Respected US business publication Forbes has reported that core gamers are being nudged aside” by the industry.
In a piece entitled Requiem For The Hardcore, Forbes' Chris Morris writes that ‘publishers began to realise they didn't need hardcore buzz' in 2002, when The Sims surpassed Myst to become the biggest-selling game of all time.
Morris speaks to the likes of Warren Spector and EA Casual boss Kathy Vrabeck on the subject.
Hardcore gamers had long since dismissed "The Sims" and were actively mocking it by that point. Despite that, the game (and its expansion packs) continued to sell. To date, the franchise has sold over 100 million copies.
Despite their opinion of The Sims," the hardcore kept their faith in the game's creator Will Wright. And when he first announced "Spore" in 2005, they rejoiced and avidly began tracking the game. Upon its release in September, though, the tide shifted. Message boards filled with talk of "Spore" being "too simplistic" and "shallow".
Mainstream audiences didn't care. The game sold 1 million copies in three weeks….
Nintendo of course, deserves a lot of the credit for attracting non-core gamers to the industry. While there were a trickle of new players coming into the industry before the Wii hit shelves, that has since turned into a torrent.
There is some good news for core gamers, however. While the cost of major game releases continues to escalate, independent studios are seeing a renaissance of sorts.
Affordable tools and game designs that are not limited by corporate restrictions make it possible for developers to cater solely to avid gamers at a reasonable price.
And digital distribution services from Microsoft, Sony and Valve Software allow developers to reach their target audience easily.