Casual Games Vs. Hardcore Games

Posted: August 21, 2007 in Video Games

Well it’s no secret that I enjoy games of all types but I would definitely consider myself a hardcore gamer.  Time and family permitting, I can sit all day and play away if the game is right.  Not just MMORPG’s but a good RPG, Action, Adventure, or Fighting game can eat up my free time.  There’s a lot of talk this generation about casual gaming and how it is the supposed future of gaming.

Well it’s also no secret that I’m no fanboy and regularly enjoy consoles and games made by all developers.  Normally I own all the current gaming consoles however this generation I have passed on the Playstation 3, for mostly obvious reasons and a few that I won’t discuss here.  I do own an Xbox 360 and a Wii both of which I enjoy to great degree and although I’ve always been a Nintendo nut I actually enjoy my 360 a bit more.  Generally speaking my NES, SNES, N64, and even my Game Cube where my favorite consoles in their respective generations.

This generation is a bit different for me.  I’ve been really turned off by Nintendo this generation by all their talk of casual gaming and how that’s the future of gaming.  The Wii continues to succeed because of its casual approach and offerings and I believe it will continue to thrive in the market place for some time to come.  What I do not believe however is that the Wii will hold onto its dominance permanently and I do not believe that casual gaming is the “complete” future of gaming.

Casual games are offered as downloads on all three major consoles which even I enjoy.  These games however, with the exception of a few titles are like appetizers for me.  They give me something to do when I only have a few minutes to spare or don’t have any new AAA hardcore titles to play.  I usually tire of casual titles after a few minutes or after beating them repeatedly.  I can say that I really and truly believe that casual games are part of the future of gaming but that without hardcore titles to appease the gamer base out there gaming profits will ultimately thin out over the years until it becomes unprofitable.  This is probably a worse case scenario and I honestly don’t believe gaming is in any kind of trouble because of Nintendo’s recent focus.

As I stated earlier I think the Wii sales will eventually soften up quite a bit although the casual gamers out there seem to buy anything no matter what the quality of the game turns out to be so who knows.  I bought a Wii not for the “revolutionary” new control scheme but for games like Metroid, Zelda, Mario, Mario Kart, etc. so to say I’ve been disappointed in my Wii would not be untrue.  I bought it realizing its focus was not just on the hardcore gamer but on every type of gamer and non-gamer.  I really didn’t expect Nintendo to start dropping or canceling titles because they weren’t casual enough for Wii owners.  This is what I think in the end will eventually hurt the Wii and mabey even Nintendo.  How long can you take the extreme casual approach before the hardcore gamers walk away and start buying for other consoles?  Not long, and it’s happening now.  Many of my friends who where hot on the Wii simply due to the buzz it created at E3 2006 have already stepped away and either don’t want to buy one or have stopped playing thier’s.

It’s kind of sad to see actually because Nintendo always has so much potential and yet they continue to succeed as a company in spite of itself.  Every generation, beginning with the SNES they have made several blunders yet somehow survive.  In the days of the SNES, they decided not to have a CD drive created thus they allowed Sony to birth the PlayStation 1.  When the N64 was finally released Nintendo stated in a magazine I read that cartridges and not CD’s where the future of gaming.  When the Game Cube was released they stated that there was little interest in online gaming and the system never really supported online play with the exception of Phantasy Star Online.  With the Wii they stated that High Definition TV penetration was low and that most gamers would not own one until the end of this generation.  A recent online poll on the Wii itself proved them very wrong (wow that was hard to see coming wasn’t it?)  Now looking back on their shortcomings of the past they have decided they weren’t succeeding or number one because they where only playing to the hardcore gaming base.  While they’ve proved that’s partially right they’ve also missed a big point.  The Wii is vastly underpowered when compared to the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 and is literally a slightly faster Game Cube wrapped up in a better looking shell.  Nintendo stated not long ago that they went this route because they tried the big faster approach with the Cube and that didn’t work for them.  Well the reason it didn’t work was because the Cube didn’t support online play like the original Xbox did and the majority of the games that where published for the Cube quite frankly sucked.  I bought my Cube for the same reason I bought my Wii…the big name Nintendo franchises.  Of course I download some of the classics from the Virtual Console and pick up a title from the store from time to time (Super Paper Mario rules!) but that’s it. 

You see, it is my opinion that Nintendo failed in the past because of the lack of 3rd party support and poor to average games that they put on for their systems as well as a lack of foresight.  The Game Cube was more powerful than the Playstation 2 but Sony had much better titles last generation.  This generation I see Nintendo doing what it does best again, shooting itself in the foot and then somehow turning that into a positive in some twisted sense of the word.  I really can’t see the Wii holding onto the top spot for the next five or six years with the systems current audience.  The majority of casual gamers don’t turn into hard core gamers and they are fickle and what’s always left in the end is the hardcore dedicated fan base, a fan base Nintendo could lose and has continued to lose over the course of the last few generations.  Most of my friends laugh at me or give me a hard time for owning Nintendo consoles, even though I usually own and play all consoles.  I still get the old “Nintendo is for kids” and “see it’s just like the Cube, the only good games are the Zelda’s, Metroids……..”  I applaud Nintendo for kicking some ass this generation and crawling out of their hole but have to give a resounding thumbs down for thier “hardcore” approach to casual gaming. 

I’m looking forward to Metroid Prime 3, but I think it’s probably going to be the last Metroid title we’ll see on anything but Nintendo’s portables like the DS, which is really sad.  Please don’t dummy down any future versions of the big franchise titles so that casual gamers can grasp playing the game.  Let the hard core games remain challenging and difficult and let the casual games remain fun for everyone and easy to play.

Oh yea and go buy Metroid Prime 3, Although advertising for the game has been far less than stellar and only catered to Wii owners I have no doubt it’s going to kick ass!  If there ever was a reason to own a Wii this could be it….I will write a reveiew sometime in September after I beat it.  Check out the site!

Now where the hell is my my Kid Icarus Wii sequel?

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