Posted by: seanmalstrom | June 27, 2008

The Bell Tolls for the Hardcore

Hardcore: *sings* ”

Freeze, freeze, you bitter sea,
You do not bite of me
As benefits forgot:
Though you the waters warp,
Your sting is not so sharp
The Wii remember’d not.

*sings and dances*

Malstrom: By heaven! My good hardcore, you sound positively orgasmic!

Hardcore:
*sings*

Heigh-ho! sing heigh-ho! unto the green holly:
Most cycles are feigning, most loving mere folly:
Then, heigh-ho! the holly!
This life is most jolly.

Malstrom: I take it sales of Metal Gear Solid 4 go very well?

Hardcore:
Yes! Very well indeed! Play Station 3 sales are up and up! 2008 has become the year of the PS3! So join with me in my song, Malstrom. Heigh-ho! the holly! This market is most jolly.

Malstrom:
I see that you have wasted no time in beginning the celebration.

Hardcore: This generation is over! Soon, the storm will come as the PS3 rockets from below! Why do you not do an article on MGS 4? Oh, that’s right. It was selling well so you decided to ignore it. *giggles*

Malstrom: Oh no, I write the post as we speak.

Hardcore: Is that so!? Well then! I expect charts showing rapid PS3 ascent, declarations from you that ‘disruption’ is just a stupid buzzword, a marketing stunt that you have taken as ‘voodoo analysis’, a proclamation declaring that all analysts are smart especially whenever they utter a word about Sony and their constant foretelling of PS3 domination, and, in general, a happy accord that sits smiling on my accounts.

Malstrom: But let us not get ahead of ourselves. Japanese sales reports come weekly. It is more of a ‘snapshot’ of the market. You should wait a couple of weeks before lighting the celebrations and shooting your cannon. We find that MGS4 came, MGS4 sold, and MGS4 dropped. As we speak, the shops of Japan are being stuffed with copies of MGS4.

Hardcore: No!!! Lies and slander! You hear me, Malstrom? LIES AND SLANDER!!!

Malstrom: We should not be surprised by the bump. MGS4 was the flagship game for the PS3, meaning, that it was the software showcased to display the capabilities of PS3. But this points a very grave future for the Cinematic Era.

Hardcore: You are a stuffed man, stuffed with all this propoganda. My cinema games will not die!

Malstrom: Listen for a moment, Mr. Hardcore. Look at the behavior of the Japanese and their response to MGS4.

Hardcore: They all bought it! What other response could there be?

Malstrom: And then… what? What did the players do?

Hardcore: Then they beat the game! I do not understand where you are going with this. Why are you not content to let me sing and dance? Let me be jolly!

Malstrom: Be jolly all you wish! But reality is sweeter than delusion, facts more filling than frosty fictions. I say to you, MGS4 comes out, the hardcore descend upon it like dogs upon a fallen duck, and once they have obsessively ravaged the game… then what?

Hardcore: They place it forever on the shelf in their otaku shrine.

Malstrom: Well, that too. But the others?

Hardcore: They sell the game back to the stores used. In Japan, when this is done so early the sellers get almost full price back.

Malstrom: And then the used copies stack up?

Hardcore: Yes. The copies are placed one upon another.

Malstrom: The problem with these single player cinematic games is that they can be rushed through and beaten quite soon. And once beaten, there is very little reason to replay it since much of the content is within the cutscenes.

Hardcore: I do admit that is problematic. There is very little reason to hold on to such a game. It does lack the replay value of games such as Pong.

Malstrom: Even worse, why should someone even bother to buy a single player cinematic game in this age? I can simply go to YouTube and view the game’s primary content right then and there. Some people found they didn’t have to bother with Final Fantasy 12 since all they had to do was watch the uploaded cinematics. Watching the game, itself, became seen as completing the game. You can’t do that with an arcade style game or even with a tabletop era type game. How can we expect huge budgets to keep pouring into games that are this shaky?

Hardcore: I do confess that this is quite a dilemma for the industry. However, I would like to say…

*The sound of a church bell rang loudly in the distance*

Hardcore: That bell! What is that!?

Malstrom: Why, that is the Dilemma Bell. It rang because you were right. It IS quite a dilemma!

*The bell rung again.*

Hardcore: But what does this all mean? For heaven’s sake, Malstrom, stop that bell! It gives me a headache.

Malstrom: I cannot stop that bell. No one can. Not even Nintendo. Have you been keeping up with the newspaper business?

Hardcore: I am a young man, Malstrom, by and by! Young people do not read newspapers. They are for OLD PEOPLE.

Malstrom: For once, you are correct. Let me tell you about Knight Ridder Tribune. When the Internet appeared, they began to expand on it. They placed much of their news online. The Internet business became their Expanded Audience.

