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Forget Hardcore and Casual, Nintendo Switch is for the Lapsed Gamer

Forget Hardcore and Casual, Nintendo Switch is for the Lapsed Gamer - Article

by Evan Norris , posted on 24 January 2017 / 19,914 Views

It's popular on gaming forums and in the less discerning corners of the video game media machine to strike a divide between the "hardcore" and the "casual" gamer. This is not a fuzzy, flexible divide, not one that allows parties from one side to bleed over into the other. This is an iron curtain, a Berlin Wall made of concrete and rebar, a demilitarized zone in which interlopers are shot on sight. "Hardcore" gamers sit on one side of the divide, and "casuals" sit on the other, and never the twain shall meet.

This false dichotomy has been active in the video game community for years, dating back to the days when Genesis did what Nintendon't. Sega positioned itself as a cooler and more adult version of Nintendo, and thus set in a motion a binary way of thinking that continues to define debates over what the competition does and Nintendo doesn't. With the advent of the internet, this counter-productive and often toxic black-and-white thinking became even more dangerous. Now, with Switch soon to hit the market, it's never been less helpful.

Switch Partners

Switch isn't aimed at the hardcore gamer, often characterized as a basement dweller whose only non-gaming priority is a steady supply of Mountain Dew. Neither is Switch aimed at the casual gamer, seen as a nursing home resident or soccer mom with a severely impaired frontal lobe. Switch, like every other video game system on the planet, is aimed at both groups, which are far more amorphous and unpredictable than forum-goers and incendiary columnists might suggest. Importantly, it's also aimed at what could be described as lapsed gamers.

Who, exactly, are lapsed gamers? These are consumers who feel left behind or otherwise unfulfilled by the current gaming options on the market. Those inside the gaming bubble boast about the tens of millions of customers who bought a 3DS, PS4, XOne, WiiU, or PSV, but forget that many millions more own none of the above. By targeting those unhappy with the status quo, Nintendo might actually bring new blood into the industry — as opposed to Sony and Microsoft, whose PS4 Pro and Scorpio are simply exsanguinating current customers.

Ultra Street Fighter II

Nintendo, of course, has tried this before. Wii and DS, in addition to being disruptive forces in the industry, were meant to appeal to those turned off by the complexity of modern gaming. Titles like New Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong Country Returns, and Super Mario All-Stars spoke directly to folks who grew up with and continued to long for the accessibility and replayability of games from the 8-bit and 16-bit generations. Where the 3DS, with its top-down Zelda and old-school RPGs continued that trend, WiiU went the other way entirely, and failed.

Enter Switch, a system focused on Nintendo's strengths — local multiplayer, portability, accessibility — with a twist: an appeal to those who've sat the last generation or two out, or who haven't felt completely satisfied since the industry moved away from 2D sprites. Now, not everything on Switch will be torn from a worm hole opened in 1994. The system will support a 3D Zelda at launch, and then, later, an open-world Super Mario — a pipe dream (get it?) of Nintendo fans for years. 

I am Setsuna

Things are far more telling on the third-party front. Japanese publishers will bring to Switch some of the more popular franchises of the 1990s, complete with retro stylized graphics: Sonic the Hedgehog, Street Fighter, and Bomberman. Low-tech indie games like Shovel KnightThe Binding of Isaac, Cave Story, and Has-Been Heroes will also make an appearance. I am Setsuna, a spiritual successor to Chrono Trigger, will be available at launch, with many other old-school RPGs arriving later.

Clearly the Switch is a video game platform that is simultaneously looking forward and backward. Ambitious games like Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey represent the future and retro titles like Ultra Street Fighter II and Super Bomberman R represent the past. Taken together these games won't convert many PlayStation or Xbox gamers, but they might recruit the forgotten, lapsed, or under-served gamers; those who want something both accessible and nostalgic, something simultaneously easy to learn and difficult to master.

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GoOnKid (on 24 January 2017)

That's a great article! I really like your writing style. Very fluid with very good expressions.

  • +8
ammythomas16 GoOnKid (on 29 January 2017)

My mothers neighbour is working part time and averaging $9000 a month. I'm a single mum and just got my first paycheck for $6546! I still can't believe it. I tried it out cause I got really desperate and now I couldn't be happier. Heres what I do,


  • 0
Screenshot (on 24 January 2017)

If the Switch is for the lapsed gamer, then the PS4pro must be for the prolapsed gamer. EEW.

  • +7
Rogerioandrade (on 26 January 2017)

Nice article. I agree with your insights, but the real strengh of the Switch will be the core Nintendo franchises. No company has such great number of good selling franchises like Nintendo and we┬┤ve seen that on the 3ds year after year.
If the Switch gets (and probably will get) a cathalog of games similar to the 3ds, with Pokemon, Mario, Zelda, Animal Crossing, Fire Emblem - plus all those third party franchises focused on handheld consoles (Monster Hunter, Yokai Watch, Layton etc etc) then the Switch will have a good appeal with any kind of gamer

  • +4
DevilRising (on 24 January 2017)

I bought a Wii U at launch, after enjoying the Wii (for the most part, though I didn't like forced motion controls that ruined certain games). Wii U was actually the only system in my life, thus far, that I have actually bought at launch. On launch day even. And while I had very high hopes for the console, and while I have gotten enjoyment out of it, for the most part I'd be lying if I didn't admit that it let me down quite a bit. In fact, after learning that Zelda was being pushed back and was no longer Wii U exclusive, it left me feeling rather burnt.

