Microsoft: Hardcore games easiest to sell
Natal's core and casual titles can become top ten hits alongside established franchises, says platform holder
Microsoft has said that games aimed at the hardcore consumer are much easier to sell than those intended for a more casual and social player.
The company believes that next year's release of motion device Project Natal will appeal to both audiences, but the core titles for Natal will help it quickly find an audience while Microsoft markets to the more fickle casual consumer.
"The core are going to buy the games, we don't have to focus on marketing those - well, we do, but those games in a lot of ways will sell themselves because they're such immersive and intense experiences that the core is going to buy, and buy disproportionally for the Xbox," spokesperson David Dennis told GamesIndustry.biz.
"It's a continuation of a strategy we've been articulating for a long time, which is that we have a powerful piece of hardware that enables a lot of different experiences," he added. "Let's start with the core users to really get their attention and get them invested and committed to us as a platform. Then as we look to broaden to new audiences, we have the hardware capacity and technology innovation to continue to evolve the experience, whether that's by bringing things like Facebook, Netflix and Twitter to give people more reasons to turn the console on, or with Natal in the future, with a more social, casual and interactive controller-free gaming experience that something like Natal brings."
His comments are similar to EEDAR's Jesse Divnich, who said in a recent interview that the hardcore gamer is the most reliable consumer in the games business, and that new casual audiences are a much tougher market to capture.
"Obviously you don't talk to those types of customers the same way, but we've been talking about games beyond the core and really bringing people in," revealed Dennis. "Last year we had TV creatives running over the holidays that was really focused on Netflix and Rock Band and different non-core gaming experiences. But I think as we look to Natal and the types of experiences it's going to enable, there's going to be both what some might call core experiences as well as casual game experiences that are easy to jump in and play, that are going to do great for Natal."
Microsoft is confident that its forthcoming Natal games can hold their own at retail, and become top ten hits in a field recently dominated by massive franchises such as Call of Duty, FIFA, Madden and Assassin's Creed.
"I think if you look at experiences in other platforms that are doing well, they're not all necessarily core experiences. Wii Fit was number seven [in November]. So there are certainly a lot of upsides for experiences if they're done right that go beyond the core but still capture the imagination of the core.
"I don't think Wii Fit does that, but there are certainly opportunities to do that. It's about redefining who your customer segmentation is, and really looking at who the customers are that you have and how to have a frequent relationship with them, but also looking to new audiences. I think you can do both without alienating either," said Dennis.