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.

There has already been talk of 2009 being a quiet year for hardcore gaming. With the exception of Final Fantasy XIII and the usual brigade of samey sequels, there are few Triple A titles on the immediate horizon. By contrast, the casual genre is packed-to-the-gills with hotly anticipated games, including The Beatles: Rock Band, Wii NintenDogs, Punch Out!!, Wii Sports Resort and The Sims 3 — not to mention a raft of new games for the Apple iPhone, which is swiftly becoming the new king of casual gaming.

And then there are the other signs, like Microsoft’s rumoured plans to retire its flagship enthusiast console; the Xbox 360 Elite. Tellingly, the same console currently comes bundled with Indiana Jones Lego and Kung Fu Panda — which are about as anti-hardcore as you can get. It’s almost as if Microsoft is ashamed of the Elite's premier status.

If you're still not convinced that hardcore gaming is on the wane, take a look at the woeful sales performance of Nintendo's non-casual offerings. The blood-soaked hack 'em up MadWorld failed to make much of a dent in gamers’ wallets, despite receiving considerable critical acclaim. Even Rock Star’s hotly anticipated Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars didn’t set the world alight. In its first month on sale, it only sold 89,000 copies. (By comparison, the first Nintendogs game sold nearly three times that number in its first week on sale alone).

We now live in a world where Wii frickin’ Sports is the best-selling game of all time. By the end of the next console generation, the kind of games we enjoy and play today may well have gone the way of the Nintendo PowerGlove. Hardcore games will still exist of course, but they will be something of a niche market, much like the PC gaming scene of today. Mark our words, the PS4 and XBox 720 will have full-blown motion control schemes — and hardcore gaming can only suffer as a result. Ladies and gentlemen, it appears that the ‘game’ is up. It's time to welcome our Nu N-Gamer overlords.

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Chris Jager

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