If you believe everything you read on the internet you are probably well aware that the console is facing its doom and extinction, never to grace our dusty floors again. You also probably believe in the one true ceiling cat looming over us all, and that the world was destroyed last year after the Large Hadron Collider flicked its on switch. Where in all this jam packed maze of the interwebs lies the final nail in the console’s coffin? Casual games.
Market trends have been a fickle thing to keep track of, and the rise of casual games certainly has caused these figures to distort to unheard of proportions. The average age of the gamer has risen up to 35 years old. People aged over 50 is a larger market than that of those aged under 18. Shooters, Fighting Games and Adventure games all pale in comparison to games that fall into the category of family games. What type of game is it that is played online the most? Surely it is persistent universe games like World of Warcraft?
No? Then it must be the big bad boys from Call of Duty, Halo or Gears of War topping the tallies? Believe it or not, the top results lean towards Card Games, Trivia Games and Board Games. Does all this culminate in the extinction of consoles? It would take a brave man to answer “yes” to that question, and I am quite clearly a coward of epic proportions. The only thing that is coming to extinction is the age of the ‘console culture’, the age of gamers being alone in the basement playing in the dark.
Games have become more social, you only have to look at current releases to see this. Rock Band and Guitar Hero are encouraging you to gather all your friends round you and get to the rocking. Co-operative campaigns or settings in most of the big action releases. Almost every title released yet on the Wii. Games are urging you to play them with your friends and your family, even down the local, as bars and clubs get in on the gaming action and host competitive nights. Games are emerging from the dirty, dingy secret in your closet, to becoming the mainstream activity that even your grandparents are in on.
It is not just friends and families playing together advancing this social trend, it is complete strangers too. Being able to group up, form a guild, and have a chat with people from all across the world is a major selling point of MMOs to alot of the market. Co-operating or competing, from Crackdown to Left 4 Dead, from Gears of War to Call of Duty, from Grand Theft Auto to Saints Row, online play is a large selling point.
We are approaching our first generations of people born into gaming who are now becoming parents themselves. The boogeyman in the closet will cease to be games, as the whole family plays together anyway. As the console culture fades away, going to wherever dodos, dinosaurs and good Eddie Murphy movies went, I’ll wave goodbye and raise a toast, but more importantly I’ll welcome its succesor and get practicing my Shoryukens for the next time I see you online.