Hardcore: Yes, yes, I do recall. I don’t see what newspapers have to do with all this, for I think that…

Malstrom: Be quiet for a second. Knight Ridder invested in creating that Expanded Audience. The old market, of regular newspapers, became their Core Market. The Internet was their Expanded Market.

Hardcore: How swell. No tell me, blubber of words, is there a point to this?

Malstrom: The Dilemma appeared and the bells began to ring. When a product reaches past ‘good enough’, the market becomes sick.

Hardcore:
Sick?

Malstrom: Sick. It becomes a sick, sick Core. The first signs are stagnant growth. The second signs are a slow decline in the market. The third signs are consolidation among the companies. The sick, sick Core, like a Titanic, floats on the water’s surface for quite a while. Signs begin to suggest that it is ever so slowly descending. Finally, it begins to rapidly sink creating panic and hysteria among the companies still trapped on the boat.

Hardcore: How do they get off the boat?

Malstrom: The Expanded Market are the life boats. Soon, the Expanded Market becomes the new Core. The old Core either implodes into a niche or burns out entirely.

Hardcore:
Nonsense! The Core can’t die!

Malstrom: The bells are heralding the upcoming Dilemma. When it hits, the bottom begins to fall out. The boat begins to sink. In Knight Ridder’s example, they DID make an expanded market. But they did not move fast enough. They did not build up their expanded market enough while being still too invested in the Core market. So when the Dilemma hit, Knight Ridder began to face massive loss after loss as it scrambles to move to the Expanded Market which is fast becoming the standard.

Hardcore:
So with publishing, including game publishing, the dilemma of what was once the Core Market, such as game magazines, had a similar history as the newspapers?

Malstrom: Correct.

Hardcore:
But how does this connect to gaming?

Malstrom: Years before the Wii, Nintendo began to see the Dillemma. They noticed the Core market was sick. North America’s gaming growth had become so stagnant that analysts had to resort declaring ‘growth’ as rise in revenue not factoring in rising costs for consoles and games. The Core market in Japan was so sick that it had begun to contract. If Nintendo kept going the same route, as Iwata said, all they could do is just wait for the market to shrivel up and die.

Hardcore:
Iwata was being dramatic.

Malstrom:
I don’t think so. With the success of the Wii, I think we should look back at what Iwata said with more thought. The concept is to build up an Expanded Market and keep the Core Market as healthy as possible before the Dilemma hits. Like the newspapers and the Internet, the old ‘Core’ games must be converted to the new values of the Expanded Market if they are to survive the Dilemma.

Hardcore: This is madness!

Malstrom: This is disruption!

The ringing of the bell filled the air.

Hardcore: I just don’t understand. How can you be so confident that the Core is doomed?

Malstrom: Do you think that another console with even BETTER graphics will create NEW GROWTH?

Hardcore: Of course not! It is the ridiculous belief that those of us who like our traditional games will just disapear.

Malstrom: I didn’t say that. If anything, remember this: companies enhance products faster than consumers can adapt. Eventually, it enhances the product ‘too much’. It goes beyond what people need to do the job they want. GRAPHICS HAVE BECOME A COMMODITY. Consoles will no longer live or die by them. This means NO PS3 rise, NO Xbox 360 rise, for if they are to rise it will be based on something other than graphics driving their growth. We have reached ‘good enough’.

Hardcore: *shocked*

Malstrom: Do not just stand and look pale. With the SNES and, especially, with the CD media, sound and music became ‘good enough’. Requiring surround speakers for more sound overshoots the market because the mass market does not play games to hear the sound. Cartridges kept upgrading their memory. CDs added a significant amount of memory. With DVDs, it all became generally ‘good enough’. Now, we have the Internet which is literally unlimited amount of data. New discs that hold more memory is going beyond what is good enough. When things surpass ‘good enough’, they collapse. When things are considered ‘not good enough’, they recieve enhancements. Look at 2d gaming, that triumphant age! Gorgeous sprites! Hand-made art! During the 16-bit generation, it reached the Innovator’s Dilemma. It became ‘good enough’ and was even surpassing that. Should game consoles have come out that focused on ‘better’ 2d gaming, we would have seen a decline as we are seeing with the HD Twins.

Hardcore: The Sega Saturn was a surperb 2d gaming machine! Alas!

Malstrom: In an alternate universe where 3d gaming never occurred, the Dilemma would have been happening in the 32 Bit Generation. This, beyond all, perhaps explains why 2d gaming collapsed even though, everyone at the time said, 3d gaming and 2d gaming would co-exist. What a vicious lie that was!

Hardcore: I agree! I love my sweet 2d games. 2d gaming became a niche or disapeared entirely. All the franchises that were 2d became 3d and didn’t look back. But I don’t understand why the Dilemma didn’t hit then?

Malstrom: 3d gaming was a radical sustaining change not unlike the change from black and white television to color television. A radical sustaining change throws the Dilemma underground… at least for a while.

Hardcore: But now its come back.

