Will Hardcore Gamers Be the Death of the Industry?

A running theme of this generation has been the arrival of the so-called “casual” gamer. The rise of the Wii and the desperate scrabble for the new audience that it opened up has most certainly seen an increased focus on what we call “casual games” — often misrepresented as purely shallow mini-game collections and cheap licensed material. Of course, casual gamers have been around since the beginning of videogames, and they have played titles as seminal as Pac-Man and as influential as Grand Theft Auto. The mislabeling of the casual gamer is a topic for another day, however. The fact that they are potentially healthier for this industry than any self-styled “hardcore” gamer, however, is something I find far more pertinent.

Earlier this week, Treyarch community manager Josh Olin claimed that angry gamers stifled creativity with their complaints. I do not agree with his claims that criticism and complaining have been detrimental, especially as this sentiment comes from a studio that hasn’t worked on a creative new IP in many years. However, Olin is right about one thing — the gamers are to blame for the state of the industry. While Treyarch’s community manager is wrong about the way in which they stifle creativity, I’m beginning to think that we “hardcore” gamers are indeed to blame for the myriad sequels and spin-offs that infest our market. At the very least, we are perhaps to blame for not encouraging new endeavors enough.

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West sold 460,000 copies since launch. Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days sold over a million. A genuinely wonderful, original, unique, and polished title didn’t even sell half as much as a rushed, threadbare, barely-finished, visually grotesque, utterly broken pile of shit. Both of these titles were aiming for the more niche “hardcore” crowd, so I don’t believe we can blame the “casual” gamers for buying Dog Days while ignoring Enslaved. No, I think the blame for this is squarely on our heads — the hardcore gamers who didn’t want to give a new IP a chance, and instead went for something because it had a “2″ in its name. We hardcore gamers blame the industry for what is called “Sequelitis” — the consistent supply of sequels. Yet we buy them in their millions. Even if the first game wasn’t good, we’ll buy the sequel, simply because it is a sequel. Left 4 Dead 2 and Dead Space 2 both doubled the sales of their prequels while every successive Call of Duty game makes more money than the last. These are all properties predominantly played by us — the “hardcore” gamer community. We complain about sequels with one side of our mouths and lap them up with the other.

Am I saying it’s wrong to buy sequels? Left 4 Dead 2 and Dead Space 2 were stellar games, so I am not suggesting we ignore all sequels, or that they are inherently bad games. But it’s the blind trust we have in sequels, compared to the distrust we have in new titles, that really concerns me, and leads me to believe that the dedicated core gamer might very well be the one who signals the ruination of gaming as we know it — because at the end of the day, the “casual” gamer is simply a better customer than you.

Just Dance, Wii Fit, Carnival Games. Three titles that have been huge successes. Each was a brand new IP when released — not a sequel, not a spin-off, carrying unestablished names. But did the casual gamer care about that? Did they worry that the games might have come from developers that they didn’t know? Published by companies they didn’t like? Did they wait for the games to enter the bargain bins? No, no, no and no. While “real” gamers waited for Enslaved to slash its MSRP, the casual gamer was buying titles brand new. While the hardcore gamer was snapping up sequels because it can only trust established franchises, the casual gamer didn’t give a shit and just bought what looked fun.

There’s something to be said for being a discerning customer, but when you look at the history of great games going unsold — Psychonauts, Okami, Gitaroo Man — you have to admit that maybe the jealous guarding of our loot has had a lot to do with the way publishers are producing games now. For example, can you really blame Koei for making endless Dynasty Warriors sequels? The one truly unique and brilliant game it ever published, Gitaroo Man, sold so poorly that they won’t even bother putting the PSP version on the PlayStation Network. Meanwhile, the Dynasty Warriors games sell, and sell pretty good. As much as I like Dynasty Warriors, I do admit that the amount of spin-offs is excessive, but I cannot blame Koei, because when it tries to be original and brilliant, all it receives is punishment.

Originality alone does not entitle a game to high sales. In fact, I’ve argued before against people who believe that “innovation” deserves high review scores and more sales simply for being inventive (and I’ll be addressing that in a later article). You have to be original and good to deserve success, but those games that strike such a rare balance are suffering, and dying, because nobody wants to trust them. There are enough of us out there to make games like Psychonauts a success, but we’re not supporting them, and it seems to be because we’re only willing to back a game with a sequel, perhaps mindlessly believing that “If it got a follow-up, it has to be good.” It’s the only logical explanation I can find for Kane & Lynch 2 selling over a million, despite the poor quality of the original and its own absolute awfulness.

America is a capitalist country, and one of the most crucial cogs in the capitalist machine is the concept of supply & demand. Publishers provide what the market wants, and the market has declared that it doesn’t want Enslaved, or Psychonauts, or Okami, or any other title that combines good gameplay with originality and freshness. It wants more Halo, more Guitar Hero, and way more Call of Duty. This is the market you helped to shape, the market you created. It’s the market I created, too. I can’t pretend to be blameless. We’re all in the same audience, the industry is shaped by all our wallets, so we’re all to blame for the “sequelitis” we so haughtily criticize.

