How long before "casual" portals broaden scope?

Discussion in 'Development & Distribution' started by tentons, Apr 14, 2005.

  1. tentons

    Indie Author

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2004
    Messages:
    664
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hopefully this isn't inappropriate for the "casual" forum, but I'm wondering if anyone sees portals broadening scope to include more hardcore genres? It seems inevitable to me, as they seek to increase revenue and reach more gamers. Is there any talk at the portals about this kind of evolution?
     
  2. Lerc

    Indie Author

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2004
    Messages:
    130
    Likes Received:
    0
    The path that seems obvious to me would be for the existing portals to create additional ventures in new areas. Let the customers who like the current portals keep using them. Different gamers will probably want to be served in different manners. Much better to specialise than the existing portals try and be everything to everyone.
     
  3. Fost

    Indie Author

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2004
    Messages:
    524
    Likes Received:
    0
    Portals seem to be slowly testing the water already (Reflexive's Wik - although they always had slightly more interesting and less casual games, and PopCap's Heavy Weapon I think are examples of this trend), although I have heard from 3 separate sources (third hand information this, so take it with a pinch of salt) that the results aren't good, and thinking is that the time is definitely not yet right.

    PopCap and Reflexive seem ideally situated to try this, due to their great in house teams and great external developer relationships. Other portals will just have to take what they can get - all it would take is one not so casual game to be a portal success for them to be crying out for this type of content though.

    I can see why there aren't so many non-casual games on portals though. Games work best on portals when they have incredibly polished User Interfaces, are made easy to get into, and have had lots of time spent perfecting every aspect of the gameplay. Conversely, with our first game Starscape, which is not very casual at all, most of the development time was spent on the more complicated gameplay ideas, at the expense of accessibility (even with a tutorial, it's not a game just anybody can get into), and user interface (It has lots of visual 'holes' and whilst not the worst UI I've ever seen, it looks like a dog next to anything Reflexive have released. It also has some major UI problems because we didn't design it round a mouse (we had just come of console development, and this was a major oversight on our part), ship building should have been a drag and drop affair for instance. To do it right would probably have added 2-3 months to the project at a minimum. Whilst that's something we plan to work on in updates, I doubt most people can afford a year or more per project.

    Time is our most precious asset as developers after all.
     
  4. svero

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2004
    Messages:
    3,392
    Likes Received:
    6
    They've been pretty good at trying different things, but I think unless they make a concerted effort to target a new audience it isn't really going to happen. I'd say if real really wanted to have a more hardcore audience to sell to alongside their more casual audience they'd have to..

    1) Commision a number of hardcore games
    2) Create a marketing campaign designed to bring in new customers for those games AND to teach those people who normally buy harder core stuff at retail that there are good games of the style they enjoy available online. Specifically target their ads at sites like half life servers, gamespot, game mags etc... sites that the more hardcore crowd is likely to read.
    3) Ensure that regular good hardcore content reaches those customers they gain a foothold on to get them coming back for more.

    So basically.. they have to create the market by spending a bunch of money.
     
  5. ManuelFLara

    Indie Author

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2004
    Messages:
    470
    Likes Received:
    0
    I don't know if a portal as we know them, targetting the hardcore audience, would be a good idea business-wise. I mean, why do casual portals work now? Because the casual gamers want just to be entertained some time. They browse some games and when they see one that can be of their like, they download the demo and eventually if they like it enough, they buy it.
    I think the hardcore gamer behaves in a very different way. He usually looks for specific games. I mean they know the title of the game they're looking for. So why bother browsing a portal when they can just google it and go directly to the developer site (or a fansite, maybe).
    Let's supose Joe is a hardcore gamer and he doesn't know what game to buy, but he wants to buy something. He goes to www.HardcorePortal.com and sees one he likes. Downloads the demo and it's amazing, just what he's been looking for. Usually hardcore gamers have also some skill using the computer/Internet so maybe before buying it he would search info about the community around the game, incoming updates that will add new features so he will google or join an IRC channel or something, that would eventually lead him to the developer site.

    Just my 2 cents.
     
  6. svero

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2004
    Messages:
    3,392
    Likes Received:
    6
    Well time and time again we get these posts saying "oh no! online games by indies are doomed!" because someone just discovered that trygames or some other site is selling a retail title online. That's always been laughable because those games aren't really good online games. They're usually too big, and they don't provide a nice get in and out playstyle that I think would apply just as well to hardcore games as it would more casual titles. Often I have a hardcore game on my system and I don't play it because I just can't be bothered to wait infinity seconds for the levels to load etc.. They put me off. But on the other hand I still really like blasting stuff.

