Can gaming continue catering to middle aged gamers?

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Fluidk

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When God Of War hit the PS4, it was almost immediately colloquially called “Dad Of War”. It was an obvious and striking touch point that resonated with gamers because many of the gamers who were most familiar with God Of War were, themselves, now dads. But the sharp focus on “dad hood” left me with an earnest question:

“Are kids going to want to play this?’

It’s not just God Of War that has been leaning toward focusing on middle aged gamers and middle aged issues. Games have been trending toward becoming easier, less time consuming, and less brain-intensive. Common criticisms of modern games are “I just want to relax”, “I don’t want to have to think”, “I don’t have that much time to play”, etc.

This is SHARPLY in contrast to the way games used to be made when they were catering toward a younger audience. And, possibly because of that, the younger audience seems to be leaving to play games like Fortnite and Minecraft which, rather notably, receive relatively little attention from mainstream games media and do not cater to the qualities older gamers see, to demand from games.

My question is, “how long can games keep ‘aging up’”? Forever? Are mainstream games going to start catering to players with arthritis and dementia? Meanwhile the younger players continue to move away from “core gaming” into other arenas that we don’t consider “real games”?

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Kunakai

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#2  Edited By Kunakai

I think there's a lot more to consider within the scope of the question than any one person could address.

The two things are ultimately very different beasts in terms of the experience, target demographic, budget, input method and difficulty curve.

Ultimately I think the audience has grown to become a wider range than it was (fewer games made to the exclusion of the older demographics). People of prior generations considered games to be toys for kids, as our generation ages we'll likely see more older people without that perception and more studios move to fill the current void. (Although I'd expect the ultimate bell curve to peak somewhere between 20-40 year old range)

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Justin258

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I really don't see any of this as true.

I'm going to continue beating the drum that, for all of its faults, the modern video game market is the best it's ever been. You want a challenge? Go play Sekiro, or Black Mesa with the difficulty bumped all the way up, or Doom Eternal, or Devil May Cry 5. If you're looking for something more strategic, go play X-Com 2 or Pathfinder: Kingmaker.

Want to explore and get immersed in a world? Go play Kingdom Come: Deliverance, Prey 2017, or Dishonored 2.

Want to play a AAA game that looks like its budget? Go play Ghosts of Tsushima, the aforementioned God of War, or maybe even the still-gorgeous The Witcher 3. Or, hey, you could grind away in the ever-present Ubisoft collection of pretty playgrounds - Far Cry and Assassin's Creed will never not be there for you.

Want to play old school games? Well, what kind of old school? First person dungeon crawler? Legend of Grimrock. Metroidvania? Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. Something just absolutely insane? Katana Zero. Old school first person shooters? Dusk.

If you want variety, it's there. If you want something you're not going to finish for a year, you can find it. If you want challenge, both mental and twitch-y, you can find it in spades. And if you don't really have your finger on the current gaming landscape, you can spend an hour looking up stuff and have a wishlist of games that will last you months. Even if you're restricting yourself to only AAA mainstream big-budget titles, I feel like you can find some stuff that's good and interesting and worthwhile.

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OSail

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Trends are trends and not indicative of what's actually being made by people who are making games outside of a particular mainstream perspective, and indeed many mainstream companies are still making non-time intensive games.

Focusing solely on prestige games (bleh) in the same way people spoke of all TV from a time as prestige TV (bleh) is going to give nothing more than maybe a marketing want accurate view of a medium, affording less of individual's focus to other things within the medium.

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eccentrix

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  • Common criticisms of modern games are “I just want to relax”
  • the younger audience seems to be leaving to play games like Fortnite and Minecraft which, rather notably, receive relatively little attention from mainstream games media

Minecraft is one of the first games people will bring up when talking about relaxing games and it probably got more video on Giant Bomb last year than any other game.

Every type of game is being made and everyone can be successfully catered to.

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morningstar

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There are so many games made these days Im sure there is something for everyone.