Yeah, I get it — games are expensive, used games are cheap. I am all for the used market and I am all for gamers being careful with their cash. But maybe if you supported less sequels and more original games, we’d have, I dunno, more original games and less sequels! Redistribute your funds a little, be a bit more diverse — broaden the ol’ horizons. Take a little gamble now and then. There is a reason why Activision put out ten Guitar Hero games in 2009, including crap like Band Hero and DJ Hero. Guitar Hero is what sold, while Activision’s more original titles, like Singularity, did not. Who is to blame here? Activision? Perhaps a little, for its sheer over-saturation, but who made the publisher think it was a good idea? Us, the silly cunts ignoring the good stuff in favor of the drek.

Even worse, it’s only we hardcore gamers who can be blamed for the rampant piracy that is helping to wreck the industry. Do you think a middle-aged mother of four who plays Brain Training is downloading ROMs? I’m sure a rare few exist, but let’s face it — hardcore gamers are the ones who contributed to the outright rape of the Nintendo DS’ game library. Is it any coincidence that Brain Training, Let’s Quit Smoking and Imagine Babyz are some of the system’s top sellers, while M-rated games like Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars aren’t considered viable properties? It’s because we sat there stealing the games we wanted to play, while whining like hypocrites that the DS is only good for casual kiddy crap. People bitch and moan that the DS library is home to a load of shovelware shit, but you know what? That’s exactly what you deserve. People who are interested in the good games, the unique games, the typically “hardcore” games, steal them in droves.

I used to turn a blind eye to software piracy, and I think some industries — especially the movie industry — encourage it with the way they treat their consumers. However, the sad case of the Nintendo DS is entirely our fault. Same goes for the PC market. PC gamers complain that nobody supports their chosen medium anymore, but nobody wants to support a medium where more people choose to steal than to purchase. Nobody would open a store where customers are allowed to get away with thieving as many items as they buy, so I don’t see why a developer would give the first shit about the PC market. That many studios still do is admirable, and something we should encourage, yet at the end of every December, we always get a “Most pirated games of the year” list, and the numbers involved are staggering.

That’s what I think of, these days, when I think of hardcore gamers. Refusing to buy brilliant new titles, and outright stealing anything they do want. Meanwhile, we have the causal gamer — not savvy enough to pirate, and not distrustful enough to ignore a game that catches its eye. That, friends, is why sequels and shovelware rule the sales charts. That is why publishers are making them.

It’s not all bad, of course. Every now and then, a surprise sale will shock us. Especially on Xbox Live Arcade, Steam, and other downloadable stores, we have games like Braid and Limbo becoming huge successes. Even at retail, a new game like BioShock can suddenly pop its head up and become successful. But I don’t think such successes are frequent enough to keep this industry from becoming everything the hardcore gamer claims to hate — the domain of the casual.

Can you say that we, as a collective audience, have given publishers any reason to make it otherwise?

Can you say that we are encouraging up-and-coming developers to create new games?

Can you say that we are supporting the kind of industry that we want to see?

Can you say that we are not shaping an industry where fresh talent atrophies while old shite triumphs?

I cannot.

We better learn to enjoy our ten Guitar Hero games a year. We’ve earned them.

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31 Comments on Will Hardcore Gamers Be the Death of the Industry?


On February 5, 2011 at 1:51 pm

I do firmly agree with your argument in this article, but I just have to play DJ Hero Defense Force for a second: DJ Hero was a very different variation on the Guitar Hero formula, and it really didn’t make much money until the retail price got cut in HALF. This game is probably better evidence in support of your argument instead of against it.

Ever since I bought my 360 a few years back, something changed in me as a gamer. After getting nothing but another Mario, another Zelda, another Mario Kart, etc on my Wii, I was opened to a brand new world of games. Bioshock, Castle Crashers, Braid, Lost Odyssey – I bought all of these games early on, none of them sequels. All it took was a few fresh, unique IPs to convince me that new projects are worth investing in. Ever since then I’ve done my best to support the underdog: I was one of the few thousand who bought Enslaved on day one. So my advice to other gamers is to treat yourselves to something new – you’ll be glad you did (and if not, there’s always Goozex).


On February 5, 2011 at 1:55 pm

Great Article. I always try and support good original games. I wish others would as well.


On February 5, 2011 at 2:05 pm

Well written, agree fully.

2010 was a great year when it came to new franchises. Alan Wake, Dante’s Inferno, Deadly Premonition, Dance Central and Darksiders are just a few examples of games from last year that I enjoyed, all new franchises. Some of these did certainly sell well, Dance Central is already guarateed a sequel and rumour has it Darksiders will get one as well.

But when it comes to Alan Wake or Dante, we can only hope. We know the developers want to make sequels, but we’ll have to wait and see. As for Deadly Premonition, I don’t know how well that game sold, and while I haven’t finished it yet, I hope it sold well enough for a sequel.

With that said, I’m going to retweet this article and continue playing.


On February 5, 2011 at 2:49 pm

You do make an excellent point about the responsibility of the market, however, I don’t feel that it is the fault of the “hardcore gamers”. The hardcore are the 460,000 people who bought Enslaved. I think there’s a third category we’re not noticing, and that is the regular ol’ “gamer”. The casual gamers play Carnival Games and the hardcore are those who’ve played Enslaved, Super Meat Boy, etc. However, there are tons of people whose libraries consist solely of Call of Duty, Halo, and Madden. Those are just “gamers”, and those are the millions upon millions who buy the sequels and they are the ones that this article rightfully accuses.

