Big Fish Games destroys hardcore/casual classifications

We're one big boundary-blurring family

Big Fish Games destroys hardcore/casual classifications
Casual games firm Big Fish Games has made a splash at the Casual Connect Seattle 2008 conference, with a keynote address laying waste to traditional stereotypes of 'hardcore' and 'casual' gamers.

It unveiled research conducted with NPD Group in the US, asking 3,000 gamers about what they play, then assigning that to 14 kinds of gamers and 39 genres of games.

According to Big Fish founder Paul Thelen, the assumption that 'core' players use consoles and 'casual' gamers use downloadable or online PC games is flawed, at best.

Instead, the research showed that core gamers are as likely to play casual games, too. For example, 'Heavy Action' gamers who like shooting, racing and fighting games are also the most likely to play games in the 'Nancy Drew' segment (match-three puzzles, word games and hidden object titles).

Meanwhile, many players of casual genres like tycoon games, marble popper and brick buster titles actually rack up more gaming hours a week than the Heavy Action guys.

"These results imply that continuing to categorise a gamer as only a core or casual player is limiting in its ability to fully describe the gamer," Thelen said in his keynote, going on to highlight what this means for developers and publishers.

"Saying 'We are in the casual games business,' could mean up to a dozen things and without additional specificity it is not much more useful than simply saying, 'We are in the games business.'"

Does the casual games industry (including mobile) need more specific segmentation? Post your comments and let us know your thoughts.
Contributing Editor

Stuart is a freelance journalist and blogger who's been getting paid to write stuff since 1998. In that time, he's focused on topics ranging from Sega's Dreamcast console to robots. That's what you call versatility. (Or a short attention span.)