Malstrom: *nods* The most fascinating question I have concerns the long term nature of our happy little games. Why do some games survive, immortal, while other games squak and die? Why do some games breath in new generations and always are playable while other games do not survive? Tell me, hardcore, why do the latter 16-bit games live in a fountain of youth, non-aging, while their successors, the first 3d games, look extremely aged and are now considered unplayable? Shouldn’t the younger generation be fresher than the older generation? How can this sort of thing happen?

Hardcore: 16-bit is the peak of 2d gaming. 32/64-bit was the beginning of 3d gaming.

Malstrom: You don’t know how right you are! But what does that mean?

Hardcore: It means that 3d gaming could be improved, that 2d gaming could not.

Malstrom: Bingo! There was an interview with a programmer for “Secret of Evermore”. In it, he says:

There’s also the fact that many of the games really were that good, in today’s terms or otherwise. Back then, it just wasn’t feasible to make a very pretty game that played like complete crap. In fact, other than your artists’ efforts, and some time put into the obligatory Mode 7 flyabout, there wasn’t a whole lot you could do to go above and beyond what your competitors were showing. Visual quality sort of leveled off after a while. People simply had to write games that were fun, if they wanted to sell games, not have them returned to the store, and then go on to sell the games’ sequels as well. That’s why I think a lot of them still hold up so well.

Hardcore: So graphics became a commodity back at the latter end of the 16-bit generation. Well, what does that mean?

Malstrom: It meant talent and skill sold games, not technology. At least, for a while. We soon had CD expansions for the consoles, 3d graphics used as sprites in “Donkey Kong Country”, and 3d chips in “Star Fox”. But during that brief time when graphics became a commodity, we got games such as this:

Super Metroid
(1994, released right before “Donkey Kong Country” wowed everyone with its graphics)

Or this:

Yoshi\'s Island
(1995, panned because it didn’t use the realistic graphics that “Donkey Kong Country” did.)

And last, but never least,


(1995, every graphical ‘trick’ shown was way old by then including mode 7 effects)

As you see, Mr. Hardcore, when graphics briefly became a commodity, the games had to be about talent and craft. This is why those games are still so loved today.

Hardcore: Then why do so many companies demand more technology to make games? Are you saying it was third party companies that really desired a greater graphical push?

Malstrom: New technology will always be about in new games. New technology is useful because it can create a ‘surprise’ to make games interesting. Entertainment is dependent on surprise. However, it is true many developers are acting more like technologists than designers. The rarest element in the games industry is talent. Technology is used to mask the talent-less, a type of way to sell products.

Hardcore: That cannot be.

Malstrom: Is it that hard to believe? It only takes a few people to make a “Super Metroid” or a 2d Mario. There are no technological barriers to 2d gaming. Yet, Mark Reign and others who desire greater graphics, despite what people want, complain most computers sold today lack sophisticated 3d cards. Yet, most computers sold today can perform 2d gaming to its maximum degree. The point is that a developer who cannot make a game without pushing graphics or some other technological trick has to rely solely on talent and craft.

Hardcore: Which is what we gamers want.

Malstrom: But this isn’t what many want because how can they enhance their product? Once a value hits ‘good enough’, it becomes a commodity. It becomes an uncertain time for business owners and investors. It is easy to invest in enhancements but not in new values that may or may not work.

The bell rings again!

Hardcore: Please! You make too much of this. The only reason why Wii is doing well is because Xbox 360 and Play Station 3 really screwed up. They are too expensive, and both companies really goofed it up this generation. Next generation…

Malstrom: There won’t be another generation. And Microsoft and Sony did not ‘screw up’ with their consoles. For the past twenty years since the NES, consoles have been moving upmarket. More sophisticated controls, better graphics, larger games, and it kept going and going until finally a breaking point is reached. Nothing goes up forever. The market corrects. Microsoft and Sony performed the correct strategy and their managers should not be blamed for choosing it.

Hardcore: I am surprised to hear you say that.

Malstrom: And I am surprised that you are surprised. Surely you know that the reason that “Innovator’s Dilemma” became so popular was that it was the first book that didn’t blame managers for their failures. It pointed to another reason why their companies, who were once very celebrated and praised as great wonders, failed. It points to the Dilemma. Western Union was a very well run company. Should its managers get blamed because Alexander Bell’s telephone disrupted the telegram business?

Hardcore: No. So you aren’t blaming Sony and Microsoft for their mistake?

Malstrom: Of course I am. This isn’t the Industrial Age. Every manager in the tech industry knows about Christensen, and those who don’t shouldn’t be in the tech industry anyway.

Hardcore: The tech industry isn’t that different from the game industry.

