Casual Gaming

Since just before BarCampMilwaukee, I talked with a few people about what I call the “casual gamer” which is pretty much the opposite of the “hardcore gamer” in terms of behavior.

Since just before BarCampMilwaukee, I talked with a few people about what I call the “casual gamer” which is pretty much the opposite of the “hardcore gamer” in terms of behavior.

Now that the Wii and the PlayStation 3 have (more or less) arrived, I’ll give you my thoughts on this, but remember, this is the view from a casual gamer, not someone who is completely obsessed with gaming, just someone who plays once in a while and/or wants a fun system for the whole family to play.

First of all, the casual gamer cares about bang for the buck, not about the lastest and greatest. For instance, we can often find GameCube games used for anywhere between $5 and $20. Brand new games for the GameCube seem to run about $20 to $40. Keep in mind that a year ago you could get a new GameCube with Mario Kart: Double Dash and 4 controllers for about $200, and today you can pick up a brand new GameCube for $99. So like I said, bang for the buck takes effect, and you could put together a complete gaming system for the whole family for well under $300.

Now, the Nintendo Wii appears to be priced at $250, and is backwards compatible with the GameCube games, so if I was buying today, this is what I would get. It would make sense to “move up” to the Wii from the GameCube. I’m also influenced by the Nintendo titles, which are more kid & family friendly. (I have two daughters who love gaming, and the GameCube is perfect for them.) As for the PlayStation 3, it comes in priced at $500, twice the price. Now, it does have some impressive technology in it, but for the casual gamer, this is lost. The new games for the PlayStation 3 seem to be priced at about $60, and the used (well, used PlayStation & PlayStation 2 games) seem to be priced cheap, well under $20.

Jus the other day I was taking with a friend of mine, and found out he too was a casual gamer (he has 3 kids) and I told him how we pick up used titles for cheap, and he said he’s gotten some good deals on ebay, like 10 games for $30. I think Nintendo realizes that there is a place for the casual gamer, and they’re looking to serve that market.


3 replies on “Casual Gaming”

right on pete – we have one of each in our household: sean is the hard-core gamer and ian is the casual gamer (i’m a non-gamer)…

sean wants to become a game developer, plays games on pc, xbox360, ps2, gamecube, ds, psp, cellphone, etc… (yes its a known addiction) – he is on all the mmorpg beta’s, knows way to much about every game he plays and is even smart enough to wait for the second wave of the ps3 in the spring due to its over-heating issue – yet he does want a wii for xmas due to all you’ve listed and its elegance (santa’s not into sleeping outside toys-r-us though)…

ian on the other hand is into sports and fun games, loves his gamecube for things like tony hawk, madden and mario related games – mostly plays socially when his friends are over and doesn’t think about video games all the time – unlike his hardcore brother sean ;)

Sony is so clearly not going for the “casual gamer” with this PS3 package. I think Sony is counting on winning some love for its little system via the FOSS crowd. From what I’ve read on the intertubes, just about any PPC version of Linux will run on the pS3 with little or no troubles. I also think that by allowing Linux to run on the PS3, there will be less interest from the mod-chip community to hack the phsyical pS3 hardware, since it will probably be possible to run all kinds of “backups” via a Linux backdoor.

I border on the obsessive gamer type, but I like to consider myself the “artful gamer” type. I shop smartly and carefully for my consoles. I have no interest in picking up a ps3 until the third revision of the hardware gets it down in price and up in quality. As the owner of two sub-functional PSOnes and a badly-in-need-of-calibration ps2, I’ve been burned by Sony’s “hardware” issues one too many times. As the owner of a launch-day Nintendo 64, I can tell you I’m off the launch-day consoles forever, too. I can’t afford to be one of those insane superdoods who spend the week playing WII in front of the whole internet.

Frankly, my favorite console is my NintendoDS. New Super Mario Bros. is a fantastic modernization of a tried and true formula, and it doesn’t try to do anything else. The wacky touch-pad stuff is all good and fun. Nearly all the “Retro” titles that can be downloaded from the new Nintendo store thingy that comes with the Wii are already available as GameBoy Advance games, which the DS is capable of playing.

But, I’ll tell you who wins the casual games battle. Its not Nintendo, Sony, or XBox. It’s Yahoo. My wife will sit and do clicky-games that she downloads from Yahoo for hours and hours and hours. There’s no cheat sheet, there’s no competition or colaboration playing. There’s no servers, communications reveloutions, or wacky interfaces schemes. There’s just her, a laptop, and some blocks, blobs, tiles or balls that need clicking. That’s _casual_ gaming in my mind.

Gabe, I hadn’t really taken into consideration the “really casual gamer” who uses sites like Yahoo! for gaming. In fact, a huge amount of the gaming (or “playing”) that my kids do is online. I’ll probably write a follow-up post on that soon.

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