Welcome to VideoGamer.com's Monday Morning Rant, our regular feature where one of the team gets to vent their spleen on anything that annoys them about the wonderful world of gaming. No subject, no matter how taboo, will be free from our cutting comment and vicious vitriol. Got that Monday morning feeling? Read on, and brace yourself for a wake-up call.
Casual gamers are here to stay, that much is clear. So much so that the term 'casual gamers' should probably be renamed to something a little less demeaning. If there's one thing Nintendo should be commended for over the past few years, it's in introducing games to people who thought it to be a hobby for geeks and loners. Wii Sports is without doubt the most influential game of this generation, and it works because it doesn't assume so called casual gamers don't care about good gameplay.
With so many other publishers churning out what could easily be labelled as 'rubbish' the risk is surely that this very lucrative new audience for video games will grow bored very quickly. Nintendo has laid the foundations and others are more or less abusing this, seeing it as an opportunity to make easy money. Last week EA Casual president, Kathy Vrabeck stated that reviews for casual gamers are rarely read by casual gamers, so surely reviewing them at all is pointless? Well, to me that sounds like an excuse to make substandard games.
This area of our industry is so new that it's hard to predict what's going to happen, but I'm near certain that most of these new gamers aren't enjoying the majority of their purchases. Making good games is hard and just because you're making a casual game things don't suddenly become easier. If anything, things have to be more on the money when you're dealing with people who aren't used to the problems that most games ship with. Wii Sports is such a finely tuned slice of gaming that a shoddily put together mini-game collection that is barely able to please a toddler won't go down well.
It's quite telling that a year after Wii Sports made headlines, it's still the game on the Wii that I'd recommend above all others. No other causal game has come close to delivering the same ease of use without sacrificing gameplay. On the Nintendo DS things are similar. Nintendo's Brain Training series is unrivaled at appealing to the casual, more mature audience, with others simply choosing to exploit this audience rather than trying to innovate and expand its reach. It's no wonder that the majority of software sales on Nintendo platforms is for Nintendo games - it seems it's the only publisher who is taking things seriously.
So here's my Monday Morning Rant: The Wii and Nintendo DS have opened up the video game industry to a completely new audience, but that audience isn't full of mugs. While publishers might be able to get away with selling rubbish for a while longer, keep it up and we'll be back in the dark ages, with a highly lucrative market switching their attention to an industry that gives them some respect.