    My point is this.. I agree that harder core gamers dont look for stuff online, but IMHO that's because there's so little for them to try online. It's not because they're only interested in specific games. If I like games that are hardcore shooters and im very very VERY lucky I might go to a portal and happen across crimsonland or mutant storm. Most of the time though I'll find 50 card games, 100 match 3 games, 30 mahjongg games and say.. forget this.. and move on to my local shop to see if half life 3 is out yet.

    That's why my first post in this thread says that game would have to be commissioned and advertising would have to be used to teach players that regular content was available. The market isn't there now. I think it has to be created, and I believe it could be by someone with sufficient clout. There's a small market you can sort of hit, but as anyone here who's made a hardcore shooter or arcade game knows.. it's not that easy to reach people the market being structured the way it is at the moment.
     
  7. Dan Prigg

    Original Member

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2005
    Messages:
    27
    Likes Received:
    0
    its really a different audience than hardcore. I remember when RealArcade first launched we had a deal with Valve for Team Fortress. Of course me and the other testosterone based humans loved playing it. Unfortunately the audience disagreed.

    I dont think we will ever really compete with hardcore again, unless its secondary business. I think we will see really great content coming up, but it wont be defined as hardcore. Maybe hard casual...
     
  8. Robert Cummings

    Original Member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2005
    Messages:
    1,155
    Likes Received:
    0
    Interesting...

    Believe it or not I'm actually a casual gamer myself at heart. I think I know what I want from a game as I have work, and a baby - it's hard finding time to unwind.

    What I need from a game is the excitment I'd get from something like HL2, combined with the mindless chillout session that is pick up and play casual gaming.

    I think I'd want to see frankly stunning graphics with some really toy ish play time. I think there's room for something that both excites and yet doesn't demand...
     
  9. Reactor

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2004
    Messages:
    1,637
    Likes Received:
    0
    We're aiming our current title at the hardcore crowd, more so than the casual gamer. As much as many hardcore gamers would like to think they don't, they tend to gravitate towards games that are supported by huge advertising budgets, and are well known to be popular (but not *too* popular). Anyhow, we've been contacted by a number of portals, so... it looks like they have no problem looking into titles that aren't specifically designed for casual gamers. That, or they've confused our title with something that it's not.

    Robert, you're in luck. That sounds just like what we have on offer ;)
     
  10. Brian Poel

    Original Member

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2004
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    I believe this is fundamentally a question of growing the audience, scope of opportunity... and time.

    The current large portals have developed an audience that is looking for a particular type of game. And they're actually buying games. So portals follow the money trail.

    As Svero pointed out, a 'hard core gamer' browsing the current portals will have a hard time finding what they're looking for amidst all the match-3s and mah jong games. So they're not spending money there.

    NEW portals with a focus on attracting a more 'hard core' audience will eventually provide this audience with what they're looking for. That is -- if/when that audience is large enough and spending money on digitally delivered games.

    Where are these 'hard core' portals? I believe its only a matter of time.

    One thing we're doing at Oberon Media is opening new Game Centers on a wide variety of portals. The visitors to MSN Games are 'traditional' casual game consumers. But each of the other dozens of portals we manage have their own purchasing tastes. ICQ Games is different from Spike TV is different from PDBox in Korea. (International definitely throws more variables into the mix.)

    'Cause we have so many different audiences, I'm always excited to put a game out to our audience and see what they bite at. Not all games will have the same scope of success as the new hot match-3 game, but they're still worth taking a chance on.

    .brian poel
    producer
    oberon media
     

Share This Page

  • About Indie Gamer

    When the original Dexterity Forums closed in 2004, Indie Gamer was born and a diverse community has grown out of a passion for creating great games. Here you will find over 10 years of in-depth discussion on game design, the business of game development, and marketing/sales. Indie Gamer also provides a friendly place to meet up with other Developers, Artists, Composers and Writers.
  • Buy us a beer!

    Indie Gamer is delicately held together by a single poor bastard who thankfully gets help from various community volunteers. If you frequent this site or have found value in something you've learned here, help keep the site running by donating a few dollars (for beer of course)!

    Sure, I'll Buy You a Beer