The Changing Demands of Gamers
Accelerated by the introduction of online play and the rise of esports, the gaming industry is a hugely lucrative, international market that engages individuals of all ages, backgrounds, and habits.
Today’s landscape is almost unrecognizable from generations past, when the pastime was traditionally associated with a younger audience. Images of youngsters sitting a couple of short feet from the screen and dingey arcade halls filled with pimply teenagers no longer properly reflect the sector.
In this article, we will explore how the changing demographics and demands of the industry have helped shape its path.
Gaming has been mobile for decades, with the Game and Watch by Nintendo laying the foundations, and the immortal Game Boy defining the format. Sega weighed in with the Game Gear, while Nintendo’s DS and the Sony PSP added to the selection available in the years that followed.
These trends addressed a growing demand from gamers to be able to play their favorite console games on the go. Nintendo’s latest console, the Switch, combined the best of both worlds, allowing players to enjoy the titles while on the train to work, but then also being able to hook the device up to a TV, and enjoy a more static experience from the sofa in the evening.
The mobile phone also evolved to capitalize on this shift in habits, with the modern smartphone offering a rich and diverse gaming experience. 3G, 4G and now 5G connectivity allow gamers to plug into players around the world, without the need for wi-fi, and this has helped transform the modern phone into a serious gaming device.
And while portable consoles typically offer platformers, beat-em-ups, racing games and RPGs, modern gaming phones provide access to other services, like online casinos. For the first time, real money games like blackjack, poker and roulette are available to players on the go.
A more mature audience
The demographic of the average gamer has changed markedly, particularly during the last 15 years, with modern titles, especially since the launch of the original PlayStation, aimed at an older audience.
The enhanced graphical capabilities meant the games and characters were less cartoony and far more lifelike, which allowed developers to experiment with more mature themes. Games like Metal Gear Solid, Gran Turismo and Resident Evil demonstrated this shift, with the latter later transformed into a series of films.
These changes resulted in the consoles themselves becoming much more than gaming devices. The original PlayStation was capable of playing audio CDs, while its successor, the PlayStation 2, doubled up as a DVD player. Gradually, the games console was becoming recognized as a part of home entertainment, rather than a kids toy.
Design was also influenced, and while Nintendo’s GameCube retained the look of a traditional games console, the PS2 and Xbox boasted sleek, black designs that looked more at home in an adult environment.
As you can see, the changing demographics and demands of gamers have had a major impact on the overall direction of the gaming industry. The maturing audience has pushed games consoles to become true home entertainment devices, while the demand for games on the go has forced traditional console manufacturers to rethink their products – and even helped to reinvent the phone.