Opinion: The Barrier of Entry

By Steve Gibson, Jun 30, 2007 5:00pm PDT As we all seem to be reluctantly accepting the world of console games around these parts some interesting numbers have come to light. In a recent press release The Diffusion Group notes that although 80% of homes that have a console with movie playback capability only 13% have ever seemed to actually use it and only 30% of owners even realize that they have that ability. It is a much lower usage rate than what one may have expected and certainly a much lower level of awareness than game console manufacturers would want.

The numbers make me wonder about what Microsoft and Sony are doing, as games and consoles continue to get more complex and raise the barriers of understanding and entry. I would be interested to see just how many people outside of core gamers actually realize a PlayStation 3 is a capable Blu-ray player--or even know what Blu-ray is. Certainly much of this problem could be resolved with marketing and packaging, but perhaps these numbers are indicative of a bit more?

Nintendo seemed to have recognize that trend when it comes to the games themselves as well. The level of complexity in control schemes in popular titles like Tony Hawk, for example, sure has gone up several degrees over the past few years. I'm sure many of you guys know people firsthand who are thankful to see simplistic controls to finally return to games with systems like the Wii and DS. The Wii represents the first time I saw my parents play a video game since Super Mario Bros. That angle might be on the right track.

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  • Barrier of entry isn't really something that concerns me personally, but I welcome games with more simplistic controls just as a change of pace from the types of games that I usually play. I go through so many games every year, and sometimes when I finish one I go through a bit of a lull before I can muster up the motivation to dive into another one. It's just this feeling that I spent so much time getting comfortable with a game and how it's supposed to be played, and now it's finally over. I just sometimes don't feel like jumping back into that learning process right away, so I'll turn to more simple games just as a change of pace between the more complex or sophisticated games that I play.