299: Casual Gamers Are Better Than You


Smart AI
Oct 25, 2008
I tried farmville and found it fun up until the point where I was at the top of my facebook friends leaderboard. The moment this happened it eliminated the competitive element and it was no longer fun. I haven't played it since and probably never will.
I agree with the people that hardcore gamers are more discerning than casual gamers. I think a large part of this is due to the price. If you have to spend £40 on a game, you're gonna make sure you don't waste your money on something that claims to be original but in reality is terrible. I'd like to think of myself as unbiased as I have an iPhone and so I play casual games frequently as well as frequently indulging in the hardcore FPS crowd.


Returning video tapes
Nov 24, 2010
Farmville is a trap, sunk cost, loss aversion, faraday cage kind of thing. Playing it because it's "free" and in your browser is not so much a real choice for some of these people, as an instinct. I will -not- respect people who let their lives be dictated in this way.

Yes WoW is too but that does not make it any better.


New member
Sep 22, 2009
This was an interesting read, but I do not think some of the arguments are very good. Take for example, the money spending argument (spending $60 + more on a game vs. free to play + pay if you want.) For me Farmville is a boring game. It is not fun for me at all, even a little bit. So spending any time with it, even with its lack of price is a waste of time for me. Mass Effect 2, for me, is incredibly fun for me to play. I played/still play the hell out of that game; I have sunk plenty of well spent hours in it. Did I buy it new? You bet your sweet ass I did. Did I buy the expansion pack DLC? (No guns or costumes bought, just the additional missions ones.) Hell yes I did! Did I have fun with my investment, was the time I spent worth the money I spent? For me yes. Even with Farmville being free, the time spent on it for me was wasted. I cannot get that time back, and I hate that I even lost any time at all. Do the people make a better "Happiness" investment than I did by playing Farmville vs playing Mass Effect 2? Depends on the level of happiness. I can say my conversations will be filled with a lot more action and variety, and my memories of playing Mass effect will be more than planting crops for me. Because I dropped more than $60 into that experience makes it a worse "happiness" investment? I do not think that to be true in the least.

The old new IP argument always is an odd one to play as well. Calling Kane & Lynch 2 an established name vs. Enslaved? Maybe, but last I heard people hated Dog Days, I loved it and had a wicked blast playing it. So a million copies of a hated game is pretty good. It was a polished game when compared to Kane & Lynch 1 (loved that one too), and when compare to Enslaved, Dog Days had less technical issues to prevent me enjoying the game. Enslaved will be a game I will purchase, a long with Homefront, once I feel their price points are at a level I feel is worth investing into my happiness. Neither of them are a $60 investment for me, either was Dog Day, so I bought that well after it came out (still got it new so that the developers could get some scratch out my purchase.) The problem with new IPs is that they regularly and consistently do not have the level of polish you get with an established name, like ME2. If they do have the polish and prime of an established IP, they will do very well. Look at Dead Space, and Portal, Assassin's Creed and possibly Mirror's Edge, hell look at the games that are franchises now, they where all new IPs at one point too. I even bought Beyond Good and Evil on XBLA, and love it, and think that deserves so much more success (didn't own a Xbox at the time it originally came out.) I think if new IPs advertised themselves as something that was new but with a lower price of entry, maybe more gamers would be willing to pick up the title sooner, but when a new IP is $60, and you know almost none of your friends will play it, while the newest CoD or Halo will have all of your friends playing, what do you think you will pick? An investment towards happiness is a complicated thing, and doesn't just revolve around price.