I own Enslaved, Gitaroo Man for the PS2 (long live Mojo King Bee), Okami (PS2), Psychonauts (Xbox), etc. but for the most part I only heard about these games through word of mouth (forums, friends, etc). Marketing is a big factor. Enslaved, while phenomenal, was barely advertised outside of banners on IGN or GameTrailers, while COD commercials appear during every TV break, on billboards, etc. People buy what they’ve heard of. Now, what companies choose to advertise is indeed determined by the factors in this article.

Back when Dead Space was a new IP it was a surprise hit. Now we have animated films, comics, novels, iPhone games, and so on. I don’t think Dead Space 2′s sales jumped because it had a “2″ at the end, I think it sold because the public was much more aware of it.

While every argument you present is correct (despite the exclusion of the important power of advertising), the group you lay the blame on is incorrect. Hardcore cinephiles are the few who see the obscure art-house movie before it gets nominated for an Oscar, hardcore audiophiles are the guys who seek out the indie bands while they’re still underground, and hardcore gamers are the ones who’ve experienced Enslaved. Don’t vilify the 460,000. Lay the blame on the people who buy Call of Duty or Halo or Madden or Guitar Hero and ONLY that.

Ryan Rodriguez

On February 5, 2011 at 3:13 pm

Great article, Jim. And way too true. Enslaved and Majin & The Forsaken Kingdom were both FANTASTIC games and ideas. It’s just a shame everyone was too busy playing Black Ops to notice. I’ll admit though, my favorite game of last year was Red Dead Redemption, so I’ll admit I’m part of this reason, but I try to pick up some of these more “obscure” titles.

Hell, I remember buying Braid the week it came out and not ing about it’s $15 price point.


On February 5, 2011 at 4:40 pm

It is no wonder the casual gamer has been the sweetheart of the industry for a few years now, the “hardcore” market is plateauing. I don’t mean the core gamers, the gamers who would play anything you put in front of them out of passion for the medium, I mean the “hardcore” that had been marketed too heavily since Halo proved a single blockbuster could carry an entire console (or it seems that way at least). When publishers realized that the market consisting of gamers who have no interest in anything remotely niche was so huge, they capitalized on it as hard and as fast as they could.

Is this the sole reason for development costs to rise so sharply in such a short amount of time? Probably not, but I’d wager that it played a large part. One way or the next, the industry has become dependent on the revenue from big budget blockbusters because the market they catered to so heavily only plays these games. What did big publishing think was going to happen? Did they expect this market to just keep growing indefinitely?

Of course they didn’t, they banked one maxing out one segment and moving onto the next to do the same thing. Casual gamers were the same mostly untapped market as the new “hardcore” was ten years ago. Just as this new “hardcore” gamer sees the casual gamer as some kind of threat, I saw the “hardcore” as the same kind of threat back when the current gen of consoles was in its infancy.

I guess you can’t blame the hardcore gamer for any of this, they’re buying the games big publishing spent years and hundreds of millions of dollars worth of advertising campaigns to convince them they needed to buy.

All I know is that my interest in gaming is waning because the variety is just no longer there like it used to be, and honestly, I don’t see it ever coming back unless the current system collapses. Ugh.

Josh Miller-Watt

On February 5, 2011 at 6:18 pm

. That’s a fantastic ing argument – the kind of argument that makes a person just stop and say “I’m an .”

Good stuff, Mr. Sterling.

Kayin Amoh

On February 5, 2011 at 6:58 pm

Great article Jim, and I agree with the sentiments.

However, I’m not entirely convinced that the Hardcore audience is to blame for tragedies like the wonderful Enslaved (which was my joint game of the year alongside Mass Effect 2) selling like pure arse. In fact, I’d argue the opposite – hardcore gamers are more likely to seek them out and purchase games like these.

Look at some of the hardcore titles out there – let’s take two of my personal favourites, Ninja Gaiden and Demon’s Souls. Both games are brilliant, and have done reasonably well for themselves. Ninja Gaiden may sold quite a bit more than Demon’s Souls, but also had the backing of a far better marketing drive behind it.

However, casual gamers are likely to pass these titles by entirely. The thing is that I believe shooters as a whole have become so popular that they’ve arguably got more casual appeal than anything on the market. Call of Duty or Halo games don’t even really need to be any better than their competitors to sell a hell of a lot more.

I’d call myself a pretty ‘hardcore’ gamer. I play what I can as long it looks good, seeking out stuff like Ouendan as soon as it hits. I’ve been invited to national and international videogame tournament finals and while I’m not really a competitive player any more I still want to play anything fantastic I can get my hands on. These guys who only play CoD or Halo? They may be better at those games than me, but I’d consider them a more casual videogame fan than myself or any others who have a passion for the industry and taste the variety that the medium has to offer.

With this in mind, it’s no wonder than the woeful Kane and Lynch 2 sold over a million despite being one of the worst games I’ve played this generation. I know you agree – you gave it a one out of ten, which it only deserved because it would boot up every time and *probably* not molest your dog if you left it unattended.