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ll_Exile_ll

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#7  Edited By ll_Exile_ll

And, possibly because of that, the younger audience seems to be leaving to play games like Fortnite and Minecraft

Not sure how you equate younger gamers choosing to play games like Minecraft and Fortnite that appeal to them over other types of games as "leaving" anything. There's a not-so-subtle implication here that you look down on these games, which is pretty contradictory to your overall point.

Like, a game that doesn't target a young audience isn't appealing to that audience, but somehow that's bad as is the fact that young gamers are playing games targeted to them instead? Also, the notion that games are somehow less challenging and less time consuming these days is just plain bizarre. The very game your entire point is built around has extensive difficulty options and is like a 40 hour game. There are more games with "hundreds of hours of content!" than ever before.

This entire post seems to be an excuse to say "I don't like the games young players enjoy therefore that's a problem."

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FacelessVixen

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I mean... I can sort of follow your logic with using God of War as inspiration for your thoughts, in that people like myself who played the first game in 2005 have grown up and have, supposedly, become wiser and more mature by the time Dad of Boy/God of War 4 came out in 2018, so the perspective of the series changes from just being able to kill the Greek gods because your parents let you play and buy rated M games, to being more cognizant and appositive of the series' deeper meanings involving parenthood and maturity.

As for everything else: I can't see why "kids" (assuming that we're talking about people in their older teens and early 20's given that God of War is rated M) wouldn't want to play the game just because it it explores parenthood. That's an underestimation of the types of themes and stories that "kids" can appreciate. The notion of games getting easier also seems a little misguided since, in addition to difficulty settings, one of the defining parts of gaming in the 2010's was the creation of the "souls-like" genre and the rise of neo-retro games can emulate the difficulty of Castlevania 1. Just looking at Ubisoft's games alone, games have actually become more time-consuming. Sure, some people may just want to relax and not think too deeply about what they're playing, I do not see those criticisms as indications of developers shifting their ideas to placate that part of the gaming audience. And, yeah, though I agree with games being more marketed as toys in the earlier days, saying that someone in their 30 or 40 can't enjoy Minecraft or Fortnite seems like a bad generalization.

So, I dunno. I appreciate the thought exercise, but I'd take a few notes from Justin's post and become more aware of what's out there, and try not to make assumptions about what older and younger people may enjoy.

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brian_

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Minecraft and Fortnite are two of the biggest games in the world. And I think they do get tons of coverage from mainstream gaming media. Through streamers. I think that's the change here. Game development hasn't aged out. "Traditional gaming media" has. I think the vast majority of game journalists and their audience, are not younger people, and younger people aren't going to them for content. "Game criticism" is now the niche. Ninja, or whoever, pulling in 15 million subscribers to watch him play Fortnite is the mainstream.

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BladeOfCreation

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Others have already said a lot of what I wanted to say here, but I just wanted to add that focusing on God of War here doesn't really make sense. For starters, Kratos was already a husband and a father in the first game. The newest game has Kratos interacting with his still-living son, sure.

But here's the thing: playing as Kratos caring for his son is not fundamentally different than any other motivation for the video game protagonists that our generation grew up with. Kids can't relate to being dads? Yeah, sure. But when you were a kid, you couldn't relate to jumping on people to save your girlfriend from a dinosaur with an exorbitant property tax bill, either. Unless you've had a spectacularly interesting life, you still can't relate to it.

Snark aside, I'm using Mario as an example. There are plenty of games to choose from (with varying degrees of emphasis on story) in which the basic premise is that you play as someone who is rescuing a loved one. And you know what? Actually enacting violence against people in order to save a loved one is a thing that the overwhelming majority of people will never experience. You, as an adult, can relate to it exactly as much as you could relate to it as a kid.

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FinalDasa

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#11 FinalDasa  Moderator

I think this is more about games that are advertised and marketed toward certain age groups versus what is actually available.

Whereas in the 90s the only way to advertise games to kids was to produce lackluster crap and push it out onto the SNES or Genesis.

Now there's no need, just toss out some mobile game for free and you're more likely to nab some younger players than on a $500 PS5 most kids aren't getting on day one anyway.

It's not that games are only or primarily aimed at middle-aged consumers. It's that we see what marketers want us to see and there are many more avenues to get kids' games more directly into kid's hands.

