Talking Point: Should Nintendo Try to Recapture 'Hardcore' Gamers?

What is hardcore anyway?

In recent weeks the internet has been overloaded with rumours about Nintendo’s next home console, the successor to the phenomenally successful Wii. The rumours followed the usual pattern; anonymous sources said it was coming, speculation raged, ideas about the console started to find a level of consistency, and finally Nintendo confirmed that a full unveiling will come at E3 2011. It is absolutely no surprise that excitement about the machine is already gaining momentum, bringing Nintendo to the forefront of many gamer’s minds.

With exactly one week until Nintendo unveils its new console, there is one element of the pre-E3 buzz that is perhaps being overlooked due to debate over innovative controllers and powerful graphics; that Nintendo is seeking to regain the ‘hardcore’ gaming market.

The trouble with talking about capturing a ‘hardcore’ gaming market is that, arguably, no-one actually knows what it is. We all have our opinions on the subject, but as an idea or definition it is fluid, changing and metamorphosing from one debate to the next. Is this idea of gaming defined by HD graphics, online multiplayer, dual stick FPS gaming, achievement systems? These seem to be some of the criteria used by many when accusing the Wii of being a ‘casual’ gaming console. Critics point to its SD graphics, waggle controls and shovelware and say that Nintendo abandoned ‘core’ gamers in pursuit of a broader, financially lucrative market.

Not only is pigeon-holing the Wii in such negative terms unfair, but perhaps poses important questions about what the Wii 2 — let's ignore the 'Project Cafe' concept name — will deliver. Should Nintendo chase the supposedly lost core audience, or simply improve on the groundwork established by the Wii?