Another knock against Enslaved was the woeful marketing campaign it had received prior to release – I try and stay on top of the gaming pulse, but I’d have missed out on it completely if it wasn’t for a random demo download off Xbox Live. This convinced me to buy the game when it came out – alongside another game on the very same day with a ‘Castlevania’ in the title which turned out to be smotheringly awful. Most casuals would go straight for the Castlevania title based on the name alone.

And of course, Enslaved is very casual friendly. It’s tough to die in many places, has a great story, great characters, a wonderfully realised world and excellent sequences and cutscenes. So you have all these casual gamers complaining that it’s not hard enough, and that Monkey won’t jump if it’s going to kill him at the same time as they lap up the fact that Gabriel from Castlevania will cheerfully drop off his whip of his own freaking accord while abseiling. That’s challenge, you see!

I personally thought Enslaved had cracking gameplay. Sure the combat system is limited, but it feels great. Enemies are solid, Monkey’s attacks looks heavy and powerful and the variety in tasks (stealthing towards turrets, sniping with your staff) kept me entertained throughout. It was no one-trick pony, mixing the various systems up well right up until the end. Picking on poor old Castlevania again, there were dozens of unlockable attacks (which people mistook for variety in combat) – many of which were borderline useless. You never felt like your attacks were becoming more powerful as you upgraded, the enemies were stagnant and boring to fight and it often felt like you were whipping a damp sponge as opposed to flesh and bone.

As for me, I’ve personally managed to get dozens of people to buy Enslaved and maybe many more than that through my words and actions. I even bought several copies to hand out to friends (as well as for VVVVVV), I was so impressed with the game. The two main problems it seems to come across in my mind was lack of marketing (I saw nothing pushing it before or even at release – you can’t sell to a customer that doesn’t know you’re there) and even the marketability of the title to the casual gamer.

‘No guns you say? No blood? Boooo-ring! I’m waiting for Shooty Macbastard and the thousand corpses, not this Enslaved junk.’

Perhaps I’m wrong and my perspective is skewed, but the casual consumer doesn’t seem to gravitate towards anything that takes a chance at something new and refreshing. It wasn’t hardcore gamers that sold Final Fantasy XIII 6 million copies, despite it being utterly dire.

I will agree on the piracy/hardcore thing though. Casuals buy games unless they know someone who pirates them – l33t h4rd|<0R3 gamers will often pirate (steal) them because they've the technical know how, or have learned to do so in order to play more games. I've no sympathy for these bags – crying for the games that they refuse to actually support. It's like complaining that you're hungry after chucking your food into the fire.

Despite all this, I think at heart we're in complete agreement. I just view what you see as the 'hardcore' audience as a bunch of casuals. Perhaps because I'm arguably hardcore and I don't want to be lumped in alongside your average Call of Duty fanatic.


On February 5, 2011 at 7:25 pm

I refused to buy MW2, especially after i seen some of the multiplayer maps were simply re-skinned COD1 maps. Seriously, cod1 maps, i’m not forking money for things that already exist and still has a good number of players. I did however buy black ops and first strike and its the only cod game i own on a console just so I have a game I can play online with my friends.

Almost didn’t buy fallout new vegas because of the same reason. Now I will buy ES:Skyrim, can’t wait for that.

I do wish their were more demo’s avail for pc and any game in particular since you can’t get a refund if you dislike it and thats why some games end up getting pirated but people really should go and buy it if you decide to enjoy it.


On February 5, 2011 at 7:31 pm

Question#1: Do Gamers or Game Publishers make games? Answer: Game Publishers Question #2: Who makes all the Sales from games? Gamers or Game Publishers? Answer: Game Publishers. Question #3: Who Manufactured and created the Game Consoles like Xbox 360, PS3, Nintendo Wii? Gamers or The Game consoles makers such as Microsoft,Sony,Nintendo,etc? Answer: The Game console manufacutures such as Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo. Question #4 Who owns, creates,makes all the sales from and writes the reviews and opinion pieces in Video game magazines that shape the opinions of millions of gaming consumers such as Game Informer , EGM, etc? Gamers or The Corporate Media Gaming Industry? Answer: The Corporate Media Gaming Industry. Question #5 Who decides to ship out half baked, buggy, glitchy, DLC blood sucking, games year in and year out? Gamers or the Game developers and Publishers? Answer: The Game Developers and Publishers. Question #6 Who is the Creative force and directors who decide what kind,types of games to make and ultimately come out year in and year out on Console and PC and Handheld gaming devices? Gamers or Game Developers and Publishers? Answer: Game Developers and Publishers. Question #7 Who decides to delay games? Gamers or the Game Publishers in coercion with the Retail Gaming business? Answers: The Game Publishers in coercion with the Retail Gaming Business. Question #8 Who decides when to start Marketing a game, how much to Market the Game, and How to Market a Game such as “Enslaved: Odessey to the West”, Gamers or The Game Publishers in coercion with their Retail Partners? Answer: The Game Publishers in Coercion with There Retail Partners. Nuff Said…..The guy who wrote this article is nothing but an Game industry insider/loyalist trying to parlay like your on the Consumers side. You are nothing but a big liar, simple, a SELLOUT,period.