I do realize that I am in the silent minority it trying to see the new and exciting games get some traction, and just flaunting my "new IP cred" does nothing, but I do want to at least show that there are core gamers that do enjoy the finner things in video games. So is it true that the hard core are horrendous at actually playing new games and purchasing games that are made for them? Yes. Should there be a looking into a new way to price games? Yes ($60 is asking a lot for a new IP, that may not be as good as an established IP)Is piracy an issue in the hard core crowd? Yes. Is the casual player having more fun than I am? Not necessarily.
Which I think I have the biggest gripe with, and is it 100% the gamers fault, I do not think so. Is shovelware easier to develop and make a profit on? Yes, so developers make a bunch of that shit and make bank fast. Do I wish they helped invest more polish into their hard core new IPs? Yes. Can happiness be measured on an equal scale vs. amount of money spent? Kind of, but not really. Do I think the casual gamer is better than me? No (but I may be biased) Is the whole of the casual gamer market better than the whole of hard core gamers? Yes, in terms of profit generations for developers. Do I want to see games go to a more Farmville style? No. No. No. Pricing? Sell to me right, and yes.

I think hard core gamers have a duty to try and educate their casual friends, to try and show them a more diverse and maybe even better gaming experience. We should not avoid casual gamers, but show them how much more games can offer a person. And the the hard core needs to also be more willing to try new things, but developers need to also try and sell new things to us a bit better than they are.

It's a long post, sorry, but I hope it adds to the conversation.


New member
Oct 13, 2010
I don't know what's the importance of categorizing players into groups saying "hardcore" and "casual" and then trying to pointing out one group is better than other (or vice versa). To me games like "Farmville" is just another business opportunity in gaming market; nothing more or less than that.

Even though I see a game like "Farmville" as boring and dull; there are some people that don't agree with me. So let them play "Farmville" (or any other similar game) and let us play the traditional games as we want. I don't think this so called "casual" players more worthy than others or vise versa. They are just part of the market (like any other) share in gaming.


Citation Needed
Nov 28, 2007
JonnWood said:
I don't begrudge the industry making money,
Yes you do! You've made remarks to the contrary in this very post! "Greater money coming from a bigger herd of even more easily exploited sheep", I believe were the words you used.

it is a business, but there is a point at which I think someone can go too far with it, and nobody should expect a neglected audience to be happy about it. Especially when that audience *IS* profitable, and has also been carrying the industry for a very long time.
I see no reason why you shouldn't be glad to shift the weight over to another's shoulders.

There are reasons why I usually wind up targeting the games industry as a whole (and sometimes single out paticular companies) rather than attacking casual gamers very often, other than to mention them as a target group. With the issues at stake however, it's not easy to be flattering, given the entire reason why casual gamers are being courted and why the nature of that market makes it so deliciously profitable.
In other words, you're begrudging businesses making money. Hardcore gamers have no right to be exclusively catered to, which seems to me to be the attitude you have employed throughout your post, even if you're unaware of it.

This is the gist of our disagreement (much was snipped)

Simply put, I do not deny them making money, it's all about when they get big enough where they start stabbing their established customers in the back and running off to chase the largest amount of growth possible. Bands, writers, developers, and everything else will argue when they sell out that they "don't owe their fans anything" I tend to disagree with that statement, and that's the gist of what a lot of this comes down to, and it's not an arguement that is going to be resolved.

You'd be right if serious gamers weren't a profitable market to begin with, and people weren't making fortunes off of catering to them. That's not the case though, and it's come down to a situation where the industry has simply gotten greedy, and being rich and successful isn't enough anymore compare to how much more rich and successful it could be by deciding to cater to a casual audience.

Catering to serious and casual gamers is an exclusive prospect for matters of complexity. A serious game wants a deep and complicated game that takes a lot of time, effort,and investment in in order to complete. A casual gamer wants a simplistic, shallow, and immediatly gratifying experience that doesn't take a lot of time or committment, by and large a game simple enough for a casual gamer is not going to be deep enough for a serious gamer.

It would be easier to be more tolerant of casual gamers if both sorts of gamers were being catered too on their own merits. That's hardly the case, as pretty much every game, no matter how seriously presented, is being designed to be approachable to a casual audience, when really seperate game development would involve the casuals not being a consideration other than for casual games, with both serious and casual games having enough of a market prescence for their respective audiences. Right now I think the animosity is largely because there aren't enough games really intended for a serious audience for that crowd to be content.


