I have been playing a lot of WoW lately. Also, because my son has off from school and I am off from work, I have been playing a fair bit of Wii games. Both games benefit from the same concept and both companies have made an obscene amount of money from that same concept: taking something simple and executing it well.
The Wii console was not a technological marvel as far as graphics and computing horsepower. Many people call it a glorified game cube. What they did manage to do was take a new concept, motion sensing, and execute it well. They made it fun for the masses. Now any hard core gamer will list the ways that the Wii is a hunk of garbage, but I’m sure you plop them down with their families at a holiday gathering or social event and they will be trying to out-bowl uncle Lester or out dance cousin Clara just as much as the next person. Is it because the game is super cool and has all these bells and whistles…no. It is because the game is accessible to these people and fun in the process.
World of Warcraft has done the same thing. They have taken a cool concept, an online perpetual world with RPG mechanics, and made it accessible to your average Joe gamer. Sure there are plenty of people out there who find this game ridiculously easy and devoid of challenge, but there are soooooooo many people who love this game. Are they not gamers just because they don’t like really sophisticated games like EVE or Darkfall? People label them as carebears because they don’t want to compete against each other in deathmatches or competitive PvP. The people are having fun playing a game. Isn’t that what this is all about anyway?
I have been playing video games since the days when chasing a digital square back and forth on a screen was popular. Okay maybe that was a smidge before my time, but I do remember playing a home console version with my siblings. I consider myself a gamer at my core, but I have never been one to play a game just for the challenge or because it is hard. I play to have fun. That definition is different for everyone, but the reason many of these games get popular is because they are easy to get into. They might be tough to master, but you can have fun even if you don’t.
There will always be a niche for those games that are difficult and challenging. Some people find them very fun. In the end though, I think that is all they will ever be is niche games. As people have more and more things to grab their attention not to mention all of the obligations and responsibilities that life throws at us, simple is fun for most of us.