On February 5, 2011 at 7:32 pm

You have it ass backwards. The hardcore gamers do not play franchises like COD. We play games that are made by developers who have creative thinking. To say that a casual would buy enslaved because it looks good is a lie. Casuals buy games because they are fueled by hype, not the other way around.

Heitor De Paola

On February 5, 2011 at 7:57 pm

Just to say that I don’t agree with everything, I thought that at least visually Kane and Lynch 2 was interesting.

Having said that, I agree with everything else. And, like Jim pointed, it’s not that these sequels are not good. I don’t think anyone will say bad things about Mass Effect 2. But it’s just such a damn shame that good, original games end up dead in sales. Aside from the ending which I didn’t like, Enslaved was a beautiful game, one that I’m sure people would’ve enjoyed if they had only played it. I just recently played through Alan Wake, which, if I’m not mistaken, is another example of an original, good game, that did not sell.

This made me think that another reason for these good games not selling is the weird and distorted idea that some make of hour/dollar value. Most seem to just take into account how long it’ll last, but not how impacting, meaningful and fulfilling those hours are. I don’t know why that happens, why are games so intensively perceived as just products that must last for a given while (and maybe eternally depending on the multiplayer). All I know is that I wish things were different.


On February 5, 2011 at 8:04 pm

I have to completely disagree with this article. What are you exactly labeling as ‘hardcore’, Halo fans? People who play Guitar Hero all the time? Those aren’t ‘hardcore’ people, and anyone who bought every GH or FPSclone is a retard, not a ‘hardcore gamer’. The term itself is stupid.

I could sit here and give you a thousand reasons why used games are just as bad as full price games or why these games and many others lose support, however I’d have to say the main reason is simple:
The gamers who have been around forever and hate many things about the industry today (Inflated to hell game prices, lack of innovation, clones, etc) leads to boycotting. If Activision is putting out 50 Guitar Heroes why would I turn around and support Singularity if it’s going to Activision’s pocket?
If these are the same people putting out these games I hate to see all over the market, bringing the same people to the hobby that I hate seeing, why would I support them? If these developers want to be so innovative and give us what we actually want, the last thing they should do is sign up with a publisher like Activision who is constantly in the eyes of `real gamers` raping the industry.

The people who would typically buy these games are either too tired of dealing with the ‘problems’ of the industry today (Console wars, Casuals v Hardcores, Rehashes v Innovation) that it’s easier to sit back ,pirate all your games, and play what you want because it doesn’t matter who you’re ‘funding’, you’re funding no one.

These games that are particularly innovative need to put out more demos, if all they care about is day1 sales, how do they intend to get those without these people that as you say buy what they are accustomed to, to simply accept these new concepts? While it’s easy to think of all pirates as scum when they’re simply taking your work for free, there are still a good deal of them who download and only purchase games they truly enjoy.

It seems there’s been a tendency recently on websites to start blaming ‘negative’ gamers or ‘hardcore’ gamers for the industry’s problems. Stop looking at the consumer as the problem, we buy what we want, we pirate what we want, if you don’t like the movement towards casual, stop catering to casuals. If all these company’s care about is money, let them continue rehashing call of duty and guitar hero and making cooking mama 42, if they care about innovation they’ll innovate, and it may not show good sales, maybe not right away, but when all you care about is day1 sales and you leave the ‘used market’ unchecked as an option, you will have this problem. If I had time to actually play a game enough to say “Hey I like it, I’ll go buy this” then maybe I would, but by the time ‘I’ am doing playing a game and ‘testing’ it, a new copy is nowhere to be found. I’ve tried addressing this many ways, for games of previous generations and of the current. Try and message a publisher/developer and explain that you pirated the game and would like to pay the price over paypal or some other setup? Nope, they don’t care you get a message saying “Don’t pirate our stuff, even if it’s from 3 generations ago!”. I’m seriously tired of piracy being looked at is some end all ‘problem’ for gaming, and recently people are just poking whoever they can, it needs to stop, we could just as easily blame all of game journalism.

Kane & Lynch 2 an example you used here is an excellent example. The game was , probably wouldn’t have sold well and those who read magazines and websites would have probably just passed it over as , but hohoho Jeff Gerstmann gets fired, a new review pops up, tons of storm all over the internet about the whole thing, hmm why do you think it sold well? Cause hardcore gamers bought it? No.


On February 6, 2011 at 4:16 am

I would love nothing more than for it to die


On February 6, 2011 at 4:47 am


“If Activision is putting out 50 Guitar Heroes why would I turn around and support Singularity if it’s going to Activision’s pocket?”

You are so full of . By all means don’t go out and buy every GH, but not buying Singularity because it’s published by Activision is just plain idiotic. Why are you are punishing Raven Software?

“If I had time to actually play a game enough to say “Hey I like it, I’ll go buy this” then maybe I would, but by the time ‘I’ am doing playing a game and ‘testing’ it, a new copy is nowhere to be found.”

Bull. You can find games for many many months after release in all sorts of places, Steam, online retailers, even good old bricks and mortar shops.

