Since the launch of Nintendo’s Wii, many of the best selling games have been “casual” games focused at non-gamers. Games like Call of Duty and Gears of War garner a lot of praise among hardcore gamers, but those not ingrained in the culture don’t see the appeal. It’s been a worry of a lot of these “core” gamers that games are moving towards a more casual audience, and with the launch of the Playstation Move and especially the Xbox Kinect, this is more of a valid concern than ever.
In this article by Dustin Quillen, the Kinect is the second most desired item of the holiday season (only behind the iPad), which indicates that the trend towards casual gaming is continuing. With Microsoft selling the device at $150, it is as expensive as the Wii, and looks to be positioned to replace the Wii for gamers who already own an Xbox 360 but have use for a more casual device. Additionally, Microsoft has hyped this device up as the next big thing and will likely continue to support for the rest of the 360’s life span.
Not only that, but according to Lazard Capital Markets analyst Colin Sebastian (via Gamasutra), initial Kinect sales on ebay have fetched an average of around 30 percent more than the product’s MSRP of $149.99.
The demand for the Kinect is increasing as the holiday season approaches, and with games like Call of Duty and Halo costing millions of dollars to produce, and these mini-game based Kinect and Wii titles costing far less but selling more copies, the market for these titles has expanded from the Wii to the 360 and potentially the Move, leaving little room in retail stores for AAA titles. This is reminiscent of the over-saturated market of the 80s that led to the video game crash. While a crash today seems unlikely, with a market shift to so called “shovel-ware” for these casual gaming devices it might not be such an impossibility as the trend continues.