All Growed Up

1up.com has a funny comparison of the Dreamcast and the upcoming Xbox 360. If you're not aware of what either are, then don't bother. However, if you are aware that the Dreamcast was SEGA's final console which, while decent, failed to make them money and was scrapped so that they could avoid bankruptcy and continue on as a software company, and that the Xbox 360 is Microsoft's upcoming console which is arriving under both a lot of hype and skepticism, the enjoy the read.

In any case, I read a comment which said a few things of interest. It basically noted that these days gamers seem a little more imperviously to hype, and that they're more aware of what is actually decent and what is fluff. I responded as to why preconceptions such as "kiddie" (which Nintendo's Gamecube got stuck with) and "bulky" (the original Xbox) are no longer important.

If you are lazy, here's the summary. The people who actively play games, "gamers", have already made up their minds on which console they will get and the amount of change in who will buy what per dollar spent on marketing is so small that Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo will only market to them enough so that there is no perception that any mistake has been made on their part. The focus of all three is on the casual player, because that's where expansion, and a lot of cash, lie.

Now for my comments in full.

"Quite simply, the kids who thought they were too good for a kiddy console have now at last reached a level of maturity where having Pikachu in something does not automatically sell it. They now hate and despise the rat, and the only consoles where you can beat the crap out of the bugger and his pals are Nintendo's.

Basically, as it stands the well informed crowd, "gamers", are pretty aware that the hype surrounding all the players may not be what it cracks up to be. We know that Microsoft will pour money upon the Xbox 360 win, lose, or draw. We know Nintendo will make some incredible games for its controller even if everyone else either botches their attempts or doesn't bother, and we know Sony will ride on the popularity of the PS2. Everything else is hype, speculation, or insanity.

However, it is the casual crowd, the people who watch MTV, the people who still play nothing but Tetris, the people playing the Sims, the people who play the cheesy games on their cells phones and generally the people who are scared of using anything beyond Internet Explorer, Word, and Outlook Express on their PC that are the target of the three companies.

Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft all know that the casual game player doesn't read Slashdot, doesn't hear the word of mouth, and doesn't have any preconceptions about one system over another. Each is targeting these untapped fountain of cash with their crosshairs. Sony plans on using their tech hype and previous popularity, Microsoft is using a jump start on the competition and MTV (casual players are not going to buy more than one system), Nintendo is simply targeting everyone under the sun with a controller people will look at and not be as afraid of as the calculator on Windows.

All the speculation we have here is from a crowd who, for the most part, know what's going on. Biases included, we know more than Joe Somebody on the street when it comes to this. We've already decided which system we'll be getting, and nothing save from a miracle or a tragic mistake is going to change our minds. As such, the big three are only focusing on avoiding blundering with people like us, and and working to get the casual people into the game.

We laugh at the Halo 3 comparison, because we know all the sweeter, juicier FPSs there are. The casual crowd doesn't, they know Halo. Don't underestimate the casual players, they outnumber us, and they more than anyone else will be the determining factor in who comes out on top this coming generation, whether you measure success in marketshare, profit or both."

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