I agree that developers and publishers can make it a lot easier to buy old games, and usually when they do they try and rip you off, but that why gog.com is so amazing. They are working very hard to provide classic PC games at a very good price, and making sure it works on modern OS’s, as well as making sure that the money goes to the people who hold the rights to the game, which are almost always the original developers.

So you can off and take your entitlement with you. You are the embodiment of Jim was talking about in the article.


On February 6, 2011 at 5:10 am

While I agree with the article and it’s sentiment, I feel like I have to address the stereotype of ‘the mother who plays Brain Training doesn’t pirate’.

She does. The hundreds of thousands of casual DS gamers are quite possibly the worst market for DS piracy. I worked at a games store and daily people would ask us if we stocked ‘that R4 card’. We didn’t stock it, but all they had to do was go to the market around the corner and hey presto, free DS games ahoy!

At least hardcore gamers often buy games out of principle. The casual gamer has no such loyalty.


On February 6, 2011 at 9:58 am

What a crock of crap. Alas, opinions are always opinions and can be shared when the owner desires, despite how fallacious or erroneous they may be. I haven’t bought a new game in years because of this very torrent of sequels that this article focuses on. I think assuming that most allegedly ‘hardcore’ gamers play first person shooters is very narrow minded as well. A true ‘hardcore’ gamer is more likely to play a good platformer or fighter game before an FPS. The kind of ‘hardcore’ gamer this article is talking about mainly comes from the generation between the ‘casual’ gamers and the guys who grew up with during the competition between Sega and Nintendo or perhaps even earlier. More of a distinction is called for here, I think. I’ve caught a lot of flak for my thoughts in the past, so please feel free to direct your blind fury at my email address.


On February 6, 2011 at 1:29 pm

In my world sequels of games mainly follow sequels of movies, THEY SUCK, unless they are made with the same good quality as the original game. Good example of sequel that doesn’t suck Mass Effect 2 XD. Another one FEAR 2, I ain’t gonna debat COD or MOH series


On February 6, 2011 at 4:45 pm

The hardcore gamer plays it all, COD, Halo and other IPs only attract drones. The death of the Industry will be the flak that small developers get from reviewers for not “looking” like big IPs. Namco is not a small Distributor, Enslaved’s limited sales performance was more likely caused by lack of advertisement than “hardcore gamer rejection”. Promote small developers actively and free of charge and watch the truly creative games flourish!


On February 6, 2011 at 6:47 pm

Google search “Hardcore gamers ruining industry” and you’ll get dozens of articles identical to this one. It’s hard to agree with you when you consistently blame your readers “the “casual” gamer is simply a better customer than you.” and assume that they are all hardcore gamers. Most of your readers are simply wasting time on the internet, while the “hardcore” gamers spend all day playing World of Warcraft. I understand that your goal in writing this article was to make it un-enjoyable, but it is so for the wrong reasons.


On February 7, 2011 at 9:39 am

This may have already been said, but here it is anyway. Gamers buy sequels because they are a known quantity, for good or ill, you kinda know what your gonna get. What i think, is that the studios need to make more consistently good games, sequel or not. I mean, look at studios like Bioware, Blizzard, and a few others. Yes they make sequels but the thing they have in common is the games themselves are extremely well done, polished, and have a minimum of bugs. Games cost alot of money for the average consumer, so if you have the choice of a game you have no idea if its buggy to the point of unplayable, or a sequel that is at least somewhat of a known quantity, what would you pick?

White Silhouette

On February 7, 2011 at 10:01 am

I’m very confused as what you refer to as the “hardcore gamer”. From what I read these are the people that always buy the big name sequels. So those type of people who buy Madden, COD, Halo and Tiger’s golf every year are the “hardcore gamers? Even if that’s all they play. What do you call gamers that read reviews? Follow press and keep up to date and are informed about the purchases they buy. By your definition I’m not a “Casual gamer” since I don’t buy a game because the box looks nice. I’m also not a “hardcore gamer” since I don’t just rush out to buy ever sequel to a existing IP. I do research on what appeals to my taste and the games I want to play, whether that be a new IP or an existing IP.


On February 7, 2011 at 10:27 am

Quite frankly although your argument holds water, some obvious points have been overlooked. I am 40 this year which probably makes me a Veteran gamer to some extent.
Consoles used to range from the sloppy stick and dot tennis games of the early 80′s then commodore 64 was the first reasonably capable system I ever played on. Anyway, I digress. My first bout into serious gaming was on a pc, and although I have owned a wiu, xbox and ps3, the pc is the best medium for playing any title – if your budget for hardware has a high threshold.
When first venturing into buyin any title, you could usually manage to find demo games to whet your appetite on the cover of most pc magazines. If console developers could use the same principle through the live services today, if the game holds water then the chances of selling it are improved drastically.


On February 7, 2011 at 11:41 am

A good article. But I think the casual gamer is more stiffling the innovation then the “hardcore” gamer is.
This comic says it all:

Why make great, when good sells better?
Lately all the big companies have adopted this stance. They pump out mediocre game after mediocre game, wich get greedily bought by the teeming masses.

