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Analyst: Core Gamers Playing More, As Less Active Markets Migrate
Analyst: Core Gamers Playing More, As Less Active Markets Migrate
October 11, 2010 | By Leigh Alexander

October 11, 2010 | By Leigh Alexander

A stronger lineup of console titles this year means core gamers are spending more time playing than ever, says Lazard Capital Markets -- but new business models and a changing product mix mean the less active players are migrating away from the traditional space toward newer and less expensive gaming.

"The bad news for the console market is that the number of casual or infrequent gamers outnumber core gamers, resulting in a slight tilt toward less time spent overall playing console games," says Lazard in a report.

The group highlights several trends it believes its survey feedback supports: "Mainstream/casual gamers lost interest in Wii and music titles, and are now more inclined to play browser and mobile games," the analysts say. "Moreover, we believe these trends could continue to weigh on sell-through trends for second-tier console games."

There's still "strong interest" in core games like Call of Duty: Black Ops, Red Dead Redemption, Halo Reach and Gran Turismo, Lazard says. 25 percent of the consumers overall in its survey plan to purchase Black Ops, "a strong response, in our view."

The analysts found it surprising, giving the audience overlap, that even alongside this figure, 17 percent of the respondents plan to buy Medal of Honor. "Importantly, given the broader interest and timing with gift purchases, we expect Call of Duty will still sell at least [three times] the number of units as Medal of Honor, although game reviews remain a key variable in determining core gamer interest."

The analyst group was also surprised by the volume of response it saw to the new motion solutions, Kinect and Move, which it had expected to be tempered by those devices' price points at $149 and $99, respectively. "We believe that Sony’s Move is off to a good start at retail, with limited supplies, and our survey also bodes well for the launch of Kinect," says Lazard.

Specifically, the analysts predict Microsoft could sell 4 million Kinect units by year-end. Such a strong market reaction could cement another three to four years before a full hardware refresh in the current console cycle, they add.

Lazard's results are derived from 314 console owners (Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii), many of whom own more than one console. 73 percent of the respondents identified as being active console players who also displayed a high correlation to other types of gaming platforms.

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Scott Thomack
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The casual game market will always flux more than the core game market. That is why "they" are called the "casual gamers". What ever is hip, trendy, easy to learn, cheap to get, etc... will cause that market to shift. Mobile phone games are cheap and easy to play. Flash games can be played without installs and are cheaper than console games. Many flash games can be played at work. The Wii helped bring some casual gamers to consoles but the majority of the people that tried the Wii are going to move on.

Shawn Morrison
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"The casual game market will always flux more than the core game market. That is why "they" are called the "casual gamers". What ever is hip, trendy, easy to learn, cheap to get, etc... will cause that market to shift"

I was going to comment but you said word for word what I was thinking. These are the things that make them casual gamers. That being said there is nothing wrong with that or them it just is what it is. They don't have the time or desire to read blogs and magazines to find out about games so they play what they hear about from other casual gamers.

Kevin Patterson
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The wii was the "pong" of today. Thats not an insult, it's just that when Pong came out, everyone bought one due to the novelty of it. However, they quickly tired of it. I know many Wii owners, very very few play it continously, mostly breaking it out when the have company. I will always believe Nintendo will have great successes with their handhelds, but i wouldnt bet that their next console will approach the same level of success. If they can find another "hook" it might, but now that everyone is doing motion controls, its going to need something special again to set it apart. The underpowered hardware they keep releasing may prove to hurt them one day.

Chris Melby
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You're not that familiar with Nintendo, are you? ;)

Leon T
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Less active gamers are moving away because the industry treated them like crap as usual. I wonder how a quality game targeted at less active gamers would sell?

Tim Tavernier
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What this survey actually says is "casual gamers are more critical then self-proclaimed hardcore players". Really, look at the facts: Hardcore players allow companies to up prices for no reason, make them sell overly expensive consoles, let themselves be exploited trough DLC, Collector's editions and Ultimate Editions and other crap (like blocking second hand selling and buying). Well actually, this is not true. About a third to half of the last generation gamers have'n ignored this generation up till now and have just outright quit or moved on to these cheaper newer forms.

While the "casual" player is actually always looking and moving to the cheapest solution that also delivers the best fun. This just says that the traditional industry isn't delivering with Nintendo being the only one trying what it can (but also dropping the ball on occasions). And why would the "casual" player listen to gaming blogs or read gaming websites...they don't appeal to them (or even insult them) and are most of the time nothing more then extensions of the traditional gaming companies marketing departments, whose games the "casual" reject.

These "movements" and "migrations" are the actual threat to companies like Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo. Not some fanboy war-wanting of Apple vs. Handheld Nintendo or otherwise. If the iDevices don't answer the need, these people will move away from them as well. If Internet Flash-games don't answer the need, they'll move again or quit gaming again and wait for the next viable alternative.

I love the dynamics within the huge bulk of gamers that has been growing the last 5-6 years. They will become the defining force behind everything video games. Interesting Times are coming!

Pin Wang
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I wonder how the sample was selected. 314 seems like a pretty small sample size, or does it? Maybe someone familiar with statistics can let us know.

Mark Harris
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DSM III or IV pegged 300 as the minimum to claim a representative population for statistical significance. Not sure if that has changed in the last 8 years or so.