Future of PS3 & Xbox 360 is casual gaming – GTA IV & Wii show why

June 20, 2008

Future of PS3 & Xbox 360 is casual gaming - GTA IV & Wii show whyCasual gaming is on the rise. That’s a fact. You can see this not only by the success of the Nintendo Wii, which is built on casual gaming, but also the success of games such as Guitar Hero, Rock Band and Singstar. The question now is how much of a lurch towards casual will Sony and Microsoft take the PS3 and Xbox? And how much that will influence the games industry for the future?

Nintendo has done a fantastic job this generation, making the Wii and DS accessible and playable by all ages and demographics of people. We’ve already seen how both Sony and Microsoft are trying to grab a piece of the action by developing their own motion sensing controllers in an attempt to rival the Wii Remote. And this kind of move is only likely to increase in occurrence.

I read an interesting piece on GigaOM yesterday which postulated the theory that casual gaming is the future, and rather than the Wii being the cause, Grand Theft Auto IV is the real culprit. In essence its failure to sell in anywhere near the same levels as the last game, as well as its failure to increase sales of either the PS3 or Xbox 360 platforms in any real quantity could spell trouble.

Grand Theft Auto 4 has so far sold just over 9 million copies, but GTA: San Andreas, only released on the PS2, sold 21.5 million copies. Sure, there are a couple of factors to consider: the amount of Playstation 2 owners at the time of San Andreas’ release, and the fact that GTA 4 will continue to sell for the next few years to new PS3 and Xbox 360 owners.

However, the game has so far failed to really increase sales of either console, with the Wii managing to still beat both by a huge figure in both April and May.

The writer of the GigaOM article predicts that this will mean the big-budget games stop getting made, and that low-budget games will now be the driving force of the industry, with big returns from a much wider audience.

There’s no doubt that the industry is becoming more mainstream and casual by the day. While I believe there will still be a market for the more hardcore element, I firmly believe that for the sake of profits, console manufacturers and games developers will slowly but surely change their focus.

Casual is now king, whether you like it or not.

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18 Responses to “Future of PS3 & Xbox 360 is casual gaming – GTA IV & Wii show why”

  1. SW:

    Maybe there were never that many ‘gamers’ to begin with. Maybe it’s always been around the 30mil mark…

    Maybe its only ‘us’ that enjoy being wallet raped for the same games\sequals over and over and most of the PS2 userbase doesn’t see a need to upgrade because they have a healthy games/multimedia machine already. They look at GTA4 and think, whats the big deal, I’ve done that before. DMC4, wow, looks like DMC3, 2 & 1. Etc.

    Oh and Yes, I love my PS3.

    But this generation totally looks like a rehash of the last , only with a facelift.

  2. Bourne:

    Is it that casual gaming is on the rise? or is it the fact that its been drawn to the publics attention more with the invention of the wii and other consoles etc. Please correct me or tell me if im uninformed, but i cant think of another machine like the wii which gave players the casual gaming experience of the wii. Ps1,ps2 were relatively hardcore with exceptions such as eye toy, as for xbox, i have no idea.

  3. darkwhitehair:

    well there used to be some casual games… but they were either flops or just not fun.. I saw the eye toy.. saw the games.. and said no thanks…

    But wii fit and wii sports and the all those weird wii games… they take little skill.. .they are fun… and they are cheap.. why wouldnt people buy it??

  4. cirej2000:

    Someone used an interesting analogy on the IGN Wii GB yesterday. It sort of compared how the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) back in, what, 86(?) disrupted the then PC dominated games market by putting out a little underpowered system with simple, fun easy to play games. This brought back the console market that had died in the early 80s and it took on the much more powerful PCs and their war, RTS, RPG and flight simulation games.

    Duck hunt, mario, etc. were what got folks to play. But by the end of the NES’s life-cycle, there were games like Zelda, Metroid, Ninja Gaiden and Metal Gear on the system.

    Right now, we see games like Deadly Creatures, Fatal Frame IV, Tenchu IV, Fragile, Monster Hunter 3, Mad World and The Conduit being developed exclusively (console-wise) for the Wii.

    It should be interesting to see how this pans out. Casual games don’t have to suck as Wii Sports has proven. But the crap shovelware like anything that Ubisoft releases with a “z” at the end, is a nightmare. But in some ways, the big-budget, high-tech, crap fests are the biggest risk to the industry.