So with that said, I have been, and continue to remain very wary of Nintendo's next system. I have been a Nintendo fan since childhood, since the, which is my favorite system of all time. I have owned every Nintendo home console, except the Gamecube. I just sort of "fell out" of gaming a bit during that gen as a whole, and while I eventually picked up a used PS2 for a handful of games, and played big GC hits at my friends' house, I just never got one myself. I was going to buy one eventually, for Twilight Princess, but once I learned Wii was going to be 100% backwards compatible, I just said fuck it, and got a Wii and got GC games I wanted for it instead. The irony is that while I didn't own a GC proper, it still wound up having more big games I really liked than Wii U did, such as Smash Bros., Eternal Darkness, Metroid Prime, Pikmin, Chibi Robo, Wave Race, etc.

But back on point, I WANT Nintendo to sell me on the Switch. I WANT it to seem great, to be excited for it, and I certainly want for it to succeed and be the success that Wii U should have been. I just need to see a lot more. I'm very excited for BotW, even though I'm still grumpy about it getting delayed and not being Wii U exclusive. But I wound up ordering the Wii U version anyway, as I don't feel compelled to get a Switch at launch. Ideally, if I WAS compelled, and has the spare cash, I guess I'd just get the Switch version, simply because of the (slightly) better graphics. But otherwise, if I do get a Switch, at this juncture at least, I don't forsee myself getting one until the Fall at the earliest. Mario looks kinda neat, but overall, I need to see more, to be fully sold. I'm never going to like the paid online BS, and everything for the system does seem a tad pricey, but if they can just prove to me that they're actually going to market it right this time, and that it will get a STEADY stream of games, both from them AND third parties, then I imagine I'll be sold, and will eventually get one.

I just want Nintendo to get things right for once. Like, FULLY right. Something I feel they haven't totally done since SNES.

  • +3
binary solo (on 24 January 2017)

I doubt it. What we are looking at this generation being much smaller than the last two currently is 1: handheld market shrinkage because of smartphone gaming. These are people who only ever play games on the go, and Switch being something you plug into your TV as well as being handheld doesn't particularly attract these people back to console gaming more than 3DS. 2: Wii owners, there were 10s of millions of people who never owned a console before Wii, and lost interest in consoles a couple of years after buying Wii. And there were also millions of people who bought another console + Wii, whereas this gen there is more single console ownership. The never before and not since, Wii owners are not going to be enticed by Switch, IMO they are once and done for console gaming. The another console+Wii group may go for Switch now that they have owned a PS4/Xb one for a couple of years, and are getting a bit of a hankering for some Nintendo. So it comes at the right time, and without the baggage, to scratch an itch. But I don't think that is a huge group of people, a few million perhaps. But not 10s of millions.

  • +3
megaman79 (on 24 January 2017)

Credit to Sean Malstrom.....

  • +2
mZuzek (on 24 January 2017)

Yeah, those are my thoughts too. I know some people who are definitely not "hardcore" gamers but not "casual" either - people who have had a PS2, and some 7th gen console and stuff, but just never made the jump to 8th gen not only because of a lack of money, but also because of a considerable lack of interest. I feel like the Switch could appeal to those people a lot, that is whenever it gets a nice price drop.

  • +2
StokedUp (on 24 January 2017)

Hmmmmm, but past games are availabe on all consoles for the people wanting nostalgia, I've recently played Resident evil 1, Abes odyssey, ratchet and clank remake and streets of rage 2 on the ps4.

  • +2
NinjaFox (on 25 January 2017)

Now if Nintendo got these nostalgia throw back old school style games to a standard $40 retail, I'd say Switch could take off like wildfire. $60 is fine for Breath of the Wild and Mario Odyssey, but Bomberman and Street Fighter should be $40 imo.

  • +1
pray4mojo (on 25 January 2017)

I disagree. It's aimed at core gamers. Why do I say this? Because my definition of core gamer is someone who doesn't just play Madden and COD. A core gamer trends more toward "nerd" in society than the COD and Madden-only crowd. These are the exact types of people Switch is appealing to right now.

  • +1
KLAMarine (on 24 January 2017)

Honestly, lapsed gamer is a good description of me. Can't stand overly long sessions of console gaming.

Hoping Switch can change that.

  • +1
Zoombael (on 25 January 2017)

To say it in the words of the great Reg, leader of the Peoples Front of Judea:

"Oh peace, shut up!"

  • 0
HoloDust (on 24 January 2017)

Hm, I see that Malstrom is still kind of an Oracle when it comes to Nintendo - he talked about this on his blog and now everyone is parroting it.

  • 0
Machina (on 24 January 2017)

A very elegantly written piece, Evan. I enjoyed reading it though I don't think your view will be borne out by reality. As something of a lapsed gamer (or at least a lapsed console gamer) myself I see nothing to interest me in Switch and think the things you highlight as its selling points for the lapsed market are actually of marginal interest to such people.

  • 0
FunFan (on 24 January 2017)

The two already existing gamer classes are already highly subjective. Can't we say the Switch is for some Hardcore and some Casuals and everyone that wants one.

  • 0
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