MIT BiG Recap, Part One: Social vs. Hardcore

Last week TriplePoint attended the 3rd annual MIT Business in Gaming conference in Boston. This series will break down some of the biggest and best ideas into tasty, digestible morsels.

Are you a hardcore gamer or a casual player? With each passing year, more and more people fall into at least one of these categories. To some extent, the console wars still rage on as players debate graphical prowess and the price of getting online. However, the fanboyism of the last two decades has fallen to the wayside as gamers take up arms in an even larger battle, one that pits Volvo-driving soccer moms against Mountain Dew-swilling video game fanatics. There’s been a great deal of discussion surrounding social vs. hardcore gaming, and this panel put forth some lofty ideas.

Gaming's a BiG deal.

Gaming's a BiG deal.

  • Social gaming is dead …or at least the term “social” is becoming increasingly irrelevant. As social elements such as matchmaking, leaderboards and the automatic “I just trumped your score” pings from Geometry Wars 2 work their way into more hardcore games, their presence will be less notable. Features like the Autolog competition-between-friends system in Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit is destined for all upcoming Criterion releases. These are both clever ways to make that million-player leaderboard relevant to you and your gamer buddies. So even when you’re alone, you’re still playing (asynchronous) multiplayer.
  • Play with your buddies, not just their scores. Synchronous gaming is on the rise; this occurs any time players are all participating at once, rather than just watering one another’s crops whenever it’s convenient. Gazillion’s Nik Davidson went so far as to say that synchronous gaming is “fetishized” by the industry, and that a hybrid of the two makes the most sense. Letting players take their character on the go means the game is always in mind and close at hand. More engaged = more likely to spend.
  • Whatever you call it, it’s growing fast. Casual games that make money hand over fist, like Ravenwood Fair, are popping up like weeds. IGDA NY President Wade Tinney points out, “With each passing month comes a new MMO or casual title that changes all the rules.” This ongoing evolution is drastically outpacing all other entertainment markets.

The boys and girls of the NES Generation are now becoming parents, and the game industry’s growth will continue to accelerate. As more and more of the populous understands game mechanics and is willing to invest in gaming entertainment, this social/hardcore/whatever industry has quite a sunny future.


Speakers included:

  • Nik Davidson – Gazillion/The Amazing Society
  • Nabeel Hyatt – Zynga Boston
  • Daniel Witenberg – Lego Universe
  • Wade Tinney – Large Animal Games & President IGDA NY
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