Malstrom: Exactly and both Sony and Microsoft are both in the tech industry. Bill Gates has complained that ever since “Innovator’s Dilemma” came out, every new product sent for his evaluation was labeled ‘disruptive’. Sony was THE POSTER BOY for disruption as the company used the transistor to create so many disruptive products. Their actions to move upstream are rational. But in this day in age with additional tools like knowledge of ‘disruption’, they should have known better. Arrogance and desire to control the living room made them move the way they did. In this light, analysts became Nintendo’s useful idiots in lavishing praise on Microsoft and Sony’s direction while proclaiming Nintendo to end up in distant 3rd place if not dropping out of the console business entirely.

Hardcore: So Sony didn’t think to lose billions of dollars on the Play Station 3?

Malstrom: In a way, their technique wasn’t that much different than flipping a house. They ASSUMED the market would always grow. They ASSUMED the value for greater graphics would remain constant. They ASSUMED the market wanted better quality than the current DVD. They took a huge loss at the beginning which would ‘flip’ as the market grew, and they could recoup those losses. Sony’s technique relied entirely on these market trends just as house flippers relied on an ever rising real estate market. Eventually, the flippers got caught on the wrong side of the trend as the market changed its course. Sony found itself on the wrong end of the trend, on the wrong side of their ‘flip’.

Hardcore: How dare you say that! It is business brillance behind Sony’s moves! I know that because analysts have been saying it since the first Play Station.

Malstrom: Well, they’re wrong. There really wasn’t any ‘razor and blades’ model anyway. It relied ENTIRELY on market trends of declining computer components and a growing market. One day, computer components may not decline and then the console company is stuck. Or, in this case, the Core Market is not growing. So Sony is stuck.

Hardcore: But what is real business smarts then?

Malstrom: It is to make money from day one! Even those in real estate know you make money when you BUY, not when you sell. While people say Nintendo is ‘more profitable’ and has healthier ‘financial statements’, it is better to say that Nintendo ran a better business in the console market. This explains why Nintendo spotted the Dilemma coming and acted accordingly while the other companies did not. The Dilemma will eat them alive. Remember, the fitting ‘Titanic’ metaphor does not apply to the Play Station 3. It applies to all of us, all that stands on the, still current, terra firma of the Core Market.

Hardcore: You make it sound as if things will fall apart, that the center cannot hold, that mere anarchy will unleash upon our world.

Malstrom: The Ceremony of Innocence, for what else could growing new gamers be?, is drowned while the worst, the hardcore, are full of passionate intensity. One day, could be years, could even be months, but one day the game industry will be consumed with panic. Consolidation will not longer work just as moving upmarket now no longer works. What to do? What to do? The Expanded Market will keep rising and the Core Market will keep decreasing and these companies, invested in that Core Market, will begin to panic. They will hurl themselves at the Expanded Market, throwing themselves off the Titanic at the distant life boats in desperate attempt to stay afloat.

Hardcore: You make it sound like at the end of this console cycle, some companies won’t be with us anymore.

Malstrom: The ‘Titanic’ metaphor proves useful in this regard. The lower classes are lower on the boat, the wealthier are on the top. The smaller companies (if any still exist), in the Core Market, are already underwater. The larger and wealthier ones still have quite some time left.

Hardcore: But not forever.

Malstrom: No. Not forever.

Hardcore: What I want to know is why everyone has adopted the ‘Casual Market’ and ‘Hardcore Market’ sayings despite your “Birdman and the Casual Fallacy” article.

Malstrom: Well, for one thing, we have a very confused industry right now.

Hardcore: THAT cannot be denied.

Malstrom: They see this rapidly growing market and aren’t sure what to do with it. Then they see their old market, that is growing small if at all, and aren’t sure what to do with that either. Much of the ‘Casual’ and ‘Hardcore’ talk is chatter emerging from these confusing events.

Hardcore: Have you heard what a recent EA person said? He gets up and says:

Speaking at this week’s Paris Game Developers Conference, Battlefield Heroes executive producer Ben Cousins said that gulf between core and casual games was akin to that of cinema and TV. And, like TV, casual is set to take a chunk out of the core market.

Battlefield Heroes is a new Play4Free EA game inspired by the booming free to play PC game market in Korea. Targeting a mass audience with lower system specs, the game boasts a cartoon style – a departure from Battlefield’s traditionally gritty visuals – and is designed for web-driven community and customisation.

Games and sites made specifically for the online user, like Runescape, Miniclip, Pogo.com and Habbo Hotel, were clear signs that the “PC market isn’t dying – it is changing” – and is changing in favour of casual experiences, said Cousins.

Specifically the more convenient, long-term financial and shallower aspects of causal games will help these games take charge, he said.

“[Like games retail] cinema is all about your week one box office,” said Cousins. “But, like casual gaming, TV is all about growing your audience over time.

“Cinema and TV now coexist,” he added. “TV didn’t kill cinema, but it took a big chunk out of it.”

Ultimatley, online and web games will “become very mainstream”, predicted Cousins, saying that games will experience the exact same things which film and music have experienced – that is, the move away from hardware-driven delivery of goods to software-driven delivery.

