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The Gap Between Casual And Hardcore Continues To Widen

You can hate the terms all you want; they've long since become entrenched in the industry's lexicon.

If analysts, publishers and most industry insiders continue to use the terms to define specific groups, then they will remain relevant.

And the point is, it seems the gap between what we deem "hardcore" and "casual" will continue to widen. Back in the day, there really wasn't a differentiation between video games. If you played games, you were a fan. They were all pretty hard, which meant that if you were going to have any fun at all, you needed to invest a fair amount of time. It wasn't something the average adult picked up and played for a half-hour at the end of a long work day. They were kid's toys and that was that.

Now, however, more and more games are coming out for the casual demographic; i.e., the group that doesn't list gaming as a primary hobby. The mobile explosion widened the gap considerably between "gamer's games" like Demon's Souls and "faux games" like Angry Birds. Plus, with so many smaller indie games flooding various marketplaces, and gaming now being a mainstream form of entertainment, there's no doubt that casuals are being serviced. Then, we hear from EA that their games are "still too hard."

Obviously, this means they'll keep targeting the massive group of casuals, which in turn means the hardcore are already whining. The difference between Bloodborne and your average free mobile game is gargantuan; we're talking about two completely different universes. But so long as there's an audience for both, we'll keep seeing more and more hardcore titles, and simpler titles for the casual crowd. It's inevitable.

Tags: gaming industry, casual gamers, hardcore gamers, gaming culture

2/5/2015 9:59:15 PM Ben Dutka

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Legacy Comment System (21 posts)


Temjin001
Thursday, February 05, 2015 @ 10:33:58 PM
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It blows me away actually. Some newer Marvel superhero mobile game has like 8 million downloads.
Other games like Game of War have like 5 million downloads.
These are just a couple from many.

Just check the Super Bowl ads. I didn't see any console game adds during the game.


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Big_Boss90
Thursday, February 05, 2015 @ 10:39:32 PM
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You have to please both sides, not just the hardcore gamers. Iam a hardcore gamer but i must say some of those indie title are very fun to play.

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Banky A
Thursday, February 05, 2015 @ 11:19:13 PM
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It's interesting for me.

The only casual games I play are mobile ones that require huge long term investment with elaborate future planning. The kind of games that rich (or foolish) casual players around Asia pay-to-win on every week to get that limited time bonus. Collector RPG/strat games etc.

While having no skill, the free way of playing such games is as hardcore as the best of em'.

Just my input, even though this barely relates to the article. I'm confident huge amounts of people do the same thing.

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Aranha
Friday, February 06, 2015 @ 12:22:31 AM
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I don't mind shorter games that are still geared toward the core gamers. I don't have that much time on my hands. It took me a week to beat Mirror's Edge, and it felt long enough since I played it in quick spurts.

That's, as opposed to trying to get an Angry Birds type of game on consoles as a standard game for core gamers.

Last edited by Aranha on 2/6/2015 12:23:27 AM

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Beamboom
Friday, February 06, 2015 @ 3:43:18 AM
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... But is the gap really wider?
Are there really a bigger gap between Bloodbourne and Angry Birds than it was with the 80s computer games and Game&Watch casual games, or Doom in the 90s and Tamagotchi casual games?

A wider gap must mean that the causal games have become easier and the "core" games have become harder. And, well, I don't see that at all. Do any of you? Isn't that what you all complain about all the time: That the games have only become easier than they used to be?

No. What's happened is that the market has grown. that's the real difference. The gap is more or less the same, but the money stacks are bigger.

Last edited by Beamboom on 2/6/2015 3:47:28 AM

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Friday, February 06, 2015 @ 11:22:03 AM

Absolutely incorrect. It doesn't have as much to do with difficulty as it does with content and targeted demographic.

The games you're talking about in the '80s and '90s were essentially still targeting the same group: Gamers. And if not specifically gamers, young males, typically those who were into electronics. Now, there are wildly different audiences; the middle-aged woman with three kids and a career will try to squeeze in an hour of Bewitched; no middle-aged woman was playing any video game in 1985 and it was highly unlikely in 1995.

