Forbes: Hardcore Gamers May No Longer Be Relevant

"Are hardcore gamers as relevant as they have historically been in the gaming industry?" asks Forbes columnist Chris Morris.

Morris, in turning his attention to the crowd of hardcore gamers, has clearly kept a keen eye on internet gaming discussion: "They obsess over games before they're released and then often savagely rip apart the very thing they were so eagerly anticipating. They argue passionately about the most minor of details, and they demand to be catered to by developers."

"At the risk of alienating all of the people who paid my mortgage all these years, they can't be," answers legendary game designer Warren Spector. "We are in a commercial art form, which means you have to focus on the mainstream if you are playing in that game space," added the Deus Ex director.

Moreover, gaming's biggest financial successes--Myst, The Sims, the Wii--haven't involved the hardcore at all. Morris argues that as far back as 2002, "publishers began to realize they didn't need hardcore buzz to have a monster hit."

In spite of the hardcore crowd's shortcomings, Morris concludes they're still relevant, just less so. In response to the boom of mass-market games like Wii Sports and Rock Band, the hardcore are heading back underground--and independent developers like Braid creator Jonathan Blow are following them.

"The hardcore is completely safe," asserts Spector. "They are less relevant to major publishers, but they are more relevant to independent developers."