What we get is:
Games that are rushed, inproperly tested. And lousy support from the company that made it. Sadly, the PC community seems to take the brunt of this abuse from companies with the big titles. Take CoD for example, it took 2 months for the game to be playable for most.
Was this due to a weird bug? No it was because they never tested it on a PC, and never botherd to optimize the console port to make use of the superior PC resources. (Altough I heard the PS3 has their share of problems too)
Of course, that could be forgiven to an extent. But they never bother to communicate anything to it’s community. Instead relying on Twitter to post (irrelevant) updates and ignore questions.

Sadly treyarch is not the only company to adopt this rude stance.

As for the eternal Piracy argument. I’m getting so sick and tired of it. While I agree that Piracy is a problem, I don’t agree that it is _the_ problem.
Companies never bother to investigate the reasons why games get pirated. Not to mention that companies still think a pirated game is a lost sale.

People usually pirate for the following reason:
1. They see a new game and want to try it.
2. They see a sequel of the game, and want to try it.
3. They pirate it because the company/publisher screwed them over with a previous title by releasing it with huge glaring bugs and not get it fixed. Basicly giving you a run for your spend money.
4. They pirate it because the DRM used with a certain title is too invasive
5. They pirate it because the game is too expensive or not aviable in their region.
6. They pirate it because they can.

1. They see a new game and want to try it.
As you cleary state in your article lots of games get hyped big time. Or it has some new innovation wich you are not sure you like.
However, usually these people try the game and then when they like it they buy it. Demo’s usually get looked for first, because pirating games isn’t as easy as you think. The common user won’t understand how to do it.

2. They see a sequel of the game, and want to try it.
Well, the same as 1. really. Except that sequels tend to be a let down sometimes. And there’s the risk of the sequel being total crap (like they did with Command & Conquer 4)

3. They pirate it because the company/publisher screwed them over with a previous title by releasing it with huge glaring bugs and not get it fixed. Basicly giving you a run for your spend money.
This a mentality issue. You give the developer a chance. A game is loaded with bugs, and they don’t get fixed. So your stuck with a game you can’t play and can’t refund. This tends to create an “They owe me a title” mentality. This can be prevented by giving good support and releasing games as bug free as possible.
But lately the trend in PC gaming is to make a rushed console port to the PC to cash some more money in. I don’t mind console ports, but I do mind it if the company can’t be bothered to do a decent Q&A on the end product.
Good companies that keep their customers happy get their trust, and their hard earned money.

4. They pirate it because the DRM used with a certain title is too invasive
When a DRM gets in the way of the functioning of your PC, or works better without a DRM people tend to pirate it. Maybe they’ll buy it, and then apply a no-cd fix or something. Personally I don’t like being at the mercy of the developers servers to play my game when I want it.

5. They pirate it because the game is too expensive or unaviable. The pricing is a big problem, as some here stated earlier that a game became a succes after the price was halved is a clear indication of this.
It seems to me the price for games is only increasing and the quality decreasing. While I don’t mind the developers getting a tidy profit, it seems to me that greed is a big factor in the increase.
And then aviability, if people want to buy a game. Make it easy for them. If their local game store doesn’t carry it, and there is no digital download aviable people will pirate it because everyone is playing it. This also count for a-synchronus release dates with a month in between. If a game comes out 1 februari in the USA and 1 march in Europe and 1 april in the rest of the world, you can bet it’s gonne be pirated as hell because everyone wants to play that title. While I understand some logistics are involved, but a few days are worth a wait. A month is not.

And then there are people who pirate it because they can. There is no helping people who fall into category 6. There will always be those.

If a game is really good it will get bought, if it is priced right and the aviability is good.
And of course if the developer/publisher really care about their customers a game will get a stable fanbases.
Just look at Eve Online, CCP isn’t that large a company. But they listen closely to their community and communicate with them. Their playerbase is only growing.

As a last point to this wall of text, piracy isn’t a PC only problem. It’s also very prevalent on every console out there. Aside from that, I always wonder how you calculate piracy numbers.


On February 7, 2011 at 12:02 pm

You’ve got it all wrong! The reason many hardcore gamers like me, hate casual and console gamers, is because it’s THEY who are the ones buying the sequels. Whether it’s Need for Speed, Call of Duty, Fifa nine million, or any of the other billion sequels out there, it’s the mindless casual (and console) gamer crowd who rush out to buy the big names with a 2 in them.

Surely, hardcore gamers by their very definition are less likely to be buying this kind of mass produced crap. If you think otherwise, then I think some people are misrepresenting themselves as hardcore games. Because I’m a TRUE hardcore gamer, and while the millions rush out to buy the thousandth Need 4 Spd, I’m spending my money on games like DCS: A-10C, Elemental War of Magic, and X3 Terran Conflict.

The only issue this industry has, is that it uses and abuses true hardcore gamers like me. They come up with a promising concept, make a decent PC game out of it, and then if it’s successful enough that they make a lot of money, the first thing they do is rush off to make a dumbed down sequel for the console market, so that they can cash in on the far larger audience.

Can you blame them? Not really, they are business after all, in the business of making money, not making games for hardcore gamers. But there is an all around degeneration of standards when it comes to catering to the mainstream gamer, and I find that sad and worrying. My only hope is that as these less hardcore gamers grow more and more enormous in numbers, the more hardcore gamers grow just enough that smaller independents can justify making games especially for us. That’s already happening at the moment with the 3 games I mentioned above, but it’s still a very fragile market.