The content gap is also massively different. We're talking about entire virtual worlds in the likes if The Witcher, Assassin's Creed, etc. These games aren't necessarily hard but they require a mastery of the controller casual gamers don't have (and don't want); i.e., an understanding of controls and mechanics we all take for granted. The sheer amount of stuff you can do in these games is, in and of itself, intimidating and overwhelming for the casual gamer who only wants to sit and relax for a bit.

The market is indeed much, much bigger. And as a direct result, the people involved are that much different from one another.

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Beamboom
Friday, February 06, 2015 @ 1:42:42 PM

Well yeah, the market is much more diverse, that's true. I just don't see the gap as that much wider still (from a games perspective), only a more varied gamer crowd, demographically speaking.

I mean, it's not like Angry Birds & co are *that* easy. They are suitable for short gaming sessions, sure, but heck those maps are getting pretty darn hard eventually. Same with other mobile games people call "casual" that I've tried: They really become quite hard, and often require quite the strategic planning, as one progress further into the game. Just like all computer games do.

So I guess it all boils down to the fact that I *still* see gamers as gamers, period. I don't feel it is right to separate so absolutely between the two categories.
Bt that's a different discussion, and one that's done to death already. :)


Last edited by Beamboom on 2/6/2015 1:48:41 PM

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xenris
Friday, February 06, 2015 @ 3:21:48 PM

Beamboom, tell me which phone games you have played which require a lot of planning and strategy?

I know that some of these games claim they have the strategy but Battlecamp, and Clash of Clans 2 of the most popular mobile games if you spend enough money they become fundamentally broken and easy. Also the actual gameplay going on is bare bones at best.

I admit getting 3 stars on some of the angry birds maps are tricky, BUT once you drop some cash in the store 3 stars is a joke.

This is the flaw with mobile gaming and why that crowd is casual, they see something they can't beat they throw money at it and beat it to feel good.

@Ben, Games as a whole are much easier now in my opinion. Maybe that is because I have been playing for so long, but nothing has challenged me like Super Ghouls and Ghosts, or Contra 3, or Metal Slug back in the day.

However I can and have beaten the latter 2 recently and found them easier than before but still it took a long time and was a bigger challenge than anything any Souls game has thrown at me.

I am with you in that the gap for some games like Bloodbourne and Angry birds is huge, BUT typical games the AAA games that sell a lot like CoD etc they all have the same carrot on a stick pat on the back elements that mobile games have. So I think that the Niche games like Souls etc, and mobile games do have a bigger gap now, but the most commercially successful games the gap isn't as big.

I do realize some people lack the coordination to play with a controller but I think most people figure it out pretty quickly.

Last edited by xenris on 2/6/2015 3:23:18 PM

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Beamboom
Friday, February 06, 2015 @ 3:45:37 PM

Xenris:
Well, like I said I think Angry Birds became really hard, and that involved both planning and strategy. So, I suck at AB then I guess.

I've played Clash Of Clans 2 as well, and that was a lot to learn indeed. Sure, so one can buy tons of resources and that breaks the game (at least the difficulty) but if you *play* the game (as I always do) it's pretty darn hard, imo.

Then you got the pure online games where you are pitched against other human players, like my favourite: UniWar. Sure, it's a pretty basic strategy game, but with the endless amount of player generated maps and a pretty balanced set of races it's as hard and deep as "hardcore" strategy games were 15-20 years ago.

But even games like Candy Crush Saga - who I've not played myself but watched my wife play - I'd say becomes pretty darn difficult as you get deeper into the games. And for a reason: It's how they get people to pay up. Get bonus stuff, retries, buy advantages.

So what? Point is: Those games are *not* just silly fluff who us "experienced" gamers beat with ease. They are not!


Last edited by Beamboom on 2/6/2015 3:56:09 PM

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Axe99
Friday, February 06, 2015 @ 4:33:49 PM

@ Beamboom - I think there's some truth in what you're saying (you're dead right, in that the old Game and Watch games weren't crazy tough until they'd sped up), but there's also some truth that the gap between the two is getting larger and larger. There was nothing as banal as Farmville back in the day, whereas every second gaming website I click on has some advert for (presumably, I don't follow the links, but I think it's a fairly safe bet) some rubbish F2P browser game.

