I didn't like to share things much as a kid. Being plenty introverted as well as the youngest of three, I wasn't put in too many positions where I needed to open up my inner space to other people. So when it eventually happened, I had a hard time. In many cases, I still do, but that's beside the point. Gaming has been one of my favorite things for a while, and actually one of the things I've been most social about throughout my life, but I can still pick out times where I've been disappointed by one series or another changing itself to reach wider appeal.
Games like Dead Space, Resident Evil, Smash Bros., Mario Kart, and many others would take turns lowering the skill ceiling to keep their experiences from being too intimidating to newer buyers. It didn't matter if new buyers didn't stick around after the first week, what counted was that they bought the game. And since these new "casual" consumers made up a larger group than the original fans ever did, it only made sense for businesses to bend toward the perceived demands and interests of that group.
I spent a long time railing against this trend, and I'm sure many of you reading have as well. Many of you probably still do, and with good enough reason. I've only recently begun coming around on this, however. And despite a lot of rabble going around social media about the negative effects of "people who don't play games" ruining gaming for the rest of us, I see a very happy trend occurring that directly appeals to me and my interests as what some may describe as a "hardcore gamer".
The industry has continued to grow, year over year. More people buy games and gaming hardware than did the previous year. People aren't really growing out of gaming in the way a lot of us assumed they would, or that we ourselves would -- and I'm not lumping mobile gaming into this, I'm talking about the kinds of games and hardware that the people reading a c-blog on Destructoid are interested in.
In years previous, a lot of that "shovelware" was found in bargain bins for the PS2 and Wii, the most popular consoles of their time. Today, a lot of that has shifted onto phones that everyone has anyway -- it doesn't need to ride off of the back of the most popular systems. And so, the people who may have bought those systems for simpler games now have a thriving and convenient place to go, which is probably all they and those game devs ever really wanted.
And yet, traditional gaming spaces continue to see growth. Mobile might be reeking havoc in certain sectors of handheld and Japanese markets, but it hasn't dented home console gaming in most regions. The former two are about the only spaces in gaming to see a serious decline in industry support thanks to its necessary ties to traditional hardware processes that are no longer getting enough consumer support. Even so, we see a lot of dedicated indie support for "dead" platforms like the Vita, which segues neatly into my next point.
The indie boom, arguably starting with the big (and continued) success of Minecraft, has illuminated areas of interest and profitability long abandoned by traditional AAA games development. It's gotten to the point that "indie" as a term has been stretched to meaningless degrees. Even if the game is literally independent (of a publisher), the output of indie projects is slowly but surely taking the course of download-only games. At one time, download-only games were considered smaller affairs that couldn't or wouldn't make it to the real markets of physical retail. And for the most part, that assessment was reflected in the scope and quality of those games. Today, and not just because of increased ease, digital games easily stand up to or above boxed releases. Indie development, for many reasons, is well on its way to that same place.
So, with mobile as a lightning rod for most quick-cash game development, indie as a space for increasingly professional development of creator-driven content, and AAA development for mainstream blockbuster releases, gaming has more than enough room for every taste. We've moved past the days of Resident Evil 4's success almost singularly causing an industry wide boom of QTEs; of Gears of War's success resulting in years of brown cover-based shooters; of JRPGs completely getting the shaft because they're not "what's selling" according to EA and Activision. We have games like The Witness AND Fallout 4 both selling very well for themselves -- which highlights another development: we no longer have just one metric for success. The Witness won't sell as much as Fallout 4 or Metal Gear Solid V, but The Witness will still succeed. Undertale doesn't need to capture the hearts and minds of every games enthusiast, but it too will still sell very well.
Gaming is a big house now, whether we realize that or not. So if you don't like that Dude-Bro Shooter, or that Walking Simulator, or that Tumblr Game, you no longer need to worry that the success of those products will mean the dimishment of that thing you like. I said goodbye to the oldschool Resident Evil games in 2005, with a bitter heart and for what I thought was forever. Now I'm playing its (very successful) re-release on PC in 2016 and looking forward to the remake of RE2.