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Gundato

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Yeah. I am not convinced that Dados is particularly geared toward middle aged video gamers but I agree with the general consensus that even if it is, it doesn't matter. Movies about break dancing heart throbs that just want to tell the love of their life about how they want to save a preschool can coexist alongside The Man From Nowhere. And video games are no different

All that being said: over the past few years I have started to think that nintendo games weirdly ARE targeting the >30 crowd. They make solid (but flawed) games but I increasingly don't see any kids who haven't been brought into the ecosystem by their parents preferring a mario over something else. Like, my nephew frigging loves astrobot and watching people play the jurassic park management sim because he loves dinosaurs. I kind of suspect he'll manage to reach adulthood and never have played or had a desire to play a mario even though those are "kids games" according to that over 30 crowd who are encouraging their kids to play it.

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Camosid

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Wheres my DINK focused games.

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Hizang

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I mean God of War sold fine soooo

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wollywoo

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Kratos is a badass dude who beat things with an axe. I mean yeah he's also a dad. But I don't think that's a dealbreaker for younger people.

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Skullomania

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@camosid said:

Wheres my DINK focused games.

New Ratchet & Clank next week babyyyy

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sombre

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I honestly don't think they can. At least not for me personally.

My problem with a lot of games nowadays is that they're honestly too hard. I've played Tsushima and God Of War, aswell as RE:2 Remake over the last year, and pretty much only those three games. For each one, except RE2 cause I was stubborn, I've had to drop the difficulty down to "easy", because, honestly, as a 32 year old man, I find most games very challenging nowadays. I used to be shit hot at games, but now that I don't really play them as my main hobby anymore, I find dedicating time to them very few and far between.

I think another problem is that so many games nowdays are a "live service". This in itself isn't a bad thing, but it's the fact that almost every single games tries to monopolize 100% of your gaming time nowadays. To get good at a live game, you need to dedicate your entire time to it, and I honestly don't have that sort of free time anymore.

I know a handful of people that play DOTA for example, who ONLY play DOTA and no other game, and they're still shit at it. I'm talking 10,000 hours plus and they're still 3-4k. I'm not saying "Don't enjoy games", not in the slightest.

What I am saying is that for me, as a strictly middle aged, casual gamer nowadays, I don't feel games are made "for me" anymore. And that's okay! My real life outside of gaming is absolutely FANTASTIC nowadays! I have plenty of friends, social things, work obligations, a partner, I'm moving to the other side of the planet, and gaming maybe occupies 10% of my week, if that.

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kopcik

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You are wrong sir.

EU4, Stellaris, Xcom, Civ games. Crusader Kings 3, Sekiro, Dark Souls...

Most of todays games are heavy on rules and difficulty. I won even start on how long most of the games are today.

There is a market for easy and short games too for older and casual people.

It was never a better time to play video games.

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liquiddragon

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I don't think I even agree with the premise of this question. Big mainstream games are often long as shit, I don't think they are made for middle-aged gamers as the primary target.

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Efesell

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@sombre: You always make saying that you’re ~30 sound like you’re in your 90s.

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sombre

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@efesell said:

@sombre: You always make saying that you’re ~30 sound like you’re in your 90s.

I'm just exhausted

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Efesell

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cikame

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I really can't form an opinion about this, i have all the thoughts, old games are better, but some of these new games are good too, are the old games more complex than the new ones? I don't know Fornite is a mechanical nightmare, i've been playing games since the mid 90's does that make me an old gamer? Daddy Kratos doesn't do much for me but he's fine i guess, maybe the press aren't saying much about Fortnite and Minecraft because everybody knows what they are and there's not much to say, until characters get added or tournaments are held, that being said i'm sure some sites are still pouring out daily Fortnite content... somehow...

So yeah, not a solid thought to share, just the question am i old? And if so this doesn't sound like me.

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berfunkle

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#26 berfunkle  Online

Twenty years ago, I didn't think twice about ploughing through 20 or more games a year. Can't do that anymore. Oh sure, I play the hard core stuff. Case in point is my current obsession with Xenoblade Chronicles 2. I've been at this game since FEBRUARY.

