6 Hardcore Games Ruined By Casual Gamers

The influence of casual gamers is growing, but is it really them "ruining" the games that were once masterpieces?

I think it's reasonable to start by defining, at least loosely, what a "casual gamer" is and what kind of habits this type of person has. When someone is referred to as a casual gamer, the branding typically brings to mind the image of a person who does not often play video games.

However, when they do go digital, their desired experience is often one of quick joy that doesn't take a great deal of thought or persistence. For games like Candy Crush and The Sims, this is the perfect expectation. However, casual gamers often hold the majority of the gaming audience and this can influence other games that were not necessarily meant for the casual audience.

Here are six games or franchises affected by this demographic:

6. League of Legends

Where the effect is present in LoL is in the "balancing" of characters. Many green players, who get absolutely rocked by a character with skills considered too powerful, complain and demand that they get nerfed. In reality, that character is so totally NOT broken, the offending player just happened to handle the character with more skill than you can understand. Granted, there are times when characters just have cheap abilities, but devs are quick to adjust. The point is, people that don't spend the time it takes to get better, whine and generally get their way.

5. The God of War Franchise

The early games were the bomb, and somewhat educational with all the violent mythology lessons. Countering, dodging, and battle tactics were the bread and butter of the games before people considered all that too difficult. Now it's button-mashing nonsense where two hits equal a demolished beasty who, in first game, would have taken at least a few minutes to take down. 'Make it easier and they will come,' someone somewhere apparently said--and some bigwig publishers adhere to this.

4. Diablo 3

Diablo 3 is beautiful eye candy and had so much potential. In its attempt to pack as many "improvements" as possible into the game, they became mistakes. The qualities of the previous game were ignored. What Activision should have done was to see what keeps the hardcore gamers involved, because Diablo 3 has experienced a declining player base. Going to console was a reaction to that situation. The beauty of Diablo is that casual gamers can go as far as they want, try as hard as they deem necessary, click, click, click, and let their character sit. The more dedicated players have the option to continue and really wring the game dry of its great content, but they didn't put that alluring content in.

3. Call of Duty and Other Shooters

Enough with the Call of Duty games already. Repackaging the preceding game does not a great sequel make, let alone eight. In general, any casual gamers jumping into more competitive matches can throw off the balance of the team, (same thing happens with LoL), but sometimes it's just newer players trying to get involved. What happened to building on the best qualities of the first game to satisfy seasoned gamers as well as inviting the new ones? Changing races and adding zombies doesn't really count.

2. The Fable Franchise

The first Fable was a great RPG and people are stoked for the HD remake, myself included. However, the series has declined in quality. The success of the previous games led the way for cutting corners, tedium, crap story and character development, and a level of juvenility that baffles anyone with a medulla oblongata. What happened? Filler and farts. 

1. World of Warcraft and Other Mainstream MMOs

In the early World of Warcraft days (vanilla WoW to most) the act of creating and evolving a character throughout the game experience was a very deeply involved process. With extensive talent trees and unique abilities that served as counters to other abilities, the process of crafting an elite character took time and planning. For the early adopters and hardcore players alike, this system was perfect because it was something that they could get lost in and really dive deep. However, once the game became massively popular and all walks of gamers picked it up, people went in with tons of different expectations and the game was only equipped to serve a few.

As the game progressed through its life, the developers (Blizzard) tried their hardest to appeal to an ever broadening audience of people. Unfortunately, no one can please everyone. With the latest expansion installment, many of the deep and involved features such as the talent tree have been reworked to appeal to a less involved demographic known as the casual gamer. In my opinion, once compromises like these are made for the sake of wider appeal, the experience is spoiled for the truly dedicated fans. 

This type of spoiling is very common in video games, particularly recently because the rise of the casual gamer is upon us. Now anybody with half a brain and a computer can boot up the newest MMO or shooter and be able to play it and influence its evolution in a similar fashion to the dedicated fans who offer valid solutions to truly better the game experience.

The major problem with casual gamers is that they don't get invested in a game. Whether it's the story or the character creation/development, the shear difficulty and challenge, or something else, casual gamers often lack the ability to appreciate these nuances. These nuances are really what make a game difficult and involved, and they also make the game less accessible for casual gamers. So they complain and the game is changed to support those gamers. Unfortunately, this tends to alienate the dedicated fan base.

