I should probably make this very clear before proceeding with this gamer and fan bases theory. This is just my opinion. One of the thousands of thoughts that have passed through my mind and I just thought I would share it. I could be wrong, might be wrong, probably am wrong. But it’s fun to share, so let’s begin.
I guess in summary my theory is that actual gamers are a dying breed and the gaming community is being taken over by fan bases. That though rolls into part 2 of my theory of how that’s effecting games.
So let’s begin with some quick explanations of what I would call both gamers and fan bases. And again, this is just how I would describe each of these. You may think very differently.
These are the sort of people that play many games of all shapes and sizes regardless of genre. One minute they’ll be playing Overwatch, then move onto Guitar Hero, then Gears of War. All different games in different genres. But this doesn’t bother the gamer.
The gamer is familiar with all play styles and game mechanics, and switches between them regularly without the need of a refresher course. You will sometimes see a gamer play a game from 3 or more generations ago. Not a common occurrence with somebody who is part of a fan base.
These are pretty much the opposite of how I just described Gamers. They do play games, so they are still gamers to some degree, however they will stick to one genre. Or worse, they’ll wall themselves off inside of one, maybe 2, franchises. These of course, are the Call of Duty players, the Fifa players, the people that play online only and have never experienced a storyline in their gaming life.
These people, typically, will stick to these games or whatever they play, and they’ll play them non-stop. Very rarely will they edge out of their comfort zone and explore different games and genres. They’d pre-order the next game in their favored series before it’s even announced if they could, and pay with blood for the latest DLC – which sometimes just adds an extra map or two, maybe even a skin. Whereas a gamer would rather spend that money of another game to add to the collection.
That’s not to say that fan bases only exist with these particular games. Of course there’s fan bases of every game/franchise. This is referring those with myopic vision. The members of one fan base alone, and no others.
Basically, they’ll have “their game”. Just the one game which they play continuously, and they don’t leave room for anything else. While a gamer will have their favourite game, but still play (sometimes many) others.
A Couple More Things
Console wars are still pretty common, but one new battle I’ve noticed growing is game wars. Franchises will be compared to each other, much like Battlefield and Call of Duty, or GTA and Saints Row. I consider this to be a fan base war. A gamer, on the other hand, would more than likely own all of these games and enjoy each of them for different reasons.
Now take me for example, I have over 400 games in my collection spread across about 7 consoles. Give or take. Then I’ve seen people that have about 10 games in their Steam library and have over 1000 hours on each of them.
However I have around 30 hours average on a lot of games, then around 10-20 on the rest. The overall time spent playing doesn’t really differ but I’ve experienced far more stories and styles. Gamer and a fan base.
Theory Part 2
Now let’s get into the effect that I think fan bases have on the gaming industry. Again, just a thought I had. I’m not trying to push this as fact. It’s all theory.
As they’re happy to spend all of their money on whatever specific game, this makes the developers see it as a successful business venture. Which of course it is, as fan bases always want more of the same because different is scary.
Before, when gamers were more present in the gaming community, they would spend their money on all different games. This gave the message that they were open to change and all sorts of new experiences.
Yes, I’m going to be an old man about this and blame this change on age. When I first started gaming it was on a Sega Megadrive, so all I knew was single player. Then, when Xbox Live came in, we’d play online from time to time for a bit of fun. Nothing more. Kids getting into gaming after that, started on the 360 and PS3, which of course already had online. So they’ve grown up with that being the norm.
Then people started not being able to deal with losing so they’d play the same game online constantly. This way they could get ridiculously good at the game and never face losing again. And alas, todays fan bases were born.
This makes sense as with retro consoles losing was part of the game. There were more than one life, no saving, and no difficulty options. Usually this meant that the game in question would be only very hard.
When I were a youngster, on the rare occasion I wanted or could afford DLC, it was always story expansions. And not much has changed today for me. With fan bases, all they long for is another map, because the thousand hours on the same 6, year after year, has finally got boring.
As a result of this, developers spend more time making little DLC packs for the online communities, and leave the campaign how it is without any expansion. It makes sense, since they’re keeping their fan base happy. But for people like me, that primarily play campaign, well we’ll just spend our money once and that’s it. But this doesn’t bother them, as fan bases are in larger number than gamers these days.
With fan bases spending lots of money and lots of hours on one game, it makes developers believe there’s no point making a new game or even decent DLC. They’ll keep making the same game and only ever release online DLC. Most developers won’t risk a new IP, as there’s not enough gamers to buy to try something new. Instead there’s just lots of fan base members going “Ew, a new game”.
I do think fan bases have had a huge effect on the gaming industry in this way. They grow in size pushing gamers out of the picture, changing the industry for those of us that just enjoy games. But again, this is just a theory I had.
By no means am I trying to push this as factual and say this is exactly what’s happened. It’s just a theory of mine. Makes sense to me. Might not to you. Let me know in the comments if you can make sense of this… or if you think I’m full of crap.