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Next-Gen Issue: Is Power Irrelevant For Casual Gamers?

When you ask hardcore gamers, most will tell you they're looking forward to the power and potential of the next generation of game hardware.

But that's because they're willing to pay for fancy new technology. And let's not forget that the hardcore are now the vast minority in this industry; recent analyst estimates have the casual gaming crowd comprising approximately 80% of the entire gaming market. And you know, I really don't think that group gives one flying fig about hardware power.

If that were the case, the Wii wouldn't have sold for beans and in fact, it sold like mad. The fact that it sold to a ton of non-gamers essentially proves that those who aren't hardcore aren't so interested in "cutting-edge" anything. Therefore, the logical conclusion to make right now would be this- Power doesn't sell. Or rather, power is too tough to sell. The hardcore market seems to continue to shrink and the casual crowd is ruling the roost, which is akin to the movie industry, where brainless action flicks set box office records and quality independent films struggle to get noticed. The majority, the masses, are basically casual at their core; a group of people who like to partake every now and then, but aren't especially avid.

And without the avid, the fervent, the dedicated, we get a set of consumers that really only cares about one thing- The price tag. Availability and general quality of games will likely always be important but I'm convinced that the #1 factor for casual gamers is cost. And if you remember, the PS3 - certainly the most powerful and capable system of the generation - cost an arm and a leg when it came out. Possibly the biggest reason Sony can't make that $600 mistake again is due to the gigantic influx of the casual crowd. That's my theory, anyway.

Tags: next generation, next gen, next gen consoles, casual gamers, gaming culture

11/28/2012 12:23:58 AM Ben Dutka

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Comments (24 posts)

Highlander
Wednesday, November 28, 2012 @ 1:01:46 AM
Reply

This is precisely why chasing casual gamers is a pointless venture. They are not willing to pay for quality, they want cheap and cheerful. Sony should not chase that market, just as they cannot compete on price against Korean and Chinese HDTV makers, they really can't expect to compete against the casual gaming boom on el cheapo smartphones.

Mark my words, chasing casual gamers is a mistake. Sony should not make that mistake, it will doom them to ever thinner margins and poorer profits.

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daus26
Wednesday, November 28, 2012 @ 1:12:23 AM

Regarding Korean HDTV makers (as well as smartphones, and tablet - both in which Sony are also struggling with in the market), Samsung is much, much better than Sony in picture (HDTVs) and hardware in my opinion. I wouldn't say they're cheap and cheerful. Other than that, I agree.

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Phoenix
Wednesday, November 28, 2012 @ 3:19:46 AM

Can you really blame them for not wanting to pay for " quality "? I sure dont.

I'm a hardcore gamer, and the price tag still matters to me. Take the Vita for example, despite the fact that is has no games that intrest me atm, I find it just a bit too expensive, simply because of the memory card prices which are stupidly overpriced. $100 for a 32gig card? are you kidding me? I picked up a 64gig flash memory stick for $30, there is no reason sony should be trying to push a $100 price tag on just 32gigs.

Now when it comes to PS4, I wont buy it at launch for a couple reasons. Lets put aside the fact that it'll prolly be $500-600. Firstly I'd wait and see what issues it has at launch, YLOD/RROD, overheating, etc etc. Also tack on the fact that we dont know if they'll have BC or not, and if it's going to work this time or if they'll just abandon it again. Than, you'd have to think that launch titles **usually** arnt very good anyways. So I figure, by the time there is a good selection of games I want and all the problems have been solved, prices have usually dropped anyways.

When it comes to casual gamers, I think it's all about trends. So, lets say this silly FPS phase spills into next gen and CoD is still king, I think any next gen system will sell just aswell as this gen did, no matter the cost and no matter if the buyer is hardcore or casual. Will there be people who hold out because of the price tag? no doubt, will they all be casual gamers? no.

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Highlander
Wednesday, November 28, 2012 @ 4:03:02 AM

Phoenix, you'll pay a lot more than $100 for a 32GB card depending on the class of device you purchase. cheap and cheerful is called cheap and cheerful for a reason. Maybe you're happy with lowest common denominator quality, I am not. Enjoy your cheapo future, it seems that the world in general has forgotten that the greatest truisms in the history of mankind are "You get what you pay for" and "If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys". In other words, cheap games are cheap for a reason. cheap hardware is cheap for a reason. So, be cheap, your consoles and games will be cheap for a reason...

