Friday, August 7, 2009

Goodbye Hardcore, and Good Riddance.


As we can all clearly see, there are more and more people playing video games every day. Some of us understand why this is happening, and some of us don't. Gaming is expanding through an easy-to-understand-yet-difficult-to-master gaming revolution, which is a delightful throwback to the early days of gaming. Frogger. Super Mario Brothers. Tetris.


As internet web-games and Nintendo's Wii allow everyone from your 4 year-old-nephew to your 80-year-old grandma to play video games again, there are wonderful opportunities for all of us to play interesting new games which are full of surprises, that we can all enjoy together, and watch gaming-as-a-legitimate-entertainment-medium grow into it's own and rival the likes of TV, books, and cinema in the eyes of the mainstream.


Gaming as we know it is being redefined once again, with interesting new concepts and input devices, and what was old is becoming new again.


Unfortunately, there are “gamers” among us that don't appreciate the expansion of gaming, and have a much different vision of what gaming should be. They believe that it is complicated, difficult, and elite games that should be celebrated, and that "easy", “casual”, "simple" games are actually destroying gaming and should be rejected at all costs. These “gamers” refer to themselves as “the hardcore”. Fortunately, these “hardcore gamers” are part of a rapidly-shrinking minority, and will soon become irrelevant, niche, and easy to silence. While true gamers anxiously await this, however, we will find that these angry “man-children” and their pitiful inferiority complexes will continue to intensify their obnoxious whining in a desperate attempt to make themselves appear significant and powerful.

The hardcore pawns (or... the hardcore, pwnt?)

Amazingly, these “hardcore gamers” fail to even realize how pathetic and easy to manipulate they've become, and will actually try to use marketing-speak and petty, hateful insults to make themselves be heard and perceived as intellectuals. They'll cry out in unison via message boards like NeoGAF (along with their friends-and-fellow-agenda-pushers, the viral marketing teams of the “hardcore video game consoles”), spitting even more venom, rudeness, and hatred toward true gamers, old-school gamers, and new gamers than they already do. They have forgotten, or sadly are too young and have never even known, what video games truly are-- what they've always been-- and what they'll continue to be: An entertainment experience meant for all to enjoy, just like the majority of books, movies, and songs. Instead, they've been conditioned by “hardcore” marketing over the last 15-20 years to believe that being greedy, hateful, and elitist is what it means to be a gamer.


When we take a look at how this has happened more closely, we find a disgusting mess of cocky and arrogant game console designers, game developers and game publishers. Overpriced and over-complicated hardware and software. A xenophobic attitude toward creating and publishing games coupled with a slew of uninteresting sequels. A plethora of scary-yet-clever new ways that they have collectively designed to take control away from gamers... And worst of all, a revolting barrage of dastardly marketing to move the herd along.


The preposterous attitude of the "Games Industry"

Some of the biggest players in the games industry today find it perfectly acceptable to adopt the following attitudes:


“A new game console should launch with 1 controller, no bundled game, and a $600 price tag.”

“It's a great idea to tell blatant and bold-faced lies about our product years before it's ready for release, to make it seem better then anyone can imagine, and then simply rescind those comments and remove these features when the product is finally released years later because our customers have short memories.”

“Gamers are dumb and easy to manipulate with marketing and hype. Over and over and over and over and
over and over and over.

“Digital distribution, which prevents the customer from asking a store employee questions about the game, prevents the customer from re-selling the game, prevents the customer from being able to return the game, and literally prevents the customer from ever even actually owning the game, is how we will move gaming forward. 'Convenience' and 'Technology' is how we will sell it.”

“A remake of the same game every year with a slightly new setting, 40%-90% reused assets, and a different number at the end of the name is how we maximize profits, minimize risk, and keep our customers right where we want them.”

“Our 15-year-old controller design is better than anything new that we could come up with.”

“Nobody reads instruction manuals, so we will put very little effort into them, and instead charge $20 for a full-sized strategy guide that takes all of the challenge out of the game. There will be nothing in-between.”

“If our customers want to play our last-generation games, they should buy the last generation console and not expect any backwards compatibility from the new one.”

“If we want to cut corners and completely avoid competition, we'll simply buy an exclusive licensing contract. (NFL football games, as an example)”

“Charging small fees for updates to an incomplete game is a great way to make customers pay us more money for features and content we could've included in the $60 game which they bought in the first place.”

“A great way to make our hardware appear as though it isn't overpriced is to strip it of all of its features, sell it at a lower price, then charge outrageous prices to upgrade it later.”

“When a customer sells a game back to a video game store, we should profit from that game being sold a second time.”

“If customers think our game is bad, they just can't understand what is great about it.”

