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Hardcore gamers are being ignored by some in the shift to casual/Wii/portable gaming. Those who ignore this demographic are missing out on money if nothing else.

John Mawhorter, Blogger

September 9, 2010

2 Min Read

Hardcore gamers are being ignored by some in the shift to casual/Wii/portable gaming. Those who ignore this demographic are missing out on money, if nothing else.

How hard is it to add difficulty modes? OK it's a lot of work, even if you're just slapping double health on the enemies or something equally silly. But consider how much PR boost and sales boost you get from such a relatively simple modification.

The hardcore may not even be your games target demographic, but that doesn't mean there won't be hardcore players playing it. And some players will get hardcore into your game, maybe even if they've never played a game before in their lives.

It is, of course, difficult to add depth to a shallow game. And difficulty does not mean a satisfying hardcore experience, nor is it a replacement for said depth. But my point is that there is often an easy way to have your cake and eat it too.

Instead of cutting a feature that makes the game overly complex and/or difficult, leave it in for the hard mode. I'm willing to bet (not do research) that many games have cut mechanics during development that are too hard/deep for the target market but just what was needed to entertain the hardcore. So what I'm saying is, give a little thought, just a little, before you throw away that bone and instead throw it to the hardcore.

Trickle-down economics, as evidenced by multiplayer games balanced with the hardcore in mind that also appeal to the casual (see almost every popular multiplayer game that also has a good competitive scene: Counter-strike, League of Legends, Starcraft, etc.), works.

But it can also work in reverse (sort of). Call of Duty 4's Hardcore mode is a great example. The lack of UI alone makes the game completely different because it removes the ability to easily spot enemies who are firing their weapons on the map and thus favors those who know how to use sound to their advantage.

The damage increase favors wallspamming which is part of a hardcore skillset. Etc. Both directions of trickle (down?up?) must, just like in the real world, be aided by socialist policies in order to actually function. In the hardcore case we have the above example.

In the other direction, though lots of this has only recently been realized, we have matchmaking systems that ensure that new players aren't thrown in with the gun-toting wolves who can pull off mid-air railgun shots while bunnyhopping backwards.

You might think of the rise of the tutorial and other features as fulfilling similar functions... so throw bones to the dogs under the table and ladle soup into the kids bowls up top (you can see where I fall in terms of allegiances, but don't insult your audience like I just did).

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