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Killa Tequilla
Wednesday, November 28, 2012 @ 7:16:14 AM

Highlander, I understand were you're coming from, but seriously, 32gb for $100. First of all, with all the cross buy promotions, PSOne classics, PSP titles and the many other downloadable games along with full retail games is a grand amount and 32gb isn't enough. It's way too much money. Why does intalling something to the memory card a few seconds faster justify a high price? I bought 1TB for my Ps3 for $100. You can't even swap memory cards because it formats the card you insert to the PSVita. Im not an expert, but $50 seems more reasonable, more reasonable - not reasonable.

There has to be a balance.

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Underdog15
Wednesday, November 28, 2012 @ 8:54:56 AM

Yeah, sorry Highlander. I agree with you on everything except the memory card part. That's the only thing about Vita I really dislike. I feel like I need -MORE- than 32GB, first of all, and second, I'm not paying $100 for such a small amount of storage space.

My dad has nice video and photographic cameras that all record HD. And some of his memory cards are of similar size, but he can get them much cheaper than $100. Honestly... a memory card that costs half as much as the actual Vita itself? So like... 64GB are as incredible as a Vita? Not bloody likely.

I mean, maybe those specific memory cards are of high quality worth $100. I don't know. But for trying to push a digital adoption of these games... that's not enough space and it's too bloody expensive for something as basic as storage. It just feels like these types of things are overpriced extras designed to ofset the cheaper cost of the Vita hardware.

I won't lie... If I could just get a Vita and game for that nice current pricetag, I'd get one. But now I also need to drop an extra chunk on storage and this and that.... and yeah. Overall, it's just too much right now.

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Dustinwp
Wednesday, November 28, 2012 @ 9:32:44 AM

@daus26

Sorry, I disagree. But the top tier Sony models are far better then any Samsung model. I paid 4k for my Sony LED 3D television and don't regret it at all. Side by side comparison along with specs were in favor of Sony. Maybe cheap models are comparable but not the top tier models.

Last edited by Dustinwp on 11/28/2012 9:36:50 AM

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Phoenix
Thursday, November 29, 2012 @ 12:14:48 AM

Hahaha, man these companies sure reeled in a fish with you highlander. I guess it's true, there is a sucker born every minute.

It's called being a smart shopper, you should look into it some day. The " quality " tech and the cheaper stuff is exactly the same, sometimes it's even the same company making both of it, so really, if you want to pay the inflated price of some newish tech, and think you're smart for paying threw the nose for it, well good luck to you.

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Highlander
Thursday, November 29, 2012 @ 2:09:23 AM

@Phoenix, being cheap is being cheap. The cost of a 32GB memory card for the Vita is not going to break anyone's bank. Could they be cheaper? Sure, but probably not until the new year. The thing is, I don't honestly think that $80 (which is what I paid for my 32GB Vita memory card) is that out of order. At the end of the day in a relative sense it's not that expensive. People drop $60 on a game routinely. cordless headsets - popular ones - routinely sell for $150+. No one bats an eyelid.

Ah well, you want t complain about the cost and be cheap, so go for it. Enjoy your life on the cheap side.

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matt99
Wednesday, November 28, 2012 @ 1:04:21 AM
Reply

I totally agree with what you say Ben, but does the 80% include iphone games and stuff? Because that could be skewing the results

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Highlander
Wednesday, November 28, 2012 @ 1:10:49 AM

Matt, selling casual games vs premium or 'hardcore' games is an exercise in numbers. If your games cost $2.99 and you spend $3,000,000 to make a game you have to sell 2,000,000 copies before you even break even on the development costs assuming that you net 50% of the sales revenue. For a full price hardcore game you only have to sell about 125,000 copies, netting 40% of the sales revenue, to hit $3,000,000.

The profit margin on casual games is not terribly attractive unless you are like EA and believe that you can over charge for crap and still sell millions of copies.

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homura
Wednesday, November 28, 2012 @ 1:20:46 AM
Reply

Nice, the avatar is working, but somehow I still can't use PNG file. Hehe. Thanks Dan.

We all know that Sony Playstation is still hardcore. We've read their statements about the Wii U that they're not on the same league. So I'm not worried about Sony chasing casual gamers.

