Where have all the middle games gone?

Ryan Winterhalter wrote a great piece last week about the decline of middle-class games. “It seems that players are spending more time playing games, but paradoxically spending that extra time with fewer titles,” he says. “Game makers have never in the forty-year history of the medium had such a massive consumer base to sell to, but players have never been so unwilling to try new experiences.”

Previous research from 1995, he says, predicted this polar trend of the rise of indie and AAA titles at the expense of the middle. When inundated with more choice, he says, consumers aggressively seek out either the best product available or the most-well connected popular games like Call of Duty so they can share their gaming experiences with other people.

Concludes Winterhalter, “While I hold out hope for the medium-sized publishers still standing, games may fall into two, broad categories in the future — small indie titles that take advantage of digital distribution to turn a modest profit, and massive AAA blockbusters of little substance. This dichotomy is already transformed the music and film industries, it will do the same to games.”

What do you think: Is the absence of middle-tier games a bad thing?

11 Responses to Where have all the middle games gone?

  1. CZsWorld says:

    No, not at all. Considering most of the entry level games are $50 just like the big flagship productions, I don’t really need an inbetweener to bridge the small DLable title and the megablockbusters.

  2. Warren says:

    …They are still here. They just moved to Digital Downloads. What would you call the vast selection of digital and independent titles?

  3. Supersonic196 says:

    They all went to indie games, which are usually MUCH more diverse and artistic than anything mainstream.

  4. cmunki16 says:

    Didn’t get a chance to read the full article, but there’s a huge issue being looked over (at least in this Infendo report.) Money be TIGHT! As a college kid who mostly works on theatre projects (I have a ‘real’ job in food service) my money can’t be wasted on mediocre titles. Sadly, this does limit me in my experiences. I tend to stick to anything with Mario, Zelda, Pokemon, and occasionally Final Fantasy in the title. I’m starting to enjoy the 3DS online library, 3D golf turned out to be a really fun $6.00 and I’m still having a blast with Rhytmic. But for now, with the country’s economic status being what it is (and not much better ANY where in the world) I think this is the frusterating trend many forms of entertainment art are stuck in. Why else would the consumers be punished with a Spiderman reboot and a fourth Pirate of the Carribean?

  5. Eyes says:

    What cmunki16 says exactly.
    It’s not a loss at all…The indie games are the win. The only loss are the plethora of bad cheap games (f.e. iPhone games).
    We are better informed nowadays and every genre can make profit through digital distribution.
    There’s a market for everything, finding the people for it just became easier.

  6. Hitokiri_Ace says:

    I would have to agree that the old middle ground, is now the quality DL titles. Like what the eShop offers.

    I’d cal Pushmo, Sakura Samurai, Mighty Switch Force, and others as the new middle ground. They are cheap, and they actually have content and great controls.

    The App Markets take care of the low end junk. Though just like junk, sometimes you sort through and come up with a few gems. Though they are few and far between, I have greatly enjoyed Jelly Car 1,2,3 and Cut the Rope, and a few others. I’m not just hating on all App games, just…. the vast majority. 🙂

    I do have one question though, why for 5-8$ do people not buy great eShop? It’s like being less that 50, but more than 1$ is some kind-of taboo ground… It’s really weird to me…

  7. It’s money…. AAA Games cost £35-40/$50…. You can’t just buy willy-nilly at that price point!

  8. The Adza says:

    It sure is Money. Middle tier games from middle publishers had to price themselves at the same price as the AAA games to stay afloat. But it’s just unsustainable. So I think it’s a good thing that they are turning to digital to offer their products at cheaper prices.

  9. Kaherka says:

    And when/if you reach a point where money isn’t tight… TIME is still tight.

    I really, really wish games were shorter.

  10. Hitokiri_Ace says:

    lol Shorter games? Be we sure are a fickle bunch aren’t we? lol I’d rather longer.

  11. Hitokiri_Ace says:

    Not sure I agree with ya Adza. Why did they have to price themselves the same price as the AAA games to stay afloat? It’s not like they had the same huge production costs. My guess… Greed. This really just came back to bite them in my mind. ?????.

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