Similar to the way MP3s have revloutionised music, casual games will achieve dominance in spite of and because of their “convenient and cheap distribution, lower screen resolution and less immersive features”.

“We are at the cusp of this big change,” Cousins added, saying that in time casual games will, like TV shows have, grow to provide “more involving experiences with significantly broad appeal.”

What do you make of this?

Malstrom: He’s right that we are at the cusp of a big change. He also correctly cites how so-called ‘casual gaming’ on the PC is eating into the Core Market. But he doesn’t take that reasoning to its natural conclusion for he says the markets will ‘co-exist’. He correctly says the change is between cinema and television and then, insanely, uses the metaphor as literal to mean the two will co-exist.

Hardcore: Many people have been saying lately that the markets will co-exist.

Malstrom: It is because the hardcore are scared. The problem is that he considers the cinema to television model change as the same as the big change up ahead.

Hardcore: Why isn’t it?

Malstrom: In my very first Wiikly article, “The Theory of Cycles” written in 2006, the premise behind the theory was that gaming was an unstable medium and that, in order to remain surprising and healthy, it had to absorb new content. The reason for change from the cinema model to the television model is because people are bored of games trying to be like movies. People want something new. Television model is also much cheaper. This change, itself, is not and cannot be considered disruption. This is a natural cycle that occurs in this industry. After a decade of putting out new interfaces and social type gaming, people will be bored of that, and the industry will slouch towards another direction.

Hardcore: So what is the big change?

Malstrom: Christensen’s disruption are the best tools to see what is going on. The change is that the Core Market, which has overshot what people can accept, is currently stagnant or slowly shrinking. The Expanded Market is fast growing. While the Core may see the Expanded Market games as inferior products, the Expanded Market will rapidly move upstream and become ‘good enough’ to absorb FPS, RPGs, among other common Core games.

Hardcore: But the games won’t remain the same during the transition.

Malstrom: They will be remade to the new values. Mario Kart Wii is a good example of a Core franchise being converted to the new market. Not every game will make the transition. I suspect most games won’t. But you can feel satisfied knowing that there will be new Mario Kart games for twenty more years.

The big change is that the Core values have overshot the market, that graphics have become a commodity. New values will be adopted. The old Core Market will either become niche or go away. The Expanded Market, which will absorb much of the Core, will become the new Core Market.

Hardcore: It still seems confusing.

Malstrom: Then I will make it so simple that even a hardcore can understand. Instead of thinking Casual vs. Core or even Cinema vs. TV, think: HEALTHY vs. SICK.

Hardcore: What!?

Malstrom: Healthy Market versus Sick Market. The ‘Core Market’ is sick and old. The ‘Expanded Market’ is  young and rapidly growing. One market is ripening, the other is rotting. One has a future, the other does not.

Malstrom holds up an infant who, with tightly closed eyes, cries.

Behold the New Generation! Behold the Expanded Market! Right now, it is a baby. But that baby will grow, and grow, and become the new Core Market. Hold it for yourself.

Hardcore: It is so small!

Malstrom: And growing very rapidly! Aww, this is so cute. I have to take a picture of this.

Malstrom snaps a photo of Hardcore holding the New Market. The cute little infant was held by a wrinkly, skeleton-like, old man.

Hand the baby back over.

Hardcore: It seems so delicate, yet you really can see the future when looking at it. Tell me you do not really call it ‘Expanded Audience’.

Malstrom: It is a baby! Who knows what future it will hold? Currently, its kid name is Casual Gaming. The baby is called this because no one knows what else to call it! As it grows, it will lose the ‘Casual Gaming’ name and eventually adopt its true name, whatever that may be.

Hardcore: It is wonderful and young!

Malstrom: But you, hardcore, are nothing more than gray hair and wrinkles. You are getting old. You feel it in your bones. Within a short amount of time, this little baby will be old enough to take your place. It is time for you to stand aside.

Hardcore: No!!!

Malstrom: The wheel has turned. This place, the gaming world, now belongs to the New Generation.  It shall now determine the fate and direction of gaming. Where it leads us, we cannot know. We can only trust the future. So stand aside and let the future take its place.

Hardcore: Never!!! I still have not fully completed my vision! That little pipsqeak cannot do what I intend. I will make gaming more mature…

Malstrom: You mean more perversion.

Hardcore: …and depict more exciting battles…

Malstrom: …bloodlust and violence…

Hardcore: …mind-expanding stories…

Malstrom: …game designers who think they are philosophers and literary writers…

Hardcore: …dramatic tales…

Malstrom: …directors who are more interested in directing movies than games…

Hardcore: …and next generation epics!

Malstrom: …and ego driven budget busters!

Hardcore: Take that baby and get out of here! This is my world.

*The bell rings.*

Malstrom: Convert. Come with us. Give up the old values and adopt the new. Save yourself.

Hardcore: Never!!!