As for Angry Birds, I actually found it fairly tough, just playing F2P - give me Killzone or Hearts of Iron any day!

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Beamboom
Saturday, February 07, 2015 @ 4:00:00 AM

Axe:
What you call rubbish browser games that you don't even bother checking out are technically speaking way, way more advanced than the "hardcore" games of the early 90s. We'd KILL for a game like Farmville back then. It'd be the shit, the talk of town.

This is the thing, many today imagine that there's such a huge step down to the casual games of today, compared to the games of yesteryear. It's not! It just plain isn't.

And it's great to hear others finding Angry Birds hard, cause I almost felt offended when I discovered that. :)

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Rachet_JC_FTW
Friday, February 06, 2015 @ 3:45:39 AM
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yeah totaly thats the way it is. there is now the casual market and the core market and thats the candy crush and the bloodborne respectively thats the way the market is now days for better or worse

happy gaming

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Beamboom
Friday, February 06, 2015 @ 4:01:33 AM

... but has it ever been different?

Last edited by Beamboom on 2/6/2015 4:01:37 AM

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JackieBoy
Friday, February 06, 2015 @ 5:41:01 AM
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This topic becomes really boring. Who cares? We are all gamers after all.

"If analysts, publishers and most industry insiders continue to use the terms to define specific groups, then they will remain relevant"

Then maybe it's time to stop?

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Snaaaake
Friday, February 06, 2015 @ 7:31:25 AM
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My mom is at level 829 on Candy Crush so I'm not sure she can be considered as casual anymore..........

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Antonyinlondon
Friday, February 06, 2015 @ 7:40:24 AM
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It's taken me many years to realise that in many ways, I'm best described as a hard casual user. I grew up in the arcades and the complexity of modern AAA games is too much for me, unless they're particularly amazing story based 8-12 hour games(eg Uncharted). I can't remember all the controls, the hundred hour sprawling sagas. I got a 'new' 3ds XL and after a few days, the zeldas etc have gone by the wayside and I'm back to Tetris and Dr Mario ! Likewise on my much loved Vita, I bought and barely played Persona 4, Gravity Rush, Soul Sacrifice - resogun, on the other hand...hours and hours of play !

I think there's lots of us out there, i'm too tired after work and 3 kids to stick 8 hours straight into Far Cry 4, but give me Kingdom Rush (incredible tower defence game) and I'll sit there for hours with the TV on in the background !

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shreevin
Friday, February 06, 2015 @ 10:07:45 AM
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I honestly don't know how to classify myself. I've never gotten into games like COD where people have died because they've played days on end while forgetting their bodies need hydration. But I did log over 200 hours on DA:Inquisition. I've also never played WOW, but have repeatedly and will always play anything from Naughty Dog.

But saying all that, I will also not even power on my PS for days because in kinder weather I will likely be in the backyard with a beer playing horseshoes.

I just like games, be they on a console, a mobile device or more hands on like cards or the aforementioned horseshoes. But then again, we're just talking video games here, aren't we? Sorry, kinda went off track.

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AcHiLLiA
Friday, February 06, 2015 @ 1:32:11 PM
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What kind of annoys me is the whining gamer's out there especially those on FB (retarded comments).

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Bonampak
Friday, February 06, 2015 @ 4:43:45 PM

It used to be that people posting on Facebook would try to act like human beings. Mostly because you couldn't hide behind an anonymous name or avatar.

But since it got popular with the older crowd (it's mostly old fogeys these days - kids emigrated elsewhere), now you run into grade-A bitter a-holes spewing their hate on anything that scares them. Which in the case of old people, is pretty much everything under the sun.

In other words, FB transformed into another Yahoo Comments section.

Last edited by Bonampak on 2/6/2015 4:44:19 PM

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PC_Max
Friday, February 06, 2015 @ 2:15:09 PM
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Again. Is this not why there are difficulty settings?

If studios want to add more difficulty settings to truly customize the game and therefore change how the player can play the game then that's okay with me. As long as I can play the game at the level or difficulty I want then go for it. It can be a slippery slope I think.

Keep playing

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Axe99
Friday, February 06, 2015 @ 4:38:49 PM

Damn straight, well said :)

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