“If reviewers give our game a bad score, they're just not reviewing it right and must be told how to do their jobs, or paid to sway their opinions.”

...And that is just a few of the things that they've demonstrated through their actions, words, and practices that should be very disappointing to a true gamer, if not completely alarming.


Revelations: FY2010

There is, of course, a happy ending. As “hardcore game console companies” come to realize that they will be unable to sustain their business with the current model-- and that all of the expectations for “how to define the next generation” which they created and drilled into gamers heads begin to disappear for their hardcore fan base-- they'll be forced to introduce motion controllers, and prepare to re-brand and re-launch their consoles with a new “casual-friendly” marketing angle in 2010 (or 2011), they'll eventually make some shocking discoveries:
  1. As companies who have always focused primarily on cutting-edge computer hardware and subsequently relied on marketing to trick their customers, they simply don't understand what true gamers really want from a video game console.
  2. While they grasp at straws to understand why the new market is rejecting them, they'll be in very hot water with the “hardcore” they created, who will also reject them for “turning their backs” on the “hardcore mentality”.
  3. They'll eventually find that they never understood gaming to begin with, and just happened to be in the right place at the right time: During a massive boom in population growth with an audience of immature children to eagerly and blindly soak up the anti-gamer marketing-speak they've been spewing for the last 15 years.
Of course, it's always a little bit sad to see a cult, no matter how spiteful and angry they may be, have their world come crashing down around them, but you know what? It's also a little bit funny. :)


(Note: This is a legacy re-post from my old blog, only a few old posts have been reposted)


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(Note: For this particular legacy re-post, I have decided to copy over all the comments made by readers. Thanks, Google Cache!)
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21 Comments
Love it. Great work.
Lee Evans (Email) (URL) - 08-09-’09 12:05


Great insight into the \‘hardcore\’ gamer.
I have been playing games since the Atari 2600 days, and have grown more and more tired of the \‘core\’ game style. Not to say that I don\‘t enjoy these types of games, but I can only play the same game so many times.
The industry needed the wake-up call Nintendo made to remember that gaming \‘was\’ open to everyone back in the 1st generation of home consoles…and can be again.

Neal Eaton - 08-09-’09 12:18


*clap* clap clap clap clap clap clap clap
As a gamer who\‘s been playing before Space Invaders, I fully endorse your message. \“Hardcore gamer\” is simply a shorthand for \“whiny pretentious self-centered jerk,\” who simply can\‘t stand not being the center of attention. The complaining has only gotten worse nowadays because the continued success and growing audience of video gaming has simply made it more obvious how irrelevant they are.
The hobby was built on the roots of casual games (Pong and Pac-Man), and thrives today thanks to casual games (Peggle, Mario Kart, and the Wii). Things will simply get better once we have a way to tune out the pretentious mewing of the so-called \“hardcore.\”
—R.J.
Robert Jung (Email) - 08-09-’09 12:34


Great read. Interesting points, however; the real fear isn\‘t the whole \“expansion itself\” it\‘s the fear that companies will stop making the game experiences better because they don\‘t have to put much effort on a \“casual game\” to make money. Unfortunately that is part of the reality but not all of it is true. I don\‘t understand how anyone can fear that companies would suddenly stop making games for the core. The core needs to exist and will no matter what happens.
Potaso (Email) - 08-09-’09 13:15


I\‘m glad you said this, Potaso.
When Nintendo makes bottom-tier (so called \“casual\” games), they put their very best teams on them and make the best games possible with their top talent. This is why other third-parties aren\‘t succeeding on Wii— They\‘re putting their crappy teams on \“casual games\” because they think \“casual gamers\” are dumb and don\‘t understand what good games are.
EA has figured this out. I\‘m hoping other 3rd parties follow suit.
tactics (URL) - 08-09-’09 13:24


hi article writer you now have full guru status on a guru mountain top like malstrom and wiiboy101
THERE\\\\\\\‘S NOW 3 PEOPLE ON THE NET WHO GET IT
DISRUPTION = BYE BYE HARDCORE BUT NOT CORE GAMES
HARDLY CORES TRY THINKING FOR ONCE
WELCOME TO WIIBOYS WORLD WRITER YOU CAN THINK SUCH A RARE THING THESE DAYS A CUP OF TEA AND A BISCUIT AWAITS YOU IF YOUR EVER ROUND MY WAY LOL
THE GAMING TRUTH THE NINTENDO TRUTH GO GET SOME TRUTH
wiiboy101 - 08-09-’09 13:37