I'm beginning to kick myself for buying a PS5. The damn thing is collecting dust!

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Giant_Gamer

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#27  Edited By Giant_Gamer

I'm no father but last of us made me feel like a dad.

when I talk about relationships and character building I always find myself remembering fondly.

That game made feel like a dad even when I wasn't not to mention that the characters weren't father and daughter.

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OurSin_360

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Of course, it's like asking the same about movies or music etc.

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sweep

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#29 sweep  Moderator

I think the real difference when it comes to this medium is that it's grown exponentially in terms of the number of people playing games, the number of people making games, and what is even considered a game - in the last couple of (human) generations alone. So when you ask

@fluidk"Are mainstream games going to start catering to players with arthritis and dementia?"

I absolutely hope they are, and that's something that should be celebrated. But this is by no means a case of mutual exclusivity, and games designed for elderly players should in no way detract from games being made for younger audiences. The medium is now clearly widespread enough to cater to multiple demographics, and sometimes a simple menu option to increase font size or input windows is all that's required to switch between them. Which is awesome.

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AV_Gamer

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#30  Edited By AV_Gamer

I think the recent trend has proven that video games have come full circle. And just like with other entertainment like movies and music, there is something for everyone regardless of age. Its up to the parents to monitor what their children are watching and playing, like it has always been. And leave Kratos alone. The man has killed countless number of people and even Gods, but is overall a decent guy...

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infantpipoc

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@wollywoo said:

Kratos is a badass dude who beat things with an axe. I mean yeah he's also a dad. But I don't think that's a dealbreaker for younger people.

As someone who leans more towards remaining single and childless for the rest of their life, I, a 31-year-old, find "dad games" more of dealbreakers than a lot of younger people planning to start their families.

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styx971

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i don't see this as being a thing honestly. imo if they were 'catering' to middle aged gamers then the majoraty of AAA games wouldn't be massive time sinks i think , if anything they require less thought and more time which i would call catering more towards youngers and i think we get more of that every year with how alot of systems in games are 'streamlined/dumbed down'. now sure every one in a while you get a GOW style 'dad game' but i think those are more rare now than they used to be. topics in the game aside that just had what i'd say is a sweet spot for length that a working person who may or may not have a family could enjoy without getting burnt out. but thats just my opinion.

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apewins

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It's definitely weird how a lot of games did the dad-thing at the same time. God of War, The Last of Us series, Bioshock series, parts of GTA 5, Heavy Rain, Resident Evil 7-8 for example... Game protagonists have been getting middle-aged across the board even when they're not dads, but somehow they all seem to have superhuman physique. The only overweight middle-aged character I can think of was the P.I. from Heavy Rain.

I just want to say for myself that despite having less time to play, I still don't want games dumbed down too much. For me a challenge is a part of any game and I don't mean that as in that I like hard games, I mean that I want my actions to have consequences. If in a Far Cry game for example I learn that my character is virtually immortal, then what's the point of sneaking and setting traps in an outpost when I can just walk in and kill everyone. I don't want to replay that outpost a dozen times to get it perfect, but I do want a genuine feeling that my sneaking around accomplished something and those mechanics aren't there just for show.

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csl316

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Games are less time-consuming? I don't see it.

AAA games in the early 90's could be an hour or two (Sonic). A decade later, they might be 8 hours (like MGS or the original GoW). Nowadays, the expectation is 20 to 30 (new GoW, Last of Us 2). Or you can be an open world that breaks 50. That sort of hour count used to be reserved for JRPG's.

Easier? Depends on the game. There's a lot of quality of life stuff that makes them control better, but if anything games have gone back to being quite difficult more often. I just finished Returnal and there was nothing easy about it. Sekiro, any big name on a high difficulty.

Less brain-intensive? I dunno, games now have so many systems to interact with. You really gotta get deep into gameplay, equipment, etc. instead of just skillfully jumping around and solving a block puzzle occasionally.

I guess I'm just not behind this post.

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RobertForster

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Are you calling us middle aged?

