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Gamasutra - An Uncertain Future for the Core Gamer

by Magerette, 2008-01-21 18:36:46

Gamasutra's latest opinion piece, An Uncertain Future for the Core Gamer?  talks about demographics, market expansion, microtransactions and the effect it will have on the hardcore gamer:

 You see, I keep saying that the rising landscape has a lot more lower-budget, asynchronous, low time investment, web-based games. And the response is usually:

“But the landscape you are describing doesn’t sound like games I would like.”

And that is absolutely right. I don’t know what happens to the core gamer in that scenario....

The author examines some business models using microtansactions and talks about the future of niches:

The thing about niches is that businesses try to monetize them more. Basic math: if you are making a title for a passionate minority who loves their hobby, you charge them more to cover the costs of operating in a smaller market. And, well, because you can...

 
...But if the offerings from the businesses shift direction overall, then what? Like, there’s not much on Facebook for the core gamer. If stuff like Facebook becomes the dominant model, then what does the core gamer do? Under circumstances like that, you’d expect prices to rise for core games.

In some ways, that’s exactly what is happening, using microtransactions and premiums as the way to do it. Is the fancy metal tin on a collector’s edition actually worth an extra $30? Not to most people — it’s for the niche. The same goes for selling you dashboard themes and gamer pictures on XBLA. You’re paying real money for an icon or a desktop background — and nobody else can even see the latter...

And about the ultimate direection where all this will lead:

 Core gamers are almost certainly going to have to adapt to a world in which a lot of developer attention is going towards a much broader array of titles than in the past...

...And the growth here will, to some extent, distract developers from making stuff aimed at the core gamers.

Who will also have to get used to being dinged repeatedly for their love of their hobby, buying ever nicer editions of stuff they already have...


Overall, I think this is a good thing for the core gamer, not a bad thing. But it’s definitely an adjustment.

The flip side that is equally interesting, of course, is that the mainstream will get tugged in the direction of the niche. As the world has become more science-fictional, we have seen the memes of SF appear in everyday life. Stuff from James Bond and Lord of the Rings is now common currency. The boundary lines between niche and mass market are very thin these days, and will likely get thinner. So even the casual stuff is going to have a heavy tinge of the stuff that we the geeks love.

Conclusion:

Given the nature of games, I’d expect to see a continuation of the trend to complexify the casual, because that’s what games do: grow more complex as people master the basics. The high-end casual market isn’t very casual anymore (some match-3 games are not only expensive to make, but downright esoteric in their rules)....

... What will the gamers do? Complain, then play on, probably.


Source: GameBanshee

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