Attending to Casual and Hardcore Players

Whenever me, my fellow managers and even staff at Level Up Philippines discuss our current games portfolio, one of the issues that crop up is how to classify the games. A lot of talk and debate boils down to putting the dichotomy within 2 - casual and serious (hardcore).

When you look at it from the first “layer”, it seems innocuous. Casual are simple, “pick me up” games and are usually free. Serious games are games such as PW or RF. Again, that’s the “first layer”. Once we delve deeper into the analysis, the play of words become more tricky.

Now comes the hard part. So, we are agreed that RF Online is a serious game, right. Now, do you give a “blanket definition” and classify all players as “serious” MMO-types? But no… like I told you, it gets complicated. Now that RF is free, there is another layer of classification. Within the playing community, there are “casual” and “serious” players playing in a supposed “serious” game. The ‘oxymoronic’ nature is enough to make me want to pull my hair.

More on the dilemma after the jump.

Let’s get back to unraveling this “mystery”…

Alright, I guess the key is classifying the games as to their nature and not as to their communities right? One of my co-workers pointed out that we still have to have programs devoted to making both “types” of communities happy. Agree. But first, I asked the question: “How to you define who’s casual and who’s serious?”.

One said “It’s about time” and another said “It’s all about how much they spend”. Here, we order more coffee. The meeting is sure to last at least another hour.

Is it fair to brand someone as casual just because he or she plays only a few hours a day? Also, how about someone who spends thousands of pesos on say, Freestyle. Is that player automatically a serious player? Even though he just plays the same as a casual player – “a few hours a day”.

If you ask me, there really is no right measurement to classify or brand an individual. Players and gamers can’t be “boxed in”. “Casual” and “Serious” are ‘states of mind’. But if ever there’s a metric to classify who’s who, it’s gotta be TIME. Although it’s not an exact measurement, time, coupled with the individual’s real desire or “concept” will determine what group he or she belongs to.

I think everyone starts out as a casual player. It is peer and community pressure that converts one to start traveling upon the wicked road of being a ‘serious gamer’.

So, in the end, we decide that we just classify the game GENRE. After all, if a game is casual, I think it’s a good way to convert them to become serious MMORPG players.

That made my head spin. Hope you can help.

Any thoughts? I would be more than happy if you can free me from this conundrum.


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  • fatman

    Casual? Serious? These descriptions are too broad for people, they should only be used to describe the game content.

    On people try Aggressive, Cooperative, Laid-Back and Bandwagon-ers. And Fish-Out-of Water-ers.

  • joel

    how about “Boring” pra sa mga commercial servers ng pRO.. @_@

  • Blackwolf

    There is another important factor you left out. Serious and casual gamers can be discerned by level of achievement.

    When I say achievement, I mean whatever benchmarks exist within the game world. Some will devote their effort and skill into PVP, others into PVE. Certain players will complete the most difficult quests for bragging rights, others will slay the toughest monsters. Some will amass huge fortunes in raw game currency, others weapons and armor or battle robots, vehicles or cuddly toys to furnish their pretty houses. There are those who will collect for aesthetics and those who collect for merit. All in all, achievement is quantifiable by how much the player acquires, whether its tangibles like gold and gear, or intangibles like prestige, titles, honorifics or a little glowing aura that says I’m level 99.

    Casual gamers may amass these things too, but it’s the serious players that really care about getting more of it. Casual players may play for fun and may spend almost as much time as serious players, but they might not be as productive. Casuals will play a bit, chat with a buddy or two, play some more, maybe not finish that 5-level dungeon because she’s going to a movie with friends tonight. Serious players learn the ropes so they can acquire that Sword of Ultimate Radical Coolness or +100 Cyborg Kuneho Mechablender. Even a serious player who plays only an hour a day because he has school, basketball practice and guitar lessons will make that hour count for his character.

    Maybe you might try finding a correlation between time spent playing and achievement levels? That would be useful for your marketing team.

  • Mike Abundo

    You’re on the right tack with the genre thing. In a recent speech, ArenaNet founder Jeff Strain noted that a gamer might play a dozen action games this year, but only one or two MMORPGs. Half Life 2 and WoW are both “hardcore”, but a Half Life 2 player might also play Halo 3 while a WoW player probably won’t play Guild Wars.

  • Anna

    But what about gamers who aren’t playing for PVP? How about those who are into PVM/Boss Hunts, collecting headgears?

    Now I’m confused. Am I serious? Or casual? Maybe a little bit of both?

    Oh, and how about those players who are in the game because of money (ammassing wealth) and not fame?

  • Castigador

    I believe you shouldn’t classify a gamer as “casual” or “hardcore”, instead it is like a state of mind.

    You play casually if you just want to burn some time or just have fun. Take Super Mario for example. Some of us pick it up, play, and leave.

    You play hardcore if you have certain goals in the game, or you’re taking the game seriously. Back to the Mario example, those who do speedruns/try to complete it in a peculiar fasion/those who do want to finish the game, could be considered hardcore.

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