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peffy

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#36  Edited By peffy

I think "middle-aged" is more like 45-60 years old.. you're probably thinking of people 30-45.. but anyway.. There's such a wide variety and amount of games these days. Something for everybody. Personally, I'm 36 and childless, and I really enjoyed the narrative of God of War 2018, even though I am not a mother and never will be. I can relate to parenthood and family issues without being a parent. In the same way that I can relate to male protagonists without being a man.

If you're asking why "kids" don't seem interested in the game.. well, it's rated M (17+), first of all. Second, I feel like "kids" gravitate towards F2P multiplayer these days, or at least, that's what we hear about most. Maybe they'll be interested in God of War style games when they get older. Tastes and interests can change. As long as games in various genres keep selling, they'll keep making them. Not sure what the issue is here.

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theonewhoplays

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I'm 39, childless and don't care what the main character is. is the game good? is the story good? Perhaps leaning more towards one or the other? That's fine. I see characters as characters and they don't need to cater to me. God of War? The 'dad' parts are the best scenes in the game. Life is Strange? Almost moved me to tears. All three games. Same with tlou and tlou2.

But I have to say I am a sucker for 'dad games' and when parenting comes up. Silent Hill, tlou, GoW, the Walking Dead, Life is Strange 2, Beyond Good and Evil... There really needs to be more 'mom' games. are there even any? I'm not sure BG&E counts. Some horror games maybe?

And 'dad

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Big_Denim

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Another thing you need to consider is that as you age, you’re gonna pick up on different themes that may not have resonated with you at all at a younger age. I don’t have proof of this, but I’m sure there’s plenty of teenagers out there that enjoyed GoW for simply for its big snakes, axes and blood.

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PeterAB

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Haven't you answered your own question, here? Some people gravitate towards God of War, some towards Fortnite, some towards Minecraft ... all of which are games. Someone who plays Minecraft isn't "leaving" gaming, they *are* gaming, just as much as someone who plays God of War, or Stellaris, or Pac-Man 99, or Microsoft Flight Simulator, or Hypnospace Outlaw, or Among Us, or Returnal. It's all gaming, just like romantic comedies and psychological thrillers and mockumentaries are all films. If you want to lose yourself in a game for whole weekends at a time, there are games for you. If you want to spend the odd 20 - 30 minutes on a game a few times a week, in between changing diapers or scooping litter boxes or whatnot, there are games for you. If you want a game that's primarily a place to hang out with your friends online, there are games for you. Marketing aside, the games themselves have *never* appealed only to a single demographic, and they certainly don't today.

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deckard

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#45  Edited By deckard

I think people see the marketing they want to see. It may be anecdotal but my nieces and nephews don't give a shit about CoD, God of War, Sonic, etc. It's all about Roblox, Minecraft, and Fortnite (with some Smash Bros. thrown in for good measure). It's not only what they play but what all of their friends play and talk about. Those are the franchises that companies are going to endlessly stoke their nostalgia from for the next 20-30 years.

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monkeyking1969

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Can some industry cater to the largest population demographics that still has buying power and consumer interest until they die? UH, YES.

Yes, they can cater to us like we are fucking Mr. Mr. Nimbus! Gaming publisher and thus theri developers will cater to Generation X and early Millennials until another generation added more kids - or we DIE. So, all the other recent generation will have to patiently wait to see if Millennial will start having kids in earnest.


Generation X - We thirst.
Generation X - We thirst.

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krelmoon

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I think the older I get the less I need mainstream gaming. I don’t need a PS5 or Series X to play the games I like to play. I do need a decent GPU though so it isn’t like I’m not suffering with the rest of you who can’t get one. If I wait and am patient almost everything comes to pc or switch. I also don’t need to be pandered to. But when they do with say bloodstained or even more so with Dark Deity I tend to buy it. I am finding games that my last gen GPU can handle. Or getting older games on sale. In general I don’t have as much time to game and that puts me in the position to be more picky about what I buy.

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FacelessVixen

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So um... is the OP gonna come back to... I dunno... look though the feedback of which their thought has inspired, and maybe have a dialogue of some sort?

I ask 'cause the hit and run tactic is lookin' a little sus.