*The bell kept ringing.*

Malstrom: Just as your predeccesors turned gaming over to you, so too must you turn it over to the New Generation. This is now their world. Stand aside.

Hardcore: No! I still have much I want to do! I just need more time.

*The ringing of the bell kept growing in number.*

Malstrom: You still have some time left. But not much. Convert!

Hardcore: There’s still a chance I will save the Core. If i add Waggle to the HD machines…

*Hardcore walks off talking to himself as the bell rings.*

Malstrom: Alas! Hardcore are not an island, entire of itself; every gamer is a piece of this market continent, a part of the  main. But nothing lasts forever as one value eventually replaces another. Plates shift and what was once Blue Ocean becomes continent and what was once continent becomes ocean. There are no casual and core markets, there is only a gaming market. It is just that one way of doing things is now sick and the other way is now healthy. The Dilemma will unable to be avoided much longer. Careful hardcore, the bell tolls for thee.

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Responses

  1. Oh man, I can’t believe the effect watching the Chrono Trigger intro has on me, even after all these years. The entire time watching it I had chills going up and down my spine, a stupid smile on my face, and goose bumps all over.

    Anyway, nice article, and not just for my Chrono Trigger fangasm (that was a bonus). I know people may give you crap about writing dialogue between you and imaginary figures (in this case, the hardcore), but I really enjoy it. Some may not consider it to be a ‘professional’ way of writing, but it keeps the reading entertaining in addition to just being interesting subject material.

  2. As always very enjoyable and creepy true XD

    I remember when I saw Yoshi’s Island. I loved that game. The graphics were so fresh and well cratted. But all my friends make fun of it because it didn’t had “killer instinct” graphics. Seems that some things never change hehe

    Personally, I am very excited to see what this generation will offer. And how old stagnant games will receive fresh life and ideas.

  3. I am incredibly excited for the refocusing of the industry on game values and the concept of convenience.

    When I insert a disk and wait for a console to recognize it, then begin the game, wait for the console to then initialize the disk, and then wait for the disk to load the main titles, and eventually the menu, only to make several selections and have to wait through another load, I become upset.

    When I go to a store to play a demo of a game, and instead, I’m fed a long, unskippable video with dialogue and story that I cannot even hear, I’m begging common sense to explain to me why this stuff is going on.

    Perhaps, then, this is why I was genuinely excited when Iwata talked about how Nintendo was focusing on making sure that the console boots up quickly and that their games boot up as quickly as possible.

    At least, for me, it’s these seemingly minuscule elements that make all the difference.

  4. Never played CC, but I’m amazed that the graphics still hold up so well, you know. I did own Yoshi’s Island –still do, with my old SNES– but I took advantage of today’s Amazon thingie and bought it for DS because I remembered what a good game it was.

  5. Put to the baby a Mario cap, please! Will look soooooo cuuuuuteeeeee ^^!

    hehehehehehe

    Yep, Yoshi’s Island Indeed, that was a great game, even my mom loved the graphics. And Ocarina of Time too :P (That was a bonus. My mom loves colorful things ^^!)

    About the games, well, I was thinking about the same: Thanks godness my favorite games are Nintendo, they have really good chances to survive the shift ^^!

  6. I like what you wrote yet your seeing it in black and white. The hardcore have come in waves. Bring those gamers back is the only option. Nintendo does it with their handhelds and 1st party games some times.

    You are correct that there isn’t enough talent in the industry yet I would say their is too much yet not enough of publisher with nintendo’s talent for seeing a fun game.

    You see I’m hardcore but I do not agree with the new hardcore just as the pac man players did not like my mario hardcore games. Maybe they did but that was when gaming started to go beyond what they played and try to become more.

    I’m all for gaming becoming more and all the tech that it needs but the true problem is just like the arcade problem. Because of the tech only certain games are made. Companies tend to forget that people think other game types are fun also. The PS brand really ignored lots of gamers. I was a hardcore shooter fan, beat em up fan, you name it from the 2d and arcade era and I loved it.

    The only reason why i got a PS2 was to play some of my old shooters that had sequels. Also 2d did not see it’s peak truthfully yet you are right in the good enough idea because the PS2 was good enough. But their was a reason for this. All developers except for nintendo showed up on it and a hand full of others. That’s what truly made the graphics good enough.

    The HD twins are missing this. It’s like the theaters missing indie films almost completely because people will only accept certain actors in their films as if any thing else just is not good enough.

    HD gaming’s only hope is to bring the other hardcore gamers back. Before hardcore gaming was split into different sectors and all console makers understood that you have to make games for them all. This is not really possible now on the HD consoles due to cost and due to what is expected to be played on these consoles. I mean no one is going to buy a $4000 PC to play mario one emulated.

