Eric Johnson

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PlayStation: Mid-Core Gamers Are the Future of Mobile

Midcore: ‘I play games regularly, favouring immersive games. I do not spend great lengths of time gaming and don’t not spend a large amount of money on it. However if I would have more spare time I would probably spend more time and possibly money on games.'”

— One definition of mid-core gamers, formulated and given to survey respondents by Newzoo.

sarah_thomson_playstationAt the Casual Connect gaming conference, happening this week in San Francisco, PlayStation Mobile’s Sarah Thomson said the company is chasing an underserved market: Mid-core gamers, the fuzzily defined group between “casual” and “hard-core” gamers.

The number of people who identify themselves as “mid-core” is growing, said Thomson, who is the senior manager of mobile content acquisition for PlayStation Mobile. And that’s a big deal for the software, which powers about 150 games for Android and Sony’s PS Vita handheld console, as the company tries to figure out how to reach beyond its hard-core-leaning console-gamer base.

After acknowledging that the term sometimes makes developers cringe, Thomson argued that mid-core is an inevitable “next step” for mobile gamers who may have enjoyed casual games in the past, but now want a little bit more. That means better stories, and possibly better graphics, while still catering to mobile devices’ strengths like touchscreen controls and the ability to pick up and play a game anywhere, with a shallow learning curve.

As you might expect, Thomson pitched the developer audience on PlayStation Mobile as the place for a new crop of mid-core games, noting that all of PlayStation’s platforms have quietly supported free-to-play business models (which have thrived among mobile games) for nearly two years. After her talk, she said that the company has not evolved very quickly in the past, but that the rise of mobile has now pressed it to iterate and experiment faster than it has historically.

Of course, blurring the lines between previously separate audiences means that there are some games that may need to be reconsidered. Thomson called herself a “hard-core Candy Crush Saga player,” saying that the game had “hard-core elements.” She cited this Newzoo article comparing the audiences for Candy Crush and the presumably more hard-core game Clash of Clans. Some 31 percent of Candy Crush Saga players and 44 percent of Clash of Clans players surveyed by Newzoo identified themselves as “mid-core.”

“There are games that would be considered casual that have mid-core to hard-core elements in them,” Thomson said. “They can do well because the quality level is there, and the engagement level is there. There’s room for hybrids.”

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus