GameSetWatch recently posted an interview with the always interesting Trip Hawkins, founder of EA, 3DO, and Digital Chocolate. Here’s a good quote on the difference between the core gamer (who buys PC/console games) and the social gamer (who plays Web/Facebook games):
I think the hardcore gamer wants to pay for the game, and if they can, they like to pay for it once. And then they want the game to be really deep, really immersive. They want to play it for hours and hours, and they want to really master it.
And if they happen to be playing with other people, they want to beat them. They want to compete, and they need to win. I think for that hardcore gamer — and of course, I am one — for me that part of gaming has always been about wanting to prove that I’m competent. You know, I don’t want somebody to beat me because they spend more money on virtual items, right?
And also, I don’t want to feel like I’m stupid, so I don’t want to pay every month. I think I should be able to buy the game and just play it once, you know? Switch to this omni gamer, somebody that’s really not that competitive about it. They don’t have the time to spend a lot of time on a particular game. They don’t want to be overwhelmed about it.
They kind of like it to be free. They’re much more interested in the potential social connections they’re making with other people. And when they make those social connections, they don’t want to have somebody come in and crush them that’s viciously competitive.
They want to have it be a much more casual experience. And that is the audience that’s more likely to pay for the virtual items when they decide that the items give them style or allow them to be more competitive without having to make the time investment.
Of course, that’s something that really irritates the [World Of] Warcraft customer, and that’s why it’s such a battle for Blizzard, trying to figure out, “Well, what do we do about the fact that Warcraft is so successful. We’re attracting this more mainstream audience that doesn’t want to spend all the hours doing gold farming in the game. They want to just go buy some gold and get on with it.
One other characterisitic of the hardcore gamer is a tendency to come back to a favorite game over and over again. They want to be able to play a game until they are sick of it and then someday in the future, come back and play it again until they’re sick of it again.
And they want to be able to come back in the same way perhaps many times over.
In this way they develop cult like followings of games and sometimes designers.