Has Sony failed to understand the casual gamer?

Colin Torretta
C. Torretta|05.31.07

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Has Sony failed to understand the casual gamer?
In a recent interview with GI.biz, Nintendo VP of marketing, George Harrison, said that Sony and Microsoft have both attempted to woo the casual gamer but both failed due to a lack of understanding of the casual gamer. Specifically, Harrison mentioned the Sixaxis as Sony's failure:

"We can already see some of the things they've tried. For last year's E3, at the last minute, Sony rushed out their Sixaxis controller as an effort to respond to the Wii remote. We saw Microsoft roll out Viva Piñata as their killer app for the Pokemon set. And neither of those worked really well.

It's true that Nintendo knows how to dominate a certain kind of casual gamer market, but it seems a bit disingenuous to be writing off the Sixaxis as a failed attempt to capture Nintendo's market share. Sony has never particularly positioned that motion-sensitivity of the Sixaxis as a lure to the casual gamer. They've marketed it as a feature that adds to existing games and allows you to do things you've never done before (see LAIR and Warhawk). It's true that they have utilized the motion sensitivity aspect of the controller to create more easily accessible games like Blast Factor, flOw and Super Rub-a-Dub, but unlike Nintendo, thats that's clearly not their whole focus.

That indicates the one of the biggest problems with Harrison's argument; Sony has been involved in the casual gamer market for a long time before the Sixaxis and have been very successful. In Europe in particular, Sony has done incredibly well with a number of titles targeted directly at the casual gamer. PlayStation 2 titles such as Singstar and Buzz! have sold millions of copies and show a clear dedication by Sony to not exclude the casual gamer. And already on the PlayStation 3 we've seen Sony utilize the PSN to make an array of more casual and arcadey type titles easily available. And looking into the immediate future you can see titles like Go Puzzle!, Singstar PS3, and Eye of Judgment further proving Sony's interest in providing games for all segments of the market.

While the PS3 may never get it's own Nintendogs or Pokemon, many gamers are fine with that. Sony, unlike Nintendo, has not forsaken the more hardcore players in favor of casual gamers - instead they've attempted to provide games for everyone. And while Nintendo feels that hardcore players will be satiated by Mario Strikers Charged and Mario Galaxies, I have a feeling a lot more hardcore players will be satisfied by God of War III and Warhawk.

So what do you think? Has Sony done enough to entice the casual gamer? And if not, is it worth following Nintendo's lead and ignore the more hardcore market in pursuit of the casual gamer?
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