

I don't know where I stand on this. It would be horrible to lose the best creative talent we have for console gaming. But, if the best creative talent puts that same effort into iOS titles, who knows where they could go? I'd hate to lose the console experience, but as long as there is something comparable at the creative level, I would adapt, as would (most of) the rest of the community.

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Wednesday, February 08, 2012 @ 12:15:02 AM

If all console & handheld gaming gave way to phones, etc, that would also be the end point of my gaming's collections.

I'd just re-focus all 100% of my efforts towards any current games I still need, plus any retro consoles/handhelds & games I'm still missing.

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Wednesday, February 08, 2012 @ 12:25:26 AM

Seeing the amount of talent in the business today, with more top quality games being released than I am able to consume I don't see this to be a danger or threat at all, neither in short or long term.
If anything it will only make the business bigger.

Last edited by Beamboom on 2/8/2012 12:29:55 AM

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Wednesday, February 08, 2012 @ 8:18:17 AM

As technology advances those mobile games CAN get deeper and deeper, but they won't sell well. The vast, vast majority of people don't whip out their Android for anything more that a casual experience.

I don't see it as a big problem. I can't imagine how someone who enjoys making hardcore games could ever find any career fulfillment in making little toy games.

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Wednesday, February 08, 2012 @ 8:21:58 AM

I doubt this Jaffe case is indicative of any kind of trend forming. He's always been a little flaky, and has walked away from AAA game development before. There is a cutthroat side to the business that seems to turn him off. Plus, it has been a long time since he's made a successful game. Maybe the pressure got to him.

I think the top level talent that has a passion for AAA game making will stay in tact for the most part. Top level talent leaving major studios is actually something we have seen way more on the Japanese side of development. Didn't Ueada say he wanted to make the best Facebook game ever after stepping awat from Sony? Facepalm.

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Thursday, February 09, 2012 @ 3:47:30 AM

Not Ueda, another person from Team Ico.

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Wednesday, February 08, 2012 @ 4:58:56 PM

My phone sucks and I'm one of the few whose mp3's don't get apps. I'm more of a audiophile myself, so sound quality is much more important. Hell, I dropped over $350 on my Cowon J3 and headphones last year. Though, everyone isn't me.

I believe that there's a place where both mobile gaming and console/PC gaming can coexist without there being some sort of competition between the too, or even the need to compare them. Although I personally feel that mobile gaming is for more on the go then anything else, I've seen people get really engaged in them for hours. Do I think big names will jump ship over to making iOS games? No.

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