Monday, June 13, 2011

Core gamers: You guys are so over

Core gamers had it great for years. During their reign at the top of the game consuming pyramid core gamers were the prime target of game companies. AAA games were mostly shooters or about topics appealing to 14-34 year old males, and many companies developed expensive hardware aimed at gamers. Life was good; it's good to be the king.

But with the Wii, Facebook, the iPhone, and iPad things have changed. From a piece by zebulum:
Angry Birds, by Rovio, has sales figures that would make an Assassin's Creed fan weep.

I had been working on a hardcore game targeted to the core gamer demographic of males, eternally trapped in a long adolescence. When our gameplay lead pulled out the Kinect, and began to dance with his avatar on the screen, I thought that our hardcore console project was going to get shrunk, maybe canceled, to reallocate company resources to this new device. After that, I believed the flood of out-of-work game design talent was going to flow away from hardcore games, towards the iPad and Google Android.

My prophecy was correct. The project is gone, swallowed up in pre-production hell, and the team shrank with two waves of lay-offs. I went with it. Most of my fellow designers have moved on to designing games for the Google Android, Apple iPhone, and the iPad.
The other day I published a piece about booth babes at E3 and Zygna's absence from the trade show. In a response that perfectly embodies zebulum's characterization of core gamers as "males eternally trapped in a long adolescence", an anonymous commenter said:
This is funny and a bit misleading.

42% of all game players are women.

But does playing social flash games on your handheld smart phone on a casual Wednesday make you a gamer?

The bottom link is the funniest of all. Zynga calling FarmVille players Hardcore Gamers.

HAHahahaha, what a joke. And then feminists complain that women aren't being catered to properly in the mainstream video game (not flash game) market. Too funny.
Note the denial of the changing world. He's a gamer, and those casual FarmVille players aren't. He thinks he's still the king.

But when Zynga’s annual revenues exceed $250 million or more, even Activision notices:
You have said you are hoping to reach a broader audience than your typical hardcore Call of Duty player. Why is it so important to encompass a wider audience with Elite?

Sonny: I think the idea that most Call of Duty players are 16 to 35-year-old males might have been true a few years ago, but when you think that we have 30m players worldwide, the reality of the diversity within the Call of Duty community is astounding. We have, on average, people playing 170 hours a year, but there is still a tremendous number of people who play a smaller amount and they’re not just the 16 to 35-year-old male. They’re students, they’re male and female.

Berger: ...everyone should have an opportunity to compete and join clans – not just the core gamers. We already have a mass audience, so all we need to do is build something that’s right for the full spectrum.
Just because they've been catered to for years doesn't mean core gamers will remain supreme. It's a new world out there, and core gamers should be ready for it.

1 comment:

  1. <---Same Anonymouse


    Generalizing like I did in the other post was fairly narrow without considering the rapidly evolving and wildly appealing nature of interactive media that is gaming.

    Back then before electronic gaming we had board games (monopoly/snakes&ladders) that have withstood the test of time, because they gave us and facilitated the social stimuli that we as communal primates crave.

    Digital social gaming is to us what board games were to our ancestor from 3500 B.C. to the 20st century.

    It also explains the almost instantaneous appeal of social networking sites like facebook/myspace, so much so that I have plenty of friends who simply cannot live without it (or so they say).

    To clarify my stance. My hostility isn't a dejection of the rapidly evolving social media platform, but rather chagrin and disillusionment at peoples' prejudices toward every other digital game genre in the market without a massive social appeal, especially single player experiences, which in my opinion can be superior storytelling mediums to books or movies.

    E.g. ShadowoftheColossus/Psychonauts/MassEffect/Penumbra.

    You heard the stereotypes, "You're a gamer or did you mean a basement dweller antisocial outcast?"

    If you aren't playing with others thru established social norms/devices (like facebook), you aren't living life, you HAVE NO LIFE. The irony is palpable, but then again the media doesn't do the world a favor by stigmatizing FPS/MMOs/Fight/RPG genres.

    Thankfully though, technology is breaking barriers and slowly but surely the other subcategories of the gaming world are gaining greater exposure and acknowledgment from society at large.

    However, can we really solve social prejudices with more technology and digital innovation? Future will tell.