New member
Aug 6, 2009
Perhaps the issue here is that there might more than two groups under discussion. I think that lack of openness to the unfamiliar in the traditional gaming community at large is indeed an issue - but I'm not sure that's a problem with what we would refer to as the "hardcore gamers" - the connossieurs, the ones who have a long history with the medium, the gamers to whom the Escapist is targeted. Sterling uses "hardcore" to refer to the former, but I'm not sure that's right; would the average gamer who plays a good amount of console stuff but sticks mostly to AAA titles like Halo or Madden know or seek out the art games like Minecraft or Psychonauts - or, heck, anything classic from before the last console generation or two? I don't think so, really. It's the difference between multiplex moviegoers who attend primarily big-budget summer films and film buffs who know their way around Antonioni, Peckinpah, etc.

I'd perhaps encourage a breakdown like so:

1) The casual gamers, as described in Sterling's article. They're not what you would call "learned" gamers - they'll try anything that looks keen to them, regardless of whether or not it's traditionally "good." This is a double-edged sword - it does encourage material to come down the pipe that would never see the light of day before, as Sterling notes, but there's less of an emphasis on traditional quality.

2) The masses of the traditional gaming community. They're heavily invested in games but stick to the big franchises - Call of Duty, Halo, etc. They want flash, but they want it in a familiar form. They will try piracy but perhaps won't be as high-volume, again because of tastes.

3) The real hardcore community. They probably do know about Okami, Rez, etc., even though the percentage that'll turn out to buy these titles aren't numerous enough to support them. They are actually open to new and different experiences. Unfortunately, their taste for the new and different might encourage high-volume piracy - their eyes are bigger than their wallets, and this group is actually knowledgable enough about games to play the piracy game effectively.

Group 1 encourages newness, but not necessarily quality. They have the dollars to back up their tastes, though, which is important. Group 2 is kind of "ehh" on both newness and quality - there has to be a certain degree of novelty and quality for a title to survive, but they don't want a game going out of their comfort zone in pursuit of that. Some of Group 2 might pirate, but if it's too much of a tech hassle, they're not gonna, and there're so many of them that the percentage that pays is enough to pay the group's way. Group 3 will support newness and quality, but they're a small bunch, and piracy is strong, so their voice is diminishing. The rise of the iPhone, which caters to group 1 by throwing everything into the pool by which isn't a platform conducive to complex, involved titles (simple "one great idea" games like Angry Birds, yes, but not stuff that demands extended attention to learn to play) only amplifies group 3's worries about a diminishing emphasis on quality.

Sterling does make a good point about piracy that's overlooked - casual gamers are better catered-to by the market because they're more likely to pay for their games. It is indeed verboten to say that piracy hurts the industry, but the free rider problem knows no industrial bounds.

David Demers

New member
Jan 24, 2011
Indie games and games aimed at casual gamers are better than me.
but all games are.
And I enjoy indie games.
A TRUE gamer doesn't differentiate from genre's or title's. I just shy from Super Mario because they've been making it since the 1980's.


New member
Nov 8, 2009
incal11 said:
Duskflamer said:
And the exact same reason is why they don't like to see an established franchise innovate. Oh sure, they cry and clatter for innovation, but at the same time they want to get what they expect when they pick up, say, Final Fantasy or Mario, and while they insist on innovation in general, they don't want to see the series they love potentially becoming "low quality" as a result of it.
Nothing wrong with perfecting gameplay mechanics, but the sensible issue here is that dumbing down is not innovation, even if it's advertised as such. You can dismiss an elitists opinion on the ground that it is only arrogance, but when someone has played so many games of a certain genre that person's opinion does have some weight.
A game that can please an elitist as much as a newcomer, that's perfection. What's wrong with that ?
There's nothing inherently wrong with perfection, but there's a problem with expecting perfection: if perfection was so easy to bring across, the word would have no meaning. This is the real world, and choices have to be made sometimes, and often times the choice goes in the direction of what will make the company more money.