    I understand how you get to the HD console makers where doing their job but part of that job is to keep as many types of gamer playing as possible. SONY cermoniously cut millions away from what they wanted while 3rd parties worked to provide what SONY lacked. MS has never had a real clue at what gamers where about. Yet at least they are trying. Nintendo is the only one that understands yet they where thrown in the ditch by many. Yet nintendo is the only company that knows once they truely get the Wii going graphicly it will be good enough. Casual gaming along with an afforable price is giving developer freedom from the expectations of the high tech next gen race.

    If you look at console gaming many companies started in consoles because they did not have to compete with the hardcore technological Pc designers. Talent was key. The bigger companies are using the HD market to seem like they have more talent because of their graphic engines.

    I’ve told people this time and time again. Particle effects and normal maps mean nothing with out an great imagination and execution. Then you need game play that is addictive. If any thing the PC industry should have shown them this.

    You where right about addictive gaming. It’s like most hardcore gamers just keep playing hoping to become addictive. When you think about it it’s true look at how they buy into the hype so easily?

    So many bought a PS3 hoping certain games would be good. I mean imagine if MGS4 sold 500k the first day total the PS3 would begin to crumble really fast. Yet this game has only slowed the process.

    I’m really wondering who will catch on first SONY or MS? All I really need is my hardcore games and I’ll get an HD console with no fuss. Unfortunately I’m not excited by any thing coming to those boxes. I’m not talking about 3d versions either. I’m talking about real arcade games that require skill and still have great graphics or at least art direction I like.

    It’s funny how the Wii is the only system with games I like and they are retro games on the VC and new games on the Wii. I’m a tech freak and i see the problem from the inside also. Making games have become so complicated that you can’t make one with a few people. The game industry is becoming the movie industry more and more.

    What is funny is there are other form of entertainment like sports you watch and play in, social get togethers, books, etc. Yet some how every one has forgotten why 2d was king. It worked, just like sports, books, and get social events. We were not promised any thing other than what it was.

    I say the above because the past hardcore gamers have simply been forgotten due to the 3d rush. The industry has grown with the new passive gamers yet the arcade core are left with nothing to do but play online games against others. In away that is even passive as most people will quit if they are loosing then search for a victim rather than a true opponent.

    I mean look at new super mario brothers and look at the DS period!? Then realize all your arcade games are showing up on this system also.

    If nintendo can prove that the graphics are good enough which they are to many and that they have these games that the HD twins don’t have they WILL steal the hardcore from HD gaming and also bring older hardcore gamers back.

    Loyalty only exist in what we think is fun. Nintendo knows this yet maybe the people at the HD helm are just too scared to see fun any more. There is nothing fun about spending lots of money and watching your fans tear you game apart as if you where an armature LOL. Then on top of that loose money for your pub OUCh.

    Like I said before the HD guys are only making a small group of hardcore player happy there are way more out there. By this definition the casual gamers can be hardcore also other wise they would not buy the system or show it to friends. Like most hardcore they are only open to certain games.

    Now we go full circle here we are talking about people here and certain people will only go and see certain movies and watch certain tv shows. The same goes for gaming. The casual vs hardcore is the main problem it leaves out all the other gamers and assumes we all casual or hardcore only like certain games.

  7. @Casual_metalgear,

    You’re correct in that what is going on doesn’t exist in a simple Casual/Hardcore, this or that, market. This is also what I’m trying to ridicule.

    Disruptive terminology identifies three types of customers.

    Undershot- These are customers who desire more enhancements to the product.

    Overshot- These are customers who find the product, not only does the job well, but is ‘bloated’ with too much stuff.

    NonCustomers- These are customers who aren’t customers yet!

    The non-customers are, of course, the non-gamers. The overshot are the former gamers. The undershot are the Core Market.

    When a disruption targets new customers, it is a New Market Disruption. When a disruption targets former customers, it is a Low Tier Disruption. Most disruptions are hybrid of both. Wii would be both.

    I would add a fourth one…

    Entrenched Undershot- So used to enhancements on a particular value, these undershot are hostile to non-customers and overshot customers and believe their involvement with future products will ‘destroy’ that product.

    My ‘entrenched undershot’ would be the hardcore.

    Casual_Metalgear, I don’t think you are hardcore. Hardcore are not people who like core games. Those are Core gamers. The difference between the Core and the Hardcore is that the Hardcore attacks the New Market. The Core do not attack new players. They tend to welcome their girlfriends, family, and others playing with them. Only the hardcore freak out about it and believe it is the apocalypse.

  8. “Even worse, why should someone even bother to buy a single player cinematic game in this age? I can simply go to YouTube and view the game’s primary content right then and there.”

    This hits the nail on the head in so many ways. I was interested in maybe playing MSG4 (even though I’ve never played any of the other MGS games) because the story interested me. But I decided it would be quicker and cheaper to just watch the cut scenes on YouTube, and so did that instead. YouTube is also how I caught up on the story for MSG2 and MSG3.

    With MGS, I was more interested in the story than in actually playing the *game*.

    The opposite was true for me about something like Mario Galaxy, which I got on day one.

