Irony alert: Core gamers will save the industry, analysts say

How’s this for some Friday morning irony? Analysts, who at first said the casual audience was a fad, then changed their tune and said they were the future of gaming, have again decided to prove their irrelevancy by saying in these tough economic times it is the core gamer that will save the industry.

It should come as no surprise that go-to guy Michael Pachter is the focal point for the article. Long a staple of lazy video game bloggers everywhere, Pachter tells MSNBC that it is the core gamers, and their $60 games, that will save video games when poop hits the fan in 2009 (trust me, the economy is going to get worse before it gets better).

Obviously I disagree. Core gamers are a pillar of the industry, I agree to that. But their influence is waning considerably, and there is a pretty sizable group at Nintendo HQ who believe that this group was also partly to blame for pigeon-holing gaming into a pretty niche little corner of popular culture.

Instead, as tough as it is to say it and for many of you to hear it, I think it will be the so-called “casual” crowd that saves gaming in 2009, should it begin to really show the effects of the global recession. EDIT: And while I say “casual”, know I mean “non-traditional” gamers, sorry for the confusion.

Services like WiiWare, PSN and Live will thrive as consumers shun one-player $60 games. Those $120 Limited Edition bundles will vanish. Portable gaming, mainly due to price point and the growing popularity of iPhone/iPod touch gaming, will also be more responsible for saving gaming than the next Killzone sequel. That, and GameStop is going to make a killing on used game next year. And who knows, we could even see some “hardcore” gamers start to show some “casual” buying tendencies next year too.

This isn’t say core gamers are irrelevant to the economy problem that will undoubtedly hit gaming in 2009, as it has hit everything else in late 2008. If they were to suddenly disappear tomorrow, there’d be a big problem, I agree. But to say this niche group with expensive tastes will ride in on a white horse (with DLC horse armor!) and save anything is a bit ridiculous. If the non-traditional gamers stopped buying and playing, and the core became the breadwinner, as this article suggests, we’d be right back to where we were in 2006, when the industry was in decline and was ripe for something new to appear.

Obviously this is my opinion. We’ll see who saves who in 2009, as I’m sure we’ll see some awesome new games for all systems. Thoughts?