Also, it's folly to simply assume that an established series innovating means that it's being dumbed down, that kind of statement is exactly what I mean when I said that hardcores get instinctively defensive over changes in their games.


New member
Oct 24, 2008
Duskflamer said:
There's nothing inherently wrong with perfection, but there's a problem with expecting perfection: if perfection was so easy to bring across, the word would have no meaning. This is the real world, and choices have to be made sometimes, and often times the choice goes in the direction of what will make the company more money.
I didn't mean perfection that literally, but a deep game that can be picked up by veterans and beginners alike is not so impossible. I don't forget there are contingencies, however not all of those choices are smart.
Some time ago, before most of todays gamers were born the same kind of choices were made. Then the game industry crashed almost completely, it had drowned in low quality crap because of those choices.

Also, it's folly to simply assume that an established series innovating means that it's being dumbed down, that kind of statement is exactly what I mean when I said that hardcores get instinctively defensive over changes in their games.
I don't dismiss all changes automatically but I have seen little actual innovation and lots of dumbing down lately. Playing older games I noticed some "innovations" have a funny tendancy of coming and going. Maybe you haven't played the serie but when Thief 3 took away the player's ability to swim was it an innovation ? With changes like that it's easy to become overprotective.


New member
Sep 8, 2009
xavhorse said:
xscoot said:
I was going to point out all the wrong things in this article, but as soon as I was done reading it I found that it was written by Jim Sterling.

Jim Sterling is to videogame journalism as Robert Kotick is to videogames. I don't really think I need to say anything else, especially since all the other people here are tearing the article apart for me.
So... what you're saying is that Jim Sterling is one of the most influential forces in gaming journalism? You're comparing him to the CEO, President and Director of Blizzard Activision, who make some of the most popular games in the industry?
I mean that everyone hates him. A lot.

He's more closely related to Michael Pachter, to be honest.

Also, "an interesting, thought provoking article"? It could have been, but poor arguments and a lack of a proper definition of what makes something casual vs. hardcore really brought the whole piece down. The concept is there, but he doesn't really bring anything forward.


New member
Mar 18, 2010
I argue that there are a majority of casual gamers that are into core games, like alot of COD players only play COD (poor guys dont know any better)

So is it casual gaming if you play the same "core" game over and over, and not for very long each time?

I think pigeonholeing people into stereotypes is dangerous because the definitions used to describe gamers are innadequate

A casual gamer, in my mind, is someone who doesn't play very often, or takes only a small interest in gaming altogether. So in many respects this article raises some interesting points. Those who have little experience with games are more open to different experience but doesn't that dissapear once that person decides what type of games they like? Doesnt the Farmville player develop a bias toward other "Ville" games because they enjoyed the others? Isn't it then the same thing as core gamers buying sequels?

Even casualy gamers have brand awareness after awhile.

My grandma played wii bowling once and that doesnt make her a casual gamer, that's just trying something out, the bias we develop toward our favourite games evolves from being involved in the hobby.

I say if you spend 12 hours on Farmville you are still a core gamer, just on a different platform.

Yes flash and Facebook are gaming platforms, so are web browsers. I tried Kingdoms of Camelot on Facebook, analysing the design mostly, and people take it pretty seriously.

Also is handing out money for virtual items deemed as hardcore as spending full price on the latest xbox game? You're still spending money on things other people would consider worthless.

I would say the bias is equal on both sides, as many farmville players wouldn't try "space marine cockblaster 5:now with more gorey action goregore" as it's not marketed toward them

In conclusion I propose that the "casual gamers" are not better than the "core" gamers as they are one in the same thing, just different demographics of the same industry, and whether you are "core" or not depends rather on how interested you are in gaming as an activity, than which genre you choose to play.