    I will say though, that I do actually want to *play* FFXIII when it comes out. *Then* the PS3 may have some value for me, though still not enough to by a HDTV as well, since I still have two working “good enough” TVs. ;-)

  9. @morrigan

    In fact, I always looks forward for the SquareEnix games just for watch the openings :P

  10. It’s happened to me too. I got Dragon Quest 8 and Valkyrie Profile 2 for PS2 and got only so about half way with them and never finished them because the world seemed too big for me to handle. I actually watched Youtube to see the rest of both titles and threw my “Can’t play PS1 games because the DVD-ROM is a piss ant” system away and the Wii stands on my old shelf (a makeshift old classic record turntable. One of those big black painted ones. I mean really old.) ready for my pleasure.

    Compare that to PS1 when I was playing Dragon Quest 7 and the first VP title. I finished both of them and it felt like heaven as everything flowed smoothly compared to the bloat I felt in the PS2 sequels. I only watch Youtube now to see the Japanese version of VP1 and compare the two just for fun. After seeing Chrono Trigger for SNES; I actually feel more and more grateful for that title (that was panned for being too easy mind you by a few reviewers) and the fact that I paid $130 CDN for it. YIKES! Thankfully; it was actually worth the money I paid for it.

    I’m amazed that everyone painted MGS 4 as the flagship for PS3 since no MGS title has ever sold over 5.5 million units in it’s lifetime. This one will be lucky to reach half of that now. I think the kudos of MGS4 beating Dragon Quest Swords for the top third party game among consoles in Japan is a tad insulting when you have a AAA-title that is supposed to rocket the PS3 into the next generation barely able to defeat a B title like Swords that was there to demonstrate a former TV game in Japan (and sold just as much). Right now; there is only one major title left for PS3 and that’s Final Fantasy XIII which is the only title that has a track record of selling millions in Japan. Problem is; will the game even BE on PS3? And if so; I betcha it loses all of it’s heat just like Crisis Core and the GTA games did with PSP as well. I’m not holding my breath for it to save PS3 because by the time it comes out; it will already be too late and it will look really bad on SquareEnix’s record to have a FF game on a losing console that FF XIV will likely be Wii bound assuming SquareEnix lasts that long.

  11. Your right but the industry as a whole is ignoring types of core gamers then. If you ask a core gamer about the best parts of his game he loves it would be a lot easier to make the next game.

    Another thing is game do really good some times when extra stuff can be unlocked to provide a core experience from a casual title. In a since a FPS game of death match is very casual in game play a person can quit when ever they want to. Yet if given the chance to use their favorite gun or what not they will play longer thinking they have a chance.

    I guess what I am trying to say different type of gamers can be brought into different categories just as nintendo has brought the non gamer into gaming. Back in the day this was much more likely because you would have countless snip offs and copy cats that would get it right for certain gamers.

    MGO was suppose to be it’s saving grace yet I don’t think kojima understood why we play FPS or shooter online at all.

    Another thing is every one goes thur periods of hardcore-ness by your definition. This happens because you are in a consistent state of protection from various offenders. That’s what makes them so devoted. Happiness is telling the “hater” off. The baby metaphor was good but i think it’s more powerful if it is shown as a secret place. You see games don’t grow into gaming lots of time they know what they want. The maze is the confusion of so much content. Many people will come to the maze and some type of addiction will keep them run thur this maze. Some people shout online that they know THE WAY and other follow because they want to find what is promised. Some look at the maze and simply ignore it or either they see the maze as a city where they simply go to places they know about that are suppose to be there. Most new comers claim to be able to do the former and fail to see why lots of people even go to these places and become lost. They end up in the maze because they don’t even understand why they game.

    Also hardcore is more like a disappointed gamer who’s just mad lots of time these days. The Core was all but forgotten in an effort to grow the market almost. In a state of depression you will do any thing to get relief. Maybe the HD market was betting on this?

  12. @Casual_metalGear

    The problem with the current “Core” under your definition is they are stuck. They aren’t growing. When a market doesn’t grow anymore, you can only wait for this market shrink and eventually dissapear.

    The “Core” under Nintendo definition is the person who’s willing to spend money in gaming and have more demands for the product, no matter if they play since some time ago, or if they start to play with the Wii.

    Nintendo is trying to refresh the Core and expand it even more. The “Core”, under your definition, will think Nintendo is ignoring them, but is for the own good of the market. The market will eventualy shift away from consoles if they don’t do something, and consoles become an expensive niche. Nintendo is trying to avoid that.

    In another point, you can’t ask to the consumer about what they like more. This is entertaiment industry. They have to surprise, and you can’t go and ask to the consumer how surprise him. While have a little input about what you did well and what’s not will help, it’s not only that you have to rely.

  13. Nice article althoght nothing new for someone that has read all your articles.
    The 300 reference made me laugh.

    BTW “Theory of Cycles” is one of your best articles IMO.


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