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Ubisoft Talks Balance Between Casual And Hardcore

It takes all kinds to make the world go 'round. And if you want to maintain your big business status, you require mainstream appeal.

Hardcore gamers, veteran gamers, and "purist" gamers will bemoan the explosion of the casual market, claiming the new focus on fast, accessible, and oh so painfully stupid has a negative impact on the "real" games they love. However, Ubisoft says that rather than attacking the casual peeps, the hardcore enthusiasts should be thanking the non-gamers for all the extra monies.

Ubisoft boss Yves Guillemot spoke to Gamasutra about a specific "balance" between casual and hardcore. While their Assassin's Creed and Tom Clancy franchises rake in the critical acclaim and do indeed sell extremely well, it's the casual hits like Just Dance 2 and Raving Rabbids that help pay the bills. Said Guillemot:

"It's a balance. It's not that we changed the way we do things. We integrated the casual on top of the core. This is helping us spend more money on the high definition titles and is helping us come with more high-definition games."

The bottom line is that with casual, simple hits for kids, senior citizens, and those who really don't call themselves "gamers," Ubisoft drags in more money. And with more money comes the opportunity to create bigger-budget hardcore titles. Remember, it's a bigger profit margin; as Guillemot says- "To make Just Dance, it's just 1/10th the cost of Assassin's Creed."

And besides, isn't it nice to see gaming be so widely accepted? If it had remained a hardcore, niche hobby, it would still be mocked by the majority. Well, we may have to put up with a gaggle of shovelware on the Wii but at least we're a mostly accepted group of hobbyists. ...not in the eyes of NBC and The Today Show, of course, but whatever.

Tags: ubisoft, game news, casual games, hardcore gamers

7/19/2011 9:31:50 AM Ben Dutka

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Legacy Comment System (17 posts)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011 @ 10:14:06 AM

Today's casual gamer becomes tomorrows core gamer, as hey mature in their tastes for games, the games they want to play will change.

Thinking about it, when I started gaming it was essentially 'casual' gaming. Think about games like Space Invaders, PacMan. Compared to what we think of as 'hardcore' games today, such games are almost textbook definitions of casual gaming since they can be picked up and played by anyone and the average play time is short.

Yet today, I would probably easily fall into the classification of 'hardcore' gamer. Thinking about the kinds of games that casual gamers like today, the immediate example is Facebook games like Farmville. Those games are essentially simplified and micro-transaction driven versions of resource management & strategy games like SimCity or Civilization.

As those gamers become more sophisticated and want something more than what those Flash based games offer, what kinds of game will *they* want? I can tell you now that it isn't going to be shooters, it's going to be other genre of game, and actually I could see a lot of the players of games like Farmville wanting games with a slower more considered pace.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011 @ 10:40:50 AM

"todays casual gamer will become tomorrow's core gamer" i hope that is true, but i sometimes wonder if that is really true. i noticed you did not use the word hardcore there.

i have known several casual gamers over the years and have seen no evidence of them wanting to branch out. when i try to talk to them about games it almost feels like we are two different species.

i wonder if there are any industry studies looking into how many casual gamers go on to becoming hardcore gamers becuase i do worry the day will come when we hardcore gamers are significantly outnumbered.

Last edited by Excelsior1 on 7/19/2011 10:42:23 AM

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011 @ 10:44:18 AM

Hey, man, those Donkey Kong "King of Kong" guys were anything but casual. But yeah, games back then were very simple in design. Easy to grasp.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011 @ 10:59:19 AM

Temjin, that's exactly what I'm getting at. Video Games were originally very simple - mostly because of the hardware, but also the infancy of programming games. However those games were very simple and very accessible - which are hallmarks of today's 'casual' games. As much as I enjoyed those games then, I can barely stand to play them now. I think that is because over time my preference for games changed and I wanted more. This is what I see happening over the long run with the 'casual' gamers of today.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011 @ 10:22:38 AM

it's understandable that hardcore gamers feel theatened by the rise of casual games. it's probably unrealistic to expect hardcore gamers to be thankful for them paying the bills. maybe ubisoft can put some of that money they have earned into learning how to properly code for the ps3. i would be very thankful.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011 @ 11:01:20 AM

The thing is that game makers who traditionally have made hardcore games are hanging their products to attract the casual gamers, I don't blame them for wanting more customers. But in doing this they sometimes remove features that the existing audience likes and wants. The existing audience has already shown that they have the desire, intent and resources to buy games and I think that they deserve more respect than that. However not all game publishers seem to agree, and that is why hardcore gamers may feel threatened - IMHO it's at least part of the reason.

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Thursday, July 21, 2011 @ 7:18:43 AM

Thumbs down pussies, you got a problem with what he says, show some balls and speak up.

+1 Highlander, pretty much spot on.

@ Excelsior: The other thing is, who kept these companies afloat until the current crop of 'followers', yes, followers, decided gaming was cool and decided to jump on the bandwagon?

The only reason why companies have to rely on the casual market so much these days, is because their 'hardcore' games, blow. Probably because they're only focused on dollar signs, rather than actually creating compelling IP.