New member
May 22, 2010
Jim Sterling said:
I am aware that I said you're inferior for not spending $60 to try new games, while also implying you're inferior for spending $60 on any games. I do not mean to state that you're inherently stupid for spending $60 on videogames, just that the Farmville players might be onto something, and it's perhaps a method of play that we should be trying to embrace and investigate, rather than automatically look down upon.
I'm going to go out and say it: paying $60 for a game is inherently stupid. I rarely paid full price back when a AAA console game ran $40 on launch day. Now that the going rate is $60, the developers get practically no money from me at all. I buy almost exclusively used, with some padding from steam sales and the occasional game that has been marked down to $20 or less. This is more rare than it was last gen, because in addition to the overall price hike, publishers no longer drop the prices on the majority of their games. I'm pretty sure I could walk into Wal-Mart right now and buy Modern Warfare 2 for the full $60, and it's sadly closer to the rule than the exception. Video games are not worth what companies charge for them, and it's their own greedy fault that so many people are pirating and buying used.

Edit: My post count is now 1717. That's kind of a cool number...


New member
Mar 15, 2011
I really can't help but agree with this article. Everytime I see a new game for the Wii, Kinect, or PS Move, I can't help but think hoew stupid a concept it is. The worst for me was when the Wii was launched. I couldn't (and still can't) understand the point of using a motion controller. Who wants to come home from school or work, sit down on their couch to play a video game and unwind, only to have to get up and wildly swing their arms around. Unfortunately, I admit that. when it comes to video games, i'm really resistant to change.


Imaginary Friend
Apr 19, 2010
Acrisius said:
How is Farmville "experimenting"?
Okay, you and your friend seem fixated on this idea that Farmville is the only casual game out there, or that anyone believes it to be the best example. But y'know what? I'll bite:

1. You don't enjoy it, but many, many others do. "Don't like" doesn't equal "is bad," except in the minds of people who believe that things they like are good, and by extension things they don't like are bad. That kind of person is resistant to anything new and different.

2. Farmville is breaking a lot of ground with a new audience. They're using a still largely-untested pricing structure (free games with pay premium are still pretty new), and tying it very tightly with the biggest social network available right now. And they've been more successful than others in that venture, which is why it's the only example everyone picks at. The folks behind Farmville are gaining players (and money) that other game companies have never touched. Not all experimentation has to do with gameplay.

3. The clear point the author was making with the "smartness" of the Farmville player is in the financial sense. Rather than shelling out $60 up front, hoping for a good game, these players are choosing experiences that are free to start, and then only paying for what interests them, and only if it interests them. They are encouraging a pricing model that gives them, the player, far more control over the cost of the experience... whereas a lot of us happily roll over and shell out $60 because that's just the norm.

Just like the person you are quoting, I could probably argue against most of the arguments the author brings forth. But I guess I'm overreacting too, right?
A bit, yeah. Just because someone's point isn't perfect doesn't mean they don't have a point. Throwing the baby out with the bathwater is the definition of overreaction.

The point he's making is that, to the next generation of game-makers, casuals are the better bet. Not the "safer" bet, either. The better one. Why try new things with people too strongly attached to their opinions to consider alternatives, when you've got a fresh audience with fewer preconceived notions that's willing to give nearly anything a shot?

And the casuals? They're having fun for a lot less money than I am. There's at least something to that. If I'm writing them off so quickly, it's probably just because I:

1. Resent the fact that I have to spend more than them to feel I'm having fun.
2. Resent the fact that my gaming "skills" don't promote me to some upper class of citizenry.


Echappe, retire, sous sus PANIC!
Apr 24, 2008
Nicolaus99 said:
Better? Absurdity. When you have 20+ years of video gaming under your belt, tripe like Farmville fails to impress on every level. Casual gamers don't have all those years of experience, so all that easily accessed crap looks pretty good while the core games all seem overly complicated.

