We are living at a time of enormous and profound change in video gaming. You have heard it all before, possibly on here. Our former audience of hardcore single young males playing in their bedrooms is being replaced by the whole family playing in the lounge. Or so the mantra goes. We need to be concentrating on games like Wii Sports and Super Mario Galaxy.
Yet despite the accepted wisdom good hardcore games are selling better than ever before. And one of them, Halo 3, has set launch turnover records for entertainment IP in the USA.
So it is interesting that research company BrandIntel says that Halo 3 generated significant awareness and engagement among casual gamers leading to it over achieving in that market. They also found, unsurprisingly, that Halo 3 was a system seller.
So what does this tell us? Certainly not that our new casual audience is about to go hardcore. More likely that if any game is good enough and marketed well enough it will find some audience amongst casual gamers. Which makes sense. So maybe hardcore has a slightly better future than some were thinking if it is done right.
But most of all it shows that our future will be very much in niches. Because the installed base of platforms will be so much bigger and more all encompassing than ever before it will be possible to make games in all sorts of genres that wouldn’t have worked in the past. This wide range of genres is exactly what happens with books and film. And as with these, a game from any genre can transcend from a narrow audience into a wide general audience if it is good enough and sufficiently well marketed. This is precisely what happened when the Star Wars trilogy became mass audience films despite their roots in the narrow genre of science fiction.
Exactly! And with a wider audience it is also possible to serve the many varying needs of everybody in small doses, in the same way there will be a certain kind of book for anyone, no matter how niche. I think the hard-core’s main problem is their loss of authority as the #1 undisputed, champion game consumer.
Hopefully this wider net will also tackle the outrageous budgets and team sizes used to cater for this increasingly unimportant hard-core crowd.
They will still get their fill, but hopefully others will too now.
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