Hardcasual

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You take games too seriously.

Chao’s Dead. Long Live Chao!

Did you respond to a single point I made? Your counter-points sound like cut/pastes from flame wars. You don’t like buttons because of the N-Gage? Try out an NES emulator on an iPhone. The lack of physical response undermines the platform.

Sure, the iPhone is not built for old school games. It is suited for games yet designed. But if you’re telling me bread and water indie companies can afford to try out complicated new mechanics—mechanics that feel responsive and finessed—you’re sorely mistaken. Wii games have found success on novelty, but more and more designers dread the time and money required to develop intuitive controls for an exclusive Wii release. Why waste that effort, when casual players will pay the same price for Gingerbread Warrior or any other release equivalent to a flash game? I think better companies might soon head for better pastures (i.e.: Suda 51), and leave smaller studios to publish the vomitware. If not for Nintendo’s own releases, the system would resemble the ill-fated Atari 2600.

Do not be surprised if this novelty issue happens with the iPhone.

As for criticizing the Skate 2 idea and Fable, I figured you would extrapolate the example yourself. Of course, Sam, all portable mini-games won’t be level grinders. There are many different ways to accomplish connectivity, and you named a great one: the VMU Chao from Sonic Adventures.

Like many Sega ideas, the VMU was far ahead of its time, and you can thank it for many iPhone and DS design choices. But let’s focus on the Chao. You ignore the popularity of products like Webkinz. A smart developer would put a Webkinz app on the iPhone that could connect and directly affect the Webkinz on the family iMac or PC. Kids would beg their parents to buy the app, funneling even more cash into the massive Webkinz industry. So I’ll agree the iPhones not so bad, and you’ll agree about the Chao.

Yet, to keep this short (after your long-winded hubbub), I feel you doubt the power of the game medium. It is odd that you seem to believe there’s an impassable gulf between regular gamers and casual gamers: people who will play on the sofa and those who’ll never step out from their safe Minesweeper corner.

I think you do the industry wrong, and have subconsciously propagated the myth that there are gamers and there are normal people. We both know that’s not true. Simply, I believe in the next five years platforms like the Wii and iPhone will spread gaming, but it will flourish on consoles. As I said, casual games are the seed for gaming habits, much like cartoons and newsreels were the seeds that helped launch the film industry from novelty to a respected medium and art form nearly a century ago.

I concede, the iPhone will find success; I assumed that the moment I learned of the SDK. But that wouldn’t make for a good argument, would it?

Yet, I’m not prepared to call the iPhone God’s gift to gamers. I think it will please iPhone owners, and might persuade those on the edge to finally make the switch. I do not believe, though, gamers will pick up the iPhone as a new portable console. While it will find success as a great phone with wonderful options, I do not see players putting away their Zunes or DSs or PSPhones. They especially won’t as the line between gamer and casual player diffuses; as gamers, as a whole, shift from a minority to a majority; and while three of the strongest names in game refuse to share their pie.

Image: NetRaptor

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Filed under: Commentary, Industry, Portable Media, , , , , ,

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this is a blog about video games by chris plante, sam ryan and chris littler.


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