Like that now common wisdom; put a ps3/360 controller in your parents hands and turn on any fps game. They will display an all consuming level of failure so inconceivable you might think they're auto walking into every wall and corner on purpose.
That's not very fair though. I mean, we've possibly *grown up* with controllers in our hands, so we have, if you will, an inbuilt familiarity and skill level with them. To your mum or dad or nana or whoever, they're a totally foreign concept, not to mention the fact that FPSs give even some 'hardcore' gamers headaches and dizziness. Then there's the whole moving your avatar and the camera at the same time thing. It's pretty intense for a total beginner. Gaming is a hobby like any other, and if your grandad were to put you in front of a lathe and ask you to make a table leg (I don't know, you might be a master carpenter as well, but you get the point), you or I would probably be just as much of a 'fail'.

The key is not looking down on casual gamers, but introducing them to games of greater depth and letting them learn to play them on their own, rather than berating them for their apparent incompetence. We were all beginners once. We perhaps even had the advantage of beginning when our fine motor skills were still developing - so we can 'become one' with the controller with no effort, where others are left to wrestle with an oddly shaped bit of molded plastic to move another person (*and* their camera) around a 2D/3D world.

I think it's entirely justified to say that casual gamers are more open to new/random experiences; someone further up in this thread made the comment that that just means they'll keep buying the 'Farmville' experience rather than actually embrace anything new. I can't say what will happen; and I guess all of us, 'hardcore' and 'casual' gamer alike (much as I dislike those unnecessarily divisive and not terribly descriptive terms), will just have to wait and see what happens. We're standing on the edge of a new era of gaming here.


New member
Mar 3, 2011
Personally, I've never had anything wrong with casual gamers, or those type of games (I've played Dance Central on the Kinect, and it's definitely fun fun fun). But when it comes to the motion-control console, I get a little ticked. My problem is the fact that Kinect and Move were made at all. I mean, the Wii has been out for five-six years now, so anyone who was interested in motion controls, or a casual gaming experience, has already bought the system. As for the rest of the gaming community who either owned a Xbox or PS3, well...if some of them wanted to get in on that experience, they too have probably bought Wii already as well.

And for the ABSOLUTE rest of the community, the ones who don't own a Wii, they were probably never interested at all. I fall into that category, and I'm sure many "core" gamers do as well. So why put out the Kinect and the Move at all? Who is the audience here? Who really is going to buy the $300+ PS3 system just to get the $100+ Move? Who out there really was like "mannn, motion controls look cool, but I don't want the Wii...if only Xbox would do something like that!"? I mean really, these systems to me just seem like an obvious cash in on the Wii's success -- a late cash in at that, since, as said before, the Wii has been out for eons. There's no one left to buy up these systems. I mean, I'm sure some people bought it for the "innovation" or to show their "devotion" to a particular company, or what have you. And okay, great that the Kinect is showcasing some advanced technology, and great that the Move is basically the polished version of the Wii. But in all sincerity, I just can't wrap my head around WHY these machines were made in the first place.

A short story: My young cousin has an Xbox 360. His mother bought him a Kinect for Christmas. He played it on Christmas Day and maybe the day after. Now it collects dust atop his television as he plays good ol' fashioned Xbox 360. He wishes his mother had bought him Red Dead Redemption for Christmas instead. He was never really interested in what Kinect had to offer, because it's not much different from what the Wii has been offering this entire time. $150 down the drain. And even though I played Dance Central on his Kinect, and had a good time, I'm not motivated to buy a $200+ bundle pack just to get in on the fun. And somehow, I don't think there are many "casual" gamers left willing to drop that much cash either on a couple of gimmicky games. They probably already own a Wii.

EDIT: After skimming the forum, I realize that most of the arguments here have to do with the types of game, rather than the gaming systems themselves (i.e. Farmville vs. Kinect). But for me, when I think casual gaming, I automatically think about the consoles themselves, because for me, that's where the real divide happens. We've all played Solitaire and Bejeweled, and maybe even dabbled in Farmville. But we don't all play Wii Sports or WiiFit, or rush out and buy PS Moves.