    If folks blow $100 million on a big-budget flop that’s full of tech and no soul or gameplay and generates another Lair or Haze, then THAT, in my opinion, is the biggest threat to core gaming. Not the casual or easy entry games.

    Hardcore gamers are those who like to play games REGARDLESS of the difficulty level. They like good fun games that might be easy, but they’re not afraid to take on a learning curve to get into a well designed, more complex game. But just about every gamer started out with something easy and fun.

  5. Ivan_PSP:

    If you want any type of hot gae fun games or any real perfect exclusive you will buy the PLAYSTATION 3 it has the best games from kids to adults.

  6. SW:

    I guess you’ve jsut gotta hope the worst case scenario is kind like Hollywood & super hero movies.

    A whole butt load of crap, but every once in a while a gem comes along.

  7. bob:

    Can I point out that GTA: San Andreas was released only initially on the PS2, but then on the Xbox. It has also been out for a few years and the 21.5 million units sold is its lifetime sales record. I never bought it until it appeared on the greatest hits. There are probably quite a few gamers who don’t want to pay 60 bucks for the game and are waiting for the eventual $20 greatest hits release. By the way, I have GTAIV for PS3 and love it. $500 million in sales after a month and a half is better then 99% of games in their entire life, even after the $100 million development costs. Going by the same general formula as movies (must sell twice as much as it cost to make in order to make a profit), GTAIV has made $300 in profit. Not bad. I should also add that San Andreas didn’t sell as many as Vice City did, but no one said these kind of games were dead after San Andreas didn’t post the same numbers.

  8. Matt:

    you said it cirej2000

  9. burlim!:

    casual games are just virtual toys for kids and people who have too much free time. the wii should be called a digital toy or something, not a gaming console. only ps3 and xbox360 are gaming consoles.

  10. johnson:

    Times were different back then, the economy stinks right now and there is way more competition today. hence the reason gta4 didn`t beat the mark, and remember- games cost with tax about $64.00! All three systems are very good at what they do, so today it`s just a little harder to decide on what we want, and people with all three systems i imagine it`s much harder! lol

  11. Don:

    I think everyone has it wrong. Casual gaming works because people don’t have the time to invest in 100 hours of gameplay. Most families have two working parents and the consoles are all hooked to the central TV. If I can get on and play during the break between work and prime time I am happy. I don’t have the time to get involved in a game with long save points or coordinating a 8 man online match. I have a family to raise. Yes there are still kids with nothing to do. For the most part people with disposable income don’t have disposable time.

  12. CAD:

    Well if Sony and Microsoft is where the hardcore gamers are then combined are we not bigger then the casual market?

  13. Arvis:

    CAD,

    I’d really REALLY like to believe we are. I still believe the Wii will go the way of the Tamagotchi and the Beanie Baby. This “casual market” is very fickle, and I don’t think it is something a business model should be built around.

    But what the hell do I know?

    -Arvis

  14. Dan:

    Im sorry but this article is a load of rubbish. Not everyone wants the same thing, i owned a wii then sold it after a week. I think it’s a waste of money, a fad that will go away as quick as it came. Also there are a lot of wii’s in homes now but only nintendo can sell any games in big numbers, 3rd party developers are not having such a fun time. And those developers are the lifeline for any console, 1st party games or not. With games like MGS4 out now the wii looks so cheap its unreal. I own a 60gb ps3 and a premium 360 and im more than happy, no need for me to stand infront of a tv waving my arms around to a load of blocky, childish cartoon crap.

  15. Spideydog:

    agreed Arvis.

  16. Me:

    I wouldn’t mind getting Smash Bros. Brawl though….

  17. Arvis:

    Me,

    Brawl is quite good, but it is basically Melee with a story mode.

    Mario Kart Wii, on the other hand, is an actual upgrade. But again, it’s nothing we couldn’t have seen on the GameCube (minus the online).

    -Arvis

  18. kev:

    good gawd… i had no idea noobs were posing as gamers here. the fact is; the industry is SUSTAINED on casual gamers. Hence why console sell the most at $200 or less. Also why “casual games” like Madden and Tetris are huge sellers.

    i haven’t seen so many “hardcore” gamers on one site with so little industry knowledge. amazing..

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