Has Nintendo killed hardcore gaming?

The casual genre is killing hardcore gaming as we know it. We chart the rise of the mass-murderers: the Nintendo Wii and DS.

"Nothing lasts forever. Nobody lives forever. Everything comes and goes. We all begin and rise and fade away...What then?"
— Edward Abbey

You never see it coming. One day, you’re happily swanning about in flannel shirts or cargo pants, the next; your favourite trend is yesterday’s fading fad. It happens to everyone sooner or later; from swingin' fondue enthusiasts to chubby Beanie Baby chasers. No matter how popular a hobby might be, it always reaches its use-by date eventually — and hardcore gaming is no exception.

‘Hardcore gaming’ is a phrase that gets bandied about a lot by the press. It has been used to describe everything from friendless videogame addicts to diehard MMO fans (some would argue these are one and the same). In the context of this article, the phrase refers to all types of gaming other than the ‘casual/party’ genre... which just so happens to be the cause of hardcore gaming's demise.

As much as games journalists refuse to admit it, hardcore gaming is definitely on the wane, to be replaced by its simpler, party-prone brother (i.e. the other ‘C’ word.) The rise of the Nintendo Wii and Nintendo DS has irreversibly changed the video game landscape, with Sony and Microsoft clamouring to follow suit. We’re entering a new, casual era that we’ve coined ‘Nu N-Gaming’ — and no amount of kicking or screaming is going to alter its indomitable course.

The resurgence of casual gaming is indelibly tied to the new wave of game peripherals. From chick-friendly sing-alongs to the genre-crossing Guitar Hero, every hit franchise in the casual genre has an extraneous gadget to thank. But Nintendo has decided to take this concept to a whole new level — its Wii and DS consoles have all the hallmarks of a game peripheral, built directly into the hardware. Call it a fad or a gimmick if you will, but this is exactly what the masses want — and they’re gatecrashing the party in their millions.

Nintendo’s “come one, come all” approach to gaming has revolutionised our once-insular industry, with grannies, girlfriends and non-gamers all getting in on the action. The sales figures speak for themselves. According to GFK Australia, nine of the 10 best-selling games in 2008 were Nintendo exclusives. Almost all of these were party/casual games, with the top slot held by Wii Fit.

The same data reveals that the 'family genre' was the biggest mover-and-shaker, with a whopping 157 per cent sales increase over the previous year. The only non-Nintendo title to break into the top 10 was GTA IV — which only managed to place fifth. Given the hysterical press coverage that game’s sales figures received, you’d expect it to be ranked much higher. Such is the clout of the Nu N-Gamer.

And it’s not just Aussies jumping on the casual bandwagon: the same statistics are repeated all over the world, with sales charts dominated by scores of novice-friendly Wii and DS titles. Not only has Nintendo won the console war, it’s successfully committing genocide on its enemies. Is it any wonder that Sony and Microsoft have decided to join the winning side? While they still pay lip-service to the hardcore contingent, both companies are gagging to emulate Nintendo’s runaway success. They want in on the Nintendo gravy train, and hardcore gaming is about to take a backseat as a consequence.

Over the past few months, there have been rumblings from both camps about the need to tap into the mainstream market. In a recent interview with VG247, SCEA hardware marketing boss John Koller admitted that Sony’s future focus would be on casual gaming: “We’re moving on now... to look at softer brands that maybe we had with PS2 franchises. There’s certainly a line-up of very strong family-friendly titles that we’re looking at for PS3 in our continuing effort to appeal to that casual consumer.”

Former Xbox boss David Moore has also weighed in on the subject, revealing Microsoft's plans to replicate (sorry, “improve upon”) the Wii formula: “I think they're doing that [introducing motion control] and I think Sony are probably the same.” (Gametrailers.com). It would seem that all the major players are moving towards family-friendly properties, which continue to sell like proverbial hotcakes. So where does this leave the hardcore gamer?

Tags games consolesgameswiiXBox 360nintendo dsPS3

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Chris Jager

GamePro Australia

14 Comments

Preston in Washington

1

A great closer

Great closing line!

It seems gamers are simply growing up. The 20th anniversary of the Game Boy was this past week. 20 years?!? I remember seeing it for the first time at the Nintendo Power Tour in Dallas in 1992 and couldn't believe my eyes. I spent all my time going between the demo of Mega Man 2 on the NES and Gargoyle's Quest on the Game Boy.

I know in my own life over the past 20 years there haven been an ever increasing amount of demands placed on the time I used to have open and free to game. First it was college, then the first job, then marriage then a house to take care of and then kids of your own than don't come with a pause button. It is incredibly hard to find even an hour to sit down and immerse yourself in a game anymore. Most of my gaming sessions now are quick 20 minute affairs on the DS while I ride the train to work.

Hard-core games won't go extinct for sure, but when I catch my wife (a total non-gamer who never grew up with video games) spending a rare down moment on Brain Age or Professor Layton it's hard to ignore the simple fact that things have changed a lot in the last 20 years.

At any rate, just my 2 cents. And did I mention I really liked your closing line?