Excellent post, very well written. There was a short time when I stopped playing games because they seemed to all be little more than interactive movies or the same rehash of Doom.
I have kept all of my consoles and appreciate games that bring a genuine smile to my face, can get a whole group playing, and are easy to pickup but challenging to master.
I frequently look at some of the games that come out and think that they aren\‘t even games when people aren\‘t even having fun with them.
Jessica De Leon (URL) - 08-09-’09 13:41


Here here. Hardcore gamers are like people who only watch the big summer movies like Transformers 2 or Terminator 4, and shun the actually interesting movies that are thought provoking and new. Hardcore gamers are like the people who watch WWE wrestling exclusively, shunning all real sports and broadcast competitions that aren\‘t scripted. Hardcore gamers are like Gwar fans, loud, stupid, and completely hopeless.
But I\‘m sure their friends list of manipulated consumers will disagree and coo them back into comfort, just in time for yet another formulaic first person shooter that makes ALL other games obsolete.
chris_wing - 08-09-’09 13:46


It‘s true, the ‘hardcore’ don\‘t know what gaming is anymore. They try so hard to run things and screw everyone else over.
From systems, to games, to graphics, to names. Even when companies try to appeal to this group of narcissists, they still turn their noses up and say it‘s not good enough or they don‘t buy it altogether. Companies are afraid to try new IPs because the gamers that voice their opinions are the ‘hardcore’ demographic. This in turn hurts both companies and consumers. Mad World being a prime example: yes it is fully of bloody violence, being made a Mature game for said reason, but it is still incredibly fun. The game didn\\‘t sell well, even for how many people pined for it.
Downloadable content is a big thing too. Some of it, yeah I can understand it being released later. Most of it however, small add-ons for so many games, and some of it rather expensive isn‘t necessarily worth the price tag. That‘s something that should really be looked at in the industry. Unfortunately… that‘s going to be some time coming I would imagine.
All in all, you definitely put it out there. Now let‘s see how many more good reviews you get.
Gord Ball (Email) (URL) - 08-09-’09 13:48


WIIBOY ASKS GAMERS WHAT IS HARDCORE THERES A FAKE CORE CALLING ITS SELF THE CORE OR THE HARDCORE YET THERE FAKES THERE LIARS…..
PS3 X360 PC ALL = INSTALLS/ PATCHES/ BUGS /HEAT /CONFIGURATION /FREEZING /ISSUES /LONG DAMED LOADING TIMES/ OUTDATED MECHANICAL CONTROLS/ LACKOF REFINMENT ALL OF THESE THINGS ARE OBSTACLES TO THE GAME ITS SELF
I.E FAKE HARDCORE GAMERS LOVE OBSTACLES THESE OBSTICKLES MAKE THEM FEEL TECH COOL TECH SAVYVY TECH WITH IT
THIS IS MADNESS A PATCH PEROVES ONLY ONE THING GAMES GOING TO MARKET WITH OUT QUALITY CONTROL
POOR OUTDATED CONTROLS ARE NOT HARDCORE THERE OBSOLETE AND OUT OF TOUCH
LONG LOADTIMES ARE NOT HUGE AMOUNTS OF DATA YOUR PS3 NEEDS THE USUAL LONG LOADTIME SONY FAN EXCUSE
ITS A POOR DESIGN AND A POOR DISC FORMAT I.E BLURAY FOR GAMES AGAIN AN OBSTACLE TO YOUR FUN
WIRED NET AGAIN OLD ITS ALL ABOUT PLUG AND PLAY WIFI ETC
DUALSHOCK IT BELONGS ON PS1 ONLY WHY IS IT STILL HERE
CONTROL A INTERFACE A GRANNY CAN USE OR A HARDCORE FPS FREAK = AMASSING AND EASY TO UNDERSTAND AND VERY IMMURSIVE AND PRECISE
STOP CALLING THE UN-COOL COOL THEN STATING THE UN-COOL THING MAKES YOU COOL
IT DOESNT WASH SONY FREAKS/MICRSOFT FREAKS /PC FREAKS
A INSTALL MISNT COOL ITS A WASTE OF UR TIME AND STORAGE SPACE
A PATCH ISNT COOL ITS A EXCUSE BY A 3RD PARTY WHO SENT TO RETAIL UNFINISHED GAMES
LONG LOADTIMES AINT COOL THERE GOD DAMNED INFURIATING
DUALSHOCKS AINT COOL THERE 3 GEN OUT OF DATE AND POOR TO USE WITH DEAD ANALOG STICKS
WII IS THE FUTURE AND THAT FUTURE INCLUDES ALL GAMING FORMS BUT THE HARDLY CORE CALLING HIMSELF CORE IS FAST DIEING
THANK GOD
CUBEBOY101 - 08-09-’09 13:48


give us great fun games with snes/megadrive/gameboy like accessibility be it a dance game or a cough core shooter
oh yes thats happening its called ds/dsi/wii……..
fps no loadtimes or crashes and a wiimote and nunchuck to play OR
fps with bugs issues long loadtimes and ps1 out dated controllers
is that really a hard decision to make
ralph gamer uk (Email) - 08-09-’09 15:04


that was one of the best gaming articles i\‘ve read in 3 year\‘s!it is so great to see real gamers are still playing!
mshope10 (Email) - 08-09-’09 16:01


