The gaming industry has a delicate ecosystem, to be sure. It doesn't take much for a major developer or publisher to collapse under the pressure that gamers, with all of their fickle attractions, tend to place on the companies that control their favorite games.
Hardware manufactures like SEGA and Atari know exactly what I'm talking about. They were both pinnacles of the industry at some point in gaming's history, but subtle missteps or poor timing forced them lock the doors on their hardware departments. Obviously, we can't expect any consumer-based industry to stay the same over it's entire history, but gaming has a tendency to be particularly volatile.
That's why I'm so surprised at what Nintendo and Sony are doing right now.
Yesterday, I stopped by my local gaming retailer to grab a copy of Sony's latest piece of hardware: The Wonderbook. Now, the fact that Sony is releasing hardware doesn't surprise me; it's who they're releasing it for.
See, until recently, Sony's marketing identity has been primarily aimed at serious, adult gamers. The PlayStation 3, in a lot of ways, is the hardcore gamer's dream machine—even more than the Xbox 360. But after their LittleBigPlanet franchise started to make some waves, Sony’s focus has been slowly shifting toward younger players. And now they've launched a major piece of hardware that is geared entirely at family-oriented gamers.
But casual, family-style gaming is Nintendo's wheelhouse, or at least it has been until recently.
However, since Nintendo showed off their launch lineup in June, we've seen a company that's trying to win back the hardcore market—a group that hasn't followed Nintendo around for nearly a decade. Assassin's Creed III, Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Batman: Arkham City, and Darksiders II are all getting the Wii U treatment. And these titles were primarily marketed toward serious gamers. Also, Nintendo has exclusive titles, like ZombiU, that have the same market in mind.
But, if Nintendo is going to shift their focus away from their market at the same time that Sony is doing the same, we could have some industry-wide upheavals in the very near future. And considering that the Wii U is only the first of three next-gen consoles to hit the market, the next few years could get interesting.
Date: November 14, 2012
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*