This subject isn't a new one. It's been around for a long time and the debate about what actually is a core gamer and why they matter still continues to this day.
For the sake of this blog, a core gamer is defined as someone with a lasting passion for gaming to the point that it can't be considered a simple pastime but instead a beloved hobby. Someone who enjoys learning about games and gaming. Someone who pumps a lot of money into games and gaming, and will continue to do so indefinitely.
I'm sure you'll all have seen someone somewhere talk about "casual gamer dollars." It's a phrase used to describe the fact that the casual gaming audience(that is those people who game for a few minutes here and there on anything that's easiest to game on, and only do it to pass some time) that is vastly larger than the core gaming audience and thus more overall revenue comes from them based solely on sheer volume of consumption. Many have stated it makes better business sense to cater to that audience if you want maximum revenue.
This blog seeks to, at least in part, disprove that notion. While it is a statement of fact that the casual audience is larger and thus can produce more revenue based on that, the casual audience is also immensely unpredictable and fickle. This is why developers and publishers should be more appreciative of the core audience.
I'm sure that if a study were done there would be proof that, over time, the core audience spends and has spent more money on gaming than the casual audience has in the recent years. The casual audience are the type of people that wouldn't normally see a need to go out and get the newest console or handheld gaming device if the current devices they have function perfectly fine for their gaming needs. The core audience however have an insatiable appetite for newer and better experiences and have absolutely no problem purchasing the latest equipment for the latest games.
When the next generation of consoles come out, or the newest PC gaming tech is released, the core audience will lap it up voraciously because gaming is what we love, it's essentially in our blood. It takes a lot of marketing and a lot of work to convince the casual audience that they should buy the newest console and games because they won't have the same passion and can't understand any need to buy the latest stuff.
So the question becomes then, is no one capable of seeing this? Are the publishers and developers so blinded by casual gamer dollars that they don't see that making a huge paradigm shift towards the casual market is potentially disastrous and self-defeating? Sure, today the casual gamer is buying your motion control device or your mobile platform, because it's different than the norm that has been around for awhile, but can you be sure that tomorrow they will buy your next piece of hardware without something that is a huge game changer and marketed in all the mind numbingly simple casual ways such talk shows and celebrity endorsements?
This gen has been filled with "accessibility" all because of the casual gamer audience. Whole franchises changed their gameplay styles to accommodate people who've never played one game in the series. This has left many, if not all, core gamers with a bad taste in their mouth and a serious case of "wtf is this?" syndrome. Older gamers who've been gaming since the time of the NES or earlier have come to notice the staggering decrease in challenge and difficulty in games of this gen, and are refreshed when a game comes out that isn't afraid to punish you for sucking at it (Demon's Souls, Dark Souls) like the good old days of gaming. The media doesn't help anything either, as they hammer games for being "too difficult" or "too challenging" for new gamers to get into. Well news flash, some games aren't designed for new gamers to get into, they are specifically for the core gamers that have supported the developers from the beginning with their hard earned money.
Core gamers are the true life blood of the industry, and it's a saddening thing to see that we are taking the back seat to the casual audience or the social media scene. Nowadays every game has to have co-op or multiplayer or else many new gamers won't even touch it despite the fact that many games are actually hindered for having it included. Multiplayer and co-op doesn't have to be included in EVERY game, and is sometimes a very bad idea. Today I saw an article here on N4G about Dead Space 3 in which a commenter didn't care about the change of gameplay direction the game is taking because the game had multiplayer co-op. Meanwhile the established fans of the Dead Space series are pissed at the new changes, and I've seen some are dissatisfied with the idea of co-op because it's continuing the trend of survival horror games (games in which you are SUPPOSED to be alone) becoming action-shooters and removing key thematic elements.
These changes occur thanks to the casual audience, thanks to accessibility. These changes will continue until either the casual audience burns every single developer/publisher with their fickle ways, or the core gamers stop supporting the developers/publishers that purposely make games easier, change series renowned themes, make unnecessary reboots etc; and just support those devs who actually care about the fans that have been with them since their beginnings and helped build them up with the money they work hard for.
I don't know about you, but I think it's time us core gamers are no longer ignored. We spend the money consistently, we are the beta testers of new ideas and new hardware, we are the backbone of the industry, its lifeblood. Without us, there would be no video game industry. The market looks to be heading towards the same events that caused the 80's crash with over-saturation thanks to everyone trying to cash in on casual gamer dollars. The core audience is really the only one that can do anything to stop that, but we need real reasons to. So give us some attention and stop ruining our games just so Grandma and Grandpa can get into Resident Evil or something.