Tex Pine

2

PC are far from being a niche

PC does have niches within itself, but it also filled with broad appeal games (also known as "casual"). In fact, the first casual game was Windows Solitaire, and the modern casual games era was born with PopCap and its Bejeweled in 2002.

You can't consider PC gaming simply as a niche when there is so much variety within (indies, Flash, downloadables, retail, AAAs, social gaming, MMOs), and the biggest game platform in the world is Microsoft Windows. Undisputed.

Anonymous

3

I think the article was referring to 'hardcore' PC games (i.e. - action titles and the like). Sales are much, much lower on this format, when compared to Xbox and PS3. In that sense, it is pretty niche.

Anonymous

4

Is Punch Out casual? Ask all those people who get their ass kicked on the title defense mode.

Anonymous

5

You should just drop dead man. Simply die... this life doesn't need people like you. This world is full of stupid people... there's few oxygen and we are a lot. We need the air for those who actually deserve it.

It's just my opinion =)

Heeb

6

why do people jip Nintendo? just coz they are the best out there and have given everybody a chance to play games... and hardcore is not defined as blood, gore and war its done by how much you play games.

Seiji

7

Is Nintendo taking you by force?

Why do you play wii? Is nintendo putting a knife in your chest?

Do you remember when the actual "hardcore gamers" started playing? Those were good times, we had Mario, Zelda, Duck Hunt, Tetris, Sonic, Space Invaders, and those were the beginning. Let the new generations start their way with fun kiddie games: when they grow up, and become hardcore, they'll kick your ass in Halo 20, because you'll get old. The problem is, people like does have no memories before killing spree and likes, we should call the writter "amnesia gamer" non "hardocre gamer"...

Anonymous

8

poor creature ...

Luke

9

Oh, please...

As long as there are gamers that want hardcore games, hardcore games will be made, and there millions upon millions of hardcore gamers. I just read today that RE5 sold 5 million copies! You're right that the face of gaming is changing, but why does the rise of the casual gamer mean the downfall of the hardcore? That's not logical.

Will Microsoft and Sony try to court this casual gamer? They'd be stupid not to. But the gaming world has room for everybody. Listen, I love hardcore games as much as anybody else and like you, I don't want to lose them. Change is scary. I don't like change. No one does. But for God's sakes, everyone needs to calm down, and realize that while there's going to be some new faces in our world, it's okay! These people are not going to take our precious games from us!

There are few things in life as frustrating as individuals who see something that appears just a tiny bit threatening, and they wet themselves, hit the panic button, and ride the slippery slope into doomsday-mumbling vagrants. This is no different than the fear-mongering pundits on CNN and Fox News that take something that's mildly unsettling and blow it up into sensationalistic "news." (e.g. A recent headline on Fox News: "Swine flu: Is it the next black plague?"). This is irresponsible journalism and this website should know better.

Luke

10

Oh, please...

As long as there are gamers that want hardcore games, hardcore games will be made, and there millions upon millions of hardcore gamers. I just read today that RE5 sold 5 million copies! You're right that the face of gaming is changing, but why does the rise of the casual gamer mean the downfall of the hardcore? That's not logical.

Will Microsoft and Sony try to court this casual gamer? They'd be stupid not to. But the gaming world has room for everybody. Listen, I love hardcore games as much as anybody else and like you, I don't want to lose them. Change is scary. I don't like change. No one does. But for God's sakes, everyone needs to calm down, and realize that while there's going to be some new faces in our world, it's okay! These people are not going to take our precious games from us!

There are few things in life as frustrating as individuals who see something that appears just a tiny bit threatening, and they wet themselves, hit the panic button, and ride the slippery slope into doomsday-mumbling vagrants. This is no different than the fear-mongering pundits on CNN and Fox News that take something that's mildly unsettling and blow it up into sensationalistic "news." (e.g. A recent headline on Fox News: "Swine flu: Is it the next black plague?"). This is irresponsible journalism and this website should know better.

bob_buffalo

11

Oh for the love of..

I cannot believe how PATHETIC this article is! Come on! get over it! so you are complaining that more people is playing games?! what?! do you want to still be in the retarded artsy pretentious games of today?

If you mean that they are killin the cinematic era well FINALLY! I am tired of games imitating movies and becoming more and more complex! welcome REAL gaming and not pathetic movies wannabes.

And for you, GROW UP! Games should for be for everybody! Not just to the kiddish 20-30 somethings like you!

Anonymous

12

haha, all these comments seem to be pro-nintendo... not surprising as this is an 'old person's site' - and the wii is an old person's console.

zinger AU

13

what a crap article. worst i have ever read.

Techiedd

14

Can You Define a HardCore Gamers??

HardCore gaming is about dedication.. It's not about the graphics or the looks of the game.. It's not about how it is played.. It is about dedication.. If you are dedicated into that game, be it, bejeweled etc.. You are a hardcore gamers.. If you can finish a puzzle with all it's levels within 10 minutes, you are a hardcore gamer.. So a hardcore gamers is not about playing violent games or good graphic games.. It's about playing the game with great dedication.. Be it, ugly or not..

Comments are now closed.

Most Popular Reviews

Follow Us

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Shopping.com

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest Jobs

Shopping.com

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?