I agree completely. this is a great article!
I have actually started an entire website/community devoted to this mentality
the address is \“http://www.wiiaredeep.tk\”:http://www.wiiaredeep.tk
if you have the time, please come by, look over the mission statement and say hi in our forums.
we would love to have you!
CrashMan (URL) - 08-09-’09 18:23


You make a few good points, but I believe you are confusing hardcore gamers with fanboys. You do not seem like an authority to make that kind of observation.
Guest - 09-09-’09 00:32


You are at the same time right and oh so tragically wrong.
The beauty of gaming is that there\‘s plenty of room for both \“casual\” and \“hardcore\” experiences, and anything in between. Removing either category would make it a significantly poorer and duller form of entertainment/art. So while I agree with some of your points, whining and calling for marginalization of the hardcore makes you look just as bad as those morons who still make fun of Wii in every other thread at NeoGAF.
insane_cobra - 09-09-’09 00:46


Just to let you know, those idiots at NeoGAF quickly locked a thread mentioning this blog. Hard to take the GAF seriously when it can\‘t take any criticism of itself.
guest (Email) - 09-09-’09 01:09


you just became my hero.
loved every bit of it. keep the good work. ^^
some1 (Email) - 09-09-’09 01:23


A large part of Neogaf is anti-Sony, so I don\‘t see where all these justifications of Sony\‘s moves are being accepted. EVERYONE complained about $600.
You also kinda forgot the RROD and people don\‘t seem to care about that. Even bringing it up means you\‘re a troll to the vitriolic pro-MS masses. I think buying and RE-BUYING the same broken system over and over is the most DISGUSTING part of this gaming generation. How the hell is that nonsense perfectly acceptable? And more importantly, how the hell did you brush over the biggest gaming related problem?
Tom Travers - 09-09-’09 02:30


Tom,
That is an excellent point. Something about that certainly should\‘ve gone in the \“red\” section.
Could\‘ve even tripled-it-up by also mentioning all the flipped-over PS1s and DRE\‘d PS2s as well…
A missed opportunity on my part. Believe me, it was unintentional.
Also: That GAF thread accuses me of being a \“disgruntled ex-gaffer who got banned\”. Bahahaha… As if. Chalk another one up for \“self-centered and egotistical\”. YES GAF, IT\‘S ALL ABOUT YOU.EVERYTHING IS ALWAYS ALL ABOUT YOU.
tactics (URL) - 09-09-’09 03:19


Great read. I don\‘t completely agree with the view, but I enjoyed reading it.
Every community has loud mouthed idiots that would doom us to oblivion if we let them. Just as casual gamers are portrayed as idiots who\‘d buy anything, not all \“hardcore\” gamers fear the expansion or the loss of the games that they love will cease to exist because of it.
It\‘s more of a cultural issue and a few loud mouths who do what they do best. The culture of books, movies and other arts aren\‘t denied because on a whole they\‘re so simple and easy to enjoy. If you want further depth you can find it. For the people that really embellish in them they\‘re called true readers/bookworms and other similar names. I really love my games, I have a very eclectic taste. Some would call me hardcore because of the amount of time I spend with them while other would just call me a true gamer. That\‘s how I see myself.
The thing that always separates a hardcore person from someone else is just the culture and respect. They have more than a standard level of appreciation for the game or whatever they like. Don\‘t lump us all together because idiots have louder voices.
And another good point from your article, why the heck do game consoles not come with games? They always only come with one controller too. Because of that multiplayer is usually weakened in games that are releasing around launch and even a while after it. If these companies are serious about getting us to play then they could max out the controllers in the box, or at least include 2 and a game. Nintendo does include Wii Sports, but without that complete second controller, it\‘s a weakened experience. Many people either take turns while playing or had to wait a bit to buy a controller if they could buy one when they bought the system.
It\‘s not just the 360 or specific pieces of hardware quality, but the quality in general. Third party devices are often crap. Many times in the past we\‘d see weird design decisions that make us scratch our head.
srkelley - 09-09-’09 09:52


Awesome blog, thanks! Keep up the great work!
nike outlet (Email) (URL) - 26-02-’10 04:14

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