Last edited by Mornelithe on 7/21/2011 7:26:08 AM

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011 @ 10:50:04 AM

We're just one big happy family. Now how can they explain what happened to Splinter Cell? It was a hardcore gamer's game, but they went out of their way to make it more accessible by making it less think an more shoot.
I'm not sold on the idea that hardcore games and casual games are clearly split down the middle with a clear divide. As if the co-existence between the two spheres are all rainbows and daisies. We can't ignore the fact that the casuals do also affect just how dedicated our core gamer's games are.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011 @ 11:31:14 AM

the fact the we have seen a lot of games simplified is at the heart of the matter and is why hardcore gamers feel so threatened. it's a trend that does worry me. i actually thought as hardware progressed we would see more complicated and deeper games. that has happened up until now when we are starting to see evidence of developers dumbing down games. i completely agree that the casuals are affecting the publishers dedication to core games. note that ubisoft points out just how inexpensive casual games are to make. i worry about that influencing just how much effort they will put into hardcore games in the future.

Last edited by Excelsior1 on 7/19/2011 11:32:45 AM

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011 @ 2:32:46 PM

Good point Temjin, you've given evidence that we are under threat.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011 @ 10:55:52 AM

Ubisoft lost me with their handling of Blazing Angels and HAWX.

Both Blazing Angels 1 and HAWX 1 had more polish then the sequels that came out for those two titles.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011 @ 12:30:30 PM

If Ubisoft is dragging in so much money from all their crappy kid titles, there's really no reason they haven't given everyone Beyond Good & Evil 2 yet. Other than an Assassin's Creed every freakin' year, what else have they given hardcore gamers lately? The occassional Prince of Persia? There's only been two Splinter Cell games this generation. Ubi's gone downhill, big time.

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Lawless SXE
Tuesday, July 19, 2011 @ 1:24:12 PM

That's fine with me. It'd pretty obvious that these B-Budget casual titles are cheaper and easier to make and the money made off them can then be siphoned into more core titles. But when a single core franchise comes at the expense of all else (AC overshadowing PoP and Splinter Cell), I don't necessarily see it as being a good thing.

And seriously, would it kill them to create a casual game that the core gamer would be interested in playing without someone there to mitigate the stupidity that they might otherwise feel? Michael Jackson: The Experience, Imagine: Pets 3D, etc. The list goes on. That being said, I hope that they promote the HELL out of Rayman Origins, because that can appeal to both markets in the same way that LBP does (Well, not exactly, RO doesn't have a level editor to the best of my knowledge).

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011 @ 2:35:58 PM

The theory is sound, but like Temjin said it can affect hardcore titles. I know Ben was worried that the zip line in the new AC could be leading to a faster more "accessible" game.

It's like there's casual crap, then there's hardcore games. Without middle of the road games the hardcore ones like Final Fantasy get hurt when trying to grab the casual market. Hardcore gamers are just like "Hey you're forgetting us!" and I think that's fair.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011 @ 4:23:05 AM

oh my beloved ubisoft what has happened to you!?
gone from splinter cell, rainbow six, ghost recon, assassins creed, prince of persia.
to freaking zumba!
never did i think id see the day where my favorite publishers name is on a freaking dancing game!
oh how this generations brought down some greats!
first crapcom and sega, then $E, $ony, M$, ninty, ubisoft, EA, antivision.
whos next?

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Thursday, July 21, 2011 @ 7:13:55 AM

Uh, no. I don't have to thank anyone. And I won't either. If Ubisoft thinks I'm so stupid as to cheer how the focus of the majority of developers has gone from creating cool, innovative and intense games based upon their visions, to anything and everything that will attract impulse buyers, or put more money into marketing hype than actual game development, they've got another thing coming.

I've yet to see this massive profit be turned around in favor of the hardcore or 'core' or wtf ever segment of gamer I happen to fall into. Cookie cutter fps, after cookie cutter FPS. Sad wannabe's attempting to reap the rewards of someone elses vision. Stagnant engines, an endless desire to make identical games on two completely different hardware sets, that in no way cater to the hardware they're on.

No, I don't have to thank anyone, for anything. You think I got all these games for free, Mr. Guillemot? Did the new horde of gamers somehow pay for all the PS3, and PC games I own? No, they didn't. I bought them. I worked for the money for them, and I don't owe anyone a damn thing. If anything, companies like ID, Ubisoft, Rare, THQ, Activision etc.. owe ME, I've been gaming for over 2 decades now. Buying into the industry since the late 80's. Where's my thanks from the current crop of gamers for keeping these developers afloat all this time? Where's my compensation for being the black sheep of society until everyone suddenly figured out...oh yeah, gaming is actually pretty cool.

I find the mere suggestion insulting, and it'll seriously make me think twice before ever buying another Ubisoft game.

Last edited by Mornelithe on 7/21/2011 7:16:38 AM

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Friday, July 22, 2011 @ 5:56:37 AM

Very well put Mornelithe, I feel the exact same way. I've been dropping dollars into this industry since the late 80s and now because all the sudden somebody loves Wii Fit or Just Dance or the Iamgine garbage I'm supposed to thank them? For what?! If it weren't for people like me who have sunk tons of money into this industry over the years it's possible companies like Ubi wouldn't be around. Damn right it's insulting when idiotis like Guillemot make the suggestion that I should thank casual gamers for anything. The only thing I'll thank them for is the constant stream of same old, same old FPS and the dumbing down of games like Resident Evil, FF and Ninja Gaiden so they can be 'more accessible to wider audiences.'

Last edited by Gamer46 on 7/22/2011 5:57:36 AM

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