On February 7, 2011 at 12:31 pm

sorry bout the multi-post, spazzy page


On February 7, 2011 at 4:35 pm

I agree with a lot of it but I don’t think hardcore gamers are completely to blame.

I’m a bit of both. I enjoy MLG and also the non-competitive side of it. I’ve mainly been a FPS guy (before into Pokemon, then Adventure games, then racing). I also have a true love for classic games too. I simply have not bought much other than Halo/CoD type games. Now, does that mean I’m afraid to break away from what I know? No. I love games like Mass Effect, Oblivion, and other games of that type. Have I bought Mass Effect 2? No. Is that because I don’t like it? No. I just haven’t found the time.

For all you know, some casual gamers could be the blame for the lack of support of new titles. I’m a casual gamer myself and never bought any of those. And it was never because I’m afraid of new games.


On February 7, 2011 at 6:05 pm

Hardcore gamers play multiple game platforms, if you dont sorry but your not hardcore.


On February 7, 2011 at 7:22 pm

Its all in the Marketing!!!! the MARKETING!!!… People are implusive, the INDUSTRY KNOWS THIS…so they market and market BAD GAMES such as “Kane & Lynch 2″, so tht people will FEEL THE IMPULSIVE URGE to try the game, cause thats what the INDUSTRY is telling them to purchase buy MARKETING the game all over the freaking place…Commercials, Magazine ads, Internet ads!! up the wazoo!! The Industry is trying really hard to hide the fact that they dont try very hard to market hardcore single player experiences any more and they just expect the hardcore gamer to support them and there hald-baked efforts, which usually equate to buggy,glitchy, shortened experiences. So there a trust issue, buts its been create by THE INDUSTRY, NOT THE GAMER, the INDUSTRY!! look at fable(LOL, all the lies Peter Molyneaux told about fable 2), look at the state of halo, and what Microsoft did there(NO BUNGIE), look back at what UBisoft did with Far Cry2(it had those bugs were you cldnt even finish the game, and it was ignored by ubisoft forever before they admitted the problem, remember?)Look at what ubisoft did with Splinter Cell: Conviction(even though a good game, it was a major downer to only be a 5hour exp, lol…and know one knew about this until after the relelase of the game), i could go on and on about how the INDUSTRY has screwed the hardcore gamer over and over and over again. There just a bunch of liars who’s motivation is Money and Corruption of the Human Soul. Now we gotta sit back and listen to the INDUSTRY tell me “Kinetic”, and “Move”, etc are the future of gaming…llol b4 thats happens i’ll be sitting back with a modded console full of old titles from long lost yesterday, and the INDUSTRY can kiss it, cause “I SEE YOU, AND YOU CANT TRICK ME>


On February 7, 2011 at 8:36 pm

I HAD to reply to this pile. Absolutely is Marketing. Absolutely is the Economy. I can maybe if all goes well buy a game once a month and that rarely happens. So if I were to buy a game, it has to be damn good. Marketing please. Visually appealing (none of this psychonauts crap, good game but the visuals hurt my eyes, like taking a step back to the 64 era) and most of all give me some damn Social Networking of some sorts. I want to be social even when I’m playing games, if it’s single player give me some score boards (XBLA has some great examples here). The reason Halo and CoD do so well is not because of gameplay (although good to a point) but because the foundation started as story and moved to social, interactive, competitive gameplay. These games are always on the top list because you know your friends are moving on to it. Socom is a great example for this genre. Socom 1 was AMAZING bringing voice over system, as well as voiced commands to cpu players. I haven’t caught up to Socom Confrontation but mostly because the XB360 had such a compelling lead at it’s fruition that the Playstation was a joke to own, I WOULD LOVE LOVE LOVE If Socom came to XB360, it was a huge hit and very dear to my heart.

I would also like to say that I’m a “hardcore” gamer and I often venture onto Steam on my PC to support the Indie games, some of the most fun I’ve ever had recently. But price is a huge factor when It comes to buying games. 60 bucks is a bit much to dish for a single player game with little to no replayability. I have tasted the fruits of playing more than 100+ hours on game (FFX-12 included mind you)mostly between Halo and CoD for the social experience and it tastes good. I feel 60 dollars for that sorta treatment is well worth it and if a game can’t beat it than it can wait till it’s price drops to where the replay value meets the price more accurately.


On September 14, 2012 at 5:26 pm

This article is ancient (in internet terms anyway) and nobody will ever read this comment but I just had to post it regardless..

I do not know if any of the comments already touched upon this (too lazy to read them all) but in case they haven’t:

- Jim says hardcore gamers are to blame for only ==buying== sequels
- Jim says casual gamers take risks and buy games regardless of big names/franchises/IP’s
- Jim says more people buy ty sequels than new, fun, ‘unknown’ games
- Jim says hardcore gamers ==don’t buy== games anyway and just pirate them, where non-’tech savvy’ casual gamers actually buy all their games

Is it just me or did the allmighty Jim Sterling just up his own arguments here?