How many of you out there remember a time when video games were actually hard? The first NES had a reputation for some of the hardest games ever created. Even PC games from that same era could be impossible to complete. With the rise of the Internet and online gaming, some of the first MMORPG’s to hit the market were difficult to say the least, taking hours of time just to get a small increase in power.
However, something happened within the last five to eight years. You see, many of these gamers grew up and soon found that being adult meant having less time to play games. So we saw the rise of the casual gamer. For good or for bad, casual gamers have had a major impact on the gaming market as we know it.
What Are Casual Gamers
Before we can talk about their effect on gaming, we first need to address what exactly a casual gamer is. Now there isn’t any hard definition on what a casual gamer is, or what a hardcore gamer is, for that matter. In fact, a quick search will show you just how much debate there is on these definitions. Still, I will attempt to define for all of you:
Casual Gamer: A casual gamer enjoys video games, but doesn’t necessarily consider them a hobby. For a casual gamer, a video game is more of a distraction to help them relax or pass the time when they have nothing else to do. While they may be dedicated to certain games, they won’t schedule their life around them. Instead, they fit their gaming time in between the other events of their lives.
Hardcore Gamer: Hardcore gamers are more dedicated to their games. They view video games as their one true hobby and explore it with passion. This means they dedicate significant amount of time to their hobby. Often they will schedule their life around games and play times and often they make sure they play a game every single day.
Today, the largest segment of the market is made up of casual gamers. Because they represent such a large segment of the market, video game companies have attempted to cater to their needs and wants while at the same time trying not to forget the hardcore gamers. The end result has greatly changed how we play many games today.
Game Creation Evolution
In the past, video games were much more difficult than they are today and often required hours upon hours of gameplay to complete. Online games often required significant amounts of time in order to advance and you often had to schedule time to visit some of the hardest locations with other players in order to advance. Today, however, things are a little different.
Video game companies have tried to make many of their games much more accessible. This has caused them to reduce the difficulty of many single player games so it doesn’t take as much time to complete. For online games, many games such as World of Warcraft have attempted to cater to both styles of gameplay. Blizzard opted to give both players paths to success and progression in order to cater to casual gamers, which made a huge segment of their very large pool of players.
The rise of casual gaming also introduced new types of games on new devices. In addition to consoles and the PC, today we can play all sorts of small games that don’t take long to play on our smartphones. These small games can be fun and addictive, but don’t require a huge time investment in order to enjoy them properly.
Many hardcore gamers prefer to stick with the games that cater more to them, but many still play some of the same games today that casual gamers do. This has caused issues with many game communities as the companies try to cater more toward one style of play or the other.
Casual gamers haven’t just changed the software provided by the gaming market, but the hardware has changed as well. In the past, gaming hardware, especially PC gaming, required dedication and a lot of money. You had to build the fastest gaming rig money could buy if you wanted to run the latest games.
Today, things are a little different. Casual gamers don’t have the time to devote to games like they once had so they don’t want to devote as much of their resources toward a PC to play games. Instead, they make sacrifices to play what they want. They shave off costs with the video card or the processor so they don’t have to spend as much for their PC.
Now you can find tons of sites devoted to all types of hardware. These sites have tons of buying guides to help you find affordable laptops that will still run your favorite games. Sure, you can still buy the very best of the best, but with a little research, you find just what you need at a price you can afford.
There are many opinions out there on whether or not casual gamers have been good for gaming as we know it. But no matter where you fall in this argument, there is no doubting that casual gamers are here to stay, and the effects these players have had is nothing short of profound. The entire PC industry has shifted to accommodate both hardcore and casual gamers. Will game makers continue to cater to casual gamers? While nothing is certain it’s probably a safe bet to say yes. After all, casual gamers represent a huge segment of the market and love investing their money in their favorite games, even if they don’t play them as often.