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Postcore Games: Gaming for the Post-Hardcore Generation

Mainstream industry wisdom says the future's all about iOS, Facebook and Freemium, etc., but there are a bunch of developers currently finding success in ways that don't quite fit this business model. This heralds the rise of the Postcore Gamer.

If you’re waiting impatiently for our industry’s “Next-Big-Thing” then I have the answer you may have been looking for: forget mobile; forget social; forget casual; and forget hardcore - they’re yesterday’s things.  The Next-Big-Thing for our industry will be Postcore Gaming.

What makes me so sure?  Because I’ve spent over a decade at Denki doing things before they become a thing.  Our company history reads like a Cassandrian tale of where the mainstream industry would be in about 5 years time.  Seriously, check this out:

  • We set up as an Indie Developer back in 2000 before there was much concept of Indie Developers;
  • We released our first mobile phone game in 2002 when their screens were still monochrome;
  • We developed using Agile methods before the Agile Manifesto was drafted;
  • And we’d made over 100 casual games before anyone mentioned there might be a Casual Games industry.

And don’t get me started on Interactive Television - that’s going to be massive once someone (probably Apple given their stated intentions and previous form) properly disrupts the market.

Unfortunately, however, we’ve also consistently made two mistakes at Denki that prevented us benefiting from any pioneering position we may have established: first, we were usually on to the next thing before the previous thing became a bonafide thing, and second, we were never much good at inventing names for our things.  For example:

  • We were a digital toy company, not an indie developer;
  • We were a handheld developer, not a mobile developer;
  • We used fast production methods, not agile development;
  • And we made family-friendly games, not casual games.

If there’s one thing we really haven’t been good at over the years it’s appreciating the value of established schemas.

However, this time we’ve stumbled on a term we feel perfectly describes the type of games developers like ourselves are making, and we'll be staying put until it turns properly mainstream. That thing is Postcore Gaming.

So what is Postcore Gaming?  Mark Pincus from Zynga put it well in a recent interview with GI.biz: "I fundamentally believe that the biggest opportunity is to get people like me to play. I'm a latent gamer; it's there, it's just in the background because I'm too busy, and I can't find the time, I can't justify the time. But if you could get it in front of me and you could distill it down to something that I could get into in five minutes, and I could play it with friends and other people, you would have me. It's gotta be short-form, short session, long arc." 

You and me both Mark.  What he’s describing is the quintessential Postcore Gamer, and that’s the market Denki’s now focused on.  They’re lapsed or latent gamers who’ve grown up with Hardcore Games but no longer have the time in their lives to devote to them, but unlike Casual Gamers and Social Gamers, Postcore Gamers are completely comfortable with gaming culture. So what they're looking for are products that blend together more hardcore themes and elements with casual product structures and social community dynamics in interesting new ways that meet their needs.

That’s exactly what our latest game prototype "Save the Day" is - a Postcore Game.  And we recognise  Turbulenz’s excellent HTML5 based gaming engine is the ideal platform to deliver it on.  Cloud based and web distributable, but with hardware acceleration to achieve console quality gaming experiences, it's a perfect recipe to deliver exactly what the Postcore Gamer longs for.

If Denki's true to form, I reckon the Games Industry has about 3-5 years before Postcore becomes truly mainstream. And if it turns out I’m wrong, well feel free to come and tell me at GDC’s first Postcore Games Summit - or whatever it eventually ends up being called.

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