26 October 2008

The lost generation of gamers?

There has been a good series of articles over on Gamasutra recently looking at the 'lost' gaming market segments from the older generation, the family group and now the 25-35 yr olds. These articles are actually really cool considering the actual basic level research that went into them as opposed to my style 'articles' whereby i just shoot out my opinion :) I felt the need to comment on some of the points raised by this latest article due to the fact that i'm the only person in my group of friends who is a gamer when we all played many games when we were very young.

Most games do not have a long enough life span - cannot attract or engender the interest that these people require. I have a friend who is specifically like this but he is a gamer (though sporadically). He pretty much exclusively plays strategy games like Gal Civ 2 or Civilisation 4 and has completely gone off the twitch-based first person shooters. He also loves to play chess, Settlers of Catan and poker - games that you can keep learning over a long period of time.

4. Split screen co-op. Gee... that's funny. Split screen or local co-op was really popular in the days of the NES, SNES, Megadrive, N64, PS1, PS2 and to a limited extent the Gamecube (never played the Xbox). What happened to the games on the 360 and PS3? Well, it turns out that developers and publishers have one of two excuses they trot out when they announce a lack of local co-op or versus:

1. The game is taxing the system so much that it simply can't render things twice.
2. The online systems take care of all that and as such we focus all of our efforts on that area.

Now that may be all well and good but when the adoption rate of live (for actually playing games you need a Gold/paying account) is 56% you're missing out on pretty much half of your audience.

6. I understand the mentality of 'aren't games just for children?'. It's something that's peddled by parents and seeps down through generations until it hits a person who grows up loving and continues to love games despite the contrary expectations of those around them.

It's also true about game packaging - most of it is childlike though there are certainly exceptions on the three consoles targeted towards an older audience (PS2, 360 and PS3). It wouldn't take much to actually do this and considering a lot of these games are supposed to be 15+ and 18+ then it shouldn't really be a problem but obviously that 'aren't games just for children?' mentality is still prevalent in marketing departments. One example of where having an older-oriented cover works has been the later Harry Potter Novels. In a canny marketing move whereby they recognised that their audience has grown up with the series (as well as the long-time older readers) they provided both a children's cover and a grown-up cover... broadening the appeal of the purchase while leaving the content untouched.

1 comment:

Tesh said...

Even the so-called "mature" games are little more than emotionally and morally retarded riffs on themes that would be better suited to teenage angst and hormonal rage than anything truly mature. No, the industry hasn't truly "grown up", so there's little impetus for those who are maturing in their real life to take part.