There are three groups of gamers: the noisy market, which consist of the casual gamers that bigger developers believe are their main audience; the silent market that is off actually playing those games; and the hardcore minority that vigorously plays the games and voices their opinions. We shouldn't resent casual gamers because they are simply looking for a fun experience. I place blame on the developers for not sticking to their guns. What it comes down to is wanting to reach more people to get inside their wallets. The problem is they just ignore their dedicated fans and look at the audience as a whole, just some numbers on a balance sheet.

Of course there are more games out there subject to this sort of influence. Which ones aren't on the list? Let us know in the comments!


Designer, opera singer, gamer, and pug lover.

Published Jul. 26th 2013
  • astellin_9992
    well wow shouldnt be anywhere on that list wow vanilla and all other versions were and are the begining of the end of any sort of fun and exploration in a mmo thanks blizzard for making it super easy mode and then ruining all other mmos after...dicks
  • John_8633
    League of Legends should not be included in this list. If this was simply a top 5, I’d have whole-heartedly agreed with you. League of Legends is currently by far the largest professionally played video game in the world. Because of this, casual gamers’ complaints about champions go, for the most part, completely unheeded by the developers. The game is balanced based on the pro scene, not the casual gamer scene. The 2 are not comparable at all. When champions are nerfed, it’s often due to item changes which have unforeseen synergies with said champion. So yes, they are nerfed because they ARE too strong in that meta. They’re not nerfed because some guy complained about a 14-0 Riven wrecking his face. Ever since Call of Duty 4 paved the way for console games to be extremely easy with no rewarding ranking system, and no matchmaking balancing, LoL and DOTA are the only options left for us competitive gamers.

    Otherwise, great article. And yes, I blame Call of Duty 4 for the start of all of this.
  • Josh_7917
    God of War was never hardcore, even the first game was piss easy.
  • Thiago_8229
    Another good example is Rome Total War II. Since Creative Assembly devs earned their "casual fan base" the decline in the quality of this franchise is being very drastic.
    But the point about Rome Total War II and the casuals plague is that those Devs have learned that no matter how much bugged and unfinished their games are released, the casual gamers will buy them, and will even deny the broken, bare bones, state of their games. Im not talking about just one game... this has become sort of a tradition for them. Its game after game being released the same broken way. They even pre order these games for Christ sake!
    The lack of intelligence of this particular crowd does not allow them to realize when the game they paid full price to play is still in beta testing stage... They have no standards..... to them a pathetically broken game can pass as a masterpiece!
    This industry have been dumbing down the dificulty of games to please the casual audience... but the Total War example sets a new precedent.
    It wouldnt suprise me if other devs start following this company example and begin releasing unfinished, broken games once they learn they will get away with that. Creative Assembly devs did.
    Trust me: this will happen!
  • Kazz in space
    Featured Contributor
    If people still pay for it then sadly it will continue. It's not the casual gamers who are to blame though it's greed over a love of what is being created. Even Skyrim is dumbed down compared to much of the content in Morrowind. The biggest fail though has to be Star Wars Galaxies, what was a very complex game in terms of abilities and progress was changed with the "nge" publish into an entirely different game - completely dumbed down, far less skills, far simpler progression trees and many people logged back in to find their Class simply didn't exist anymore - overnight the entire game was turned into a dumbed down "wow-esq" version of itself. Not surprising that it closed down :/
  • Ste Grainer
    Featured Correspondent
    I was wondering where WoW and other MMOs would fall on the list. :)
  • MirandaCB
    It's rather depressing. It's not really surprising that WoW's lost over 600,000 subscribers in Q2 this year.
  • Stephen Johnston
    Wow's decline in subs is not as simple as just catering to casual players. However, you have to look at the way the game was during its climb and while it was gaining huge jumps in playerbase. It was not accessible at all levels, the push to allow poeople to "see the content" was slower and I bet huge chunks of the playerbase have still not seen parts of Vanilla and TBC. The thing is you can't just snap your finger and catch that lightning again.

    Wow has to do deal with a whole new issue: Players who played 2 years ago who want to jump back in. The old guard hardcore players are clamoring for some easy mode "leg up" so they can play with their friends. It's an interesting dynamic at that age of game and with that size of playerbase.
  • Harry ;)
    Awesome post, Miranda!
  • MirandaCB
    Thanks Harry :)

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