As for the the El Cheapo gaming boom, actually sometimes I play Zenonia. I've finished Zenonia 3 and I did like the story, by the way I did get it for free. Sometimes people just want a few minutes of fun.

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daus26
Wednesday, November 28, 2012 @ 1:48:20 AM
Reply

I wouldn't exactly say "Power" or "Cost" but rather "gimmick" or "trend." Nintendo is the gimmicks master and tablets/smartphones are just the trend right now. I say that because there are a lot of people willing to pay a lot of money for tablets and smartphones, let alone Apple products. To the casuals, "games" are second thoughts. They buy the product for the gimmick, trend, and usability. The games are like a bonus to them.

With gaming consoles, the consumers would have to buy the consoles FOR the quality games. If they don't see the "gimmick," outside of the games they won't be as interested. The problem with this is that the majority of the population are casual gamers. So in the end, it's a bit silly to try and sell a hardcore game console to consumers who are only interested in "casual" and light games. Leave all that to Nintendo, as they have that "image."

In the end, costs do matter, but only in the early stages. Over time, if the product is something that people are interested in, it will sell many. It's not like all casuals are "broke" too so an expensive product should sell a lot if it's within the right interests.

Also, the PS3 is doing great this gen anyway, as they have been with the PS2 and PS1. If that's an indication of their success for next gen, they won't have to worry about focusing on Casual Gamers.


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Beamboom
Wednesday, November 28, 2012 @ 2:55:20 AM
Reply

The massive influx of new/casual gamers is not necessarily only bad new for the serious/hardcore gamers. Cause weren't we all casual at one stage, before our interest were ignited?

Every other hobby with a healthy market has a large entry level product line, narrowing down towards the high-end/hardcore/professional level. One is not a threat to the other, they are mutually dependent on each other.

Same in sports. A large amateur level crowd is required for a good recruitment into the higher level athletes.

So quite the contrary, I think this bodes well for our hobby.

Last edited by Beamboom on 11/28/2012 2:56:54 AM

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, November 28, 2012 @ 11:17:38 AM

Beamboom: When I was a kid, if you played video games, you were pretty hardcore about it. Everyone was. It was such a niche hobby that essentially no "mainstreamer" was playing them. Those who played games loved them and knew everything about them. Those who didn't knew nothing. It was as simple as that.

That's an audience that is drastically different from today.

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Underdog15
Wednesday, November 28, 2012 @ 11:24:40 AM

Beam, I have family from Denmark (Got some danish in me, you see), and that's not *too* far from Norway (by the way, seems Canada and Norway are pretty close allies in regards to exploration and research of the arctic)... but from what I'm told, there is more of a technological appreciation from the general public when we were growing up in countries like Denmark. So, while people here in NA thought gamers or anyone into tech were losers, there was less of a divide in Denmark.

Don't know if that applies to you at all, but what Ben says certainly rings true for us here, but maybe not where you're from. So you might both be right. :p

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Beamboom
Wednesday, November 28, 2012 @ 1:51:33 PM

Back when I was a teen, during the eighties, we had something called "Game&Watch". Small, simple and inexpensive handheld LCD devices made by Nintendo and featured one game and a watch (hence the name). Practically every kid at school had one of those, and we played each others G&W.

That was the casual gaming of that age. Then there was some of us, not by a long shot all, who advanced to microcomputers and more advanced, "hardcore" computer games. That's where we started to separate the geeks from the rest.

Later, after my youth but before the smartphones we had a period with Bandai's "Tamagotchi", keyring-sized inexpensive digital things where they had to raise a little animal on that screen. Feed it, play with it, let it rest and so forth. Every kid ran around with those darn things back then, it even became a problem at schools. That was the casual gaming of *that* period.

Today we got web browsers and smartphones who recruit casual gamers en masse.

So casual gaming has always been there, as far as I am concerned. At least, as Underdog mention, this is how it's been here in northern europe, and I'm pretty sure this is how it was in Asia too. After all, that's where all these devices came from.


Last edited by Beamboom on 11/28/2012 2:20:51 PM

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Lawless SXE
Wednesday, November 28, 2012 @ 2:57:37 AM
Reply

They flock towards what is popular and popularity is driven by any number of factors. Key among these is novelty. That's why the Wii sold, alongside its marketing as a lightweight exercise aid, which garnered plenty of word-of-mouth and got across a very misguided image in the process. The real power lies in advertising and THAT is what the casual market will respond to.

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___________
Wednesday, November 28, 2012 @ 3:56:53 AM
Reply

eh, i still like to think theres a market out there that wants the elite.
there is, apple have proved that time and time again!
iphones not the most popular mobile device in the world because its cheap!
its the most popular mobile device in the world because its well built, looks like a super model, and is very easy to use.

$ony went down the shitter this gen because first off they released the ps3 far too unsupported.
it was not the price that hurt them, it was the lack of features, games, support that hurt it.
if the ps3 was its price but had trophies day 1, had plus day 1, had the features it had in 09 day 1, and MP games were at the state their now day 1, than it would of sold a HELL of allot better!
people dont mind spending allot on something as long as they feel its worth it.
and that was the problem with the ps3, not that it was so expensive, but because it was not worth its money.
it had less and worse features than the competitors, yet was FAR more expensive!
so of course its going to struggle.

so $ony lost a sh*t ton of money on the ps3, the strong yen did not help.
so to remake their losses they started cutting costs, cutting corners, and as usual that made things worse!
they went from THE best manufacturer in the TV market, one of THE best manufactures in the home and car audio market, and a decent manufacturer in the mobile phone market.
they had their fingers in many pies, yet somehow managed to give each pie the attention and quality it needed!
but due to the cost cutting each pie started to get worse and worse.
the company who use to make THE best TVs, become one of the worst!
the company who use to make pretty good home and car audio, became pretty poor.
and dont get me started on their phones, ive been through oh so many of them!

$onys not in the position their in now because theres no longer a market who wants a premium product.
their in the position their in now because there still charging what they use to for their products, but there no where near as good!
when HD TVs first came out i bought a XBR, little more expensive than the toshiba or samsung models but 100 times better!
now though if you were to buy a LX900 which is their top of the range model, forget the 4K 25K, its not a little more expensive.
its EIGHT HUNDRED BUCKS MORE!
AND its worse!
so if anything its a miracle they lasted as long as they did!
even their home audio is overpriced!
may this year i got yamahas top of the line home audio 7.1 system from JBHIFI, SAME price as $ony wants for their 5.1 sony muteki range!

in short $ony can release the ps4 at 700 bucks if they wanted to!
if it supports 4K, and has allot of cool new features, feels expensive and well made, is reliable, supports cloud gaming and streaming, than it will sell well!
theres still a market for a premium product, IF it feels like its worth its money!
if not, well, of course its going to flop!

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Beamboom
Wednesday, November 28, 2012 @ 5:23:48 AM

Your point about Apple is a good one.

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___________
Wednesday, November 28, 2012 @ 4:41:20 AM
Reply

also im not sure those numbers are accurate.
casual gaming crowd might be 80%, but thats counting mobile devices no?
not only consoles?
how much of that percentage would be buying a next gen console?
i think people would be surprised how large a percentage of people out there still are looking for the best of the best.
after all theres more custom game PC manufactures out there than their ever was!
if people were no longer interested in tech, than why are there many more custom PC manufactures out there than before?
and there not exactly struggling!
and these things are f*cking expensive, i mean a custom built PC from origin here is going for a starting price of FIVE grand!
if you want the top of the range, well try 12!
even alienware, customize the M18X, same laptop i have, as high as it will go and you can easily spend 15K!

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Knightzane
Wednesday, November 28, 2012 @ 12:22:02 PM
Reply

Someone said something about Samsung tv's being better. I had a samsung before i bought my sony this year with income tax, and i tell you this, my games looked entirely new. Even Demons souls looked better. Sony headphones even give me sound that people pay 150$ for. No seriously test it out. Buy 15$ Sony headphones from wal-mart, than compare it to your 2-300$ headset. Actually people won't even tell the truth because they want to justify their over priced purchase. Point is, big things have small beginnings. Anyone who gets that reference is a badass by the way.

As for the main subject, no opinion.

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Beamboom
Wednesday, November 28, 2012 @ 2:23:22 PM

The Sony headsets and earbuds have *very* good sound.

Last edited by Beamboom on 11/28/2012 2:23:46 PM

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, November 28, 2012 @ 1:48:51 PM
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This is the reason I might believe the rumor of a separate casual xbox sku next gen.

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